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!

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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!

 

Beat the Bloat Berry Smoothie

Bloating sucks! It’s a really uncomfortable feeling, so I like to get rid of it ASAP! My secret weapon: APPLE CIDER VINEGAR! I drink a tablespoon of it a day, either right when I wake up or about a half hour before I go to bed. But I also like to put a big splash in my midmorning or lunchtime smoothie.

I do like to drink this smoothie a couple times a week, it’s refreshing, and I do find it helps with the bloat. If I’m making this after a workout, I like to add a scoop of protein powder.IMG_3999.JPG

Ingredients

8 ounces of liquid (I like to do half water/half coconut milk)

1/2 avocado

1 banana

1/2 cup of frozen berries

1 tablespoon hemp heart seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax meal

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Optional: a tablespoon of nut butter/a scoop of your favorite protein powder

Method

In your food processor, blend until smooth! You might need to add a little more water as you go! I like to put my smoothies in a bowl, so I like when smoothies have more of a sorbet/ice cream texture.

 

 

 

 

Saintly Layered Reese’s Tart

A year ago you would have found me eating bars of chocolate like Cadbury’s or Hershey’s  was going out of business! I ate out of stress, boredom, and portion control didn’t even cross my mind. My weakness was a big bag of Galaxy Minstrels(yikes!) or a tray of three Reese’s(yikes, again!) and Barry’s Tea at the end of the day. While I still have a sweet tooth, I like to experiment with ways chocolates and sweets can BENEFIT you. And making sweet treats at home allows me to omit sugars and use raw/all natural ingredients.

This Reese’s Tart came A LOT of Date Caramel that I used in a quick snack: Date Caramel Apple Nachos.

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Ingredients

1 cup mixed almonds and cashews

1 cup Date Caramel

1/2 cup mixed walnuts and almonds, roughly chopped

1 cup dark chocolate

Method

Line an 8 inch round baking tin with parchment paper or plastic wrap(the paper or plastic wrap just makes it easier to remove and slice).

In a food processor, add the one cup of almonds and cashews. Pulse until VERY fine. Press into the bottom of the tin. Pop it into the freezer to set for about 7-10 minutes.

Pour Date Caramel evenly over the base, and smooth out. Sprinkle on the roughly chopped walnuts and almonds. Pop it into the freezer for a second time. for a couple of minutes

While the tart is setting, melt the chocolate! You can do whatever is easier: microwave or stovetop. Make sure it totally melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the tart, and yep, pop it back into the freezer for about 12-15 minutes or until chocolate is just a little hard.

Slice it up and serve it!

 

 

 

 

 

Avo-Cashew Ice Cream

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When I made my Protein Cookies earlier this week, I made A LOT of Cashew Buttercream, so I stuck it in the freezer, thinking I’ll use it eventually. I happened to throw about 3-4 tablespoons of it in a smoothie I was making for my sis and I, it was DEELISH! It added such a creamy texture.

I started thinking how this Cashew Cream is such a great starter for an ice cream! I didn’t want to make another banana ice cream, so I reached for avocados! With their good for your fats, avocados make for a great ice cream base.

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Cashew Cream

About 1/4 of the avocado- so slice the avocado in half, and then again in half

1/2 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened but whichever you prefer)

1/2 tablespoon of vanilla

Pinch of Pink Himalyan Salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Optional: Since this sweet treat has a green hue, add a teaspoon or two of peppermint extract for a Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! Also optional, more than just that 1/2 cup of chocolate chips!

Method

Put the Cashew Cream and avocados in a food processor and blitz until smooth and blended. Add in the vanilla and almond milk and blend until smooth.17796492_1500259119986239_5436749948448470280_n.jpg

Fold in chocolate chips.

Stick it in the freezer, and wait to to eat at least about a half hour-any earlier it will be more like soft serve, which is also a great treat!

 

 

 

Pro tip(s): Freeze your bowl before putting your ice cream in it. I also suggest using a glass, or Pyrex bowl. Be sure to take your ice cream out of the freezer about 7-8 minutes before you plan on serving it, so it does soften.

 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 

What do you make when you can’t eat junky white processed flour but are a pizza lover?! CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA!!

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Pizettes Two Sauces: Traditional Marinara Sauce and Sweet Potato Sauce

There are SO many more benefits to this alternative-you’ll feel good, which means you’ll look good! Well, I do, ever since giving my food a makeover. I TRY to stay clear of eating white processed flour-and really any sorts of processed foods. So I turn to this Crust Recipe when I’m craving a takeaway. It’s all veggies so it is a guilt-free pizza pie-YUM!

