Fail-proof Roasted Veggies đŸ„•

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies đŸ„•

Hey fam 😊

Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!

If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.


I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.

Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀


Ok. Here’s the classic “recipe” –

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You’ll need:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet, or pan of any kind
  • A spatula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Veggies (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
  • Other spices/parmesan (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!

Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝

(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)

If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!

The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.

The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.

Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!

P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.

Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.

Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.

If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! đŸ˜Š

And after about an hour, here’s your final product!


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅

Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!

It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.

This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟

Hope you love ’em!

If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!

xoxo 😘 Stay bright!

Rae

Whole Foods {State of Mind}

Whole Foods {State of Mind}

No class on Friday = big shopping trip! I really enjoyed trying on the dresses and the shoes, but I’m pretty sure I got the most excited in Whole Foods 🙈

The produce was, AMAZING. Have you ever seen a watermelon radish before?


If you’ve ever tried one of these… let me know!!

Anyway, didn’t buy any produce (long drive home), but here’s my mini haul from Whole Foods.


I bought a whole case of these Nuts and Seefs Clif bars! My family loves them, and I thought they weren’t selling this flavor any more. They’re the best because they’re so hearty, but not overly sweet. The cashier may have thought I was a little overexcited, but I really don’t care 😏 You like what you like!

I also grabbed some grass-fed whey protein that I’d been eyeing online. The price wasn’t bad, and grass-fed means cows were allowed to graze on what they like, leading to healthier tummies and healthier cows overall! I’m not in love with the flavor, but it’ll do and at least it’s good for me and the cows. PSA: Quest protein just can’t be beat for flavor.

I also grabbed some almond milk (organic!), and this little superfood oatmeal cup from Vigilant Eats that I had for breakfast this morning. Oh my. YUM!


I’d never tried mulberries (dried mulberries in here!) or maca powder, but they’re both delicious. You can eat this stuff hot or cold, and you can use milk or water. It even comes with its own little spoon! The nutrition stats are pretty nice – the sugar’s not bad compared to your typical oatmeal cup. What I loved most was the cacao nibs, and the stellar ingredient list. 😊


By no means does a product’s presence in a certain store make it “healthy.” Whole Foods is very particular about what they sell, and make sure that it’s good for the environment and not full of junk or preservatives. However, organic and vegan or not, chocolate cake is chocolate cake, and it’s not going to cure your diseases or make you lose ten pounds.

And neither will my nuts and seeds clif bars. As much as I love them, I try to use them more for “on-the-go” than every day.

Shopping at a store that puts emphasis on fresh and healthy choices really puts me in the mood to eat well. Good thing you can make healthy choices at any store or restaurant, because I sure couldn’t drive 45 minutes to grocery shop every week.

With “whole” foods on the brain, I’m challenging myself this upcoming month to eat more whole and natural foods. May is such a fresh month… spring is leading us into summer, and my birthday is 20 days away! It’s my favorite time of the year.

The salad I had at Panera on our trip helped spark this idea. When I ate it, I immediately felt energized and amazing! Then, the next day, I had a buttery bacon biscuit at a local restaurant. It was amazing… and then I felt like a slug. 🐌

So I thought, I enjoyed both of those a lot, but I know what I want more of in my diet! Today, I hit up Publix for some fruits and veggies, oats, yogurt and my favorite Califia farms almond milk. I have nine days left in Troy, and I plan on feeling good for them.

I’m initiating a “May Mindset Makeover.” If you want to join me, I’m going to try to reach for food that’s closer to its original state (how God made it!), and focus on the perimeter of the grocery store where the produce and healthy protein sources are found. For everything in the inner aisles, I’ll focus on reading ingredient lists. Less crap that we can’t pronounce, and more whole, healthy ingredients.

If you need a little inspiration, check out my friend Jenna’s zucchini pasta recipe here. Fresh posted today!

Eat good, feel good. Let’s see just how good we can feel this May!

Best wishes,

Rae

Toast to a sweet week! đŸ»

Toast to a sweet week! đŸ»

Hey y’all 😊

I’m happy to report that last week was wonderful (& busy). The race went pretty well for me! I plan on doing a post on race day nutrition soon, because I feel like I really nailed my pre- and post- run fuel this time. I’d love to share what I’ve found that helps me and works for me on race day, so that maybe you’ll find some ideas for fueling your activities as well.

Looking forward to this next week, I’m setting my intentions and goals, and making sure my room is clean and ready for me to get work done in. I also just prepared some overnight oats to grab for breakfast tomorrow morning 😊

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Cocoa-chia-nectarine overnight oats. Can’t wait till morning!
Sunday is such a necessary rest day for me. It gives me time to breathe, get ready for my week, and ask God to speak to my heart, correcting and refining my focus before I step back into the world again. If you need a little fresh air tonight, check out one of today’s sermons at churchofthehighlands.com or troychurch.tv 😍 They were both fabulous.

