Mushrooms & Coffee: Better Together?

Mushrooms & Coffee: Better Together?

The History of Mushroom Magic

Mushrooms…in coffee?! Yep. Mushroom coffee has been around since WWII. The people of Finland, like many other countries, experienced a shortage of coffee during the war. And who wants to live without coffee? No one. The answer is no one. So they got creative and started cutting down chaga mushrooms on local birch trees. These trees grew abundantly in the area, as did the mushrooms that look like burnt wood (see below).

Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)

So the Finnish had these chaga mushrooms. They soaked and pressed them to essentially steep their medicinal properties without eating them (which you can do by the way). Drinking this chaga “tea” resulted in long-lasting energy. It was similar to the stimulant effects coffee provides, but without the caffeine crash to follow. Many also noticed less stomach upset with increased focus. Once the war ended and coffee became readily available again, the Finnish kept their chaga ritual by mixing the mushroom “tea” in with their regular coffee. This is how mushroom coffee came to be.

Present Day Fun-guys

Today’s mushroom coffee is made from mushroom powders derived from medicinal mushrooms (mainly Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Turkey’s Tail, reishi, and cordyceps) that are then mixed with traditional coffee grounds. See the nutritional breakdown below.

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Example of nutrition profile. In this case, Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus).

Notice that Lion’s Mane mushroom powder is mostly comprised of carbohydrates and protein. Moisture and fiber content is minimal. Acrylamide is not considered a nutrient, but I included it in this table because it is present in mushroom powders.

Acrylamide is a byproduct produced during the heating process of drying mushrooms to make powder. It is considered a carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance. The FDA tests acrylamide present in foods and approves foods with <20ppm measurements. Mushroom powders are so low in acrylamide, it is either undetectable or in minimal amounts deemed safe by the FDA. 

The state of California does require that mushroom coffee companies, as well as other acrylamide-containing food products, display a warning label on their packaging. Their Proposition 65 law enforces companies disclose chemicals present in their products, including both coffee and mushroom powders separately. 

“WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including acrylamide, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and lead, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to “

Don’t Feel Like Mush

Why not just drink coffee then? Sure, a regular cup of Joe gives you an instant boost of energy, but chugging coffee can be followed by an energy crash a couple of hours later. Caffeine can do this- provide a momentary jolt that makes you feel like a superhero, and 2 hours later, leaves you feeling exhausted and defeated. Unlike caffeine, mushroom coffee releases energy slowly due to its polysaccharide makeup that takes longer to break down in the body. The mushroom powders in this coffee are also proven to fight and improve both mental and physical fatigue, avoiding that afternoon crash while uplifting your mind, body, and spirit.

No Cap on Benefits

On top of giving you steady energy, the mushroom powder in this coffee protects your stomach lining against gastrointestinal irritation and bloating coffee can cause. In one study, the Lion’s Mane mushroom showed promise in reducing ulcerative symptoms, guarding the lining of the digestive tract, and fighting against the bacteria H. pylori (which causes infection in your stomach).

The medicinal mushroom powders also contain antioxidants, nutrient parts that fight off free radicals and stress. We can all use a little stress relief in our lives, am I right? In fact, mushrooms are considered adaptogens, which means they are considered a food that helps you adapt to stress.

They are anticancer too, a property we want all of our foods to have and protect us against. If you open my poster project I worked on this entire semester, you will be able to see the charts I made that display Lion’s Mane killing cancer at a 67% effectiveness rate, while Chaga killed all 4 strains of adenocarcinoma (commonly known as lung cancer). Chaga was 100% successful in killing these cancerous cells- amazing! More studies must be done before adding this to preventative and therapeutic treatments.

I Can’t Believe This Shiitake! 

Summary of the top 5 benefits of medicinal mushroom coffee…

  1. Fights mental & physical fatigue
  2. Protects gastrointestinal epithelial lining, limiting stomach irritation and upset
  3. Increases energy levels at a steady pace without the caffeine crash
  4. Is adaptogenic and contains antioxidants that fight stress!
  5. Contains anticancer properties

*You should not consume Chaga if you are currently on blood thinners or about to undergo surgery. Chaga is also not ideal for diabetic patients because it can induce hypoglycemia. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication should consult with their physician before consuming this mushroom, or any medicinal mushroom/product.

Make ‘Shroom in Your Pantry

Are you interested in trying this alternative to mainstream coffee? Great! There are many companies who specialize in mushroom coffee, the most popular being Four Sigmatic. Their product can be found on their website, Amazon, and in many grocery stores. In grocers, these products may be found in the coffee aisle or by the health supplements. Don’t be shy to ask an employee where they stock their products.

If you find certain brands are more pricey, keep in mind that the medicinal mushrooms are worth the investment. Here is $15 off your first purchase with Four Sigmatic Co. Let me know what you think, and happy sipping this energizing brew! 

 Photo: Mushroom Coffee.; 2017. Accessed March 18, 2020.


