Weekly Roundup 5/16 – 5/20!

We made it through another work week!

giphy3Written By Rohn Strong

I will say, this week slogged by didn’t it? That always happens when I have something fun coming up on the weekends. I ALWAYS end up dragging my feet through the week and then Friday’s here and I have a packed to do list…that I never think I’ll make it through. But I manage.

The blog this week was full of book recommendations, colored pencil stuff, juicing info, and a giveaway! Make sure you check out all those links and share the love!

Remember you can follow me on all the social medias:

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Follow me on each one for exclusive giveaways and news! You can also stay completely updated by following me here on the blog at www.rohnstrong.com!

Have a happy and safe weekend y’all!

R

 

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7 Secrets to Clean Eating Success

ththup3ytn6xslwf43vy_img_8003Written by Rohn Strong

Whether you are already counting points or just thinking about eating a healthier dinner once a week, here are some secrets to help you succeed…

1) Walk Off Your Next Meal

Sometimes you don’t need to change what you’re eating, you just need to change the amount you’re eating. I keep every meal within the same caloric restrictions. If I cannot walk it off in a reasonable amount of time…there are too many calories.

At my height and weight I burn off about 500 calories if I walk for 45 minutes at a brisk pace. That is a great tool to gauge the size and quantity of what I should eat. This will save you calories and after a few weeks will become second nature. Just make sure to adjust the caloric intake as you lose weight!

2) Be Mindful

Clean eating isn’t just about making sure you’re putting the right foods in your body to keep it running at the optimal setting. It is also about getting your mind and body in sync with one another. You must be mindful.

When cooking a meal, try shutting the kitchen door and focusing on just what you’re doing. Don’t multitask. Focus on the food. Limit distractions.

Doing this gives you the time you need to connect with your food and to connect with what you are going to be making yourself. Clean eating is about detoxifying your mind, body, and soul. Cleaning out all of those areas of life that have gotten clogged over the years.

3) Go Organic…if You Can

One of the benefits of clean eating is that you are limiting yourself to only putting good food in your body. That’s it. We all know that the world is full of stuff that’s not so good for us and often that stuff is injected, sprayed on, or coated on our food.

Going organic means you are keeping those chemicals off your food and out of your body. This is primarily important when juicing or consuming raw fruits and veggies. Washing doesn’t take all of the chemicals off.

The easiest way to go organic? Shop at your farmers market. Don’t have one? Grow your food. Can’t do that? Check your local area for a CSA (community supported agriculture) that you can join! Your body will thank you!

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4) Juice

I’ve said it before but I cannot express enough my love of juicing. Why? It is one of the most successful ways of delivering the right nutrients to you body. Think of it as healthy fast food.

Every morning I’m up at 6. I make my family a huge pitcher of Carrot, Apple, and Lemon juice. It is invigorating, full of fiber, and filling as all get out. I don’t drink coffee or tea. My energy is simply from the juice.

Juicing provides some key benefits:

  • Calorie reduction without nutrient deprivation
  • Promotion of healthy eating habits
  • Delicious way to consume fresh produce
  • Floods the body with micronutrients

Not sure about juicing? The best way is to try it just once a day as a snack! Lots of places sell cold pressed juice! Here in Raleigh, I can get it delivered!

5) Get Geeky

Sometimes the excitement of a new adventure burns only long enough for you to see it through one meal. The key is in repetition.

The best way to do this? Immerse yourself in the lifestyle. Cook lots. Read articles. Research cookbooks. Make your library or indie bookstore your best friends. There are so many resources out there for individuals looking to get a bit healthier.

My rule of thumb is to read everything once, making notes as I go about passages or chapters that I’d revisit. Then I go back. Sometimes a book isn’t worth it’s weight in paper and the diet industry is a billion dollar business…so be careful.

However, there are a few gems out there from trusted sources! Dig!

6) Follow the Leader

I often find what I need is to follow. I like a plan. A set workout routine. I want something that I can rely on with certainty.

In 2006 I discovered Leslie Sansone and her Walk at Home program. I HIGHLY recommend it to those of you that cannot get time to get outside and take a walk. If you can only fit 15 minutes in a day…you can walk a mile. Just 15 minutes will clear your mind, airways, and get your heart pumping the way it needs to.

Sitting is the new smoking…we’ve all heard it. Our bodies were meant to move. Get up and move. You’re body (and mind) will thank you! Not to mention…it helps flush toxins…a double benefit!

7) Be Independent

I always heard…YOU NEED A SUPPORT SYSTEM…I call bull crap on that. You don’t need anybody but you. You are strong enough to do this. You are strong enough to succeed.

The truth is…gaining weight is often isolating. Losing weight can be just as isolating. Sometimes a support system just isn’t there and I’m here to tell you…that’s okay. You don’t have to have a weekly meeting, a supportive spouse, or a family that backs you up. If you do? Great! That’s awesome and it might help you succeed even more.

