Whole30 Apple Muffins

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Let me caveat this, first of all, in saying that Whole30 doesn’t want you baking anything. So, #notsponsored. But, these muffins are incredibly moist and protein-packed, so they make an easy breakfast when smeared with some sunflower butter and a great afternoon pick-me-up. If you aren’t into a super-moist muffin (then who are you, am I right?!), you can cut down the oil a little bit – the banana keeps the texture pretty soft. Here’s the recipe:

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Makes about 24 small muffins

2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. arrowroot powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. grapeseed (or other Whole30-friendly) oil
1 large egg
2 medium apples, cut into small chunks
4 dates, pitted
1 banana

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray two muffin pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and whisk until combined. In a food processor, combine oil, egg, dates, and banana. Pulse until dates have been incorporated completely. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and then add chopped apples. Use a spatula to fold all ingredients together. Spoon into muffin tins, filling them about halfway (I use one large spoonful). Bake for about 20 minutes, or until muffins start to brown on top and are holding together. Cool on a wire rack.

Vegan Peanut Butter Pie

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Having to cook within Whole30 guidelines last month was an ultra-challenge for me – especially when it came to making things without sugar. When we finally finished the 30 days, I was so excited to get a little peanut butter back in my life.

And, of course, dessert. Yes! Dessert! I made this pie for a friend’s birthday, and it turned out surprisingly well. If you’re looking for a DOPE vegan pie, you should definitely try this guy out. CAVEAT: The peanut butter filling doesn’t look that nice with the addition of avocado, but it tastes heavenly.

FOR CRUST:
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dates
1 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Process in a food processor. If you need more moisture, add in tablespoon or two of your preferred nut butter. Pat crust into a tart or pie pan and chill to harden.

FOR PEANUT BUTTER LAYER:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for about 2 hours
1 avocado
1 cup dates
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coconut cream

You may need to play around with adding a little more here and there, because I wasn’t exact with measurements the first go-round (whoops!). Process all ingredients in a food processor. If you need a silkier texture, add a little more almond milk. To make it sweeter, throw in a few more dates. Add peanut butter layer on top of crust, and let chill while you make cream layer.

FOR CREAM LAYER:
1 can coconut cream (just solids)
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1-2 Tbsp. agave (or honey)

Pulse ingredients in food processor until smooth. Spread on top of peanut butter layer.

FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE:
This isn’t super necessary, but it’s fun and delicious and reminds me of “magic shell” on the pie.
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. agave (or honey)
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa

Whisk ingredients together, and drizzle on top of cream layer.

Throw the pie (gently) into the freezer for 30 minutes, and then you’re ready to slice! It’s delicious, honestly. If you’re hoping for a Whole30 version of the pie, swap the agave or honey for dates and the peanut butter for almond butter. Omit chocolate drizzle, or, play around with pulsing in the food processor with dates.

How To Survive Whole30 When You Hate Leftovers & Meal-Prepping Is Your Nightmare

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Well, that title just about says it all.

When I agreed to start Whole30 in January, I didn’t quite think through the logistics of the 30 days. Turns out, it’s not a “wing-it-as-you-go” type of diet. I can’t stand having the same food multiple days in a row, and I have never been a 5-containers-with-grilled-chicken-and-broccoli kinda gal. So, I wanted to create my own little guide to Whole30 that includes some of the recipes, tips, and treats I’ve picked up that you should definitely know about.

You’ll probably need a food processor.

I have never in my life used a food processor as much as I have the past thirty days. I used it to crush nuts + dates, to make mayonnaise, to make ketchup, to make ranch… you name it. Some of these things you could maybe use a blender for, but having a food processor around makes things MUCH easier.

Make some buffalo chicken meatballs.

I made this Buffalo Chicken Meatballs recipe three times, and it’s awesome. Frank’s Red Hot (sauce) is Whole30 approved, and you’ll find an excuse to use it on everything to add some flavor. I don’t even really like hot sauce. You’ll also want to make a batch of Whole30 ranch to dip them in (recipe below). Note: I swapped out the ground chicken in this recipe for ground turkey, and it was great.

Embrace coconut cream.