  1. Sen M. The Hidden Wartime Origins of Mushroom Coffee. Food52. Published September 26, 2018. Accessed February 10, 2020. 
  1. Kim SP, Kang MY, Choi YH, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells.Food & Funct. 2011;2(6):348. doi:10.1039/c1fo10030k.
  1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food: Individual Food Products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed February 7, 2020..
  1. Crawford LM, Kahlon TS, Wang SC, Friedman M. Acrylamide Content of Experimental Flatbreads Prepared from Potato, Quinoa, and Wheat Flours with Added Fruit and Vegetable Peels and Mushroom Powders. Foods. 2019;8(7):228. doi:10.3390/foods8070228. 
  1. Baek J, Roh HS, Baek KH, Lee S, Lee S, Song SS, et al. Bioactivity-based analysis and chemical characterization of cytotoxic constituents from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) that induce apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells. JEthnopharmacol. 2018;224:63-75. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2018.05.025.
  1. He, Xirui, et al. “Structures, Biological Activities, and Industrial Applications of the Polysaccharides from Hericium Erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom: A Review.” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 97, 2017, pp. 228–237., doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.01.040.


Are Collagen Supplements Effective?

Are Collagen Supplements Effective?

Collagen supplements have been a hot topic regarding skincare and joint relief, but do these exogenous (aka externally sourced) aids really work? Are they necessary for everyone to look and feel their best? Many think this is a recent discovery, but collagen supplement studies have actually been going on since the late 70s. Let’s take a look at the findings…

Our Tendons-y to Buy In.

Let’s start with the basics. Collagen is the most abundant protein produced in the body, making up 30% of our total protein mass. It is found in our skin (specifically the dermis), our tendons, bones, and muscles. Collagen contributes to skin elasticity and joint durability. This characteristic diminishes as we age, leaving the skin less supple with more wrinkles and the joints with less agility and the ability to repair themselves quickly. You can see why collagen supps would be alluring to battle these aging woes , right?

Stretching the Truth.

So, is the Health and Wellness industry stretching the truth when they claim that collagen supplements firm skin and lubricate joints? Maybe. Let me start by sharing that collagen is a supplement; therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate or test these products! With that said, it is up to the consumer and third-party testers to do our research about the sourcing, quality of the product, and companies providing these products to determine if they are up to our standards.

Smooth Results.

I summarized 2 different studies to showcase various forms of collagen supplements. Given that our skin is our biggest organ, it’s important to know how supplements and their forms may affect this system.

Collagen Tablets

There are no current studies on collagen tablets and their effect on the skin or joints. Please note that collagen tablets are usually just collagen powder mixed with water, gelatin and other binders anyways. The best rule of thumb is to only buy tablets from third-party approved testers.

Collagen Gels

In this study conducted by The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, a group of 49 women aged 19-23 were administered 4 different collagen capsules derived from fish in the Polish Baltic Sea. 3 of the 4 capsules changed the participant’s skin pH. Usually, the skin’s pH rests between 4.5-6.5, so slightly acidic, but when the pH was altered from these collagen capsules, it temporarily became more acidic, ranging from 3.7-4.5. This is not okay! And to make matters worse, men displayed a change in their sebum (oil) pH as well.

Our bodies work so hard to maintain homeostasis in all of our organs and systems, so taking a supplement that can potentially alter this is alarming. The study highlighted that the processing methods are crucial in maintaining collagen pH and delivering it to humans at a neutral level, not moderately acidic. According to the researchers, “Collagen preparations must be used carefully as the result of their application depends on their composition, and they may contribute to an imbalance of hydro-lipid barrier homeostasis.” Do your research people!

Collagen Powder

This study is the sole reason I continue to invest in collagen powder, along with the fact that I enjoy the vanilla flavor and how it thickens up my latte foam. 😉

Anyways, this study was published by Journal of Medical Nutrition and NutraceuticalsIt measured women’s skin hydration and elasticity levels before and after consuming a collagen supplement drink for 12 weeks. This drink consisted of Vitamin E and C, hydrolyzed collagen, and hyaluronic acid. These women displayed a 78% increase in dermis density after undergoing this study, resulting in greater hydration retention, suppleness, and decreased wrinkle depth. That is extremely significant. If you want to give this regimen a go, I would recommend investing in a multivitamin, collagen powder, and hyaluronic acid capsules.

Connect the Joints.

As time passes, the spongy part of our cartilage started to break down. A systemic review confirmed that a daily dose of 8g of collagen increases certain amino acid production (glycine and proline), while 12g helps relieve osteoporosis and osteoarthritis pain.

In addition, a few studies have also connected collagen supplement consumption with muscle building and heart health.

Types of Collagen

Type I: Foundational building block of skin, making up 80% of the dermis (deepest) layer.

Type II: This type of collagen aids in joint pain relief because it makes up 50% of cartilage.

Type III: This type is great for hair, skin, and nails. As we age, type III is replaced by type I.

Collagen Supplement Shopping Guide. What to Look For…

  • Third-party certified
  • Animal-sourced, label displays type of animal and part it came from
  • Quality of the animal, label displays grass-fed, pasture-raised for poultry and bovine/ non-GMO or wild-caught for marine life
  • No added sugars
  • Make sure the supplement says “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides” to receive a complete amino acid profile with optimal bioavailability


Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have allergies, or are on medications, you should consult with your physician before taking.

Side Effects.

Side effects may include mild nausea, diarrhea, and rash development.


Many collagen products are not vegan or vegetarian friendly. However, some companies make specialty products to accommodate this population and those on a paleo or kept diet. Here is a great read on vegan-friendly engineered collagen that was written by RDN., Katherine Marengo.

Break it Down, But Build it Up!

