Stop Throwing Like a Girl!


“You play ball…like a GIRL!”

Does anyone remember that quote from The Sandlot?  That moment really hurt my feelings when I was ten years old.  It’s not just what he said–it was the reaction it elicited.  The horror on the faces of those boys made me realize what a shameful thing it is to be compared to a girl.  Maybe that’s when my Women’s Studies career was born.  The worst insult someone could possibly come up with was to compare them to…me?  So please recognize that I am not quick to use that phrase—and yet, if you’ve ever trained with me you may recall that I’ve told you, “hey you’re throwing like a girl again—focus on your big muscles.”  What do I mean by this?

I borrow this phrase not from the insult but from an essay by Iris Marion Young (1977) in which she breaks down what it really means to throw like a girl and why women often have trouble with things like opening jars.  Young points out that because we are taught to sit with our legs together, keep our arms close to our bodies (how many women drive with their arm extended over the passenger seats?), and not take full advantage of our lateral space, we confine ourselves to using only our small muscles.  Men, on the other hand, have not been taught to limit their movements in this way and therefore take up as much space as they please; the result is that they learn to use their larger muscles.  Essentially, men “put their backs into it,” while women tend to use only our wrists when opening jars or throwing a ball.

I have built on this idea in my own occupation to explain why women struggle with squatting, pull-ups, rows, and other compound movements.  I have observed over and over that male clients jump up on a pull-up bar and naturally recognize it as a back exercise and do pull-ups easily, while women try to curl themselves up and fail.  This same observation applies to rows, pulldowns, etc.  I see so many personal trainers whose clients aren’t anywhere near proper form, and I suspect that it’s not because the trainers suck and failed to teach the proper form.  I think it’s that they tried and eventually gave up because they never understood what was holding the client back in the first place.

Women who are uncomfortable in a gym but decide to give weight training a try naturally gravitate toward dumbbells.  And my gosh do they do some ridiculous stuff with those dumbbells.  I am not judging, so don’t take offense!  But I am observing which exercises seem to feel comfortable for women and which don’t, and sometimes it just blows my mind!  How is balancing on a bosu ball and doing half squats while curling more comfortable than an actual squat?!

Is it a coincidence that dumbbells are easy to keep close to the body, or that “comfortable” arm exercises simulate womens’ habitual use of small muscles, instead of  taking full advantage of the larger, stronger back and leg muscles as the compound exercises would?  I think not.

By sticking with dumbbells and shying away from barbell training, you are holding yourself back on many levels.  Not only will you most likely not come anywhere close to your fitness goals, but you will also never fully develop the confidence that you deserve.  You will never know how strong you are, how capable you are, or what kind of person you’d have been if you hadn’t been forced to keep your knees together in a skirt.  Forgive me, but that is some profound @#$%.

If you look at my client training programs, you’ll probably notice a trend: there is almost always some variation of the squat, bench press, military press, and deadlift.  My plans almost always involve barbells.  Why is this?  Well, I’m trying to brainwash all women into getting bigger, stronger, and more masculine so that I can start a converse-wearing, feminist army and take over the world.  Duh! Or, maybe it’s because I believe very strongly in the MANY benefits of training with compound exercises, and I feel that barbell training should form the foundation of anyone’s understanding of weight training.  Too many people think the barbell is step 2 and for more advanced lifters, but I believe the opposite is true.

Simply put: before we talk about squatting on a bosu ball and adding in a dumbbell curl, we should break that down and learn proper form.  And the best way to do that, in my opinion, is with a bar on your back.  It naturally draws the shoulders back, brings the chest out, and allows you to form the beautiful arch you’ll need for almost every exercise thereafter.

If you know darn good and well you should be training with bigger weights, or that you should be incorporating barbells and compound exercises (squats, bench, deadlift, rows) into your training, but you’re shy, intimidated, or just plain lost, HIRE A PERSONAL TRAINER.  And look, that’s expensive–I understand and it’s the bane of my existence.  Ideally, you’d hire someone for at least the duration of a program (anywhere from 4-8 weeks), but if you can’t afford it then do what you can!  A couple of sessions to teach you how to do the exercises may be all you need.  I’m not recommending that you make a long-term commitment to paying an arm and a leg for someone to stand next to you with a clip board.  The truth is, even as a trainer I see way too many people sticking on with a personal trainer for way too long.   On the other hand, there are plenty of people in the gym who clearly should have let someone help them but never did, and now they have big egos and crappy workouts.  Let us help you get on your feet, get past a hurdle, or achieve a goal, but then go on about your business of kicking ass on your own!

