Smoothie Bowl: beautiful food

Anyone else following some of the raw foodies on Instagram? Seems like most of them are Australian. Every photo is a mouth-watering plate of tropical fruits or a perfectly layered parfait of various raw food delights! Where can I order one of these? If I had access to this every day healthy eating would be a breeze!

What about the recently exploded trend in California – the acai bowl? Tasty, but at $10 a pop & questionable amounts of added sugar it may not be a great daily habit.

So what to do? I decided to finally attempt a smoothie bowl at home. The secret? Choose your favorite smoothie recipe. Put everything in the blender until smooth. Pour in a beautiful bowl instead, tops with more fresh fruit or toppings of your choice. Eat with a spoon. Ta-da!

I like all three of the Dr. Oz detox smoothie recipes as a base. I alter them depending on my current mood & what is in the refrigerator. But if you are new to blending it is helpful to follow a recipe so you don’t end up with a glob of brown/green, funky-tasting slop! Check out his recipes here! Below is what I did.

Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Layered Smoothie Bowl Recipe

*two servings (share with a friend!)

Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 drop each ginger & lemon essential oils (be sure brand used is safe to ingest)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax

Chia Pudding Ingredients: (optional for layering)

  • 3 Tablespoons chia
  • 1 cup water or almond milk
  • pure vanilla extra
  • 1 drop orange essential oil (be sure brand used is safe to ingest)

optional toppings: cacao nibs, coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, sliced fresh fruit, granola

Directions:

  1. Whisk chia, 1 cup water, 1 drop orange essential oil & splash of vanilla in a glass bowl.
  2. Cover a place in refrigerator over night.
  3. Add all smoothie ingredients to a high-powered blender & process until smooth. *Essential oils should only be used in glass (no plastic) so mix in after removing from the blender if there are any plastic parts. These oils can break down the chemicals in plastic which you can then ingest & this can damage your blender.
  4. Prepare toppings & slice desired fresh fruit.
  5. Layer in a bowl or clear mason jar: granola, smoothie, chia, smoothie, granola & finish with any other desired toppings.
  6. Take a picture of your food art & enjoy!!
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Coconut Orange Granola: from the oven not a box

Homemade granola is the best! For many reasons including how much better it tastes fresh from the oven instead of a box or bag. But the main reason is I get to control what goes inside. This recipe is gluten-free & has no processed sugars.

Coconut Orange Granola Recipe

To limit grain intake, I omit the oats or sub with another seed or nut. Most paleo grandola I have seen in stores is like $9 for a tiny bag! What, that is not supposed to be single serving? Well if you are like me it is easy to put away huge portions of granola… especially freshly made!! It is tasty on one-ingredient banana ice cream, yogurt, smoothie bowls, under almond milk & by the fistful!

And most importantly, I can control the sugar content. There are great recipes available with just dates for sweetener & no processed sugar added. Most store-bought granola have at least 10 grams of sugar per serving, and that is if you only eat one serving.

All that to say, there are a million ways to make granola. Here is one. I have never made it quite this way before, & doubt I ever will again. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong! I just can’t seem to stick to a recipe no matter how delicious it is!! But you probably have figured that out about me by now 🙂

Coconut Orange Granola Recipe

Disclaimer: I didn’t measure anything so these are guesstimates, be sure to adjust amounts of dry/liquid ingredients as necessary. Re-create at your own risk 🙂

Coconut Orange Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup mixed nuts (I used half pecan & half cashew)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 drops certified pure orange essential oil (be sure the brand you use is safe for consumption)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup local honey

Directions:

  1. Process 1 cup of oats in the food processor until medium fine. Add 1 cup of almonds & roughly chop.
  2. Add oats, almonds, mixed nuts, coconut flakes, cinnamon, salt to a bowl & mix well.
  3. Blend raisins, water & vanilla in food processor or blender.
  4. Add remaining liquid ingredients & process until smooth (some chunks are okay!)
  5. Add liquid to the dry & mix well.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper & spread granola in a thin layer.
  7. Bake at 350 for about one hour stirring every 15-20 minutes. Rotate baking sheets from top & middle racks half way through. Baking time can very so keep a close eye on it & remove from oven when toasted a light golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool & store in airtight container.

Coconut Orange Granola Recipe

Apple Pie – not like mama cooked it!

I must confess. A few things. But don’t take this disclaimer as a discredit for my pie. It is DELICIOUS & I’m super proud of creating it. However, I think you should know my mother bakes the best apple pie. In the world. Truly. My great-grandmothers were both very talented pie makers. They both lived in rural Indiana & passed the skill and love of pie making onto my mom. My brother picked it up for a season, but so far no one in my family has adopted the tradition.

It isn’t because I don’t want to, but replicating it seems impossible. And furthermore, I can’t get myself to bake with the ingredients of my great-grandmothers. There are many reasons for this, but that is a discussion for another day.

Lastly, I don’t follow recipes. I substitute things that shouldn’t be. I don’t measure – that is likely blaspheme in a true baker’s kitchen. Anyways, all that to say, we are lucky to have this recipe. When I bake it is a wild experience & you never know the outcome. When things don’t turn out it is no loss. But when they do, I am always a little sad I can never replicate it as I cannot remember what I did the first time around. This time it was superb, so I decided to quickly re-create & record the ingredients.