Here’s the breakdown. Since collagen constitutes a large portion of our protein mass already, it is not necessary to supplement. However, if you are looking to improve your skin’s appearance, dermis strength, and/or joint health, then it might be worth looking into while shopping intentionally and cautiously. Follow the Collagen Shopping Guidelines to invest in the best product possible.


The Truth About Fruit & Sugar

The Truth About Fruit & Sugar


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Fruit consumption: Is there such a thing as eating too much fruit? Does the sugar in fruit really make us fat? These are questions that have been asked, contemplated, and Googled many a times over the last few decades. Unfortunately, answers to this question have been given by non-nutrition professionals, misleading the general public to believe that any type of sugar (even naturally-derived sugar) should be vilified and is the culprit of chronic disease and weight gain.

First Things First, Sugar.

Let me clear a few things up. For one, glucose (the simplest form of a carbohydrate) is a monosaccharide sugar. Glucose is our brain and bodies’ primary fuel choice, meaning, our bodies were made to utilize- you guessed it- SUGAR first!

Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 2.23.10 PM

Secondly, fruit contains fructose, which translates to “fruit sugar”. Fructose is found in various amounts, depending on the type of fruit. When paired with glucose, it forms the disaccharide sucrose (table sugar). So what’s the difference between all of these sugars listed above? Is fructose better or worse than others?

You Don’t Have to be Pear-fect.

It is not a matter of whether glucose or fructose is better. It is a matter of understanding how both are metabolized in the body and the effects each has on short- and long-term health. Glucose and fructose are both absorbed in the small intestine. While glucose stimulates insulin production and secretion from the pancreas, it is then immediately taken up by cells for energy use. Fructose, on the other hand, needs to be broken in the liver. Since fructose doesn’t break down as quickly, fructose doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as rapidly, so the negative effects on short-term health are few. However, high amounts of fructose intake can have adverse effects on long-term health.

Natural Sugar High.

What’s considered high amounts of fructose? Let me set the record straight that all fruits are not created equal first. A banana does not have the same nutrition profile as an apple. Grapes cannot be compared to raisins (even though they are dried grapes!). And drinking orange juice is not the equivalent to eating a fresh orange. Why is this?

Fresh fruit contains live enzymes, fiber, water content, and some micro- and phyto-nutrients that cannot survive heat and other food preparation processes. They are the gold standard of getting your 4-5 suggested servings of fruits in per day, or 1-2 1/2 cups, depending on your sex and body mass. Anything more than this can potentially (but not likely) lead to weight gain simply because excess carbohydrates are stored as fat when not utilized. Due to its low caloric and carbohydrate content, most fruits will not amount to a cause for concern or worry about weight gain.

Please note that fruit juice and dried fruits are concentrated in sugars and provide little to no live enzymes, fiber, or water content. Canned fruits can contain preservatives and/or added sugars, and high-fructose syrup is NOT the same as fructose found in fresh fruit. It is a processed and concentrated version, resulting in a calorically dense, sugary substance.

Frozen fruit is actually equivalent to eating fresh fruits because the fruit is typically frozen at peak ripeness. This means that the fruit contains the highest amount of vitamins and antioxidants and the freezing process preserves these micro- and phyto-nutrients. Juts be cautious of any added sugars.

The Skinny on Fruit.

Contrary to these circulating rumors, many studies have shown that fruit consumption has an inverse effect on an individual’s weight and BMI. According to a 2016 study published by MDPI, titled The Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesityanti-obesity mechanisms such as lower caloric intake, increased fiber consumption, increased satiety, concentrated micronutrient and phytochemical delivery, and gut microbiome transformation outweigh the pro-obesity mechanisms fructose induces.

Another review by the National Food Institute also associated regular fruit intake with decreased body weight and reduction in the risk of obesity development. However, they noted that further studies need to be conducted that factor in all of the following variables: “energy density, energy content, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical form of fruit and preparation methods”.

The Core of It All.

At the end of the day, fruit does not have to be intentionally avoided unless an individual has a medical reason or fructose intolerance. Consuming 4-5 servings or 1-2 cups of fruit per day delivers nutrients that outweigh any sugar concerns by far. Enjoy fruit at breakfast, as a snack by itself or with nut butter, or as a sweet dessert! No guilt has to accompany it. Just enjoy and savor nature’s sweet treats, and remember, everything in moderation.

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Hello, hello! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be back on here and to have the time to dedicate to this blog again. I missed it, as I love developing recipes, talking all things nutrition, and sharing scientific-based knowledge on how to improve your life.

For those of you who don’t follow me on social media or know me in real life, let me introduce myself. I am Danielle Cahalan- a wife, dog mom of two rescue pups, runner, yogi, recipe developer, and nutrition student aspiring to be a Registered Dietitian. Without getting too deep too quickly while still remaining transparent, I must tell you that I struggled with an eating disorder for 15 years. It ran my life for the majority of that time, but throughout my ups and downs, I learned so much about health, well-being (physical, emotional, and mental), and the importance of loving yourself through a solid relationship with food, self-care and wellness rituals, and accepting love and help from those who care about you.

I will continue to be transparent and real with you through this blog- as I am doing it for me, for you, and to provide healthy, yummy, affordable, and easy recipes you can use + lifestyle tips to help elevate your life. I hope you enjoy the content, as my goal is to feed YOU happy!