Stop throwing like a girl.  Use your big muscles.  You CAN do pullups, I swear.  The barbells aren’t going to crush you, and you won’t “bulk up” unless you want to.   Trust me, there are plenty of men who ask me for advice on how to do this—for women, it’s much more difficult and can’t be done accidentally. Whether you think I’m “too big” or “just right,” remember that it has taken me five years, tons of HEAVY training, and a lot of eating just to get what I have now—and I’m still growing.  If you need help, hire a trainer even if only for a few sessions.  I can recommend some great ones who live all over the country, so don’t hestitate to ask!

In the next post, I’ll discuss the benefits of compound exercises, how they actually help with fat loss, and why women really really need them.


Time For Change

I don’t do this often, but I stumbled upon a friend’s blog post and felt compelled to share this with my readers!  Some of you may know her, but most of you won’t.  She has recently made a choice to change her lifestyle, and the amount of motivation and commitment emanating from her is so inspiring!  I can talk all day long about how to get started, but my point of true change happened several years ago, and maybe for some of you it would be helpful to hear from someone who is just starting out.  Much in the same way a couple might fall in love again at the memory of a first date, I am completely inspired by the memory of what it was like in the first moments of what is now my lifestyle.  Sandra captures this moment so beautifully that it took my breath away and I had to share it!  

Maybe some of you want to make a change but you’re afraid, or there’s something holding you back from moving forward–read what Sandra has to say about that!  

You can follow her here.     


Beautiful on the inside and out!


Ok so here comes some hardcore truth.  I’m spilling the beans and it won’t be pretty but it’s ok b/c I’m going to change that now and that is the beauty of it all.  It is never too late to change.  Thank Goodness!

So first some history and let me start by saying I had a great childhood so the following is more on the history of my knowledge of fitness and nutrition.  I grew up in a Latin household eating all the rice, beans, maduros, and meat my heart desired.  I had soda for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and yep even before bed.  Cookies, chips, Swiss rolls, cakes, sweet cereals were all easily accessible.  Fruits and vegetables? Yeah, what are those again?  It was bad but I don’t blame them.  Food was a source of enjoyment, family time, reward, and success.  Yes success.  A full belly meant you had enough money to splurge on all the food you’d like and when the country you were born in has a low food supply the idea of limiting foods is unheard of, but abundance is a dream.  So we live and learn and it’s time for change.

Fitness.  Thank goodness for P.E. or I’d have never exercised a day in my life.  I lived in a big city with lots of “bad” people, going out to ride bike was a big no no.  My parents, God love them, didn’t care much for fitness.  Going to the park, or riding bike, or even tossing the ball with me, was not a high priority and let’s face it it’s not like I asked either.  So I watched TV, played with dolls, talked to friends, but  there was very very minimal physical movement going on.  In fact it was not till I was 16 and met the love of my life that I found out regular people go the gym.  Gasp!!!  Hysterical, or a bit sad, but true none the less.  My husband (Alex) was a gym rat, well still is.  I thought it was cute. “Awe look how cute he looks in jeans.”, “He’s so health conscious.”  So we dated for a minute and soon after got married.  That is where I met my first gym in Aventura, FL, Olympia Gym.  Awkward? Yes, very.  We went together and I got on most of the machines and did what I thought I was supposed to do.  I realized I was pretty strong but my body didn’t really change.   Since then I’ve been a member of at least 7+ gyms and I’ve learned nothing.   Well I’ve learned a lot but not how to implement it or use it for MY benefit.  I’ve lost 40-50 lbs and then gained them, then lost them again.  I’ve lost biggest loser contests and I’ve won them.  Yet here I am and I’m so tired of not knowing.  Again, Time for Change!!!

