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” –

đŸ„’đŸ„•đŸŒœđŸ„”đŸ đŸ†đŸŒ¶

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

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Our days are already mapped out. Did you know that?

Every single one, written in God’s book.

We get to choose how hard we work at our jobs, what we watch on TV, what we eat, who we spend time with, how often we blog… but He already knows every choice we’ll make before we make it. If we are believers in Christ, His Spirit continually draws us to the places we need to be to make an impact for Him. He knows we’re not perfect, and He will use us and bless us anyway. He actually couldn’t use us if we were perfect… because there’d be no room for Him. People would just see us.

Human perfection is a myth, and this principle bleeds over into every area of our lives. The desire for perfection can actually hinder progress – it’s hard to keep pressing forward when we’re continuously looking back and trying to fix what we messed up, or mentally beating ourselves up over our mistakes. So much can be gained from being accepting, especially of ourselves, and getting back at it.

I can name countless areas where I’ve done both – beat myself up, or kept going – and the latter is always more beneficial. Sports, relationships, eating healthy, school… yeah. Even if you win at everything you attempt, there might still be something you could’ve done better. But that’d keep you from celebrating your victories!

You know what I’m really not perfect at? Among a lot of other things… cooking.

My first cooking experience at my new home in Auburn involved making a huge mess in the microwave (should’ve used a bigger bowl). I know how to make oatmeal… but sometimes new variables enter in. My new microwave is way more powerful than the one in my dorm was. I used a different bowl. The list goes on. However, I could’ve saved myself some cleaning if I had been watching the oats while they cooked. So, that was my takeaway from this – the first time you do something new, keep an eye on it.

empty bowl
My oats were still delicious 😉

My first time using the oven here… I burned my thumb. Don’t try to watch TV while you’re getting a pan out of the oven. But, if you do, life will go on, and the roasted carrots will still be pretty good.

carrot
Roll carrots in olive oil & salt; Bake @ 325 for 30 minutes, flip, and bake 30 more.

I’ve made some really yummy food for myself and my family, and I’ve learned a ton about cooking for one person. Some of my top tips include buying what you like, buying frozen veggies and meat often (because you can’t use fresh as fast as you think), and keeping staples on hand for quick meals. Also, I’ve learned that (though I’m definitely a snack lover) cooking real meals is so much more satisfying, and so much more nourishing to the body, than just eating some stuff out of the cabinet for dinner. Cooking for yourself also gives you a sense of personal pride (Yeah, I made that, and it was darn good!) and is SO much healthier than eating out all the time. Eating out is good for the soul, sure, and can be perfectly healthy a few times a week, but home-cooked meals have the potential to be so much better for the body. Plus, you pick exactly what ingredients go in (Don’t like mushrooms? You’ll never have to pick around one), how much goes on your plate, and you don’t have to wait on somebody else to put your order in with the chef.

People like to say they “can’t cook.” Well, don’t take my word for it, but…

“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” – Chef Gusteau (Ratatouille)

You can do it. To make it good, you just need practice, and maybe a little help from somebody whose cooking you like. And if you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen, I’ve got some tips that might help you out with that.

  1. Pick out things at the store that make you excited to cook. I love anything breakfast-y, anything with the word almond in it (almond butter, almond milk…), fresh fruit, dark greens, and whole grains. Oh yeah, and sweet potatoes. When you’re the chef, you’re in charge – why not make a meal out of your favorite healthy foods?

    bfast dinner 2.0
    Sweet Potato, Kale, & Egg  Skillet + Kodiak cakes + Almond butter + Berries + Almond Milk
  2. Make some noise in the kitchen. Listen to your favorite music, turn on the TV, call a friend, or recruit others to hang out with you while you cook. You don’t have to isolate yourself! The kitchen should be one of the warmest and liveliest places in the house. Just don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re pulling a pan out of the oven!
  3. Cook ahead. I love already having the tough part of a meal done, especially during the week. If I cook 2 decently large chicken breasts one night, I can work that into 3 or 4 meals and only have to cook the veggies and rice. If it’s been a long day, I’ll just throw that chicken on a tray with corn tortilla chips and a little cheese, chop up an avocado or a tomato, and call it nachos. Or, if it’s been a really long day… salad takes 2 minutes. It’s always there for me.

So yeah, cooking can be really fun. Therapeutic, even. At the very least, you can definitely do it! Never let fear of failure or imperfection get in your way. With cooking, diet, exercise, sport, school, a new job, or anything else in life – Go for it, and you might surprise yourself!

