High Protein Anytime Granola

Are you looking for a healthy and homemade snack option? Try this protein-packed granola from Christine Okezie at Your Delicious Balance!

Yield: Approximately 12 servings 

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup almond meal (“Bob’s Red Mill” or Trader Joe’s)

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup raw almonds, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup raw walnuts, chopped

4-5 teaspoons allspice


Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. In a mixing bowl, combined all dry ingredients.
  1. Stir in the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread mixture in a single layer.
  1. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Mix about halfway through.
  1. Let cool for 10 minutes. Crumble and store in airtight container.

How Healthy Snacking Can Manage Weight

By Christine M. Okezie, CHHC

We are a snacking culture. Everyone is always looking for an easy grab and go, a treat for that 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. energy slump, or a tasty nibble while watching their favorite television show.

In fact, studies show we spend more time noshing on snacks today than ever before. With concern for the growing obesity crisis in America, there’s a lot of debate about whether or not snacking contributes to weight gain. One reason snacking has gotten such a bad rap is because the majority of snacks consumed these days are high in sugar, processed carbohydrates and additives, and have low nutritional value. So when it comes to snack choices, quality is priority No. 1.

We want to avoid all the packaged stuff available in the grocery store and instead create a whole, real-foods snack with healthy fat, fiber and protein. Foods high in healthy fat and protein will keep you full and satisfied by keeping your blood sugar more stable throughout the day — a great way to avoid those dips that can sap your physical and mental energy. With plenty of good nutritious choices to choose from, snacks can also play an important role in filling in important nutritional gaps.

Healthy Snack Options

Here are a few of my favorite snack options to go to during the day:

  • Raw Nuts and Seeds — Try a small handful of almonds and pumpkin seeds to curb cravings between meals.
  • Apples and Nut Butter — Cut up some apple slices and dip them in some almond or cashew butter and enjoy.
  • Edamame in the Pod — In the frozen food section, you can find a great snack that you can sprinkle with sea salt and watch a movie.
  • Carrots or Celery Sticks with Hummus — Enjoy a perfect blend of crunchiness and smoothness; make your own hummus or find spiced varieties made without preservatives at your natural foods market.
  • Trail Mix – Ditch the store-bought ones, which can have added sugar, and create your own custom blend of nuts, seeds and dried fruit from the selection in your local health food store’s bulk section.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs / Turkey / Grilled Chicken Breast – If you are really hungry between meals, there’s no reason you can’t eat normal meal things! These choices fill you up with protein and keep you in balance.
  • Smoothies – Who doesn’t want a milkshake experience in the middle of the afternoon? For a truly satiating option, blend ½ a banana, a handful of frozen berries, a handful of kale, a tablespoon of almond butter and 1 cup of coconut milk. For an added bonus, throw in a dash of cinnamon, which naturally stabilizes blood sugar.

Bringing In Awareness
Another important key in the snacking debate lies in the proper definition of a snack and how it fits into your daily lifestyle. The primary purpose of a snack is to curb the appetite between main meals, and when done right, snacking can prevent us from overeating. In other words, by eating small, high-quality snacks between meals, you won’t be tempted to overeat for your regular meals.

Careless snacking, on the other hand, done out of boredom, anger or stress without regard to physical hunger can easily tip the scale the other way. If we routinely choose unhealthy snacks and make equally unhealthy choices for meals, don’t be surprised if we start to gain weight.

To keep snacking in the right context of a daily routine, I advise my clients to prioritize their focus on their actual main meals, making them the most whole, balanced and delicious as they can be. That way, high-quality snacks stay in the right proportion for your personal needs and can be a complement to everyday eating.

So, what makes snacking a good or bad habit when it comes to weight and health goals? It’s paying attention to both the quality choices as well the context in one’s overall eating behavior. It’s important to decide which works best for us: eating three amazing healthy meals or eating small healthy snacks or mini-meals throughout the day. The truth is both strategies can work well for different people.

Regardless, the key is awareness. Don’t just snack for the sake of snacking. Listen to your body and fuel it when it needs it. The more you can be aware of your body, the more you can effectively determine why you feel the way you do, and the more successful you will be in making the food choices that truly serve you.

Christine-OkezieChristine M. Okezie is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York, and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She founded her company, Your Delicious Balance, where she counsels individuals to heal themselves through real food and positive lifestyle choices. Her healing strategies are based on whole foods nutrition, and she guides her clients to adopt a plant-centered way of eating that offers anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits to the body. For more information, visit her Web site at www.yourdeliciousbalance.com or call (201) 889-5001.

“The No Diet Cookbook: Learn to Eat for Health & Pleasure,” by Christine M. Okezie

Are you tired of dieting and not losing weight? Are you looking to eat healthier without having to become a gourmet chef? Then “The No Diet Cookbook: Learn to Eat for Health and Pleasure,” by Christine Okezie is for you!

In her private practice, Okezie, who is also the Food As Medicine columnist for Elevated Existence Magazine, a certified holistic health counselor, and a natural foods chef, works with clients to make positive changes in their food and lifestyle to achieve their natural weight, adopt better eating habits and heal chronic health issues.

