fats

Chia Pudding [Video]

APLChiaPudding

If you know me, you know I love my chia pudding. It's a very easy and tasty energy boost. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, omega-3, calcium, protein, and antioxidants. Chia pudding is a great snack and breakfast option. It only takes 15-20 minutes to prepare and can also be made the night before.

Visit my post on 12 Reasons to Love Chia Seeds to learn more about the great health benefits of chia seeds.

Ingredients

Basic Recipe

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice (recipe for almond milk here)

A few pinches of ground cinnamon

Additional Ingredients for Chocolate Flavor

1/2 Tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 Tablespoon coconut sugar, raw honey, or grade B maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds. Let sit for 15-20 minutes until it reaches desired consistency. Add desired toppings or enjoy as is.

Serves 1

 

Green Superfood Granola

IMG_6972

This granola is one of my favorite treats. It is grain-free, gluten-free, low in natural sweetener, high in healthy fats, and packed with energy boosting ingredients. It won't give you that sugar crash other granolas and cereals may give you due to their high amounts of refined sugars and oils. I sweetened this green granola with coconut sugar, which has a low glycemic index and won't spike your blood sugar. So what makes it green? Spirulina powder (Click the link to see the brand I buy). Spirulina is a nutrient-dense superfood that has great health benefits and is a great supplement to a healthy diet. Spirulina has a strong and overpowering taste, but just a little bit provides great nutrition. The taste can be masked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats (add it to your smoothies and you won't even know it's there). Check out my Superfood Ice Popsicle recipe for another nourishing spirulina treat.

Aside from spirulina powder, I also used maca root powder and mesquite powder in this recipe. These are two other 'superfoods' that contain lots of health supporting nutrients even if using small amounts. Both maca and mesquite powders have a nutty, sweet taste to them. I often use them in recipes to add sweetness without having to add an actual sweetener.

This green granola has the perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness to take care of that sweet craving, but also provides a nutrition punch. I crave it all the time but only let myself make it every so often because it's so addicting. Even though it's addicting, it's still good for you compared to store bought granolas. You can enjoy it sprinkled on yogurt, chia pudding, or in a smoothie. Eat it dry as an afternoon snack, or pair it with almond or coconut milk to make a delicious healthy cereal.

 

IMG_6965

 

Ingredients

2 cups coconut flakes

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeeds

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-2 teaspoons spirulina powder (I used 2 tsps)

2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)*

1 Tablespoon mesquite powder (optional)*

1/2 - 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar (I used 1/2 Tbsp)

pinch of sea salt

*maca and mesquite powders are optional, but since they add sweetness to the recipe, you might want to increase the coconut sugar a bit if you omit them.

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 225 F.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in a sealed container.

Makes ~3 cups

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Almond Milk [Video]

IMG_7025

Almond milk is a delicious and healthy alternative to cow's milk. It's fresh, light, and dairy-fee, which supports those with lactose intolerant or dairy sensitivity. Making your own at home is both fun and more nutritious because it doesn't contain additives, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives that the store-bought almond milk does.

Almond milk is low in calories, and high in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Making it at home is very simple and often money saving. In 10 minutes, you will have fresh almond milk to add to your oats, smoothies, sauces, or simply drink as is.

Plain almond milk has a great rich flavor, but you can use a natural sweetener to give it additional sweetness and flavor. I love mine plain.

 

You will need

Blender

Nut milk bag or cheese cloth

Large bowl or pitcher

 

Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds (soaked overnight in filtered water and drained)

5 cups filtered water

Flavoring options

1/2-1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 pitted dates

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

 

Procedure 

  1. Soak almonds overnight in filtered water. Soaking overnight makes them more digestible and increases nutritional value. If you forget to soak them overnight or don't have much time, soaking them for at least an hour is good enough.
  2. Drain almonds and rinse well.
  3. Add almonds and water to blender and blend until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Place nut milk bag or cheesecloth in bowl and pour mixture through it. Gently squeeze to strain until all liquid is extracted from solids. Enjoy!
Homemade almond milk

Spicy Avocado Soup

Spicy-avocado-soup_v2

I've been playing with my new Vitamix way too much. It's been weeks of soups, puddings, and smoothies. I have made variations of avocado soup before, but this one is my favorite so far. This is a perfect summer soup, creamy and refreshing. It's very easy to make and you don't need any fancy equipment. Any type of blender will do.

Ingredients

2 avocados

2 garlic cloves

2 green onions

1 cucumber, peeled

1 teaspoon tamari (can omit)

3/4 cup water or vegetable broth

1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

juice of 1/2 lemon

pinch of sea salt

pinch of black pepper

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust flavor to your liking. Serve and garnish with cayenne pepper or fresh herbs.

Serves 4

What is Clean Eating?

What is clean eating

You've probably already seen or heard the term 'clean eating' or 'eating clean.' But what does it mean? What is so great about it? I'd like to clarify what it means for those of you who are wondering and what it's benefits are. Clean eating is not a specific diet, it's a lifestyle choice.

First of all, there are many different definitions of clean eating, depending on what meal regimen one follows and recommends (paleo, raw, vegan, vegetarian, etc). For example, a vegan might say that a clean eating regimen is one that omits all animal products, someone that only eats a raw food diet might say that clean eating is an all raw-food diet, and so forth. I don't believe that one is better than the other, it is just a matter of finding what works for you.

My definition of  'clean eating' is to eliminate all refined and processed foods from your diet. Foods like white sugar, white rice, bleached flour, white flour, and enriched flour all are foods that have been refined in some way. When refined, their nutrients are removed resulting in ingredients that only provide empty calories (calories with no nutritional value) with a blood sugar spike.

