Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Pictures!

I didn't get to upload pictures yesterday!  So now, here they are! :)  Hope your week starts off well! 

Pretty green juice!

A small bowl of Dave's chili to sample it.  Mm-mmm good!

Sunflower sprouts - packed full of easily digested proteins!

Quinoa ("keen-wah") tails!

Sorry it's sideways... Oops!  But here's our 'kraut!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Purple Protective Power Punch! Or something...

Happy Easter!! A wonderful time of miracles and renewal!

I hope it's been a relaxing, blessed weekend for you all :)

I had an amazing weekend of stress-relieving fun - starting with a brisk walk to a cross-training class at Body Boutique, where my instructor kicked encouraged me through several rounds of push-ups, walking lunges, jumping rope, and trying to lift my toes to my hands as I hung from a bar! (My toes never made it anywhere near my hands, just to let you know!) ;-)

Then I did a quick half mile jog to my weekly free yoga class at LuluLemon Athletica! What a great class it was! The first half was some good leg strengthening poses (no more!! I was so tired after the cross training!) but thankfully the second half was just a lot of deep stretching, deep breathing, and calming.

Ahhhh, peaceful :)

After that, I made a few shopping stops to get some last minute food items, then home to my dear Dave to spend a chunk of time in the kitchen! We popped in some Artemis Fowl audio books, and whipped up a health storm!

I tried my first GREEN JUICE! Wow, what a shock to the system! Instead of blending a bunch of greens with fruit, I basically just put the greens through my juicer, sans fruit. An entire head of red-leaf lettuce, handful of spinach, one whole cucumber, two stalks of celery, and half a lemon. Talk about a power kick! While I normally love the health benefits of fiber from the whole food, now and then, juice is great! This fiber-free juice goes quickly through your digestive system, the minerals and nutrients being easily absorbed into your blood stream. A quick kick of tons of nutrition! The flavor took some getting used to, but I was on such a health-high from the morning workout, that I was loving replenishing my system with minerals and health!

We are also trying our hand at making home-made sauerkraut! Rich in beautifying minerals and digestive probiotics, it's a great food to have on hand - if you can find it without being pasteurized. So, I have NO idea how our batch will turn out, but I'll let you know Friday when it's done!!

We also made up some salads, sprouted some sunflower seeds and quinoa grains, and Dave made raw vegan chili all on his own!! I was so proud :) He had enjoyed it so much when I made it last time, that he wanted to learn the recipe so he could make it on his own!

And another success? I made vegan burgers - that he liked!!! Amaranth, millet, onions, carrot, celery, spinach and seasoning... they didn't taste like burgers, but they were good! And once we loaded them up with tomato, onion rings, a dab of ketchup, and he used some A1 sauce... we wrapped it in a collard leaf rather than a bun, and went to town! We were both shocked at how much we liked them! It was an easy recipe from a book, and it's another one he hopes to learn!

So that was my Saturday. What a day! We relaxed in the evening, just basking in the glow of nutritious food.

And tonight, I had fun playing with a new food: açaí berry!

Probably many of you have heard of this new "superfood" berry - the media loves to promote the latest "cure all." And I won't go that far! But it's yet another tool for your belt of beauty, your weapons of wonder! Like most berries, açaí berries are rich in age-fighting antioxidants, and carry a lot of health benefits. So, this weekend, I bought some frozen açaí puree, and tonight I tried my first smoothie with it!

I should play with the recipe some more, and come up with some clever name... but for tonight, I just went with Purple Protective Power Punch, or Protective Purple Paradise! (Protective to your health and beauty because of the antioxidants, fibers, and healthy fats!)

2 scoops chia seeds (about 2 Tbs)
2 cups Coconut milk (I used So Delicious Original flavor)
1- 3.5oz packet Açaí berry puree
2 Tbs organic cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs local honey (or sweetener of your choice, to taste)

Soak the chia in the milk for about 10 minutes, so they can plump up. Then add all to your blender, and blend away to smoothness!

This lovely smoothie packs over 10 grams of fiber, healthy omega fats from the chia, healthy medium-chain fats from the coconut milk, and great antioxidants from the cacao and the acai! Happy health and happy skin, here we come!

Alright, and happy studying - here I come! Time to continue reading my current nutrition book: What to Eat by Marion Nestle. Awesome book about the politics behind food labels and recommendations. Things aren't always what they seem ;-)

Have a good night, and for my Polish friends and family: "Wesołego Alleluja!!!"

"Hallelujah, He is Risen!"

Peace and Prosperity <3

Monday, April 18, 2011

Banana Crepes

Another fun and easy recipe!I have enjoyed using my dehydrator to make little bananas chips, but this time we went with a crepe! Just blend up your bananas, and either leave it at that, or add some flavoring.

Banana Crepes
5-6 bananas
1 Tablespoon vanilla, to taste

Put in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Ladle into 3" rounds and dehydrate until leathery. About 18-24 hours

They will be taffy chewy, which for me is delicious!

Then just top as you like!

I first made a macadamia-cashew-berry blend (equal parts of each nut, then strawberries to taste.) The strawberries weren't really quite ripe yet, so the flavor wasn't strong.

Berry Spread
1 c. macademia nuts
1 c. cashews
1 c. fruit of choice to flavor

Blend all together, adding water or lemon juice as needed to thin. Spread on crepes!

So then I tried a blend with the nuts, and added blackberries and raspberries - a much stronger, tart flavor! So good!

Using fun little stencils, I spread the berry sauce on the crepes, and decorated with some strawberries. What a pretty breakfast to start your day! And full of healthy fruit to give you a god surge of energy, and proteins from the nuts to keep you going!

And there you have it! If you don't count the time in the dehydrator, this is a quick treat! So, just plan ahead, and you can store the crepes probably for about a week or two in the fridge. The nut spread also will keep for a while. I keep them separate so when I crave it, I just whip out a crepe, slather it with some berry spread, roll it up, and go!

So if you have a dehydrator, I hope you'll have fun trying this one :)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Green Smoothie Tips

Happy Monday, all! (Yes, I know... those two words don't normally go together. "Looks like someone's got a case of the Mondays!")

But perhaps if you started your morning off with a nutritionally jam-packed drink of green smoothie, your morning is going better than other mornings! ;-)

And I just wanted to share a few tips that I learned recently about getting the best blend for your buck.

While there are expensive, high-end blenders that I dream of one day owning, since they can cost $400+, for now I make due with what I have. I now have a decent Cuisine Art blender, and did pay a pretty penny for it - but I figured it was worth the investment. After burning through three $20-$40 blenders within a year, I figured I might as well get something sturdier.

But, if you just have a simple blender, here are a few tips to try to keep your green smoothies nice and SMOOOOOTH, instead of chunky-monkey applesaucey.

Dave offered to make one the other day, since I was running behind. So he just took the greens, the apple, the fruit... and piled it all in at once before trying to blend it. The result? Well, it didn't blend too nicely since we don't have an expensive, fancy blender. The greens at the bottom got all compacted around the blades, and the blades whirred in a big air pocket without getting much work done! So he tried to pack in more, stir it up, and add some water. Eventually, he got the blades hitting the food, and the smoothie was made with some effort. But it was done! And it still tasted good since he added extra fruits. But the texture was definitely different!

Here are a few things I've learned along the way, to work with a blender that's not an Uber Blender :) I also asked a crew of smoothie-addicted friends for some of their tricks!

  • START WITH GREENS. Just use a small handful of greens, torn a little bit if needed, and just enough water to blend (1/2 cup maybe?) Start at a slower blending speed, then work your way up. While it's running, gradually add more torn greens. Let that run for 30 seconds or so, to try to break down all those tough cell walls. Then begin to add other items gradually.
  • ADD ANTIOXIDANTS. If using lemon juice, add it just after the greens. Not only will the extra liquid help things blend, but the antioxidant power of the vitamin C will help maintain the nutritional benefits of the smoothie and slow the browning process some. We want green!!
  • DON'T STOP! Sometimes it helps to let the blades keep a'whirring while you add in items, instead of turning it off, adding, then turning it back on. This lets the velocity of the blending just suck down those chunks of fruit and blend them into oblivion!
  • PROPER STORING. While it's best to drink fresh, you can store it for later. Try to use a container that is airtight, and just big enough so there's as little extra air as possible. This can store in the fridge for 24 hours; or you can freeze it for later. But again, try to use ASAP.
  • TIME IT! Jasmine, author of the blogsite The Convenient Vegan, laughs and says, "I just blend for a really...long... time." And that is a huge help! Don't short-change your blend time, as this will help with that smooth consistency. Just try to let it run only as long as absolutely needed. You want it smooth, but the longer it runs, the more oxygen in pulls in, causing more oxidation and browning. So find your happy medium!
  • AND MORE! Check out this wonderful blog by Evelyn, From Sprout to Supper, where she shares her journey of food from ground up! She suggests:
    • To help make it smooth I add a banana. When I run out it makes a big difference.
    • You can also use cashews, avocados and coconut oil to thicken your smoothie.
    • Instead of water I use 1 cup Kombucha. The flavored ones are really good with the smoothie. I like the cranberry and mango ones the best. Mango, cacao and coconut oil make a great smoothie.
So I hope that helps, if you've been having some bad experiences! It's amazing the difference texture makes to the palatability of a smoothie, even if the flavor is exactly the same! I don't know if it has been a taste I have acquired, or the fact my blender is better at getting that great smooth texture - but I am now able to add half a head of Romaine in a smoothie, plus usually 1-2 cups of some other green, and still love it! Even Dave likes it, with only an apple, pear, and banana!

Give it another go if you have had trouble! Start light on the greens if needed, but either way...

Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Superman Said It!

I just read this quote, and wanted to share because I loved it!

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable,
and then, when we summon the will,
they soon become inevitable.”
— Christopher Reeve

Here's to making your dreams inevitable!

Much love!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Living Chocolate - No Guilt!

Hello and happy Friday!! I wanted to share a Raw Food potluck Dave and I checked out. They were advertising it as Cookies and Milk! ...or, Raw cookies, Raw Chocolate, and home-made Almond milk. So good, so fun!

Check out this pretty pan!
That is the tray of fresh made, enzyme-rich, antioxidant-packed chocolate that they made for us! It used unheated cacao powder, cold-pressed cocoa butter, agave (which, ok, has a lot of controversy about it's health benefits), and topped with cashews, gogi berries, and coconut! SO HEALTHY! (In moderation, of course!) Yes, higher calories, but with as rich and luscious as this treat is, you don't need much! It was so melt-in-your-mouth AMAZING! I have the recipe somewhere from the handouts, and I'll have to share it later :)

We got free samples of fresh, unpasteurized cashew butter and almond butter. They added more salt that I liked, but it was still tasty!

Here they are processing the cocoa butter, making it small shavings to allow it to melt faster for making chocolate!
Tasty Toppings!
Stirring the cacao powder into the melted cocoa butter. Look how rich and dark!
Pouring out the chocolate.
And decorating!
Other fun chocolate foods - little fudgey chocolate balls, wrapped around almonds, and rolled in coconut. It's so nice being able to eat natural foods that are dessert-like foods! Healthy, happy, and satisfied, we took a few samples and headed home :)

When you use the right ingredients, they add such benefit to your life! It's how I can enjoy "ice cream" for breakfast! Make it out of nothing but bananas and berries - or bananas, almonds, and cacao - and know that you're putting nutrition in your body while you put taste on your tongue!

I hope you'll try something new, too! One of these days, I'm going to make a chocolate turtle cheesecake that is made from all natural fruits, nuts, and seeds, and enjoy a decadent breakfast in bed! ;-)

Have a good one, my friends!