almonds

Vegan Cheese Recipe by April Norris

Vegan Cheese Recipe by April Norris

Looking to make the most delicious non-dairy cheese?! You've found it right here in BennerFit with guest blogger April Norris.

Healthy Snacks For a Road Trip!

Healthy Snacks For a Road Trip!

Road Trip Snack Ideas!

Simple Snacking

Simple Snacking

The 30 day challenges keep coming at my workplace. This 30 days is all about eating better and cleansing the palette of all the unhealthiness we have become accustomed to. It's mostly focused on no desserts, potato chips or fried anythings but what I have really discovered is - that it is all about substitutions. I didn't want to go into the challenge by saying, "This dessert is sugar free so I will eat it." and end up consuming ten pounds of artificial sweeteners on the daily. For me and my goals - this isn't the plan. That's not to say that this can't be a part of yours but, personally, I'm attempting to remove as many unnatural products from my life as much as possible ( and I also highly recommend agave and honey).

I have found a few new simple and amazing replacements that will now forever be a part of my snacking laundry list.

Almond butter:

Ok we have even talked about almond butter here on the site and sometimes I would think, "Eh. It's ok. " but now I know its wonders. The grainy texture and light flavor has drawn me in and now I can't stop, won't stop. My new favorite breakfast/afternoon snack - dipping a banana into almond butter mixed with a squeeze of honey.

DC Part 2!

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Can you tell I'm in love with DC?! I believe I left off on Monday evening...

Ian and I went out with some of our coworkers for dinner at a restaurant called Founding Farmer's (love the name-www.wearefoundingfarmers.com). It's made up of 42,000 farmers that provide organic foods for the restaurant. How can one not support a business so fabulous? But ladies and gents the food...oh...my...word...AMAZING. The flavors they created in such healthy dishes were mind blowing! I could have kept eating if my stomach allowed it. I got a white bean cutlet stew and Ian got a vegetarian "meatloaf."

 

After a full and happy dinner we slept in the next morning ready to take on the day. Ian had to leave for work but I ventured into the Georgetown neighborhood and fell in love with it. The uneven cobblestone streets, the quaint Cafe's, and a great yoga class filled my freezing body (20 degrees outside) full of joy!

 

 

I popped into Lululemon in Gerogetown to ask them what fitness or yoga studios are around the area and they provided me with a great suggestion a yoga studio called Down Dog Yoga (www.downdogyoga.com). It was a hot and full vinyasa flow class that warmed me up and pumped up my heart rate. The instructors name was, Meg, and she did a fabulous job leading the class through a beautiful flow.

 

That night Ian and I dined at a local and delicious Indian Restaurant called Mehak (www.mehak.com). To all you vegetarian and vegans out there Indian food is a great option for good, filling, and healthy dishes. We had a romantic dinner and I wanted to cherish my last night in DC so we went out for a walk through the freezing cold yet gorgeous streets of DC...

My last morning in DC could not have been anymore perfect. It all began with a jog from downtown, to the national mall, to the capital, to the Washington monument, to the White House, and back. 5 miles later I could have kept going because I was just in awe of all the history I was stepping on and seeing.

 

Ian and I worked up a serious appetite so we decided to stop and grab some breakfast before I had to leave for Baltimore. There is a breakfast spot called Protein Bar (www.theproteinbar.com) that is only in Chicago and DC that a college friend of mine suggested. Boy was it delicious! Quinoa breakfast bowls with agave syrup, almonds, and fresh berries...a green tea smoothie with almond milk, egg whites, and fresh green tea...incredible! We ended my DC trip with a bang!

 

I'm in Baltimore now, working, and pretending I'm still in our nations capital. I couldn't have asked for a better 2 1/2 days! So thankful for our country and for each day of health I have here!

I hope this inspires you to travel and to know that wherever you go, you are able to find healthy foods, fitness studios or the outdoors, and amazing sites. Maybe instead of cabbing it somewhere in metropolitan cities, walk it or jog it so you get to experience the energy, the people, and actually touch the sites.

