Eggnog French Toast

I haven’t posted a Sinful recipe in a while, or any recipe really in a while! New Years Resolution/goal: BLOG MORE!!

Yes I try to stick to a healthy diet and avoid processed foods, BUT it’s the holiday season. And holidays to me bring back memories of me and my siblings are the breakfast/lunch/dinner table chatting, catching up, and enjoying my Mom’s delicious food. We’re a chaotic loud bunch but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’m hooked on smoothies, stir fries and hefty salads as seen on my Instagram and encourage a balanced lifestyle, but I think we have allow ourselves to enjoy the festive period and indulge here and there! I’m bringing you an easy recipe to enjoy with your loved ones this festive season-EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST! It’s pretty decadent and filling!

Tis the season to be merry and full of comfort food!

I do believe brioche bread works best for the recipe. For the eggnog I use Costco’s Kirkland brand, and it has the flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla mixed into it. So if your eggnog doesn’t include spices and vanilla, add a teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

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Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1 loaf of brioche bread, 2 slices per person

3 eggs

1 cup of  eggnog (I used Kirkloand Signature which comes with the spice and vanilla flavors-if your eggnog doesn’t

Method:

In a mixing bowl, or dish, whisk well together your eggs and eggnogs. Put your slices of brioche bread into the eggnog mix and let soak. I fit about 3-4 slice in my bowl. Let soak. While brioche is soaking, melt a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan. When the butter is melted and pan is hot, add your brioche.  was able to fit three to four slices on my pan, and in between each batch add a teaspoon to the pan. Yes, lots of butter but it makes it so delicious(especially if using KerryGold)! Flip when golden brown. Repeat process until everyone has a full plate!

To serve: Sieve over some powdered sugar and drizzle on some Maple Syrup! E

Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!

 

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and Pilates

It’s been a minute! If you been following on my Instagram(the social media I post on the most, find me @cookinwithcarmel), you know I can now call myself a FITNESS INSTRUCTOR! It was this time one year ago I started out my own transformation, and what a year it’s been! SO much sweat, a few tears, lots of doubt, but I can say I am in a VERY happy place since I made the choice to give my life a makeover. And now I’m helping people with their own transformation!

Since moving into fitness I get asked A LOT if I’ll ever become a chef again, and this was a question brought up many times at my high school reunion this past weekend. I’d still call myself a chef, just a former commercial kitchen chef/at home healthy chef. I’m focusing more of the nutritional side of food when it comes to eating and cooking, how we can use food as fuel. So if you need a little help in what to eat to help you get through a workout, I’m here to help! And that might actually be my next blog post!

Anyways, this past weekend was Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday! Not just because of all the food, but because it’s a time for family. And with my large family, the holidays are always a blast! Back to the food, we had a SPREAD: pumpkin donuts for breakfast; dinner was turkey, ham, two bowls of stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, more veg, and PUMPKIN MAC AND CHEESE!

The recipe was highly requested, and I highly recommend it this time of year! Such a cozy dish! It’s really easy and quick! There is dairy in it, those following me for a while know I cut dairy out for a little bit. But this is a HOLIDAY dish, and during the holidays you’re allowed to indulge a little! I cut back on cheese and added nutritional yeast. That way I was going even a small amount of benefits, without losing that cheesey flavor. I used 3/4 of a cup of cheese, but you can even experiment and cut it down o 1/2 of a cup and add 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast.

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Here’s what you’ll need: 

1 can of pureed pumpkin

1 cup of milk (I used dairy; alternative: use unsweetened/unflavored almond or soy milk)

2 tablespoons butter (alternative: Smart Balance vegan butter)

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3/4  of a cup cheddar cheese

1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Pinch of salt and pepper

Elbow/macaroni pasta or spiralized zuchinni

Method:

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, bring to the boil. Stir until cheddar has melted and ingredients are combined through. Add a little more salt and pepper to adjust. Cook your choice of pasta and mix it with your sauce!

This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of sauce. Store in a mason jar and use within three weeks!

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IdealFit Protein Bars

unnamed-2.jpgThese are SO much better than store bought!

