Orange Cocoa Energy Bites

Energy Bites are my favorite grab and go snack! Sometime I have 1! Sometimes I have 3! No guilt! I’ve made Lemon Spirulina ones and Cranberry Almond in the past, but these Orange Cocoa ones I’m obsessing over lately! I’ve bought these before at cafes for a $1 a pop and it cost me less than $5 to buy a package of dates at Trader Joes. Not to mention that I only need half the package to make the bites! I can form about 20 bites out of the batch. (Of course you can make more or less out of the batch depending on how big or small you want to make these energy filled morsels.) Enjoy!

Orange Cocoa Energy Bites
1/3 cup of steel cut oats
1 cup of dates (don’t forget to take out pits.)
2 tbsp of fresh organic orange juice
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of almond butter (or any nut butter)
1-2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until everything is mixed. Then form balls out of the mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 min then transfer to Tupperware containers to store! (Last up to 2 weeks.)

image1 (2)

❤ Annaleigh

5 Things that Hold us Back from Happiness

For anyone who knows me, my number 1 pet peeve is excuses.  Not just excuses about exercise, but excuses in life.   I have always had goals for myself and when I see something I want, I ask myself- “how did that person get there?”  Then I make a plan and set it in motion.  You can achieve anything you set your mind to with determination, consistency, and a solid plan in place.

I think reading helped me keep that spirit and “can do” attitude alive.  Since I was little I loved self-help books like SARK Eat Mangos Naked (a favorite in high school).  Then, as I got older I found other books like “The Compound Effect,” “You are a Badass” and “Crush it.”  It never hurts to keep learning.

On this continual quest for knowledge and empowerment, I was introduced to a podcast called “The Model Health Show.”  A podcast I listened to struck such a cord with me, I decided to listen again and take notes.   99% of this blog post is courtesy of Shawn Stevenson’s Podcast from June 14, 2016- “5 Things that Hold Us Back from Happiness”  with my own little quips inserted here and there.

In Shawn’s podcast he notes a study from the University of London that states people are 35% less likely to die if they felt happy and content on a typical day.  Generally we are happy as children, then happy again as seniors but it is those in between years of the rat race that really wear us down.   I can totally see that!  Being a working mom with 2 kids, training for races, helping others, and trying to keep my family happy is no easy feat.

So, what holds us back from happiness and how can we turn it around?  Here are his top 5 reasons (in no particular order)

1. Excuses.

This is probably why I loved this podcast so much.   Our primary excuses are usually work, money, and health.  Things are always so much harder when life isn’t going your way.   Tony Robbins said we all have a blueprint set for our lives.  For example, maybe your blueprint is you wanted to get a job, get married, & have kids before 30.   How would you feel if your blue print did not match your life condition?  What if you were 31 and single or unemployed?    It isn’t a horrible thing, but since your blueprint does not equal your life condition you may feel unhappy.   You have to be mentally aware of this and re-adjust your blueprint.  Maybe because you are single and unemployed you can travel the world and paint or volunteer for the Peace Corps?  The world is open and you are unencumbered.  Change your perspective and make the most of the life you have.

2.  The if/then syndrome:

If this happens, then I’d be happy.  If I get this raise, then I’ll be happy.  If the kids get into college, then I’ll be happy.  If I got this beach house, then I’ll be happy.  If I got this divorce, then I’ll be happy… This is what Jim Rohn calls living on “someday I’ll”.   We can’t wish our life away.   Live in gratitude.  What do you have now?  Sure, you can have ambition and work towards something but we need to enjoy the journey!

3.  Skip the Drama!

I never thought about this really before, but I absolutely love it.  Don’t bring the drama around you, don’t look for it, and don’t live into it.   *To do something for someone else, WITHOUT expecting anything in return is the secret to long lasting happiness*.  Oh My Goodness YES.   There is nothing worse than having to keep score, make sure everything is fair, and decide when to be nice to someone else based on how they have treated you in the past.  I am a HUGE believer that if I choose to care about someone, I will be there for them.  I will buy them birthday gifts; I will go to their events… I will be there for them whether they make the same effort for me or not.  I don’t measure my kindness or my happiness by how others treat me, but how I treat others.   Nit picking and living into the drama does not do me any good.  Maybe this is because I believe everyone is genuinely good at heart and everyone’s intentions are pure.  Even if that isn’t the case.  It makes me happy and I don’t want to turn into a cynic.

