The Wellness Project shares recipes for healthy comfort food

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Food and health writer, Phoebe Lapine is on a mission to help to people feel better on the inside and out. (WLS)

Food and health writer, Phoebe Lapine is on a mission to help to people feel better on the inside and out. She launched "The Wellness Project" after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in her early 20s. On her blog, https://feedmephoebe.com/, she shares recipes for healthy comfort food and insights about balanced lifestyle choices beyond what's on your plate. Her debut memoir, The Wellness Project, chronicles her journey with Hashimotos Thyroiditis and how she finally found the middle ground between health and hedonism by making one lifestyle change, one month at a time.

She adopted 12 of her own wellness directives to better health including limiting sugar, switching to All-natural beauty products, and getting in touch with her spiritual side.

For more information, visit www.feedmephoebe.com.

Sweet + Spicy Pepita-Cashew Snack Mix

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Instead of grabbing a sugary energy bar or a bag of greasy potato chips for an on-the-go snack, pack a baggie of this sweet and spicy nut-and-seed mix. Thanks to the pumpkin seeds, cashews, and coconut, it's perfect for promoting skin renewal, protecting against sun damage, and adding a healthy glow that's especially hard to come by when you're traveling.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg white

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, cashews, coconut, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne, and salt. Add the honey and egg white, and stir until very well combined. Arrange the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet, doing your best to separate any clumps.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring to redistribute the nut mixture every five to ten minutes, until browned and crunchy.

4. Remove from the oven and allow the snack mix to cool completely on the pan. Break up any remaining clusters up with your hands and store in an airtight container for nibbling throughout the week.

Raw Gingerbread Cookie Beauty Balls

Makes 2 dozen balls

Raw energy balls (the artist formerly known as vegan truffles) have swept the food and wellness blogosphere in recent years. And who am I not to join the party? This version is one of my favorites. They taste like a ginger cookie but are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats thanks to skin superstars like sesame seeds, almond butter, and flax meal. Store them in the fridge for anytime you need a sweet bite that won't throw your blood sugar into turmoil.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir until the mixture is incorporated and sticky. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until firm.

2. With damp hands, take 1 tablespoon of dough and shape it into a compact 1-inch ball and place it on a plate. (Keep a bowl of water by your side, since the mixture is easier to handle with damp hands.) Repeat with the remaining batter. Chill the balls until ready to serve, or up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer until you remember they're in there.

Healthy Hedonist Tips:

What you've been told about chocolate causing pimples is a myth. It's really the sugar! (Duh.) The hedonist in me feels compelled to say that if you added cup of dark chocolate chips, these bites wouldn't taste terrible. Choose bittersweet (60 percent cacao or higher), or go the healthy route and just add cacao nibs.

Market Swaps:

Trade the spices for a few teaspoons of cocoa powder to make these full-fledged raw chocolate "cookies." You can also substitute or add maca powder, which helps fine-tune TRH and TSH messages that impact how many hormones the thyroid produces and is packed with B vitamins, which thyroid peeps tend to be deficient in. This recipe uses a modest amount of maple syrup, which not only gives the balls their requisite sweetness but also holds them together. Raw honey is a great option, as are cup chopped Medjool dates. Just puree them in the bowl of a food processor along with the almond butter and add the resulting paste to the bowl.

Thai Peanut Hummus With Farmer's Market Crudités

Serves 4 to 6

There are some store-bought condiments that aren't worth your time to DIY. But hummus couldn't be easier to make, and it's a great dish to add to your batch-cooking repertoire if you're a big snacker (especially post-workout). This version uses peanut butter instead of the usual Mediterranean tahini paste, along with lime juice and fresh mint leaves for a Thai spin. Prep the crudités and store them in individual containers so you always have carrot sticks and dip at the ready.

Ingredients:
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup organic unsalted peanut butter
2 small garlic cloves
Zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 bunch of baby carrots (or 2 medium), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 bunch of radishes, trimmed and quartered
1 small English cucumber, cut into sticks

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a small food processor or blender, combine the chickpeas, peanut butter, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, mint leaves, cup water, salt, and cayenne pepper. Puree, adding more water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary, until the mixture is very smooth.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Arrange the carrots, radishes, and cucumbers around the bowl and serve, or store the hummus for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Healthy Hedonist Tips:

Peanuts are a high pesticide crop, so I recommend investing in organic. If you're allergic, you can always swap tahini or almond butter, but you won't get as much of a play on Thai peanut sauce.

Market Swaps:

You can sub cilantro or scallions for the mint. Use whatever produce is in season as your dippers. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans-they all make for delicious crudités. But if serving to company, I love how radishes make the plate look like you're at a fancy French party (even if you're serving Thai-Middle Eastern fusion).

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