This week I’m doing oats for breakfast, but last week I made fancy toast every day! That’s what I want to share with y’all in this post – how I took yummy toast to wayyyyy higher nutrient-dense heights last week. I dare you – go beyond butter for a change!

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Sweet Potato Toast!

My first crazy idea was to buy these microwaveable sweet potatoes they sell in a package at Publix. I crave these guys, and the dining hall hadn’t had them in forever. It’s not their fault, they just don’t understand my love. They tried to trick me with butternut squash, which are nice… but just not the same. So here they are!

So, I microwaved these guys for 7-8 minutes, and while they cooled I popped some toast in the toaster. You know I love hearty, whole grain bread with a lot of seeds in it, but lately I’ve preferred the lighter (and much cheaper!) store-brand, classic, fluffy whole wheat. It tastes more like spring.

The first morning I made the sweet potato toast, I did it like this – slices, topped with a drizzle of natural almond butter, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, and a few roasted almonds.

toast day 1
Great breakfast for a chill Saturday.
I really enjoyed it!! I have to say, though… day 2 turned out way better. I used the pre-cooked sweet potatoes, and made a mash with almond butter, cinnamon, and a little unsweetened almond milk. Then, I decorated with a drizzle of unsweetened coconut yogurt, maple agave, and a few salted almonds. Oh my gosh, it was wonderful!

Once I get my own kitchen and a big knife…

If you google “Sweet Potato Toast,” you’ll see that you can actually turn slices of sweet potato into toast! You can have yummy toasted slices without using any bread at all. Bread is definitely a staple in my diet, but I don’t want it to be all I eat. Sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar as high as many other carbs, giving you more sustained energy. They’re also full of countless vitamins and minerals. And they satisfy the sweet tooth. And they go great with cinnamon, which research shows can help lower blood pressure. I love that our food can do more for us than just fill our tummies.

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The other new toast I made this week was Avocado Toast! 

This one’s pretty straightforward. You can do it mashed, sliced, however you’d like. I sprinkled salt and tricolor pepper on top, and it totally makes it THE BEST. This picture is from Wednesday, when I had a piece of avocado toast and the other with an egg on it (microwave-cooked!). Totally balanced carbs, fats, protein. I love it!

Have a great night, and a sweet week (no matter what you eat for breakfast)! And remember, whole grains will always give you the best bang for your buck. Greater satiety (fullness lasts longer), and more natural micronutrients and fiber.

With love,

Rae

Doubt-free French Toast

Doubt-free French Toast

“Dorm Baking, pt. 1”

Breakfast, at any time of the day, tends to be my favorite meal. It’s easy, satisfying, and usually… sweet. I read an article this week on, after Breakfast for Dinner at the dining hall, that led to some real soul-searching on the subject. The evolution of the modern American breakfast seems to have been one towards, well, dessert.

The article included an infographic comparing many commercial breakfast foods to their dessert counterparts – e.g., a muffin to a cupcake, granola to oreos, etc… and the dessert foods won out almost every time, having less sugar and calories than the breakfast items. Sobering. (Read it here at vox.com).

However, just because a Dunkin’ Donuts muffin contains “x” amount of sugar, fat, and calories, doesn’t mean that all muffins have to be this way.

One of the breakfast favorites at our campus dining hall is french toast – and we all agree that the toppings are what blow it out of the water. French toast is really just bread and egg, a fairly balanced combo of carbs and protein. I decided to create a really yummy version that can be made in any space, with minimal equipment, and that tastes fabulous without inducing a sugar-coma.

One of our team slogans is “Leave No Doubt” – we try to do this on the track, giving every run, workout, and race our best effort. We like to avoid doubt in our lifestyles as well – neglecting our sleep, studies, hydration, and nutrition isn’t going to make us a better team.

Without further ado, here’s my “Doubt-Free French Toast.”

You’ll need: 

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or whatever milk you like)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 small-to-medium slices whole grain bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread)
  • Toppings (I used almond butter and blueberries)

 

Now, for the easy part. Mix together egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, beating the egg yolk with a fork. Tear up the bread into small, bite-sized pieces and drop into the mixture. Stir well to coat. Transfer to microwave safe mug or bowl.

Microwave on high for 1:30 – 2 minutes, or until liquid is mostly soaked up and mixture appears “set.” Add toppings, and enjoy!

I used 1 tsp Justin’s maple almond butter, and fresh blueberries. This would also be great with a light drizzle of maple syrup and a pinch of vanilla protein powder.