Do you like pie? Do you enjoy healthier versions of traditional favorites? And do you enjoy the immediate gratification of a fast & simple dessert? Good, you will love this.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie – the simple & (almost) sugar-free way

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 heaping Tablespoon flax meal
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • parchment paper
  • pie dish
  • 4 medium size apples (pink or green)
  • 2 Tablespoons local honey
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons grassfed butter
  • cinnamon to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix flax & coconut milk in large bowl. Whisk until it forms an egg-like consistency.
  3. Add coconut oil & coconut milk. Mix well.
  4. Add flours & pinch salt. Stir until combined.Apple Pie
  5. Roll dough onto parchment paper until about 1/8″ thick. Place into pie dish.Apple Pie dough
  6. Slice apples as thin as possible.
  7. In a bowl, mix apple slices, honey, coconut oil, butter & cinnamon.Apple Pie
  8. Pile apple filling onto center of crust & fold edges up over the apples. Apple Pie PrepApple Pie Crust
  9. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven up to 425 degrees and bake 25 minutes.  Apple Pie
  10. Once crust is firm to touch & lightly browned, slice & enjoy!Apple Pie
  11. Be sure to save a piece for tomorrow’s breakfast 🙂

Apple Pie Slice Day 2

Chocolate Chia Pudding & Confessions of a Sugaraholic

Your hormones, taste buds and brain chemistry have been hijacked by the food industry. Not metaphorically, but biologically.

-NY Daily News: “Sweet poison: How sugar, not cocaine is one of the most addictive & dangerous substances”

Sugar is an addiction. The above article opens by stating: Sugar is the new tobacco. Wow. That couldn’t be more true. It is extremely hard to avoid sugar even when trying. But who tries? Sugar hides in most foods on the market & tastes insanely good! Excess sugar in the diet contributes to headaches, mood swings, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, & obesity, not to mention chronic inflammation which is at the root of many other difficult health conditions. Check out this article on America’s Sugar Addiction for some shocking facts about sugar consumption.

Despite my love for all things sweet, alas, sugar is no good for the body, mind or soul. All my education, research & experimentation support this truth. I must say goodbye to sugar. Up until this point in my life, I have never been able to approach sugar in moderation. I always end up back at excess. So while some people can learn moderation, I believe I am an addict & must get clean. 100%. All in. Struggling with sugar has brought a new respect for those battling addictions to other drugs. Abstinence is hard. So hard.

I have had many nights of sneaky snacking, baking & eating entire batches of cookies (that’s normal right?), finishing off the ice cream at breakfast & repeatedly seeking comfort from food during the ups & downs of life. As someone who values preventative wellness & knows healthy eating is the foundation for a vibrant life, these cycles of overindulgence have come with guilt, self-loathing & predictable sugar craving/binge cycles. And let’s not forget the irritability, anxiety, low energy & lack of motivation that accompanies too much sugar in the body.

There is good news though! We can take back control over our physical, mental & emotional health. I am proud to say I have been clean 10 days! That means no regular ol’ sugar, added sugar, processed foods, natural sugars (like honey, agave, maple), or grains that quickly turn to sugar. Phew! It’s hard but awesome. I don’t know why this particular detox is working, but I am feeling stronger & more empowered each day. I don’t want to go back. I will complete this 30 day challenge (part of my Thirty before 30 goals) on Tuesday, November 4th & then assess my long term plan.

Check out this women’s health magazine article about cutting sugar out in 5 phases if you want to try it out in smaller steps. For a more immediate detox, try completing a Whole 30 (thirty days of clean eating)Mark’s Daily Apple is also a great resource for cleaning up the diet & eliminating processed foods & sugar. Check out the before & after stories and photos for inspiration!

If you have a feisty sweet tooth like me… try this chocolate chia pudding recipe I whipped up tonight. It’s a great reminder that there are ways to include treats without the added sugar & junk! This turned out so delicious that I ate some for dessert & the rest will be breakfast!

Chocolate Chia Pudding (AKA Easy Chia Breakfast Bowl)

Ingredients

  • 4 T chia seeds
  • 1 c full fat, organic, canned coconut milk (less milk = thicker consistency)
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice (opt)
  • 1/4 c organic pumpkin puree (opt)
  • optional mix-ins: raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, macadamia nuts, almond butter, frozen raspberries, cocoa nibs, unsweetened cocoa powder, dash sea salt

Directions

  1. Mix chia & milk in a bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients & stir until well mixed.
  3. Refrigerate at least one hour (or overnight for thicker pudding).
  4. Add mix-ins of choice (I actually mixed in all the items listed above before refrigerating).
  5. Serve chilled. Yum!

Easy peasy. The fun thing about this recipe is it can be adapted to all tastes. Plus, it packs such a health punch that it can be eaten for breakfast or dessert as party of a healthy diet. Use your milk of choice. Perfect your bowl by adding in or leaving out ingredients  – nuts, nut/seed butters, spices, dry/fresh fruits coconut & cocoa/nibs. You can try an apple or blueberry pie theme. I went for a cross between chocolate pudding & pumpkin pie. The options are endless!

