Creamy Almond Garlic Zoodles with Roasted Broccoli (Dairy-Free)

Zoodles and roasted broccoli in a creamy almond garlic sauce. This delicious recipe is dairy-free and perfect for your next Meatless Monday dinner.

A year and a half ago, I shared a recipe for a dairy-free creamy almond garlic sauce and today I want to show you one of my favorite ways to use it. Spiralized zucchini noodles FTW! These almond garlic zoodles with roasted broccoli make for a flavorful, healthy dinner or lunch. Sharing this recipe was also a great opportunity to go back and update the photography in the old sauce post–man has my understanding of lighting improved in the last couple years!

While the broccoli roasts, you’ll make the sauce on the stovetop so that everything can be mixed together at the end. From start to finish, it usually takes me 35-40 minutes to make this dish.

Zoodles and roasted broccoli in a creamy almond garlic sauce. This delicious recipe is dairy-free and perfect for your next Meatless Monday dinner. Zoodles and roasted broccoli in a creamy almond garlic sauce. This delicious recipe is dairy-free and perfect for your next Meatless Monday dinner.

Zoodles and roasted broccoli in a creamy almond garlic sauce. This delicious recipe is dairy-free and perfect for your next Meatless Monday dinner.

Creamy Almond Garlic Zoodles with Roasted Broccoli (Dairy-Free)

Yield: 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are

Creamy Almond Garlic Zoodles with Roasted Broccoli (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour*
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (1 for roasting broccoli, 1 for sauce)
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While oven preheats, spiralize your zucchini. Gently pat the zoodles with a paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside.
  2. Cut florets off broccoli head. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a pan (I like to line pan with parchment paper to make clean-up easier. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  3. While broccoli roasts, prepare the almond garlic sauce: DIRECTIONS.
  4. During the final few minutes of the sauce simmering and reducing, add in the zoodles to the pan. Stir until completely coated and cook for 2-5 minutes, depending on how soft you want the zoodles. I typically only cook them a couple minutes until they're warmed through but not too soft.
  5. Stir in the broccoli and enjoy.
http://pumpsandiron.com/2017/03/12/creamy-almond-garlic-zoodles-with-roasted-broccoli-dairy-free/

Zoodles and roasted broccoli in a creamy almond garlic sauce. This delicious recipe is dairy-free and perfect for your next Meatless Monday dinner.

If you do Meatless Monday, this would be a great dish to make tomorrow (or any day). You can also customize by adding veggies of your choice to the roasting pan. I love this sauce in Buddha bowls as well: quinoa or brown rice, all my favorite roasted veggies, and almond garlic sauce smothering the whole yummy thing.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend! Mine has been uncharacteristically productive. Grocery shopping, workouts, apartment cleaning, getting ahead on work, cooking–who am I?! AN ADULT?! *gasp*

Style Haul: Saving on my Latest Wardrobe Additions (+Giveaway!)

Styling a Sam Edelman pea coat and Mink Pink crop top from thredUP. Enter to win a $250 thredUP credit on the blog!

This post is sponsored by thredUP. All opinions are–as always!–my own. I appreciate your support of the brands that make this blog possible.

It’s crazy how much our priorities shift as we grow older. Not just with how we spend our time, but in how we choose to spend our money. In my teens and early twenties, every spare dollar I had went to clothes. I was obsessed with shopping and definitely had a “more is more” mentality about adding to my wardrobe. That’s why I named my blog Pumps & Iron in the first place–a play off pumping iron and pumps, my favorite type of shoe at the time (LOL I literally wear sneakers 24/7 now). I was determined to be a fashion (and fitness) blogger but ironically, as soon as I purchased my domain name, my spending priorities began to shift.

Nowadays, I’d much rather splurge on healthy food and workout classes than clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fashion, but I just can no longer justify buying things at retail cost. There are a few exceptions to that, but for the most part, when I do shop, I stick to sales and consignment stores like thredUP.

Style haul from thredUP. Enter to win a $250 credit on the blog!Style haul from thredUP. Enter to win a $250 credit on the blog!

thredUP is the largest online resale store that buys and sells high-quality secondhand fashion for women and kids. They have on trend, like-new fashion from name brands and designers for up to 90% off, and everything you order arrives in a cute polkadot box, neatly folded and tagged. Their selection is huge with thousands of items being added everyday, so I’d recommend searching by brand when shopping the site. Once you type in the name of your favorite designer, you can then filter by size, color, price and style to find what you want. I always have to mentally prepare to really go digging when I shop at brick-and-mortar consignment shops so I love the ease of these online filters.

Over the last year, thredUP has actually become my go-to for Lululemon gear. I really do love their stuff, but I just can’t bring myself to pay full price for it when, let’s be real, I don’t need any more workout clothing. Every so often I’ll go to thredUP and see if they have any cute Lulu gear in my size and so far I’ve scored two tanks I wear all the time, a hoodie I’m obsessed with, and most recently these awesome print leggings. I got them for $64.99 (down from $118 retail) and they’re in like-new condition–seriously can’t even tell someone else owned them!

