snack

Herb & Seed Crackers

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I used to be a huge fan of Mary’s Gone Crackers, until I came to realize that I could easily make my own with a blend of seeds of my choice. Delicious, nutritious, gluten-free, soy-free, and so simple to make. What more do you need? These herb seed crackers are the perfect make ahead snack to have for the week (although they might not last longer than 2 days). Enjoy them with a spread of avocado, hummus, nut butter, or pair them with a salad for a quick lunch.

Seed crackersIngredients

1 cup ground flax seeds/flax meal

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of black pepper, optional

2 cups water

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and combine well. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, until thickened but still pliable.
  3. Divide mixture into two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly into a thin layer, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until browned. Let cool and break into pieces. You may also score them before putting in the oven if you want perfect shaped crackers.
  4. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Note: You can use any fresh herb or blend that you like. My favorite is rosemary. 

What herb will you add to your crackers? Be creative and share with me what you come up with.

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

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The best things come when you least expect them. I wasn't even thinking or craving chocolate, but these sweet things snook up on me as I was standing in front of my pantry in search for something to do. These raw chocolate macaroons pack a punch of vitamins and minerals and are gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free. They're a quick little treat to boost mood and energy. Honestly addicting.

Enjoy!

chocolate macaroons 1

Ingredients

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup melted coconut oil (measure after you have melted it)

3 Tablespoons coconut nectar (I use Coconut Secret)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Tightly pack mixture into a Tablespoon measuring spoon and gently drop it over a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the batch.
  2. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Let sit for a few minutes out of the freezer before serving, but don't leave out for too long or they will melt.

Makes ~20

These would be better if dehydrated with a dehydrator, but I don't own one. I encourage you to use it if you do.

Tell me, how do you relieve stress? What methods do you use to keep your focus? 

 

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. 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate-Coconut Ice Cream

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It's not summer yet, but I'm already craving (and testing) all the amazing treats I want to create on those sunny days to come. My first test was this delicious and ridiculously simple chocolate-coconut ice cream. I always thought of ice cream as something that was impossible to make at home. Even using an ice cream maker seemed like a lot of work for me, and I never felt the need to try to make it at home since ice cream is not usually my go-to treat. Then I visited Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco and had their chocolate vegan ice cream and life was different. That ice cream is always worth the 30 minute wait. Since trying Bi-Rite Creamery, I knew I had to come up with my own healthy version to avoid indulging again. And that I did.

I still don't have an ice cream maker, but that is not necessary for this recipe. Making vegan ice cream turned out to be very easy. All I used was a blender and a glass container to freeze the ice cream in. The best part is that I only used 4 ingredients and the ice cream is gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. It couldn't be better if you ask me. It's a perfect guilt-free treat or snack for adults and kids.

Please try this recipe and share below how yours turned out. Feel free to substitute pistachios with any type of nut.

Choc coconut ice cream

Ingredients

1 can coconut milk (make sure to use full-fat, otherwise, ice cream won't be creamy)

3 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut nectar or raw honey

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour in glass container or dish and place in freezer for 6-8 hours, until completely firm.
  3. Serve scoops using ice cream scooper (or eat straight from container, which I may or may not have done)

Enjoy!

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

Coconut and Cinnamon Granola

Coconut & Cinnamon Granola Fetaure Image

I've been on a granola kick lately. It's my current go-to treat, except it's not filled with crap and it keeps my blood sugar stable. It's also gluten-free, grain-free, and nut-free. Of course you can add nuts if you'd like, but I omit them since I am sensitive to them. Coconut & Cinnamon Granola

This recipe in particular is one of my favorites. Coconut and cinnamon make a great combination and are both anti-inflammatory. I personally leave out the sweetener and it tastes just as delicious. Try it out with and without sweetener and let me know what you think. Enjoy this granola for breakfast with non-dairy milk, as a snack, or for dessert.

Ingredients

2 cups coconut flakes (not shredded)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 Tablespoon natural sweetener (coconut nectar, raw honey, grade B maple syrup), optional

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, optional

pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to coat evenly.
  3. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until beginning to brown.
  4. Let cool for 15 minutes and store in air-tight container.