Now comes the part so many don’t talk about.  Recently some T.V. shows are bringing to light another incredibly important factor in your health.  Emotion!!  The psychology of why you are where you are and why you can’t get out of that vicious cycle.  This is the hard part.  I believe I actually enjoy working out.  No, I know I do.  Once I start there is a sense of accomplishment and instant gratification unlike so many aspects in life beyond your control.  However there is this damn voice in my head that tells me now and then “Wonder what they think of me?”  Wish she’d shut the hell up but no she’s there loud and clear and it makes me doubt myself, plays havoc with my self-esteem, and sadly makes me walk away.  My constant wondering of how people view me and what I want people to view me as, has been my downfall in so many ways.  It has stopped me from going where I’ve never been, reach new limits, and take certain risks.  But worst of all it has stopped me from believing in myself.  I valued others more than myself and let me tell you that is in most cases a fail fail situation.  Instead of seeing myself as a possible inspiration to someone, I saw myself as the “fat” one at the gym.  Instead of being proud of my workout, I criticized my form and performance.  And before too long I had talked myself out of all the progress b/c for heaven’s sake someone in that gym may be laughing at ME!
It is not a good place to be and I’m still struggling with it.  However I guess age teaches you a thing or two or you finally just stop giving a damn about a lot of things.  I truly believe out of all 3 aspects in my life the psychological one has been the absolute hardest and most straining.  Honestly I don’t even know why it is there.  I can’t say I’ve had a lot of negative influences in my life.  My parents love me unconditionally and I have a husband who adores me in ways I didn’t think truly existed.   As for everyone else their views of me, or should I say the views I forced upon them of me, has built walls so high I can’t even measure them.  So if I ever feel an instructor thinks I’m slacking (when I know I’m not) it has hurt me.  Disappointing someone that I feel I need to gain the respect of is just not something I deal with well.  I’ve never done well with people not liking me simply just because, however add the fact that I may care about that person and it’s just a blow to my ego that I have not been strong enough to overcome. Well it’s time for some real f’n change!!!!

I have, I think come to terms with who I am (it’s a work in progress).  It happens a little bit more each day, month, and year.  Now I’m truly ready to make the changes for me. It’s not just about changing my body anymore.  It’s not about what society says I should be or look like.  It’s about valuing myself and giving myself some damn credit. Dang it I am good enough and if you don’t agree with my effort well screw you because at least I’m putting effort.  I’m doing this for me so your view is no longer my concern. So what if I don’t look the way I’d like in my workout cloths, so what if I shake as I push that weight, so what if my hair is all over the place, so what if I need a break or if I have to call it a day sooner than later sometimes.  I’m giving it my best and I’m making this my life not a hobby.  I have different goals so your generalizations do not include me. As for criticism, go ahead and offer it, but be constructive with it.  I may do something b/c I’m injured or have limitations or am getting older (lol) however I will come up with alternatives and I will keep going.  I’ve had a lot of positive influences in my life.  A lot of support!  However it is not till your mindset changes.  Till you make the decision for yourself and no one else that you can finally succeed.   This Change is for me because I’m ready and you can either guide me or get the hell out of my way.

Ok so maybe I still have to work on emotion a bit or a lot but you get the idea.  Just like me I’m sure there are many.  There are those who are lazy, those who have not committed, and those who are mentally weak.  Help them and realize that all of the above, Nutrition, Exercise, and Mental health are dependent of each other.  We don’t all have the same background, same will, same wants and needs.  There are physical restraints that stop some, don’t roll your eyes, show them an alternative.  I know some need more time than others but we all want to succeed we just need our minds to say,“It’s time!”

Round Pegs, Square Holes, and Finding Your Space in the Gym

“I just feel…like I don’t belong at the gym.”

Let’s think about this for a minute—first of all, how many of us are guilty of this?!  For many, this is a total setback from reaching goals and making progress!  And then, let’s talk for a minute about what the hell it even means to look like we belong in a gym?  Why are we still so inclined to believe that fit people belong in gyms and unfit people don’t?  How backward is that?  But how about the general assumption that fit has a look, and that it’s usually slender?  Why are people so inclined to notice  a thin woman, who may or may not work out at all, and assume she’s fit, while overlooking the fact that plenty of bigger girls are way more fit?  Hell, when I’m not dieted down I am not sure how fit I appear, but I have rarely met a thin woman who can outlift me.  I actually want to write “I have never…” but to avoid argument I’ll say rarely.

So it’s time for another post about what fit looks like, what it means to be fit, how our minds have been so unfortunately adulterated by the media, and how we can rethink our bodies.