Good luck 😘

Rae

Me

Image

M-day 💕

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day 🙂 Ours was perfect. We started off the day making some “real deal” chocolate chip waffles with bacon, and ended with seeing our grandparents, picking up my sister from dance rehearsal, and scarfing down some amazing grilled shrimp that I was too hungry to consider taking a picture of.

waffle with bacon
Real whipped cream + toasted coconut + berries 🙂 And some special cold brew coffee with almond milk!

One day or one weekend to celebrate moms is absolutely not enough, because they are the reason all of our lives are possible. On top of that, they do so much thankless work. Thank them for everything you can think of, because there is always more that goes on behind the scenes.

That being said, we ought to just be able to give moms a rest day, but I know mine always ends up working, even on Mother’s Day. Laundry is still running, and Mom is still full-throttle getting us ready for the week ahead. She’s superhuman.

However, it is possible to incorporate restfulness into even the busiest of days. Whether it’s a yoga session, enjoying a good meal, watching a little TV, or just going to bed early, rest is important to your mental health. We weren’t created to run 24/7, and many moms (like mine) have figured this out.

You’ve probably heard it before, but if you want to be present for others, you need to take care of you. Why not take initiative and incorporate planned rest into your life? In my experience, if you try to be “on” all the time, you’re going to crash. Give yourself the satisfaction of taking breaks, on your own terms.

beach1

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, probably because they thought the M’s would be cute. May is actually a really good time to think about it, though, because for many of us the school year is coming to a close. Things get really busy, and then they just drop off. If you’re in the busy phase, it’s a great time to consider how you can improve your performance by keeping your mental health strong. If you’ve made it through, congratulations! Allow yourself to relax, and definitely consider de-stressors that you can incorporate into your life when it winds back up again. If life is calm for you, considering your mental health can boost your happiness, help you to care more for others, and just overall make you whole and healthy.

Many say that mental health is just as important as physical health – and I agree. You might work your tail off for a performance, or to look good for an event… but when you get there, can you enjoy it? In our everyday quest to keep our bodies healthy, if we stress ourselves out, we will not succeed. We might make the grade, reach our body goals, or lower our cholesterol, but we are not fully healthy or successful if we are not mentally healthy. Mental health will determine the overall quality of your life. Everything you experience is processed in your brain… the way you interpret life is ultimately what matters.

GPA 3.69

It’s not just a concept – physical proof of the negative effects of poorly managed stress on the body includes elevated cortisol – a stress hormone that is naturally elevated when we stress the body. Cortisol isn’t all bad – levels go up when we work out hard. It’s essential for performance, but if elevated all day long, it can negatively influence fat storage (more around the middle), among other negative effects. A workout only temporarily spikes cortisol, but not getting enough sleep or being under constant stress can result in chronically high cortisol levels. Additionally, stress itself has been linked to an increase in heart disease! You can do all the healthy things, but if you don’t live life with moderation and allow yourself rest, you could seriously impact your physical health.

Exercise, though it temporarily stresses the body, is good for your mental health because it releases other “feel-good” hormones, like serotonin. Encouraging, not forcing, the body to move will give us the best results. I don’t mean stop if running or lifting is hard- challenge yourself, but don’t work beyond sense. Don’t push exercise to the max if you are feeling drained. Work with your body, not against it.

Being mindful with exercise ties right in with one of my favorite things in the world – mindful eating. Learning to listen to my body’s true needs when it comes to food has been one of the best changes I could ever have made in my life. God gave us hunger and fullness cues, and emotions, for a reason- and it’s our job to listen and nourish ourselves well.

A healthy and varied diet full of good fats, lean protein, whole grains, and colorful fruits and veggies can really make you feel and look your best. And the body is happy. However, food was also meant for celebration! Though I do feel rejuvenated after eating most days, there’s something fulfilling about enjoying a special meal with family. Though my healthiest breakfasts might contain more antioxidants than chocolate chip waffles, those waffles we had yesterday had their own sort of benefit. Happiness, letting go, not caring that they’re full fat and full sugar. Letting yourself enjoy a total splurge is good for the mental state.

The thing is, we don’t have to deserve good food. We don’t deserve anything in life. It’s all a gift. Our bodies are a gift, too.

I have also found that good old fashioned dessert loses its luster if you start feeling “entitled” to it. What’s there to celebrate is you eat this way every day? I say, enjoy healthy food most of the time, and fearlessly indulge when your body needs it. You don’t have to have cake on every occasion, but you should certainly have cake in your life. Or ice cream. Or whatever you love. Structure and groundedness in your diet are good. Making treats healthier is good. But chocolate chip waffle mix from William’s Sonoma is good, too.

