My brother and sister-in-law gave me a NutriBullet for Christmas to replace my tired old Magic Bullet. Since 2014 began, I’ve been on a smoothie kick, blending up different concoctions each day for at least one of my meals. Some of my smoothies have turned out so yummy while others I probably won’t repeat. Regardless, I’m giving my body a powerful nutritious punch with each one. Today, I’m sharing with you my favorite smoothie I’ve made so far this month.
Reasons I love smoothies…
- Requires no skill in the kitchen
- Leaves minimal mess
- Easy to digest
- Promotes detox
- Unlocks nutrients from fibrous fruits and veggies
- Hides all kinds of nutritious goodies
- Gets large amounts of fruits and veggies into one meal
- Kids like them
I don’t drink sodas or sports drinks, so I keep all kinds of teas on hand to drink when I need a change from water or infused water. Chai is the word for tea in other parts of the world. When I hear the word Chai, I think of the spiced milk tea that originated in India and is made of black tea, milk, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pepper, cloves, and a little something sweet. Its signature flavor is both warming and soothing but with a little kick to get me moving in the morning. I love it so much that I decided to take it to a smoothie.
In my “reasons I love smoothies” above, I listed “hiding all kinds of nutritious goodies”. In this smoothie, I tried a new hidden gem recommended by my Airrosti doctor…cauliflower. Cauliflower is a cancer fighting, liver cleansing cruciferous veggie that does not change the taste, texture, or color of the smoothie. In fact, my kids unknowingly drank cauliflower in their smoothie this morning. Rob wasn’t super keen on the idea of trying to sneak it in, but I decided to experiment anyway, and they didn’t say a word. I also added greens to this smoothie, but that is nothing new. I throw greens in every smoothie.
I used my basic smoothie formula to come up with this Double Chocolate Chai Smoothie: 1 cup liquid like almond milk or coconut water, greens, creamy fruit like banana or mango, additional fruits and veggies, a little healthy fat, a little protein, a little fiber, a little stevia, additional nutrient boosters like cacao, maca, goji, acai, etc., and spices and/or flavorings.
To make this smoothie, I blended a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a handful of spinach, a handful of cauliflower florets, a banana, a tablespoon of almond butter (sunflower seed butter also works well), a scoop of chocolate protein powder, a tablespoon of finely ground flax seeds, a dropper of liquid stevia, a tablespoon of raw cacao powder, and chai spices: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. I topped it with a little bit of dark chocolate bits (cacao nibs is another great choice).
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- handful of greens
- handful of cauliflower florets
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon almond or sunflower seed butter
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- 1 tablespoon finely ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- dropper of liquid stevia (I used vanilla flavored)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- handful of ice
- optional: dark chocolate bits for a garnish
- Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or other blender, and blend for 30 seconds.
Happy New Year! My family celebrated Christmas with my parents in Santa Fe, where my mom greeted us with all kinds of yummy gluten and grain free treats and meals. My brother and I both eat gluten and mostly grain free for health reasons, and my mom has embraced our new way of eating wholeheartedly with gusto! Her fridge and freezer were full.
My favorite was her toasted coconut granola. I’ve tried many a granola in my day and this one is by far the best. It is grain free, and every bite is packed with crunchy goodness – minerals (zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, and manganese), healthy fats, protein (the amino acid tryptophan), and fiber that help satiate your hunger and boost your energy while keeping your blood sugar stable. Plus, cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that also regulates your blood sugar, so you can avoid those spikes and drops, which lead to unnecessary eating, brain fog, and crankiness.
With 2014 and my daughter’s volleyball season in full swing, we are always in need of a quick energy pick me up in the form of some kind of snack. It’s so tempting to swing by the most convenient fast food place to fill her up, so I trying to have on hand some hearty and nutritious snacks for before and after practice and during tournaments. My daughter gives Grandma’s granola two thumbs up.
Another perk to making this granola is that I have most of the ingredients on hand at all times. I buy my nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in bulk and store them in my extra fridge in labeled glass containers. The kids always have access to combining different nuts and seeds for a personalized trail mix snack, and I always have them available for adding to salads, meals, and toppings. Here’s a peek inside my fridge…
Simple directions to make Grandma’s Toasted Coconut Granola:
The first step in making this granola is to process the cashews, macadamia nuts, and slivered almonds in a food processor just slightly. I think I pulsed my processor no more than 5 or 6 times to barely brake up the nuts.