Okay, okay. So cocoa + dates are banned. This is a rule I think is maybe a little silly…but, if you choose to stick to it, this easy recipe (compliments of Jade Maghoney!) will be a great after-dinner treat that will keep you sane. In fact, I ate it for dinner tonight. Coconut Cream (not to be confused with cream of coconut that you find in the cocktail aisle that definitely has sugar in it) is usually found in the “foreign foods” section of the grocery store and has a whipped cream-like texture. And, it’s not just good for sneaking a little non-dessert into your life. It doesn’t have a super strong flavor, so I actually threw a dollop in with some potatoes and whipped them into creamy mashed potatoes. So good!

Coconut Cream “Tart”

Throw a handful (sorry y’all, I don’t quite measure) of cashews, a handful of almonds, 7 or 8 dates, and a little bit of water into a food processor and blend until it’s pretty fine. I also added some sunflower butter (you could use almond) to hold it together if needed. Press into a glass dish.

Spread coconut cream on top of base, and top with fresh fruit (I used strawberries). Refrigerate until firm – enjoy!

Making your own mayo will make life so much easier.

Turns out, mayonnaise is incredibly easy to make (and, it tastes just as good as the store-bought stuff). The ingredient that isn’t Whole30 approved in mayonnaise, for the most part, is soybean oil (since legumes are ix-nayed). I started with this recipe, and then adapted a little to fit, honestly, whatever ingredients I had remembered to buy at the time. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 egg
Dijon mustard (or mustard powder)
Half a lemon
Salt
About 1 1/4 cups of sunflower, avocado, or extra-light oil

So, a couple tricks here.
1 – Make sure to leave your egg on the counter so that it comes to room-temperature before you try to whip it into mayo. I don’t know the science behind this, but it was key to most of the mayo recipes I tried.
2 – No matter how much you like extra virgin olive oil (and, I do!) it DOES NOT taste good as a base for mayo. Your mayo will be bitter and you’ll have to throw it all in the trash. I used extra-light-tasting olive oil and sunflower oil, and both turned out great.
3 – To your food processor, add the egg, Dijon, salt, and about 1/4 cup of oil. Then, blend until it starts to look creamy. Using the removable part of your food processor (or, if you have a little one like me, the divot where you can pour things), slowly add the remaining oil while the food processor is still running. It should take 2 or 3 minutes for you to add it all. Squeeze in your lemon, and blend until it’s at the consistency you’d like.

I added this mayonnaise to my ranch (getting there, I know), egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, and my chicken meatballs, which made for easy lunches that didn’t feel like leftovers. It’s really nice to just have some on hand.

And, why deprive yourself of ranch?

Once you’ve got mayonnaise down, you have to try this ranch. Ranch on Whole30? What? Yes, friends. Eat ranch. I adapted my version from this recipe. I used 1 tsp. of each of these spices, and combined them in a Ziploc bag to have on-hand: salt, parsley, dill, chives, onion powder, dehydrated onion flakes, garlic powder, and pepper.

Mix a tablespoon of the dry ranch mix with 1 cup of your mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a squeeze of lemon (about 1 tablespoon).

Turns out that other condiments are also kinda easy to make.

Since you can now have white potatoes on Whole30 (cheers!) you should also have some ketchup to dip them taters in. Here’s the combo – you’ll have to just play around with the ratios because, unfortunately as I mentioned previously, I’m terrible at measuring:

Tomato paste
8-9 pitted dates
Water
Apple cider vinegar
Fresh lemon juice
Salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder

You can also make a killer tomato sauce that works with spaghetti squash, zucchini, ground turkey, eggplant… go for it. You only need a few ingredients, and a handful of spices from the cupboard:

Olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 large can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
Basil, oregano, thyme
Salt

Start by sautéing the garlic in the oil, and then adding the rest of the ingredients into a pot. Crush the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher. Cook the sauce on low until combined.

Speaking of spaghetti squash…

Take it up. It’s not hard at all – cut a spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on 350˚ for about 30-40 minutes, face up, until you can shred all the flesh (ew, Abigail, wording!) with a fork. I cook it on Sunday, and then keep it in the fridge as an easy dinner if I don’t have time to cook. Mix with a little of that homemade pasta sauce and some ground turkey, and you’ve got spaghetti [squash] with meat sauce.

