gluten free vegan banana maple walnut scones finding your fit place.

Gluten-Free Vegan Scones – Banana Maple Walnut

Yes, it is possible to transform a recipe that is 90% butter and flour into a gluten-free, vegan version. These Banana Maple Walnut Scones are a perfect example. And with the exception of the coconut oil and baking soda, it’s basically like you’re eating a bowl of oatmeal. Seriously! Its a great breakfast or snack.

Banana Maple Walnut Scones (Gluten Free, and Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup solid coconut oil
  • 2-3 bananas
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, and spritz baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt) in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. Peel and mash bananas, and then combine wet ingredients (maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla) with bananas, one at a time until well combined.
  4. Go back to the dry ingredients, and cut in coconut oil with a fork or pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly and coconut oil is evenly distributed.
  5. Fold in wet ingredients, then fold in nuts. Make sure everything is combined well, but don’t over mix.
  6. Sprinkle some oat flour on a flat surface, and form half of the dough into a circle that’s 1 – 2 inches tall. Cut into 6 equal pieces (like you were cutting a pizza), and place them on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  7. Cook for 16-22 minutes, or until scones begin to brown.
Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Finding Your Fit Place.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie

You can either make this recipe in a traditional glass pie dish, or in a larger, square baking dish and cut it into less traditional (but easier to serve and store) squares or bars. Either way, it’s delicious! I created it as part of my new project – Before and After Recipes. I’ve got a few more recipes in the works before I roll it all out, but this one is ready to go…

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie (or Bars)

Ingredients (Crust):

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 8 oz. dates (12-14 large, pitted)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Ingredients (Filling)

  • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 5 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, and spritz baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine oats and pecans in food processor and pulse until finely ground, and put into a medium-sized bowl. Add cinnamon and salt.
  3. Create a paste with a dates (you can either use your hands or a food processor to do this) and combine with pecan/oat mixture using hands. Add maple syrup until a ball of dough forms. Press into the baking dish until flat, and dough comes up 1/2 – 1 inch on the sides (to form crust). Set aside.
  4. To prepare the filling, combine pumpkin puree with corn starch, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  5. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350F and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until filling sets and pie begins to brown. If you’re using a pie dish it will take a bit longer than if using a larger baking dish. Let cool, and serve.

Five things I’ve learned that make adopting healthy habits just a little bit easier

Adopting healthy habits can be hard, but I’ve learned a few things that can help make it easier. Sometimes these things don’t even seem like they should be so hard, but they are, and that’s part of the problem too.

Five things I’ve learned that make adopting healthy habits just a little bit easier:

1. Accept the fact that it is a challenge. Maybe you’ve committed to going to the gym at least twice a week. It sounds like it should be no big deal, right? And we all say things like “I can do it. I just have to.” Well, you haven’t done it because it is harder than you’re giving it credit for. Maybe not the gym part… but the going to the gym part. If it was so easy, then you would be doing it. Give yourself more credit, and mentally prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.

2. Just do it. Could you tell I was going here with that first one? Don’t think about it all day and all night. Just pack your bag for the gym, and go. And don’t think about the next time. Just focus on the workout. If you are trying to eat healthier, don’t think about when you’re going to start, or what you’re going to eat at your next meal. Just make this one healthy.

3. Focus on the positive change, not the old habit. Visualize yourself in that healthy habit. Trying to ride your bike to work everyday? Focus on how that feels, not how much hatred you have for the bus. These negative thoughts might trick you into doing the right thing, but in the long run, it isn’t a winning strategy. Think about it in a glass-half-full type of way.

4. Look for progress in the commitment to your behaviors. If there is some larger goal attached to your desire to develop a healthier habit, then that is great, but sometimes it takes longer to see progress in that realm, and you don’t want to deter yourself from the process. Stick to the healthy habit, and think about your commitment overall. It’s ok to miss a day you committed to going to the gym, as long as it doesn’t turn into a pattern.

