Listening to Hearts While Sipping a Green Smoothie


About a month ago, I started nursing school. In 15 months I’ll graduate from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Yes, I will be Niki Munz, RN, BSN in December 2017 eeeeeee!!! As many of you already know, my first degree is in Dietetics. I didn’t go on to become a Registered Dietitian and ultimately decided to go the nursing route. But I LOVVVEEEE nutrition; hence the title of this blog post.

My goal is to merge nutrition and nursing. My dream is to do so in a way that allows all individuals within a community to have access to preventative health resources. Why are so many Americans sick and requiring surgery and hospitalizations? Because they don’t have the education or resources to prevent disease – especially chronic disease. Now this is a broad statement, and I’m simplifying. But at a very basic level, many Americans are developing chronic health conditions (diabetes, obesity, etc.) because 1) they don’t know how to prevent them and/or 2) they don’t have the proper resources and support to prevent them.

So I am embarking on a journey to become a holistic community health nurse, and I could not be more excited. I’m eager to learn as much as possible and enjoy the adventure down here in the South! Therefore, the blog is taking a detour and becoming more of a place to share my thoughts throughout nursing school. Speaking of which, I need to study. Much love, friends!

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Peanut Butter Banana Oats

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There is a question that I frequently ponder. Who stays full on a packet of instant oatmeal?

Not I. Sometimes I’ll feel super full after I have a bowl of Quaker Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar, and within an hour I am SO hungry. My body doesn’t do well on purely carbs, which is why I like to add extra protein, fiber, and good fats into my morning meal.

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The combination of 1 Tablespoon of Roundy’s Organic PB, a half cup of Old Fashioned Oats, and 1 T of flaxseeds amounts to 11.5 grams of protein, almost 8 g of fiber, and lots of omega-3 fatty acids (the good stuff!). On top of that, if you add some banana and protein powder, there is no way anyone is getting hungry before lunch.

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This bowl o’ oats is just the right balance of rich, creamy, and slightly sweet. In fact, it feels a little indulgent.

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Drizzle some extra peanut butter on top, and you’ve got yourself a morning treat that:
Packs in protein, healthy fats, and fiber
Fills you up
Satisfies your sweet tooth
Can be made in 5 minutes
Is vegan and gluten-free

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PEANUT BUTTER BANANA OATS (GF, V)

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time:  5 minutes
Yield:
 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 T peanut butter (optional: additional teaspoon for drizzling on top)
  • 1/2 or 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 T cinnaflax (or 1 T ground flax + cinnamon to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-3 tsp. protein powder of choice (optional)

Directions:

  • Cook 1/2 cup oatmeal with 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup coconut milk in microwave for ~3 minutes
  • Mash in banana
  • Stir in peanut butter, cinnaflax, vanilla, and protein powder
  • Drizzle additional peanut butter on top, if desired

What breakfast keeps you full all morning long?

your guide to pasta night

Your Guide to Pasta Night

So I have a confession. I’m kind of anti-recipe.

Not when it comes to baking. But when I make pretty much anything else, I like to just get in the kitchen and cook! Perhaps using the recipe as a guide. When I talk with people who struggle to make healthy meals throughout the week, one of the biggest roadblocks is not having all of the ingredients on hand that the recipe calls for.

I get this. Which is why I am an advocate for omitting and adding flavors/ingredients that make life a little easier for you! Don’t run to the store to buy something that you will use once and never again. Like fish sauce, for example. (That one stir-fry recipe that calls for that one tablespoon probably ain’t worth an entire bottle of fish sauce.)

So here is a guide for a common meal that…
1. People enjoy
2. Is super adaptable
3. Can be made healthy

Behold, pasta night.

your guide to pasta night

The above dinner includes: oven-roasted tomato sauce, spinach, chicken sausage, and gluten-free penne pasta, along with a caesar salad.

