Monthly Archives: May 2016

Loaded Mediterranean Avocado Toast [vegan]


While I’m in Mexico eating what’s sure to be an abundance of guacamole, today I’m sharing with you a recipe that revolves around the illustrious avocado, but isn’t really Mexican-themed…

Mediterranean Avocado Toast

I’m blessed to have my husband for many reasons – one being that he’ll try whatever dish I put in front of him.

Whoa, when I typed that I just realized that I totally sound like my mom, who loves that A will eat (& usually enjoy) almost anything. She loves when we visit and he eats her leftovers!

But I mean, what type of cook doesn’t like having a loved one around that’ll try all of their creations?  Even though A isn’t a vegetarian himself, he’s open to trying my many vegan and vegetarian dish experiments without complaint. That’s why when I received a rare critique from him recently that I was making Mexican dinners a little too much, I got my act together and got a little bit more creative in the kitchen. I believe his exact words were:

“Babe what’s for dinner tonight? Quesadillas? Enchiladas? Perhaps some tacos? [smirk]”

Mediterranean Avo Toast-2Enough said hubby! I definitely had been relying on my go-to Mexican dinners a lot, and since we had an upcoming trip to Cabo San Lucas planned, I didn’t want him to go to Mexico already feeling over Mexican food. So, recently I toned down my love for Mexican food and started making more of my other beloved cuisines – mainly dishes with Italian and Mediterranean flairs.

Recent dinners that have gotten big thumbs up include linguine with asparagus in a white wine lemon sauce, homemade pizza and rosti potatoes with spinach & feta. And then there’s today’s recipe: the ultimate avocado toast.

It’s no secret that I love avocado. An abundance of the ripe fruit is one of the reasons why we’d been eating so many Mexican dinners. For this recipe, I decided to take avocado toast to the next level. It’s simple, it’s nutritious and it’s definitely delicious.

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The All About the Hamstrings Workout

When I cut out cardio for a couple of months because of my foot injury, I started doing a lot more isolated strength training than usual. I typically incorporate strength moves into HIIT and cardio workouts, but I started relying more on strength training as my main exercise burn.

While I love so many types of workouts, I wouldn’t say that lifting is high on my list of favorite types of exercise. At first I was whining to myself (and probably a few others) saying, “How many damn bicep curls can I do?” but then I started getting more creative. I used to do a lot more workouts that were more strength-based when I regularly went to a normal gym, so I started getting back to those roots and having more fun with it.

Hamstring WOD Collage-2

One thing I started paying more attention to was working on my hamstrings. I definitely have stronger quads than hamstrings. After all, I use my quads for some of my favorite exercises as well as functional movements throughout my day, but my hamstrings? They don’t get worked quite as much.

It’s common to have stronger quads than hamstrings, but in an effort to keep things balanced and reduce chances of further injury aggravation, lately I’ve been more diligently doing hamstring exercises. Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite moves to work the hammies, so let’s get to it! Here are the moves:

#1 – One-legged bridge lift. This move is great for getting a glute + hamstring burn! I do this exercise using either a chair as pictured below, or by using my couch as a prop.

Bridge Lift

#2 – One-legged deadlift. This is one of my favorite exercises to work the hammies. You can also add some extra upper body work in there by doing bicep curls or tricep pull-ups when flowing back to standing. I typically use 10-lb dumbbells for this move and most of the other exercises, but bump it up to my 25-lb weights if I’m feeling strong!

One Legged Deadlift

#3 – Alternating reverse lunges. An oldie but a goodie, this move gets your heart rate pumping!

Reverse Lunge

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WIAW + Heading South of the Border!

Happy Hump Day!

We’ve made it through half of the work week, woohoo! I’m a bit antsy this week in anticipation of the holiday weekend. Why? Because I’m heading to Mexico for vacation!

Cabo San Lucas Arch


This summer my hubby is turning 30, so I planned a surprise trip to celebrate the occasion. I had to tell him about it a few weeks ago, since he had to take days off of work. I decided to make a Mexican themed dinner – black bean enchiladas – and put some cute clues around hinting that we’re taking a trip south of the border. It was fun and I enjoyed planning out a trip that A was clueless about. 🙂 Now I’m just excited and very much looking forward to lots of relaxation + fun in the sun with A in Cabo San Lucas! Stay tuned for blog trip recaps, and follow me on Instagram to check out some travel posts.