And don’t call it a cheat meal. Call it living your life.

To close, here are some of my favorite ways to keep my mind healthy and happy –

  1. Going to bed early
  2. Yoga
  3. Taking walks
  4. Drinking hot tea ☕
  5. Hammocking
  6. Crossfit
  7. Watching the sun rise
  8. Reading my bible
  9. Relaxing with friends/ family
  10. Bubble baths đŸ›€đŸŒ

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find your own ways to incorporate rest and healthy movement into your lives on a daily basis. Your mind, body, and family will all thank you!

view

Be well,

Rae

Completion.

Completion.

There’s how you think you’re going to feel when you finish your 4 years… and then there’s how you actually feel. I always thought I’d be so relieved after running at Troy was done, because as much as I love my team and the sport… it’s not easy.

I’m proud of everything that the Lord and my coaches and teachers helped me to accomplish, I’m proud of my big letter, and I’m proud of the braver person I have become! I know that I’m ready to move on to grad school, and to help others in areas that I am passionate about.

I thought I was ready to move on. Checking out of the dorm for the last time was SO liberating. But then, y’all, I cried all the way out of Troy city limits. I’m going to miss everything and everyone so much.

GPA 3.69
My beautiful women’s team.
Don’t ever be mad at yourself for crying “good” tears. Sometimes, they come to remind us how invested we actually were in an experience. I love Troy, I loved my 4 years, and I wouldn’t trade any second for the world. My friends will always be my friends, and we’ll never be far apart in heart. Especially with the house party app 😉 Troy fam, if you haven’t yet… get the app. It’s gonna make our lives better!

What do you do when you’ve achieved your goals? Naturally, celebrate and then set new ones. It’s important to set new goals for every stage in your life. Even if they’re big, or vague, we all just need to have direction. Whether you’ve reached a fitness goal, or a life goal, or a career goal, it’s important to continue your forward momentum. Of course, take rest for yourself. Then, think, what do I want the next phase of my life to look like? What can I do to make it better?

It could be staying active or encouraging others more. As for me, I definitely want to continue to pursue a positive mindset, encourage others, develop my cooking skills (goodbye, dining hall!), and put even more into my studies. I also want to explore some other areas of fitness besides running (though I’ll never be able to resist a good run). Right now, I’m also enjoying having time with my family, who I missed like crazy. That’s always important!

rae & anna honors
Anna & I at her Honors Day. Always match your siblings, it’s fun.
Feeling like the world’s all in front of you is exactly how you should feel – because no matter what your situation, it is. There are always ways to make every single day better. Our lives will never be perfect – but there are always goals we can set and qualities we can aspire toward.

Never give up. Be innovative. And, be you.

This post wouldn’t be complete without me sharing today’s breakfast with y’all, because it was bomb.

toast

Double Berry Almond Butter Toast ^^

  • 2 pc. Sara Lee Delightful Multigrain Bread
  • 1 1/3 tbsp Publix creamy almond butter
  • 1 tsp Polaner Strawberry All-fruit spread
  • 1 handful fresh blueberries
  • Coconut oil spray

I just sprayed each piece of this awesome fluffy bread with some coconut oil spray (just enough to coat), and put it in the oven on broil with the oven light on. After a few minutes, it’s golden brown (gotta keep your eye on it!) and I pulled it out and spread almond butter on each piece. I added strawberry all-fruit to one, and some amazing fresh blueberries to the other. This was perfect with a glass full of ice and Stok cold-brew coffee.

Starting your day well helps you tackle those goals you’re setting! 😉

Be blessed,

Rae

Road Trip Snackin’ đŸš™

Road Trip Snackin’ đŸš™

Long road trip… you pull up to a gas station… you’re hungry. You’ve been on a roll lately with your nutrition, and you don’t really want to settle for the Cheetos today. What do you choose?

On Friday, I drove down to Gulf Shores to present research at the ASAHPERD Conference (7.5 hrs, just me!), and I realized there really were some decent snack options at the gas stations along the way.

conference
My conference group with our posters 🙂

Here are my top healthy picks!

