sugar-free

Mojito Power Protein Smoothie

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Summer in San Francisco is not really summer, but I still like to enjoy the amazing flavors and make summer treats like this smoothie and plum & coconut popsicles. This mojito power protein smoothie is perfect for an afternoon boost or a well-balanced breakfast. It's packed with healthy fats, two of the best plant-based protein sources (spirulina, hemp seeds), and fresh greens that offer a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

Two of the best plant-based protein sources:

Spirulina - Blue-green algea that grows in fresh water lakes all over the world  and is truly a superfood. It is made up of about 60-70% plant protein, which makes it the world's highest source of protein. Spirulina supports blood sugar regulation, immunity, kidney function, skin issues, cholesterol levels, depression, and provides lasting energy.

Hemp seeds - A complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. They have a perfect balance of protein, essential fats, enzymes, and vitamins. Hemp seeds are excellent for controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, muscle recovery, immune support, and providing sustained energy.

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

1/4 avocado

2 heaping teaspoons spirulina powder

1 large handful mint leaves

1/2 cucumber

2 cups spinach

2 cups coconut water (or filtered water)

3 Tablespoons hemp seeds (or chia seeds)

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

Mojito smoothie

Procedure

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into fancy glasses and enjoy.

Serves 2 or 1 for a nice big meal (I drink the whole thing for breakfast)

Mojito smoothie 2

 

Summer Minty Gazpacho

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Perfect for a summer day. Gazpacho is also a great way to get in a variety of vegetables at once. The beauty of this recipe is that you can't go wrong with what ingredients you use. This is all I had on hand, but feel free to use any vegetables you'd like (still including tomatoes though). I would throw in some cauliflower and bell pepper, or broccoli, yum!

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe heirloom or early girl tomatoes, cores removed and roughly chopped

1 cucumber, roughly chopped

1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Chili flakes, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

minty gazpacho

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until combined, but leave chunks for texture. I use "pulse" setting instead of "process" setting to make sure not to over process. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Plate and top with toppings of choice.

Serves 4

Enjoy! x

Dairy Alternatives + Cashew Cream Recipe

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Like most foods, dairy has it's controversies. Is it good or bad? If you Google 'dairy and health' you will find thousands of articles supporting why it's good, and thousands supporting why it's bad. We grew up believing that milk is essential for bone health. Truth is, you don't need milk to be healthy nor to get these important nutrients that you would get from milk - calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. There are various reasons why one might omit dairy from their diet: being vegan, lactose-intolerant, paleo, casein sensitivity. Everyone has their own opinion on dairy, but my advice is: If you're going to have it, make sure it's good quality. Dairy isn't how it used to be anymore. It now comes packed with hormones and antibiotics. Reading the label is crucial when selecting dairy products. Learn what's in it and where it's coming from. Whatever it contains will be ingested into your body.

I personally don't include dairy in my diet because I am lactose intolerant. I may have it every now and then (about once a month), and when I do, I choose organic and local goat or sheep as they are easier to digest.

Aside from being a discomfort for those with lactose intolerance, dairy is acidic and can cause inflammation for anyone. This is why I suggest to consume in moderation, about 1-2 times per week, and get calcium from other nourishing and anti-inflammatory foods.

Non-dairy foods rich in calcium:

  • Sesame seeds (more than milk)
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Turnip greens

Here are some healthy alternatives to dairy products:

  • Milk: coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, oat milk, flax milk - homemade milk is best to avoid preservatives and additives. Recipe for almond milk here.
  • Yogurt: coconut yogurt, chia pudding
  • Butter: coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter - free of dairy)
  • Ice cream: coconut ice cream, rice milk ice cream, blended frozen banana, thick smoothie. Try my vegan chocolate-coconut ice cream, it's delicious.
  • Cheese: cashew cream/cheese, nutritional yeast (sprinkle it on food for a cheesy taste)

One of my favorite dairy alternatives is cashew cream. It's simple to make and so delicious. Cashew cream can be used as a dip, spread, dressing, pasta sauce, pizza sauce/cheese, burger topping, and anything else you can think of.

Cashew cream

Ingredients

1 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 2 hours

1 clove garlic

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup water or vegetable broth (or less for thicker 'cheese')*

juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon

pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Optional flavorings: fresh rosemary, red chili flakes, fresh thyme leaves, dried herbs, nutritional yeast

Procedure

  1. Soak cashews anywhere from 2-4 hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place in blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

*The amount of water or broth you use will determine the consistency. Only use about 1/2 cup of water to get a more cheese-like consistency. Play around with liquid measurements and see what you like best.

What's your favorite dairy alternative? Please share in the comment section below. 