Makes ~4 cups

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

 

My Post-Holiday Thoughts and Tips to Get Back on Track

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This is the first time I write a blog post with more of "my thoughts" than nutrition advice. I figured it was time to switch it up a bit. I'm in the mood. It's the week after Thanksgiving and some of us are feeling stressed, low on energy, and in need of a detox. Is this you? I believe that a balance is key for a healthy lifestyle. I believe in the 80/20 approach, which consists of eating healthy 80% of the time and being able to indulge 20% of the time. I don't believe in depriving ourselves from the things we love. Everything should be done and consumed in moderation. I personally used to have a hard time reaching that healthy balance. Once I gave in to the foods that I don't normally eat (refined sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol), I found it hard to stop. Sugar is like a drug, it leaves you wanting more and more, and turns into a vicious cycle. The more we eat it, the more we crave it.

So how do we handle it? It takes time to get there, but it is possible. First of all, we have to learn to be okay with indulging and not punishing ourselves afterwards. It's about building a positive relationship with food and not a negative one. Second, we shouldn't be afraid of foods we love, but rather be mindful when we are eating them and know that they are only a treat and not an every day thing. If we believe that our body can handle it, then we won't stress about it. If we stress about the food we are eating, our body will not digest it well and cause inflammation and other symptoms. The more mindful we are when we eat, the better relationship we build with food. Don't let guilt dominate your eating experience and learn to enjoy every bite. Chew your food. It's so important to listen to our bodies and learn how food affects us to be able to eliminate the foods that don't make us feel good or don't provide us with energy. Throughout the years (yes, it takes time), I have learned to only enjoy foods that make me happy. Over indulging does not make me happy. In fact, I get in a bad mood when I eat a lot of sugar and not enough whole foods (vegetables, fruits, seeds, etc.).

My boyfriend and I took a road trip this holiday weekend and we could not believe how limited our food options were on the road. Dried apricots is all we walked away with at the gas station when we were feeling hungry. Good thing I had some raw coconut treats with us because there was literally nothing there that was going to give us sustained energy. We got smart on the way back and picked up food at Sprouts. We bought ingredients to make hummus & vegetable sandwiches on black rice bread (gluten-free), and a few bananas with almond butter.

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It often seems to others that I am "too strict" on myself, when really I enjoy eating how I eat and the lifestyle I live. My body and mind have learned to not crave those foods I used to run to when I was feeling stressed or emotional. Those foods that are associated with "living a little." Based on how I feel with the foods I eat and how happy I am, I have never lived better. I do indulge every once in a while, but I never let myself fall into the trap of wanting more. I now know that my body can handle it without gaining weight or losing track completely, but only if I am mindful that it is just a treat and don't associate it with any negative thoughts.

That said, of course I did indulge a bit this past Thanksgiving and I don't regret it one bit. I came back from my trip refreshed and ready to take on a new month. I decided the best way to start was with a detox, so my mom and I started a 6 day detox yesterday. We want to have more energy, lose the bloating/inflammation, clear our skin, and get rid of cravings.

Here are simple tips you can do also to get back on track:

  1. Drink Water. I can't stress how important water is to cleanse the body. Headaches, bloating, cravings, and low energy are all often signs of dehydration.
  2. Eat More Greens. The more greens we eat, the less we cravings we have. Vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals we need daily and reduce inflammation. Are you craving sugar? Eat greens. Are you low on energy? Eat greens.
  3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast. If your breakfast consists of mostly sugar (breads, pastries, fruit), you will crave sugar the rest of the day. Start your day with a breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats and you'll have more energy for longer.
  4. Walk it Out. Walking is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Take a long walk in the morning for the best start to your day or take 10-20 minute walk breaks throughout the day to reduce overall stress in your life. The more we stress, the harder it is to manage weight regardless of how clean our diet is.
  5. Eat Mindfully. Always ask yourself before you eat: "Will this nourish me and give me energy?." If the answer is no, then make changes. Be mindful of what you eat and how you feel during and after. Enjoy every bite and remember that you are the only one that can control what goes into your body.