Real Food Whole Life

A Yoga Flow + Meditation Video for Everyday

Whole LifeRobyn Downs9 Comments

Today I am so excited to introduce you to my girl, Kait Hurley, from kaithurley.com.

Kait recently shared her story of chasing perfection and struggles with anxiety on the Feel Good Effect Podcast, and how a combination of movement and meditation helped her eventually tune-in and connect with herself.


The Magic of Meditation + Movement


Realizing this powerful synergy between movement and meditation, Kait was inspired to create a digital platform to help women connect with themselves in a deeper more meaningful way so they could live a happy, healthy, fit lifestyle.

Her method combines yoga, strength training, and heart-pumping aerobic work with meditation, and she encourages you every step of the way and meets you where you are, both physically and mentally.


A Yoga Flow + Meditation Video for Everyday


Kait knows that I recently completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and to celebrate we decided to team up to bring you this do-anytime Yoga Mat Stretch + Body Scan Meditation.

This Yoga Mat Stretch + Body Scan Meditation is perfect first thing in the morning, as a mid-day stretch and center, or to unwind after a long day.


Move, Meditate, Feel Amazing


We are bringing you this video in the hopes that you'll take some time for yourself in the next few days to move, meditate, and feel amazing.

This short flow + stretch and meditation is also fun to do with a friend, so be sure to share with friends, family and on social to amplify the movement + meditation love!


Win a Free Subscription! 


Kait had generously offered Real Food Whole Life readers the opportunity to win a 30-day online subscription to kaithurley.com.

The online subscription includes videos ranging from 15 minute dynamic stretching and breathing exercises, to 60 minute challenging workouts that incorporate meditation to balance effort and ease.

Kait’s classes give students the flexibility to move and meditate in one video or just meditate.

To enter, share why you want to win this subscription in the comments below.

Winner will be selected and contacted via email (please use valid email when logging in to make comment). Giveaway ends 12/19/2017.

One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

RecipesRobyn DownsComment

Simple to make in just one-bowl, Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins are an amazing paleo, grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free treat. Perfect for holiday or anytime!

One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

I will warn you now: these muffins are absolutely addictive.

After testing the recipe several times, we landed on a winner this week and the full batch was devoured in less than 24 hours.

And there are only three people living in this house.

Consider yourself warned.

The combination of peppermint and chocolate in these muffins is decidedly festive, and even if you're not a huge peppermint + chocolate fan, I think these may just change your mind.

I used almond flour to keep things gluten-free and grain-free, plus coconut oil to keep them dairy-free (though I swear you won't taste the coconut).

If you are a nut-free house, feel free to try these with oat flour.

If you give that option a try, let us know how they turn out in the comments!

I plan on making these for my daughter's teacher as part of her holiday gift this year, and know they will be reappearing over the next several weeks as we get ready for Christmas.

If you give these a try, please share on social. I love seeing what you're making!

Now, let's make some One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins!

One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

RECIPE ADAPTATIONS


1 | Swap oat flour for almond flour if you need a nut-free option.

2 | Skip the peppermint candy topping for a completely refined sugar-free version.

3 | Omit the peppermint extract for a double chocolate muffin to-die for!


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, and Paleo 


Peppermint Chocolate Muffins.jpgOne-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

¼ cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan

2 large eggs

⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce

⅓ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 ½ cup finely ground almond flour

⅓ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, plus more for topping*

¼ cup crushed, dye-free peppermint candy (optional)

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla and peppermint extract.

3. Add the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir gently until just incorporated.

4. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

5. Fill each section of a 12-section muffin tin with roughly ¼ cup batter. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candy, if using.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool the rest on a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: This batter can also be used to make chocolate peppermint bread. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack prior to slicing.   

The peppermint candy will melt into the top of the muffins. You can sprinkle on additional crushed candy at the end if desired for visual effect.

*Most chocolate chips include dairy. Be sure to use dairy-free if that's important to you.

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Whole LifeRobyn Downs5 Comments

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Part I


About 2 months ago I took a deep breath, grabbed a pencil, and began filling out an application to take part in a 200 hour yoga teacher training.

Hands shaking and heart racing, I wrote answers to the standard questions. Name. Age. Number of years practicing yoga.

Turned the page.

Stopped and stared at the medical history questions.

Do you have physical injuries or illness?

Umm, how much time do you have?

Autoimmune disease. Lower back pain. Separated abdominals. Bad ankle. Ovarian cysts. Endometriosis.

Should I stop now?

Are you trying to get pregnant?

Yes.

Are you pregnant?

No (but thanks for bringing it up).

I put my pencil down.

Looked again at my answers--my body on paper.

Is this a yoga body?