 

Syd's Visit To Our Nation's Capital

"BEEP BEEP BEEP," went the alarm! Up and at em at 4:30 am in Los Angeles Sunday morning to take off to DC to visit my boyfriend and to sight-see around one of the most incredible places in our country. As our plane began to land in DC there was a heavy cloud cover and then all of a sudden the Washington Monument was breaking through the sky to my left. I felt a jolt of emotion, because here I am landing in a city where all of our presidents have stepped foot. It's overwhelming even as I write this... I'm going to switch gears for a second here. In California, there is an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC that all students are able to take over Spring Break. When I was in 8th grade, my daddy was very sick with cancer, so instead of taking the trip, I spent time with my family. To be here fourteen years later - for the first time - is deeply emotional for me and I feel like I can appreciate it all the more at this point in my life. As I walked up to the White House tears dropped down my face... I was just overcome with emotion. How amazing to be in front of a home where all of our presents have lived (except George Washington, but he had the place built!) To walk around the National Mall or to stand in front of the Washington Monument, I am walking in history. As my mama said, "you can see it, touch it, believe it...it is not a fable!" It is all real and I am honored to be here...

Yesterday I slept in and slowly woke up to start my day. I looked up various yoga studios around the downtown DC area and found a place called Sculpt DC which is a spin/yoga studio. I popped into a 12:15 pm yoga sculpt class. The studio was super chic and urban. You walk in upstairs and the studios are located downstairs. There are gorgeous bathrooms, showers, and even a lounge area for all the fitness goers to freshen up or relax. I like a booty kicking workout, this particular class was a bit more relaxing but certainly a nice way to start my day.

 

Following my yoga class I popped into Le Pain Quotidien for a fresh lentil salad with a cup of vegan black bean soup, yum!

 

I decided to head to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History which is on Pennsylvania Ave and part of the national mall. Most museums here are free, which is a big plus! I could have spent hours in here but having limited time to get all of my sight seeing in, I tried to get as much in as I could before I walked over to the Washington Monument. They had an award winning animal photography section and below were a couple of my favorites.

 

The Washington Monument shines high above all the downtown DC buildings. It's not a city that is built tall like New York or Chicago, but it's architecture doesn't need height to make it beautiful. Here I am in the FREEZING windy weather in front of the Monument.

 

What I love most about being here, is that this city is so easy to navigate. You walk everywhere because you can and in the midst of all the national landmarks you get a 3 to 5 mile walk in! Total health bonus! No wonder DC is one of the fittest cities in the US.

This is just day one here and I have a day and a half to go! I can't wait to see what I can fit in, in just a few short hours...

Love you America!

 

Stuffed Strawberry Banana Creams Make Me Beam!

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This past weekend I hosted two of my dear college friends for a girls weekend. We all had the best time hanging out on the couch, catching up, going to the movies, and eating delicious food. We indulged in one too many treats and loved every minute of it! I was looking forward to cooking up a belated birthday dinner one of my best friends, Megan on Saturday night. Since I was hosting the whole weekend I knew I would have limited time to cook up lots of food. So when searching for menu ideas I knew I had to keep it simple. One of my favorite appetizers I made was actually just about the easiest of them all. STUFFED STRAWBERRY BANANA CREAMS (thank you fitsugar.com for the inspiration)

Anything with the word strawberries always catches my attention. Strawberries can stand alone or bring a lot of flavor to a recipe. These stuffed strawberries only require a total of four ingredients and the fourth being the strawberries themselves.

 

All you need are:

1) Bananas (half of one)

2) Vanilla Greek Yogurt (2 oz)

3) Sliced Almonds (you choose how much you want to put it)

And..

4) STRAWBERRIES (8 of them)

Directions:

Wash the strawberries and dry them. Then use a melon scooper if you have one, or a knife if not, to cut out the middle of the strawberry.

