healthy-snacks

My Favorite Healthy Snacks 

I wholeheartedly believe in eating healthy as consistently as possible (with a little room for my favorite indulgences – dirty martinis, pineapple and olive pizza, and cheese plates) and that treating one’s body right benefits every aspect of a person’s life. Since it’s the start of the new year, I feel even more motivated to keep my diet clean and work out more than I used to. While I mainly keep my meals healthy, I have found that one of the biggest diet-busting culprits is snacking. It’s easy to overindulge on decadent treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips but it’s also easy to over do it on seemingly healthy nibbles like cheese and crackers and even nuts. That being said, snacking can (and should) be a part of a healthy diet, as long as it is done right with nutrient dense, low-calorie options. With this in mind, I have rounded up 7 of my favorite guilt-free snacks.

1 // Dried Seaweed

I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth and I can easily pass on the rich, calorie-laden desserts that make most other people weak in the knees. However, if you put a plate of cheesy nachos or salty fries in front of me, it’s game over. Dried seaweed manages to curb my salt craving without making me forego my healthy diet. It’s crispy, savory, and just as addicting as a pack of chips but with a small fraction of the calories. Rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin A, B, and C, dried seaweed packs a serious nutritional punch.

2 // Goji Berries

I decided to give goji berries a try after reading an interview with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr in which she deemed the tart red superfood one of her go-to beautifying snacks. While no amount of antioxidant-rich berries will transform me into a Victoria Secret angel, I was intrigued to try them and see if they a) would make my skin glow and my hair bouncy and b) if they actually taste good. Well, guess what? They are actually pretty tasty, they keep me sated in between meals, and since I’ve started eating them regularly I do notice a healthier glow to my skin (but maybe that’s just wishful thinking). They are a bit tart, like dried cranberries but a little bit sweeter. Plus they are chock full of antioxidants, fiber, and beta-carotene. I keep this low-calorie, nutrient-high snack in my purse to nosh on at work and when I’m feeling a bit peckish.

3 // Popcorn with Olive Oil & Sea Salt

I’m obsessed with popcorn and it’s my favorite movie-time snack. It’s also surprisingly healthy – so long as you pop it yourself, either with an old-fashioned air popper or a healthy oil like coconut or olive oil. It’s low in calories (1 cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30 calories) and actually has a ton of antioxidants. I choose to skip the artery-clogging butter and instead drizzle mine with olive oil and add a sprinkle a bit of sea salt for an added dose of healthy fats and flavor.

4 // Edamame

My boyfriend loves edamame and is the one who got me hooked on them. Edamame has become a trendy food and its stellar reputation is well deserved. Edamame is a young soybean which has been harvested before it has had a chance to harden. These delightful green gems are low in calories, high in protein, and are packed with vitamins, protein, magnesium, and iron. They are also naturally free of cholesterol and gluten. I also love them because they are delicious and super easy to prepare. Simply steam them on the stove or pop them in the microwave in a bowl with a bit of water. They are delicious on their own but are even tastier with a bit of salt and cayenne pepper.

5 // Frozen Fruit

When I’m craving ice cream but don’t want to splurge, a bowl full of frozen fruit totally hits the spot. Sometimes I’ll blend the fruit in my food processor for a sorbet-like treat that feels like an indulgence but is completely healthy and free of added sugar. Pro-tip: if you are feeling creative, blend a couple of frozen bananas with a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder. Voila! Chocolate ‘ice cream’ that is full of vitamins and totally guilt-free.

6 // Plain Yogurt and Honey

I’ve always loved yogurt, but a lot of the flavored versions that are available in stores are way too sweet for my taste and are loaded with unnecessary junk like gelatin and processed sugar. Instead, I prefer to eat plain yogurt (greek yogurt is my favorite) with just a little bit of honey. Sometimes I will toss a couple of frozen blueberries on top for some extra sweetness and added vitamin C. It’s not too sweet but is very flavorful and fills me up without making me feel heavy or bloated. It makes a great breakfast or late snack and is filled with satiating protein and calcium.

7 // Veggies and Hummus

I have to say, I’ve never come across a vegetable that I didn’t love and I don’t need any dips, dressings, or seasonings to make me want to eat them. That being said, if you don’t love veggies, dipping them in garlicky hummus is sure to change your mind. I like to make my own with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and a bit of salt. I’ve seen recipes with spinach and beets added and they look amazing as well. Hummus can be pretty calorie-dense but it has tons of nutrients. As long as you keep your portions under control, this is a completely diet-friendly, healthy, delicious snack for any time of day.

xoxo,

Alicia

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The Dirtier The Better

I’ll admit it – I rarely go out drinking. I’m 23 but with the soul of a 95-year-old woman and nine times our of ten I would rather curl up with a cup of tea and Netflix or read a book in the bath. One Friday night I was legitimately knitting while watching Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Did you fall asleep yet? When I’m not being boring or indulging in one of my favorite geriatric activities, I do like to indulge in one (or four) drinks, some snacks, and the company of my boyfriend and/or friends. My tipple of choice? The dirty martini.

