Low-Glycemic Lime Mint Smoothie

I feel in love with this smoothie when I first saw this video, titled "Limey Love Shake" by Chef Shelley of PH Miracle. It's literally the perfect smoothie: only veggies, lime and stevia as the sweeter, and it's so cool and refreshing from the mint and ice! It's literally a dream, the first time I had it. I alternate the greens, but for the most part, have something like this almost every other day. 

I also came across Chef Shelley through the writings of her husband Dr. Young of the PH Miracle. They've done amazing work together to heal acidic states in the body through raw, alkaline foods. I noticed a huge difference when I took their advice and added green powders to most of the water I was drinking through the day, and incorporating this smoothie into my diet. 

Of course, I can never do the same recipe exactly the same way: I decided to alter the recipe a bit in my own way, based on my tastes. Here's my take on the "Limey Love Shake":

1 long english cucumber, sliced

1 large handful of kale, torn

2 limes, peeled

2 full droppers of liquid stevia

1 large handful mint (I put in about a cup)

1 full tray of ice

1/2 avocado

Toppings: cacao nibs and/or unsweetened coconut shreds, optional. 

Blend the cucumber, kale, limes, stevia and mint with enough water to cover ingredients about halfway. Add in the ice and the avocado last, and give it a fast whirl (you don't want to blend the avocado too much as it can turn foamy.) Top with toppings, if using, and enjoy! 

 

 

Raw Vegan Fudge In A Jar

This was a vamp off a frosting recipe that inspired me, I tweaked and then refrigerated and then voila - it hardened into fudge. I went with it. Happy little accident, and Bob Ross would be proud. 

It couldn't be easier.  It's low-glycemic (I used stevia), loaded with healthy coconut fats, high in antioxidants from the cacao powder (or carob if you choose to use that), and just plain delicious. Depending on whether or not you actually like the flavor of coconut manna, you can opt for 1/2 coconut mana and maybe 1/2 melted cacao butter. More chocolate flavor, less coconut. Either way. Just make it, love it, and enjoy. Honestly, I have this covered in plastic in the fridge and eat about a tablespoon at a time with some fruit and it really hits the spot when I want some chocolate. It also keeps well for about 5 or 6 days, so it's perfect in that regard, that you don't really have to think about dessert: it's already waiting for you!

1/2 cup softened coconut manna/butter (do not use coconut oil though)

       (You can also do 1/2 and 1/2 with melted cacao butter)

1/2 cup hot water

1 dropper full hazelnut stevia

1 tsp hazelnut extract

2 tablespoons cacoa powder

1/2 tsp reishi, maca, maqui, or other medicinal powder (Optional but fun)

pinch sea salt

Blend ingredients in a mini personal blender, pour into a ball jar, cover and refrigerate. After a few hours, the coconut will harden and turn into a soft fudge: hard enough to spoon up and devour! You can also change this up and add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, go crazy...make it your own. Enjoy! 

Life Changing Cashew Ranch Dressing

When I first started eating vegan (as with many people, you'll find) the hardest thing to give up was anything creamy, ooey gooey, cheesy, buttery, anything from the dairy department. Especially in the summer, when you don't necessarily want a hot grilled cheese (actually, anything hot for that matter), but rather, a cooling salad with something extra special on top: like ranch dressing.  Is there anything more perfect than cool ranch with a hint of onion or garlic over, well, anything: greens, veggies, cardboard? It can make anything taste out of this world.

While there are so many vegan ranch dressings out there (some use macadamia nuts, some pine nuts, some a mixture of sorts, add onion, don't add onion, add basil, don't add basil, salt, no salt, sheesh...), the variety and options can give you a headache, for real. 

So I wanted a recipe I can easily remember (since, as some of you know, I never duplicate the same recipe twice and in fact, my husband asks if I can make "that one thing you made the other day" and I frown since, well, I just can't remember what I put in it, so I make another batch and it comes out completely different). I'm that girl. The one who perpetually reinvents her recipes.

Fret no more! This one is the only cashew ranch recipe you'll ever need, and the one you'll remember since: (1) it's life changing and (2) its' all about 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1. That's easy.

