These stuffed baked apples are sure to make your guests come back for more! And, they're super easy to make so you don't have to spend all day in the kitchen!
Stuffed Baked Apples
*Gluten Free *Dairy Free *Vegan
6 large apples
1/3 cup dry oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. butter (or margarine for vegan option)
dash of coarse sea salt
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
1. In a small bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almonds, butter, and sea salt. Set aside.
2. Cut off the top of apples and scoop out the insides, making sure to remove all seeds.
3. Peel away some of the skin at the top to prevent splitting.
4. Fill each apple with 1-2 Tbsp. of mixture.
5. Pour apple juice in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the apples evenly across.
6. Cook in the slow cooker on High for 2- 2 1/2 hours.
7. Serve immediately, keep refrigerated.
**Note: You can make these ahead of time and keep them refrigerated until ready to eat. Just heat them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds to heat up.
There are two words that I ban from my vocabulary. More specifically, there are two adjectives that I ban from my vocabulary. When I say "ban" I honestly mean that I do not say them at all. And it's about time we all start reconsidering saying them, too.
So, what are the two adjectives I ban from my vocab??
"Fat" & "Skinny"
Hearing someone be described as fat honestly makes my stomach turn. What constitutes someone or something being fat? Is there a number on the scale or pants size that determines it? What does it mean when one person calls another person fat?
It is way to definitive of a word for being so inaccurate.
I have always had trouble hearing this f-word. And it saddens me to hear people describing themselves in that way. Perhaps you are a little "overweight" or "could lose a few pounds" but you are never fat. Ever. Just stop thinking about it. Stop using it. Forget that word even exists.
In addition to it not being accurate, it is word that just breathes negativity. Do you know how many different ways you can describe a person without using hurtful and negative language? Appearances aside, people are kind, interesting, well-traveled, graceful, thought-provoking...and so on.
I challenge you to think of words when you meet someone to describe them that doesn't involve their appearance. That is who a person is.
You might be thinking, well if I say someone is skinny, that is a compliment, right? Well, maybe think again.
Similar to "fat", skinny is a definitive term that really has no scale (no pun intended) of measurement. What constitutes "skinny"? Is it a certain weight or waist circumference?
Kim Kardashian recently released a video of her sisters saying she is "so skinny" and she LOVED it. She's actually hysterically excited about it.
Seeing this video made me very angry & sad. First, "skinny" does not mean "healthy" and there are plenty of people out there who are skinny due to being ill. I know this first hand, as I was at my lowest weight and clothing size when I was sickest with my Crohn's. In fat, my weight had an inverse relationship with my health. So when people called me "skinny" it was not a good thing. Size does not equate health.
Secondly, why are we as a society so obsessed with being skinny?? It is bad enough that people suffer from eating disorders but now you have idols like Kim K. who further drive the thought home that "you cannot be skinny enough". It is sickening.
As I mentioned above, why not focus on other qualities people possess that are internal? I don't know about you, but I would rather be described as pleasant, plump, and kind than skinny, bitchy, and rude. [Actually, healthy and happy is my ideal state and I plan on staying that way :) ]
If you truly are focused on a certain body size and look, aim for "healthy", "toned", or "athletic".
Now that you know my stance on the words "fat" and "skinny", I hope you are encouraged to eliminate (or at least reduce) them from your vocabulary. We are so much more than just two categories to describe how we look, and who we are as individuals. It is time to retire these old-fashioned terms and begin to see people for who they really are--both inside and out.
And, as my motto goes--"It is not about being skinny, it's about being your BEST WHOLE SELF."
July 8, 2013. The day that would change my life forever. But first, let’s rewind a bit…
THE BREAKING POINT:
A few weeks earlier, I had just gotten out of the hospital for my 4th Crohn’s flare in 2 years. The medication I was currently on, Humira, seemed to be doing the trick (after its 3 predecessors failed to work) as it was 15 months since my last hospitalization. So, you can imagine my surprise & devastation when I was told I was having a severe flare, needed hospitalization, and had to explore yet another medication. Upon leaving the hospital, I knew I had to do something to change this vicious cycle of being sick and hospitalized.