Nobody—not even the most fit person you’ve ever met in your LIFE—goes to the gym BECAUSE she’s fit.  People go to the gym to GET fit.  To get MORE fit.  To improve, to reach goals, to affect some new change.  Some people think they go to STAY fit, but to be honest, it usually doesn’t go well for people without goals.  So half the people I know who go to stay fit are really just there because they feel like they should be, and they’re just taking up space that would be way more useful to someone trying to GET fit or get MORE fit.

When I was new to lifting and trying to explore the possibilities for my body, I met a coach who had been around bodybuilding and powerlifting for two decades.  This old man was seriously what we’d call old school, but after years of observing athletes of all sorts, the guy knew a thing or two about them.  He approached me while I was deadlifting at the University of Maine gym, and we became friends.  The next day, he caught me running on a treadmill and asked me what the hell I was doing.  Shocked and frankly a little scared, I told him I was trying to get lean.  He told me that runners run, and lifters lift, and stopped my treadmill for me.  Bastard.  I was not yet a “lifter,” I was just a girl in a gym trying to figure it out!  But he gave me some great advice—he told me that runners are not thin because they run, they run because they are thin and their bodies are made for it.  He explained to me about body types and genetic inclinations, and pointed out athletes in a variety of sports that had certain characteristics.   He told me that I could fight my genetics or work with them, but my life would be a lot better and I’d love my body much more if I figured out what my body was meant for.

His advice not only stuck with me, but has been proven over and over for the past several years.  I do not train abs.  Ever.  And yet at high body fat I still have them.  What use would this genetic freakery be to a runner?  I have short, huge legs that build easily—I still have yet to realize my full potential in powerlifting, but I can promise I’ll be a much more successful power lifter than hurdler.  Now, I run because I like it, but I have no hopes of hitting crazy marathon times.

There are days, oh god are there, that I feel too big.  I feel bulky, unfeminine, out of place, and sometimes just plain awkward.  I have a hard time shopping or getting dressed, and my entire “look” is always affected by my build.  Certain hair cuts, clothing, and too much jewelry just look weird with my build!  I love fashion, but I understand what works on my body, and it rarely involves patterns, ruffles, a-line tops, skinny jeans, or capped sleeves.  But I can’t change this.  At my leanest, I still look hard and vascular and kind of masculine.  When I get softer (read: more body fat) I don’t actually get more feminine, I just get bigger all over!  Damned if I’m lean, damned if I’m fat.  I can change my body fat, I can change the size of my muscles (a little), but I can’t change my body type or general shape.

I recently competed in Women’s Physique instead of Women’s Bodybuilding.  I did this for several reasons, but mostly because I’m a little small for a bodybuilder.  But I love exactly how my body comes in when I’m lean.  It’s unique, and I think one could identify my physique in a lineup because it’s very different than a lot of others.  I have big round muscle bellies so my biceps and triceps are beautiful!  I love my huge legs, my big traps, and my abs.  I love the parts that are “too soft,” and I love the lines of my frame.  I also have a very feminine face and a striking complexion, and I love how that pairs with my physique.  But those things I love don’t win shows!  So I decided to try Women’s Physique, knowing the judging hasn’t been streamlined and it would be hit or miss.  I made an effort to show up a little softer than I would for bodybuilding, but it wasn’t enough–I have been analyzing photos of my most recent show as well as photos from dozens of others, and I realize that there is an unmistakable look that is being favored by Physique judges–they are looking for longer lines and a more slender frame.

I’m in the post-show regrouping phase, where I decide what I want to do next and how I’m going to do it.  I had to decide if I like my physique as is, what improvements I’m willing to make, and what changes would win shows but aren’t improvements in my opinion.  I can try to get smaller–no more squatting or super heavy lifting–to try to fit into Physique a little better, or I can get bigger and keep at it in bodybuilding.  That decision is harder than I’m making it sound–it comes with tears and frustrations, and it involves my self esteem.  But, returning to the advice of the old school coach from Umaine, I chose to deal with this by focusing on what my body is made to do–my “thing.”

I truly believe we all have a “thing,” and I can’t explain the feeling of total joy and relief I experienced when I realized what mine was.  Even now, when I feel bulky, strange, unfeminine, and out of place, I return to the thing that makes me feel amazing—strength sports.  A side effect of this for me is the ability to build muscle relatively easily, but even in physique sports I’m caught between categories.  I always come back from a bodybuilding show revved up and ready to get back to heavy lifting—and I realize that this is because the subjective nature of bodybuilding always causes me to feel like I’ve fallen short and don’t belong, so I turn back to where I feel good.