Now, here is a template to create your own pasta night that suits you! Pick one from each category (unlimited veggies and flavors/seasonings)

  • Pasta (whole grain, gluten-free, quinoa, zoodles-noodles made out of zucchini; angel hair, penne, macaroni, fettuccine, spaghetti, farfalle, gnocchi)
  • Sauce (tomato sauce, pesto, olive oil + garlic + red pepper flakes, olive oil + garlic + lemon, parmesan + butter, alfredo, vodka sauce)
  • Veggie (spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, capers, onion, carrots, peas, butternut squash, red pepper)
  • Meat (grilled chicken, shrimp, chicken sausage, Italian sausage, ground turkey, ground pork, ground beef, meatballs, bacon)
  • Other (parmesan cheese, goat cheese, romano cheese, mozzarella, pine nuts)
  • Flavors/Seasonings (basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, cajun, Italian, buffalo)
  • Salad (romaine + caesar, baby spinach + raspberry vinaigrette, mixed greens + olive oil + balsamic vinegar, kale + Italian dressing)

Here are some ideas for tasty combinations:

  • Spicy garlic chicken penne with peas
  • Chicken pesto
  • Creamy lemon pasta with shrimp and asparagus
  • Parmesan garlic spaghetti
  • Tomato basil sausage pasta
  • Roasted red pepper and garlic fettuccine alfredo
  • Cajun chicken pasta
  • Broccoli, chicken, bacon pasta
  • Lemon butter garlic shrimp angel hair pasta
  • Buffalo chicken pasta

The list is endless! These ideas are just skimming the surface. Let me know what combinations you try!

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Banana Pancakes

Hello, Saturday morning.

Get out your coconut oil, gluten-free flour, and almond milk, everyone. Or don’t! Because I want to prove to you all that you do not need expensive ingredients to create great-tasting food.

I put together a recipe that doesn’t require any of the above-listed ingredients. One of the many things I love about cooking and food is that there are so many combinations and possibilities. There is no right way, for the most part. I’m an advocate for getting into the kitchen and trying things out! Don’t have coconut oil? Use canola oil. Ran out of eggs? Use flax seeds. No almond milk? Use soy milk. Don’t let a few ingredients keep you from cooking!

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BANANA PANCAKES (GF*, DF*)

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time:  25 minutes
Yield:
 about 8 pancakes (3-4 inches)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg (or 1T flax + 3 T water)
  • 3/4 cup coconut/almond milk (or any other milk)
  • 2 T butter, melted (or coconut/canola oil)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (grind up oats in blender or just use another type of flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder

Directions:

  • Heat a greased pan or griddle over medium heat
  • Mash bananas
  • Add remaining wet ingredients (through vanilla)
  • In another bowl, mix dry ingredients
  • Add wet ingredients to dry
  • Pour batter onto pan or griddle
  • Flip once bubbles form and begin to pop (about 2 minutes)
  • Cook another 2ish minutes
  • Serve with your favorite toppings! I love a little pure maple syrup.

Let me know what you substituted and how your pancakes turned out!

 

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5 Reasons Why I Practice Yoga

1. Yoga urges me to look inward.

We live in a time where everyone is “busy.” Our minds are occupied with to-do lists and deadlines. Rarely do we take a moment to check in with ourselves and ask “How am I feeling?” It’s hard to imagine that I have been going about my life for so many years without asking myself a simple question. Yoga has encouraged me to become aware of my thoughts as I am practicing and also when I am not. I may get to my mat and after 15 minutes into my practice, I realize how many times the same thought has surfaced in my mind. I don’t recognize those thoughts when I’m going about my day because there are too many distractions. But when it’s just me and my mat, I am urged to look at myself from a different perspective.

2. Yoga reminds me of my breath.

When I’m nervous and my entire body is tense, a deep breath is kind of magical. When I am trying to clear my head, deep breathing is also kind of magical. When I feel like I’m about to get angry and lose it, my breath is actually magic.

3. Yoga connects me with God.

I feel gratitude, love, and peace. And I know that there is no way I am responsible for creating those feelings. They are a gift. A gift that I receive when I stop striving and just start being.

4. Yoga makes me feel physically well.

I love a good HIIT workout or weight lifting session, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I just feel exhausted afterwards. Yoga can evoke a lot of different physical sensations, but usually I feel rejuvenated and lighter. Sometimes I feel strong and flexible. Other times I feel grounded and open. And perhaps most importantly, yoga has improved my back pain infinitely more than any other kind of exercise.

