hello caffeine...

Damn vices.

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I have had a bit of a life revelation recently. I need to confess to something that I have been denying for a very long time. It will change my life forever and I feel like by confessing it I can live openly and honesty.

I am now a vegan. 

Well if we are working within the confines of labels I guess it would be safer for me to say vegetarian with vegan tendencies. I still indulge in local, raw honey as well as the occasional farm fresh egg. I do not however ingest any other types of animal based proteins such as yogurt, milk, or cheese. I will occasionally have a touch of goats milk cheese as the milk protein in goats milk is smaller and way more digestable making it a much better option.

I mentioned in an older post, when I first began this food blog, that I struggled with eating meat in the past and was mostly pescetarian. I look back on this now and view it as my stepping stone to food exploration and responsible consumptions. I grew up on the water so the thought of not ever having a piece of blackened red fish right off the boat was BLASPHEMOUS! After much research and way to many articles describing the dangers of fish and shellfish I gladly traded in my Mahi for serving of marinated Tempeh.

Why the CHEEESE?

I don’t have anything against cheese. I love cheese. It just doesn’t love me. I am severely lactose intolerant and as I have gotten older and changed my diet to one that is cleaner and healthier I began to notice the “effects” the dairy had on me. It is not fun or pretty. I also felt that no matter how many kale and wheatgrass smoothies I consumed the second I spread that glorious cream cheese on my whole grain bagel, the kale no longer mattered. It was doing damage to my body. So there goes the dairy.

Therefore this major life decision has been made for not only my already existing ethical reasons but also for health. Here are a few books that I have been reading that have helped me transition flawlessly into this rewarding and soulful life change.

Bon appetite my little veggie monsters!

Eat clean. Eat humane. Eat local. Eat sustainably. Eat food for you. Feed your SOUL.

<3 Amanda

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Well that is interesting; at least it is on the eyes and not on the hips. On a side note&#8230;props to the makeup artist it isn&#8217;t easy to capture cholesterol with such a discerning eye. 
I am merely being witty, in all honesty it is OK to cheat. I promise. If you want it, give it to yourself. Never deny yourself a moment of pleasure. You never know when it is going to be your last. Everything in moderation lovelies, except wine, that my friends is best served by the bottle.  
Peace and Love&#8230;

Well that is interesting; at least it is on the eyes and not on the hips. On a side note…props to the makeup artist it isn’t easy to capture cholesterol with such a discerning eye.

I am merely being witty, in all honesty it is OK to cheat. I promise. If you want it, give it to yourself. Never deny yourself a moment of pleasure. You never know when it is going to be your last. Everything in moderation lovelies, except wine, that my friends is best served by the bottle.  

Peace and Love…

(Source: eataku)

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Brown rice bowl, shrimp, asparagus, and….avocado!

When and if you have the time to cook for yourself at lunch… do it! Shrimp and fish are a great way give you energy and lots of low calorie protein. This past weekend I whipped together a quick brown rice bowl that made my mouth water and held me over until my late dinner reservation (Tapas and sangria)….

Check out my little kitchen…such a good little stove! One day I will have a pinterest worthy abode with granite counter tops and gas burners. A foodie can dream. Enough Pinot Grigio and I am a gourmet chef with a gourmet kichen. GET IT!

Brown Rice and Shrimp Bowl with Avocado and Asparagus


Serves 2 

·         1 cup of uncooked brown rice

·         2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

·         8 pre-cooked frozen shrimp (or you can use fresh, these are great for quick and easy clean up, but fresh is always great, make sure you take the time to read labels and get something preservative free, the ingredient list should say one thing….shrimp)

·         ½ yellow onion

·         2 cloves of garlic

·         10 stalks of asparagus

·         1 avocado

·         1 lemon

·         1 tablespoon of paprika

·         1 tablespoon of chili powder

·         Salt and Pepper to taste

·         Garlic Chili paste to taste


1.     Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan, diced garlic, onion, and asparagus. (Cut the beefy end of the asparagus off, save for stock or discard, chop the stalk into thirds).