Any who, today I’m joining the What I Ate Wednesday party! I’m sharing what a day of eats looked like for me last Saturday, so let’s get to it….

WIAW smoothie bowl

First thing in the morning I practiced some yoga. For breakfast post-workout, I made a strawberry banana protein smoothie bowl topped with blueberries, shredded coconut and a TBSP of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter.

WIAW zoodle bowl

After taking Harley for a long walk at the park and doing some work around the house, I worked up an appetite so it was zoodle time! Lunch was spiralized zucchini with marinara sauce, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and a dollop of ricotta. I’ve made this dish a few times lately, and it’s so easy to throw together and a great way to get some veggies in!

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5 Health-Conscious (& Inexpensive) Meet-Up Ideas

Hi there!

How was your weekend? Mine was one of those weekends when everything seems to just align so nicely. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. There was a nice balance of relaxing – including taking my pup to the dog beach, a leisurely Sunday brunch at home, and sunbathing for a bit by my pool – and being productive – including repainting my bedroom + trimming rose bushes & tidying up the backyard.

Chocolate PB pancakes

Sunday brunch: (vegan + gluten free) chocolate PB pancakes with green tea… my favorite lately!

My hubby and I even fit in a date night: a dinner picnic at the beach, followed by what was supposed to be a night at the movies. The movie wound up being sold out (minor hiccup in the night), so instead we rented The Intern via Redbox. It was a cute comedy with Anne Hathaway & Robert De Niro. Anyone else ever watch it?

Our healthy picnic eats

Our healthy picnic eats

And speaking of healthy date nights… let’s move onto today’s topic! A lot of the time when people want to lose weight or just develop healthier habits, they think that they have to become anti-social to resist food and alcohol temptations. I get it, but the truth is: when there’s a will there’s a way, and there’s no need to stay home just because you’re watching your calorie intake or trying to stay away from excess sugar.

I love spending time with my girlfriends, and I think it’s really important as a woman to have friends to laugh with and be able to count on. Here are 5 health-conscious date ideas that I often do with my friends:

A vegan PB&J smoothie bowl with blueberries from Choice Juicery in Carlsbad

A vegan PB&J smoothie bowl with blueberries from Choice Juicery in Carlsbad

1.) Grab smoothies or green juice. This is one of my go-to meet-ups, and I think that I go on a girlfriend smoothie date at least once a month. It’s a healthy, cheap, and fun way to catch up with a friend! Just last Friday I met up with a new friend for smoothie bowls at a cute outdoor spot. This is an especially good idea if you have kiddos, or in my case, if a lot of your friends are moms – since usually smoothie places are super casual and a good atmosphere for little ones. I have a few places nearby that I love to frequent, and it’s also fun to switch it up and try new places out.

Harley beach walk-May 16

2.) Go for a long walk. Lacing up your sneakers and meeting up for a walk is a healthy and free way to be social while also getting your steps in – not to mention that it’s an especially great option throughout the warmer months. It definitely beats just walking on the treadmill to get to 10,000 steps daily!

Trilogy Sanctuary loaded acai bowl

The most delicious chocolate acai bowl from Trilogy Sanctuary

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My Workouts Lately + Foot Injury Update

Hi there!

It’s been 6 weeks since I shared with you guys about my foot injury, so today seemed like a good time for an update post + to chat about my workouts lately! I’ve been kicking my exercise routine up a bit in the last few weeks since taking it easier for a solid two months after getting my foot injury diagnosis. Some recent workout highlights lately include:

Calavera Lake

My first (baby) hike in months! When my cousin was in town last week, we went to my favorite nearby park for an hour-long walk. I’ve been taking my pup there and just doing the trail around the lake and skipping the little mountainous climb, but this time we went for it. Even though it was just an itty bitty hike, it felt great! I miss hiking so much and it just makes my soul happy.

