Perfect Healthy Banana Pumpkin Bread for the Fall

With the holidays quickly approaching, many of us are starting to have to attend pot lucks at work or dinners with family and friends. While we enjoy this special time of the year and definitely appreciate the cuisine, we can all agree that the holiday food is the number one reason why most people using make exercise as one of the top goals on our New Year’s resolutions list. To help alleviate the madness of all of the calories of these delicious foods, I’m sharing this healthy banana pumpkin bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 mashed ripped bananas
  • 2 cups of ground oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
  • 1/2  cup of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Nutmeg, all spice, vanilla extract to taste
  • Zest of one lime

In a bowl soften the butter along with the bananas and the brown sugar with the help of a mixer. When the mixture is well incorporated but not smooth, slowly add in the pumpkin spice cookie butter. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (ground oatmeal, salt, baking soda, zest of lime, nutmeg, all spice). Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and rum and lastly the combined dried ingredients. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, pour into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour or until you insert a fork in the center and it comes out clean.

This light bread can easily been enjoyed with coffee or tea in the morning as part of a breakfast or simply as a guilt-free dessert. Enjoy it warm or straight from the fridge! You can throw in some of your favorite nuts to increase its nutrition value or remove or alter any of the ingredients.

I hope you will enjoy this simple recipe and enjoy the pumpkin season!

Reese

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Quick tips for a novice in the kitchen

If you’ve never particularly been fond of culinary arts, have only entered the kitchen just for the time it requires for you to either grab something from the refrigerator, and are now facing the fact that you might have to start picking up some kitchen skills, you will want to keep on reading!

Many of us are now realizing that possessing culinary skills is becoming a must because: a) dining out is costly; b) you may not always get food that truly flatter your taste buds; c) your waistline continually will expand as you eat out. If you have made the conscientious decision to take on cooking, I’m hoping to help you start at least with these following tips:

  1. Start with quick cooking grains – no matter the meal, a quick cooking grain will help minimize errors. Quinoa is one of my favorites because of its versatility and also as a great source of iron, protein and magnesium, you are sure to have a very healthy component to your meal. If you are not a fan of quinoa, you can easily substitute with one of the following grains: couscous, bulgur wheat, or healthy pastas made of the previously mentioned grains. If you are a real novice and need further guidance, you can search online through websites such as foodnetwork.com or allrecipes.com for step by step recipes. I’ll start you off with this list from Fitness Magazine: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/healthy-quinoa-recipes/?page=1
  2. Select a protein that is easy and quick to cook – my go to protein sources are boneless/skinless chicken breast and seafood: shrimp or snapper fillet to be more specific. These proteins are easy to clean and take usually less than 30 minutes to cook. They are as error proof as ingredients can be and require little experience to make a successful meal with them. You want to ensure that you properly clean them: shrimp needs to be deveined and the connective tissues need to be removed from the chicken breast. Once they are properly cleaned, you can be as adventurous with your seasoning or simply go with salt and pepper. Be sure to thoroughly cook your protein especially your poultry as you risk contracting salmonella poisoning if consumed undercooked. You can refer to the step by step guides following for more assistance: cleaning chicken: http://enchantedspoon.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-basics-how-to-properly-trim.html; deveining shrimp:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_devein_shrimp/
  3. Invest in great seasoning – the seasoning is what can differentiate a bland meal from an exceptional one! While many people think that producing a great tasting meal requires some of the fanciest seasonings, I’ve always thought that the more natural the seasoning, the better the taste. Some of the best spices to use as seasoning include: garlic, pepper, onion, and thyme (depending on the dish). In addition to these, I like to use lime in the cleaning process but it also enriches the taste especially with seafood. For a more depth in the flavor, you may use a small quantity of mustard and hot pepper. For my quick seasoning blend, see my DIY article: http://glamgirlonthego.me/2015/04/23/is-it-worth-it-to-diy/

It will take some practice before you start to feel comfortable in the kitchen, however, the essential part is that you decide to take on the challenge, start with something small and keep practicing until you feel comfortable enough to move on to more complexed recipes. Remember that you’re not alone in your journey, there are many outlets that will help you find new easy recipes to help sharpen your skills such as allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com. Keep practicing and remember that your taste buds will guide you through the process. You may not become the next “it” chef but I promise that you will definitely learn your way around the kitchen.

Enjoy!

Reese

Every Naturalista’s Must Haves!