2.     Place rice in pot on medium heat. Add 1 ½ cups of water and some salt. Simmer until the water is fully dissolved. Fluff with a fork.

3.     Place shrimp and seasoning in the pan with the veggies and cook till warmed through and veggies are soft.

4.     Place the shrimp mix on top of rice, lay some avocado slices on the side, squeeze half a lemon on top and….Enjoy.

Filed under avacado shrimp brown rice kitchen pinterest tapas sangria pinot grigio lemon recipe sea food red kitchen soul foodie amandalhankins asparagus

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Munch On Lunch……

As somebody who has spent many hours with nutritionist, doctors, nurses, and professionals in the field of “I am going to tell you what to eat, when, where, and how much”, I have learned a lot about various different diets. I have come to many different conclusions over the years but I think I have finally broken the code. Want to know my secret….there isn’t one.  Everyone is different; we respond to food and nourishment differently as humans, and each of our bodies need and crave a plethora of substances.  An avid runner will need higher protein and a significant amount of water throughout the day, while somebody who doesn’t work out as much may need a little less of both and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I also do not believe that it is ever healthy to cut one food group entirely out of your diet (unless of course you are vegetarian/vegan, in that case I empathize), however removing carbs and eating pork fat is the epitome of unhealthy, and not necessarily sustainable.  Complex carbs and carbohydrates are in everything, removing them entirely from ones diet will narrow the options one has. This lends itself to major upsets and rapid weight gain; essentially you are shocking your body back into carb coma reality. Developing a healthy eating cycle of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, high fiber, and whole grains is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you pack your fridge and pantry with goodness, goodness you will consume(I know… I know, I am the food Confucius).  

One thing that I have struggled with and still find myself battling is time. Healthy fresh, food can be time consuming and life gets really busy. Sometimes I forget to eat altogether and then when my body is shutting down, I am shaking in hunger, and my world is ending. I pop something in the microwave. EPIC FAIL.  One of my followers asked me a really great question that fell right in line with my struggle. I thought I would answer it because I firmly believe that in our GO GO GO culture we get a little lost; sometimes we need a few tips to get back on our eating cycle track……

thesunshineartist asked….

“One food issue I have is that I forget to eat sometimes because I am too busy or slightly absent-minded at moments. My mom has called me the accidental anorexic. This is a problem for me because I have a super-fast metabolism and am susceptible to hypoglycemia. Do you have any suggestions for meals/snacks that are easy to prepare, have a good amount of protein (preferably the vegetarian kind), and delicious.”

Delicious is the word…who wants to force feed themselves grossness when they are stressed out and busy.

Hypoglycemia is another serious issue that needs to be addressed here. I struggle with it myself and it can be a little scary, it is most common with individuals who are diabetic but people who aren’t (like myself) can struggle with low blood sugar as well. The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms as…

Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy.

Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking.

Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death.

If you’ve had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up. (EWW, I have so done this)


With a medical problem like this and a high metabolism it is vital that you are continually feeding yourself high protein items and at least 6 times as day. Always eat a healthy well-rounded breakfast such as oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, cereal (the decent kind not sugar hoops or loops or what I call sugary shit), and eat a good size lunch. Lunch is in the middle of your day and you have time to process it before you have a lite dinner, it will keep you going and you won’t be as likely to crash around 3PM.

My mother struggles with hypoglycemic tendencies as well, her solution was to shove a banana down her throat when she got what she calls “the shakes”. It was a good temporary fix but bananas are starchy, carby, sugary, goodness. They have wonderful health benefits, but not nearly enough protein to sustain a hypoglycemic long term.


Top Ten High Protein Snacks:

1.     Apple slices (or dried apple chips) with a scoop of fresh or all natural peanut or almond butter. Most health food stores sell the fresh ground, nothing but peanuts version, and some grocery chains are selling it in the deli as well.

2.     Hummus with fresh veggies or whole wheat pita. Be careful with the pita bread but hummus is a tasty way to get some protein into your system.

3.     Almonds…..mix some unsalted, raw almonds with all natural, dark, 80% coco, chocolate chips, some dried cranberries, and you have a high protein delicious treat!

