If you follow San Francisco Ballet corps dancer Natasha Sheehan on Instagram, you've definitely seen envy-worthy photos of gorgeously arranged food. But Sheehan is more than a skilled photographer; she also creates many of the recipes that she cooks. "I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram, but the majority of the time I just experiment and see what's good. It takes a lot of trial and error," she says. Sheehan is a self-described "pegan," which combines aspects of both vegan and paleo diets to emphasize eating whole, unprocessed food. The San Francisco-native started experimenting with her diet when her dance training became more intense. "I was looking for foods that had higher nutritional value for energy and building stamina," says Sheehan. "Most importantly, I wanted foods that delighted my taste buds and made me feel and dance my best." As for her love of photography, Sheehan says that "kind of came out of nowhere. I've always been a perfectionist, even before I started ballet, and like to treat each meal as a celebration to truly enjoy by making it look aesthetically appealing."
Sheehan shared three of her recipes with us below: Rainbow Superfood Energy Balls, Paleo Banana Zucchini Bread and Oodles of (Veggie) Noodles Salad. Want even more colorful delicacies? Check out Sheehan's blog for additional recipes and tips.
Rainbow Superfood Energy Balls. Photo Courtesy Natasha Sheehan.
"These are great for a snack or a pick me up," says Sheehan. "Sometimes I like to have them as dessert or right before a rehearsal if I need a little boost."
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup reduced fat coconut unsweetened fine shredded (plus a little extra for rolling)
- 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup figs
- 1/4 cup dates (Sheehan recommends deglet noor dates)
- 1 tbs chia seeds
- 1/2 tbs hemp seeds
- Ashwaghanda (Optional. An herb used in Ayurvedic healing to help strengthen the immune system. Available at most health food stores and drug stores.)
- Pumpkin spice
- Lemon zest
- Vanilla extract
- Freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries
- Turmeric powder
- Matcha green tea powder
- Blue Majik powder/capsules (Derived from spirulina, Blue Majik is an algae extract full of vitamins, enzymes and minerals. It's available at most health food stores and online.)
- In a food processor, blend the almonds and walnuts together. Pulse a few times in the very beginning.
- Add the dried fruit and coconut. Blend again.
- Add the chai seeds, hemp seeds, ashwaghanda (optional), pumpkin spice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Blend for about 10 seconds.
- On a parchment-paper lined baking tray, roll mixture into ping-pong sized balls.
- Roll the energy balls in the bowls of rainbow superfood powders (crushed freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries for red; turmeric for yellow; matcha powder for green; blue Majik for blue).
- Place the tray with the energy balls in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
- The energy balls can be enjoyed immediately or stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Paleo Banana Zucchini Bread. Photo Courtesy Natasha Sheehan.
Paleo Banana Zucchini Bread
"This is perfect for breakfast or brunch on a day off," says Sheehan.
- 3 bananas
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond butter (Sheehan recommends Jem Organics Cinnamon Red Maca Sprouted Almond Butter. "I find sprouted is better for digestion," says Sheehan.)
- 1 grated zucchini
- 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 cup paleo baking flour (Try almond flour, arrowroot starch, organic coconut flour or tapioca flour as alternatives. Sheehan recommends Bob's Red Mill Paleo Flour).
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp Organic Gemini's Tigernut Prebiotic Smoothie Mix (Optional)
- Vanilla extract
- 1/2 lemon zest
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp Ashwagandha (Optional. An herb used in Ayurvedic healing to help strengthen the immune system. Available at most health food stores and drug stores.)
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Combine the bananas, eggs, nut butter, grated zucchini and coconut oil in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Pour in batter and spread evenly.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and flip your bread onto a cooling rack.
- Slice, serve and go bananas!
Oodles of (Veggie) Noodles Salad. Photo Courtesy Natasha Sheehan.
Oodles of (Veggie) Noodles Salad
For Sheehan, this colorful salad is "great for lunch" on warm weather days.
- 2 handfuls of romaine lettuce
- 1/2 watermelon radish
- 1-2 carrots
- 1/2 golden beet
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1/2 fennel bulb
- Small handful of walnuts
- A couple of mint leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing of your choice
- Place the romaine lettuce in a salad bowl
- Spiralize all of the veggies (If you don't have a Spiralizer, Sheehan recommends grating or finely chopping the vegetables).
- Roast walnuts in oven or toaster oven at 350℉ for 2-3 minutes
- Add walnuts, mint veggie noodles and dressing to salad bowl
- Toss together
- Serve and enjoy!