I sought the help of a nutritionist who came highly recommended and she said to me during our first call (I have never met her face-to-face..to this day) that I had to go gluten free. As in, it was a life-or-death situation and this is what I HAD to do. Turns out, it was not necessarily “life-or-death” however it was happiness vs. misery, staying in a hotel on vacation vs. staying in a hospital, going out with friends vs. laying on the couch at home, and barely making it through the day vs. thriving in my life. Of course, I chose the latter of all of those decisions and decided that I would go cold turkey and give up gluten if it meant that I got my life and health back.
…and I could not be happier that I did.
THE NEW LIFE:
As I navigated my new lifestyle–yes, that is what it was; not a diet, a lifestyle–I realized I had to make many changes to habits I had in place in order to be successful. I had to take control. I could no longer grab a bagel breakfast sandwich on the way to work, and eating wherever others suggested wasn’t always an option. I had to start making my own meals, packing my own breakfast, and learn how to do all of this while juggling a busy schedule. That in itself was scary, and was a huge learning curve.
I began the habit of showing up 20 minutes before my lunch meetings so that I could talk to the waiter and/or chef about what I could and couldn’t eat on the menu. When I went out with friends, I got in the habit of ordering my own appetizer since I couldn’t always share what the table ordered. Going on dates meant being assertive and picking the restaurant rather than saying “whatever you want”(which was well received by my would-be-future husband). And, going down the shore for the weekend meant packing a bunch of my own food and being the “designated Sangria girl” since beer was now off limits. This is just a small example of new habits I had to adapt to in order to live the life I wanted. Healthy, happy, thriving, energetic, and most importantly NOT SICK.
5 years later I am exactly where I have always wanted to be. I am healthy, happy, thriving, energetic (most days) and have been in remission with my Crohn’s Disease since August 2016. All of these habit changes were worth it.
So, the point of my whole story is that once you master a new habit and lifestyle change is when you truly see a change in your life. It is so much more than just saying “eat this and not that”–it is truly committing to a pattern that works for you. Which is why I became a Health Coach. I took all that I had gone through in developing a healthy lifestyle for myself and combined it with what I learned through my training and now offer it to clients to help them create those lifestyle changes that lead to their own life-changing outcomes.
Being healthy is way more than dieting and killing yourself at the gym. It is implementing habits and lifestyle changes that fit into your routine which help you become the person you want to become. And that, my friends, is how I ended up here today as the founder of Best Whole Self, LLC and how I am in the best shape–emotionally and physically–I have ever been. And I want the same for you.
The 4th of July–“Independence Day”–is next week and it has me thinking a lot about freedom. If you look at the definition below, notice the words, “without hindrance or restraint”.
Always remember…You have the FREEDOM to treat your body with the utmost respect, only fueling it with the highest-quality foods & nutrients.
You have the FREEDOM to deny any meals you feel will not support you and your best self.
You have the FREEDOM to say “no”–and not feel guilted into saying, “yes”.
You have the FREEDOM to choose exactly how you get to spend each day from the time you step out of bed until when you go to sleep because not all 24 hours are created equal.
You have the FREEDOM to ask questions. “What goals do I want to achieve? Why do I want to achieve them? How will I get there? Who will it benefit? What is stopping me?”
You have the FREEDOM to feel however you want about yourself–confident, sexy, timid, scared, out of shape, bold, disappointed–and it is OK.
You have the FREEDOM to form opinions about what led you to be in the shape you are currently in, and make changes to those opinions to make a difference in your life.
You have the FREEDOM to dream.
You have the FREEDOM to feel like the best version of yourself, every day.
You have the FREEDOM to put yourself first, for without you, nothing else in your life is possible.
You have the FREEDOM to love yourself because if you don’t, who will?
You have the FREEDOM to treat yourself in moderation and enjoy the delicious things in life.