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Yum.

Hope you enjoy giving this a shot! Cooking better rarely takes longer, just better ingredients, a little more thought, and moderation.

Leave no doubt,

Rae

The Satisfaction Factor

The Satisfaction Factor

There’s something about a good day with friends. Especially sharing good meals and good laughs with people who get you.

Do you ever finish dinner and feel full, yet somewhat unsatisfied? It hits me occasionally, and I’ve even wondered aloud about that feeling. Sometimes a little chocolate will fix it – but sometimes, food isn’t what you’re missing.

Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hatred.” I’d go so far to say I’d rather have salads with love than a steaming hot pizza with indifference. When your relationships are just, well, meh, sometimes you’ll leave the table with something unsatisfied in your heart. It feels like your taste buds, but it might not be. If you’ve ever shared a meal in love, you’ll know what I mean – it’s not about how good it is, but about how warm your heart feels when you leave the table.

Photocreds Jenna Oden (whatsheeatsblog.wordpress.com)

Tonight I started thinking about this idea of satisfaction when I had the greatest healthy chicken nachos with two of my track teammates. We were so proud of our cooking, and it was delicious- but it just felt so relaxing to have a great day with great people, exploring Troy and hanging out at the pool (yes, pool weather in February – thank you Alabama!). A day like this can only be a gift from God.

Shopping at Publix really helped, too, because that just always puts me in a great mood. We managed to make this entire meal for around $5 a person, and then whipped up some yummy mini pumpkin pies for dessert! You can read the full details of our nacho recipe at my friend Jenna’s blog.

Here’s a sneak peak:


Ps – you won’t believe this is vegan cheese. Tastes amazing. I highly recommend Follow Your Heart brand mozzarella and American. I’m not vegan or lactose intolerant, but I think it’s cool to eat dairy-free cheese sometimes and get different nutrients than you would from the same old cheese. This one’s made from coconut, primarily, but you’d never know it. Black beans, shredded chicken, and crushed olives made this recipe to die for. We even made the “chips” homemade from little corn tortillas!

Here’s the final product – a big batch of oven-baked nachos. We all just dug right into the pan, no plates or anything, and it was so epic!


And here’s desert, made from canned pumpkin, cashew milk, spices, and eggs in mini pie crusts.


Those nights where you roll into bed without second thoughts about needing a snack first? Those are good nights! 💕 I love my girls. I challenge you to a share a sweet meal with someone you love today – it really makes a difference.

Be blessed,

Rae

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Breakfast-Style Sweet Potato

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the benefits of natural foods for the body. Yesterday, I spent some time researching the effects of certain foods on the skin, and felt motivated to include more foods in my diet that are minimally processed, lower in refined sugar, and provide a spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

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As a result, I ended up taking home an extra sweet potato from the dining hall last night. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, C, and B6, Manganese, Potassium, and fiber. They pack a lot into a small, nutrient dense package – they also generally won’t give us as high of a blood sugar spike as white potatoes. I started thinking about hash browns, and I realized – if white potatoes can make it into the breakfast club, why shouldn’t sweet potatoes? I searched Pinterest for some sweet potato breakfast recipes, and most people made them into a hash (which looked delicious!). Being in my dorm room, that wasn’t really plausible for me – so I came up with my own idea.

This breakfast sweet potato is stuffed with roasted cinnamon and crushed walnuts, and topped with a drizzle of maple almond butter, a few dollops of silk vanilla yogurt, and some fresh berries. These were all ingredients I had on hand – You could mix this up with any type of nut butter, fruit, or yogurt. These are my favorite toppings in the world added to my favorite vegetable, so naturally, this was one of my favorite breakfasts ever made.

Here’s my recipe! You might choose a larger or smaller potato, and more or less toppings than I did, depending on your size and energy needs. If at home or in an apartment, you could get fancy and heat this in the oven, but it was great just microwaved.

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato (cooked)
  • Roasted cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 walnut halves, broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
  • Silk vanilla yogurt, 1/4 container
  • Blueberries and raspberries, to garnish

-Pull your left over sweet potato out of the refrigerator. Make a slit down the center, and push the ends in to open it up.

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-Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir up the inside. Heat for 30 more seconds, and your sweet potato should be warm and ready to top!

-Stir in roasted cinnamon and walnuts; Drizzle almond butter and yogurt; top with berries.


I feel so energized after eating this! I also had my protein coffee and the rest of my silk vanilla yogurt on the side to balance out this breakfast. I’m about to go conquer a beautiful Thursday – 2 exercise science classes, studying, track practice, and weights. I hope your breakfast fuels you to do something great!