Styling Lululemon leggings and a J Crew top from thredUP. You can win a $250 credit on the blog!

thredUP inspects each item it receives by hand to ensure all clothing is in like-new condition, and some pieces even are brand new. The J.Crew muscle tank I’m wearing was $15.99 (down from $50) and still had the original tag on it. Score! I love the pocket detail and it can be knotted to pair with high-waisted bottoms or worn as-is with jeans.

Styling Lululemon leggings and a J Crew top from thredUP. You can win a $250 credit on the blog!

I also scored a Sam Edelman wool coat for $48.99 (down from $143) which is going to come in handy given the freezing temperatures here in Boston. I love the faux leather details on the jacket because it makes it easier to dress both up and down. I can layer a hoodie under it when walking to teach at the studio or take a workout class or wear it with a dressier outfit.

Styling Sam Edelman jacket, Lululemon leggings and a J Crew top from thredUP. You can win a $250 credit on the blog!

The last of the four items I got in my latest thredUP haul was this Mink Pink crop top for $9.99 (down from $30). I love the pattern and metallic details. I’m pairing it below with high waisted dress pants and I’m sure it’ll be a go-to this summer as well.

Styling a Mink Pink crop top from thredUP. Enter to win a $250 thredUP credit on the blog! Styling a Mink Pink crop top from thredUP. Enter to win a $250 thredUP credit on the blog!

In total, I saved $201.04 buying the four items on thredUP instead of retail. Woop! That’s like seven group fitness classes or two salads at Whole Foods (LOL but not LOL because it’s too close to the truth #WholePaycheck). And get excited because you all are about to save big, too …

$250 thredUP Giveaway (+Discount Code)

I’m so excited to be able to give one lucky reader a $250 credit to shop thredUP! With their pricing, you can get a lot for $250. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Go to thredUP and browse a bit until you find a piece you’d definitely add to your cart if you won.
  2. Comment on this post sharing your favorite thedUP find and leaving a link to the piece.

I’ll select a winner Monday night (3/13).

If you’re not the lucky winner, don’t fret: thredUP is offering Pumps & Iron readers a special discount! The first 100 people to use my code NICOLE40 will get an extra 40% off their first order. This applies to new US customers only; discount up to $50. Happy shopping!

The Health Benefits of Quitting Coffee (for Me)

Three months ago I stopped drinking coffee. It's taken a while to notice the changes but I'm not fully convinced of the great health benefits of quitting coffee. Everyone is different but this was a great change for me!If you missed yesterday’s post, I talked about my relationship with coffee over the years and my experience giving it up three months ago. Today I want to talk about all the health benefits of quitting coffee I’ve noticed over the last three months. By no means did I wake up the next day and suddenly feel like a brand new woman–most of these changes are subtle and weren’t noticeable for weeks or even months.

Now that I can take inventory of tangible improvements, I’m certain my gut feeling to quit drinking coffee in the first place was right, and I’m even more enthusiastic about continuing to go without my morning cup of joe. For years though, I never stuck it out long enough to see and feel these changes, and that left me conceding that I might as well just drink coffee again. And that I did. Time and time again. Everyone’s body is unique and responds differently to coffee and caffeine, but if you suspect it may not be the healthiest habit for you, my advice is to really give it a few solid months before making a judgement call. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the first month the only noticeable change for me was how sad I was to be without my favorite beverage. It took patience and will power and was totally worth it.

Health Benefits of Quitting Coffee (for Me)

I’m More in Tune with My *True* Energy Levels

Three months ago I stopped drinking coffee. It's taken a while to notice the changes but I'm not fully convinced of the great health benefits of quitting coffee. Everyone is different but this was a great change for me!

This is huge for me. My whole idea of health is being in tune with my body–when I truly listen to it, it is always my best, most informed guide for what workouts I should be doing and food I should be eating. I’ve learned you can only fight your body (physically and/or emotionally) for so long before it ends in injury, illness, energy crash or emotional breakdown.

Caffeine was effective at masking how I truly felt and what my actual energy levels were, but really was just delaying the inevitable. Sure, I could power through a week of not getting enough sleep by drinking coffee throughout the day but that doesn’t change the fact that my body is sleep deprived.

At the three month mark without coffee, I definitely feel like I have more energy and I don’t experience that drastic afternoon dip. That being said, I really do need to go to bed early enough to give my body the sleep it needs in order to feel that freeing natural energy. I have to work with my body instead of against or despite it.

I should add that things definitely got worse before my energy leveled out. The first class I teach in the morning starts at 5:45AM. For weeks this was brutal without my caffeinated crutch. No longer could I bypass the effects of a bad night’s sleep by drinking coffee to power through my classes. Eventually though, my body adjusted to life without caffeine and now I’m back to being the natural morning person I’ve been since I was a kid. I can’t even explain how liberating it is to wake up full of *real* energy each day without needing a cup of coffee to feel like a functioning human. (Granted, I need to get my ass to bed at a decent hour to feel this way, but that’s how it should be!)