You have the FREEDOM to stay empowered and be an advocate of your own health.
and lastly…You have the FREEDOM to make the choices you want in life without any judgement from others, and the power to achieve the life that you want because it is what you and your body deserve.
MAKE IT A GREAT HOLIDAY.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! The un-official kick off to Summer is here and I don’t know about you, but I have been waiting for this weekend for a long time!
Before diving into the weekend, I wanted to take a moment to share with you ways you can get the most out of it, as it is often full of eating and drinking, so kicking off the summer on an indulgent note is not always the best.
Here are 5 ways you can enjoy Memorial Day Weekend without the guilt!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WARM WEATHER AND GET ACTIVE!
Whether you are heading to the shore, heading to a BBQ, or just kicking it at home, find ways to get outside and be active. Take a walk, go for a swim, or take a fun yoga class you have never tried before (Bonus: since a lot of people go out of town for the weekend, you can get into a drop-in class easier!). Keep moving and work off those extra helpings you are enjoying this weekend!
KEEP IT LIGHT.
You may have seen my #TimeCrunchTuesday video on increasing the glasses of wine you drink without actually drinking more wine. The trick here is to add ice, seltzer water, and fresh fruit to your 1/2 glass full of wine. This helps you not feel deprived by drinking a fraction of the amount of wine while keeping you more hydrated with the seltzer water. This refreshing twist on your standard glass of wine will have everyone coming back for more!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE IN-SEASON FRUITS & VEGGIES!
This is a great time of year to enjoy fresh locally-grown tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and veggies from the garden. Use these delicious ingredients that are a gift from nature as key components to your meals and you will satisfy your sweet tooth and feel satisfied without all of the empty calories and refined sugars! Adding a fresh salad will brighten up any bbq and be the light element everyone craves.
These kabobs are my fav!!
TAKE A PICTURE–IT WILL LAST LONGER.
You know this old saying (if someone catches you staring), but it is true especially when spending time with friends and family. When looking back on your Memorial Day Weekend in years to come, you will be reminiscing more on the great times you had, the stories you told, and the activities you participated in rather than the food and drink you consumed. So make it count, and create these amazing memories by capturing each moment and realize that life is far more than just food!
THINK OF THIS AS YOUR “SUMMER NEW YEAR”!
We have been waiting for this warm weather for a while, and pretty much all had cabin fever since the winter seemed to go on forever. So take this season and make it feel like it is the start of a new year! Set your intentions of what you would like to accomplish this summer–vacations, personal goals, health goals, business endeavors–and start fresh on Tuesday with your new journey. It is the perfect opportunity to set your goals with the end date of Labor Day, using July 4th as your mid-way check in point to see how you are progressing, and wrapping the summer as your best whole self.
Enjoy this weekend and make it a special day for you and your loved ones!
Chocolate. Champagne. Wine. Decadent desserts.These are all things that come to mind when wanting to treat yourself and indulge on Valentine’s Day. Heck, I would even dare to say that it is what comes to mind when we think of treating ourselves any day of the year.
But what if I challenged you to think of ways you can treat yourself and indulge without turning to food?
I often pose this question to clients when creating healthier lifestyles, as we are all programed since our childhood that food is a cure-all and reward. Do well at the doctor? Get a lollipop. Win a t-ball game? Go for ice cream. Celebrating a birthday? EAT CAKE! It is imbedded in our minds and routines that with any sort of emotion comes food–but what if we were to change that?
This Valentine’s Day, I want to challenge you to identify ways you can celebrate without the indulgent food and drink. I am not saying you can’t go to dinner, or enjoy a glass of champagne on a Wednesday because it is a holiday, but perhaps you can just pick one thing that involves food or drink and enjoy the rest of your day nourishing yourself in more fun, and less sugar-laden, ways.
Below is a list of suggestions to get you started on a super sweet non-candy Valentine’s Day!
DO SOMETHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED…BUT FOUND AN EXCUSE NOT TO.Have you always wanted to just sleep in an extra 15 minutes and be late for work but felt too guilty to follow through with it? Or maybe you have always wanted to go for a mid-day pedicure. This Valentine’s Day, DO IT and don’t feel guilty about it!