“This book takes my successful weight-loss and health program right to your kitchen by giving you the tools and inspiration to take charge of your health once and for all,” she says in the book’s introduction.

In addition to more than 85 recipes that are easy to follow, she breaks down the seven keys to what she calls a “delicious balance lifestyle,” the top food myths that keep us stuck, and how and why food can heal. She also includes a shopping list, and a list of recommended brands, although her approach is based on whole, real foods.

“When your diet is comprised of mostly whole, natural foods, your body knows exactly when it has had enough to eat, and your appetite is self-regulating,” she says in the book.

Below is the recipe for “Easy Grain-Free Pancakes,” from the book.

pancakesEasy Grain-Free Pancakes

(Makes approximately 10 pancakes)

1 medium ripe banana
2 organic cage-free eggs
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 cup almond milk (less if desire thicker pancakes
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of sea salt
Coconut Oil for cooking pancakes


  1. In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, blend all the ingredients except the coconut oil until batter is smooth.
  2. Pour pancakes on a hot griddle lightly coated with coconut oil. Cook pancakes for 2-3 minutes until bubbles form and both sides are golden brown.
  3. Top with fresh fruit or Blueberry Compote (recipe below).

blueberriesBlueberry Compote

10 ounces frozen or fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch whisked into 1 tablespoon cool water

Cook all ingredients over medium-low heat until fruit is soft and has a jam-like consistency.

FREE Webinar: Are Certain Foods Causing Weight Loss Resistance?

Join Elevated Existence Magazine contributing editor, Christine M. Okezie, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, for a FREE Webinar, “How Specific Foods May Be Causing Your Weight Loss Resistance,” Thursday, March 26 at 1 p.m. eastern/10 a.m. Pacific.

And don’t worry about making the live call — there will be a recording made available after it!

Okezie writes the “Food As Medicine” column for Elevated Existence Magazine, and in addition to being a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, she is also Natural Foods Chef, graduating from NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts; a Certified Eating Psychology Coach; and Certified Transformation Coach.

In this FREE webinar, listeners will learn:

— Why certain foods cause you to hold onto unwanted weight, regardless of how many calories you are consuming

— The most common (but NOT so obvious) culprits and why these particular foods can be problematic

— How to determine if, in face, these foods are affecting your weight loss

— How to get the tools you need to stop the chronic dieting and finally be healthy and happy in your body

Register for free HERE and visit Okezie’s website, www.yourdeliciousbalance.com for more information on her and her services.

The Raw Food Diet: What You Need to Know

We can all benefit from eating a more plant-based diet and incorporating some raw foods into our meals, but is an all-raw diet right for you?

By Christine M. Okezie

RECIPE: Raw Chocolate Truffles – Click Here!

Weight loss, increased energy, clear skin and improved overall health — these are just some of the many benefits that proponents of a raw foods diet claim. So what exactly is a raw foods or living foods diet? The diet consists of unprocessed, uncooked, whole, organic fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds and herbs.

Your key kitchen tools to uncook your foods are a food processor or blender and a food dehydrator. Some raw foods recipes require a lot of preparation, while others require very little or none at all, such as a smoothie or salad. Many vegan baked goods can be made in a dehydrator, while dips, sauces, pates, creamy desserts and even cheeses can be made from nuts and seed butters, and still others can be made from blended whole foods like coconut and avocados.

Carob and cacao powder can be used to make delectable raw chocolate desserts, and warming spices like garlic, ginger and chile peppers add natural heat. Also, raw fermented foods like miso paste and coconut kefir can support digestion and boost immunity.

There are many variations of the diet that also include raw, unpasteurized dairy products, raw fish and even certain kinds of raw meat. Typically though, about 75 percent or more of the food you eat is plant-based and not heated above 115 degrees.

Why Raw Food?
The central claim by raw food advocates is cooking destroys vital nutrients in food, and therefore, proper nutrition. When left intact or raw, the powerful plant phytonutrients can be used by the body to replenish itself and support natural healing.

Indeed, most foods are more nutritious when raw, as heat can destroy many nutrients, including many water-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants. Even the benefits of dietary fiber can be reduced by cooking it. On the other hand, the plant enzymes that raw food advocates wish to preserve are often largely destroyed anyway by the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs during digestion.

Raw foods do avoid some of the potential harms of cooking. Cooking meat can lead to charring, which creates carcinogenic compounds known as heterocyclic amines, and cooking methods like frying, baking or broiling of certain carbohydrates like potatoes (i.e. French fries) or grains, generates acrylamide, another potential carcinogen.

But is raw always better?  It’s clear Americans eat way too many packaged, processed, cooked food, and not enough fresh, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. The Living Foods diet is absolutely grounded on some key solid principles of whole foods nutrition. But the bottom line is to emphasize eating more unprocessed plant food — raw or cooked.

RECIPE: Raw Chocolate Truffles – Click Here!