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yields: 4 patties (1/2 cup each)




  • 2- 15oz cans wild salmon
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ground oats
  • 1 medium jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sprinkle of salt (based of personal taste preference)
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • whole wheat buns


  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (recommend organic)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • dash on salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill


  • avocado
  • spinach
  • tomato


  1. Open canned salmon and drain well. Add to medium size bowl and break up chunks. Add egg, ground oats, jalapeño, shallot, and spices. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Form patties with 1/2 cup- should make 4.
  3. Heat electric skillet or large skillet over stovetop to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Place patties in skillet.
  4. Cook 5 minutes on each side, monitoring as to not to burn.
  5. Remove from heat. Let cool. In the meantime, mix ingredients to make dill Greek yogurt sauce.
  6. Assemble burgers with whole wheat burger buns, patties, sauce and toppings. I suggest layering the bottom bun with spinach and avocado slices, spreading the sauce on top of the patty, and adding a tomato or whatever else you fancy! Made a side of chili air-fried sweet potatoes.
  7. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Once again- SO happy to be back! Check back for my grocery list either later today or tomorrow.

Xo- Danielle

How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin


About a year ago, I started a new job. It wasn’t the exact position I wanted or originally applied for at this company, but it was a job in the nutrition field nonetheless. I was excited to get my feet wet and gain experience all while making money and contributing to my family financially. I also registered for two summer classes- Microbiology and Basic Chemistry. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll work my ass off and save over the summer while knocking out a couple of classes”. In addition, I also signed up for a remote summer internship.

Sounds admirable, right? Well, after 3-4 weeks of working and going to class every single day, I came to the unideal conclusion that I had absolutely no time for the internship, let alone a social life or enjoying summer in Chicago with my husband and two pups (the 3 months us natives cherish). Not only did I have little to no free time, but I didn’t have a day off between work, classes, studying and homework for 2 months straight. Being the sensitive person I am, I fell into a deep depression (of which I won’t share the intimate details about, but it was one of the worst bouts I have ever experienced). Having limited time to exercise and partake in self care rituals only exacerbated this dark time in my life. I felt utterly defeated.

At first, I tried my best to internalize these “blues” and normalize my routine. After all, I had been the one to apply for the job and register for classes. It was MY responsibility to see them through and to carry my own weight. I already felt like I failed with throwing in the towel at my internship, so there was no way I was going to say decline additional work shifts or skip class. That just wasn’t an option in my stubborn mind. I stuck this brutal schedule out at the expense of my deteriorating mental health, and even my physical health. The stress had caused me to relapse with my disordered eating patterns. In hindsight, I think it was the only way for me to feel in control at the time. I barely made it through the summer, but when I did, I vowed to NEVER spread myself that thin again.

I added this preface to the article to share my first hand experience, in the hopes of being more relatable, and to let you know that you are not alone. Work addiction, work exhaustion, and work-related stress can be prevented and managed. There is hope. Allow me to help you begin navigating your way to a healthier and happier you while still maintaining success in the office.

How Not to Spread Yourself [Or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

As the title implies, not many people desire to be overworked and undernourished, in any sense of the definitions. This combination can be detrimental to our health, and it is quite unnatural for us as humans to self-induce exhaustion. We need rest and proper nourishment to regenerate and grow, and this starts on a cellular level.

Unfortunately, today’s world (at least in America) instills social pressure to be the most productive, successful in terms of career hierarchy and financial income, and the best at every single thing we do. There are only 24 hours in every day, and there are only 7 days per week…we know this. So how do we keep up with the demands of our families, jobs, and schoolwork while simultaneously enjoying life?

One way to approach this chronic epidemic of overworking is to simply ignore the “norms” of society and ask yourself, “What do I need that I am not receiving?”. If you are a husband, a wife, a mother, or a father, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost in order to optimize your duties as a spouse or parent. Some may call this selfish, but I call it an intelligent plan on action. If the answer to your question is clear, further explore how you can achieve what you so crave. Do you need a little more alone time? Do you need a date night with your significant other? What about indulging in a long lost hobby you no longer make time for? Whatever is missing, figure out how to incorporate that into your life.

Secondly, recognize that we as humans are very similar biologically, but our mental, emotional, social, psychological, and physical thresholds vary. You, and only you, know your true limits, so listen to your body’s cues. Do you feel physically fatigued? Then rest and get some sleep. Do you feel emotionally or mentally drained? Reenergize the best way you know how. Give yourself and your body what it needs and deserves. Only then can you optimally function and perform, in life and at work.

Thirdly, are you participating in self care on a basic level? What I mean by this is are you kindly allowing yourself to drink enough water, get ample sleep, and eat nutritious food (and not only nutritious food, but enough food)? Do you exercise 2-3 times/week? The exercise doesn’t have to be extreme, but movement has been proven to enhance organ function, sharpen clarity and cognitive processes, and improve your mood. Going for a  walk after you eat lunch at work will suffice and get your blood pumping, help you digest the food you just ate, and energize you for the second half of your shift. Another way to ensure health and performance is to eat enough calories in appropriate servings and macronutrient ratios. Don’t fear the fat or carbs! You need both for energy and many other functionalities. I used to stress about eating too much nut butter, but now I simply practice intuitive eating and eat as much damn peanut butter as I my body wants. 😉

A fourth thing to consider is the amount you have on your plate (no pun intended). I am a serial overcommitter, so I am far too familiar with this one. Ask yourself, “What do I want my work/life balance ratio to look like?”. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of 34.5 hours per week. That is less than most Americans think they work. Work is called work for a reason, and some days and weeks seem longer and more demanding than others. However, after subtracting the time we sleep (I accounted for 8 hours per night- 56) and the average work hours of 34.5/week, we still have 77.5 hours leftover. Sure, many of those hours are reserved for cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, and carting the kids arounds, BUT there are hours the individual takes for granted and doesn’t realize he or she actually has. Do yourself a favor and record what one regular week looks like for you to better assess how you spend your time. Perhaps you can tweak or adjust your activities and productivity after taking a better look. This includes scaling it back if you need to, and accepting that it is OKAY to QUIT anything you’ve previously committed to if it’s affecting your health to any extent!