BE BAD. I like using the acronym “BAD” to mean
Breaking from the norm
Doing something fun
We often indulge in decadent food just to be rebellious. We have done such a good job obeying our morning alarm clock, eating well, working out, crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s day in and day out–it gets exhausting! Sometimes, you just have to let loose and let your hair down, which often leads to saying ‘I deserve to eat this whole pint of ice cream!’ but perhaps you can go about it in a different way.
So, pick something BAD to do this V-Day like not making the bed (breaking from the norm); leave work 15 minutes early (acting out); and meet a friend for an after-work movie(doing something fun) and you will feel like a new person.
CHILL OUT.Winter is the perfect excuse to curl up with a cozy blanket and watch your favorite movie without feeling obligated to go outside and enjoy the warm weather. Take that up a notch on the “indulgent scale” by throwing your favorite blanket in the dryer for 5 minutes before snuggling up with it, or spray some essential oil spray on your pillows to make it a perfect night’s sleep.
Thanks, loves, for sharing part of your Valentine’s Day with me. Sending you lots of love on this beautiful Wednesday!
IT’S NO SECRET–THE EAGLES ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!For the first time in 13 years, our city will be on the big stage and, with the grace of God, will take home a big W and the streets of Philadelphia will be lined with crowds of people celebrating, chanting E-A-G-L-E-S until our voices are lost and….ok, sorry, I got carried away. I promise I had a point to make.
Regardless of who wins the Super Bowl, one thing is for sure–there will be food, LOTS OF FOOD, and most (if not all) will not do our waistlines and energy any justice.
BUT there are a few ways YOU can WIN Super Bowl Sunday and it can start now–a whole week before the big event.
Be hostess with the mostess
What if you surprised your guests with a variety of food they normally wouldn’t get at a Super Bowl party? You know, the wings, pizza, chips, pretzels, cheesesteaks (because, Philly) that are just as common to the game as are the commercials.
A few years ago, my fiance and I hosted a Super Bowl party and our menu consisted of BBQ ribs, gluten free pasta salad with tons of fresh veggies (pictured), a massive homemade roasted turkey sub with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and a basil pesto, popcorn (my fave), and some cookies for dessert. Oh yeah, and Doritos because what is a Super Bowl without Doritos??
The great thing about this menu was that it wasn’t the normal food offered at a party, so our guests enjoyed the variety, and I had an easy time eating because with the exception of the bread on the hoagie (I made it into a salad instead) I was able to eat everything offered. Also, I wasn’t the only one with a gluten allergy, and one of our guests was a vegetarian, so the assortment we provided met the needs and tastes of everyone. Win-win.
…Or be the best party guest
Chances are, you will be attending a Super Bowl party at someone’s house. If that’s the case, you will not have total control over what food is being served since you are not the host. However, you can be an awesome party guest by offering to bring a dish or two to the party–and make it a healthy dish.
You may be thinking, “No one will want to eat a salad while pounding beers” and this may be true, however, when we eat, we naturally crave different textures and flavors. So if the menu consists of chicken wings, pizza, burgers, and chips, our tastebuds will crave something cold, refreshing, and sweet to off-set the spicy, salty, hot foods. Therefore, your spinach salad with strawberries, almonds, goat cheese, and (yes) bacon pieces will be a huge hit.
Raw veggies with hummus is a great pick-food to pass around, and if you want something more hearty, make a simple soup or chili that is full of protein and low on carbs and sugar.
Walk away from the food
Whether we are hungry or not, we will eat food if it is sitting in front of us. The best way to avoid 5 hours worth of picking on snacks is to simply remove them from your eyesight and reach. While it makes sense to keep all of the chips and pretzels on the coffee table near the couch so that people can snack without getting up, it is a perfect recipe for derailing all of the clean eating and healthy habits you keep all week. So, if you are the host, keep all of the food on a table, or in the kitchen away from the tv. If you are not hosting the party, do your best to sit away from the snacks, or offer to move them to a better location away from the tv to prevent spills.