Tears fell onto the words, smearing the answers.

So I folded it up, tucked it away. Went outside. Took some deep breaths.

Is this a yoga body?

Yes. This is me.

My right now body.

I can be sick and healing, grateful and shattered.

I can show up.

Broken in places, yet still whole.

Okay, then.

Time to answer the the questions. Slip the application into a pristine manila folder. Walk to the front desk.

Hand it over.

Just me. As is. Ready to start.


Part II


I got the email.

You’re in. Welcome to yoga teacher training. Get ready. We start soon.

Super. Perfect. Wonderful. Wait. WHAT AM I DOING???

More specifically, have I lost my mind?

Ah, there you are fear. I see you.

Suddenly the image of every person I imagine awaiting me at teacher training clouds my brain.

Probably twenty-something. Fantastically strong. Impossibly bendy.

And just this vision of a studio full of Instaperfect yogis stops me cold.

I can’t do a handstand to save my life and haven’t mastered chaturanga pushup.

What if I don’t fit in? What if I’m not enough?

Gottcha. The familiar soul-crushing, dream-killing combo. Fear + not enough.

But this time the desire to become a student and teacher outweighs the fear.

The thoughts don’t define me. They aren’t me.

So I walk in. Simile. Say hello. Deep breath. Heart open.

Enough in body. Enough in mind.

Ready for now. Ready for what’s next.

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Part III


Looking ahead it all seems impossible. There is no way. I can’t. Definitely not.

Week one of yoga teacher training and I’m shoulder deep in overwhelm + self-doubt.

The only possible way forward: dig deep and hold onto the present moment.

Don’t spend so much time looking ahead. Focus on now. Today. One thing at a time.

Okay, then. Five poses. Cue the shapes. Deepen. Breath. Great. Got it. I can do this.

But then, week two.

Time to stand up and teach.

In front of everyone.

Nope. No thank you. Hard pass.

I am freaking out.of.here.

It takes all my willpower to stay put. To not to stand up and run.

I don’t know how to do this yet. I’ll mess up. Make mistakes. In front of everyone.

So, no. I’ll pass.

Stay in this safe zone where not trying means not failing.

But then they call on me and I stand up and something comes out. Not sure what. It was sort of a blackout experience.

I sit back down.

The feedback: you did just fine.

But we couldn’t hear you.

Where is your voice? Oh. My voice?

It’s stuck under the fear. I know it’s there, though. Directly beneath the surface.

I can feel it. Almost hear it.

So I keep standing up and making mistakes and letting it go and discovering what it right there waiting.

And what’s right here?

It is so much better than perfect.

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Part IV


Beginning feels like jumping into icy cold water.

Breath catches. Gasping. Floundering. Flapping.

Trying to figure out which way it up.

But then, maybe, release.

Find the air. Breath in. Breath out. Let go. Find the float.

Halfway through yoga teacher and realizing I just need to float.

And breathe.

Give up perfect. Open up.

Make a choice: a ) try to teach my 30 minute midterm perfectly--nail every cue, by the book, nothing missed; or b) simply go for it--bring my true self, make mistakes, leave things out, and oh that’s right, be vulnerable.

B it is. So I show up. Really go for it.

And midway through I realize--omg--I actually love.this.so.much.

Every single word comes out with a giant smile because it occurs to me (late to the party, I know) that I’ve been missing the point.

The perfect-seeking, thinking I need to look a certain way or bend a particular direction, fear of failure, all if it.

That’s what was making the water cold.

But now I realize it’s really just helping people connect with themselves and feel their breath and--of course--it’s not really about me.

It’s about us.

And the water is actually warm after all

Confessions of a (Former) Perfectionist: How Doing This for Ten Weeks Changed My Mind

Part 5: The End/The Beginning


I went into yoga teacher training holding onto all that I’m not, clinging to the ways I don’t fit neatly into the box.

You know this "yoga-box," right?

Bendy, young, calm, thin, perfect, totally + completely zen.

Which isn’t exactly me.

So I decided I was only there to learn.

Independent observer, taking in the information, risking nothing.

But, I also committed to the practice and to the work.

Ten weeks. Practice. Do the work.

And guess what?

I still can’t do a chaturanga pushup. Or a handstand.

I’m still six feet tall, prefer yoga pants over jeans, and make awkward jokes when I'm nervous.

But also.

But also I’m a yoga teacher.

Or rather, I’m exactly who I’ve always been--teacher, storyteller, awkward joke-teller.

After all of this I fully understand that there isn’t a box, or if there is, I don’t need to squeeze my way into it.

So maybe you need to hear this today, if you’re feeling less-than, not-enough, or staying safe because you've bought into this idea, too, yoga or otherwise: there is no box.