Now, not everyone likes the strong, briney flavor of a dirty martini. It took me a while to appreciate the dry, refreshing flavor of gin but now I love it and there are a lot of variations out there that play with different flavors (this one has notes of rose in it – something that totally seduces a flower child like me). The first time I made a dirty martini I couldn’t even finish it. Sure, there are only three ingredients, but the way it’s made, the quality of the sauce you use, and how cold the drink is makes ALL of the difference. Now, I make a pretty mean martini – sometimes I even prefer mine to those that are made in a bar or restaurant! Not to toot my own horn. Now if you aren’t into super sweet drinks, like gin, love olives, and can’t get enough sodium in your life, low and behold your new favorite cocktail. Here’s how to mix an awesome dirty martini that will make you feel like a female James Bond.

dirty-martini-ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz gin or vodka (I prefer gin but it’s really your call.)
  • A drizzle of dry vermouth
  • 1 oz of olive brine (I like my martini’s filthy so I add 1.5 or 2 oz sometimes)
  • 2-4 stuffed olives (If you can find them, blue cheese stuffed olives add some extra decadence and kick to an already salty dirty martini)

YOUR TOOLS

  • A chilled glass
  • An ice-filled shaker or a spoon for mixing
  • A spear for your olives

Traditionally martinis are made with gin, but vodka is a very popular substitute. I like both but gin is my favorite. The tree-like flavor of gin (derived from juniper berries) makes the cocktail a little more refreshing and lightens up the salty flavor of the olive brine. Dirty martinis can be ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ depending on how much vermouth you add. I am not a massive fan of vermouth and so I add just a drizzle and like to keep my martini’s on the dry side.

  1. How to mix them? Chill a glass by putting it in the freezer for ten minutes or by filling it with ice and then dumping it out. You can use a martini glass if you’re feeling fancy but we’re not that posh over here and I would drink a martini out of a mason jar if it was my only option.
  2. Next, put your ingredients into a shaker, shake it like Taylor Swift says, and then strain it into your glass. You can also pour the ingredients directly into your glass and stir to mix your drink. Some people believe that martinis should ONLY be stirred because shaking it ‘bruises’ the gin. Whatever that means. It’s your choice. A lot of bars use shakers but I don’t have one and my martinis always come out tasting great.
  3. Strain your mixed martini into your chilled glass and garnish with olives.
  4. Enjoy the salty deliciousness!

Do you have any favorite cocktail recipes? Do you have tips to make an even better dirty martini? Let me know in the comments! I am always down to up my martini game.

xoxo,

Alicia

Saturday Inspo

SaturdayInspiration

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1.This heart-wrenching but inspiring article on animal euthanasia

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2. Super easy, delicious, two ingredient watermelon limeade

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3. Great tips for styling beautiful Instagram photos

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4. The best new shopping app Breez aka The Lovechild of Craigslist and Instagram

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5. A pro guide to wearing flared jeans

xoxo,

Alicia

Wino Forever | Wine Infused Treats

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There are few instances when I don’t feel like having a glass of red wine. And with evidence proving that wine is loaded with cancer preventing antioxidants and can even prevent heart disease and obesity (provided that one doesn’t over indulge), we all have even more reason to kick back with a decadent, relaxing glass of vin, with an occasion or without one. While it is nothing new to use wine in one’s cooking, I have come across a few recipes that have infused the drink into baked goods and unexpected desserts. I love baking, especially with unusual ingredients (floral waters, liqueurs and herbs take traditional flavors and desserts to the next level, like with my rosewater blondies) and these red wine infused treats have me intrigued.

1. Red Wine Chocolate Truffles

Truffle making is a fun but time consuming endeavor. I love playing with different flavor combinations (the banana white chocolate truffles I made last Christmas were really good) and there is something about the combination of velvety dark chocolate and rich red wine that is so elegant and decadent.

2. Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes with Berry Frosting

Cupcakes are a classic and nostalgic dessert that takes minutes to prepare and evokes all kinds of fun childhood memories. Simply add a little bit of wine into the batter for a much more grown up, sophisticated take on this traditional bake sale treat.

3. Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Is there anything better on a brisk Fall day than a creamy cup of hot chocolate? Maybe one with a kick of wine and spice. An adult take on the most comforting of all cold weather treats.

xoxo,

Alicia

Fancy Pants Smores

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When it comes to summertime treats, there is nothing more nostalgic than the smore. This comforting campfire dessert evokes memories summer barbecues and family camping trips. As a child there were few things that were more satisfying than watching my pristine white marshmallow turn golden brown over the fire, before smashing it between two graham crackers with a chunk of chocolate in between and I feel the same way now. With molten chocolate and gooey marshmallow, its hard to go wrong this timeless treat. That being said, there are always ways to update and elevate even the most classic recipe. Here are a few fancy pants smores recipes that are still nostalgic but with a dose of gourmet elegance.

Roasted Berry Smores

Salted Caramel Smores

Strawberry Shortcake Smores

Dark Chocolate Passion Fruit Smores

Banana Nutella Smores

xoxo,

Alicia

Happy National Doughnut Day!