  1. Bottled water. Of course, you can’t drink too much on the road, but staying hydrated is key to keeping your mind alert while you drive. You just can’t beat a cold bottle of water.
  2. Bai drinks. I’ve loved this stuff lately! The mango and coconut flavors are really yummy (felt like I was still at the beach). Yes, there are some artificial sugars (erythritol), but this drink is relatively natural compared to many others, and has little impact on your day’s diet at only 10 calories per bottle. A yummy drink is a good choice when you’re bored and want to snack, but aren’t really hungry yet.

    drivin
    When you see the Flora-bama and you realize you’re 5 min out 🙂
  3. Unsweetened tea. A favorite in my family. We’re unsweet tea people. Some flavor, a little caffeine, and no bad stuff. Again, if you need it sweet, I recommend Milo’s Splenda Tea. You won’t miss a thing except the sugar and calories, and you won’t spike your blood sugar like real sweet tea will.
  4. Skinny-pop. Popcorn is naturally whole-grain – it only hurts us when we cook it in a ton of oil and drown it in butter. Air popped popcorns, or those popped in less oil and seasoned lightly, give you a lot to munch on for not a lot of caloric cost. And everybody loves popcorn!

    snackin
    My ammo for the return trip. (Water, mango Bai, and white cheddar Skinny pop.)
  5. Nuts, especially almonds. I like the single-serve pouches – you know, the tall skinny ones. They usually have around 20 almonds inside, which is perfect, because you won’t eat too many and get a tummy ache. Cocoa roast, blueberry, and lightly salted are some of my faves. They’ll give you a boost of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, and calcium, as well as taking the edge off of your hunger.
  6. Jerky. I tried “Perky Jerky” Brand turkey jerky today, and I really like it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better source of on-the-go protein than jerky – just check your ingredients. Beef jerky is great, but turkey is even leaner (and yummier, in my book). And of course, we want minimal preservatives. Look for things you can pronounce, and watch sodium and sugar.beach3
  7. Clif nut butter bar or Quest bar. Two of my favorites – I like them because the ingredient list is relatively short, and they’ve got less sugar and more protein than the average bar. Reach for this if you’re too hungry to mess around with popcorn – they’ll fill you up more like a small meal.
  8. Apple chips or Freeze-dried fruit. Traditional dried fruit often has added sugar – yeah, it’s fruit, but it’s not your best choice. Freeze-dried options are better because they’re closer to the natural state! Natural = better. And they’re SO GOOD.beach2
  9. Mints/ Gum. Great for taking the edge off, keeping the breath fresh, and keeping you focused. Mint is really good for that! They’re also a great option when you just want to buy something, but you’re not particularly hungry.
  10. Starbucks Coffee+Milk. Hands-down, it woke me up after hour 3 and got rid of my headache. A much better option than Starbucks’ bottled Frappaccinos – this deliciousness is made with just milk, sugar, and coffee. No crazy stuff. My favorite is the Vanilla 🙂

beach1

And when you get home and you’re too hungry to cook (or you missed Saga), grab one of these from Chik-fil-A! (Southwest salad with chili lime vinaigrette) 🙂

Drive happy!

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 😊

cocoa chia nectarine overnight oats
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!

img_2026

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.

img_2058

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

Image

Brownie Batter {Hummus}

Made this AMAZING stuff with my sister this weekend. We modeled it after the chocolate hummus on don’t waste the crumbs blog, with a few modifications, and it only took about 5 minutes. You’ll find recipes online with the same ingredients labeled both “healthy cookie dough dip” and “dessert hummus.” That’s because when you make this stuff right, you’ll never know its healthy!

Our inspiration behind making our own dessert hummus arose when “DB Dessert Hummus” followed me on Twitter. They make the most amazing looking stuff… and I thought, “Whoa, a dessert with health benefits? An even yummier way to eat chickpeas?” And then I realized… it ain’t sold in Alabama. Boo. So, we set out to make our own!

We used:

1 can (1 1/2 cups) chickpeas, drained and rinsed.

1/2 cup cocoa powder.

1/3 cup maple syrup.

2 tsp. vanilla extract.

You can adjust these ratios to your own liking – use less or more sweetener, different sweetener, add nut butter or anything else you think would make this dip amazing. Blend it all up in your ninja, blender, or food processor, and then add 2 tbsp water. Blend again. Throw in chocolate chips 🙂

Dessert Hummus, done.

brownie hummus

Who needs flour and butter when you’ve got chickpeas?

And my favorite ways to eat it are:

As a healthy fat/protein boost with bfast –

hummus bfast
Sweet potato muffin & fruit + a little smidge of heaven.

2. As a post-run snack with graham crackers –

hummus workout
Life’s good.

And as a bedtime snack with my family 🙂

Hope you love it!! We plan on trying other variations in the future. Maybe a coconut pie, or a snickerdoodle? And if I ever get my hands on some DB Hummus … I’ll let you know whose is better!

Stay sweet,

Rae