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!!

Detox with Chocolate

You only live once

but if you do it right

ONCE IS ENOUGH

Can we Detox with Chocolate?

photocred @farrukhershad

Everything in moderation. That’s what these non-sugar-or-food-addicted people keep telling me. It’s easy they say. Well, I’m here to say, it’s not for me. I eat healthy & take care of my body. But when “special occasions” come, I tend to over indulge. It’s something I am always working on. Remember my post where I come clean about being a sugaraholic?

Point is, I just got back from vacation & could use a bit of a tidying up of my diet. But first, let’s back up a bit. Vacation was beautiful. Time off work. Connecting with family. Celebrating two new marriages. Meeting my friends new baby. Lots of good food & love. Playtime.

Can we detox with Chocolate?

photocred @farrukhershad

I love the release from the pressures of daily life that vacation brings. But vacation is just that – a break from routine. After a few weeks away, my balance tends to shift. I feel the impact of irregular sleep, indulgent foods & less structured exercise. So back in my world, it’s time to clean it up. Self-care, super-foods & sweating it out are in order!

My cleanse will consist of lots of whole foods (ie: leafy greens where have you been all my life?), regular meditation (quiet time), lots of water & daily workouts (body weight exercises, hiking thanks to the time change giving us lighter evenings, yoga & bicycling). For more ideas on gentle cleansing with whole foods check out this post on MindBodyGreen.

I’ll be avoiding gluten, sugar and processed/packaged foods. I’ll be reducing greatly caffeine, dairy & meats. However, one thing I won’t be going without: CHOCOLATE!! Skipping the sugar for awhile, I’ll need to get creative to get my cacao fix!

Once upon a time, Phoenix & I made up our own recipe that is something like the various chocolate bark recipes you see. I tried it today with 100% pure dark chocolate.

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It turned out fantastic & I don’t miss the sugar of lighter chocolates!! What’s the secret? Coconut oil or butter to add some delicious healthy fats & fruit to sweeten naturally! Here is the recipe – get creative with your additions!


DARK CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BARK

Detox with 100% chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 bar 100% chocolate 
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil or Coconut Butter or to taste (any size dollop will do)
  • oven-safe Pyrex or glass pie dish
  • Optional Mix-Ins:
    • cinnamon
    • vanilla extract
    • frozen berries (ex: raspberries, strawberries, mixed)
    • sliced fresh fruit (ex: peaches, bananas, pomegranate seeds)
    • dried, unsweetened fruit (ex: goji berries, raisins, cranberries)
    • nuts or seeds (ex: almonds, walnuts, macadamias, sunflower seeds)
    • peanut or other nut/seed butter
    • dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
    • sea salt
    • chili powder or paprika
    • cacao nibs
    • pure therapeutic grade essential oils (ex: peppermint, lavender, orange) ***apply by dipping toothpick in oil & swirling through the chocolate until desired taste is achieved.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Unwrap, break up chocolate & place it in glass baking dish
  3. Add coconut oil to dish & place in oven
  4. Heat chocolate and oil in oven until melted & stir to combine
  5. Mix & drop in optional toppings to add flavor & sweetness. For this batch I chose 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 sliced banana, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, several dashes cinnamon & sea salt, 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds & 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes.
  6. Place in freezer until firm. Use a sharp knife to break into pieces. Enjoy!!

What other “desserts” do you love that aren’t loaded with processed sugars?

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!

Fall Detox: 21 Day Whole Food Challenge

Summer seems to be blazing on as usual in California despite the onset of Autumn throughout the world. The tireless heat & bright sunshine seems to almost convince us that winter isn’t coming this year. But it will, of course. Daylight savings time actually ends on November 2nd this year. That means we have 7 weeks left to get outside & enjoy the lighted evenings. Hikes. Bike rides. Beach sunsets. Once time changes most of us will trade these outdoor activities in for cozy nights at home, cuddled under grandma’s afghan, sipping hot licorice-mint tea & reading Outlander sequels (no, just me?). The point is seize the day – literally. Get outside & cherish this beautiful time of year.

As the season changes, I like to embrace the transition with a bit of a cleanse. A fresh start. This comes at the perfect time as I have just returned from a vacation filled with over-indulgences (like eating every piece of Scottish caramel shortbread I laid eyes on) & I could use an immune booster as I am recovering from a nasty cold. With a couple supportive team mates (my brave husband & competitive office mate), tomorrow – Monday 9/15 – launches our 21 day primal challenge.

primal laws

I love Mark’s Daily Apple & his 21 day challenge – this will be the third or fourth time I have completed it. However, the goal is to get back to the basics:

  1. Eat whole foods (with lots of raw veggies!)
  2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 
  3. Practice mindfulness.
  4. Sleep well.
  5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

1. Eat Whole Foods – Menu for the next three weeks:

Breakfast: Chia bowls (variations of this one from Oh She Glows) OR coconut oil fried eggs (eaten over sauteed vegetables with salsa & avocado)

Lunch: Salads, salads, salads! I love red cabbage & carrot salads lately. Lot of tiny chopped veggies with olive oil & balsamic. Roast chicken on top. More avocado.

Dinner: Lamb, fish, beef, chicken. Either baked, barbecued, pan fried, slow-cooked, shredded, or as burgers eaten on portobellas. On top of (or next to) lots of veggies.

Snacks: Mixed nuts. Fruit (berries are best as low-glycemic).Teas. Kombucha. Beef jerky. *After the first few days of missing the carbs, this high fat (the good kind!) & protein diet keeps me full easily & I rarely get hungry between meals.