The last thing I will leave you with is to find your purpose. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that finding purpose in life leads to contentment while focusing on being happy doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Why you ask? For one, if you put too much pressure on being happy, then you automatically take joy out of the equation and are inadvertently self-sabotaging yourself. Viktor Frankl once said, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” You may or may not agree with this quote, but after reading his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, it clarified the idea of finding purpose before manifesting happiness. Sounds backwards, but trust me that this book makes sense of it all. Many people find purpose in their work, hobby, or as a parent or caregiver. Whatever your purpose is in life, go out and find it- embrace it and don’t lose sight of it.

So let’s review. How can your avoid spreading yourself or your peanut butter too thin?

  1. Figure out what’s missing in your life and make time for it!
  2. Listen to your body’s cues and respond accordingly.
  3. Partake in basic level self care (whatever that means to you). This includes eating as much peanut butter or your idea of indulgent food as your body wants (not what your mind or stress wants).
  4. Figure out your desired work:personal time ratio. Optimize your time.
  5. Find your purpose in life.

As a result of the worst summer of my life, I felt compelled to write this article and help others avoid and manage their work-related stress. I hope these suggestions help make sense of the work demands in America and how we can optimize our time and quality of life while still being successful. Please take care of yourselves- physically, mentally and emotionally. You deserve it, as it’s a basic human right.

XO Danielle


Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart

I told you I’m back! Two recipes shared within 3 days warrants a happy dance. *actively breaking it down*. Now that I’ve embarrassed myself in front of my apartment building neighbors across the way, I am proud to introduce you to this wonderful spring recipe. After researching what fruits and vegetables are in season in Illinois in May, the two veggies that stuck out to me were asparagus and peas. I really wanted to capture spring in a savory dish with these limited fresh green goodies, so I came up with a Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart (that I am ready to share with you today) and Minty Pea Hummus (which I hope to share with you later this week).

Let’s start with asparagus nutrition facts. “The bright-green veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber” (Health). Both the soluble and insoluble fiber asparagus contains can aid in digestion, gut health, and even weight management/loss. Aside from the plethora of minerals and vitamins just listed, asparagus also possesses a large amount of antioxidants, making it a free radical fighter. As mentioned in the linked article, it can also improve your urinary tract by acting as a diuretic and even be labeled as an aphrodisiac- need I say more. 😉

So, the recipe below was developed with a budget in mind and easy assembly. I taste tested it two times and also got the hard-to-please-junk-food-loving husband on board. It’s great to make as a side dish, light lunch, or to bring to a casual spring get together. Let me know what you think after you try it out!

Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart


Prep time: 40 minutes

Total bake time: 25-30 minutes

Yields: 8 slices


  • 24 oz container of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • thyme sprigs
  • whole wheat puff pastry
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9″ pie or tart pan with oil of choice (I used coconut oil spray).
  2. Measure 2 cups of the cottage cheese and add to a colander/strainer. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes to drain excess liquids. While this is draining, you may work on the crust.
  3. After allowing your puff pastry to defrost, carefully unroll the log to avoid cracking/breaking of the sheets. Line your pan with one thin sheet at a time, folding the overhanging crust inward. Lightly coat this and every layer with olive oil- just enough to cover but not enough to saturate the dough and make it soggy. Repeat 7-10 times. (I only added 6 layers and it wasn’t thick enough).
  4. Once you’ve completed layering and laminating (adding fat in between dough layers), place a pot that fits on top of the bottom of the crust to keep it from rising in the oven. You may use anything heavy enough to do so that is oven safe.
  5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until just crisp on the bottom. The color should be the lightest golden hue.
  6. While this is baking, you will have time to blend the filling. Add 2 cups of the drained cottage cheese, 2 Tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and the juice of 1/2 a large lemon to your blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Remove the lid and take a big whiff- aren’t you surprised with the intoxicating aroma?! Yes, you may try some, but don’t eat too much! 😉
  7. Remove crust from the oven when done and let cool. In the meantime, boil water with a touch of salt and blanch your asparagus stalks. I used thicker asparagus stalks, so I lightly peeled the lower surface and cut off the bottom, woody ends (the last 1 1/2 inches). I blanched them for 4 minutes and let them cool in an ice bath with cold running water. Pat the asparagus dry when cooled.
  8. When the crust is cooled, add the filling in the middle and smooth out the top. Neatly line the asparagus and lightly press into the filling, about halfway in. Generously sprinkle the top with thyme (I pull mine off with my nails against the growth to easily remove the leaves from the sprigs). Feel free to add a squirt of lemon juice for good measure and extra flavor!
  9. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are a golden brown.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!


Double Chocolate Chunk Tahini Cookies

Hay hayyyy! I am back, Feed Me Happy followers!

