Food, Health Posts

On Changing How We Speak to Ourselves

Unhealthy Food 3

Unhealthy Food 2


Think of what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror or open your closet each morning. How about when you’re in the changing room shopping for new clothes? Or when you’re going over what you ate that day. Studies show that most of us are not very nice to ourselves. Personal experience shows that we are not very nice to ourselves. Now think of that same language, but someone is saying those things about your friend. It’s not okay right? You would step in and squash that negativity, because you love your friend and know how wonderful they are and even if they have a flaw, that type of language is just plain cruel and unnecessary. If someone spoke like that about you constantly, or even once, chances are you wouldn’t be friends anymore. So why then do we talk to ourselves that way? Why do we girls find it so hard to be nice to ourselves?

I recently listened to a webinar by Marna Thall and she spoke about our use of the words “good” and “bad”. Fries, ice cream, pizza, bagels, junk food, soda, bread, sugar – BAD. Carrots, apples, oatmeal, shrimp, avocados, spinach – GOOD. (But too much of good = bad. ugh). Depending on which category we eat from that day or how our calories stack up, we say “I was good today,” or “I was bad today.” It seems harmless, but think about how you just categorized yourself. Over time we get used to calling ourselves bad and letting our inner goodness and love for ourselves depend on what we ate that day. As if by eating the pizza, I take on the negative qualities of it. If I eat beer and wings or berries and yogurt, that does not constitute who I am as a person. We know this, but after years of calling ourselves good or bad, we subconsciously start to believe it. We allow our sense of accomplishment or self worth to teeter on the scale, threatening to move from good to bad with each bite. And that one bite can ruin your whole day and make you feel awful and unhinged. Then that feeling can lead to more bites and so on until negativity is breeding negativity and you’re so far past “being bad” you can’t even see it anymore.

As I mentioned here I thought for many years that I was gluten intolerant until I found out it was the yeast in the bread and beer that I was intolerant too and not the gluten. That night I sat down to a pasta dinner, but there was something very different about that particular meal. For the first time in five years, I felt no regret, no shame, no inner dialogue of how I was harming my body and health. I felt nothing but the joy of pasta and it was freeing. It dawned on me how much my emotions are tied up in food. Not only because what you put in dictates what you put out and eating poorly can affect your mood, but also because with my constant autoimmune and health struggles I always felt like such a failure and a weak person for giving in to cravings I knew would only make me feel worse. It wasn’t until this meal that I realized how down on myself I had gotten. Even though I love myself and am my own cheerleader, I had also become the person in the crowd booing and heckling myself. After years of the seemingly simple “good” and “bad” connotations we use so mindlessly, that negativity had snuck up on me.

I’m riding that aha moment and changing my inner dialogue. I no longer use the words good or bad to describe my food or myself. Instead I say “I ate healthy today,” or “I did not eat in line with my goals for myself,” or “I don’t like eating X because it makes me feel jittery and sluggish.” It seems like such a silly and miniscule change, but it has been such a huge one. I hope this little trick helps you or a friend to be nicer to yourselves.

xo Alina

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Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Baking 2

Baking 1

Baking 2


My sister and I frequent this local coffee place and they always have the best pastries and desserts. I remember coming here on highschool mornings and hoping the scone man wasn’t running late. And then how silly happy I’d get when he’d pull up in his car with the fresh (and hot!) scones for the day. If I have one food weakness, it’s dessert! Everything about it – the presentation, the taste, the preparation. I’ve been missing it throughout the initial phases of my yeast-free life and was excited when my sister suggested trying to re-create yeast-free versions of some of the local sweets ourselves. My sister is always up for a cooking date and has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic with every curve-ball thrown my way on my health journey. She’s kind of the best!

So these are no-bake chocolate/coconut/oatmeal macaroons. Any they’re totally addicting and guilt-free. I may or may not have made them twice in a week.

The best part about them is that by tweaking the ingredient proportions they can be either protein balls or cookies!