4.  Future/Past Paradox

Do you mentally visit the past to predict the future? It is a blessing and a curse to think externally.  People think past = future.  We need to see the beauty in our current situation.  If you still live in the past, you miss the power to change your future.    A challenge for you is to change your perspective and CHOOSE to show up differently.  Bring YOUR energy and happiness to the situation.  When you walk into a room brighten that room.  YOU bring the LIGHT.  Living in gratitude is a reflection of the good things that are happening at the current moment.  On a side note, I am LOVING the Instagram challenge #100happydays.  It is forcing me to find the beauty in every day.  Today it was eating a juicy peach.


I am amazed at this one.  I remember watching “the Biggest Loser” last season and a speech Bob Harper gave to one of the contestants.  They were having a heart to heart and her biggest roadblock was her deep rooted belief that she didn’t deserve to be fit, to take the time for herself, to win etc.  Once she changed her mind set and told herself that she was worthy and she did deserve it, she started kicking butt!    Realize how much you do matter.  Enjoy the process, and overcome whatever challenges come your way.  You have everything you need to live a good life within you, they just may be dormant.  No one is better than you, but people may be different than you.  Be 100% unapologetic for who you are.  Like Sarah Jessica Parker was told in the movie “The Family Stone”  Let your freak flag fly!  No one will ever exist like you again and no one was like you before, so be the utmost you.

I just loved all this so much and it is great to be reminded again and again of these important points.  Now lastly, being happy doesn’t mean being stagnant.  You can have goals and be ambitious.  Heck, you should!!!  But, enjoy the process.  You deserve to be happy if you choose to be, and if you need to make some life changes, make them.

Have a great Monday.


Weekly recap: 11 weeks till Brooklyn

I ran with a friend this week!!! What a difference a running buddy makes!  I also joined the #100happydays project to find beauty in every day.  I’m enjoying the mornings immensely.

Monday: 3 mile treadmill run, 11:33 pace followed by a 20 minute bike.

Tuesday: 2 mile indoor track run, 9:30 pace followed by weight/resistance class @ the gym 

Wednesday: met a friend!  5.3 mile outdoor run 9:20 pace.   I also started the #100happydays project!

#day1- enjoyed my first tomato of the season from my garden

Thursday: Rest, couldn’t make the 6am gym class.

#day2- worked so late, but daddy took the kids to the pool, met them for pizza.

Friday: 2 mile interval runs, 9:00 pace followed but lifting full body.  #day3- summer Friday off from work.  We swam for almost 6 hours!

Saturday: rest/walked in town, swam all day.  #day4, breakfast with Oma and Opa. 

Sunday: met up with my running buddy.  7.1 miles at 9:30 pace followed by biking in town with the kids.   Had to pick up dad at the canal after my run. 


Happy running! See you next week!

Oil Free Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

Yes.. Yes you read that right. You can roast  veggies with no oil and they are still delicious! Once you eat vegetables this way you may not go back to the oil!
-1/2 zucchini
-1/2 yellow squash
-1/2 red pepper
-1/2 yellow pepper
-1/2 orange pepper
– 1/2 red onion
-1 head of broccoli
– 1 cup of mushrooms
– 1 can of low sodium organic chickpeas
– 1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp curry
-1/4 tsp turmeric
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp smoke paprika
– 1/4 tsp cayenne
– salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is preheating chop your veggies  and then put all the veggies and chickpeas on a cookie sheet lined with  parchment paper*  (this is your secret to oil free roasting) sprinkle  seasoning over the mix and throw in the oven for 30 min. Half way through take the pan out and mix them around so everything cooks evenly then back  in the oven they go. When the timer goes off enjoy them alone as a meal or  with a side of brown rice! I love to top them with nutritional yeast and hot sauce!