5. Yoga is freeing.

When I practice, restlessness dissipates. I am able to acknowledge my emotions instead of feeling my emotions. I give myself complete permission to let go of the day behind me or the day ahead of me. I can forget about the past and the future and simply be in the present moment. I get out of my own head, which is often the root of my negative emotions. When I stop thinking about me so much, life is just better.

 

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When Life Gives You…Bananas

Make banana bread. Obviously.

Whenever a bunch of bananas gets all dark and spotty I get a little overexcited. It means I get to do one of three things: A) Freeze them for smoothies, B) Make banana muffins, C) Make banana bread. All wonnnnderful options, but today I chose banana bread. This recipe is gluten-free, paleo, packed with protein, and seriously simple. Thank you, almond flour.

Almond flour has twice the amount of protein as gluten-free all purpose flour. And it has only 6 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup serving, in comparison to 27 grams of carbs in whole wheat flour. Why is this good? It will keep you full for longer and won’t cause your blood sugar to spike.

On another note, I know it’s been a while. I took a little break from Nourish with Niki, as life has been throwing a few curveballs my way – hence the name of this post. But curveballs are good…bananas are good. Anyway, I am happy to be writing and photographing again (I never stopped cooking, of course)!

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BANANA BREAD (GF, PALEO)

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time:  70 minutes
Yield:
 one loaf Adapted From: The Wannabe Chef

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups almond meal/flour
  • 3 ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (chocolate chips or walnuts would also work well)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mash bananas in large bowl.
  • Add all other ingredients except almond flour. Mix until combined.
  • Stir in almond flour.
  • Fold in pecans.
  • Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan and pour in batter.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove and let cool completely before slicing.

What are some ways that you make your banana bread healthier?

Pumpkin Pie Bliss Bites

Pumpkin Pie Bliss Bites (gf, vegan)

Alas, the third pumpkin recipe of the #breakthestereotype series. This is somewhat of a downcast day on Nourish with Niki because, well, I adore pumpkin – probably more than your average joe – and this is the last pumpkin recipe of summer. And I literally thought of five pumpkin recipes this morning, but you know, since it’s a three-part series and alllll, I only chose one.

However, do not fear, friends. I’ll share the other recipes with you in September, so I don’t drive my non-pumpkin-obsessed blog readers away. (Hint: think fluffy doughnuts and creamy shakes.)

Anyway, if you’re just joining us, my mission is to convert you to be a pumpkin-lover all times of the year – not just during autumn. This last recipe of the series is easy, quick, and nourishing, not to mention raw, gluten-free, and vegan. It does not require a food processor like most energy bites/bliss balls/whatever you want to call them do. Just a bowl, a spoon, and you’re good to go. If you happen to have a food processor and want chocolate instead of pumpkin, check out my Raw Fudge Brownie Bites.

On the other hand, if you DO want pumpkin (which I hope you do since you’re still reading after all), you are right where you want to be. Let’s get started, shall we? Here’s a snapshot of what you need, plus a few more odds and ends detailed in the recipe below.

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Mix all of this together in a big ol’ bowl and here’s the magic you end up with. Or should I say bliss?

Pumpkin Pie Bliss Bites

In the form of A) rolled in dark and white chocolate chips or B) dusted in cacao powder. Or if you’re boring, plain. Just kidding, you’re not boring. They really are equally delicious without any added chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie Bliss Bites

So what are you waiting for? Go make yourself a sweet and healthy fall summertime snack.

Pumpkin Pie Bliss Bites


PUMPKIN PIE BLISS BITES (GF, VEGAN)

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time:  45 minutes (with refrigeration
Yield:
 about 15 tablespoon-sized bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons oat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup ground pecans (somewhere between finely and coarsely)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions:

  • Mix all dry ingredients together.
  • Add wet ingredients and mix.
  • Refrigerate dough about 30 minutes.
  • Coat hands in oat flour and roll dough into tablespoon-sized bites.
  • Coat in vegan dark/white chocolate chips or cacao powder (or chopped pecans, desiccated coconut, etc.) They are delicious plain as well.
  • Keep refrigerated and enjoy.

Do you like bite sized snacks/treats like this? What are your favorite kinds of healthy treats to eat on the go?