4.     Avocado slices on whole wheat toast with alfalfa sprouts. This is great by itself to keep it vegetarian but you can always add a slice of all natural deli sliced turkey breasts and eat it like an open face sandwich.

5.     Greek yogurt. Twice the protein of regular yogurt, and there are so many tasty options out there now.

6.     Cottage cheese topped with local honey and walnuts….they make 80 calorie little packs of cottage cheese, delish!

7.     Steamed edamame (soy beans).

8.     Sandwich thin (100 calories) and chunk lite white tuna. (mix it with a little lemon juice, pepper, and teaspoon of veganaise.) or just eat it with some lettuce like a wrap.

9.     A small glass of Almond milk and a Cliff or Luna bar!

10.  A low fat mozzarella cheese stick with a piece of fruit. I like it with pears, apples, and peaches the best.

Filed under string cheese apples peanut butter almonds walnuts tuna healthy living health food protein lifestyle AmandalHankins Soul food thesoulfoodies foodie anorexia chobani lunch time

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Olive You Fish

FISH is the word. I love it. Growing up on the water, boating on the weekends, pretending to like fishing for my father, and of course living ten minutes from a large port, helped me to really appreciate seafood. Not to mention it is fabulous for you.  This protein packed, Omega-3 fatty acid full, and lean alternative to meat is always my go to meal! Fish cooks fast and is a wonderful blank canvas for fun culinary creations.  It can be turned into a heavier meal with a nice thick cut wild Alaskan salmon steak (pronounced SAM-ON, not SAL-MOAN) cooked on a cedar wood plank rubbed with jerk seasoning. Or it can be a light meal of Tilapia or Mahi Mahi rubbed in garlic, salt, fresh ground pepper, and spritzed with fresh lemon juice.  The options are endless…  


I mentioned on my last post that I fancy myself a Pescatarian (I am a recovering vegetarian, with a short stint as a Vegan), and I occasionally will cook with some ground Turkey or Chicken mainly to appease my dinner partner or extended family of friends.

I do not however eat pork or red meat. I value my colon and heart health! I think the meat portion of your plate should always be the smallest, and green should nearly take over it. This is a great rule of thumb, if the meat is eating your plate….don’t eat it.


(This looks totally digestable, I am not even sure what animal produced that???….)

As far as dinner is concerned it should be lighter, I never felt good going to bed full of friend chicken, mashed potatoes, and buttered biscuits. My body doesn’t respond well to fried food in general, at 7 PM especially, hello acid reflux!  Fish is a great way to have a filling, light, delicious meal at the end of a long day. End the night with a steaming cup of green tea and sweet dreams.


The other night I was feeling like some Mahi Mahi and I had an Olive Tapenade craving so I got a little My Big Fat Greek Wedding and went all out Mediterranean on my small little kitchen.  I Sautéed the seasoned fish in good Olive Oil and topped it with a store bought tapenade that knocked my socks off! Then served it with roasted broccoli and cauliflower and a fast side of couscous! It was ready in 30 minutes and delicious. (Recipe listed below).

 I am a huge proponent for making things fresh and from scratch, but life is tough and finding the right healthy, and helpful pre-made products are lifesavers when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I discovered Near East boxed rice’s and I love them, the couscous is ready in 5 minutes and the roasted garlic flavor complimented this meal really well. Portion it out appropriately and you have a complete dinner great for even entertaining.  The black olive tapenade was 4 bucks and they sell it at Target, this blows my mind!It is delicious on just about everything (I am seriously guilty of slapping it on some whole wheat pita bread with hummus….). My other secret is good olive oil. I was lucky enough to visit and awesome olive oil boutique when I was in New York this past summer and I picked up a great basil infused oil that goes good on just about anything as well. Check out their website to order some of their fabulous products…they ship! (http://www.oliviersandco.com/)


Side note on the fish….Mahi Mahi sometimes known as dolphin is a light, firm, and lean fish commonly available in the grocery store and fish markets. It is one of my favorites to eat and cook with. It takes on different flavors well and cooks nicely on the grill, stove top, and even in the oven!  (Not to mention a 4-ounce portion of this fish is only 100 calories). Bonus!  