*A silicone baking mat may also work
🏼<3 Annaleigh
My two cents:  Cooking without oil is really new to me.  When I did 21 day fix last year I was allowed 4 tsp of “oils” so I actually looked at what the calories of oils were.  Olive oil, 120 calories for 1 tsp!  Wow, and 1 tsp is not a lot… now I didn’t douse my pan in oil so divide that by the servings, and I wasn’t getting THAT many calories from oil in my dishes.  That being said, not everyone in my family uses oil sparingly.  It is also important to note we NEED fat in our bodies to function.  It is an essential macro-nutrient, although it does carry the most calories.  1 gram of fat equals 9 calories while 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate equal 4 calories.
According to eat balanced:
“What is fat for?
  • A source of energy – Our body uses the fat we eat, and fats we make from other nutrients in our bodies,  to provide the energy for most of our life-functions
  • Energy store – The extra calories that we consume, but do not need to use immediately, are stored for future use in special fat cells (adipose tissue)
  • Essential fatty acids – Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions, but cannot be made by our body’s processes
  • Proper functioning of nerves and brain- fats are part of myelin- a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats
  • Maintaining healthy skin and other tissues.  All our body cells need to contain some fats  as essential parts of cell membranes, controlling what goes in and out of our cells
  • Transporting fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K through the bloodstream to where they are needed
  • Forming steroid hormones needed to regulate many bodily processes”

We should stick with healthy fats, and we need at least 20-30% of our calories to come from fats.   If you’re eating a balanced, whole food diet full of eggs, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds, you’re probably just fine.


That being said… If you were interested in cutting out oil I found a great site with lots of tips and tricks.  Some of my favorites I listed below and I regularly make my broccoli oil free using the water method and I LOVE it!

Tips from Forks over Knives

Choose Your Oil-Free Cooking Method

  • Sautéing and stir-frying—The most common question I get on this topic is how to sauté or stir-fry without butter or oil. The trick is to use small amounts of water or broth, adding just a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) at a time. Do this as often as needed to cook and brown the food, without steaming it. Also, remember to toss and stir the food periodically with a wooden spoon so that it doesn’t burn.
  • Baking—You can use a fruit purée as a healthy (and delicious!) substitute for fats like oil, butter, or shortening. Some of my favorites include applesauce, mashed bananas, and puréed dates. In some instances, nut flour or nut butters can serve as substitutions or additions.
  • Roasting—There’s no need to coat your vegetables or other foods with oil before roasting them in the oven. They might take a little longer, but they will eventually brown and roast nicely. Before placing them in the oven, I like to season my vegetables with spices, herbs, and either a little vegetable stock or a light water-soy sauce mixture.
  • Deep frying alternative—It may take a little getting used to, but I’m confident that you will come to enjoy the not-greasy but still delicious (and far healthier) choice to bake your potatoes and veggies instead of deep frying them. You can even bake up delicious (eggless) breaded patties or veggies by lightly dipping them in a slurry of arrowroot powder or cornstarch mixed with either water or unsweetened, unflavored plant milk, and then coating them with whole-grain bread crumbs or cornmeal. Use nonstick, silicone, or parchment-lined baking sheets to achieve a crispy outer crust.


Happy cooking!

10 Reasons to Workout Today

Last week I wrote about finding and harnessing the power of your why, did you have trouble finding a reason?  If so, here are 10 you can work with:

  1. I will have more confidence
  2. I will be one step closer to my fitness goal
  3. I will be more mentally alert
  4. I will be happier
  5. I will have a desire to eat healthy foods
  6. I will be more motivated to workout tomorrow
  7. I will burn more calories for the rest of the day
  8. I will have an increased amount of energy
  9. I will be doing something for me
  10. I will be healthier


If you are still in a slump, it is a fun exercise to create a vision board for your life.  Play around on your phone or computer.  I love the app Photofy.  Make it the background on your phone or your computer desktop.  Put it on your fridge or inside your pantry where you hide your oreos 🙂

here is one I made in 2 minutes.  I am training for a half marathon, trying to practice more yoga, and want to be present for my kids.

Weekly recap: 12 weeks till Brooklyn

Weekly Training update.  The half marathon is 12 weeks away.  My training plan is starting to up my mid-week miles which I don’t like.  I feel safe and comfortable in the 3 mile zone!   This week called for 4,4,2 and 6 as the long run.  

Monday:  This week my husband got an improved mounting system for his bike trailer.  We had a great family bike ride after work.  The kids kept peeking their little eyes at me from behind.

We ended the bike ride at the local baseball field and the kids were so excited for ice cream.  They looked so silly I had to take a picture, then I couldn’t stop laughing!  

This is what summer looks like.  Dirty, tired kids with ice cream faces.  Workout was a 3 mile bike.  Super easy.

Tuesday, 5:30 am 4 mile run at 9:56 average pace.  I was happy with negative splits though.