Next, I transferred the processed nuts into a large mixing bowl and added pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and toasted coconut flakes. Toasted coconut flakes is one of my new favorite things, and I think quite possibly why this granola is such a hit. I love to snack on these dried coconut flakes by themselves or add them as a topping to anything. I’ve heard (although I haven’t tried yet) of eating them like a bowl of frosted flakes cereal. I can see how it would resemble the taste and texture and be delicious!
The third step is to combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, maple sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a small pitcher. I warmed the mixture slightly to melt the coconut oil and drizzled it over the nut and seed mixture.
I stirred to thoroughly incorporate the sweet liquid with the nuts and seeds.
Lastly, I preheated the oven to 300 degrees and spread the mixture out on a parchment lined baking sheet. I baked the granola for about 35 minutes, removing it from the oven a couple of times to stir.
- 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup macadamia nuts
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons maple sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Slightly process cashews, macadamia nuts, and slivered almonds in a food processor, and then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add toasted coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts to the bowl.
- In a small pitcher, stir together maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, and then warm slightly until the coconut oil melts.
- Pour the maple syrup mixture over the nut and seed mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Spread the granola on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 35 minutes, removing from the oven during baking time several times to stir.
Easy peasy. That is what this breakfast is. After a fun girls trip to Miami, I made a big batch of pumpkin chia pudding so the morning of my re-entry would go just a little bit smoother. I liked it so much that I’ve made it my breakfast every day this week.
Backing up a little bit…so I went to Miami this past weekend for the first time ever. I had no idea it could be so much fun! I went with a great group of girls (my soon to be sister-in-law was one of them), and we had the best time. I will be returning again for sure…maybe for my 40th birthday next year?? Anyone want to join me??
Any time I travel, I lose control over what goes in my food. Because I’ve been eating healthy for so long now, my body craves fruits, veggies, nuts, eggs, fish, etc. and I pretty much continue to eat that way even away from home. But when I’m on vacation, I’m on VACATION! I make it a point to try new foods and enjoy those foods I don’t eat every day, especially desserts, and I do so completely guilt free. Adopting a healthy diet will never last if you try to do it 100% of the time. I shoot for eating the healthiest foods 90% of the time and allow myself to have a little FUN the other 10%. Food is a big part of life, and I do not want to miss out. Vacation always comes to an end, and I will be back at home eating my kale in no time at all.
After a weekend as enjoyable as the one I just had, it always feels good to get back home and do a little mini cleanse. Chia seeds are an effective detoxing food. Each of those little bitty seeds swells up and absorbs anything in its path while passing through my digestive system, acting like a little vacuum or broom, ridding my body of toxins along the way. Plus, chia seeds contain lots of valuable nutrients and electrolytes, and because they are also soluble fiber (meaning they absorb water and liquid), they move slowly through my digestive system, promoting hydration and helping my body retain those electrolytes.
When I got home on Sunday night, I made a basic chia pudding. I combined 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup almond milk (coconut milk works too) in a sealed container. I love these glass containers I picked up from The Container Store. I have a ton of them and use them to store all of my nuts and seeds in the fridge. Nuts and seeds go rancid within a few months, so because I usually buy them in bulk, it’s important to refrigerate or freeze them.
The next morning, I combined the chia pudding with a can of organic pumpkin (in a BPA free can), pumpkin pie spice, and English toffee stevia in the small Vitamix container. I blended the ingredients together in the Vitamix to make a creamy pudding. This recipe makes about 4 servings, and the pudding stays good when stored in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days.
I chose to sweeten the pudding with stevia (a super sweet herb from South America) to minimize sugar (even natural sugar) upon returning. Whenever I travel, sugar seems to be my main indulgence, so after coming home, I’m ready to break away from it. Stevia is a smart choice because it has absolutely no sugar, not even natural sugar. In fact, it has no calories at all! And there’s even more good news. Stevia goes further to actually benefit your pancreas help your body regulate blood sugar.
As toppings, I chose a honeycrisp apple and walnuts but feel free to shake things up and get creative with your toppings. Here’s a few ideas for inspiration: berries, banana, pear, peach, plum, mango, pineapple, figs, mandarin oranges, pistachios, slivered almonds, coconut ribbons, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mangoes…and the list could go on…
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 can organic pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2-4 droppers of English toffee stevia
- 2 apples, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- The night before, combine chia seeds and almond milk in a sealed container and put in the refrigerator.