 

 

Sunflower Seed Butter

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A few months ago I discovered that I am sensitive to nuts. I know, I felt like my life was over, especially since I was the almond butter queen. I had it every single day and more than once. Perhaps why the sensitivity flared. I used to often get bloated and gassy after eating nuts but never thought anything of it since it wasn't every time or I just wasn't aware enough to make that connection. It wasn't until I did a thorough elimination diet/detox (similar to my 3-Day Detox Plan) that I realized that indeed nuts where causing stomach bloating and inflammation. So although they're packed with nutrients and have great health benefits, my body does not agree with them anymore. And that's okay because there are so many other foods that I can get those nutrients and snack fix from. It's just a matter of getting creative, there are always alternatives.

So I discovered this delicious and creamy sunflower seed butter. If you already purchase sunflower seed butter, do yourself a favor and make your own at home. It is so much better than the store-bought kind and doesn't contain refined sugars and other unnecessary additives. Always read your labels.

IngredientsSunflower butter

4 cups raw sunflower seeds

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place sunflower seeds on baking sheet and toast in oven for 6-10 minutes, until slightly golden. Check at 6 and 8 minutes. It's important to keep an eye on them because they burn easily.
  3. Let cool for 10 minutes and place in food processor. Process for about 7-10 minutes. The seeds will release their oils and go from a flour, to a crumbly, to a creamier consistency. Be patient, it takes time. At this point, with the processor still running, add remaining ingredients and process until it reaches desired creaminess.
  4. Transfer to jar and keep at room temperature or refrigerated for up 2-3 weeks.

Makes ~ 2 cups

Let me know how yours turns out! Share below or tag me in your picture #apurifiedlife

 

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

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I don't know about you, but I LOVE brussels sprouts. They are currently in season and I just can't get enough of them. There are various healthy ways to cook brussels sprouts. You can roast, sauté, steam, or shred them and use in a salad. I like to roast them and play around with different seasonings.

Balsamic-glazed has been my go-to lately because it's such a simple ingredient that gives them so much flavor. Throw these tasty brussels sprouts on a salad, on a bed of lentils or grains, have with chicken or fish, or have them as a snack.

Ingredientsbalsamic brussels sprouts

1 pound brussels sprouts

1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Remove outer layer of leaves from brussels sprouts and cut in half. Rinse and drain. Place in a baking dish and drizzle with melted coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. Roast in oven for 15-25 minutes until tender, check at 10 minutes and give them a stir. Serve.

Serves 2-3

Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup

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'Tis the season for a warm and comforting soup on a cold or rainy night. Vegetables and fruits have their seasons for a reason. When in season, they provide the most nutritional value, most flavor, and are cheaper. During fall and winter seasons, starchy vegetables are at their peak season to provide warmth and antioxidants that help us fight cold and flu symptoms. Starchy vegetables include: all types of squash, yams, beets, and carrots. Other warming foods include: ginger, mustard, garlic, and onion. To get the most out of your food, make sure you eat a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables every week.

This carrot-ginger soup is the easiest creamy soup you will ever make. It's dairy-free, gluten-free, and very anti-inflammatory.

Carrot soup

Carrot soup

Ingredients 

1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

1 medium onion, sliced

4-5 large carrots or 1 bunch of carrots, coarsely chopped

4 cups filtered water or vegetable broth

2-inch piece of ginger root, sliced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt to taste

Procedure

  1.  Heat coconut oil in a medium stock pot. Add sliced onion and pinch of sea salt. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add chopped carrots and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Add sliced ginger and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, covered, until carrots are soft.
  2. Carefully transfer everything to a blender and blend until smooth (You may have to do this in batches if it doesn't all fit). Tip: Take off plastic part of blender lid and cover with a towel to avoid spilling. Place hand over towel before starting blender.If you leave the cap on, the soup will overflow because it is too hot.Once soup is blended completely, add lemon juice and pinch of sea salt. Taste and adjust as needed. Serve.

Serves 4-6

Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Have you ever read the ingredient list of your store-bought tomato sauce? You'd be surprised to find that it's most likely loaded with added sugar, preservatives, and excess sodium. I got in the habit of reading labels years ago. It's amazing to find what is in products that are even labeled "all-natural," "organic," "sugar-free," etc. Point is, why spend money on these products that are not good for our health when they're so easy and more flavorful to make at home? Preparing your own sauces, dressings, and dips is fun and provides lots of health benefits.

There are many types of tomato sauces out there. This is my go-to base recipe. It's so simple, yet full of flavor. You can add different herbs and spices to make it your desired flavor (i.e. roasted garlic, chiles, etc.). Use sauce on vegetables, grains, chicken, or fish.

 

IMG_7702Ingredients

8 Roma tomatoes

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon red chili flakes (less or more to taste, I like mine spicy)

1/4 red onion (optional, gives it more spice)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

small handful of fresh basil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place tomatoes on a glass baking dish or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender and skin has cracked.
  3. Let tomatoes cool for a bit and once manageable, take skin off and discard.
  4. Place tomatoes and remaining ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust if needed.

Makes ~2 cups

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Almond Milk [Video]

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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

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.