As was on trend in 2018, the beginning of 2019 proved to be pretty busy for me as well (not that the rest of you are NOT busy). We all have our own work/school/family/personal obligation packed agendas. For me, the spring was filled with 3 heavy science classes, Boston Marathon training, two very part-time jobs, and organizing a few events for the school nutrition association I’m a part of.

Over the past 3 weeks, several of these things have ended, and thus, I have more time to dedicate to my beloved blog and Instagram. My short term goal is to provide you all with fun and new recipes, nutrition facts, food trends, and lifestyle hacks- to feed you happy, in any way you interpret that. All I need from you are some suggestions of what you would like to see from me content wise. Please feel free to email me at or comment below with your ideas!

Now to the good stuff- a new original recipe! Tahini has always been a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes- baba ganoush, hummus, and it is commonly used as a dipping sauce or condiment. In the past couple of years, it has grown in popularity in the U.S., and even more recently, many food stylists and bloggers are incorporating this healthy fat into baked goods. I dug it and wanted to try my hand at developing a chocolate tahini cookie. Took me 4 tries, but I finally landed on a pretty solid recipe. 🙂 Please note that this recipe is vegan friendly, produces light and fluffy cookies, and requires minimal ingredients (some of which you may already have on hand)! Try it out, and let me know what you think! Follow me on Instagram for tahini nutrition facts.


Prep time: 5 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes

Yields: 9 cookies



  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • chocolate bar/chips of choice


  • 1/2 cup tahini (I used the one from Trader Joe’s- make sure to stir well)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup plant milk (I used almond)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with oil of choice (I use coconut oil spray).
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients but the chocolate chips/chunks. I used a whisk to thoroughly mix and break up bigger pieces of flour.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together until even.
  4. Pour wet ingredients on top of dry and use a rubber spatula to fold and mix until dry ingredients combine.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks/chips of choice.
  6. Use an ice cream scooper or 1/4 cup and spoon to measure dough. Place at least 1.5 inches apart on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy this tasty treat and let me know how they turn out! ❤


Mushroom Gravy Poutine


As previously mentioned in both my blog and Instagram, I am going to share a #WorldyWednesday original recipe inspired by a different country every week of this year. I chose to start close to home, in the good ‘ole northern land of ‘O Canada. One of Canada’s most popular dishes is one called poutine (poo-teen), or pronounced (poo-tin) by natives of Quebec.

Poutine translates to “a mess” and was created when a fast food restaurant threw fries and cheese curds in a bag when the place got too busy. Another restauranteur added his signature gravy to the dish later on. Hence, poutine was born and is traditionally made with fries, cheese curds, and gravy. No, it is not normally the the healthiest, but I put my spin on it to keep its traditional ingredients while making it more nutrient dense. JP, my husband, had it for dinner with chorizo and gave it a double thumbs up. He even asked if we can make it again sometime soon. 🙂

Please note before grocery shopping that cheese curds are not available at every store. Trader Joe’s, Jewel, and Target do not carry them, but JP found them at Marianos and I’m sure Whole Foods would have them too. I will more than likely make a vegan recipe in a couple of months when I make it again, but the cheese does add a flavor and texture that really cannot be replaced. *drool*

Happy first Worldly Wednesday (a day late but here nonetheless!). Enjoy!

Mushroom Gravy Poutine


Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 40-45 minutes

Servings: 3



  • 4 medium size russet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Hımılayan sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white cheese curds


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp tapioca flour or more flour until the sauce thickens
  • 2 tsp umami seasoning (optional)
  • green onions or chives to top (optional)
  • sour cream to top (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking pan with foil and lightly coat with oil of choice. I used olive oil.
  2. Cut russet potatoes by discarding their ends and cutting 1/2 thick sticks. Toss and coat with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste. Separate fries well on pan to ensure they crisp up! Bake for 35-40 minutes before adding the cheese curds for the last 5 minutes.
  3. While the fries are baking, you can now make the mushroom gravy sauce. To prep, slice 3 cups of cremini mushrooms, 1 yellow onion, and a shallot.
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion and shallot. Let cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the mushrooms, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and umami seasoning if using. Cook for 8 minutes or until the vinegar scent subsides and the mushrooms brown well.
  5. Add the beef broth, worcestershire, and flour. Whisk until the flour dissolves and there are no more clumps. Let simmer until thickened, and/or add 3 tsp tapioca to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Turn the burner off and let sauce cool. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. You may add tapioca to thicken of water or beef broth to thin out.
  7. Don’t forget to top the fries the last 5 minutes of baking with the cheese curds so they melt a bit. Top the fries with the gravy and ass any toppings of your choice! I topped ours with green onions, JP added chorizo, and I would have added an egg had I been hungrier. Go nuts and have fun with it!


Comment below with a review or suggestions. They are always much welcomed and appreciated. Thank you!

XO Danielle

Food Trend Predictions for 2019

Poke bowls. Avocado Toast. Matcha Lattes. Cauliflower Gnocchi.

The food trends of 2018 did not disappoint, but what’s in store for 2019? Based off new products on the market, consumer interest, health benefits, popular diets, and most importantly -TASTE- I came up with my own food predictions for this upcoming year. 🙂 Let’s take a look at what I’m envisioning. It’ll be fun to see if any of these are correct in one year from now.

1. Oolong & Rooibos tea.Don’t get me wrong. I am a borderline matcha addict. Okay, okay, I AM a matcha addict. I have one at least once a day, sometimes twice. But no matter how good a drink or meal is, it’s nice to switch it up from time to time. Tea is the number one consumed beverage in the world, and it is continuing to grow in popularity in the states.