If you are currently going through or have gone through the natural transition, you’ve probably become addicted to the following: YouTube and product shopping! Having gone through my initial transition 5 years ago, it has been a true learning experience. I began my transition with the keratin treatment and gradually cut the straight parts of my hair (3 inches every 8 weeks) until it was all back to my natural state finally last year. While my decision to go natural was a medical one (the relaxer was too harsh and caused very bad scarring to my scalp in addition to my hair thinning), I have truly enjoyed my journey. It has made me feel more comfortable in embracing myself as a woman and has definitely made life easier in a lot of ways! I’ve never been knowledgeable in how to manage my hair. Even when I had a relaxer, I could not even use a curling iron much less learn how to roller set! The only tool I mastered was the flat iron. By no means have I become a hair guru with my natural curls, however, I find natural hair to be more forgiving. No matter the hairstyle that you are trying to achieve, the following will definitely help you pull a very stylish look:

  • Oils: one of the most important ingredients that all hair especially natural curls need is oils! Olive, argan, avocado, shea – any of these oils are very helpful to your hair but my must have oil is coconut oil! It is non greasy and helps with scalp health, shine, and nourishment for your curls.
  • Hair ties: these should be purchased by the hundreds! For some reason, no matter how many you think you have, you can never seem to find one when you are really in need. So buy them in high quantity and keep a few in your most frequented places: in your personal drawer at work, in the glove compartment in the car, and definitely in your purse.
  • Hair pins: just like the ties, hair pins are a must. Curls tend to be unruly therefore a few pins are always needed to help secure them and help you keep your polished look intact.
  • Hair gel/ custard/ jelly: in the spirit of keeping flyaways tamed, these different types of products will definitely be lifesaving. Remember, a little goes a long way.
  • Spray bottles: use them to mix your favorite LOC method (liquid, oil, conditioner), or simply to have water easily accessible while doing your hairstyle, spray bottles are important. I also suggest having a travel size which you can carry with you when travelling to keep your hair looking fresh!

When it comes to your journey in the natural hair process, no two stories are alike. Some of us have been very fortunate to quickly learn how to effectively manage the transition while some of us may continually be conducting research on YouTube on the best methods to address various natural hair dilemmas. Here’s my suggestion: don’t worry so much about achieving a professional status within the first few months of transitioning. The first years will be tough as you will be dealing with various textures of hair unless you did a big chop. Plus if you chose to transition, you will have to pay closer attention to maintaining your hair healthy. However, a full year into being fully natural I’ve come to heavily rely on some of my favorite YouTube channels such as Moknowshair, MahoganyCurls, and Naptural85. These ladies share short videos on hairstyles, various processes for natural hair and most importantly do some product reviews which can help you make a decision when considering a new line.

I hope these tips will help you conquer your transition and no matter what, don’t give up!

Reese

Five Refreshing Ways to Enjoy Your Water This Summer

It is 85 degrees at 9am, the sun is beating you every time you head outdoors, and summer is here! It’s almost impossible to stay cool, and thus you find yourself reaching for that water bottle throughout the day. While most of us tolerate drinking water, let’s face it: water is bland and after a few glasses, unless you just ran a marathon and are absolutely parched, you are starting to wish that there was a little more pizzazz in that bottle. I’m sharing 5 of my favorite ways to enjoy water and get some extra nutrients:

  • Citrus infused: add a slice of orange, lime, and grapefruit to your water and instantly have a citrus flavored water to give your taste buds variety but also to help boost your immunity with some extra vitamin C.
  • Cucumber and Mint: add a few slices of cucumber and some fresh mint leaves and not only will you have a refreshing water mix, but the mint will also help with your digestion.
  • Berry infused: if you want to add a little sweetness without reaching the sugar, chop some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries and add them to your water. Be sure to watch for the berry seeds when sipping your water.
  • Lettuce infused: one of the water infusions that I grew up drinking, you simply add hot water on some lettuce leaves (romaine or iceberg depending on your preference). This mixture will require some advance preparation as you will need to let the water cool in the refrigerator.
  • Pineapple infused: another favorite growing up, this infusion helps you find a use for the pineapple peels prior to tossing them. Add them in a pitcher and fill it with water and let it sit for a while. Be sure to always thoroughly wash the pineapple (as you should with all of the ingredients) prior to cutting it.