So while I’m sorting out how I feel about competing, how I feel about my body, and what I’m going to do next, I’m flipping 400+ pound tires, looking forward to hitting awesome PRs, and pressing more weight than I have in years.  I am also forced to eat appropriately for recovery from these workouts–so I will probably get bigger.  And there we have it, folks–and answer: watch out Bodybuilding, I’m coming back for you!  Who the hell wants to do all that work to gain muscle, just to turn around and lose it again to fit into a category?  Not this girl!  And I love everything that comes with building my muscles up and leaning back out to see what I have.  So I will be back.

Where do you feel good?  What’s your “thing”?  It’s time to figure out what your body is meant for.  I believe you’ll know it when you find it.  And it doesn’t have to be some extreme sport or anything competitive–it could be a cardio class that you rock at.  It could be cycling, or maybe you’re a badass rower!  Have you ever played a sport or done something that just…clicked?  Are you aware that you’re incredibly strong but too afraid to push?  Are you really good at box jumps?  Do you ever wonder if you’d be a good runner?  Maybe you’re athletic all-around and need to be pushed in a cross-training environment?  And now, the shameless plug: If you live within a reasonable driving distance of Marietta, GA, ask me how I can help you find your “thing!”

Too often we think of our bodies in terms of how they look, and we base all of our effort in the gym on an aesthetic goal.  This leads to a lot of round peg/square hole issues.  A lot of people tell me that they don’t want to be thin, they just want to feel good.  I get that.  But until you put your body to use in a way that feels good, you will continue to judge how you feel by how you look.

In my experience, changing how you look is not always enough to change how you feel.  In fact, I find that they go hand in hand but require separate components of a long process.  If you want to transform how you LOOK, it’s time to talk about what you’re eating.  But if you truly want to change how you FEEL, it’s time to talk about what you’re DOING.  And it’s totally possible to do both at the same time!

I mentioned “eating for recovery,” and if you’re lifting heavy and not sure what I mean by this, don’t be afraid to ask!  For now, here’s one of my new favorite post-workout meals.

Pina Colada Pudding:

1 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened if you can find them!)
banana, sliced
1/4 c kashi cereal flakes (I love the crunch…but you can do without or sub for basically any cereal!)

Mix and enjoy!  🙂

Post-Contest Update, and New Recipes!

As many of you know, I competed in an NPC bodybuilding show a week ago.  The 16 weeks leading up to the show were incredible, and as always, I learned so much.  Every time we compete, we become scientific experiments of cause and effect.  The greatest bodybuilders are usually the smartest–to be successful, it’s important to understand how the body uses food.  “If I eat _____, then my body responds by ________.”  How cool is that?  But this time, I came at it from a slightly new perspective.  Those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning may recall an earlier post in which I explained why I took a break from bodybuilding, and what I had hoped to gain—and keep–by coming back.  I think my most recent experiment has a lot to offer in terms of how we reconcile body recomposition with eating for overall health.  Sometimes it seems like two different conversations, and I feel that I was successfully able to blend them.

About two weeks post-show. A little fluffy but thank god the cankles are gone!

About a week and a half before the show.










Bodybuilding nutrition is often so focused on macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from food sources often get overlooked.  Tired of knowing we weren’t as healthy as we could be, last fall my family took on an adventure—we wanted to go package-free, rely mostly on local produce, and find a more sustainable meat source.  We did not want to continue consuming the pounds and pounds of chicken and overlooking the importance of fruits and vegetables.  We went from a chicken-with-vegetables outlook, to a vegetables-with-chicken approach.  In doing so, we eliminated our multivitamins and several supplements that we were taking.  A year later, we are still maintaining our new lifestyle.  In fact, we’re just getting better and better at it!

Backstage with a client–she ROCKED her first show!

My decision to compete presented a problem—we knew how to use foods to manipulate my body, and we weren’t sure how our new lifestyle would fit into a bodybuilding contest preparation diet.  With some adjustments, we continued right on as best we could and I actually benefitted greatly from the new approach.  My meals were big, filling, and absolutely satisfying.  Using a variety of vegetables, I was able to blend flavors and textures that transformed my boring chicken into amazing meals.  Where before I would eat 4 ounces of chicken with a little bit of green beans, now I was eating mounds of vegetables with a little bit of chicken!  I was also able to incorporate my green smoothies—a boring, watery protein shake was transformed into a very satisfying smoothie by adding half a cucumber, a cup of spinach, and some cinnamon!