- The next day, combine chia pudding with the can of pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and English toffee stevia in a Vitamix, and blend until smooth.
- Divide pumpkin chia pudding into 4 bowls, and top with chopped apple and chopped walnuts.
I found this apple bumpkin breakfast bake from The Foodie and The Family while searching for some new paleo breakfast ideas for the kids. Before each school year starts, I vow that I am going to send my kids off with tummies full of good nutrition, especially enough protein to carry them through until lunch. And because they are in charge of what they choose at their school’s cafeteria for lunch, I have no idea if they are refueling with anything of substance in my absence (one of mine is known to make a lunch out of condiments). Hence the reason breakfast becomes that much more important in laying a good foundation for their morning at school and beyond.
Even though I have come to the point of not really missing bread after years of eating gluten free and now grain free, my children really REALLY like those big starchy breakfasts…muffins, pancakes, waffles, toast, etc. Even though this hearty breakfast recipe is really more of an egg strata, it tastes sweet and almost presents like a coffee cake.
My first attempt at making this apple bumpkin breakfast bake did not go over well with my kids. “Mo-om…I don’t really like it…it’s too…I don’t know…egg-ie for me”. (For the record, I thought it was delicious!) Nothing infuriates me more than using a dozen pasture fed fresh eggs plus all kinds of other healthy organic ingredients only to be met with such a tough critique of what I was sure would be our family’s next favorite breakfast. Ugh… back to the drawing board…but I’m not giving up.
Too egg-ie, huh? Well, let’s just fix that. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, and this time it was a hit. The best part of this breakfast is that it makes 12 servings, so it feeds our family breakfast for at least two mornings of the week. Plus, I can make it the night before so no need to wake up an hour before the family to get breakfast on the table.
The first steps in making the apple bumpkin breakfast bake are to preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with coconut oil.
Next, I chopped three apples and spread them out in the baking dish. I chose honeycrisp apples because they are my family’s favorite, but any variety will do. Although honeycrisp apples are the best type to enjoy raw, they are pretty tasty baked too. Fall is the season for apples and the only time of year for fresh honeycrisps.
I combined the bananas, eggs, pumpkin, coconut milk, almond flour, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda in the Vitamix and blended until smooth and creamy, stopping a few times to scrape the sides. When choosing canned food products, I check for BPA free on the label. I picked up this BPA free canned pumpkin at Whole Foods and a can of Native Forest BPA free coconut milk there as well. BPA stands for bisphenol-A – a type of chemical found in plastic products like water bottles and the linings of food cans. Too much BPA exposure messes with your nervous system (your brain) and is a hormone disruptor, as it mimics the natural hormone estrogen.
I poured the egg mixture over the apples in the baking pan and topped with slivered almonds and shredded coconut ribbons.
Lastly, I baked it for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the eggs were set.
- 3 apples, chopped
- 3 bananas
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 can pumpkin
- 1 can coconut milk
- ¼ – ½ cup maple syrup, to taste
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup coconut ribbons
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with coconut oil.
- Spread chopped apples in the baking dish.
- Combine bananas, eggs, almond flour, pumpkin, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda in the Vitamix, and blend until smooth.
- Pour egg mixture over the apples in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle slivered almonds and coconut ribbons on top.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the eggs are set.
Remember when I said I haven’t met a squash I didn’t like. Well, this became a joke between two very good friends and me. We came up with all kinds of creative ways to use squash in cooking – even the less popular or unrecognizable varieties.
Our favorite use for squash was to bake it into squash bread. I would make loaves of it for each of them, and this recipe is my paleo version of our favorite.
Obviously food is my passion, primarily because of what it can do for my body – the power it has to communicate, influence gene expression, and ultimately heal. But another reason I love food is that so much of life revolves around it. Memories are created and traditions are carried on that include special dishes and foods. Squash bread is part of a memory I have that makes me laugh and brings me back to when I got to spend a lot of time with two people who are very important to me.
To make my squash bread paleo, I used a combination of almond flour and sweet potato flour. I mixed the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and then added shredded squash, chopped walnuts, and lemon zest and stirred to coat.