Me? I live far away from most of my family and the support system here at home, isn’t always the best. Can it be lonely? Sure. However, that loneliness is often overtaken by a desire to succeed. You have to learn to be your own support system. No one’s going to be there to help every minute of every day…except you!

Clean eating and getting healthy can be the greatest thing that ever happened to you or it can make you feel trapped in a hamster wheel of kale and hemp protein. How do you make clean eating work for you? I’d love to hear your tips!

Protein Peanut Butter Cookies

I’m a HUGE fan of Peanut Butter Cookies, have been for quite some time. I used to bake and eat them every day. Yup. Every single day. Well, that’s not healthy no matter how you look at it. So, I needed an alternative.

This recipe came about after really wanting to make a cookie that was packed with protein and healthy ingredients. While they don’t taste anything like those classic Peanut Butter cookies we’re used to, they do offer a great alternative.

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Packed with protein, healthy sugars, flaxseed, and even a bit of chia…grab these cookies on your way out the door before your morning workout or for a great ‘pick me up’ in mid afternoon.

They won’t spike your blood sugar and actually fill you up! Can you say dessert BEFORE dinner? I even though about frosting these with a bit of peanut butter frosting  with a hint of coconut oil? Could you imagine the awesome flavors that would impart!

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The family gobbled these up about as fast as I could make them and I’m itching to try a few different methods of making. Including substituting almond butter, adding a bit of coconut oil, and even spiking them with a touch of earl grey tea. Yup.

What do you think? Should we make more of these homemade protein packed bars? Maybe an e-book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Download the Recipe Here: Protein Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Tofu Ricotta and Marinara Pasta Bake

I’ll admit it. I had a tough time coming up with that title. Come on, though…what do I call this?

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BESIDES DELICIOUS?

This is one of the easiest recipe’s you’ll ever make and there’s enough for an army (or for a weeks worth of dinners if you usually cook for one or two). What do you need? Well, to be honest…just some sauce and tofu…okay there’s a few more ingredients than that BUT overall this is one of the smiliest and tastiest recipes you can make.

It also happens to contain some really really really healthy ingredients. The dish is vegan, vegetarian, clean, and can easily be converted to gluten free! You could easily make this a lot healthier if you wanted but let’s not go too crazy here.

The Bake is essentially just three parts:

  1. Tofu Ricotta
  2. Pasta
  3. House Marinara

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You’ll remember our House Marinara recipe here and you should know how to cook some pasta by now but if not…just read the box! All the directions are there. Although, keep in mind we will be baking this so cook it for about 2/3 of the recommended time on the box. This will ensure your pasta holds up and doesn’t disintegrate to mush. No one wants ricotta and marinara mush. No one.

Once you make all the independent parts, just combine them together, throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until everything looks bubbly and delicious and – yup – cheesy.

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I know, tofu ricotta is not real ricotta. Your right and on its own I wouldn’t eat this with a spoon. However, by mixing it with the marinara and the pasta we get this cheesy like substance that is not just good for us but tastes pretty darn good too.

The secret is in the making of the tofu ricotta. You cannot just use tofu. That won’t work. You have to add a bunch of flavor to it. Tofu is just a blank canvas and you have to paint your tastes right on it. My secret? Miso Paste.

What is miso paste?

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Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a mold starter), and often mixed with rice, barley or other grains. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 3 months to 3 years, which produces an enzyme-rich food. The binding agent zybicolin in miso is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

What does this mean for our bodies? Well, Miso contains all the essential amino acids we need, making it a complete protein. It also stimulates digestive fluids, is a great source of probiotics, a great source of B12, strengthens the immune system, lowers LDL’s, and is high in antioxidants.

All of that in your pasta! Who’da thought!

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If you decide you don’t want to dive headfirst into Miso Paste and Tofu Ricotta, here’s a tip…just use regular Ricotta. It’ll work out just fine! Sprinkle with a heaping helping of Parm and you’ll be good to go!

Download your recipe for the Tofu Ricotta and Marinara Pasta Bake!

 

(kind of) HEALTHY BROWNIES!

 

Yep.

Brownies.

Healthy.

(kind of).

There is just something about a brownie. It brings back feelings of happiness and home…a true comfort food.

This recipe is an loose adaptation of another brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour.

My version is made with a combination of almond and brown rice flour which makes it Gluten Free! It also has the benefits that come with coconut sugar! Seriously…how could you not love these?!

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While I don’t recommend eating a HUGE pan of these…two or three aren’t too bad for your diet. The combo of brown rice and almond flour lends a fudgy (it’s a word) and dense texture without being too dense. I also used a combo of coconut sugar and palm sugar. The coconut sugar is a lot like brown sugar but not as bad for you!