Cook a bunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Okay, so here’s where you can combat the meal prep thing that I hate. The idea of having matching containers of meat and vegetables to be heated day after day gives me heartburn, genuinely. The best way to combat this while also not finding yourself eating almonds for dinner during the week is to make a list of foods you’d like to eat, and then making a handful of dishes to keep in the fridge. Not technically leftovers because you haven’t eaten them yet – and not the same thing over and over. Last week, this is what I prepped on Sunday:

Shakshuka (sans feta, I know – but still SO comforting)
Egg salad
Chicken Salad
Spaghetti Squash
Taco Soup
Chicken Florentine Soup
Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Roasted veggies
Roasted sweet potatoes
Guacamole

Not bad for options, eh?

You can eat bacon!

Really! The Whole30 cookbook says to “read the labels” when it comes to bacon, and that you’ll probably need to order some specialty bacon online or go to your local butcher for fresh bacon to find something that qualifies, but I’ve got the secret for you – most “low-sodium” bacons are sugar-free! So, you likely can have the grocery store bacon you’re passing by anyway. The Publix Hickory Smoked Low-Sodium bacon is approved, as is the Smithfield Low-Sodium Bacon. Pick it up on BOGO! Eat bacon! This morning, I had eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a pear for breakfast. Whole30 doesn’t have to be gross.

Roast some nuts.

I’ve roasted nuts every weekend now. The great thing about Whole30 is that you don’t have to be hungry, because you’re not counting calories. So, nuts are a great snack if you need a little afternoon fuel. If you’re not into the plain ol’ nut thing, like I’m not, then I want to encourage you to think outside salted almonds. This is one of my favorite combinations:

Mix pecans with a little olive oil, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and onion flakes. Bake for about 12 minutes on 350˚, until your pecans are fragrant. This tastes like Chex Mix seasoning! So good!

I’ve also tried sunflower oil + cinnamon, sunflower oil + cinnamon, and olive oil + rosemary. Use whatever spices you have, and dress up those roasted nuts.

Just do it!

Honestly – the most common question people have asked me about Whole30 is whether or not it’s hard. It isn’t easy, I will say, and the first few days, I had a constant sugar-withdrawal headache. But, come day 8 or 9, my body felt great. Now, on Day 28, I’m planning on carrying over a lot of these Whole30 tricks into my lifestyle. You DO have time to cook. You CAN make dinners work in 30 minutes without prepackaged foods. And, your body WILL feel so much better when you fill it with whole foods. Promise! Maybe I won’t be making my own ketchup, but I’ll definitely be thinking twice when it comes to mimosas (or, shoveling donuts) on the weekend. It’s totally worth it.

You can do it!

Bake with Abbi

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Hi friends!

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but you can check out all the fun videos, articles, and recipes I’ve been trying out on The Daily South and SouthernLiving.com.

In my not-so-spare time, I’ve decided to get a little deeper into one of my favorite passions –baking. If you’ve ever spent a weekend with me, you know that I like to go overboard in the kitchen. Case in point: last weekend, I made homemade buttermilk biscuits, lemon bars, two loaves of Citrus Pull-Apart Bread, a loaf of banana bread, and muffins all in one day. So, I won’t bake during the week, but I’ll get you a mean chess pie on the weekend. And, I need to share, because I can’t eat four loaves of bread in one day.

I love working with different recipes to see how the dough is made, how kneading makes a huge difference, and how yeast rises. My recent excitement over baking can 70% be attributed to my binge-watching of the last three seasons of Great British Baking Show. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen in – please go watch.)

All this to say – I want to get further into baking and really celebrate how cool it is that we can apply heat to ingredients and have them puff up into golden, fluffy shapes. So, I’d love for you to join me. I’ve created a new @bakewithabbi Instagram account, and I’m going to try to get better about writing some reviews on my blog on the recipes I’m trying.

And, if you’ve got a hankering for some baked goods (within a reasonable distance, ha!) – just shoot me a message and I’ll see if my next baking experiment can end up in your hands. 🙂

Happy spring!

Abbi

Call Us What We Are

Call us what we are: Generation AA. A generation of alcoholics and workaholics. A generation that cares more about saving the earth that about the bickering of politics. We buff our personal brands with polish from the encouragement of others, and our lives are made up of fifteen side hustles that put us in jobs for less than five years. You don’t understand us. We know you don’t. We know that the reaction to not understanding us is to fear us, to undermine us, and to call us entitled. You don’t know the value of hard work, you’d say, and I’d look at you, straight in the eyes, shaking your hand with the same hand that held an icy latte because no one taught me the correct politics of the office – and tell you that my mind, in itself, is a creation of my own hard work. It’s a smooth, yet rocky, canyon of echoes and dreams–dreams that have been cultivated by experience and adventure.

