The Best Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies…EVER!!!

These cookies are amazing and PACKED with oats! By far one of my favorite and most praised cookie recipes. Even chocolate chip lovers will fall in love with this chewy-centered, crispy-edged cookie…

oatmeal raisin cookies

 

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (may sub coconut or almond flour for GF)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick organic unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large organic egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position 1-2 nonstick baking sheets in the oven to get warm (important step to ensure these cookies turn out right!). *Use 1 baking sheet if you want 12 large cookies, 2 baking sheets if you prefer 24 small/regular size.
  2. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter with both sugars on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Turn mixer down to low speed and slowly add the flour mixture, a little at a time, until just incorporated (do not over mix otherwise cookies will turn out gummy). Turn mixer off and stir in oats and raisins.
  5. Remove pan(s) from the oven and set on wire racks. Remember these pans are hot so be careful when making the cookies (use a oven mitt to protect your hand).
  6. Form dough into rounds, making either 24 smaller cookies on 2 baking sheets or 12 larger ones on 1 baking sheet (I made the larger ones but it’s complete preference on what size cookies you want!).
  7. Using oven mitts, place cookie sheet(s) back into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (I did 14 minutes for 12 large cookies and it was perfect).
  8. Let cookies rest for 5 minutes on wire racks before eating.

 

 

Enjoy by themselves or indulge with your favorite ice cream either topped or wedged in between! YUM!!

 

Below is a picture of my daughter Emma…my #1 fan :) 

emma liking cookies emma eating cookie

 

How to Get Your Abs Back After Having a Baby

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Muffin top. Love Handles. Jelly Belly. Bloated. Pudgy. Flabby.

 

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Once you hear one of these terms you know exactly what someone is referring to – their middle area. Abs…or zero abs. It’s one of the most frustrating things a person can try to get rid of and one of the many blessings of pregnancy: your stomach gets big! The first thing you want to loose is your flabby stretched out stomach as soon as that baby pops out (after  you cuddle and love on them first!). Of course as I remind all my clients who have had kids, it takes time and patience to get your abs back afterward, but after a while it’s like, “Okay, when is this stomach going to get the hell out of here!?!”

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Picture on left: day I went into labor. Picture on right: one year later.

It takes the longest to loose the weight if you’re not consistent or eating well, so let’s knock on those two crucial points right away. You can’t eat like crap and expect to loose weight. It’s impossible. Eat greens, lean protein, whole grains, raw nuts/seeds, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, whole fruit and vegetables. Most importantly: EAT REAL FOOD. For example, use raw agave or raw sugar to sweeten your coffee, tea or oatmeal. STOP USING FAKE SHIT – your body can’t process it and ends up holding onto it for a very, very long time. Stop taking shortcuts – they don’t work in the longterm and you end up putting on the weight as quickly as it came off. Which brings me to juice cleanses: they work as supplements to get your greens, not as meal replacements. You end up being hungrier and eating more because you feel like you’ve missed a meal.

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We were given teeth to chew…so do that.

 

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Another way to loose the weight in your middle is to drink a lot and lot and lot of water. Add a slice (and squeeze) of lemon which helps detoxify the body and cleanses the liver. You will need to pee more often, but you will have to get over that. You should be used to that anyway if you were pregnant. Keep a water bottle by your bed, on your desk, in your purse, in your baby bag…you will drink more water if it’s easily accessible.

absplanks

Lastly (and most important) DO PILATES. I am a HUGEEEEE believer in the workout and the results. No other exercise both extends and strengthens your muscles, creating that lean toned body everyone desires. It’s incredible to watch a client who struggles to straighten their leg to then gain the strength in their stomach to hold their leg up higher and straighter. Planks, arm exercises, leg movements, jumping off the reformer jumpboard, extensions – you name it, the movements all come from one place: YOUR CORE! Your abs are getting stronger and stronger from each movement you do, and those exercises- done correctly- will give you a lean slim sexy stomach. I promise. If you are not seeing those results you are either: not eating healthy, eating too much, not drinking enough water, not moving enough, and/or not doing pilates CORRECTLY. Having an intelligent instructor is like having a good insurance policy- without one, you’re FU%KED and wasting your money (not to mention precious time)! 

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Pilates is something I did throughout my entire pregnancy (even the day I went into labor) and continued shortly after giving birth. Pilates gave me my body back- no question- after having a baby. It’s hard to imagine when you’re pregnant that your stomach will ever look the same, but to tell you the truth, it just makes you that much prouder of what you can accomplish. Let’s be honest, being a mother is the hardest job in the world. Pilates? Please…that’s easy. You just need to have the motivation and create the time for yourself to do it. If you think you “hate” pilates because you feel like it’s too slow or you haven’t seen results, you haven’t seen the right instructor. Do some research and hire a professional who knows what they’re doing, is educated, and will push you to hit your goals. If you can’t hire a professional for private lessons, sign up for group classes at a gym or studio! Any questions on what you should be doing or eating please don’t hesitate to ask.