I used the IdealFit Vanilla Protein Powder, but the Cake Batter or Chocolate Brownie flavor would be just as amazing. Shop here for all IdealFit products: bit.ly/2trHGG3

Now, you can also go and buy cashew and almond butter and mix the butters and protein powder together in a bowl-but I like making everything from scratch when I can!

Ingredients:

2 scoops IdealFit protein powder

1 cup cashews

1 cup almonds

Teaspoon of maple syrup or honey

Teaspoon of vanilla extract

(have ready a few drops/tablespoons of almond or soy milk)

handful of dark chocolate chips, dried fruits or shredded coconut

Method:

In a food processor, blitz the cashews and almonds until smooth. Add the protein powder, and blitz until mixed. You might need to add a few drops of soy or almond milk so that the dough does come together. Shape dough into bars or balls. Press the dark chocolate chips, or fruit(like cranberries or goji berries) or shredded coconut onto the top of the bars. Keep sealed in the fridge until you want to eat them!

 

Carrot Cake Bliss Balls

I’m a big sweet tooth(most of my recipes on here are on the sweeter side), and at night is when my sweet tooth really starts to act. Rather than reach for a bar of chocolate, I like to make protein/bliss bars.

Growing up, carrot cake was just one of those things I did not like! I always preferred chocolate cake. It was only in the last couple of years I really started to like carrot cake. Below is a much healthier version-and it really does taste like a dessert! I like to make these on a Sunday and have them for the week-as a post workout or TV snack.

 

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Ingredients:

1 large carrot

3/4 cup oats

6 Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup of cashews

1/2 walnuts

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp of hemp heart seeds

Method:

In a food processor, shred the carrots. Remove and put into a bowl. Then pulse the oats and nuts together until very fine. Also remove and into the mixing bowl with the carrots. Then blitz the dates until they form a paste.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, also adding the carrots and oat nut mix. The mixture will come together like a dough. Quickly form balls and place in freezer. Once frozen, top them with a tablespoon of Cashew Buttercream!

I usually take them out of the freeze about 20 minutes or so before I eat them; I usually enjoy one or two as a snack. They keep for a couple of weeks in the freezer.

 

Pecan Mylk

I love experimenting with non-dairy milks at home-it usually comes out a lot tastier and cheaper than store bought! Earlier this month, I made Coconut Milk for the first time, and really liked it! I have a bunch of coconut meat in the freezer, so I want to make it again soon.

I ran out of my Almond Milk; didn’t take the coconut meat out of the freezer; so reached for the Costco sized bag of Pecans! Mine came out a little grittier than I expected, as I didn’t strain it, but I don’t mind because I like pecans. It was a lot creamier than almond milk, and made my smoothies like milkshakes!

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Ingredients:

2 cups of pecans

3 /12 cups of water

Method:

Soak the pecans overnight in the water. The next day, in a food processor, blitz the pecans and water until pecans are broken down. You’ll need a bit of patience to make it totally smooth-or you can strain it through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. That’s pretty much it!

 

 

I’m an IdealFit Brand Ambassador!

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I have been a Brand Ambassador for a couple of months now, so I’m not sure WHY it’s taken me so long to write this post!

I really had no knowledge of supplements: protein, preworkout, and BCAA shakes. But it’s more than a shake or vitamin- it’s fuel for my body. Idealfit has shown me what my body is really capable of. As I’ve gotten stronger, I don’t want to wear and tear, or exhaust my muscles and joints. By implementing Idealfit products into my day to day eating habits, I can give every workout my all and feel fantastic.

Besides making me feeling amazing, the taste is GREAT(as someone who’s always around food, it gets a big thumbs up from me!)! I tried a couple of different protein shakes, and Idealfit really does stand out. There’s no bloating, and there’s no gross chalky texture. I LOVE the Cake Batter and Chocolate Coconut Protein Powders.

Being an Idealfit Brand Ambassador has been so exciting and rewarding! The community of IdealFit has been so supportive and I have learned A LOT from other ambassadors, from workouts to nutritional tips! They have so many delicious recipes on their site, which I’ve been putting my own spin on, which you can find on my Instagram @cookinwithcarmel. I’m actually just about to start one of their FREE workout challenges this weekend, which you can find on their site.