My Skin Is Clearer

Caffeine increases your body’s stress levels by triggering a sort of fight or flight response that signals the adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones. Increased levels of cortisol have been linked to acne and breakouts, so–especially if you drink several cups a day–your daily coffee intake could be having a negative affect on your skin. (This article goes deeper into the possible connections between caffeine and acne if you’re interested.) Sometimes it’s more what you put in your coffee (dairy and sugar) than the coffee itself, but I drink my coffee black so that wasn’t the case for me.

I haven’t had really “bad” skin since high school, but my oily complexion and sweaty profession usually result in clogged pores, small zits and an overall bumpy, dull texture. Honestly nothing bad enough to lose sleep over but I always feel like there’s room for improvement. I still get a few zits before my period, but  since quitting coffee, I’ve noticed an improvement in the texture of my skin–it’s smoother and more even.

Another contributing factor to my skin changes isn’t so much the removal of caffeine but the increase in water because of it. I drink a lot more water now that I don’t drink coffee, and staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Instead of drinking coffee while teaching my morning classes, I drink a big bottle of water. When I sit down to start working at my desk, I again reach for water instead of a second cup of coffee. Yes, coffee is water, but it’s also a diuretic so in my mind the two cancel each other out (I’m not a doctor or nutritionist–take that as opinion more than fact!). I certainly don’t feel hydrated after drinking a bunch of coffee.

If you think caffeine might be affecting your skin negatively, check out this girl’s experience cutting out coffee to cure her acne.

I’m Actually Hungry in the Morning

Three months ago I stopped drinking coffee. It's taken a while to notice the changes but I'm not fully convinced of the great health benefits of quitting coffee. Everyone is different but this was a great change for me!

Drinking coffee first thing in the morning would leave me without much of an appetite until late morning or even lunchtime. I either teach three workout classes or do my own workout first thing in the morning so this just didn’t feel right. My body should be hungry. The result of not eating much in the morning usually meant that I’d then overeat at night, having a massive dinner and then snacking on the couch until bedtime.

Now I wake up with a good, healthy hunger in the morning. Eating a big breakfast to satisfy that has helped me eat a normal portioned lunch and dinner and then chill on the late night snacking.

I’m Not as Moody and Irritable

Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants can cause anxiety as they increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This was absolutely the case for me. Because caffeine is addictive, you can also experience the irritability and depression that comes with withdrawals. Now I should preface this retelling of my experience by emphasizing that I have a history of depression and moodiness so for me in particular, really the last thing I need in my life is to be drinking any sort of substance that can alter my mood. I’m sure lots of people happily enjoy a cup of coffee a day without the dramatics I experienced!

I honestly didn’t really notice I was moody, anxious and irritable while drinking coffee regularly–it wasn’t like any of this was so intense that it was affecting my life or relationships. I only noticed the change afterwards. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots: Am I irritable because there’s something valid to be irritated about or is it the caffeine that’s making me respond so intensely to this irritant? Only through eliminating coffee was I able to see the cause and effect relationship. Now my mood is stable, I don’t get rushes of anxiety over trivial things, and I think I’ve been an all around more pleasant person in the last couple months.

This article from Whole30.com talks more about this (the author apparently had a similar experience to me when she quit coffee!). This article elaborates on the connection between caffeine and mood swings, and finally this piece discusses some studies suggesting caffeine worsens depression. To play devil’s advocate, I’ve also seen studies suggesting caffeine improves mood, so take everything with a grain of salt. My intent is to share some information on the topic and ultimately just encourage you to figure out what’s best for your body.

My PMS Isn’t as Bad

The days before my period have, for the last several years, consisted of a drastic dip in energy and irrationally bad moods. If that part of my cycle happened to fall on a day I was teaching, I would drag through my morning classes (even after inhaling a cup or two of coffee) and then I’d inevitably need a nap afterwards I’d be so drained. I’d also snap at Joe for the dumbest of dumb reasons (“You didn’t put the toothpaste cap back on?!” *sobs hysterically*) and would feel super down and antisocial. It’d only last a day or two and I always just brushed it off as an inevitable part of being a female, but the craziest thing happened when I stopped drinking coffee.

My PMS exhaustion and moodiness have all but vanished. What?!

I didn’t connect it to quitting coffee at first, but for three cycles now I’ve had no noticeable dip in energy before my period and my mood has held steady. The only change I’ve made to my daily routine in that time has been to eliminate coffee. It makes sense that with increased natural energy, lower anxiety and a more stable mood, PMS would be a bit more tame.

Before I end this post, I wanted to share this Forbes article I found interesting. It suggests the only reason coffee has been linked to increased performance (more coffee = more productive at work) is because of caffeine withdrawals, which decrease performance. So the coffee is actually just bringing you back to neutral after a night’s sleep withdrawing from caffeine, rather than making you some workplace superhero. Some food for thought!

Ok phew! This has been two long AF blog posts in a row. Before signing off and returning to our regularly scheduled program, I want to emphasize that I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad about their coffee habit–you have no idea how much I wish I could still drink it every morning and feel as good as I feel without it! Our bodies are all different and I think we should be constantly striving to figure out what lifestyle habits make us feel our best.

How does coffee/caffeine affect you? If you’ve eliminated it, what changes have you noticed? Think this post is a bunch of BS? Share your positive experience with caffeine and/or any studies supporting it–all opinions welcome!