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So for those of you who are not aware of the magnificent holiday that is today, today is National Doughnut Day. What better way to celebrate than by eating a wide and large assortment of the delicious baked goods? Doughnuts have become quite a versatile dessert. While most people associate doughnuts with sticky, sugary Krispy Kremes, gourmet patisseries have shown us (with exotic flavors such as salted caramel, green tea, and lychee-mango) that doughnuts can be pretty darn refined. Whether you like your doughnuts simple and comforting or extra fancy, here are eight doughnut recipes to help you celebrate today. My personal favorites are the Strawberry Buttermilk (No.2) and Salted Caramel (No.8). For those of you who try them out, let me know what you think in the comments!

Happy National Doughnut Day people!

xoxo,

Alicia

1. Baked Coconut Doughnuts

2. Strawberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

3. Baked Vanilla Doughnuts

4. Baked Lemon Blueberry Doughnuts

5. Baked Red Velvet Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Drizzle

6. Gluten Free Smores Doughnuts

7. Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

8. Salted Caramel Doughnut

Keep Calm, Drink Tea and Eat Cake

Several years ago, I used to work with a very talented, Vancouver-based perfumer. We worked together for about two years and in that time I learned a great deal from her, not only about the many, often challenging aspects of running an independent business, but lots of other things as well. One of the most valuable lessons she has ever taught me is the importance of being completely in the moment, not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. As a natural perfumer, my boss would be constantly connecting with her inner self and senses, working with her hands and nose to create olfactory stories out of plant essences and oils. She lives, eats and breathes her art in every sense of the word. Admittedly, the first few months of working with her were unlike any other working experience I had ever had and my senses were nearly always overwhelmed by the vividness of her studio. The walls of her studio were always lined with beguiling paintings created by her daughter, smoky incense was always drifting through the air along with whatever exquisitely delicious dessert had been baked the night before and our periods of work were spaced with intervals of drinking tea and indulging in exotic treats, often from Israel, the country that she was raised in. The tea parties were one of my favorite parts of our working days. It didn’t matter what we were doing, even if deadlines were looming, we would always take fifteen minutes to unwind with some fragrant, unusual tea (that more often than not, she would have blended herself – think elderberry, or green tea with fir needles and juniper berry) and halva (a delicious sesame dessert from Israel).

It would be redundant to say that we live in a society that encourages a work until you burn out mentality, but it would also be true. Of all of the articles written about achieving success, the focus is always on working hard one one’s careers. People don’t often think about the benefits that working hard on one’s happiness can have on the quality of a person’s life, in a personal and professional sense. Taking breaks are often portrayed as being a waste of time but what I learned working with my former boss was that recharging for a few minutes at a time throughout the work day is the best way to remain not only productive, but passionate about whatever it is one is doing (and the truth is that the best work is created when one is passionate and engaged). I also believe that taking breaks where one’s senses are fully engaged (as they would be during a tea party) helps pull people into the present. It’s difficult to be grinding a mental axe when your nose is filled with the creamy smell of jasmine scented tea or when a rich, dark chocolate truffle is melting on your tongue.

I take tea breaks on a daily basis and without them I doubt I would retain my sanity for very long. With the crucial importance of being in the moment and taking breaks on my mind, I have put together three tea and dessert combinations to help you unwind and let go this summer.

1. Lavender and Honey Iced Latte + Cardamom and Lavender Dark Chocolate Truffles

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Recipe for Latte – www.offbeatandinspired.com, Recipe for Truffles – www.darkredcrema.com

A sucker for anything lavender, these soothing buds are mellowed by the sweet taste of honey. I have always loved the combination of bitter dark chocolate and herbaceous lavender and there is something that is so decadent about indulging in rich, dark chocolate truffles mid day. Pack them up and bring them to work for a very sophisticated lunch break.

2. Mango Iced Tea and Matcha Swirl Cheesecake

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Recipe for Iced Tea – www.vegrecipesofindia.com, Recipe for Cheesecake – www.bakingamoment.com

Nothing says summer like the delicious taste or ripe mangoes. This blend of mango pulp and black tea is in keeping with the exotic flavor of this sweet (but not too sweet) matcha green tea flavored cheesecake. These two tropical treats would make a cheerful accompaniment to a summer barbeque.

3. Blackberry Mint Iced Tea and Black Currant Macarons

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Recipe for Iced Tea – www.noelbarnhurstblog.com, Recipe for Macarons – www.tablefeast.com

Having spent all of my summers since childhood on Mayne Island, where by early August, blackberry bushes are practically heaving with the weight of all of the berries, the sweet yet tart taste of blackberries immediately makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Blackberries taste great when added to any kind of tea (white, green, black, oolong, rooibos etc.) but I especially love them with a rich black tea. The addition of mint makes this drink even more refreshing during summer months. I found this recipe for blackcurrant flavored macarons a while ago and have wanted to try my hand at making them ever since. I think the syrupy heaviness of blackcurrant is balanced by the airy texture of this French cookie and complements the refreshing flavor of the blackberry and mint. Enjoy on the patio with the company of some girlfriends or simply a good book.

I hope that you enjoyed these ideas and that whatever you are doing today, you take time out to relax and be in the moment, preferably with a cup of tea and something sweet.

xoxo,

Alicia