8 Oz. Cashews (unsalted)

1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats

1/3 Cup Raw and Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/3 Cup Cacao Nibs

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Honey

*There really is no wrong way when it comes to ingredients. Maybe you prefer a stronger honey taste than coconut oil. Maybe you want more shredded coconut than cashews. Maybe you like salted cashews, or carob chips. Play around with it!


Grind the cashews in a mixer (we used a nutribullet) until pulverized.

Depending on what type of chocolate you use, you may want to throw that into the mixer as well so it is finely chopped.

Add the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until blended.

Heat the coconut oil until melted and add to the dry ingredients.

Add the honey as well and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly coated and start to clump together.

Using a tablespoon, scoop rounded balls onto a baking sheet and let cool in the refridgerator or freezer until the coconut oil and honey has hardened.

Dig in to these macaroon balls of goodness that taste like samoas!

xo Alina








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March 8, 2016
Food, Health Posts

One Pan Salmon Roast



One pan dinners are my jam! Seven years in a postage stamp sized NYC apartment will do that to you. They’re easy to prepare, easy to clean up, don’t require a lot of cooking gear, and are easy to prepare with limited space. They’re also great for using up ingredients before they go bad.

On a separate note, this whole yeast free diet is pretty restrictive and daunting. Home cooked, simple meals like this are no brainers because there’s nothing processed or canned involved. I don’t have to worry and wonder about mystery or unlisted ingredients.

For this dinner, I picked up a 2lb salmon at Sams Club and used the broccoli and fingerling potatos already in my refridgerator.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the pan with olive oil. For the rub, I combined salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I drizzled olive oil and squeezed the juice of half an orange on the salmon and then applied the rub. Feel free to add as little or much as you like.


Cut the potatos in half. It is best to use small potatos when cooking in the same pan as fish since the cook time is low. If you choose bigger or more fibrous potato types, make sure to cut them into small enough pieces that they’ll cook through fast enough.


Chop the broccoli into florets.


Toss the chopped potatos and broccoli in a bowl with olive oil and the same rub as before. Then arrange evenly on the pan. Lastly, I covered the salmon in lemon slices.

alina3 alina2

Cook time for this one pan dinner is roughly 30 minutes. Done! An easy, healthy, and stress free meal!



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Decor, Food

Natilla de Cumpleaños




Natilla conjures up images of my Abuela’s kitchen and nights where my Cuban family would linger at the table hours past dinner was over, chatting away and slurping up this creamy treat. Two things we’re great at: talking and eating. Especially when it’s something sweet!

It’s something that feels so old world cooking and decadent but in reality is quite simple to make. I bet you have the ingredients in your kitchen right now! And there’s something so unassumingly dreamy about that combo of milk, citrus and cinnamon. It’s rich and creamy yet fruity and light. Writing about it has me thinking about the leftovers downstairs…

But back to the point. It’s delicious and easy and festive! The perfect treat for my birthday dinner!


1 liter of milk (I used 2%)

1 large piece of lemon rind

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar (I reduced this to 1 cup)

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine the milk, lemon rind, cinnamon and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Let cool. Mix the cold water and cornstarch until dissolved. In a separate medium to large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and the cornstarch mixture. Add in the milk and mix until blended. Pour back into the pot and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until a pudding consistency. You will be stirring and then from one second to the next it changes from liquid to a thicker pudding texture. This is what my family calls “el punto.” Once you reach el punto, take the pot off the burner and continue mixing for another minute or so.

When it comes to serving the Natilla, it is up to your discretion. We chose to serve ours in individual dishes and make little parfaits. My Abuela always lays out lady fingers in a glass pan and pours the natilla over them and leaves them to soak. Whatever floats your boat!

Recipe source: Cocina al Minuto by Nitza Villapol (the blue version with an hourglass on the cover)

This book is a staple in my house. It’s kind of the Cuban version of Julia Childs’ “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” And it is in Spanish. There is an english version, though I’ve been told it is hard to come by. My suggestion would be, use a Spanish/English dictionary and take a stab at it!




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