5. Use your longer term goals as a way to evaluate your healthy habits. So you’ve gone to the gym twice every week for 8 weeks, and you’ve gotten stronger, but you still want to lose some weight. Now that you’ve got the training habit down, maybe it’s time to work on the eating habits.

If you can do this – set behavioral goals as steps to reaching physical goals, and consistently evaluate your successes and adapt – creating healthy habits can become a positively reinforcing behavior, and with each on you adopt, it will get easier and easier.

-Michelle

Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions (Gluten Free). Finding Your Fit Place.

Recipe: Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions (Gluten Free!)

Mushroom Risotto is one of my favorite meals, and after perfecting my recipe, I thought I could recreate it on the healthier side, and started by swapping arborio rice with quinoa. Then with a few more changes (and a couple of test runs), I created this Quinoa Risotto recipe that will satisfy that craving, but not leave you feeling bloated afterwards. And it’s also gluten free!

Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions (Gluten Free). Finding Your Fit Place.

Quinoa is a source of essential amino acids, which means that it provides you with amino acids that your body cannot create on its own. These essential amino acids are generally found only in meat, so quinoa is a great option for vegetarians that provides complete protein. To adjust this recipe for a vegetarian lifestyle, use vegetable broth instead of chicken. For vegan, do the same, but also skip the milk, butter and cheese, and go a little heavier on the broth. Try adding some pureed butternut squash for creaminess.

Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 pint mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs (parsley and/or basil) for garnish
  • (a little more parmesan for serving)

Instructions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions, reducing the amount of liquid slightly (should be about 3.5 cups of chicken stock). While that is getting started, move onto step 2.
  2. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt, and sautee until brown and fully cooked. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, begin sautéing the onion, adding more olive oil if necessary, Cook until caramelized.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa into the pan with the onions, then add remaining chicken stock and cook on low heat, constantly stirring. When fully absorbed, check to make sure the consistency is to your preference. If not, add more water (a little at a time).
  5. Add butter, milk, and parmesan to quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined. Garnish with a bit more cheese and fresh herbs, and serve.

Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions (Gluten Free). Finding Your Fit Place.

Bye-Bye Summer Bloat Meal Plan. Finding your fit place.

Bye-Bye Summer Bloat: My 3-Day Meal Plan to get back into Skinny Jeans

It’s almost time. Time to put away the shorts and skirts that slide up just enough to fit the extra five pounds I’ve been carrying, and time to let fade the five shades of tan that disguise them so well.

Time to say goodbye to vacation and excuses, and embrace tight jeans and a pale complexion. Time to say goodbye to Summer and hello to Fall. And time for me to celebrate.

You see, Fall is my Spring – a fresh start with cool, crisp air, and the opportunity to rid my life of excess. This Fall brings some particularly exciting changes, but still, the best part is the return of structure to my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I live for four-day weekends on the beach, running in the sun, and ice cream every night, but I miss my habits and my schedule. Yes, the structure of fall is coming, and what a better way to welcome it than three days of perfectly regimented meals and workouts.

Oh, how I have missed my daily routine. Follow me (or join me!) for three days as I welcome September and get rid of my Summer bloat.

One thing you will notice about this plan that is different from my others, is that it is vegetarian. Skipping meat makes me feel great when I’m going for the “cleanse” thing, but I also need to support a cardio and strength-training regimen. That’s why you’ll see some extra carbs, and protein from alternative sources.

“BYE-BYE SUMMER BLOAT” DAILY MEAL PLAN

Meal One:
2 eggs
1/2 cup spinach
2 slices sprouted grain bread

Meal Two:
1 apple
2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Meal Three:
1 sweet potato
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup broccoli

Meal Four:
1 sweet potato
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup peas

Meal Five:
6 oz.vanilla Greek yogurt

I’m aiming to keep my water intake at 64 oz. or more per day, and training will consist of daily sessions of both strength and cardio. Feels better to be back on the blog already :)

-Michelle

The 10-Day Plant-Based Experiment: Recap & Review

Eating nothing but fruits & vegetables for 10 days (with one exception!) wasn’t so bad. Initially I dropped a few pounds (mostly water weight), and felt really fantastic pretty much the entire time.