Wednesday morning’s for had me like this…

I literally felt asleep the whole time. So I went for 2 and planned on knocking the last 2 out on the  treadmill later.  Needless to say. I got it done.  

Thursday took it to the gym for body pump.  It was amazing!   I even ran into a coworker.  I love making fitness friends.  

Friday Jimmy came down w a fever and had a super rough morning.  Needless to say I didn’t shower until my husband came home from work.  

Luckily, James came home and I got in a fast 3 miles in 26:17, then picked up Sam and went to our Friday yoga class.   

Saturday:  we took a bike ride into town, town pool, and I hope to meet up with a friend for my long run. 

Sunday: 6 miles along the Delaware while dad and the kids biked 7.  Finished with a dip in the river.  

On the way home we stopped at a farmers market and ran into some neighbors!  So excited for this produce!  Jimmy grabbed the peach and it was so juicy he was covered in peachy goodness.

Finished the day at the town pool, I couldn’t get the kids out of the water! Sam is doing amazing and Jimmy is a little fish too! 

Nothing like a summer day.

Next week mileage is 5,5, 3, & 7 miles! 

What is Kombucha?

At the fancy food show, Kombucha was definitely making a presence.  I had heard about it before, knew some friends and coworkers who drank it.  It looks all hipster and trendy and healthy.. what what the heck is it?

I asked a local kombucha bar owner at the show and did some of my own research too.

Basically, Kombucha is  a tea, usually green or black tea that is fermented and slightly effervescent.  The supplier told me it is basically a healthy “soda” replacement filled with health benefits and vitamins.  It tasted like a flavored seltzer or a carbonated beer/champagne I have had at local breweries.

Basically you have sugar and tea, and add a colony of yeast and bacteria (a culture) and allow the mixture to ferment… similar to how you would make a beer or wine. The culture, known as the “mother culture,” is combined with tea and sits for roughly 10 days. During this time, a thin colony of bacteria forms on top. After the fermentation process is complete, the new culture can be scooped out and used to start other brews, while the pungent beverage below is ready for drinking.  The culture is often referred to as SCOBY (Symbiotic culture of Bacteria and Yeast)


Kombucha is not new, it dates back to ancient China, where it was regularly consumed to remedy inflammatory ailments such as arthritis and thought to ward off cancer.

I’m kind of amazed by all the “proposed’ health benefits.  Mind you, none have the claims have actually been verified in a clinical controlled study.

Why Do People Care?
According to SHAPE magazine,

Grocery store shelves and trendy restaurants alike are featuring fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yes,kombucha. All kinds of people, from health nuts to celebrities to chefs, are becoming more conscious of the benefits of eating grub rich in healthy probiotics, which are tiny microoganisms similar to the “good bacteria” naturally found in our intestines. Research has found consuming probiotics can help fight colds, lower cholesterol, and promotes a healthy gut, alleviating issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and food allergies.

So what about the alcohol content?  There are come kombucha that are 3% alcohol, just like your light beers!  The MAJORITY though are kept under 0.5% alcohol so they can be sold on grocery store shelves.   Fermentation of sugars produces alcoholic beverages, and there isn’t enough sugar in Kombucha to have a high alcohol content.

One benefit I have been reading over and over again is about it’s super antioxidant power.  Don’t remember what antioxidants are?  Check out my post about how antioxidants work.  The primary benefits I have been reading about are:

  • Detoxification: Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention. One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces and/or uses to detox your system, thus reducing your pancreatic load and easing the burden on your liver. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer.
  • Joint Care: Kombucha contains glucosamines, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis. Glucosamines increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid functions physiologically to aid preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain, with relief comparable to NSAIDs and advantage over glucocorticoids. Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, while associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.
  • Digestion & Gut Health:  Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such asimproved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability. As such, it’s noted for reducing or eliminating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Immune Booster.  Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy levels.  If you want to know more about how antioxidants work, check out my past post on them.

I’m going to give it a shot.  See how I feel and will let you know.  One warning though, definitely only purchase manufactured Kombucha from a reliable brand.  Home brewing has many negative side effects because you are not working in a sterile environment and can contaminate the culture.  It can lead to upset stomach and other side effects.    Also if you brew in ceramic, the culture will leach the led out of the glaze and you can get some pretty serious toxins in your system.

Vegan Tacos

This is by far the best “taco meat” recipe! It’s so flavorful! I love this recipe because you can top it on top of a salad, make romaine tacos or fill corn tortillas!!