Just you.

As you are.

And you are right where you need to be.

You know exactly where you’re going.

Trust that you are enough.

#gentleisthenewperfect

Healthy, Easy & Delicious Holiday Recipes

CelebrationsRobyn DownsComment

Looking for healthy, easy, delicious holiday recipes? 

You're in the right place!

Read on for 21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free recipes, with plenty of vegetarian, paleo and grain-free options, too.

21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.
21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.
21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.

gf: gluten-free, df: dairy-free, v: vegetarian, p: paleo/grain-free


Drinks + Starters


21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.
Grain Free Sweet Potato Casserole
21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.

Sides + Salads



Muffins + Pancakes


21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.
Paleo Apple Crisp
21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free holiday recipes perfect for Christmas.

Sweets & Treats


On Falling Off the Wagon (and Why I'll Never Do It Again)

Whole LifeRobyn Downs2 Comments

Let’s talk about the health wagon for a minute.

Are you familiar? I’m not sure I can define this elusive wagon for you exactly, but I do know it’s something people feel like they can fall off of.

Especially this time of year.

On Falling Off the Wagon (and Why I'll Never Do It Again)

This time of year with short days, long nights, and cold.

This time of year of parties, family, friends, drinks, sweets, and all the rest.

This time of year some of us think we’ve fallen all the way off the wagon.

And once off the wagon, we might as well just spiral down into a black hole of indulgence.

A hole that we think we can only dig out of come January.

I admit that I know the wagon mindset well.

It’s the all-or-nothing, I’ve-already-ruined-it, might-as-well-start-over-monday mindset that’s been in my back pocket over the years, ready to pull out when life gets hard or the days get dark.

It always starts innocently enough.

Cheese + wine with friends, followed by skipping a workout in favor of coffee and donuts with the family (dad, I blame you for the donuts).

These were, and are, indulgences that I consider worth it.

And I don’t think it’s these that are a problem.

I think the problem is the wagon.

Thinking that a few worth-it splurges automatically equal a month-long shame spiral.

Buying into the all-or-nothing health lie that you have to do it perfectly.

The lie that if you miss a few days (or weeks) or eat gluten, or (god-forbid) sugar then that’s it, you might as well give up, because you are OFF THE WAGON.

As for me, I’ve moved on.

Life is not a wagon.

It’s simply a series of days, filled with beautiful opportunities to make choices.

To choose to take care of myself and nurture my body, mostly with energizing whole food, tons of water, meditation, mindfulness, and plenty of movement.

But also, importantly, sometimes pie.

And always, always, a whole lot of gentle.

So this month, here is my invitation to you: find your special, and embrace your splurges.

But feel free to go ahead and ditch the wagon.

Each day is yours.

Independent, beautiful opportunities full of choices that are yours to make.

Have fun.

Ditch the wagon.

Be love.

Practice gentle.

#gentleisthenewperfect

21 Healthy, Easy & Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes

CelebrationsRobyn DownsComment

Looking for healthy, easy, delicious Thanksgiving recipes? 

You're in the right place!

Read on for 21 gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free recipes, with plenty of vegetarian, paleo and grain-free options, too.

Slow Cooker Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Fall crudites platter, perfect for Thanksgiving Day!
Creamy+Pumpkin+Hummus.+A+quick,+easy,+healthy+dip+or+spread.jpeg

gf: gluten-free, df: dairy-free, v: vegetarian, p: paleo/grain-free


To Start


Grain Free Sweet Potato Casserole
One-Pan Autumn Quinoa Stuffing, perfect for Thanksgiving Day!
Autumn Lentil Salad, perfect for Thanksgiving Day!
Healthier Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp, perfect for Thanksgiving Day!
Mixed Berry Crisp, perfect for Thanksgiving Day!

Sweets & Treats


Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp

RecipesRobyn Downs10 Comments

Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free + dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!

Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free and dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!

My hands-down favorite dessert to make at home is a fruit crisp.

First, because it's always a crowd favorite, and second because it's so darn easy.

No fussy crust, no exact measuring. 

Just mix together a quick topping in one bowl, thoss the fruit directly in the dish, top, bake and you're good to go.

My Healthier Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe is a reader favorite around here, so I wanted to do a little twist using a grain-free topping.

Also, adding a creamy, dreamy salted caramel sauce takes this version over the top.

I will note that that caramel doesn't taste exactly the same as the sugar-loaded store-bought variety, but it really is delicious in it's own right.

Coconut sugar is used to both sweeten the filling here and in the caramel sauce, as it's a great option if you're avoiding refined sugar.

If you can't find or don't want to use coconut sugar, you can substitute organic brown sugar. The result will be sweeter and a bit higher in sugar, but it will still be delicious.