I had some goals that I outlined in my original post, and I felt like I succeeded in reaching all of them. But it was really just a little momentum. After I completed the ten days, it was up to me to use that momentum to continue along my fit journey. There is no quick fix, but there are ways to snap out of bad habits.

We all have ups and downs, and overall, I would say that any sort of “cleanse” is a good way to develop strength for the psychological challenges that go along with coming out of one of those downs.

If you’re looking for more details, check out my daily recaps:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Days Six, Seven, and Eight

The Plant-Based Experiment: Days 6, 7, and 8

Waking up on Day 6 felt better than any day yet, but this morning I also woke up to a smoker filled with (what would soon be) pulled pork. And I spent the rest of the day deciding whether or not I would allow myself to have it.

I also did a 40-mile bike ride, and a couple miles of hiking. And after careful, thoughtful consideration, I went for the pulled pork… and it was just a really amazing decision :)

I had already met my goals for my experiment:

  1. Getting back into my healthy habits
  2. Strengthening my discipline
  3. Stabilizing my energy
  4. Supporting my fitness
  5. Getting back to the low end of my weight range.

And the bit of pulled pork I had didn’t hurt me one bit. All of the things I set out to do are still done, but it doesn’t mean I am going to stop!  After the pulled pork I hopped right back on the vegan train (still mostly raw) and I plan to finish the rest of my ten days strong.

That is why it was important for me to set goals for these ten days. I’ve been tempted to eat outside of the rules I set about a hundred times a day, but every time I analyzed the choice in relation to my goals, it wasn’t worth it. Finally, I had found something that was. Homemade, smoked meat. Yum :)

DAY SIX 

Nutrition

  • Breakfast (9:00 am) – 2 bananas
  • Snack (11:00 am) – 2 more bananas
  • Lunch (1:00 pm) – 1/2 orange, 1/2 avocado, kale
  • Snack (5:00 pm) – plum, corn tortilla chips, salsa, mixed nuts
  • Dinner (9:00 pm) – pulled pork on a roll, baked beans, and a slice of ice cream cake.. forgot to mention that one :)

Workout

  • Bike ride, 40 miles
  • Hiking (maybe 2-3 miles)

DAY SEVEN 

Nutrition

  • Breakfast (9:00 am) – 2 bananas
  • Snack (11:00 am) – watermelon
  • Lunch (2:00 pm) – mixed fruit (berries, bananas, and nectarines)
  • Snack (5:00 pm) – apple, mixed nuts
  • Dinner (7:00 pm) – salad with mixed greens, hummus, orange slices, tomatoes, and pine nuts

Workout

  • 5k run

DAY EIGHT

Nutrition

  • Breakfast (6:00 am) – 1 orange; coffee
  • Lunch (1:00 pm) – apple and 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • Snack (4:00 pm) – 1 cup grapes, 1 cup cherries, 1/2 cantaloupe
  • Dinner (7:00 pm) – salad with mixed greens, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 mango, 1/2 cucumber, hummus
  • Snack (9:00 pm) – 2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Not so bad! I’ve got 2 more days, and I’m going to do my best to keep them both fully raw.

The Plant-Based Experiment: Day 5

I woke up in New Hampshire feeling better this morning than any day so far. There were bagels and cream cheese, eggs, bananas, and cookies for breakfast. Saying “no” to the bagels was kind of hard. They smelled so good being toasted, and I’m used to eating whatever I want on these training weekends. But I stuck to fruit, black coffee and water.

When the team left for their ride, it was nearly lunchtime so I had some kale, 1/2 an orange and 1/2 an avocado that I had brought with me, and all signs of hunger went away.

Being on Day 5 is great. I have momentum, plus I feel amazing so there is some motivation to stick with it. I’m also far enough into my commitment that I’ve met my goals, and if I were to eat something off plan, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. So the pressure is off.