Taco Meat
1 Cup Walnuts
2 tsp of Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of Chili
1/2 tsp of Garlic Powder
Pinch of Cayenne
Sea Salt to taste

Put all ingredients into a food processor until finely ground!

Now fill those Romaine Ribs, Corn Tortillas or on top of salad! (Top with salsa, black beans, guacamole whatever floats your boat!)

If you’re feeling up to it you can also whip up some delicious cashew cream!

Vegan Sour Cream
1 Cup Cashews (soaked for 2-3 hours, then rinsed)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 Cup Water

Put all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for a few minutes until creamy! The taste of this is so good and refreshing on top of spicy food! (Lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge.)

Happy Eating!
❤️ Anna Leigh


Recipe Adapted from Tasty Yummies blog


Nutritional Info

               Taco Meat                         Sour Cream

taco mean.PNG vegan sour cream

Motivation Monday- Finding your why

I’m pretty sure I wrote this before, but it bears repeating.  The VERY first thing I ask anyone interested in starting any health journey is “why.”  Why do you want to lose weight?   Sure, looking great in your clothes and fitting into those jean from high school is nice, but that won’t keep you on track.  Cupcakes and alcohol are way too good.


Most people know my story (and if you don’t you can check it out in about me section), but my why is making sure I am taking care of me so that I can have more energy and patience for my family.   I have 2 toddlers, I also work full time as a scientist.  I know that when I indulge too much and don’t exercise I am just a nasty person and my family gets the brunt of it.  I feel tired, bloated, sluggish and screaming toddlers make me lose my sh*t.

What also keeps me motivated is having other people help keep me accountable or incentives.  This week I have a private facebook group going.  We are all going to post every day something we are doing to stay healthy, whether that be a workout or a healthy meal.  At the end of the week I am raffling off a prize to a randomly selected winner.  The only rule to be entered into the raffle is to post something in our group daily.  If you need some extra accountability and want to meet some like minded people,  I would be happy to add you too 🙂

today is the day

I urge you this week to sit down with yourself, grab a piece of paper, a journal, a napkin, anything and be honest with yourself.  Why do you need to stay on track this week?  Maybe there is a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes in your family and you need to lose weight to stay healthy, maybe you need some extra patience for your kids, maybe you have a stressful week coming up and a few good sweat sessions will help make you feel better.  Endorphins are a powerful thing.


Let me know your why in the comments below.  I believe in you.

Guest Bloggers coming soon!

I am really getting some traction with this blog and I have to say it is so FUN to reach like minded people, and feel like I am contributing something to this crazy (sometimes sad) world.

As we all know, I am a chemist and I will be the first one to tell you I am not the best chef.  Don’t get me wrong, when I have a recipe I am a great cook… that is probably why I love baking so much.  It is a science you know.   I have been getting better with practice BUT my cousins, wow, they can cook!

So, I am super excited to announce my cousins will be joining the blog and contributing some amazing recipes for all of us!    The 3 of us are 5 years and 2 months apart to the date.  How crazy is that?



annaleighAnnaleigh is my cousin 5 years my junior.  She lives up in NH and grew up in the south of Maine.  She is an aesthetician and owns her own spa Banana Peels Studio.  If you are in the NH area, check it out.  She is fabulous.  She is also a health coach, pet lover, and engaged to a wonderful man Tom.  She specializes in vegetarian and vegan recipes that taste scrumptious!   I am always in awe of all the foods she posts on facebook.  Smoothie bowls, chia pudding desserts, vegan donuts, kale salads, protein energy balls… to name a few.   I am so excited to see what she contributes to our blog!  



jenJennifer is my cousin 5 years my senior.  I have looked up to Jenn since before I can remember.  She is a literary genius.  I remember she was reading Russian literature for fun when she was in 8th grade just because she had already read all the classics and needed something new.   Jenn is the hit of every party because she makes the most fabulous recipes.  At Thanksgiving it is Jenn that makes the “turducken” and 3 kinds of stuffing because she couldn’t just settle on one.   She is going to contribute some serious deliciousness.

Please join me in welcoming these 2 ladies to our blogging family, and as always if you have any requests for a fact friday to debunk any questions you may have or if you are looking for any new recipes comment below or click the “contact me” link!    I will also be sharing some of my family friendly recipes that are quick and easy 🙂