Natty Bite

Crack open a can of wellness.

13 May

Beautiful 20-Somethings

Wow, have we been MIA. The past few months have been absolutely crazy. But with being so busy and preoccupied, I think both Zeez and I can say we have become stronger and happier than ever before. Natty Bite started out as a blog for vegan recipes, but health is about so much more than that. Veganism was the start of a wellness journey for me, but it opened up my eyes to how important it is to take care of yourself. Whether that’s the joy and energy I get from cooking an amazing, new, green-loving-machine meal or realizing you actually can skip out on a few obligations just to see your best friend for your favorite brew mid- day; once you start doing things for yourself, things exponentially get better. I can say this year is the least I’ve ever been sick, regardless of the lack of sleep and nonstop lifestyle. I attribute this to my mental well-being. Somehow, I’ve been able to blow off A LOT this academic semester, and still pull off some of my greatest accomplishments yet. Generally, this just assures me that everything is going to be okay even after stopping and smelling the roses. Figuring out priorities and what makes you happy are ongoing challenges we will be figuring out our entire lives, and they are so very different for everyone. Every new experience, new person met, or mistake made guide us to the answers to these questions.

I have to say the two fortune cookies I’ve had this year really seem to sum it up (thank you PF Chang)… the first was, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” I literally needed this spelled out for me. I used to turn down seeing friends and stress myself out just to save some money or get the better grade. I hadn’t realized, but I was literally creating work when there was no work to be done. I am so thankful that I snapped out of this mindset and RELAXED. And PLAYED-actually though, even had obnoxious photo shoots and built forts like a kid again.  Life is not all about money or the daily demands, and a dominant focus on those may certainly take you to the top of the mountain, but loving life every step of the way will take you to the skies.

The second fortune cookie pretty much reassured me I’m on the right track- but need to release my fears of falling off this path I constantly debate staying on. “Your mind is filled with new ideas, explore them.” As much as I wish I knew what I wanted in life, I don’t. I am constantly changing my mind- and in short-term aspects of life, I certainly explore these new ideas, but more long-term matters, I push aside. The looks of the next ten years or so that I am headed for seem great, but I know I could do other things that are more appealing to me, and it is more than difficult to find courage to steer away from such a paved, daisy-lined path.

This year has certainly been a year filled with brighter smiles, louder laughs, and greater mistakes than most, but most importantly- no regrets. Cheers (with green juice and maybe a little red wine, of course) to following your heart this summer and doing what sweeps you off your feet! Live it up like the crazy, sexy, (selfish,) beautiful 20-somethings that we are.

Sending so much love,

Mellie Mel <3

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04 Mar Back to cooking! Spinach pasta with avocado pesto and sautéed onions, artichokes, and tofu.

Back to cooking! Spinach pasta with avocado pesto and sautéed onions, artichokes, and tofu.

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13 Jan Macro bowls! Recipe courtesy of The Kind Life.

Macro bowls! Recipe courtesy of The Kind Life.

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13 Jan So glad to have my favorite kitchen buddy back in my life :) #vegan #delicious @zeezer_salad

So glad to have my favorite kitchen buddy back in my life :) #vegan #delicious @zeezer_salad

30 Dec Get crazy, get sexy, get motivated with &#8220;Crazy Sexy Kitchen&#8221; by green goddess, Kris Carr. This cookbook that hit shelves in October this year has 150 plant-based, vegan recipes plus an informative section giving a background on what a plant-based diet is all about, plus cooking basics.
It was actually Kris Carr&#8217;s &#8220;Crazy Sexy Diet&#8221; that peaked my interest in a vegan diet. I stumbled across the book at Powell&#8217;s Bookstore while on vacation in Portland, Oregon this past July. I was aimlessly walking around the massive bookstore, just waiting for something to pop out at me. I think it was the &#8216;Travel&#8217; section that I was approaching when I spotted &#8220;Crazy Sexy Diet&#8221; sitting on a sale shelf. I thought, &#8220;Well, I&#8217;m already a vegetarian. I like cooking. My body could use a good detox. AND it&#8217;s on sale.&#8221; Let me tell you, I got way more than the $12 I spent. I It was one of those moments I just can&#8217;t explain. I was meant to find the book that day, because &#8220;Crazy Sexy Diet&#8221; inspired me to make lifestyle changes and push myself to be healthier than I already was. The &#8220;21 Day Adventure Cleanse&#8221; at the end of the book lead to a total body, mind, and lifestyle change that inspired me to inspire others. And just like that my brother, my parents, and friends were fascinated by the crazy, sexy hype about veganism, raw food, and mediation as well. 
As nostalgic as that tangent was for me, let me try to make my way back&#8230;
My sister (a fellow wellness warrior) and I made a plan to buy this cookbook for each other for Christmas this year. Now, it&#8217;s five days later, and we finally exchanged gifts. I cannot tell you how excited I am to work my way through these recipes. So get ready, because you&#8217;re all coming along for that ride!
Wishing everyone a safe holiday season and a beautiful New Year,
Zeez

Get crazy, get sexy, get motivated with “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” by green goddess, Kris Carr. This cookbook that hit shelves in October this year has 150 plant-based, vegan recipes plus an informative section giving a background on what a plant-based diet is all about, plus cooking basics.

