Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Maca Energy Balls

In the mood for a chocolate truffle but don’t want a sugar crash after enjoying your sweet treat?  These balls are for you.  Packed with superfoods like raw cacao and maca, they’ll keep you energized and satisfied.  My goal with the recipe below was to incorporate as many feel good foods as possible.  Between the magnesium from the pumpkin seeds, the anandamide in the raw cacao, and the adaptogenic properties of the maca, they’ll lift your mood without cramping your healthy style.  The recipe below is nut free, gluten free, and, of course, plant based.  Feel free to experiment to suit your own tastes and needs.

Chocolate Maca Energy Balls


-1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

-1/2 cup seed butter or tahini (I used this butter for some extra sweetness, nut butter also works)

-10-12 medjool dates, pitted

-1/4 cup maca powder (or sub oat flour, coconut flour, etc.)

-2 tablespoons raw cacao (regular cocoa powder or carob also works well)

-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

-2 teaspoons vanilla

-1/2 cup shredded coconut

-pinch of stevia leaf powder (optional, I use Stevia Select brand pure organic stevia powder, one smidgen scoop equals a teaspoon sugar)

To make:

-Place pumpkin seeds in food processor and grind until powdery.

-Add all other ingredients and blend until throughly combined and batter is slightly sticky. You may add a bit of water if necessary.

-Roll batter into balls and, if desired, roll in coconut or crushed pumpkin seeds for a fun appearance and texture.

-Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to help balls set.

-Store in airtight container in fridge.

Pro tip: If you aren’t in the mood for ball-rolling, press batter into a small (8×8 or similar) pan and refrigerate for 60 minutes.  Cut into bars and store in fridge.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Balance…Use It, Don’t Lose It!

Balance training is a key component in any fitness routine.  Feeling confident in the ability to move your body in a comfortable and stable manner can open up your fitness routine in a variety of ways.

Aside from simply preventing falls, balance training is great for strengthening the core and building stability in and around the joints.  When working on balance with my clients, I encourage them to look at it like play.  To improve balance you will most likely have to lose your balance…a lot….which can be frustrating.  Figuring out which muscles to engage can be like a game of Jenga.  Fire up this, relax that…if you’ve ever wondered where your glutes are, practice enough single leg balance and you’ll surely come across them.

A few weeks back I wrote about walking on the beach as a way to improve proprioception.  The following are a some other ideas to help you build a better sense of stability and balance:

-Practice Single Leg Exercises: This can be as simple as standing on one leg or as complex as performing a single leg deadlift.  Either way, you are building strength in the muscles that support the spine as well as the hip, knee, and ankle joints.  This is especially important if you participate in activities that involve landing on one leg, like running.

-Play Ball: Stability balls (also called physio or swiss balls) are great for building core strength.  Sub a ball in for a bench while practicing your chest press or take your core workout from a mat to the ball.  They also make great desk chairs!

-Tackle Tree Pose: Yoga is excellent for building balance.  Since it is usually practiced in bare feet, the smaller muscles of the foot and ankle are more active than they would otherwise be when in shoes.  The extra attention given to balance in a yoga trickles over to other physical endeavors, which is why I often recommend it to clients training for sports.

For more fun exercise information check out the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Don’t step on a crack and break your mama’s back T!



Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Instant Creamy Pumpkin Soup

I call this soup instant because it is oh-so-easy and delicious.  I was looking for a winter alternative to raw salad lunches and this soup was born.  Depending on which version you choose, it’s just 5 or 6 ingredients and since you blend everything up you can chop the few ingredients it calls for messy as you please!  Why eat foods with an orange hue?  Beta-Carotene is wonderful for skin, heart, and respiratory health.  Try it for yourself, your organs will thank you.

Version 1: Pressure Cooker (I use Instant Pot)


-1 15 oz can pumpkin

-1-2 large Japanese sweet potatoes (regular orange ones would work too)

-3 large carrots

-1 32 oz carton vegetable broth (I use Pacific Foods low sodium, use more or less depending on how thick you like your soup)

-1-2 rounded tablespoons light miso

-1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder

To make:

-Peel and chop carrots and sweet potatoes and place in Instant Pot.

-Add pumpkin and broth.

-Give it a stir and set instant pot to soup setting (I believe this equates to 30 minutes at high, pressure cooker setting), closing steam release valve.

-When you are ready for your soup, carefully open the steam release and pour soup into high speed blender. Blend until smooth.

-Add miso and 5 spice and blend again.

-Serve with desired toppings such as balsamic sautéed greens, kraut or kimchi, tofu or tempeh, or whatever else your heart desires!

Version 2: Blender and stovetop:

This version of the soup requires a pre-baked sweet potato so try keeping a few in the fridge to have on hand when the mood strikes!


-1 15 oz can pumpkin

-1-2 large Japanese sweet potatoes, baked (regular orange ones would work too)

-1 32 oz carton vegetable broth (I use Pacific Foods low sodium.  Use more or less depending on how thick you like your soup)

-1-2 rounded tablespoons light miso

-1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder

To make:

-Add pumpkin, broth, and sweet potato (skin removed) to blender.  Blend until smooth.

-Heat soup on stovetop.

-Pour back into blender, adding miso and 5 spice and blend again.


-Serve with desired toppings such as balsamic sautéed greens, nutritional yeast, kraut or kimchi, tofu or tempeh, or whatever else your heart desires!

Pro tips:

-Bake an extra sweet potato to cut up and top the soup with for a heartier meal

-This soup is already full of tummy friendly ingredients like miso and 5 spice.  Give it an extra probiotic boost by topping with tempeh and kraut!

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Version 2 with balsamic greens and kraut….
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Dump Your Bad Habits

You know how your mom used to warn you against picking up bad habits?  While things like chewing with your mouth open and picking your nose will not be discussed in this post (thank goodness), habits will.

Often, when habits are explored, our minds jump right to the negative.  We ruminate on bad habits and try to figure out ways to eliminate them.  I invite you to flip your perspective and wonder about how many good habits you can pick up.  Instead of focusing solely on getting rid of bad habits, why not concentrate on obtaining good ones?  We can only fit so much into any given day, so pick up enough good habits and it’s reasonable that some of the bad ones will fall by the wayside.

If you are curious about how this might work for you, I encourage you to try on the following good habits and see what happens:

-Start The Day With Lots of Water:  From my own experience and that of my clients, the easiest way to do this is to keep a large bottle (or two) of water by your bed.  Aim to drink 16-24 oz as soon as you wake up.  You’ll be hydrated before your feet even hit the floor!  Bonus points if you cue up YouTube and listen to some positive morning affirmations as you drink.

-Take a Walk After a Meal: Walking after meals improves digestive efficiency.  Getting your steps in is particularly good after a meal if you tend to mindlessly head for a snack or dessert.  Changing focus for a bit allows you to better gauge whether a snack or dessert would truly bring you pleasure.

-Find a Bit of Quiet Time in Your Day:  This could be one minute or it could be one hour.  This could be hiding from your kids in the bathroom or meditating with candles and incense.  Make sure to take as many deep breaths as you can.  Any amount of time spent getting present is better than no time at all and who knows…once you see the benefit of one minute, ten may soon follow.

For more about the mind-body connection, as well as a variety of other topics I write about, visit the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

That’s one way to do it T!