This crisp will definitely be making an appearance on our holiday table, and I hope you'll make it soon as well.

Now, let's make some Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp!

Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free and dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!
Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free and dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!
Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free and dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!

Recipe Adaptations


1 | Looking for a nut-free variation? Try this recipe for Healthier Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp!

2 | If you're short on time, skip the caramel sauce, or make the caramel sauce separate for drizzling on anything your heart desires!


This Recipe Is . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Egg-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Paleo 


Drizzled with a dreamy caramel sauce (that just happens to be refined sugar-free and dairy-free), Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp is simple to prepare and perfect for your holiday table or dessert, any time!

Salted Caramel Paleo Apple Crisp

Ingredients

For the Apple Crisp

6 cups 1-inch chopped apples (skin on is fine)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup coconut sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon 

For the Apple Crisp Topping

⅓ cup melted coconut oil

2 cups almond flour

½ cup coconut sugar

½ cup pecans, chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

For the Salted Caramel

1 (15-oz) can full-fat coconut milk

½ cup coconut sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil

¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Instructions for the Apple Crisp

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

2. Add the apples, lemon juice, ¼ cup coconut sugar and cinnamon to a baking dish, tossing to combine.

3. Make the topping my stirring together ⅓ cup melted coconut oil, almond flour, ½ cup coconut sugar, pecans and ¼ teaspoon salt until well combined.

4. Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture, using your hands to squeeze some of the mixture into clumps.

5. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (to catch any boil-over), cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling.

6. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the topping is slightly browned.

7. Allow to cool, then serve with a drizzle of Salted Caramel sauce.

Instructions for the Salted Caramel

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and coconut sugar.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. 

3. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture boil slowly. Stir frequently, scraping the sides and bottom to avoid burning. 

4. Continue boiling until caramel has reduced and thickened about 30-35 minutes. The caramel will continue to thicken as it cools.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in oil, salt, and vanilla extract.

6. Allow to cool completely. Pour into a glass container and serve alongside the crisp, or refrigerate for up to two weeks. 

Slow Cooker Paleo Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option)

RecipesRobyn Downs2 Comments

Sweet, spicy, and easy to throw together, Slow Cooker Paleo Turkey Apple Chili is perfect for fall or anytime of year. With a 30-Minute stovetop option you can make this one anytime. 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option) whole30, crockpot, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free

There is just something about the combo of sweet apples and spicy chipotle that just works.

Add those flavors to a warm pot of turkey chili and you've got yourself a winner of a dinner.

I actually shared originally shared this recipe a few years back, but am republishing it now with some fresh updates and a stovetop variation for quick weeknight cooking. 

There are no beans in this hearty chili, making it a great option for people following a paleo or whole30 diet, but if you love beans, go ahead and add 'em.

I love this chili on a cold fall or winter evening, with some homemade muffins on the side and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

I hope you'll make this one soon. Now, let's make some Slow Cooker Paleo Turkey Apple Chili

Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option) whole30, crockpot, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free
Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option) whole30, crockpot, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free
Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option) whole30, crockpot, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Skip the chipotle if you prefer things less spicy.

2 | Serve with One-Bowl Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins or One-Bowl Apple Cornmeal Muffins.

3 | Love beans? Add 2 cans of drained and rinsed white beans for an even heartier option.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Nut-Free, Paleo and Whole30 Friendly


Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option) whole30, crockpot, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free

Slow Cooker Chipotle Paleo Turkey Apple Chili (+ 30-Minute Stovetop Option)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped 

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 pounds dark meat ground turkey

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon mild chili powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce

8-oz chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

2 medium apples (any kind), cored and chopped

1 bay leaf

Juice of 1 lime

Chopped scallion and cilantro for serving (optional)

Slow Cooker Instructions

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the turkey, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until browned, stirring often, about 5-8 minutes.

1. Add the cooked onion and turkey, along with the, garlic, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, chipotle peppers, remaining salt, tomato sauce, chicken broth, apple cider, apples, and bay leaf to a 6-quart slow cooker, stirring until well combined.

2. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7, or until the onions and apples are very soft.

3. Uncover and add the lime juice. Taste and add additional salt or lime juice if desired. Serve with scallion and cilantro if you like.

Stovetop Instructions

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the turkey, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until browned, stirring often, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and chipotle pepper, stirring to combine. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, apple cider, apples, and bay leaf, stirring to combine.

4. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the apples have softened. Remove the lid and simmer to thicken, if desired.

5. Uncover and add the lime juice. Taste and add additional salt or lime juice if desired. Serve with scallion and cilantro if you like.

 

Makes 4-6 servings.