While these concoctions cannot fully remedy the heat situation, they will at least help you keep cool during the summer months while also helping you make hydration fun! These options are especially fun for small children as they can be picky.

Enjoy!

Reese

Easy Tuna Salad

Are you having a hectic week but are looking for a healthy and quick food option that will also keep you full? Tuna not only is a healthy source of protein but it also contains high levels of B vitamins and omega-3. In addition to being quick, filling, and healthy, tuna is a very versatile ingredient and can be mixed with a wide variety of ingredients and help complete any meal. I’m sharing below my favorite tuna salad recipe. It’s easy to make, does not require heat and is ready to eat in less than 15 minutes!

Ingredients:
– 1 can of your favorite tuna
– 1 Tablespoon of Greek yogurt
– 1 ½ Tablespoon of relish
– Diced onions
– Mustard
– Hot sauce
– Seasoning salt
– Garlic powder
– Ground pepper (black or white)

Open the can of tuna, drain the liquid and pour into a bowl. Add your seasoning salt, garlic powder, ground pepper, mustard and hot sauce. Add your diced onions (you may grate the onion if you rather only have the flavor and not the crunch and bite of the raw onion. Add the relish and the Greek yogurt in last place. You may add more of any of the ingredients to taste and finally refrigerate for best taste.

My favorite pairings with this salad are toast or crackers. For an appetizer for your summer party, simply spread a small dollop of the tuna salad onto your favorite crackers and decorate with either slices of green olives, sprig of dill or curly parsley. Your guests are sure to enjoy this delicious treat!

For some further readings on the benefits of tuna, you may enjoy the following links:
http://www.symptomfind.com/nutrition-supplements/health-benefits-of-tuna/
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-tuna-5596.html

I hope this quick recipe will help you find a new way to enjoy tuna. Please remember that while it is one of the healthiest foods, high consumption of tuna can be harmful and always speak to your doctor about any changes you may consider making in your diet.

Enjoy!

Reese

Healthy Quinoa Salad

Many times when we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, we go and purchase a lot of the alternative foods that are making all the waves in healthy magazines and cooking shows. However once purchased, we are not quite sure on how to cook them or what to pair them with. One of my favorite alternatives to rice is quinoa and I’ll admit that it took a lot of research before I realized how to cook this ingredient. Below I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to quickly make a tasty meal out of quinoa:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of red or white quinoa (for white quinoa- be sure to wash it under water before cooking. This will avoid the bloating feeling you may usually get from consuming white quinoa)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Diced red onions to taste
  • Diced tomato to taste
  • ½ can of whole kernel corn
  • Parsley or Cilantro to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 table spoon of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste
  • Seasoning salt to taste
  • Juice of half of a lime

In a pot, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Rinse the quinoa using a fine strainer to prevent the quinoa going into the drain. Once the water gets to a boil, add the quinoa and when the quinoa starts to absorb the water, reduce the fire to low and cover the pot for approximately 15 minutes. Once the time elapses, fluff the quinoa and taste for consistency. If it is no longer crunchy, remove from heat and drain the excess water and pour into a bowl. Flash rinse in some water to cool the quinoa or simply let it rest until it cools. Mix in the red onions, tomato, chopped parsley or cilantro. Add the mixed vinegar and olive oil and the lime juice and the cumin and seasoning salt to taste. Refrigerate until cool or until ready to consume. This dish goes well with seafood or chicken breast and is perfect for a quick dinner after a long day of work or lunch on a weekend day.

Check out a list of 5 common mistakes when consuming quinoa for some more tips on this healthy rice alternative: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/5-most-common-mistakes-when-cooking-quinoa

Stay healthy!

Reese

Quick and Healthy Burger Meal

As many of us are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, we have had to make many cuts in our eating habits and consequently now start to salivate at the sight of a lot of fast foods such as a good burger, French fries, lasagna, cakes etc. At the beginning of the year, a group of my closest girls (including my sister and cousins) and I decided that we would adopt a new eating habit for the New Year. I’m happy to say that six months in, we are still going strong! What has made us successful thus far is 1) the fact that we have a group chat for motivation and sharing ideas and 2) we have continually been sharing alternatives to popular foods that are usually rich in carbs and sugar. Today, I’m sharing my alternative to the typical burger and fries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey ( I like to get the one from the meat department at Whole Foods)
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Yellow mustard
  • Homemade Marinade (for recipe, see my DIY article here: http://wp.me/p5DKT0-1G)
  • Egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper flakes or Cayenne Pepper or any other hot sauce

Using a large bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of the homemade marinade on the defrosted ground turkey. Add in the seasoning salt, the Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of mustard, and black pepper and pepper flakes (or substitute) to taste. Add the egg as a binding agent to ensure that your burger will not crumble. Form 4 oz patties and fry in a hot pan coated with a tablespoon of olive oil.