Oolong tea reigns from China. It is a white tea with a light, floral fragrance, and in terms of health benefits, it is one of the healthiest teas one can consume. Oolong contains caffeine, and therefore, promotes weight loss. Some other benefits of oolong tea include: aids in regulating blood sugar levels, promotes healthy skin, acts as an antioxidant, relieves stress, sharpens mental focus, strengthens bones and enhances oral health (10 Nutritional Benefits of Oolong Tea).

Rooibos tea is red in color and is native to South Africa. It is caffeine-free and has a           light, nutty flavor. This tea is abundant in vitamins and minerals and is known for fighting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (13 Amazing Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea). Believe it or not, rooibos is technically an herb, not a tea. It is semi-fermented and oxidized to transform it into a tea grade product. Many South Africans use rooibos in their cooking as well, which brings me to my second 2019 food trend prediction…

2. Grow your own herbs. 

Many of us have seen the “Grow Your Own Herb” kits at random stores, but have you given growing your own herbs a try? I live in an apartment in Chicago, and with the limited resources I have to fresh soil and ample sunlight, I thought it would be more difficult to grow my own herbs and plants in tight quarters. I am happy to report that I have successfully grown a variety of herbs on my windowsill. Right now I only have basil and kale going, but my long term goal is to get one of those light growers and plant all the herbal goodness! Most herbs need sunlight and water- that’s it! Instead of spending $1.99-$2.99 per week on each herb- grow your own, save money, and get the satisfaction in nurturing a plant for food!

3. Ashwagandha

Ashwa-what? Ashwagandha is an herb that grows on a shrub that is native to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It was added to many food products in 2017 & 2018 and will continue to be highlighted in 2019 as a healthy brain supplement. Ashwagandha is known to improve memory, promote brain function, and optimize critical thinking. It is commonly used in Ayurvedic practices and is thought to assist in the following: arthritis, digestion, stress, insomnia, blood sugar levels, Alzheimer’s, and cancer (Top 10 Food Trends for 2019).

A few products you may see ashwagandha in are Four Sigmatic’s Adaptogen Coffee Mix, Pearl Butter’s Glow Getter and signature coconut butters, and Gaia Herbs Golden Milk mix.

4. Mushrooms

The health benefits this fungi provides is pretty extraordinary. It can fit into nearly any diet plan and is extremely easy to prepare. Mushrooms contain sufficient amounts of selenium, iron, vitamins A, B & C, and the antioxidant ergothioneine. They aid in regulating blood sugar levels, fighting cancer, have anti-inflammatory properties, and promote nutrient absorption. There are over 14,000 varieties, so the versatility you have with them in cooking is extensive. As mentioned with ashwagandha, Four Sigmatics offers several mushroom products- including a coffee infused with this magical food. And Trader Joes just came out with a new mushroom seasoning called Umami- very good!

5. Collagen

Another continuing trend of 2018 is the consumption of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein produced in the human body, but its production diminishes over time as we age. According to a study conducted in London, pairing a daily collagen drink with a hyaluronic supplement has been proven to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of skin aging significantly (Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles). I recently listened to a podcast episode that discussed collagen very in depth. The guest RD did thorough research to provide the best information to the listener. I highly recommend the listen!

My favorite collagen products are made by Primal Kitchen (Vanilla Coconut flavor) and Vital Proteins. I have personally seen a difference in my skin due to this daily regimen.

6. Artisan bread.

Y’all, we have shunned bread and carbs for way too long time now. Some of us even completely eliminated it them from our diet. Well guess what?! Carbs are NOT bad for you! -especially in moderation… It is a common misconception that they are, and as a nutrition student, I would be happy to debunk carbohydrate myths to try to undo the damage done to bread’s reputation. For now, let me just say that bread is on the “rise” again- get it- rise? Hehe. But really. With the FDA changing nutrition label standards, another requirement is to provide the amount of whole grains in bread! Yahoo! Look out for these labels to be more mindful in consuming whole grains over refined carbohydrates. Once you get adjusted to whole grain products, you won’t want the over processed stuff. And artisan bread? C’mon, need I say more about it’s delectable goodness and why people want to eat more of it?!

7. Sushi burritos.

Similar to poke bowls, sushi burritos offer an easy and satisfying on-the-go meal. You can create your own flavor profile by adding whichever ingredients you desire. Sushi burritos contain rice (carbs), and I would recommend choosing brown rice over white. The remaining ingredients should be fairly healthy- fish & veggies- so don’t worry about that! The only other thing I will note is to be mindful of the amount and kind of soy sauce you’re using (if any). Soy sauce can be high in sodium, so either use less or opt for the low sodium version.

8. Earth Bowls

Earth bowls, as I like to call them, have also been referred to as Buddha Bowls, Energy Bowls, etc. They usually contain a grain (rice, faro, quinoa), a plant-based protein, and mounds of veggies! They are SOOOO nourishing and surprisingly satiating! There is just something so comforting in eating warm plant-based food from a bowl, ami right?