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To moms everywhere, GET YOUR HOT BOD BACK!!!

 

 

 

Cinnamon Apples & Bananas Breakfast Quinoa

This is DE-LICIOUS! I have always had quinoa as a side dish or in my salads (since I always make the recipe from my cookbook “Lemon Quinoa with Pine Nuts”), but this is perfect for a morning meal. It’s naturally sweetened by the organic fruits & cinnamon, and full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy carbohydrates from the quinoa (since it is actually a seed not a grain). Choosing to make this as your morning meal can only mean great things will come your way…aka health benefits, energy & very happy eaters! :)

 

Cinnamon Apples & Bananas Breakfast Quinoa:

 

ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend applesauce
  • 1 cup unsweetend vanilla almond or soy milk, warmed
  • 1 organic apple, peeled and diced (I used a fuji apple – but you can use whatever you like)
  • 1/2 organic banana, sliced

 

directions:

  1. stir together quinoa, water, vanilla and cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover; let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Transfer quinoa to 2-4 bowls (depending on how many you’re serving) and stir in applesauce and warmed milk. Top with diced apple, sliced bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

 

*This recipe can be made for 2-4 people depending on the size/quantity per person you wish to serve. I used this recipe and it made enough for my husband, me and our 10-month old daughter, Emma (who LOVED it!) :)

 

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Gluten Free Holiday Molasses Cookies

These are the BEST COOKIES to bake for the holidays (or anytime) and are so delicious!!! They are soft, chewy and spicy – just what I personally love in any holiday cookie. I decided to make them Gluten Free since one of my best friends is gluten-intolerant and I always try to bake something she can enjoy too. Plus, it’s healthy. :)

Many have asked for the recipe so here it is…happy holidays everyone!

 

 

Gluten Free Holiday Molasses Cookies

 

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  • 1 cup white sugar, plus more for rolling & sprinkling :)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 4 cups brown rice flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixer fitted with an electric paddle, cream together butter with both sugars.
  3. Add molasses and eggs and mix until well combined.
  4. Add baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Combine well.
  5. Turn mixer to low, slowly add flour one cup at a time. Do not over-mix.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in white sugar.
  7. Place on non-stick baking sheet (or pan lined with wax paper or cooking spray) and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Pull cookies from oven, sprinkle with a little more sugar & let rest for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
  9. Eat & enjoy at least one for yourself before sharing with others :)

 

Check out my cookbook available on Amazon.com for more yummy recipes!

 

 

 

My Vegan Cinnamon Almond & Vanilla Coconut Granola

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I LOVE GRANOLA. I can’t even explain the love I have for it. It’s just one of those things I can take anywhere, eat anytime, top on anything, and know its not horrible for me (if I make it that is). I have one of my favorite granola recipes in my cookbook, Cooking Healthy Together, which is packed with protein, nuts and dried fruit. For this granola I wanted to make it a little more indulgent since the holidays are right around the corner…and who doesn’t love receiving granola as a gift?!

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Keeping on with my healthy ways, I made this yummy indulgent granola super good for you by cutting down on the oil and salt and didn’t add any butter or artificial sweetener (because that always hurts my stomach anyway). The recipe includes ingredients such as organic oats, flaxseed and oat bran, and is sweetened with natural sugars from oranges, agave nectar, tons of cinnamon and delicious coconut.

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Vegan Cinnamon Almond & Vanilla Coconut Granola

Recipe yields 10 cups

*you may always cut the recipe in half if that’s too much, but I always like to make a bunch to give some away as gifts or to save in the freezer for later!

  • 1 cup organic orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup organic raw agave nectar, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 6 cups old fashioned organic oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 8 oz sliced raw almonds
  • 2 cups organic unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 3-4 baking sheets with coconut oil spray (found at trader joe’s)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together orange juice, vanilla extract, agave nectar, and coconut oil. Once mixture begins to slightly bubble, remove from heat to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix oats, flaxseed meal, oat bran, almonds, coconut (both flaked & shredded), sea salt and cinnamon.
  5. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and combine well.
  6. Lay granola mixture out evenly on baking sheets. Sprinkle with cinnamon before placing in oven.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Granola should be browned on top once done.
  8. After granola is done baking, drizzle with agave nectar and sprinkle with more cinnamon for extra sweet goodness.
  9. Let granola cool for 15 minutes before removing with spatula from pan.
  10. Store in zip lock bags or tuberware at room temperature or in the freezer for extra crunchy/cold granola :)

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Homemade Fruit Yogurt with no artificial sweeteners or added sugar!