I basically ate my weight in fruit while everyone else was eating peanut butter cups. To each her own!

The one question everyone kept asking me, and understandably so, was “what are you going to eat when you’re done?!”  In my previous shows, I gave this a lot of thought.  Oh my gosh did I think about it!  I actually brought an entire cake to the restaurant after the show and dug in by myself with a spoon!  The next year may or may not have involved gas station goodies for the entire 8 hour drive home…but this year I had a different plan for my recovery phase, so I found a gluten-free, vegan, no-sugar-added cake that I had planned to eat right after.  But a funny thing happened—I found that I genuinely, after all of those weeks of dieting, really just wanted some fruit!  Similarly, I didn’t have any big cheat meal planned for the days after the show.  I had an eggplant on my kitchen counter that I was dying to cook—and so after an initial cheat meal (sushi!) and an omelette the next morning, the first thing I did was cook that eggplant!

Since then, I’ve had my cheat meals on Saturdays, but with the extra calories and macronutrients in my life, I’ve been mainly focused on having fun with the “clean” whole foods I already loved and grew to miss while dieting down.  If I had to make a list of these foods, I would include coconut, nuts, quinoa, lentils, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almond milk, and the variety of fruits and vegetables I use in my green smoothies.  On a bodybuilding diet, everything you put in your body “counts,” so for instance, while kale is a great “clean” food and a nutritious green vegetable, a physique athlete must still be conscious of the fact that it contains three times the amount of carbohydrates and calories as other greens such as collards and mustard greens.  It might now seem to matter much, but when you’re hungry it’s easy to eat three or four cups of sautéed kale at a time!

I have made so many awesome meals since my show!  Among them has been a pasta-less lasagna, a fruit/nut “cookies”, a veggie saute/sauce that blew my mind, and a new post-workout protein bowl.  Enjoy!

No-Pasta Lasagna

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼ in rounds
  • 1 small container of fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • spinach


  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • carrots (the more the merrier, I say!)
  • zucchini or yellow squash (or both!)
  • onions (or onion powder—Mike hates onions)
  • minced garlic
  • fresh basil leaves (dried would work)
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Lightly salt the eggplant slices and lay out on a towel for about 20 minutes.  Lightly press another towel on top of the slices to absorb any excess water.  This dries out the eggplant just a little and keeps it from getting slimy when you bake it.

2.  Place the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  If you make a batch of this sauce ahead of time it is so much more flavorful!  But in a pinch you can make it as needed.

3.  Thoroughly mix egg and ricotta; set aside.

4.  Lightly salt the eggplant slices and lay out on a towel for about 20 minutes.  Lightly press another towel on top of the slices to absorb any excess water.  This dries out the eggplant just a little and keeps it from getting slimy when you bake it.

5.  Lightly grease (I use Pam) a large glass baking dish.  Spoon a small amount of sauce into the pan to form a light coating.  Lay down slices of eggplant, slightly overlapping, to create a single layer in the bottom of the dish.  Spoon ricotta mix onto the eggplant; use the back of a spoon to spread evenly.  Cover with a layer of spinach, and then add another layer of eggplant.  Cover with the remaining sauce.  If you prefer, you can cover this with a layer of mozzarella cheese before baking.

6.  Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling at the sides.

Fig/Banana/Oat/Peanut Butter bars

  • 6 large figs
  • 1 large, very ripe banana
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes (look for some with no added sugar!)

Mash the figs and banana until blended and in almost liquid form.  Mix in oats, peanut butter, and coconut.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Cool in pan, and refrigerate.  Serve when cool.

Vegetable “sauce”

  • ½ lb okra, sliced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1tbsp olive oil in pan; add garlic and heat for about a minute.  Add vegetables, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook until squash has reduced in size and okra is soft.  This will look like a slimy mess, but when I served it over mashed potatoes with baked chicken, my daughter fell in love with this flavorful “vegetable gravy”!  Okra can get slimy, and this characteristic makes it ideal for soups and stews.   Otherwise, people fry it or avoid it altogether because they don’t know how to avoid the slime.  Embrace the slime in this saute!