I value time more than I value things. You may think I’m a millennial, but I was born twenty years before you called us whiny and entitled. So, you making a generalization about a group of people who are fighting, crying, breathing, hoping for a world with change makes you the small one. We are a beacon of light. Every time we open our glossed lips or hit publish, we’re changing the day. We dress carelessly. Our bra straps show and our jeans are too tight, and we’re told that men should make more because they’re the head of our family. Our black lips whisper in dark alleyways at night plotting to kill our successors and we are confident in the ideal that love will always conquer hate.

We are united and we are open. We will open our gates and our doors to people that are not like us because we recognize that freedom with boundaries is not freedom at all. We are the generation that will overcome your shortfalls and clean up your economy and rally to protect the earth. We are strong and we are many.

Fall Tidings

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

As soon as September hits, my heart swells with joy. Yes, there’s a high of 96 today, and yes – I spent the weekend at a fall festival where the hayrides were complemented with heat stroke.

But, my heart swells. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but the cool breezes (well, the anticipated breezes), the colorful leaves, and the bright pumpkins remind me that I am at the mercy of the season. I stare at the sky. I spin in circles.

I hope that today, you think about what makes you literally jump for joy, and work on doing that more often. When it becomes fall (and, actually feels like fall), I actually add sound effects to my life. Every year.

The Ground Is In Me

If you listen closely to the soil, you will hear my heartbeat. If you cut me open, you will find the well water has welled up inside of me. And if you smell the grass, or smell the hydrangeas, you’ll find my center, my perfume, my aura in the solace. I am in the ground in the ground is in me. Looking around, all I see are friends and family. The trees are arching over top of me, waving hello and crying goodbye. They are my friends. And the river sings a song, and it says that it will always be there, unwavering and unfaltering. It is my family. It is what courses through my veins. The rocks climb high to the sky, and in them I find my hopes and my dreams. Their rocky surface and hard exterior give way to a soft granite core, ready to be mined and shaped and molded into something beautiful.

He Was White

He was white
He was white and he was wispy and he chilled my bones
The way the cold morning air fills with fog and seeps into your jacket
Until it’s buried inside of you
He would grab my hand and he would slip through my grasp
Tendrils of smoke swirling around me
But he wasn’t always wispy and he wasn’t always gone
He started as a thick creamy white
Rich and deep, like pools of color being reflected through a prism of glass
His words like clouds, thick with emotion
Thick with rain
Heavy with meaning
And then little by little, he thinned
We thinned
Our hope thinned
Our future thinned
Just words back and forth, vanishing air, shallow, and dry
Shadows of white
Until one day, I put my heart in his airy hands and he couldn’t hold its load
It slipped through his grip and shattered into ten white marble pieces
The pieces were solid and he was air
He looked at the ground with chilling fear and he looked at the sky with gaunt skin
And he looked at me with remorse
And then he knew, too, that he was only air
And I was a suffocating, rich smoke
We mourned with the breeze
And just as smoothly as he had filled my lungs, he floated away

How To (Actually) Win Your Breakup

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but I wasn’t really sure how it would look or what I wanted it to say. Plus, I’m still in a few of these stages myself, so bear with me.

1. Stop trying to win.
First of all, the way to win your break up is to take away this idea that one person can actually beat the other. As young twenty-somethings, we’re constantly faced with the notion that when we break up, we should immediately try to be happier than the other person. We should act like our lives are all cool and great without them, and then they’ll be sad because it’ll look like we’re fine when they’re still hurting. This mentality is poisonous. No one is “winning” when both people in pain – and dealing with it differently.

