Sunday, May 26, 2013

Carob "Magic Shell"

Greetings Fellow Healthy Buddies!

Jen asked me to contribute to the blog and so HERE I AM and here it comes!

Little background on me:
My name's Christina
I've been slowly (but surely) changing the way I eat (working my way to 100% plant based)
and I enjoy seeing what yummy delish-is-nuss I can create for my 
little family of 6!

Last summer I came across the holy grail of Summer treats!
Who woulda thunk?  But they are truly divine.
This summer I wanted to step it up a bit! 

I am a HUGE fan of chocolate.
HUGE fan....
Did I mention....I'm a fan???
Well, chocolate is not very kind to my tummy, so a 
perfect alternative is CAROB!!

I have been eating carob all my life.  For EVERY birthday (and I DO mean EVERY) I have had a carob cake.  It's the texas sheet cake recipe, only made with carob!  Love it!   I already know and love carob so I though I'd experiment with making carob covered frozen bananas!  I tried it and it was LOVE at first bite!

Here's the simple recipe!

1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c powered sugar
(I am going to be experimenting more with honey/agave to see if the results are satisfactory!)
1/4 c carob powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the coconut oil, powdered sugar and carob in a small saucepan over low/med heat.
Stir until coconut oil is all melted and the carob and powdered sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Take a FROZEN banana and dip down in the sauce.  Work quickly as it will start to set up fast!  Once set up, put back in the freezer for about 15 - 20 minutes.  

If you can wait, if not, just eat right then!  The banana will be slightly soft due to the heat of the sauce. If you're like me, I just couldn't wait, and the banana was inhaled in a matter of 4 big bites!  Boy was is GOOD!!!  You can be creative and roll in some chopped nuts before it sets up completely.  I loved it with just the carob though!  

We've got ALL summer to fix (and EAT) these bad boys and I can hardly wait!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

White Bean, Millet, Walnut Taco 'Meat'

We eat a lot of beans, as you know, and I don't know about you, but we need variety.  Kinda like my old chicken days...I ate chicken every day and that gets pretty darn old if I didn't have a billion ways to serve it.  I'm so glad those days are over, to be honest with you.  I love that there are so many various plant foods to choose from!  Tonight I was in a hurry to make dinner and didn't have any beans previously made like I normally do, so I pulled a can of white beans out of our food storage and put some millet on to cook and let the creative juices flow.  Ha!  Actually it isn't so creative, just a little spin on what I normally make but the flavor turned out great!

White Bean, Millet, Walnut Taco 'Meat'

1 large onion, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 can white beans (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked millet
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, crushed)
1 teaspoon cumin
coconut oil (2 teaspoons, optional)

Saute onion in oil or water for about 5 minutes.  Add walnuts for 2 minutes.  Add beans, millet and spices.  Add a little water if needed.  Cook on medium low heat until heated through.  Serve in a lettuce, or chard leaf or on corn tortillas!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Juice?

Why Juice?

Why not?!  Juicing is a way to get a straight “shot in the arm” of nutrients.  I have found, for myself that the more living foods I consume, the better I feel, the less cravings I encounter.  Why is this?  I fully believe that when we consume dead foods, or processed foods, the less nutritionally fed we are.  Our bodies will begin to scream for the nutrients it’s lacking.  This comes in the way of cravings!  The more alkalizing foods (refer to THIS alkaline/acid chart) we eat or juice, the quicker we will absorb the nutrients our body needs.

One of the biggest questions in regard to juicing concern the fiber that is being removed.  That can’t be good?  We need that fiber, right?  Yes, we need fiber and should be consuming it in the form of eating these foods as well, but the benefit to juicing or even a juice fast provide our digestive system a break.  Pulling the fiber from the vegetables and fruits frees the nutrients . 

In the book pH Miracles by Robert and Shelley Young, they describe the benefits of juicing, “When you “drink your vegetables,” your body is getting minerals, chlorophyll, and enzymes, so vegetable juices are very alkalizing.  They also have an important cleansing effect in the intestines.  Juicing vegetables you might otherwise cook also provides enzymatic relief to the digestive organs.”  These juices go straight into the blood stream and provide us with "instant" nutrition!  