Mountain Biking-May 16

Getting back on the bike. Not only did my hubby and I go for my (only) second mountain biking excursion of the year a few weekends ago (and I had no weird foot/calf pain afterwards!), this week I hooked up my bike to my indoor trainer to test out short cycling workouts again. I had given pretty much all cardio a rest while trying to heal my broken foot bones, and now I’m trying out 20-30 minute rides to see how they feel. We shall see how it goes!

tennis session-May 16

Tennis. Since I’m testing out bringing back some cardio, I’ve played tennis twice in the last couple of weeks. It’s more casual tennis in that I don’t full-blown run since I’m still trying to minimize jumping around, but it’s been fun! Just a few nights ago, my hubby and I had an impromptu short tennis session before it got dark out. I learned that casually volleying back and forth is a good stress reliever and positive way to end the day!

Dog Beach May 16-Wheel Pose

Ommmmm. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately – mostly on my own for fast-paced at-home sessions. It’s such a nice way to start my mornings and focus my energy.

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Apricot Almond Energy Bites [vegan, gf]

Hello, hello!

I hope that you had a lovely weekend. Mine was pretty relaxing except for some power outage shenanigans. My hubby was away for the Marine Corps, and on Friday night my pup and I went for a long sunset walk along the beach. We came home to the power being out and I was unable to get into my house. Let’s just say I had to get creative and borrow a neighbor’s garbage can to hop onto and climb over my fence to get to a spot where I could let myself in. It was eventful! I was pretty proud of myself for being resourceful. 🙂

My Friday evening beach view

My Friday evening beach view

Besides that little bit of craziness, it was a low-key weekend. My cousin visited from Long Beach and stayed with me. We took Harley for a little hike at a nearby park, and went out for Mediterranean food, wine and live music on Saturday night. It was nice getting some quality cousin time in!

Another thing I did over the weekend? Apricot Almond Energy Bites

Whip up a batch of these energy bites… and proceed to eat four of them for lunch! While I usually make energy bites with dates, I’m definitely loving this change-up of using apricots instead.

I’ve been eating fresh apricots since they’re in season right now, but for this recipe, dried fruit is used. The stickiness of the dried fruit is the glue that holds these energy balls together. apricot almond energy bites-1

So just what else is in these bites?

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The 80/20 Diet Rule + Spring into Shape with My New Health Coaching Program

“Nicole! You’re eating French fries?!”

“Ice cream?? Wow, there’s ice cream in your freezer!!”

These are the kind of things I hear from people who are aware of my passion for healthy living and see me eating ______ (insert anything sugary, fried, fattening, etc.).

People seem to find it surprising, but yes, I’ll eat fries once in awhile. I indulge in dessert sometimes. I drink one too many glasses of wine here and there… and not because I’m diving off the deep end from my healthy diet, but because I embrace balanced eating and the 80/20 principle.

80:20 diet principle


What is the 80/20 approach to diet?  It’s a pretty simple idea: 80% of the time, you fuel your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and then the remaining 20% of the time, you can indulge in treats and less nutritious foods. A lot of the time, that 20% for me includes things that aren’t junk food. For instance, I’d consider some dark chocolate or a glass of red wine as part of that 20%. Both are heart-healthy, but I look at them as extras that I don’t really need, but that I just enjoy and feel like having.

The percentages aren’t an exact science. Some days and weeks I’m more like 90/10, and then other days and weeks I might splurge more and eat more of a 75/25 ratio, but the idea is to achieve a healthy eating balance where treats are part of your diet guilt and stress free.

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Blueberry Chia Oatmeal Bars [vegan, gf]

Last year when I shared a recipe for cinnamon baked apple & peanut butter oatmeal, I proclaimed that it’d probably be the only hot oatmeal recipe that I ever post since I’m not a huge oatmeal bowl fan. However, what I’ve realized is that I love to use oats all the time in recipes.


I love what a great source of fiber oats are, which definitely keeps my belly fuller for longer. When people come to me and ask how they can add more fiber into their diets, guess what one of the foods is that I always tell them to eat more of? OATS!

They’re a staple in my kitchen, and there have been countless recipes incorporating use of them on the blog – including PB & J oatmeal crumble bars, oatmeal walnut hemp energy bites and dark chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies, to name a few. And today I have another yummy oat-centric recipe to share with you: blueberry chia oatmeal bars!