Tonight I actually had some corn tortilla chips and hummus, and a little pasta with my dinner of roasted vegetables. I really enjoyed it, and I still stuck to vegan (although not 100% raw).

Turning down cookies is probably the worst part, but it’s actually not really such a big deal at this point. Once I brushed my teeth and got into bed, the craving was gone and I was really glad that I didn’t have any.

DAY FIVE NUTRITION

  • Breakfast (9:00 am) – 2 bananas, 1 apple; COFFEE!)
  • Lunch (12 noon) – kale, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 orange
  • Snack (3:30 pm) – 1/2 orange, 1/2 avocado
  • Snack (7:00 pm) – corn tortilla chips, cucumber slices, and hummus
  • Dinner (9:00 pm) – roasted vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, onions, bell peppers) and 1/2 c. Pasta
  • 64 oz. water

The Plant-Based Experiment: Day 4

Just a brief check-in for Day 4, then it’s bedtime!

DAY 4 NUTRITION

-Breakfast (7:30 am): smoothie with kale, mango, watermelon, and orange -Snack (10:30 am): banana, apple
-Lunch (2:00 pm): salad with kale, avocado, and cherry tomatoes with a splash of olive oil and vinegar -Dinner (6:00 pm): 2 pints cherry tomatoes
-Snack (11:00 pm): banana, apple

I’ve really been enjoying my meals today, although I waited a little too long to eat tonight because I was traveling for the weekend.

I’m in Franconia, NH for Green Line Velo training camp and I’ll be here until Sunday. Training camp means lots of exercise… But also lots of food. The temptations started with a bag of cookies as soon as I walked in the door, STARVING. But I ate an apple, a banana, then got ready for bed.

Skipping cookies isn’t so bad :) we’ll see how I feel about that in a few days…

Goodnight for now! More tomorrow.

The Plant-Based Experiment: Day 3

This morning I woke up feeling pretty similar to yesterday – really great, well hydrated, but pretty hungry and also in need of some caffeine.

(Need to catch up? Check out my Plant-Based experimentDay One and Day Two)

I made another fruit/kale smoothie which was refreshing and filling. This one was made from the same ingredients as yesterday (mango, orange, watermelon, and kale), but the orange was pretty dry and not sweet at all. So that was a little disappointing. I added some cucumber to make up for it. When I took the first sip I wasn’t too excited, but as I continued to drink it tasted better and better. Not really sure what that was all about.

The trip to the grocery store late morning was another opportunity to exercise my willpower. And I found that it was easier today. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel tempted by the trail mix aisle… I just knew what I had to do and I did it.

4pm crash hit me at 3:30 today. Maybe because I woke up earlier. I fixed it with an avocado, 2 bananas, and some black tea.

I noticed today that I was more “snacky,” with more meals that were a bit smaller. Day 3 is pretty rough. I’m not going to lie. I’m getting into the thick of it…

DAY THREE NUTRITION

  • Breakfast (7:30 am) – Green smoothie made with 1/2 mango, 1/2 orange, 1/2 cup of watermelon, 1/2 cucumber, and a few handfuls of kale; COFFEE)
  • Snack (10:30 am) – 1 banana
  • Lunch (1:30 pm) – 1/2 baby watermelon (16oz.), 1 apple, 1 plum
  • Snack (4:00 pm) – 1 avocado, 2 bananas; black tea
  • Dinner (8:00 pm) – kale salad: recipe from day 1 (1/2 avocado, 1/2 mango, 1/2 orange blended for dressing and tossed with the other halves of the fruits and 4 oz. kale).
  • Evening Snack (9:00 pm) – 1/2 baby watermelon (16oz.)
  • 48 oz. water

DAY TWO WORKOUT

  • Ran .5 miles
  • Warmup Circuit (x3): bodyweight quats, push-ups, mountain climbers
  • Circuit 1 (x3): alternating lunges, kickboxing combos, v-ups
  • Circuit 2 (x3): push-ups, jump squats, walking plank, sit-ups
  • Ran .5 miles

I’ll check in with my goals tomorrow… Today was HARD and I’m tired :)