Ingredients

Cauliflower Crust 

(Makes 1 large round pizza or 4 small pizzettes)

1 small head of cauliflower

1 clove of garlic

pinch of Himalayan or sea  salt

Tablespoon of dry, mixed herbs (Oregano, Basil, Parsley)

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax+3 tablespoons water-rest for 15 min)

 

Sweet Potato Sauce

1 large BOILED or ROASTED sweet potato

tablespoon of nutritional yeast

pinch of salt

Pizza toppings that pair great with this Sauce: sauteeed mushrooms, sauteed onions,  spinach, and walnuts

Method

Preheat oven to 450F.

To make the crust: Wash and dry cauliflower. Cut off the floret. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients EXCEPT the flax egg until it looks like the consistency of rice.

Put the cauliflower in a mixing bowl and add the flax egg.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray. Pat and shape with your fingers into a circle.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown (this may take up to 20 for the larger pizza/depending on your oven).

While the base is baking in the oven you’ll want to make your sauce and toppings.

To make the Sauce: Siimply mash the sweet potato with a fork until smooth. Mix in the nutritional yeast and smooth.

Back to the Crust: Take the Crust out and spread the Sauce. Add the Toppings. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

High Protein Cookie Sandwiches

These are really rich, but packed with the good stuff to recovery after a workout! The Cashew Buttercream was just what these cookies needed, as they’re very much a dense cookie otherwise.

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Ingredients

Protein Cookies

1 cup of nut butter (I mixed half a cup of Tahini and half a cup of Almond)

2 scoops of your favorite Chocolate protein powder

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 large egg OR use flax egg*

Optional-walnuts or chocolate chips

Cashew Buttercream

1 cup of cashews*

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

 

Method

*Soak cashews for at least 30 minutes in a bowl of water.

*To make a flax egg: Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons water, let sit for 10 minutes

To make the Cookies: Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, stir together the protein powder and cocoa powder. Mix in the nut butter until no trace of powders. Then add in the egg, mix well. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips. It will look just like cookie dough, but the texture will be a but more stiff. Roll dough into balls(about a tablespoon or two) and gently press/flatten down when you place on trays(you can use a fork to make the criss cross pattern). Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cashew Buttercream: After soaking the cashews in water, put them, along with vanilla and maple syrup in a food processor. Blend until smooth–be sure to scrape the bowl while blitzing to get all of it smooth!

 

 

Cottage Cheese Banana Split

IMG_4213.JPGBack away from the freezer and go for this Banana Split instead! It’s a healthy alternative, and this makes for a great pre or post workout. And SO easy and quick(I’m talking seconds here!)! This is MUCH more tart than the classic ice cream split, so feel free to drizzle some extra honey or maple syrup over the top.

Ingredients:

1/ 2 cup of Cottage Cheese

Teaspoon of vanilla

2 teaspoons of honey

1 banana

A couple of walnuts

A couple of mixed berries

Dark chocolate chips

Coconut chips

Method:

Slice the banana in half length wise. Place on a plate. In a blender, put the Cottage Cheese, vanilla and honey. Blitz the Cottage Cheese until smooth. Scoop the Cottage Cheese on top of the banana. Add your toppings and devour guilt-free!

 

Vanilla Cookie Protein Balls

I was starting to make my Guilt Free Truffles, when I decided to omit the cacao. Two big thumbs up for this vanilla variation! Since hiring a trainer, it’s made me realize how important it is to fuel our bodies with the right foods. Getting enough protein has really helped my body recover quickly after workout sessions. I’ll be snacking on these before and after my upcoming workouts for the next couple of days! I’ve added some flavor variations down below!

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Ingredients:

14 dates pitted (Medjool)

1 cup of cashews

1/2 cup walnuts

2 heaped tablespoons almond butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Method:

Soak the dates in warm water for about 20 minutes. Then drain the dates, and put in your food processor. Pulse until smooth. Take out the pulsed dates, and add your cashews and walnuts to the food processor. Pulse until fine. Add the dates back into the processor, along with the almond butter, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Blitz until everything comes together like a dough. Put the ‘dough’ in the freezer for AT LEAST  15 minutes to firm it up. Then take it out and shape into balls and/or bars! Put them back in the freezer, and take out about a half hour before eating to thaw.

*Add a pinch of cinnamon for a Snickerdoodle flavor (at the same time as the vanilla and sea salt)

*Fold chocolate chips into the dough (or melt chocolate and pour over them!)

*Add oatmeal and top with cranberries or goji berries for a classic oatmeal cookie flavor