2. Allow yourself time to grieve.
Maybe you dated for six months. Maybe you dated a year. Maybe you dated five years and broke off an engagement. There is no correct amount of time to grieve. I’ve heard so many people say, “well shouldn’t I be over this by now?” No darling, you shouldn’t. You should feel exactly how you feel (and this doesn’t just apply to breakups). It has taken me the full length of a relationship to feel like I’ve completely gotten over someone. There have also been times when three years down the road, I still feel pangs of sadness. That’s okay. That’s allowed. You grieve for as long as you need to, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

3. Take your happiness out of someone else’s hands.
When I break up with someone,  I feel like I have to reinvent myself. I’ve invested so much of my joy and happiness in someone else and how they’ll act, and then I’m left feeling like I need to rebuild or start over. A badass chick once told me that a relationship should be two happy people walking side by side, rather than one walking toward the other, with their partner as the end goal. I believe that our happiness should based in something (or Someone) much larger – but, regardless, your happiness should at least be based upon yourself. Don’t let the other person have any say in the matter. What brings you joy? What makes you, at this exact point in time, want to take a deep breath of fresh air with a smile on your face? What fills your heart?

4. Learn to love yourself.
You are a diamond. You are a beautiful creature full of life and potential, with opportunities at your fingertips. We can’t be free or happy if we’re chained within our own souls. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself some extra TLC. Do things on your own. Say no to plans. Drink wine. Wear cozy socks. List off the things that you love about yourself. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post with Moose Tracks in hand and Friends reruns in the background – and that’s okay. Go out for dinner alone. Take a hike in a beautiful place. And, most importantly, be gentle with how you talk to yourself. If you’ve ever seen me post-breakup, you’ll know that I use terms of endearment to encourage myself throughout the day. And, as ridiculous as it sounds, it helps.

5. Stop creeping his/her social media.
If you’ve ever broken up with someone, you’ll know how dangerous social media can be. Whether you’re reading into their tweets, refreshing their Facebook, seeing what/who’s pictures they’re liking on Instagram or posting on your Snapchat story to see if they’ll read it – we start to find our validation and answers through social media. Or, we become obsessed. I’ve gotten irrationally angry a handful of times over things I’ve deduced via social media that aren’t even true – and that’s unhealthy.

The other downfall is that if your ex-significant other does have a shorter grief period and starts posting about a new person in his/her life, you’ll just be causing yourself more pain by having it in your face 24/7. Don’t twist the knife further. For me, this translates to forcing myself off a social media platform for the day – even if it means something as simple as not posting in my Snap Story.

6. Write down your feelings.
This has been the most therapeutic process I’ve ever come across, so I’d like to share it. Beginning with post-breakup Day 1, I began writing an email draft of everything I wanted to say to my ex-significant other. This was all unfiltered emotion – from what was happening to work to me being in pain to me confessing over and over that I felt like it was my fault and that I was acting weakly. Then I saved the draft, and continued on with my day. I felt like I’d gotten out everything I wanted to say at that point, and it was all written down somewhere (with the potential to go to the person it was intended for).

And then, as I thought of more and more things, I just kept adding to the draft. Some days I would write four or five paragraphs about missing him, and some days I would write angry sentences full of questions that would never be answered. But, as I wrote them down, I began to feel better. Now, a month into my email document, my entries have started to become fewer. I even accidentally skipped a day this week, which I took as a great sign. Granted, my email draft is pages upon pages of words that he will never (hopefully!) see – but I know it’s always accessible and there if I need it.

7. Learn the things that you were relying on them for.
Chances are, this person you were dating knew how to do something – or knew about something – that you don’t. Maybe they’re super handy. Maybe they’re knowledgeable about sports. Maybe they can cook. Now, without them, you’re going to need some context for doing these things alone. I changed a headlight the other day with the help of a YouTube video. If there’s a super villain in a TV show whose background I don’t understand, I Google it. When I place bets on March Madness (and my ex happens to be my only association to basketball), I have to do a little research. I still lose, but it makes me feel better that I don’t need to turn to someone else to solve these things.

8. Don’t self-destruct. 
In the early stages of the breakup, there are a lot of things to say and emotions are running high. Don’t use these feelings as an excuse to contact the person. If you still feel the same way a day later, go ahead. But, we’ve all experienced those flashes of anger that makes us want to type out furious messages. I’ve written and deleted more texts than I can count. With the help of some diligent proofreading friends, they’ve been vetoed. Unfortunately, these messages usually don’t yield the responses we’re looking for. And, these types of situations can also inhibit your ex-partner’s healing process; we take the other person down with us when we pick lose-lose fights.

Breakups are tricky, and even trickier to do with grace. I think the real key to winning your breakup is to accept the closure of this chapter in your life. Cherish the good times you had with this person, and acknowledge that you will be okay. It won’t be this painful forever.

xx
A