As an alternative to a burger bun, I use a naan flatbread and as a cheese option, I use smoked provolone (my weakness) and substitute the traditional French fries for baked sweet potato fries. To create a steakhouse burger option, I added sautéed Portobello mushrooms with red onions and some mixed greens. Instead of the traditional condiments, I made a glaze with a habanero gold and apricot jam (purchased at the local farmer’s market), some honey and a tad of yellow mustard.

The first time I made this burger, it was a hit with my friends! This recipe is not a definite low calorie one however, the ingredients have higher value in the calories such as higher protein, less fat etc. (The picture attached to this blog is an actual picture of my meal)

Overall, when adopting a healthier diet, the key is to increase the amount of your meals are homemade as it provides you with the opportunity of controlling exactly what goes into your food. Have fun with learning new recipes and Pinterest is your best friend! You may also consider the following websites: allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, and myfitnesspal.com.

Enjoy!

Reese

Sticking to your diet!

Summer is fast approaching and we are all planning on heading on vacation and for most of us, our destination will most likely include a pool or a beach and this means a bikini ready body! So in order to prepare for our beach or pool days, many of us have started watching our weight or heading back to the gym. While the intention is always there, for many of us, the motivation dies quickly after about a week. Since I’ve also been in this situation many times, I’m going to share with you four tips that really helped me tick to the plan. Whether you are choosing to diet or simply make regular trips to gym, these tips will apply:
– Have a piece of clothing as motivation. Is there one particular outfit that used to be your go to for a boost of confidence? Maybe lately, it’s not fitting quite the same? Then put that dress on display in your closet and make it your goal to get back into that outfit!
– Get a work out partner/coach that will motivate you or a diet buddy. Sometimes the intention to go to the gym is there, however, after a long day of work, you simply want to leisure walk on the treadmill to fulfill the “working out” requirement. However, we all know that leisure walking on the treadmill while it will still help your heart, will not get you any closer to shedding the pounds! Find a workout partner who is just as serious about losing weight or getting in shape and be each other’s motivator. You must establish trust between the two of you because there are days that there will be some yelling involved and you will need to remember that it is out of love lol. If you decide to go on a diet, find someone to do it with you and be each other’s motivator, share recipes or have meals together to keep each other on the right path.
– Find alternative recipes. Whether you are simply working out or have chosen to maintain a different diet as well, alternative recipes to mainstream foods rich in carbs and fat will be beneficial. Today there are so many alternative recipes that are so tasty, you will never want to go to the less healthy version! (Look for my alternative to the regular burger in the Beauty & Health section http://wp.me/p5DKT0-2B).
– Set a goal date. Whether it is the beginning of summer, maybe your birthday, or better yet an event to attend, set your goal date and keep working towards your goal and do your very best to achieve it! Keep the calendar handy and you will feel the pressure (and motivation) build as the date approaches.
At the beginning of the year, I had set a goal to get my stomach as flat as possible for a wedding on Memorial Day weekend. I purchased a dress that I know would require the type of stomach that I wanted to achieve (as the material was spandex), and made sure that my trainer knew my goal. With her help, I cut out many of my favorite carbs or found better alternatives, did boot camp style workouts three times a week and for the last month I also went walking for 45 minutes on my off days. While I did not gain a six pack yet, I was happy that I wore my dress and no Spanx were required!!! Furthermore, there is a feeling that you get once you start seeing results that just makes you even more motivated to continue with your workouts or your diet. I hope that my suggestions will help you as well and remember that the most important goal is to feel good in your body and to be healthy!
Have fun!
Reese

Make your pantry practical for your on the go lifestyle!