What to juice for optimal nutrition?  Again, referring to the alkaline/acid lists found all over the Internet and in books provide you with a list of foods that are alkaline.  When our bodies are more alkaline based, versus acid, we are healthy or more alive.  When our bodies become acidic, our bodies become a place where disease and decay thrive.  So, when it comes to juicing we are going for alkalinity.  This comes in the form of vegetables and very few fruits.  As you consume more vegetables juices, this will provide your body with a large amount of alkaline based nutrients and you will feel awesome!  I’m not gonna lie, the first time you choke down a “green” drink, you’re gonna feel like it might all come right back up!  So, start with equal amounts of apples, carrots and greens in the form of kale, spinach, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, etc.  Juicing a lemon with my green drink is a must!  It always helps mine to taste better.  In time, you will be able to lesson the amount if apples and carrots and add more greens.  

I juice a 32 oz green drink every morning and it consists of a variety of greens; kale, spinach, beet greens, and swiss chard.  I will sometimes add celery and/or a cucumber, cabbage, and a green pepper.  I love cilantro/parsley as well.  I add 1 green apple and 1 lemon to my 32 oz drink.  I rarely add carrots.  Carrots are alkaline but also naturally very sweet and can still increase your blood sugar.  Juicing grasses like wheat grass is also beneficial, although I haven’t had the time or patience to investigate growing my own and certainly don’t have the time or money to buy it.  I have read loads about the benefits though and encourage you to do that if you know how.

I also occasionally add 1 garlic clove, ginger root (peeled), or radishes to my juice.  Sometimes the spicy takes away the monotony of  the heavy greens.  Although, I have been juicing for a year and love variety, I NEVER tire of my green juice every morning.  If I happen to miss my green drink in the morning, my body feels more tired and I feel more cravings later in the day.

A word about Organic…I do all I can to buy organic.  I know there is much controversy concerning organic, however, I still buy it, wash it well and have peace of mind knowing I’m making the best choice I can. I also try to buy organic produce stateside and NOT from Mexico.  I cannot source this, but have heard that Mexico sometimes uses human waste as fertilizer (yuck, I know). I cannot afford to buy everything organic.  I work with my local grocery store and the produce manager there is wonderful about ordering anything I need organic and gives me great prices!  The foods I buy organic are; apples, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, kale, and carrots.  I buy these buy the box every week.  We juice it, eat it for almost every meal and LOVE it!

I will also be posting some great information about what kind of juicer is best? Also, information about the power of a juice fast.  Stay tuned!

There are some excellent books, documentaries and other sources about the power of juicing I recommend:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This recipe is adapted from The Forks Over Knives Cookbook.  My kids weren't very excited about this soup, because it had cauliflower in it.  Well, there wasn't a drop left!  They LOVED it! 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
4 teaspoons curry
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4-6 cups water or vegetable broth
Almond Milk (optional)
Cilantro & Scallions for garnish (tastes amazing in soup)

Saute onions and garlic in a little water until translucent.  Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, turn on low until cauliflower is soft.  Blend the soup.  If it's too thick, add a little water or almond milk.  Garnish with cilantro and sliced scallions.

Veggie Medley With Ginger Using Platinum Cookware

Two words. Platinum Cookware.  On my blog, I've talked a little about the Salad Master set that Dan and I purchased.  It is water-less, oil-less cooking, stainless steel cookware.  We were not happy with our Salad Master.  See...this cookware had a little opening on the top of the lid that would "click" when the food was up to temperature.  When it was up to temperature you would turn it down.  The problem was, sometimes the clicker wouldn't work, other times, if I needed to cook something like baked potatoes in my pot, I would need the temperature a little higher, like 100 degrees and the clicker would click nonstop, causing me to seriously flip my lid.  Ha ha!  No pun intended there!  

Our good friends Dave & Cindy (Cindy's recipes have been posted here before) and their daughter and son-in-law, Ritchie & Christina decided to make a business of selling Platinum Cookware.  They did a demonstration for us and we were SOLD!  This cookware is exactly what we have needed!  No clicking!!!  Woot!  Most veggies cook at about 60 degrees and the little dial on the lid would show us when it was up to temperature.  We would then turn our burner either off, or on low and it would keep it's temperature until the veggies were cooked, thus keeping the temperature low.  Boiling point is 212, if I remember right.  This keeps your food well below that and traps all the heat inside cooking your food.  It requires no water, if your veggies have been rinsed and are a little wet, and very little water if your veggies are dry.  NO OIL!  They actually bake cakes in these pans, with NO OIL!  It is like a magic show with these pans.  