I cringe at the thought of all the sugar and artificial flavorings in food nowadays. Being a new mom, health freak, fitness professional and cookbook author, it’s pretty obvious there was no way I wouldn’t be making my own baby food for my daughter. So far she’s had oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, apples, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, and organic chicken soup (I pureed this of course after making it and she gobbled it up)!

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Recently when I went to Whole Foods Market to get some yogurt for her to try, I noticed so many of them were sweetened with some kind of artificial flavoring…no thank you. I decided to go with YoBaby plain organic yogurt and added in my own fruit. Sounds simple right? (Why doesn’t everyone do this?!) Needless to say Emma LOVED this “banana yogurt” just made from real bananas blended with yogurt! (P.S. I tried it too and it was delicious.)

This is when I started thinking about all the ways we can try to make our kids eat healthier…and why not make homemade fruit yogurt one of them? You know kids love Pinkberry and Yogurtland, and mostly because of the toppings! After school snack? Check! Who’s the cool & creative mom? You are! This is a fun way to get your kids to eat a healthy sweet snack without all the extra artificial sugar. Plus, you can make it for yourself too with whatever yogurt you enjoy. Trust me, it’s yummy.

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Homemade Fruit Yogurt with Toppings:

  1. Empty 1 container or cup of yogurt into a puree machine/blender (I use my babycook and YoBaby yogurt for my 6 month old) with ½ cup of your desired fruit(s). *Tip: Bananas or any kind of berry seem to be everyone’s favorite.
  2. Blend together for 15 seconds or until well combined.
  3. Scoop yogurt into a bowl and top with desired toppings if making for older kids or yourself (not babies). *Check out topping ideas below!
  4. Enjoy this healthy & sweet snack with your kids! YUM!!

 

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How to Lose the Baby Weight without Hitting the Gym

It can be frustrating and annoying to have to worry about getting back in shape right after having a baby. Do you have time for the gym? NO. Do you have time to go grocery shopping? NO. Do you want to pick up another magazine about some celebrity who looks like they were never pregnant in the first place? HELL NO! All you want to do those first few months is sleep whenever possible, enjoy every second with your baby, and have a freakin glass of wine after being pregnant for 9 months! I get it. And to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about sheading my baby weight after having Emma because I was so consumed by her and her every need. For me, it just happened naturally and quickly…I know, but don’t stab me with a fork just yet. Besides having great genetics (thank you mom!), I also took care of myself as much as possible throughout my pregnancy and immediately after – and along with taking care of my baby 24/7 – I think it all helped. There have been a lot of people asking me what I personally did to shed my baby weight so quickly, so here are some of my personal tried-and-true tips!!

emma and me at pelican hill

  • Breastfeed if you can. It seems cliché, but breastfeeding really does help kick start your metabolism after having a baby. Your uterus contracts as you pump or as your baby latches onto your breast to eat, making your abdominal muscles (remember those?) contract and get stronger. Your body also burns up to 500 calories a day producing milk – so that doesn’t hurt either.
  • Cook at home. Trust me, I know no one has time or even wants to get in their kitchen after having a baby, which is why it’s important to prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them for those first few weeks. When friends and family ask what they can bring you…take them up on the offer and get some grocery shopping in (through a third party). Fresh fruits, vegetables, hummus, Greek yogurt, high fiber cereal, oatmeal, eggs & cooked chicken breasts are all great to have in your fridge. There are also little healthy cafes that offer cold premade chicken, tuna, egg, lentil, beet or quinoa salads that are perfect to have in your house to snack on or for a small meal.

emma and i walking in ergo

  • Walk. Not only is it a good idea for your newborn to get 20 minutes of sunshine a day for a good source of Vitamin D and to prevent against jaundice – it helps you burn some calories! I walked through my entire pregnancy and right after with Emma for an hour a day (I covered her in the stroller after 20 minutes of sunshine) and I swear it helped keep Emma healthy and me fit! Even if you can only get out for 20 minutes or walk around the block with your little one, it all adds up and counts toward the end goal of loosing that baby weight. If you’re a runner, once the doctor gives you the okay feel free to hit the pavement! It’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time!

maternity pilates stretching on ball

  • Pilates. This is an obvious one since I am a pilates trainer, but doing pilates throughout my pregnancy really helped me drop my baby weight FAST afterward. Keeping your muscles strong and connected while pregnant is one of the most important things you can do – not only for your appearance & mind, but when it’s time to push that baby out! (Hello stomach muscles!) After I had Emma and my doctor gave me the okay, I started doing pilates again and was amazed at how easy it was to get back in it. Don’t give up on your body just because you can’t see it so lean anymore – those muscles are still in there and don’t want to be ignored! For more information on safe pregnancy exercises, check out my past post titled “Pilates = The Prefect Pregnancy Workout!”