 

Cut the banana in half and mash it up with a fork.

 

Add in the Greek yogurt with the mashed banana.

 

Add in the almonds to the banana and yogurt mix.

 

Time to scoop the banana, yogurt, and almond mix into the hollow strawberries.

 

And just like that you have decadent and healthy stuffed strawberry banana creams. They look fabulous on an appetizer or dessert table and I guarantee you your guests will eat them up in a jiffy! We certainly did last weekend!

 

Kale! It's SO hot right now!

 

Almost six years ago I was introduced to "kale." I was sitting down on break from a dance rehearsal and my friend, Camille took out a container full of greens. They were no ordinary leafy greens, they had ruffled edges and sparked my interest so clearly I had to ask her, "what kind of salad is that?" I tried her delicious kale, cranberry, and pine nut salad and there began my LOVE for kale.

 

Apple Pie Smoothie

Every year around this time there is a bittersweetness that runs through my bones. Growing up in Florida, the summer weather is very near and dear to me. I love the warmth, the long days, the sun melting away my air conditioned skin. As soon as that temperature dips below 85 and the sun begins to set sooner than I care for - I get a bit sad that those shorts wearing, beach bumming days are about to end.

But every year there is a moment where this sadness and longing for the return of summer (before it has actually even ended) snaps. This day usually aligns with the announcement of the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. No, I realize this is a health blog, I know! So don't listen to me when I say I could drink these for days and be blissfully happy. Remember that along with this happiness comes  a bellyful of sugars that are breaking down into terrible no good fats. Seriously, ignore my passion for the sweet sugary goodness of pumpkin magic.

I digress. This moment is where I begin to embrace autumn. I start looking forward to changing my wardrobe and am thrilled that I can get away without painting my toes because I am sporting some fresh new boots. Besides cozy sweaters, and changing leaves -  fall comes with an abundance of amazing flavors that warm the body and soul. For me fall is the season of comfort.

The only problem with October in Los Angeles is that while the styles may be changing in all of the stores - it's still 90 degrees outside. So while I was wearing my boots one day, drinking my pumpkin spice latte - I realized that I was 1.) sweating and  2.) in need of finding a refreshing fall drink that could also cool me off in this heat.

So I introduce to you my newest best friend - the apple pie smoothie! This sweet treat is one that is actually full of good for your body essentials.

 

APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE (by Fitsugar.com

Ingredients 5 raw almonds 1 red apple 1 banana 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt 1/2 cup nonfat milk 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Recommended BF Additions: A squeeze of agave 1 graham cracker  (for that pie crust texture)

Directions Throw everything into the blender (if your blender isn't too powerful, like mine - you should probably cut up that apple and banana). Blend it up! Pour into a cup. Drink!

Round One of Apple Pie Smoothie Creation: My husband was craving a sweet treat one night, so I jumped on this recipe. I followed it exactly and before he managed to chug the whole thing down, I snuck in a sip or two. And woah - deliciousness. I didn't remember shoving an apple pie into my blender - but it sure tasted like it happened. The only problem with Round One of this concoction was a tartness to the recipe that stemmed from the Greek Yogurt. I'll admit, despite knowing how amazing yogurt is for the body - I'm not a fan of the raw yogurt flavor. Ok, truth time - I'm a big fan of my yogurt tasting like anything but yogurt.

Round Two: So on my second attempt at making the smoothie I scoured the cabinets to see if we could add any fun additional flavors. In went a graham cracker, a squeeze of agave and a splash more of milk (approximately an extra 1/8 of a cup). And... heck yeah. The tiny grains of graham cracker were a tasty addition and the agave added a hint of sweetness that cut through the overly yogurt-ie flavor. A little less healthy than Round One, but if you can afford a few extra calories, it might just be worth it.

Either way, you'll be beyond happy with this treat. It's super filling and tastes like October, but will keep you cool on those not so autumny, autumn days.