8. Non-dairy Dairy

Okay, here me out. Even if you are not a full time vegetarian or vegan, a good non-dairy cheese or milk is worth trying out. I have been on a cashew milk kick lately, and I’m starting to dabble in buying, trying, and making vegan cheeses. I’ll share the brands and recipes as I come across them. The health benefits of decreasing dairy intake and increasing non-dairy dairy intake is the reduction of inflammation in the body. Dairy tends to produce mucous, phlegm and causes slight inflammation in the digestive tract and other parts of the body. As far as benefits, many plant-based milks are now fortified with vitamin D and/or calcium (check nutrition labels for this). Vegan cheeses can be very filling and provide many nutritional benefits as well, especially since many of them are nut based. For this reason, they are also higher in calories, but eat mindfully and until you feel full and you’ll be fine! Enjoy, and please share your experience with non-dairy dairy in the comments below. I’m fairly new to the vegan cheese game, so I’m all ears!

9. Decreasing Food Waste.

I’m sure most of you have heard of Imperfect Produce by now. This company was started by a couple of college kids in Maryland in 2015, and it has gained tremendous traction since. The premise? You sign up to receive a box (you can choose the size) of produce that may or may not look different than the produce you would purchase at the grocery store. Grocery stores only seek to display what they think consumers will buy, that is, “perfect” looking food. However, that shiny red apple isn’t supposed to be THAT shiny. It’s coated in wax to look more appealing to you, the consumer. Imperfect Produce purchases and sells irregular shaped and fun looking produce for a decent price. Help eliminate food waste in America and sign up in 2019!

10. Food Policy Education.

I am minimally educated in food policy and programs in America simply because I’m a nutrition student. How can we live in a country where MILLIONS of people are hungry on a daily basis?! That is flabbergasting and completely unacceptable to me. When you think of people starving, many think of the homeless and people in Africa. There are people here, in America, who are living paycheck to paycheck and decide to pay a bill instead of eat, or feed their child instead of themselves. If we educate ourselves on food policy, government funded programs, and local farms/farmer’s markets/CSAs, etc in your local area, we can begin to learn ways we can assist in solving this problem, making a difference and creating change.

Well, those are my top 10 food predictions of 2019! I hope you enjoyed reading through them. I’d be interested to hear what you think of them, so feel free to comment below! 2019 is going to be an AMAZING year- one of hope, creativity, determination, and love. I hope you all feel this way, open your hearts to all of the possibilities, and either praise or correct me for these food predictions of 2019!

H A P P Y   N E W    Y E A R!!!

Peri Peri Cauliflower “Wings”

As a precursor to #WorldlyWednesdays (where I share an easy ethnic recipe every Wednesday in 2019), I’m going to share my original recipe of the South African inspired Peri Peri Cauliflower “Wings”! Now I have made buffalo cauliflower wings before, but these exceeded my expectations on the taste bud scale.

Traditionally, peri peri sauce incorporates paprika, garlic, lemon juice, chili flakes, African bird’s eye chilis, salt, olive oil and herbs. I simply purchased Trader Joe’s Traditional Tunisian Harissa Paste ($1.99), which is made of fresh red peppers (capsicum annum), garlic, salt, sunflower oil, coriander, citric acid, and caraway, in replacement of peri peri sauce. I was curious what others had to say about this wonderful condiment, and I stumbled across these amazing reviews! Check ’em out. Just a heads up before trying harissa paste- it’s SPICY!!! If you don’t like heat in your food, I wouldn’t bother with it. If you do, go for it with this warning in mind. On a positive note, spicy foods are known to aid in digestion and increase metabolic rates. 🙂

I have strayed away from cauliflower for a bit now, but I revisited its nutritional benefits and was met with a pleasant surprise after downing an entire head of cauliflower by myself ; ) . Cauliflower is extremely light in calories. Every cup is about 25 calories, and it contains an array of vitamins and minerals essential for bodily functions. It also contains  nearly 3g of fiber per cup, which aids in satiation and digestive health. I try to provide nutrition content without getting too scientific and because I am technically not a professional yet, but I’m workin on it!

Alright, alright. I’ll give you what you came here for- the recipe!

Peri Peri Cauliflower “Wings”


Prep time: 5 minutes

Bake time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup milk or nut milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup of flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Flour) You may need to add more depending on your use and amount of cauliflower.
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • sprinkle lemon pepper (from TJs) or regular pepper
  • 1 jar Harissa Paste (may be purchased at Trader Joes)

*The sauce recipe pictured above is a blend of 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 Tbsp fresh chives, 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, 1/2 lemon freshly squeezed, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Process the herbs first to break down before adding the remaining ingredients. SO fresh and complementary to the “wings”.


  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking pan with aluminum oil and lightly coat with oil of choice.
  2. Wash and dry head of cauliflower. Cut into medium size florets (about the size of wings). Place milk in one small bowl and the flour, paprika, garlic salt, and pepper in the other. Mix the flour mixture well.
  3. Carefully dip each floret into the milk first. Let it drip a couple of seconds before coating in the flour mixture. If you proceed too quickly, the flour mixture will get clumpy and won’t stick to the last of the florets.
  4. Place the coated florets in the lined baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. While the cauliflower bakes, you may blend the harissa paste to make it more fluid and easy to apply. I did not do this, but in this midst of coating the cauliflower, I wish I had.
  5. Remove the pan and generously coat each floret with harissa paste.
  6. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the sauce looks slightly dried and crispy.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy with or without the homemade sauce. PLEASE let me know what you think of this recipe! I’d love to hear your feedback before re-sharing it as Super Bowl Sunday recipe suggestions.

Thank you! XO Danielle