Mahi Mahi topped with Olive Tapenade and a side of nutty, garlicky, roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli and roasted garlic Couscous.


2 Fresh Mahi Mahi steaks

5 Cloves of Garlic

1 Small Yellow Onion

Frozen or Fresh Cauliflower and Broccoli

1 lemon

Black Olive Tapenade

Salt and Pepper

·         Chop the onion into slices and throw in a roasting pan with broccoli and cauliflower florets. Toss with minced garlic (I use a lot of garlic, but it can be to taste), salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil.

·         Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and place vegetable mixture in oven for 20 Minutes or until soft and golden Brown.

·         Clean fish and pat dry. Dust with Salt, pepper, lemon zest of one lemon, and Fresh minced Garlic.

·         Sautee’ in pan on medium high for 10 minutes flipping once.

·         Prepare couscous as directed.

·         Sprinkle fresh lemon juice on top of the fish and top with a generous portion of black olive tapenade. Serve over couscous with a healthy helping of roasted veggies. Enjoy.


Serve this with a light, crispy, chilled white wine. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio would be best.  For a cheap weekday wine Barfoot Pinot Grigio is fantastic.( http://www.barefootwine.com/our-wines/white-wines/pinot-grigio)

Filed under Mahi Mahi Olive Tapenade Garlic Fish House Bunny Salmon Omega-3 fatty acids Lemon Near East CousCous Recipes Broccoli Cauliflower AmandaLHankins Soul Food

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My name is Amanda and I am a foodie….

This confession is one I am incredibly proud of. My love affair with food, culture, wine, coffee, and anything green and edible, literally saved my life. About four years ago I could have easily stood up in front of a support group and said, “My name is Amanda and I am terrified of eating”. I am no longer afraid of food, I am now afraid of never truly being able to experience a new restaurant, a great recipe, or the sweet burn of  Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon ever again.

I nearly killed myself obsessing over calories, intake, output, and most importantly weight.  As a young adult image was everything to me and my life was out of control, I used my manipulation of food and the relationship of that to my body as means of gaining some control back into my life. I was a text book anorexic who had bulimic tendencies and incredible eater’s remorse. My body dysmorphia was so bad that even at 5’9” weighing 115 pounds (that is really lean), I couldn’t look into a mirror without crying.

(Mirror, Mirror, get the “F” off my wall!)

 This is when I discovered the Food Network.

BAM! These two were the epitome of my after school laziness! The simple techniques that Rachael Ray, Emeril, and Paula Deen used to create delicious looking meals inspired me into the kitchen. I don’t neccesarily think that they all cooked the healthiest food on the planet but you live and you learn. My tastes have morphed into a more Pescatarian inclined, Mediterranean inspired, get that deep fried Twinkie away from me diet.  However the simple kitchen skills and knowledge of food preparation remains. I am by no means a Chef but I can COOK!   

 (Hello heart attack)

The creation and control that went into the delicate construction of food was the control I needed in my life. I began to dissect the food on my plate, learn the names of the ingredients, and play with the pantry items. This taught me that there was a mind, body, and soul connection with food. I learned to love what I was putting in me, which helped me to love my body.

My goal of this blog is to re-image food for individuals who may be struggling with their self, their identity, and even their body image. With all of the negative ideas circulating through popular culture, I needed a place where solace can be found. There will be recipes shared, health and exercise tips, healthy images of real men and women, and positive stories of individuals loving themselves and loving their bodies. More importantly it is a place for me to share with you my foodie adventures. Ask me anything, I shall respond with the utmost honesty as that is how life should be had. Enjoy.

Time for Starbucks….hello caffeine.

<3 A. Leigh

Filed under Paula Deen Emeril Lagasse Rachel Ray Food Network Anerexia Bulimia Body Dysmorphic Food Wine Foodie Cupcake Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Starbucks Coffee Green Eating Disorder Recipes cooking BAM! Pescatarian Mediteraanean Cuisine Kitchen