It was actually Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Diet” that peaked my interest in a vegan diet. I stumbled across the book at Powell’s Bookstore while on vacation in Portland, Oregon this past July. I was aimlessly walking around the massive bookstore, just waiting for something to pop out at me. I think it was the ‘Travel’ section that I was approaching when I spotted “Crazy Sexy Diet” sitting on a sale shelf. I thought, “Well, I’m already a vegetarian. I like cooking. My body could use a good detox. AND it’s on sale.” Let me tell you, I got way more than the $12 I spent. I It was one of those moments I just can’t explain. I was meant to find the book that day, because “Crazy Sexy Diet” inspired me to make lifestyle changes and push myself to be healthier than I already was. The “21 Day Adventure Cleanse” at the end of the book lead to a total body, mind, and lifestyle change that inspired me to inspire others. And just like that my brother, my parents, and friends were fascinated by the crazy, sexy hype about veganism, raw food, and mediation as well.

As nostalgic as that tangent was for me, let me try to make my way back…

My sister (a fellow wellness warrior) and I made a plan to buy this cookbook for each other for Christmas this year. Now, it’s five days later, and we finally exchanged gifts. I cannot tell you how excited I am to work my way through these recipes. So get ready, because you’re all coming along for that ride!

Wishing everyone a safe holiday season and a beautiful New Year,

Zeez

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19 Dec

GET HAPPY.

Embrace the butterflies.

Dance on Cloud 9.

Listen to your heart.

Laugh-LOUD.

Get pre-occupied.

Be here.

Fantasize.

Live out your fantasies.

Love today.

Love yourself.

Feeling exceptionally bubbly today. Strive to feel this way each day.

So thankful for my experiences and the people in my life <3

Sending my love and kisses, Mels

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12 Dec

Just breath.

It’s a crazy time of year - finals week, holidays, traveling, etc. etc… With so much going on it’s difficult not to stress out about one thing or another. I know I certainly am. So to all my friends out there who are also stressing, I just want to say, relax. This may be the busiest and most hectic time of year, but it is also the BEST time of year. This season is so full of love and good spirit. Wouldn’t it be a shame to overlook those blessings because you are preoccupied with frustrations that will soon seem trivial? I’ll answer for you - Yes, it would. So instead of focusing on how much time, money, and energy you will need to accomplish whatever multitude of work or holiday shopping you need to get done, just breathe. Recognize what you need to do, set realistic goals, and keep calm. Whenever I know I have a busy week coming up, that is what I try to do. I make lists upon lists, outline my days down to the minute, and, most importantly, whenever I feel myself losing control I just breathe, in and out, in and out. And do you know what? I get it all done! And I know you’re going to accomplish everything you need to as well, so have a little faith in yourself!

Meditation is a fantastic way to bring yourself back down from the frantic lifestyles so many of us live. Even just being aware of your current situation and taking a deep, mindful breath can help. I encourage you all to give it a try. And I don’t buy the whole, “Oh, meditation just isn’t for me,” line for one minute. I’m a little reluctant to admit it, but I was one of those people until I found the right mantra, environment, and scented soy candles (they are Vanilla Bean Seed candles, by the way). Mediation is not a behavior that comes natural for most of us, so I understand how easy it is to brush it off before even giving it a shot. However, with a little practice you will see great rewards (that sounded like a fortune cookie, didn’t it?). Once I found my best meditation flow I noticed enhancements in my mood and I had a sense of internal calmness that was not completely there before. Those rewards can be yours too. Just have an open mind and give it a go. Start with just five minutes a day, then gradually add time until you reach twenty or twenty-five minutes. Try to integrate it into your daily routine. Just as you brush your teeth and wash your face in the morning, leave an extra few minutes for mediation time. Hell, while you’re at it, light some candles, dim the lights, and get personal with it. Get comfy on the floor - try lying on your back or sitting cross-legged. All that is left to do is let your worries melt away, and just breath, in and out, in and out…

Peacefully yours,

Zeez

Ps. Because I love you all so much (and because these downloads are free) here’s a link to Pitt’s body and breath awareness downloads. They’re a really great tool to get you started! Plus, now you have no excuse not to try mediation! http://www.studentaffairs.pitt.edu/ccaudiodownloads

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29 Nov Healing cabbage soup and #vegan cornbread :) perfect for a busy week and to knock out a cold. @natty_bite #veganspin

Healing cabbage soup and #vegan cornbread :) perfect for a busy week and to knock out a cold. @natty_bite #veganspin

24 Nov

Treat Them Green and Deliciously

Life is not always “easy.” What’s “easy” is keeping to yourself, worrying about your own satisfaction and interests, cooking frozen dinners, napping, eating anything you crave, or dating the first guy who expresses interest in you. But does this mean we should always act in these ways? How rewarding are these things to us?