And by this I mean WATER. Another mindless activity while watching the game is drinking beers, and before you know it, 6 are gone before the end of the quarter. Stay hydrated by drinking water in between your beers (or whichever alcoholic beverage you favor) which will also help off-set all of those salty chips, wings, and Doritos. This will help you avoid the dreaded Monday hangover (because Super Bowl Monday is STILL not a holiday?!) and prevent unnecessary bloating.
Well, football lovers, I hope this left you with some inspiration before next week’s game to be the true winner of the group. May you focus more on the game, commercials, and people surrounding you than the refreshments provided…but should you consume alcohol of any kind, please drink responsibly.
The most valuable, yet limited resource we have. It cannot be created, bought, loaned, rolled over, or saved for a rainy day. We all get 24 hours in each day and there is nothing we can do to change it.
However, what we can do is change the way we spend our 24 hours to maximize our potential each and every day.
Below are 4 ways to truly get the most out of your day without burning out–and actually feel more energized while doing it.
This seems simple–just put the most important “to-do” items of your day first. But, do you know what is the most important task of the day? What if that task is just the worst and you (like most, including myself) keep putting it off until it is not longer possible to procrastinate? I will tell you this: Attack the most important first (yourself, family, pets) then go to the most difficult tasks (big client call at work, uncomfortable conversation about the work progress of your colleague, etc.) and knock them out as soon as possible, preferably before lunch.
The reason for this is to 1. Get yourself in gear for a great day by going to the gym, eating a proper breakfast, and getting your family set for the day and 2. To avoid wasting more time throughout the day avoiding the big items. Yes, you will spend time daydreaming about what can go wrong with the big client meeting, or visualizing how you are going to approach your colleague to correct her work. So by crossing these items off your to-do list first thing in the morning, you will create more space mentally and physically throughout the rest of your day.
Just as it is important to physically schedule going to the gym on your calendar so you don’t miss it, scheduling breaks will allow you to collect your thoughts and get tempting distractions (email, Facebook, celebrity gossip websites) out of the way in an efficient manner.
Have you ever noticed yourself starting to check out “one thing” on social media which leads you down a rabbit hole and suddenly you are looking at pictures of your best friend’s cousin’s baby’s 1st birthday? Avoid that by setting a timer for 10 minutes for your break throughout the day to do anything you want, including browsing social media, grabbing a coffee, taking a walk and it won’t take up more of your time throughout the day.
Running late for the train because you spent an extra 10 minutes looking for your other shoe? Don’t worry, it happens. As does adding two minutes to pack your lunch, another minute to be sure you have everything in your bag, and don’t forget to add time looking for your keys and pouring your coffee to go. These small minutes add up to a chunk of time that can be used to do something productive like reply to an email, or perhaps even hit the snooze button one more time (ahhhhh!) to gain extra energy.
Avoid these small time-sucks by preparing for your day the night before. Lay out your clothes, prepare your lunch and leave it in the refrigerator, even prepare the coffee filter and grounds so all you have to do is hit the “brew” button on your coffee when you wake up. Be ready for your day even before going to bed and you will save precious time in the morning that can be much better spent.
Multi-task during small activities
I am a huge fan of being fully present in whatever activity you are doing, however, sometimes you just need to multitask. One good example is taking advantage of your train or bus commute to answer emails, read a book, write out thank you notes from your child’s birthday party, etc.
It is important to capitalize on down time to get other smaller jobs done. Another favorite of mine is to throw something in the oven to bake while I get ready, as it often takes around the same time and I know I will be home so it is safe to have the oven on. I also like being productive while waiting for a doctor’s appointment (which we all know we have plenty of free time in the waiting room!) which is the perfect time to look for a new recipe…or even write a blog post.
As you can see, there are several ways we can lose, and maximize our time within a day. If you are looking to get the most out of your day, be sure to avoid as many time-suckers as possible and allocate your time in a smart and efficient way.