I cook in them daily!  My kids love potatoes and veggies in them, not to mentions soups, stews, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, the list goes on!
Today I made these veggies.  VERY EASY!  Very delicious!  If you do not own Platinum, it is worth looking into, however, in the meantime, make sure you're using stainless steel.  It is still possible to cook your veggies on a lower heat.

Veggie Medley With Ginger

1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut in chunks
1 cup Brussels sprouts, ends removed and rinsed well
1 large handful fresh green beans, ends removed and rinsed well.
1 large handful or two of Asparagus, thick ends cut off and rinsed well.
1 inch ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine all the veggies.  Bring up to 80 degrees.  Turn off heat, or remove from heat if your stove stays hot (ceramic).  Let sit for about 15-20 minutes.  Check.  I added my asparagus after the veggies were up to temperature.  They tend to cook quickly and were mushy if combined with the other veggies in the beginning.  
Sprinkle with 21 Seasoning Salute.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Orange Chia Muffins

I have been in the mood for cooking big time these last few days!  Maybe it's because it's Spring?!  I am loving my DoTERRA oils and using them in my cooking.  Wild Orange is an inexpensive oil and adds a ton of flavor to shakes, juices, syrups, muffins, cookies, etc!  These muffins were created by me today!  Usually I modify existing recipes but this one was all me.  I was thrilled at how they turned out.  I hope you try them and let me know what you think :)  I wish I could have you all over for brunch, because to me the best part is watching people enjoy something healthy, made by me.  It brings me lots of JOY!

Orange Chia Muffins

3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup honey or agave
1/4 cup coconut oil
5 drops wild orange essential oil

Crumb Topping (optional)
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup organic sugar
grated rind of one orange
1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine the orange juice and chia seeds and set aside for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl combine spelt flour, rolled oats, salt, soda and baking powder.  Mix well.  Add honey/agave, coconut oil, wild orange oil and orange juice chia mixture.  Quickly mix well.  Do not over mix!  If using crumb topping prepare by mixing all ingredients together until crumbly.  Spoon muffin batter into a stainless steel muffin tins that have been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the crumb topping on top and bake muffins for 15-20 minutes or until tops are a little crispy and muffins are slightly browning. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Enjoy!!

Yield: 12 large muffins

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tofu Veggie Rice Wraps

This is my first time using these fun rice wraps! I have seen them and wanted to try them but usually use seaweed instead.  These were easy and lots of fun to make!  I bought my rice wraps at Smiths Marketplace in the Asian food section.  As you can see above, they just need to be dunked in water for a about 10-15 seconds.  When you pull them out, they may be stiff still, but will soften.  I also picture a sweet and sour sauce.  I used a recipe in the cookbook Forks Over Knives, but the sauce was sticky and didn't turn out well at all.  I will not be including that recipe.  This was a quick, fun lunch I had this week.

 I love the options vegetables give me!  It's quick and easy and I always feel full, satisfied and never weighed down after I eat.  Eating this way has been the answer for me and I'm so grateful for the information I've learned and continue to learn.  I'm grateful for those who do the digging and provide the information the general public needs to know concerning our food and where it's coming from.  I hope you take the time to educate yourself.  I have a list of literature as well as several documentaries here on my blog as well as in my very first post.  These are great places to start!  With the help of Pinterest I have found some amazing blogs!  People are so creative!  I love that we all share what we learn concerning plant based nutrition.  If eating plant based is too overwhelming for you, try taking it a step at a time.  Maybe a meal a week is plant based, and from there you can add to it as you find your tastes changing.

Tofu Veggie Rice Wraps

1 16 oz tub tofu, drained and sliced thinly, as picture above
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or coconut oil
2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 carrot, sliced thinly
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, washed a stems removed
Romaine lettuce (optional)

In a small fry pan saute the tofu in the grapeseed oil and Braggs Liquid Aminos until the outside of the tofu is crispy.  Set aside.  Prepare all the veggies.  Soften the rice wraps one at a time and prepare by layering the tofu and veggies.  Wrap as you would an enchilada.  Mine was a little tricky to fold, because it was sticky.  Do your best :)  I will post a great sauce soon! 
 In the meantime, Forks Over Knives has a great Brown Sauce that I like.  That book is worth it to own!  I hope you enjoy!