Blueberry Chia Oatmeal Bars

Recently I received a package of goodies from the folks at Farmer Direct Co-op – a farmer-owned, fair deal, organic producer of grains, legumes and oilseeds based in Canada.

They’re actually the only company in North America to combine farmer ownership, domestic fair trade and organics under one brand, which makes them pretty awesome in my book! One of their sister brands is Organic Valley, whose milk I buy for my husband every week to feed his love for chocolate PB protein shakes.

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When You Shouldn’t Give It Your All {Weekend Recap}

Hello friends!

I don’t know about you guys, but a low-key weekend was much needed for me after my week last week. A couple of things with work and otherwise kind of bogged me down, and I totally needed a few days to mentally decompress a bit.

Carlsbad sunset-cloudy day April 16

Luckily, my hubby and I had only one thing on the agenda for the weekend: getting our carpets cleaned, because every time I did a pushup in recent months, I’d get a whiff of a certain someone who loves to snooze on my living room floor…

Dog beach May 16-1

While we waited for our carpets to dry, we killed time at the Del Mar dog beach. It was a beautiful day for a long walk there! There are certainly worse places to waste time. 🙂

Dog beach May 16-2

My weekend also included an at-home movie night, a long family walk along the coast Sunday morning, heading back to the beach that afternoon to relax and read for a few hours, and my first mountain biking session since my foot injury diagnosis.

Carlsbad beach-May 16

I’ve only been doing strength training, yoga, walking my pup, and non-plymetric movement since I’m trying to heal my tiny broken foot bones, and I’ve been really craving a sweaty cardio session. What can I say, I’m a sweat junkie and I love how it feels to have my endorphins pumping after some great cardio! Strength training just doesn’t give me quite the same strong mood-boosting effect.

Mountain Biking-May 16

It felt wonderful to get my heart rate up pushing myself up the hilly terrain, but since I’m trying to be really conscious of how my injury and body in general feels, we only went riding for just about 45 minutes. I was reminded of a conversation that my mom and I recently had about both of us being tough in a way that can actually be detrimental.

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Reflecting on Our Complex Relationships with Food & My 600 lb Life

Hello, and Happy Friday!

I didn’t have a chance to publish my normal Friday morning post and I’m feeling analytical, so we’re switching gears a bit this afternoon to dive into a discussion about using food as a coping mechanism…

I’ve always been really interested in psychology and the way that people think, behave and interact. I’ve also always been passionate about food and healthy living, which is why getting my degree is communication studies and later on earning my health coaching certification both just made sense (Perhaps a Masters in psych is in my future as well, ya never know!).

Nicole Crane Health Collage

This is why I’ve always loved watching documentaries – particularly ones that relate to health (and also ones that relate to crime, but that’s a topic for another day…). My less interested husband must undoubtably feel that he’s spent far too much time watching documentaries of this nature, but I torture him with them because they intrigue me every time. One show that I find myself watching is TLC’s My 600 Lb Life.

The basic premise of the show is that each episode follows the life of a morbidly obese American as they attempt to lose weight through gastric bypass surgery and major lifestyle changes. It’s heartbreaking to see the stories of people who have ruined their lives and independence through their food addictions, and as a health coach, there’s one thing that really bothers me about their road to recovery: the lack of counseling to understand why these people got to where they are.

TLC My 600 Lb Life

(Image via POPDUST’s YouTube page)

I know that there’s a lot we don’t see in a documentary, but from what I’ve not only watched in My 600 Lb Life, but what I’ve also personally heard from people who have undergone bariatric surgeries, there’s such a detrimental lack of therapy in understanding the reasoning behind it all.

People don’t eat 10,000 calories a day because they’re hungry, and the human relationship with food is complicated. The obesity epidemic is a result of a combination of things, including addiction to chemicals/additives put in the “food” that people eat, poor habits learned, a society with an increasingly sedentary/fast food lifestyle and emotional eating.

the food you eat

That last reason is highly underrated. Food is a coping mechanism, and has been referred to as the most widely abused drug in America for good reason. So many people deal with the trauma they’ve experienced in their lives by turning to food, and until those issues are recognized and dealt with, the underlying problems are still there. It’s difficult enough to lose weight, let alone lose weight and keep it off with the emotional baggage that’s shaped your food relationship still weighing you down.

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