Hope you enjoy the recipe. Much love & strength on your wellness journey!

Summertime Chili Verde Chili: crockpot style

What better way to beat this heat than a steaming bowl of spicy chili? Okay, I’ll just let you know now. My cooking is as eclectic as the rest of my lifestyle – wardrobe, home décor, hobbies, music – I am all over the map. I like to think of myself as well-rounded. It is the middle of the summer & I suppose I should be eating salads & keeping things light. Well… chili sounded good. Actually my dear friend & co-worker inspired this recipe when I was drooling over her lunch instead of enjoying my own!

If it is too weird, or too hot, feel free to wait a few months for cooler weather before trying it! However, I recommend whipping it up in the morning for an easy mid-week dinner. Plus, the leftovers will keep your lunches simple & healthy!

I could barely wait to eat long enough to take a quick photo!!

Chili Verde Chili Recipe Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 8 hours; Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 small yellow onions – chopped
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • dash chili powder, dried garlic
  • 8oz coconut milk
  • 4 small green chilies – picked from my patio garden & chopped
  • 8 oz homemade chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can white beans
  • 4-5 oz Salsa Verde – I used Trade José’s brand
  • 2-4 tsp ground cumin – to taste
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • salt & pepper – to taste
  • 1 T arrowroot powder
  • Optional Toppings: Greek yogurt, avocado, &/or cheese (Pepper Jack or Parmesan are extra tasty!)

Note: I strive to use organic/pesticide-free, free range, & local ingredients whenever possible 🙂

Directions

  1. Chop onions & place in bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Heat olive oil (or coconut oil) & brown chicken adding chili powder, dried garlic, salt & pepper to taste. Add garlic to hot pan for 30 seconds. Add to crockpot.
  3. Add coconut milk, green chilies, chicken broth, beans, salsa & spices to crock pot.
  4. Stir, cover & turn crockpot on low for 8 hours.
  5. Remove chicken & shred with a fork.
  6. Stir arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) into the chili to thicken slightly.
  7. Add shredded chicken back in.
  8. Scoop into bowl & add toppings of your choice! Enjoy!!

First Bite… after smelling it cooking all day! Yum!

If you try this & experiment with other ingredients please comment & share!!

One little peace … piece of cake that is!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” – That Mr. Einstein sure was a wise man. I strive to stay positive about the constant balancing act between all aspects of life and wellness. To be at peace with where I am on my wellness journey in any particular moment, I cannot see “balance” as a final goal or destination. Instead I look to find peace & mindfulness by being present, acting from a place of love & putting energy into the many things I love and need. There is beauty, joy & excitement to be found in accepting that finding “balance” is an ongoing piece of our lives.

photo

Finding a moment of peace and beauty on our mid-week hike!

When it comes to a balanced diet, it is no secret that sugar is my vice. Sometimes I feel in control, balanced… and other times I am at the mercy of cravings. Hard cycle to beat. I strive to follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating healthy. I stay away from sugary drinks & processed foods so that I can indulge in chocolate & baked treats. But let’s save the balanced diet discussion & challenges for another day. Because today I want to send you into the weekend with a delightful gluten-free cupcake recipe to try! I adapted this from a recipe on Pinterest so check it out in all it’s tasty glory here! Below are the changes I made to the recipe to create a lemon cupcake with lavender frosting!


Lemon Cupcakes (Gluten-Free) with Simple Lavender Frosting      

Yields: approx. 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking mix (flour) with xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup organic white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • OPTIONAL: 5 drops of certified therapeutic grade Lemon Essential Oil *always do your own research before consuming essential oils
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Cupcake Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line cupcake pan
  • Mix all wet ingredients (coconut oil, vanilla, milk, eggs) & sugar in a medium bowl
  • Add dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) & mix well
  • Stir in lemon zest & essential oil (optional)
  • Bake on center oven rack for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool completely. Frost & Serve.

Frosting Ingredients

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut Oil
  • Certified therapeutic grade Lavender Essential Oil *see notes above on consuming essential oils

Frosting Directions

  • Start with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon coconut oil & a splash of almond milk
  • Mix well & add more sugar or milk as needed to achieve desired consistency
  • add 1-2 drops essential oil, taste & increase to achieve desired flavor *note: essential oils are very potent & it is easy to overdo this!

That’s it! This is currently my go-to cupcake recipe as it is easily adapted to various flavors! For a more basic flavor try vanilla cakes (leave out lemon) & chocolate frosting (leave out lavender & add cocoa) … easy & delicious!

Did you know you can bake cupcakes in advance? If you refrigerate cupcakes they will dry out. But you can bake them, freeze them, defrost & frost when you are ready to serve. This means you can bake ahead of time & the day of your party impress your guests with fresh baked goodies! Or if you have more self-control then I do, you can bake cupcakes and keep them in the freezer for whenever you want a quick, homemade dessert!

ENJOY & have a great weekend (almost)!!!