Go check out all the deals(there’s always a great offer) at http://www.idealfit.com, and use CARMEL10 on your order! Or just click my quick link: http://bit.ly/2trHGG3

My Weight Loss to Wellness Story

In the past 8 months, I’ve lost ~35LBS! Although my weight loss journey began just that, a weight loss journey, it has turned more into a Wellness Journey.

I’ve never been an athlete, or even really interested in working out or nutrition. I grew up playing the typical grammar school(3rd grade-8th) sports: volleyball, basketball and soccer; then in high school I ran cross country for a year. After high school, I did yoga and Zumba(which I still LOVE), here and there, and went on the treadmill.

My third year into college,  I left for Italy on study abroad. There, I had a mindset of ‘I’m only here for a short time, so may as well eat this gelato for breakfast!’, and within three months my jeans were much tighter. I don’t regret those bowls of pasta, but I do regret neglecting to take care of my body.

I never really was able to tackle that 10LB or so weight gain, well because I was lazy and didn’t care. And I’ve always loved food.

Three years ago(and three years after my trip to Italy), I attended culinary school in Ireland. During culinary school, I just had to sample everything more than once. Instead of two cookies, I ate ten. Instead of just one plate of dinner, I almost always went back for a second helping.

I knew I was going to gain weight in culinary school, it’s almost a given. What happened after culinary school is what sent my health out of my control.

I couldn’t land a job for several months, now, this was sort of my decision, I wanted to get work experience in each part of a professional kitchen. But the amount of peer pressure I got while job hunting/choosing internships over ‘real’ work, combined with my own pressure, made my anxiety creep in. I turned to food and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

After almost a year of hopping up and down Ireland taking part in internships in kitchens, I landed a head cook role! But a month into it, I slipped and broke my ankle. Breaking my ankle shattered my self confidence. It took me so long to land this job!

The months following the break drained me physically and mentally. I was unemployed; I felt lost and felt like a failure. I turned to food and alcohol more than ever. I gained a ton of weight, lost all of my esteem, and was on the road to some SERIOUS health issues. 

I decided to move back to San Francisco, back to my siblings and parents. I was so sick of feeling sick, and at the end of the day, my family are my biggest supporters. I knew I had to change my lifestyle.

I hired one of the best trainers in the Bay Area. It was really hard at first, and I doubted I would stick to it more than a couple of weeks. When I changed my nutrition it got much easier(tips to follow, for now check out my Saintly recipes). And even though I still struggle some days, fitness and feeling good has become part of my day to day routine.

Hiring a trainer was/is the best decision for me. I have accountability and my trainer is such an inspiration. Working out is my therapy. I’m gaining strength, confidence, and living life to the fullest(in the healthiest way). There’s something really empowering see what our bodies are capable of.

I am not a personal trainer or a nutritionist/dietician. But I hope my story will inspire you! And if you’re just starting out, and need help/support, message me!

Spinach Arugula Walnut Pesto

I’m a sucker for bowls of pasta! When I first started working out and resetting my body, I thought I had to give up my favorite foods. And I sort of do, as processed foods no longer agree with my stomach. So, I experiment and turn my favorite foods into nourishing dishes, that help fuel my workouts and keep me feeling great.  Instead of traditional flour spaghetti noodles, I like to spiralize veggies into pasta noodles! Recently, I purchased a box of Edamame Noodles and LOVE them! The noodles are just made from Edamame, which hold so many benefits, and big bonus, they only take four minutes to cook!

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I’ve been using these noodles with some of my favorite sauces. Last week I made a Lentil Bolognese, and honestly as a meat eater I didn’t even notice a lack of ground beef! I’ll share that Lentil Bolognese later this week, right now I want to share a quick pesto that has some pretty big benefits. A typical pesto usually calls for parmigiano cheese, but I ditched that and used NUTRITIONAL YEAST; and I went with avocado oil instead of olive oil.

Spinach Arugula Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of washed spinach and arugula

1/2 cup of walnuts

2  cloves of garlic

1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

Big pinch of Himalayan salt

Roughly 1/3 cup of avocado oil

Method

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients EXCEPT  the oil until it’s a paste. Then slowly add the oil.

Enjoy tossed in your favorite pasta or salad!