A clean eating regimen consists of whole, unrefined foods in their most natural state. These foods are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Pasture-raised eggs and poultry
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Full-fat dairy products

Be sure to read labels when buying things in a package. Just because the box says "whole grain" or " natural" doesn't mean they really are. Read ingredients closely and choose grains that don't have additives. You'd be surprised what's in that box of "whole grain" cereal you love so much, not a whole lot of nutrition. Chicken that is labeled "all natural" is interesting to me. Shouldn't chicken be natural? Sadly it's almost always not the case; instead they are fed antibiotics and hormones. Labels are misleading and most of the time not true.

Talk to the butcher at the grocery store, ask questions, and read the ingredient list. Try buying products that have 5 or less ingredients. And make sure they are ingredients that you can pronounce and that are unrefined. Visit my post on reading labels for more information.

Benefits of a clean eating lifestyle:

  • Weight loss/fat loss
  • Increased energy
  • Better skin and hair
  • Better health
  • Increased mental focus
  • Better sleep
  • Better mood
  • Decreased cravings and sugar addiction

As you can see, eating clean is a great thing. It seems to have become more and more popular these days, when in reality, it has been around for a long time and just now people are starting to realize how important it is to make this lifestyle choice in order to be healthy and happy.

How to transition to a clean eating life:

  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats,  and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth)
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water each day
  • Eat 5-6 times a day to reduce cravings and keep blood sugar regulated - include protein in every meal
  • Avoid all processed and unrefined foods (sugar, candy, pastries, white flour, white rice, bread, cereals, packaged goods, etc.)
  • Avoid beverages that are packed with sugar (soda, juice, Gatorade, energy drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks)
  • Avoid trans fats

Clean eating is the lifestyle choice I made and what I preach every single day. I have never been happier and felt more comfortable in my skin. If you are just transitioning to a clean eating lifestyle, take it slow and make small changes every day. It takes time, but don't give up. Know that your body will love you for it and you won't regret the health benefits from it.

Trust the process.

Almond Truffles

Almond-truffles

Yet another great way to use up your leftover almond pulp after making almond milk. If you don't have almond pulp, you can use almond flour instead. Ingredients

~2 cups Almond pulp, dried out* (or almond flour)

15 medjool dates, pitted

3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

zest of 1/2 lemon

Procedure

*To dry out almond pulp: Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and spread out pulp on top. Place in oven and turn the oven light on (oven should stay off). Leave in oven with oven light on for about 12 hours or until completely dried out. I place it in the oven in the afternoon and check it the next morning. It should be completely dried out.

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until dates are chopped up and mixture sticks together when pressed. If mixture is too dry, add some water (start with 1 Tablespoon). If mixture is too wet, add more almond flour. Taste and adjust flavoring if needed.
  2. Roll out mixture into small balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and place in the freezer until ready to serve.

12 Reasons to Love Chia Seeds

12 reasons to love chia seeds_v2

Superfood: Chia Seeds Chia seeds are very small seeds full of nutrition and health benefits. They don't have much flavor so they're easy to incorporate into meals and often help enhance the flavor of other foods.

12 Reasons to Love Chia Seeds:

  1. Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids -anti-inflammatory
  2. High in protein
  3. Provide energy -improve memory and mood
  4. High in fiber
  5. Keep you full longer -resulting in eating less which can lead to weight loss
  6. High in antioxidants
  7. Balance blood sugar
  8. High in calcium -3x more calcium than milk
  9. High in iron - 3x more iron than spinach
  10. Help rid the liver of toxins -great for detox and cleansing
  11. Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  12. Improve skin, nail, and hair health

Only 1 teaspoon of chia seeds a day is enough to give you benefits.

When soaked in liquid for a few minutes, chia seeds form a gel. You can eat the gel or you can eat the seeds raw. Add them to yogurt, water, smoothies, salads, baked goods, or make pudding.

Chai Spiced Quinoa Porridge

Chai spiced quinoa porridge_v2
Quinoa is a grain that can be used in sweet and savory cooking. I love making breakfast porridges with it. I always play with different flavorings and this one has been one of my favorites so far.
 
Ingredients
 
3/4 cup chai tea, strongly steeped 
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, soaked for at least 1 hour
1 cup coconut milk (I used canned organic coconut milk)
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
 
Optional toppings:
Raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds Chopped nuts
Goji berries 
Shredded coconut
Chia seeds
Fresh fruit Coconut milk
 
Procedure
  1. Steep chai tea and place in a small pot. Drain and rinse quinoa until water runs clear and place in pot with tea. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa is cooked or liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Drain if quinoa cooks before liquid is absorbed.
  2. Place cooked quinoa back in pot and add 1 cup coconut milk, spices, and salt to your own taste (You might not need the extra spices if your tea was strong enough, I personally like the extra spice). Let milk warm through and transfer porridge to a bowl.
  3. Top with desired toppings and extra coconut milk.
Enjoy!

Kale and Walnut Pesto

Kale and walnut pesto

I love pesto. Pesto is a great way to incorporate healthy fats, greens, and herbs into an every day diet. It is high in protein and pairs well with almost any type of vegetable or meat. I use it as a spread, dip, marinade, or dressing. There are many different recipes and types of pesto. Here is a recipe that I recently came up with and I eat with absolutely everything! 

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

8 small kale leaves (about 2 cups), stemmed

2 Tablespoons thyme leaves

1 clove garlic

Juice of one lemon

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust with sea salt or lemon juice. If pesto is too thick, add more olive oil. 

Notes

 

  • Toasting of nuts is not necessary, but it will enhance their flavor.