Are you always on the go? If you are a working adult or even a college student, then your answer is most likely yes! While we try to balance our busy schedules, the first thing that we tend to cross out of our list is cooking. However, after about a week, not only will your wallet start to really take a hit but your waistline will soon follow. So over the past year, I’ve started to make changes to how I do my grocery shopping to incorporate quick ingredients that will make creating a meal faster. Today, we have to learn to make everything in our lives practical and the kitchen pantry is possibly one of the most important areas we can tailor to our lifestyles.  Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, having these ingredients will shorten your time in the kitchen and allow for you to focus on other tasks:

  • Eggs – this great source of protein pretty much is a must staple in any refrigerator! Whether boiled or fried, eggs do not take long to make and will help you stay full.
  • Pasta – whether it is spaghetti or macaroni, pasta does not take long to cook and is filling. If you are watching your weight, switch to whole wheat pasta or even a quinoa or brown rice pasta.
  • Cereal – a cereal that is high in fiber is not only rich in nutrients and filling but is probably the quickest meal you can get.
  • Potatoes – cut into cubes, sprinkle some salt and seasonings, place it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes and you have a great accompaniment for your protein for dinner. For a healthier version, use sweet potatoes.
  • Milk – a great source of calcium, milk will come in handy for eating cereal or making a quick smoothie. If you have lactose intolerance or prefer an alternative, rice, almond, or soy milk are also great to have in stock and last longer.
  • Salad – it will not require you to use the stove and if it is already in a bag, you will simply need a bowl to enjoy. Add in a protein to help make it a more hearty meal.
  • Seafood – shrimp and fish are my favorites! Not only are they great sources of protein but neither take a long time to cook or to season. Just be sure to take it out of the freezer in the morning so it may defrost and be ready to cook upon your return home.
  • Fruits – they will keep you healthier, are great as snacks and when frozen can be blended into a smoothie. Add some dry oats in the smoothie for more consistency.
  • Nut butters – peanut, cashew, or almond, any of these nut butters will not only provide you with a great source of protein (especially if you do not eat meat) but they are also filling and can be used as dipping for some of your fruits or vegetables.

There are tons of other ingredients that you can keep in your kitchen that will help you reduce your time preparing meals but the above are suggestions based on what I keep in my kitchen and I hope they will give you an idea of what to keep in your kitchen to help make planning your meals a little less stressful.

Stay healthy!

Reese

Is it worth it to DIY?

DIY has become probably the “it” word since last year. It’s the latest movement that has taken our society by storm and especially thanks to Pinterest. I’ve become a big fan of DIY and for me I’ve found the beauty products and the recipes to be my favorites. However, I’m sure that some people wonder whether it is worth it to invest the time and try to do it yourself, and I’ll share the top three reasons why I think everyone should at least consider DIY:
– It IS cost efficient: obviously, that is usually one of the first reasons that most people will think but they usually assume so under the wrong idea. It is cost efficient because you can purchase the ingredients in bulk and thus make quite a few containers, not because you don’t have to pay for the name brand. However, that is also a very big factor in the low cost.
– You are able to customize your product: have you ever found a product that you loved but only wished it came in a different scent? By learning to make the same product, you are able to reproduce it in the particular scent that you are fond of.
– It is the most natural: this is my number one reason for DIY! You know exactly what goes into your product and this helps avoid allergies.

Here are a couple of DIY recipes that I use and hope you will find useful:

Homemade seasoning:
– 3 shoots of scallions
– 3 cloves of garlic
– ¼ of a green pepper
– ¼ of a red pepper
– Small handful of fresh parsley
– 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
– ¼ cup of olive oil
Mix all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and store in a covered container in your refrigerator. This seasoning is very popular in my culture and is also the base for many Haitian dishes. It is very time saving when cooking as you can use it to season any meat and also when cooking rice and beans; for meats, just be sure to thaw the meat ahead of time and once it is ready to cook, simply coat the meat with the mixture and let it marinate for about half an hour. The best advantage of this seasoning is that it does not go bad and thus you can enjoy it until it finishes.

Avocado/Coconut hair mask:
– 1 small avocado hass
– 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a food processor until it is smooth. Apply generously in hair and cover with a plastic cap for 30 minutes. This is a good mask especially for natural hair as the avocado helps keep the shine in your hair; the coconut oil helps retain moisture and prevent dandruff and the olive oil aids with hair loss and overall scalp health.

I hope you will find these two DIY recipes helpful and maybe it will help start your DIY adventure. Feel free to visit my Pinterest page for some more DIY recipes saved on my DIY Board: https://www.pinterest.com/GlamGirlOTG/diy-ideas/

Enjoy!

Reese