Stay vibrant,

Rae

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Fresh & Clean

{Feature B&W Room: Claire Vaughn}

We all know cleaning up our space is a good thing. When we are having a tough week, however, this is typically one of the first things to fall to the wayside. I’m speaking some personal truth here, because I cleaned up my own desk this morning and watched a wave of productivity and fresh thoughts roll in. As I worked away at (and finished!) a couple of assignments I had put off, and sent multiple emails that I remembered were on my to-do list, I scribbled down ideas for this blog post that just kept popping into my brain. Talk about a good morning.

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Now I’ve begun thinking what I would have felt like if I had done this 3 days ago…

I’m a big believer in the importance of a positive environment. I have become aware of this throughout college, and I feel like the more I work on it, the more benefits I see. This is present in so many areas! For example:

  • A messy space invites you to throw more things down. Throwing more things down invites you to throw yourself down and be lazy.
  • A clean room is pretty, inspiring, and makes you want to have friends over!
  • Cleaning out your closet is such a help. You remember all the cute stuff you have, and actually want to enjoy all your clothes instead of pulling the top t-shirt out of the drawer again.
  • Starting the day with a fresh glass of water (squeeze of lemon optional) clears away yesterday and sets a good intention for the day’s health.
  • A clean kitchen is more fun to cook fresh meals in. Dishes piled up make you want to order pizza – or just go out!
  • A pretty, organized, health-filled fridge leads to nice options being more appealing (e.g. berries you already rinsed and neatly stacked yogurt cups).
  • The people you spend time around influence your ambitions, self-worth, and attitude.
  • A balanced budget makes you aware of what you have, and frees you to spend on what you need/ give to others.
  • A good team environment – people giving their all and being happy to be there – makes practice so much better.

I’m sure you can think of examples in your own life where an environment change, “cleaning house” or “starting fresh” made things right. It’s the changes that take place in your mind as much as it is the physical changes that make the difference. The mind is where all of our actions originate, so why not weed and water the roots?

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Visual cues. A clean desk with a visible to-do list surrounded by space lets you know that you have room to tackle those items. Placing the things you love on your desk, in your kitchen, or on your walls reminds you what you care about. Keeping our loves and visions in mind is one of the biggest keys to living a happy and fruitful life.

When I know I cleaned, my room has a certain lightness – like I dropped a heavy weight. This lightness can carry over to anyone who enters your space – not just you – thus improving your relationships and the lives of those around you. When you take the trash out and light a candle, the place just feels good, doesn’t it? Aromatherapy is a whole different subject, but a good-smelling space can really boost your mood.

Knowing you cleaned up – even if things still aren’t perfect – contributes to good self-efficacy vibes. The physical act of cleaning seems to stir up the mind, allowing us to usher in new thoughts. Even those tasks you don’t enjoy… when I finish my laundry (which requires climbing flights of stairs and $1.25 per load), I feel like the baddest girl on the planet. I know if I can tackle things I really dislike, without anyone making me, I can handle life as it comes at me.

Cleaning has a lot of parallels with making good dietary choices. If I can be kind to myself by doing the dishes, making sure my sheets are clean, etc. – I see similar benefits to those that come with making healthful food choices. There is power in action. Doing what’s good for us and experiencing the positive rewards makes us want to do it more. Even when some junk piles up, we can “take out the trash,” mentally or physically, and experience a fresh space again.

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Here’s a few  ways to get this bright, fresh, clean feeling in your life today:

Whatever you see that’s a mess – for me usually the pile of clothes in the floor – tidy it up. Find a home for those homeless items. Your space will thank you.

Sweat. Exercise jogs the mind like moving and cleaning does, and can renew your focus. You can even use cleaning as exercise!

After you break a sweat, shower. There’s nothing like a hot shower to refresh you. Which brings me to…

Water. The ultimate cleansing substance. Did you know juice cleanses and “detoxes” are a myth? The body does all its own cleansing and detoxifying, all day, every day – and water is the #1 to help move those processes along. Water is also highly concentrated in fruit and veggies, and this is one reason they are great for you. If you ever feel like you need a “system restart,” water and foods with a high water content are the places to look. It’s good for the mind, too, because our brain needs it! Drink an icy cold glass when you’re having trouble focusing, and you’ll typically see improvement. If it’s cold out, brewing a hot cup of water with lemon, or even herbal tea, has the same cleansing effects.

Clean out the fridge. Get rid of old stuff, stuff you’re sick of, and stuff that doesn’t make you feel happy and healthy. This is even better if you’ve got a friend to help you! You’ll let someone else in on the process, they’ll feel good too, and you might be inspired to cook something good together later.

I hope you’re motivated to sweep the dust away today!

Stay bright,

Rae