I chose yellow summer squash to use in this recipe because it is so plentiful this time of year. Yellow summer squash is not only easy to grow (why you see a plethora of local yellow squash in the grocery, along the side of the road, at farmers markets…), but it is also quite good for your body. It’s yellow color is the first clue that it contains a healthy dose of beta carotene and lutein – two antioxidants especially good at protecting your vision and fighting free radicals. Plus, it provides a heaping dose of vitamin C, folate, and manganese. Manganese is a trace mineral that helps your body metabolize fats, carbs, and sugar and also has been shown to benefit your bones and joints and reduce PMS symptoms like irritability and mood swings.
Next, I beat the wet ingredients together and then added them to the dry ingredients, mixing until well blended.
I poured the batter into a loaf pan and baked the bread for about an hour or until the top looked nice and golden brown. The edges are good and crispy but the inside of the bread is incredibly moist. I hope you like this summer squash bread!
- 1⅓ cups almond flour
- ⅔ cups sweet potato flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 yellow squash, grated
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup almond or coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add squash, lemon zest, and walnuts and stir to coat.
- Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together until well blended.
- Pour in a greased loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.
- Cool slightly before slicing.
I recently purchased a Groupon for a local box of produce to be delivered to my house. What I liked best about this company other than the fact that I didn’t have to drive to retrieve my bin of veggies was that they included a page of recipes using ALL of the produce included in that week’s box.
I decided to try out these recipes since I now had all of the ingredients. My favorite was this frittata, probably because it included squash. I don’t think I’ve tried a variety of squash I didn’t like, and this time of year, yellow summer squash is everywhere. I saw stand after stand of squash by the side of the road on a recent trip to Tulsa with my daughter, the grocery store has stacks of local yellow squash, and the farmers market has boxes of them too. Having many ways to use this abundant veggie is a good thing.
To start, I thinly sliced the summer squash.
Next, I chopped the onion and minced the garlic and combined them with the squash in a large skillet. I drizzled a little olive oil in the pan, and cooked the veggies for about 3 minutes.
One goal of mine is to eat something green with every meal. Spinach is probably the easiest green to throw into almost any recipe. For this frittata, I coarsely chopped a heaping handful of spinach. After the other veggies had been cooking for 3 minutes, I added the spinach, stirred, reduced the heat, covered, and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
I removed the cooked veggies from the heat and drained them on a paper towel to remove the juice.
Time to add the eggs. Eggs are a super healthy food and another one that is easy to add to almost anything. I remember the day when I counted my calories religiously to try to control my weight, and I would separate the egg yolks from the whites and toss the yolks. What a terrible idea that was! First of all, an entire egg has between 70 and 90 calories, depending on the size, so two eggs is under 200 calories. Plus, valuable nutrients are packaged in that yellow yolk – lots of choline (related to the B vitamins and important for brain health, cell membrane structure, protecting the liver from fat accumulation, and in making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), folate, vitamins A and E, selenium, iodine, biotin (a B vitamin that is good for your hair, nails and metabolism – think energy!), and healthy fats – so choosing to omit the yolks to save calories and decrease fat intake doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m sure there were a lot of other empty calories sabotaging my diet more than the few that are in the incredibly healthy egg yolks. By the way, I no longer have the need to count my calories. Since I’ve been eating a diet of real food – nutrient dense whole foods – my body has settled in to a healthy weight without me having to play that game.
For the egg mixture, I beat 5 eggs in a medium bowl and added Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, salt, and pepper. I don’t eat much dairy, but I will include hard cheeses in my diet occasionally. If you are avoiding dairy completely, try substituting chopped pine nuts and increase the salt to ½ teaspoon.
Next I added the cooked veggies to the egg mixture and prepared the skillet by misting it with olive oil and placing it over medium heat. When the skillet was hot, I poured in the veggie-egg mixture and let it cook for about 6 minutes or until the edges began to turn brown. I placed the skillet in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 more minutes or until the eggs were set.
This frittata served my family of four easily. In fact, I think we ate every bite!
- 1 heaping handful of spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
- 1 small purple onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 5 eggs
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (or chopped pine nuts if avoiding dairy)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (increase to ½ teaspoon if using pine nuts)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large skillet, drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil and add sliced squash, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add chopped spinach, stir to combine, cover, and let cook for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- In a medium bowl, beat eggs and then add basil, cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until well blended. Add cooked veggies to the egg mixture.
- Spray the other teaspoon of olive oil in the skillet and warm it over medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour in the veggie-egg mixture and let it cook for 6-7 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature.