Matcha Waffles (vegan & gluten-free!)


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Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! I thought something green would be fun for the occasion - and what better green flavor than matcha! Matcha is a ceremonial grade green tea. Instead of steeping the tea leaves like traditional green tea, the matcha leaves are ground and turned into a powder to be made into matcha tea. Since you consume the whole leaf instead of just the diluted tea, you get so many more nutrients! Matcha can contain more than 100x the amount of antioxidants of traditional green tea, making it great for reducing inflammation and preventing disease (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc). I've recently been obsessed with the Brandless GF Pancake/Waffle mix and so I decided to put a green spin on it! You can find my original "veganized" recipe here. This is essentially the same recipe just with 2 tsp matcha powder and a little bit more almond milk. 


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Ingredients

  • 1 bag Brandless Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 2 tsp organic Matcha Powder (my fave here)
  • 1 tbsp Brandless Milled Flax Seeds (+ 1.5 tablespoon water to make a Flax Egg)
  • 2 tbsp Brandless Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Brandless Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • Brandless Organic Maple Syrup or Agave

Directions

  1. Prepare flax egg using 1 tablespoon Brandless Milled Flax Seeds and 1.5 tablespoon hot water. Mix together and let set for 30-60 seconds until a gel forms. 
  2. Warm almond milk and coconut oil together (either in microwave or on stovetop) until completely melted (no coconut oil clumps remain).
  3. Add Brandless GF Pancake Mix and Matcha Powder to a medium mixing bowl and mix until combined
  4. Add flax egg and almond milk/coconut oil mixture and whisk until combined. Do not overmix, small lumps are okay! If it is too thick, add more almond milk; if it is too thin add 1/2 tbsp milled flax seeds and mix thoroughly and let sit for a minute or two to thicken. 
  5. Pour  ~1/4 cup batter into hot waflle iron and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until waffle iron alerts you waffles are done
  6. Serve with Brandless Organic Maple Syrup or Agave and top with fresh fruit!
  7. Makes 6-8 waffles. Enjoy! And Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
     

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Beet Pancakes 2.0 (Brandless edition!)


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What is Valentine’s Day without bright pink pancakes? These delicious pancakes, adapted from Brandless’ Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix features a surprise ingredient… BEETS! You heard me right. By adding beets to the mix, you not only get a beautiful pink pancake, but you are also able to omit the oil in the recipe, which decreases calories and fat content! What’s amazing is that you still get delicious and fluffy pancakes. Beets may not be a popular vegetable, but by combining them into this recipe, you actually can hardly taste them at all, making it a healthier option for anyone, despite your liking of beets. Get cooking this Valentine’s Day and grab a pack of Brandless’s Gluten-Free Pancake Mix, Milled Flax Seeds, almond milk, and a beet and get cooking!

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Ingredients

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Directions

  1. The night before you intend to make pancakes, preheat oven to 400º. Cut off root and stem from beet and scrub/wash until clean. Wrap beet in foil and place in oven to roast for an hour. Sit a cooking sheet on the rack below to catch any drip from the roasting beet. 
  2. After beet is roasted, set in refrigerator overnight to cool. In the morning, use a food processor or high-speed blender to pureé the beet. Spoon out 1/4 cup to use for the recipe and use the rest for another recipe, such as beet hummus. 
  3. Prepare flax egg using 1 tablespoon Brandless Milled Flax Seeds and 1.5 tablespoons hot water. Mix together and let sit for 30-60 seconds until a gel forms. 
  4. Add Brandless GF Pancake Mix to a medium mixing bowl. Then add flax egg, almond milk, and pureed beat and whisk until combined. Do not overmix, small lumps are okay! If it is too thick, add more almond milk; if it is too thin add 1/2 tbsp milled flax seeds and mix thoroughly and let sit for a minute or two to thicken. 
  5. Preheat skillet or griddle to medium (~350ºF) and lightly grease.
  6. Pour  ~1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until bubbles form on top of pancakes.
  7. Flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  8. Serve with Brandless Organic Maple Syrup and top with fresh fruit!
  9. Makes 6-8 pancakes. Enjoy!! 
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Beet Hummus


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     Beets are not only amazing for their beautiful, bright pink color, but they are packed with tons of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that boost your immune system and prevent sickness & disease! The nutrients in beets can help lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation, which prevents diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. They can be used in salads, juices, smoothies, baked goods, or my favorite- HUMMUS!

     Hummus is a spread traditionally made with ground chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon, and other spices. I love to get creative with hummus and add in other vegetables to flavor, like roasted red bell peppers, eggplant, and even roasted beets! Beets bring a natural, earthly taste to the dish and pair deliciously with lemon and lemon zest! You can use it as a sandwich spread, a dip for raw veggies, or even as a salad topper. You can buy chickpeas and olive oil from Brandless, and even grab a DIY Hummus Bundle that includes these ingredients plus garlic salt, ground pepper, and crisps that work as perfect dippers! This dish gets a giant two thumbs up from both me and Dwight Schrute.


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Ingredients

  • 1 medium beet, roasted
  • 1 can Brandless chickpeas, halfway drained 
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tbsp Brandless olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Parsley and lemon zest to garnish

Brandless also has a DIY Hummus Making Kit

Directions

  1. The night before you intend to make hummus, preheat oven to 400º. Cut off the root and stem from the beet and scrub/wash until clean. Wrap beet in foil and place in oven to roast for an hour. Sit a cooking sheet on the rack below to catch any drip from the roasting beet. 
  2. After the beet is roasted, set it in the refrigerator overnight to cool. In the morning, use a food processor or high-speed blender to pureé the beet.  
  3. Add all other ingredients to the pureé and blend for 3-5 minutes until fully processed and creamy. 
  4. Remove from food processor and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Top with lemon zest and parsley and enjoy! 

Matcha Smoothie Bowl

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Matcha is commonly confused with green tea, which it is, but it's so much more! Matcha is a ceremonial grade green tea, which instead of being steeped in water like most teas, the leaf is ground down into a powder and used completely. Matcha has one of the highest amounts of antioxidants per weight of any food. You would have to drink 10 cups of brewed green tea to get the number of antioxidants as in one cup of matcha tea. It has almost 17 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries and 25 times the amount of açaí (p.s. I just posted an açaí bowl recipe).

Matcha contains a unique type of antioxidants called catechins, which is rarely found in other foods. Catechins are especially effective in fighting cancer and aid in the prevention of other diseases. Matcha can be delicious made into a latte with almond milk or blended into a smoothie or smoothie bowl.

Just a note- some matcha mixes will throw in sugar or evaporated milk products, so be sure to read the label when purchasing! Also be sure to always buy pure, organic, high-quality matcha! Here are two great products: Jade Leaf & Starter Matcha. Plus to be all fancy you can get a bamboo matcha whisk and a milk frother for your matcha lattes. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tbsp matcha powder (two good brands: Jade Leaf & Starter Matcha)
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to high-speed blender and mix until thoroughly blended
  2. If too runny, add more frozen fruit. If too thick, add more almond milk
  3. Pour into chilled bowl, decorate with toppings and enjoy! 

Nutrition Facts

Makes 1 serving | does not include toppings

Calories: 274 | Protein: 4 grams | Fiber: 7 grams | Carbohydrates: 65 grams | Fat: 3 grams | Vitamin A: 70% RDA | Vitamin C: 162% RDA | Calcium: 51% RDA | Iron: 12% RDA

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (with Cashew Cheese Drizzle!)


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Okay friends, this is the savory, spicy, and hearty JACKPOT. I had meal prepped some green lentils, sweet potatoes, and quinoa already so I decided to turn them into a delicious recipe. This was so easy to make and I had the whole thing prepared in under an hour! (just be sure to have your cashews pre-soaked. If not, rush-soak them like I did for an hour in almost-boiling water). 

This recipe has 21 (!!!!!) grams of plant-based protein per serving along with 16 grams of fiber and over 250% of your daily value of vitamin A. This dish left me feeling so satisfied and full in all the right ways. It reheats really well and keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge. You really could get creative and add any veggies into the stuffing or use another veggie as the boat- like a zucchini or squash. Any way you make it, this dish is sure to please any vegan or omnivore alike. 


Ingredients

SWEET POTATOES

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced length-wise
  • Spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, etc)

LENTIL QUINOA STUFFING

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  • 1 white or yellow onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

CASHEW CHEESE DRIZZLE

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight (or in almost-boiling water for an hour), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp arrowroot starch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º
  2. If you haven't soaked your cashews overnight yet, measure out cashews and soak in almost-boiling water, covered, for an hour
  3. Cut sweet potatoes in half length-wise and dust lightly with spices of choice
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until browned and roasted
  5. In the meantime, prepare your stuffing by chopping your onions and mincing the garlic.
  6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and caramelize your onions and garlic
  7. Add spinach and sauté until wilted
  8. Add lentils, quinoa, and all spices and sauté for 5-6 more minutes on medium heat, until stuffing is heated throughout Add splashes of vegetable broth to keep moist and encourage cooking, and add more once it has evaporated
  9. Once cooked, set aside until sweet potatoes are ready
  10. Once sweet potatoes are roasted, remove from oven and scoop out the middle of the sweet potato and mix into the stuffing
  11. If stuffing has cooled, put on medium-high heat and heat up again
  12. Make cashew cheese by draining/rinsing cashews and putting them and all the other ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and mix until creamy
  13. Stuff sweet potatoes and drizzle cashew cheese over them to taste.
  14. Enjoy! Save leftover stuffing/sweet potatoes for up to 5 days. Stuffing would also be great in other hollowed-out vegetables (like zucchini or squash) or on its own! 

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1/2 sweet potato + 1 cup stuffing + 2 tbsp cashew cheese | Makes 4 servings

Calories: 430 | Protein: 21 grams | Fiber: 16 grams | Carbohydrates: 74 grams | Fat: 7 grams | Vitamin A: 252% RDA | Vitamin C: 37% RDA | Calcium: 11% RDA | Iron: 54% RDA

Mango + Greens Smoothie Bowl

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There have been over 1500 hospitalizations & 45 deaths from the flu in Oklahoma this flu season - which means we need to be treating our bodies extra well to keep them healthy!! Recently I have been starting my morning off with a big green smoothie / smoothe bowl packed with spinach & mango for vitamin A & Vitamin C after my morning trip to the gym. Exercise also naturally strengthens the immune system (just be sure to wash your hands/exercise equipment/mat when working out in a public environment).

Take care of your body & it’ll take care of you!

Stay healthy friends!!!


Ingredients


Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to high-speed blender and mix until thoroughly blended
  2. If too runny, add more frozen fruit. If too thick, add more almond milk
  3. Pour into chilled bowl, decorate with toppings and enjoy! 

Nutrition Facts

Makes 1 serving | does not include toppings

Calories: 406 | Protein: 27 grams | Fiber: 11 grams | Carbohydrates: 61 grams | Fat: 9 grams | Vitamin A: 182% RDA | Vitamin C: 154% RDA | Calcium: 57% RDA | Iron: 32% RDA

 

Classic Açaí Bowl

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Odds are that you have heard of açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) or açaí bowls. Açaí is a berry found on açaí palm trees in rainforests in South America. The flesh and skin of the berry (the edible part) only makes up 20% of it, and the seed takes up the remaining 80%. The flesh and skin have tons of health benefits and nutrients including antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fats.

Antioxidants help protect your cells against damage from molecules called 'free radicals'. Free radicals contribute to disease development (like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc). Other foods with high amounts of antioxidants include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, green tea, and pomegranates (but really almost any fruit has some amount of antioxidants).

Fiber helps keep you regular and helps you stay fuller longer. High-fiber diets (which occurs naturally when following a plant-based diet), are also linked to decreased rates of cancer, prevention of type 2 diabetes, and reversal of heart disease. 

Omega-3 fatty acids aid in reducing inflammation in the body and contribute to healthy cognitive function. Other foods containing omega-3s are nuts, avocados, and fish (though I heavily prefer plant-based sources). A diet rich in omega-3 fats can help decrease your cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease. 

Convinced to try açaí yet? If not, give it a try and the taste alone will convince you. You can use the powder or the frozen packets to give your smoothies a superfood boost! 


Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tbsp acai powder*
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • Optional toppings: hemp hearts, chia seeds (I used dark chocolate covered chia seeds from Salba), or fruit of choice (I love sliced berries and bananas!) 

* You can also use frozen acai packets (I recommend buying at Sprouts or Whole Foods instead of ordering online). If you do this, the recipe will change a bit, so adjust the almond milk accordingly. 


Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to high powered blender and blend until well-mixed
  2. If too runny, add more frozen bananas or berries until thickened. If too thick, add a bit more almond milk until it mixes well. 
  3. Top with toppings of choice. Enjoy! 

Nutrition Facts

Makes 1 serving (nutrient facts do not include toppings)

Calories: 275 | Protein: 3 grams | Fiber: 10 grams | Carbohydrates: 50 grams | Fat: 8 grams | Vitamin A: 35% RDA | Vitamin C: 47% RDA | Calcium: 55% RDA | Iron: 13% RDA

Happy Gluten-Free Day! (+bonus pancake recipe)

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For Gluten-Free Day this year, I teamed up with Brandless, a company that offers quality products for a fraction of the price. All of their products are $3 (yes, really) because they eliminate the BrandTax. BrandTax is the hidden cost you pay for a national brand, even though the quality may be the same as a generic brand. Brandless estimates that the average person pays at least 40% more for products of comparable quality as theirs. At Brandless you can rest assured that you are getting a quality product for the right price. 

Their online market allows you to filter by gluten-free, vegan, certified organic, non-GMO, no added sugar, and certified kosher. This makes it extremely easy to find products that fit both your food preferences & values. Then they ship it all to you for $5 ($1 shipping for your first order!) 

For GF Day, I "vegan-ized" their Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix, and they did not disappoint!! They turned out really fluffy, moist, and delicious! It's always so exciting to take a non-vegan recipe and turn it into one (without missing out on any of the taste!).

Happy Gluten-Free Day from me & Brandless!  I hope you enjoy the recipe! 



Directions

  1. Prepare flax egg using 1 tablespoon Brandless Milled Flax Seeds and 1.5 tablespoon hot water. Mix together and let set for 30-60 seconds until a gel forms. 
  2. Warm almond milk and coconut oil together (either in microwave or on stovetop) until completely melted (no coconut oil clumps remain).
  3. Add Brandless GF Pancake Mix to a medium mixing bowl. Then add flax egg and almond milk/coconut oil mixture and whisk until combined. Do not overmix, small lumps are okay! If it is too thick, add more almond milk; if it is too thin add 1/2 tbsp milled flax seeds and mix thoroughly and let sit for a minute or two to thicken. 
  4. Preheat skillet or griddle to medium (~350ºF) and lightly grease.
  5. Pour  ~1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until bubbles form on top of pancakes and bottoms are golden brown.
  6. Flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  7. Serve with Brandless Organic Maple Syrup and top with fresh fruit!
  8. Makes 6-8 pancakes. Enjoy!! 
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Lavender Smoothie

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Lavender is one of my all-time favorite scents. I use lavender oil daily as a natural stress reliever and natural perfume. I order it from Eden's Garden as a roll-on which makes it really easy to apply, and it's already diluted! 

I recently made lavender coconut milk, which is delicious on its own! But then I decided to take it a step further and create a lavender smoothie! It paired perfectly with banana and wild blueberries, though I think it would be delicious with bananas alone. However, I think the blueberries gave it the purple tint I was looking for. I hope you enjoy this rich & floral smoothie as much as I did! 


Ingredients


Directions

  1. Once you have made the lavender coconut milk, leave refrigerated for at least 4-6 hours. 
  2. Add frozen bananas and blueberries to blender with lavender coconut milk and blend until well combined.
  3. Enjoy it as a smoothie or smoothie bowl! 

Butternut Squash Soup

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One of my favorite things about winter: SOUP

It wasn't until I got my Vitamix (I use the Vitamix 5200!) that I really started exploring different soup recipes, and I feel I still haven't taken complete advantage of the soup setting. The blades move so fast on a Vitamix that it creates friction and heats the soup up while you're blending.. which makes soup making so easy! 

When I make any kind of squash, I love setting the seeds aside and seasoning then roasting them to use as a snack, salad topper, or the perfect garnish for soup! If you have a Vitamix or high-speed blender at home, this is a classic 3 step recipe: ROAST, BLEND, ENJOY! 

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Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (2-3#), peeled, halved vertically, and seeded (save the seeds!) 
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Additional salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (my favorite: Earth Balance)
  • For the seeds: 1/4 tsp each: turmeric, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, or whatever sounds yummy!! 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  2. Peel squash with a vegetable peeler, half vertically, and chop into chunks (here's a great video how) and season with salt and pepper. Carve out seeds and set aside
  3. Place squash on pan and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40-50 minutes
  4. While squash is cooking, wash off seeds and remove any squash flesh. Put in a small cup or mixing bowl and mix with desired spices. Place seeds in oven (optimally in a second oven on 300º, but the same oven is fine, just be sure to check on them so they don't burn). Check after 10 minutes, removing them when slightly browned and crunchy
  5. In a small skillet, caramelize shallot and garlic until golden brown, stirring often. This should take only a few minutes.
  6. After caramelized, add to blender. When squash is finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes then add to blender. 
  7. Add maple syrup, nutmeg, salt and pepper, vegan butter, and the vegetable broth. 
  8. Blend on the "soup" preset, if your blender has one. If not, blend on high for 4-5 minutes. Add more broth as necessary to thin it out.
  9. Serve and top with roasted squash seeds and black pepper.
  10. Store leftovers in a glass container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. 
  11. Enjoy!! 

Nutrient Facts

Makes 4 servings

Calories: 170 | Protein: 10g | Fat: 3g | Carbohydrate: 31g | Fiber: 5g | Vitamin A: 482% | Vitamin C: 81% | Calcium: 12% | Iron: 10%

Lavender Coconut Milk

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Lavender is one of my very favorite smells/taste hands down. I use lavender oil on the reg for calmness and focus (my favorite brand: Eden's Garden). If there's lavender scented laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, whatever.. you can guarantee that's the one I have. Recently I bought lavender infused witch hazel and have been using it on my skin each night.. TOTAL life changer! 

Lavender has tons of health benefits ranging from reducing anxiety & stress, aiding sleep issues, helping with skin problems (due to it being anti-inflammatory), and it even has antiseptic qualities (it was used back in the day for wound healing and injuries). 

Last month in San Francisco, I stumbled into the cutest juice/smoothie bar, Native Co Food + Juice in SoMa that had the 'Smooth Lavendator' smoothie made with banana, date, lavender infused coconut milk, and coconut
water. OBVIOUSLY with my love for lavender I had to get it! This smoothie totally changed the smoothie game and I knew I had to learn to make my own... so here I am.

Homemade lavender infused coconut milk is great used in smoothies, coffee, or is refreshing on its own! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


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Ingredients

  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 2 tbsp organic lavender flowers
  • OPTIONAL: natural sweetener (pitted dates, maple syrup, agave, etc)

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Directions

  1. Add hot water and coconut shreds to high speed blender (I use Vitamix) 
  2. Blend for 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy
  3. Add lavender flowers and blend for 1-2 more minutes
  4. Put nut milk bag  over a large mixing bowl. Pour milk and strain
  5. Pour strained milk into a glass bottle and cool in refrigerator
  6. Save pulp in the bag and freeze for future smoothies
  7. Milk keeps in fridge for 5-7 days. Use in smoothies, coffee, or drink by itself. Enjoy! 

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Lemon Ginger Detox Drink

This is one of the most simple drinks in the books (and also one of the best!). Lemons and ginger are two ingredients that work wonders for your digestive tract, liver function, and for hydration. There is no juicer needed for this recipe (though you could), but it can be handmade simply & easily. Instead of using a juicer, you can hand-juice the lemons and grate the ginger to hand-juice it, too (a nice trick I learned from Food Matters.)

I also just wrote an article about ginger and menstrual cramps if you're into that. 

This is a great drink to start your morning feeling refreshed and awakened


Ingredients

  • 8 oz filtered water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 knob ginger, grated and juiced

Directions

  1. Half the lemon and hand juice (I like to use this wooden reamer) into water
  2. Grate ginger with a grater (my favorite style here) and squeeze pulp from a fist into the lemon water
  3. Drink & feel refreshed!  

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 1 | Serving Size: 8 oz

Calories: essentially zero

*My Fave* Quinoa Salad

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I remember the first time I tried quinoa salad (is that a weird thing to remember?) but it was at the Oklahoma City Whole Foods. They had this dish called the ‘California Quinoa Salad” which was red quinoa, onions, red bell peppers, slivered almonds, raisins, and mangoes and HOLY YUM it’s so good. The next week I was in San Francisco and went to the Whole Foods there and found the same dish but it was only named “Quinoa Salad”. For some reason I got a huge kick out of it being named the California Quinoa Salad in Oklahoma but not in California. The lady at the counter very obviously gave me a pity laugh about it when I tried to explain the irony. 

ANYWAY. Since, I’ve loved making my own since they’re so easy to throw together and are so customizable. This one is a classic for me and can easily be the topping on a salad, used as taco filling, or just eaten on it’s own. I can guarantee there will be plenty more quinoa salad recipes to come! 


Ingredients

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  • 1 cup dry quinoa (makes about 3 cups cooked)  
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion  
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper  
  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • Juice from 1 large lemon (or 2-3 smaller lemons)  
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar  
  • 1 can Great Northern Beans
  • Handful of parsley

Directions

  1. Wash dry quinoa in a strainer with water to remove its outer coating (takes away the bitterness)
  2. Place in sauce pan and toast dry quinoa for about 5 minutes  
  3. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil
  4. Once it begins to boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover it for 15-20 minutes until all the water has absorbed and then fluff with a fork
  5. While you are waiting on the quinoa to cook, start diving your veggies and drain and wash your beans
  6. Combine all dry ingredients (veggies and parsley) in one bowl and the wet ingredients (lemon juice and vinegar) in another and place in refrigerator  
  7. Once quinoa is finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes and then place in a large glass container in the rerigerator to chill
  8. Once the quinoa is chilled, toss with dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients over the salad and mix
  9. Let sit for a few hours (ideally overnight) to absorb the liquid and enjoy chilled!  
  10. Quinoa will last for 5-7 days in the fridge

Nutrient Facts

Serving size: 1 cup  | Makes 6 servings  

Calories: 184 | Protein: 9g | Fat: 2g | Fiber: 5g | Iron: 13% RDA | Vitamin C: 34% RDA

Ginger & Menstrual Cramps

Since 95% of my blogs are recipes, it rarely gets that personal up in here. Welp, this post is going to change that. Menstrual cramping (period pains, dysmenorrhea, LITERAL PAINS FROM HELL) is a topic that has affected me personally (could you guess?) as well as many of my friends and has pushed me to try and find some sort of natural remedy to help. Now when I say I cramp, I don't mean "feel a dull uncomfortable pain for a few times through out the day". NO. I mean full-on, sharp, unending pains for at least the first 24 hours that usually leave me debilitated for 12 hours and lead me to throw up 3..4..5+ times from pain and literal period wrath. So when I'm talking about cramps.. I MEAN CRAMPS

One study shows that 10 out of 100 women are unable to carry out usual daily activities for one to three days every month because of unbearable menstrual cramping. About 80% of all women have experienced some sort of menstrual cramping in their life (I truly envy that 20%).

Over the past few years, I've been searching for a natural supplement that actually worked. Over the years I've tried:

  • Heating pads
  • Herbal teas
  • Magnesium supplements
  • Herbal lotions (or other lotions that claimed they would help)
  • Cramp bark
  • Aromatherapy (Eden's Garden PMS Ease is great)
  • Yoga and/or light exercise
  • Hot baths
  • Red wine
  • Random herbal products claiming they help with menstrual cramps

...And then when all these failed I would resort to taking something like Tylenol or Ibuprofen that I did not want to take - and then it wouldn't even work after taking 2-3 times the recommended dose (can't condone that as a medical professional). And despite the efforts of my OBGYN and advice from the internet and other random people.. I was not going to change my mind on my stance on birth control. I've read the many many studies that show deaths and complications (read herehere & here) that birth control has caused- PLUS watching my friends battle with depression and other terrible side effects that are labeled as "normal". On top of that, I'm not into taking some substance that just plays around with my hormones at it's free will. So.. yeah that's a no for me dawg

I had a tad bit of success with each of the interventions listed above, but not enough to ever feel a complete difference. Cramp bark actually worked for a cycle or two.. until it didn't (and then made me throw up from the terrible terrible taste). 

I was about to give up and come to terms that I just had to live like this the rest of my life. I did the math... 12 hours of pain for each cycle x 12 periods per year for the next 30 years = 4,500 more hours of terrible cramping FOR.THE.REST.OF.MY.LIFE. But then I found this. One of my favorite doctors (Dr. Michael Greger) posted a video entitled "Benefits of Ginger for Menstrual Cramping" and claimed: "An eighth of a teaspoon of ground ginger power is tested head-to-head against the leading drug for the alleviation of painful periods."

So with my next cycle starting in a few days, I tried it. I ground up a 2" knob of ginger and juiced it into some water and drank it the night before I started. While I still ended up getting sick that time, I actually was only down for about half the time as usual. So preparing for next cycle, I went ahead and got some ginger extract. So the next cycle came around, and right before my period started I drank a mouth full of water with a full dropper full of ginger extract (you could probably measure better than this, but I find it quite convenient and quick). I woke up in the middle of the night with some mild cramps and did it again. When I started to feel them again, I took another dropper full. For the first time I had zero sharp cramps and zero pukes. I thought it had to have been some sort of coincidence. So the next cycle I tried it again. SAME THING. I did this for each cycle and it continued to work every time. On the 4th or 5th cycle, I started unexpectedly and didn't have it with me. I got terribly sick inside a BJs and was in excruciating pain for another 6-10 hours the entire night. Unfortunately the ginger was at my house in OKC and I didn't have any at my mom's. This was the first time I seriously realized how well it had been working.

I wanted to pass it off as some miraculous coincidence that I stopped having cramps right as I started it. But this last cycle, I took it before and as I started feeling cramps.. and absolutely nothing. While I still feel partially bloated and some mild discomfort, I can say my pain has come down from a 9 all the way to a solid 1.5. 

I don't get paid by some national ginger council (is there one?) or HerbPharm to tell you this- but I genuinely am so blown away by how well it works. I have also tried ginger shots (straight fresh juiced ginger) that have worked so well. The reason I go for the ginger extract is because it's convenient and fast and easy to have it on hand when I start without having to run to the grocery store for some ginger (or travel with a knob of ginger and a grater in my carry on).  

I just wanted to pass on my findings to anyone else who struggles with severe cramping (dysmennorhea) and might benefit from trying ginger out. Also- if you are having these kinds of pains- be sure to consult a medical doctor or OBGYN to make sure it isn't something more serious like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or some other medical condition. PSA: Ginger will not heal that!! 

Since we're already past the TMI threshold- I've started using a menstrual cup (that supposedly also can help decreasing cramps) while also decreasing waste and has zero chemicals that you absorb (yup that's real) like in tampons, and is just all around pretty nifty. If you're interested in this, my friend Vic at Beloved Magazine wrote a great review of them here

I've attached Dr. Greger's video below for others that want some research about ginger and menstrual cramps. Be sure to let me know if you have tried it and if it has/has not worked for you. Enjoy!

Berry Green Smoothie Bowl

It's no surprise to most people that fruits and vegetables should be a huge focus in the diet - but the recommended amounts (about 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables) each day can be a little intimidating on first glance. One way to start your day off strong is to pack your breakfast with fruits and veggies, a la the smoothie bowl.

This recipe contains blueberries, raspberries, banana, and spinach - a perfect blend of important nutrients. Blueberries contain antioxidants which have protective effects inside the body. Spinach contains vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and calcium. Talk about a food that does it all! What's great about a smoothie bowl is that even if you don't prefer the leafy texture of spinach, you can still get your daily greens in with a creamier taste.

Starting your day with a meal packed with so many vital nutrients (protein and fiber in addition to the vitamins and minerals mentioned above) helps you stay energized and fueled to take on the ever-busy weeks!


Ingredients


Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in a high-speed blender, with greens toward the bottom and heavier ingredients (frozen fruit) toward the top.
  2. Pour in 1 cup almond milk and begin to blend.
  3. Top with extra blueberries, more chia seeds, or your choice of topping!
  4. Enjoy!

Nutrient Facts

Serving Size: 24 oz | Makes 1 Serving

Calories: 374 | Protein: 17g | Fiber: 22g | Carbs: 63 g | Fat: 10g | Vitamin A: 68% RDA | Vitamin C: 56 % RDA | Iron: 35% | Calcium: 69%

Centrifugal vs Cold-Pressed Juicers

Yesterday I posted a rather lengthy instagram story about my new cold-pressed juicer compared to my old centrifugal juicer and I got a lot of great feedback and questions! I thought this deserved a blog post to explain the difference between types of juicers and what to look for when you are purchasing a juicer.

I just recently purchased the Hurom AA-Slow Juicer (for an amazing deal as a member of Food Matters) and ditched my old Sharper Image Centrifugal Juicer. To be honest, I never truly knew the difference in juicers, and figured they were all about the same up until I started getting into juicing. However, I couldn't have been further from the truth! 

In a centrifugal juicer, food is fed through a wide chute and pushed into a quick-spinning mesh colander with sharp teeth. The blades quickly break up the food and the juice is extracted. This friction causes heat which can destroy heat-sensitive enzymes in your fruits and veggies. There is also a lot more pulp waste from this type of juicer.

In a cold-pressed juicer, fruits and veggies are fed through a narrow shute into a mesh chamber with a large, dull corkscrew that pushes the food up against the mesh and slowly presses it out. In this slow and gentle process, there is no heat produced (i.e. "cold" pressed). There is minimal waste, and you can be assured you are getting the most juice and nutrients out of your produce. This type of juicer typically costs more than a centrifugal juicer, but is worth it if you're wanting to take your juicing to the next level and juice regularly. 

Here is a great review of juicers, and actually selects Hurom as one of their top juices! 


Food Matters posted a great, in-depth pro/con list to each:

Cold-Pressed Juicer

Pros

  • Well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Higher juice yield
  • Juice lasts longer with enzyme integrity keeping for up to 72 hours
  • Lower speeds means less heat is generated, preserving more nutrients and enzymes
  • Minimal juice separation and foaming
  • Some models offer other food processing functions, such as being able to make nut milk, nut butter, sorbet, pasta and ice cream
  • Pressing action is quiet.

Cons

  • Higher initial cost
  • Longer food preparation, as smaller food pieces are required for their narrow chutes
  • Slightly higher pulp in juice

Centrifugal Juicer

Pros

  • Fast juicing time
  • Cheaper to purchase
  • Easy to use
  • Reduces food preparation time as many accept larger fruit and vegetable pieces

Cons

  • Not well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Yields less juice (produces a wet pulp)
  • Reduced juice quality due to fast spinning blades producing heat that destroy beneficial enzymes
  • Higher juice separation and foaming
  • Noisy because of the grinding and cutting action

So with that, my vote is hands-down the cold-pressed juicer! Here are a few pics of the juicing of grapefruit (heart eyes emoji)

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

I have really started falling in love with juicing. I used to be a complete smoothie girl until I started learning the benefits of juice. One thing that drove me away from juicing was that when a fruit or veggie is juiced, all of its fiber is removed. Nutritionally fiber is one of the best nutrients because it fills you up and keeps you fuller longer, stabilizes blood sugars, helps lower cholesterol, keeps the GI system healthy and keeps you regular, and helps protect against many chronic illnesses.

However, when the fiber is removed, it gives the gut a rest to absorb nutrients more readily. Juicing extracts all the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients to be easily absorbed. 

Considering both of these, I think there should be a healthy balance between juicing and smoothies. In one you get fiber and possibly fewer absorbed nutrients, and in the other you get no fiber and more absorption of nutrients. Smoothies and juices can make it easier to consume fruits and veggies, but don't forget to eat the whole fruit or veggie as well! It's all about balance.


Ingredients

  • 5-6 carrots
  • 3 apples
  • 1/2" knob of fresh ginger root

Directions

  1. Clean all fruit with water, veggie brush, and veggie wash (optional)
  2. Slice ends of carrots (do not peel) and de-core the apple
  3. Put all prepped ingredients into blender until juiced
  4. Enjoy!
  5. Note: only keep fresh juice for 1-2 days as bacteria can grow from unpasteurized juice! Ideally consume fresh from the juicer!

Fruit & Avo Spinach Salad

In honor of National Spinach Day, here is a DELICIOUS spinach salad loaded with tons of fruit, healthy fats, and protein. 

Spinach is considered one of the best superfoods and is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and calcium. It also provides loads of dietary fiber. In my opinion it is one of the least bitter leafy greens and has a nice, smooth texture. It makes the perfect addition to your morning smoothies for an extra kick of green in the mornings. 

This salad is light but filling and sweet but also savory. Plus it has over 24 grams of protein mostly from the Beyond Meat "chicken" (my first time trying it! Pretty yummy!). It's the perfect meal for a spring or summer day! 


Ingredients

SALAD

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber
  • 6 strips Beyond Meat "chicken"

OIL-FREE AVOCADO DRESSING

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare all salad ingredients and place into large bowl or salad spinner
  2. Mix to combine
  3. Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in blender or food processor and mixing until liquid. 
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad for finishing touch
  5. Enjoy!

Nutrient Facts

Serving Size: Entire salad + 1 tbsp dressing

Calories: 350 | Protein: 24 g | Fiber: 12 g | Carbs: 59 g | Fat: 6 g | Vitamin A: 118% DV | Vitamin C: 130% DV | Iron: 17% DV | Calcium: 13% DV