Yes, we ALL do them, and we all need them at times. We need to relax, treat ourselves, and look out for our own best interests. But spending an hour cooking an amazing, healthy dinner instead of grabbing a burger on your way home is not only extremely rewarding for yourself, but you are treating your family and friends the way they deserve when you put in the effort to take care of yourself. It’s not always the easy road, but it’s about so much more than that.

Acting considerate takes effort, and I, personally, am guilty of being self-centered in nature. Although, each step I intentionally take to be more considerate and less selfish, the more natural and rewarding it becomes. This could be going out of your way to share your scrumptious zucchini brownies with a friend, or simply caring about how their day was. Ever notice that the people you enjoy being around are usually the ones who genuinely care about you and your interests? Actually taking the time to ask why you are pursuing a certain career, or appreciate that watching Revenge is on your list of priorities. It certainly takes effort (not too much) to develop these selfless behaviors, and it’s certainly rewarding. This goes for MANY aspects of life.

So next time you are craving a bag of potato chips, or putting off the gym, think about the others in your life. Are the pepperonis, cheese, and processed beef rigatoni in your fridge going to keep you happy and healthy enough to laugh endlessly with friends, dance like no one’s watching, and go on bike rides with your grandkids?

You might think I’m crazy but if you know how a whole foods, plant-based diet can scientifically reduce cholesterol and naturally prevent heart disease, obesity, and cancer, then you understand.

It begins with a healthy lifestyle, and it begins with YOU. While you might be behind the wheel of your wellness journey racecar, your family and friends are your pit crew that keep you in the race- so treat them well, treat them green and deliciously.

From your dearest friend, I hope you take control of your health and happiness for those who love you.

Kisses and carrots,

Mels

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21 Nov

Glazed Lentil Pine Nut Apple Loaf

Hello lovelies,

Do you remember how much we adore lentils? Well in case you don’t, it’s a whole freakin’ lot. We decided to take our love for the delicious legume to a whole new level. Enter the Glazed Lentil Pine Nut Apple Loaf…

With Thanksgiving less than 7 hours away (OH MY GOODNESS!), this is a very easy substitute for those of you that my be missing turkey this year. It is an entree that will fill you up without filling you out.

We switched up this recipe, http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/05/glazed-lentil-walnut-apple-loaf-revisited/, from “Oh She Glows” (aka, our favorite vegan cooking blog).

Our recipe is as follows:

  • 1 C uncooked green lentils, rinsed and sorted through for stones
  • 1/2 C pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 C water
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 C diced onion
  • 1 C diced celery
  • 1 C grated carrot
  • 1/3 C peeled & grated apple
  • 1/3 C golden raisins
  • 1/2 C garbanzo bean flour
  • 3/4 C gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A dash of red pepper flakes

Glaze Recipe:

  • 1/2 sun dried tomatoes
  • water
  • 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup (we used Grade A, dark amber)
  • 4 tbsp apple butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions for loaf:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bring lentils and 3 C water to boil, season w/ salt (to taste), reduce to simmer, cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You want to overcook the lentils so they mash well)
  • Toast pine nuts in skillet for a few minutes, until they start to brown. Set aside.
  • Heat up some olive oil in a skillet and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in celery, carrot, apple, and raisins. Saute another 10 minutes.
  • In a bowl whisk together ground flax and water. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl add all ingredients together and get down and dirty, mix with your (clean) hands!
  • Grease a square baking dish with some coconut oil and press the finished lentil mixture into it.
  • Spread glaze evenly on top (directions below).
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

Directions for glaze:

  • In a food processor, mix sun dried tomatoes and water (a tablespoon at a time) on high until you get a thick, but smooth consistency.
  • Add in maple syrup, apple butter, and balsamic. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

^ Loaf ingredients.

^ Glaze ingredients.

^ Lentils.

^ Chopped Onion.

^ Toasted pine nuts.

^ Peeled apple.

^ Chopped celery.

^ Sauteed onion and garlic.

^ Shredded carrot and apple.

^ All our sauteed veggies.

^ Big bowl of loaf ingredients - get ready to mash!

^ Spread the glaze.

^ Pop in the oven.

^ Voila!

^ Bon appetit :)

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