AVOID: grains, legumes, sugar, processed foods, packaged items, dairy & alcohol

2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 

Take the stairs. Park farther away from the office. Commute by bicycle 1-3 times per week. Utilize a stand-up work station for a least 5 hours & take 3 walking breaks during the workday. Walk to the grocery store – or anywhere within a mile of home. Try this 90 days of action workout plan & see how many friends, family & co-workers you can get to join in!

3. Practice mindfulness.

Begin & end the day with yoga – even just a couple poses. Practice headstand daily (today is day #144 of my #headstand365 challenge). Meditate twice a day. Slow down. Stop & think (ie: be less reactive, pull over to look at cell phone, etc…).

4Sleep well.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Drop lavender essential oil on pillow case to calm the body & mind. Use blackout curtains. Natural alarm clock (slowly brightens like the sunrise). Keep cell phones outside of bedroom at night.

5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

Get outdoors first thing in the morning (water plants, take a walk) & after work (hike with friends, walk on the beach). Plan group activities, games, picnics & beach days on the weekend. Spend as much time in good company & in the great outdoors as possible! Oh, & go barefoot. Ahhhh – toes in the damp grass – what a feeling!

picnic

Link

Happy Monday Friends! What is it about Mondays? They just take it out of me! I sure am grateful to be in my comfies now, all cozied up on the couch – that’s for sure! I may have made up a couple of words there, but sometimes I find that necessary to more accurately describe how I’m feeling! I bet you are doing the same thing right now (the comfy pants – not the word inventing).

Anywho… Kombucha! I’m currently up to my ears in home brews & new scoby “babies” as I’ve been learning & drinking my home brewed Kombucha for a few months now! I’m in love! Where to even begin? My first run in with the fizzy, fermented tea was at a health food store when a good friend (with a bad hangover) recommended it for it’s detoxifying properties! I spent four dollars, drank one teensie sip, grimaced & dumped the rest. Water has always been my drink of choice anyways – hydrating, delicious & nothing fancy!

Fast forward several years & I decided to give Kombucha a second chance. I tend to be motivated to try things known for their health benefits as I’m always looking for new ways to boost my immune system, detoxify my body & support digestive health. Plus, Kombucha turned out to be a tasty, carbonated drink (unlike the time I tried to make homemade sauerkraut not knowing how it should taste or if I even like it)! So I’m plugging along in Kombucha heaven and I begin to realize I’ve developed an expensive habit. By asking around I learn that Kombucha can be easily made by using a starter scoby often referred to as the “mother” & apparently many of the women I know have mothers & grandmothers who have been brewing this tea for decades! Lucky me!

My Kombucha teacher (also my girlfriend’s mother) gave me a personal home brew tutorial, starter scoby, & an awesome packet of information including history, recipes & anecdotes! By the way, I love discovering new health routines via word of mouth, doing my own research & trusting intuition. So Kombucha fits the bill! I’ll show you a snippet of my modified version of this method below, but for the original recipe (plus a plethora of other fun stories & info) check out The Kombucha Center website.

KOMBUCHA BENEFITS

You can read many stories of amazing benefits like detoxification, grey hair reduction, alleviated menopause & allergy symptoms, increased fat burn and even healing from illnesses. So far I have experienced increased energy, healthier digestion, and lots of fun while enjoying the brewing process, sipping my tea & sharing with friends!

KOMBUCHA INGREDIENTS

5 tea bags – I use a combo of green & black tea for my preferred flavor & to reduce the caffeine. There are simple methods available for removing the caffeine from your tea bags if that is a concern for you.

1 cup organic sugar – I’ve used light brown & white sugar successfully

3 quarts boiled water – I have been using sun tea lately but the jury is still out on my preferred method of steeping the tea

1 scoby “baby” in 1 cup Kombucha from previous batch

1 large glass jar – that holds around 4 quarts

1 coffee filter & rubber band to secure

1 wooden spoon *Never touch the tea or Kombucha with any metal

IMG_5059

Kombucha Ingredients: Tea, sugar, purified H2O, scoby & kombucha

HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA

Make tea using boiling method (glass tea kettle on stove, ceramic dish in oven) – but – I like sun tea & haven’t had problems so far. I steep all day in the sun & then add sugar until dissolved.

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Green and Black Teas brewing in the Sunshine

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Add 3 quarts of fresh brewed tea to brew jar, add sugar & stir until dissolved.

Cool tea to room temperature & add the scoby with 1 cup of previous batch of Kombucha.

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LEFT: “Mother” Scoby ready for retirement (the compost bin)                             RIGHT: New “baby” Scoby in 1 c. Kombucha ready to be added to the new batch TOP: Bottle leftover from tasty store bought Kombucha & two mason jars filled with my previous finished batch (ready to be bottled & consumed).

Cover the container with a coffee filter & rubber band for protection. Store in a cupboard that isn’t disturbed often & let ferment for 7 or more days depending on temperature and conditions. After 7 days, it is helpful to taste the brew every couple days until it reaches desired fermentation.

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New batch of tea ready to be covered & stored for fermentation.

After Kombucha has fermented to your taste preference, just remove the Scoby “Mother” & “Baby” (they will probably be connected) & it is ready to be consumed! However, I like to bottle with fresh ginger & fruit at this stage to enhance flavor & promote carbonation. Add whatever fruit you prefer, seal bottle(s) with plastic or rubber lids only & let sit on counter for another day to carbonate. Then store in the fridge! Yummmmm!!!

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Flavored, carbonated & ready to be refrigerated!                                                         LEFT: Blueberry, Ginger & Lemon                                                                           RIGHT: Farmer’s Market Peach & Strawberry

My teacher & information suggest drinking 4 ounces every morning on an empty stomach for maximum health benefits. I aim to do this, but also enjoy my Kombucha in a pretty wine glass while sitting on the porch after a long day! Enjoy!