Is It Right for You?
Raw foods advocates often ignore the fact that some foods are actually more nutritious when cooked, such as tomatoes, whose fat-soluble antioxidant lycopene becomes more bio-available when heated in oil. A diet of only raw can also exclude some wonderful health supportive cooked foods, such as beans, lentils, quinoa and eggs. Those individuals with nut allergies may also find a raw foods diet challenging because nuts are relied on as a staple source of healthy protein and fat. Raw vegan diets can also lead to a vitamin b12 deficiency, so supplementation is often recommended.

Additionally, like all dietary systems, it absolutely always depends on the ever-changing needs of the individual body. As I advise my health-coaching clients, there are as many different nutritional systems as there are cultures on the planet, and each one has some golden nuggets of wisdom that will work for you.

Be open and curious to finding those truths and see how they apply to your needs. A raw foods diet might be the best one depending on your health issue at the time.  Many people with chronic illness, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue or weight struggles are drawn to the healing power of eating more raw organic plant food.  Take note though that following a strict raw foods diet indefinitely may not be the most sustainable or even the most health supportive one for you. For some, too many raw fruits and vegetables can actually exacerbate certain digestive conditions. Others find their health improved with the addition of high-quality animal protein in their food. Still, others find that organic, whole-sprouted grains play a supportive role in their food.

In short, we should embrace the message of the raw food diet to eat more fresh vegetables, fruit, sprouts, nuts and seeds, and less processed junk. Americans would unequivocally be healthier if we all subscribed to it to some degree.

RECIPE: Raw Chocolate Truffles – Click Here!

christine OzekieChristine M. Okezie is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York, and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She founded her company, Your Delicious Balance, where she councels individuals to heal themselves through real food and positive lifestyle choices. Her healing strategies are based on whole foods nutrition, and she guides her clients to adopt a plant-centered way of eating that offers anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits to the body. For more information, visit her Web site at www.yourdeliciousbalance.com or call (201) 889-5001.


RECIPE: The Mediterranean Diet – Health Through Heritage

By Christine M. Okezie, HHC, AADP

I have been thrilled to see all the recent media attention about a study confirming the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. To me it was encouraging to see such mainstream validation that returning to a traditional way of eating is a key to optimal health.

Deeply nourishing, unprocessed, naturally raised, “traditional foods” are those foods that have sustained our ancestors throughout history and pre-history prior to the advent of the industrialization of food. Traditional foods were responsible for the natural growth and evolution of our species for thousands of years up until the 19th century, a time when obesity related disease was a fraction of what it is today.

Traditional cultures ate their foods in the context of family and community relationships, compatible with an active lifestyle and in harmony with their natural environment, but things have changed so much in the name of modern convenience. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded the Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk cardiovascular disease and stroke by as much as 30 percent.

This study is the latest in a growing body of research showing the amazing health benefits associated with the traditional Mediterranean Diet, a plant-based diet whose staples include fresh vegetables and fruit, beans and other legumes, nuts, olive oil and seafood.

This tells me more and more health experts are beginning to value the common sense approach of the whole foods movement, a slow and growing movement that seeks to overcome the madness resulting from the highly processed, refined, artificial foods, which have turned our modern societies into centers of degenerative disease.

Staple Foods of the Mediterranean Diet
The traditional Mediterranean diet is practically vegetarian with lots of fish and very little meat. Key ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine include olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins like beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fatty fish, plus moderate amounts of red meat and wine. Staple foods include tomatoes, leafy greens, eggplant, capers, lentils, beans, chickpeas, whole grains and mushrooms.

Emphasis is on anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats (fish oil, flax and salmon). Flavors are rich and diverse, and meals are simply and freshly prepared. Portion sizes are smaller than the Standard American Diet with a focus on high quality, and where healthy fats and fiber rich foods keep you feeling fuller longer and more satisfied. Processed and packaged food is minimal, and there are no artificial sweeteners, low-fat, low-carb snack foods, diet sodas, fake butter spreads or vegetable oil. Just real food!

Food as Medicine
The basis of the Mediterranean Diet is based on real, wholesome, plant-rich foods, which numerous studies have associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and many cancers. Several studies have shown the Mediterranean Diet is one of the easiest to stay on in contrast to most punishing fad diets.

Researchers found those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a significant decrease in weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin levels – i.e. health benefits that contribute to a longer life expectancy than people who follow the modern Western diet.

Doesn’t common sense and scientific research lead us to the conclusion that if we want whole healthy bodies, we should put in whole healthy foods? True, nutrition is a fledgling science, but there should be very little debate about the essentials of healthy eating. Our species has evolved and thrived on real, whole, fresh, chemical-free foods. Traditional ways of eating such as the Mediterranean Diet is simply a return to our heritage, which indeed is a return to good health!


Spinach with Garbanzo Beans


1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-lb. bag chopped spinach
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

1. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add olive oil and cook onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. In a small pan, over medium heat toast pine nuts, stirring constantly so they do not burn. Toast until golden brown and set aside.
3. Add chickpeas, spinach, raisins, pine nuts and nutmeg to the onion and garlic mixture, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes until spinach is wilted.
4. Add pine nuts. Remove from heat.
5. Drizzle with lemon juice
6. Season with salt and pepper and serve.