Happy #WholeThoughtsThursday, everyone!! The weather has begun to thaw out here in Philly and I am enjoying sunshine, milder temps, and moving into my 3rd week of Whole30. Things are looking up!
This week, I wanted to talk to you about working out and how you can ensure that you get those workouts in that you promised yourself earlier this year. I will give you a hint–it doesn’t come from the results!!
5 ways to increase your success rate of getting your booty to the gym (or yoga studio, barre, etc!)
Find what you love to do.This may seem pretty obvious, but one of the main reasons people don’t go to the gym is because they simply don’t like their workout. Maybe running mindlessly for 30 minutes on a treadmill is not for you, or contorting your body into a pretzel for yoga makes you wish you were getting a root canal instead–and THAT’S OK! Not all exercises were meant for everyone which is why it is important for you to try a variety of them before committing to a full membership.
*Tip–if you want to actually try them all, head on over to Class Pass and try out a wide variety of classes offered nationally so not only can you try them out at home, you can work out when traveling, too! This honestly saved me from workout boredom and introduced me to so many new workouts I would have never tried!*
Seriously, find the workout that makes you literally skip all the way to class and dream about all day (or night) until the time has finally arrived to work out. Don’t worry if Zumba seems less effective to you than Spinning. If you don’t show up, nothing will be effective. Start with what you love to whet your appetite to get into workout mode, and then add on from there.
Who likes school because of the actual work? We all liked school because of our friends, right?? So, make a friend who attends the same gym/studio as you, or recruit one of your already-made friends to join you for a workout. Trust me, it is way more enticing to go to the gym when you know your pal will be there so you can gab about last night’s Bachelor episode, or trade notes on what healthy breakfast you both enjoyed that morning. As an added bonus, you can even make plans to grab a coffee or tea (no pastries!) after class so you know you are getting physical and emotional nourishment by putting on those yoga pants.
Create a routine.If you begin working out every Monday at 7am and after 4 weeks you skip it, you will definitely will notice a difference. Suddenly, there will be a void in your day as if you didn’t brush your teeth. Things will feel off and it will be because your normal routine was disrupted. Do this again on Wednesday, then add Thursday, and maybe a weekend morning and before you know it you have 4 days down that at exactly the same time every week you are working out. Your body and mind will thank you.
Write it down.You know that 9am team meeting every Tuesday that you have scheduled in your calendar? You don’t miss it because you schedule other obligations around it. Your workout should be the same way.
Actually create an event that shows up on your calendar for your workout. Be sure to block enough time to include the commute and, if necessary, the time to get ready afterwards. This will create a visual block of time in your day that you cannot miss, and yes, it is just as important (or maybe even more important if that team meeting could be done by email) as your other meetings. It doesn’t matter what time you have it in the calendar–5am, 11am, 11pm…you get it…just make sure it is on the calendar for you to see and schedule around and you will not miss that appointment!
Appreciate the outcome.Ok, so getting a nice bod by working out is a great bonus. Yes, it is a bonus, not the main reason to work out. If you focus on the results as the main reason for you to hit the gym, you will inevitably feel defeated after a few sessions since results do not happen overnight, which is why the above 4 tips are incredibly important to your success.
But, when you do start seeing those results, appreciate them. Show them off. Let others know how hard you are working and how it is paying off. You can even treat yourself by buying a new tank top or shorts to keep you energized for going to the gym and celebrate your newly toned body. You earned it and you deserve it. Do not be ashamed of that!
To recap–You are going to succeed at keeping those workout commitments this year by finding a class/workout you absolutely love and cannot wait to attend, make friends with the other girl/guy who goes at the same time as you (as you obviously have similar schedules and interests), and you will not miss this class because it is on your calendar so nothing can be scheduled during that time to disrupt it. Then, after you notice your newly toned arms and flatter tummy, you are going to wear that dress that has been hanging in your closet for far too long and even buy that Lululemon tank that shows off all of your hard work.
Sound good? Great. Get to it.