emma in baby sling

  • Use your baby carrier/sling. Another way to tote your new baby around and add some weight bearing exercise into your daily routine! It’s an easy and fun way to bond with your baby – plus carrying around those extra pounds really help you loose your extra pounds!

emma at 3 month appt

  • Cuddle, carry and rock your baby. Research has proven that babies who are cuddled and shown affection more often are more secure and independent as children and adults than those who were not. Plus, all that holding and rocking is a GREAT workout for your arms, legs and hip flexors. Baby swings are great, but rock it out and sway those hips for some movement and bonding time!

emma and me pelican swimming

  • Order smart…take-out. You’re not always going to have the chance to cook or get to the market, so when all else fails (or your cravings are kicking in) order take out the smart way. A thin crust pizza with veggies and grilled chicken or shrimp is SO much better than a thick or stuffed crust pizza with extra cheese and processed meats. Good rule of thumb: order everything steamed, sautéed or grilled instead of fried, dressed heavy or saucy (that goes for salads too). The reality is you’re going to be ordering a LOT of take-out when you first bring your baby home, so learn how to order smart so those postpartum pounds don’t creep up on you quickly!

Other important things to have in your home to keep it healthy…

  • Support. My husband is so supportive of giving me a break everyday, whether its just taking the baby for an hour so I can workout, shower, run to the grocery store, etc. It is SO IMPORTANT not to forget about taking time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Having a baby is such a blessing, but you can’t be a good mom or wife if you’re burning the candle at both ends (and if you’re too stubborn to learn this at the beginning…you’ll figure it out by the end of week 2). If you feel like you don’t have the support at home from your spouse or family, don’t hesitate to speak up. Otherwise tension will rise and you’ll end up resenting each other verses collaborating together and supporting each other as parents. Another great option? Join a mommy and me class! Emma and I just started taking one and it’s SO NICE to meet other moms going through the same things as you (I’m not alone!) – and for Emma to be around other babies her age. Check her out at our first class as she played with some of the toys and laughed with some of the babies! :)

emma in mommy and meemma and us at beach 2

  • Sleep. Not as easy as it used to be, right? When Emma came home from the hospital and wasn’t on any kind of schedule – because what newborn is? - I would sleep when she slept. I knew nighttime was going to be tough and I’d be up every 2 hours feeding and soothing her, so to keep my head in the game and not rip my hair out, I had to get some rest whenever possible. Sleep creates sanity, which helps when choosing the right foods to eat and controlling cravings (i.e. less sleep = more sugar cravings), so try not to skip out on this important tip. Below is a picture taken when she was only 6 days old…

emma and i 6 days old

  • Get on a Schedule. It’s one of the most crucial things any new parent should stick to. It’s not only comforting to you on some level so you can plan your days, it’s comforting to your baby so they don’t become confused, overtired and fussy. It is hard to create a schedule right away because babies change with their eating and sleeping habits often in the first 4-8 weeks…but after about 2 months (at least with Emma) we were able to time her naps, bedtime and eating schedule.

emma happy waking from crib

  • Sleep Train…when you’re ready. At 3 months old we decided it was time to sleep train Emma in her crib at night using the Ferber method (also known as the “cry it out” method). I’m not going to lie – that was harder than giving birth! Hearing your baby cry has got to be the most nauseating thing a person can ever experience…but we knew it was time for her and us. Some parents start this training as early as 2 weeks and as late as 2 years, but usually between 3-6 months is the norm. Now she falls asleep quickly for her naps, doesn’t freak out when she wakes up, and knows how to put herself back asleep! Her bedtime routine has also been the same since she was 2 months old: bath, rocking, lullaby music, feeding and then sleep. We have a white noise machine that we turn on when she goes into her crib and keep her room dark so she knows its nighttime. Some nights are harder than others depending on if she’s learning a new development (like rolling, currently) but for the most part she sleeps soundly, for longer stretches and more comfortably. The best part? She’s happy and smiley EVERY morning when she wakes up. Oh, and mommy & daddy have some much needed alone time and sleep! Good for your health AND your relationship.

emma bathtime

  • Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! My husband and I don’t get to go out to dinner or take spontaneous weekend trips like we used to, but we make the most out of being home and spending time with our new family. We’ll do fun BBQs with friends or family, head to the beach for the day with Emma to walk around, or rent a new movie since going to the movie theatre is a thing of the past at the moment. Keeping a happy home is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy because you’re not depressed – and hence, eating a gallon of ice cream to soothe your pain!

emma with us at beach

So remember how blessed you are and take one day at a time…eventually the weight will come off and you will not be stressing about the little things.

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