The palm sugar is a nutrient rich, low-glycemic sugar that is completely natural and unrefined. It is also rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.

I also used a natural cocoa that’s pretty high fat. I purchase mine at Penzey’s…and the company can be a bit expensive but it’s totally worth it. They give them the best, most chocolatey, brownie like taste you can imagine!

You can substitute all purpose flour for the almond/brown rice flour and white sure for the coconut/palm sugar. Just keep in mind they are not going to be the same, at all.

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Here’s what you’ll need!

Ingredients:

1 cup Palm Sugar
3/4 cup Coconut Sugar
5 Tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder, High Fat
3 Extra Large Eggs
1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8″ square pan.

Place the sugars, melted butter, and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the vanilla and cocoa, then add the eggs and mix well. Add the flour and baking powder, stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 33-38 minutes until the top is set. A skewer tester will come out with a bit of chocolate on the top.

Allow to cool and serve room temperature (they just taste the best at room temp)! Cut into 16 small squares!

Download the Recipe here, (kind of) Healthy Brownies!

 

House Marinara Sauce

Everyone has their own version of Marinara Sauce, right? Growing up I was relegated to eating that horrible red stuff that comes in the glass jar and flavored with simply…MEAT.

What kind of flavor is that anyway? Don’t I want a tomato sauce to taste like…you know…tomatoes? Not…meat? Or a sorry substitute for it?

So, don’t suffer with that sorry excuse for a real marinara sauce when you can whip up my House Marinara in just a few minutes and ingredients.

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What sets this Marinara apart from others? Well, apart from how amazing it tastes, there is a secret ingredient. Coconut Sugar.

Did I lose you?

Hear me out. Tomatoes are acidic and therefore you need something a bit sweeter to counteract that acidity. Some use carrots but my Nana always used white sugar. I use to think it was crazy until I realized she was onto something.

Coconut sugar is a great alternative to white sugar. This sugar is actually derived from the coconut palm tree. It was show to contain minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits. What’s all that mean?

That it is a great alternative to the empty calories of white processed sugar.

AND…a little goes a long way. So, at the very least we are saving on calories, which we all love.

This marinara also contains a powerhouse of flavor that will compliment pasta but not overwhelm it. I also included a recipe for my favorite way to use this sauce up!

Oh…you want another added benefit? This sauce meets the dietary requirements of most people out there! It is vegan, vegetarian, paleo, clean, whole, dairy free, nut free, and gluten free!

Just go make it. You won’t regret it, I promise!

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House Marinara

1 large Onion, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Dried Organo
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Can (28 ounces) Whole Tomatoes, crushed.
1 Cup Pasta Water

Preparation

Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and garlic and cook until onions are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on Sugar, Oregano, Basil, Pepper Flakes, Salt, and Pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and Pasta Water. If you’re making this ahead of time just leave out the pasta water and then add it in when reheating.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, until thick and creamy.

Recipe makes enough for about a pound of pasta.

Print the Recipe for my House Marinara!

Print the Recipe for my Simple Weeknight Pasta!

 

Apple Pie…For Breakfast

I love Apple Pie, but not any old Apple Pie. The truth? I hate tart things. Tart apples give me all of the grief. My cheeks invert, my tongue smacks, and my teeth hurt. I hate tart.

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I grew up in Michigan, and the apples were aplenty. In the south, it is much of the same. We always have apples at the ready, and they are a great boost to your diet.

Apples have a whole slew of good-for-you nutrients such as fiber, important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

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With all of that…why not eat an apple a day?

Today’s recipe is for a healthy apple bake. One of those meals that fills the house with the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon and you can almost feel the leaves starting to change, the summer air ushering in the first breath of fall. MMMHHHMMM!

The best thing? It is a vegan, vegetarian, plant based breakfast that will fit into any healthy lifestyle plan!

All you’ll need is a few apples, some seasonings, and a couple of optional ingredients and you will be all set to make this gorgeous dish that is as tasty as it is healthy. Take the time to find fresh, organic, and local ingredients if you can. It will take this bake to a whole ‘nother level.

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Strawberry Apple Bake

Ingredients:

1 Tbps Coconut Oil
2 Apples, cored and diced
1 cup Strawberries (while other berries can be used…get what’s in season)
1/4 cup Raisins
1 Tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large ramekin baking dish with the Coconut Oil. To make this process as simple as possible, just soften the oil for a few seconds in the microwave. Just so that it is soft enough to be spreadable.

Chop the apples and add to the baking dish. Top with the strawberries, raisins, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Cover with a single layer of tinfoil, shiny side down, and bake for 45-50 minutes. You want your apples to be soft but not mushy. The strawberries will essentially dissolve into a sweet sauce that helps the raisins reconstitute a bit.

Let cool for 5 minutes. This will make two healthy size portions that each average about 200 calories! So…if you want…you could eat the whole thing!

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