The "one of everything" idea actually came from my romanian mother and grandmothers, who, when I was a child told me many times: don't follow a recipe. Just do one handful of this, one handful of that. It caught on. 

So...one of everything:

1 cup cashews, soaked (measured before you soak them) and drained

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 handful dill (yes, hand sizes are different, but it's about 1/2 cup loose dill)

Combine cashews, water, salt and powders in a vitamix and blend until really creamy. Chop the dill loosely, add to the mix, and just PULSE to incorporate. Enjoy. 

This is literlaly, life changing. I've had it all week, it gets better as it sits, and is just a dreamy, creamy, loveliness you can't help...but....remmeber :) 

Peace and love, y'all!

 

Zippy Lentil & Tomato Salad

When you’re looking for lean & mean plant-based protein, lentil is one of the top winners in my book. It’s so versatile! You can make a stew, a soup, a “mash”, burgers, and today, even a cold salad to satisfy your craving palate! I’m all about “easy cooking” these days, especially that the weather has warmed up, I want to be in the kitchen less and less and more out in the garden, harvesting herbs, veggies, and eating easily assembled meals. More time playing, less time working, I say!

These lentils take about 25 minutes to cook, and you have an easy addition to your meals for about 5 days ~ how easy is that?

You can use green or red lentils, but they’ll turn soupy, so my “go to” for this dish are either French/puy lentils or black lentils. Both retain their shape really well, and are a delicious chewy texture you’ll love. Use it with any veggies that are in season, herbs of your choice, and you’ve got a meal you can make in minutes!

Ingredients:

1 cup black or puy lentils, rinsed, looked over, and boiled with plenty of water until done (about 25 minutes or so).  Drain, set aside and cool.

1 chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

Dressing:

1 tsp your favorite mustard

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Pinch sea salt

As much black pepper as you can tolerate

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix up with a fork. Add in about ½ cup of your cooked lentils and stir well. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Add in the tomato and onion, mix slightly, and enjoy. 

Tip: This salad is also very good, by the way, with ready made hot lentils also.

"Love Yo Face" Serum

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Last year, I had a Make & Take with my fellow team members and we made a face serum to LIVE for ~ this year, my schedule got a bit busy, so I wasn't able to host another Make & Take but I DID want to share with you a similar recipe that might put a little Valentine's pep in your stop and help you LOVE YO FACE. 

Also, I should say, that title does not belong to me - huge props to my sweet friend Jess who thought of it and is pure genius. All royalties go to her, of course.

The recipe is very forgiving and fun, so be sure to play. Add a little more of this, less of that. You get the gist. Also, it goes without saying that all of these Essential Oils are the Young Living brand, and I stand behind them 100%! They're my favorite and my life has changed in incredible ways since using them. To find out more, check out my other website here to get the inside scoop! 

Here we go:

1 oz bottle of Argan Oil (or your preferred carrier oil like jojoba, grapeseed, reship, etc.) ~ make sure it has just a little bit of headspace (meaning, it's not completely full) to allow the displacement of the oils below....

3 drops Lavender Essential Oil

4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

3 drops Manuka Essential Oil

2 drops Geranium Essential Oil

4 drops Copaiba Essential Oil

Add the drops to your bottle of Argan Oil and shake well. Please note, this oil shouldn't be rubbed into the skin, but rather pat - the application should be gentle. 

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Dark Chocolate & Orange Coconut Macaroons

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As many of you may have guessed, my two loves are food and oils. And of COURSE, it seems about right that I'd combine them, all in due time. Actually, I've been pairing them for years, and only now decided to finally do something about it and write these recipes down. 

So, as a little treat for upcoming Valentine's, the only sensible thing to do is to make something decadent and ALL about chocolate. And you know what goes well with chocolate? Orange. 

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I only use the Young Living Vitality oils (the ones with the white label) since they have FDA GRAS status (generally regarded as safe) and are safe to ingest. In fact, Young Living made it super easy for you to know how to use them and even included directions in the label: add a drop or two to a capsule and ingest. For most of them, I just prefer to use them in foods since they're oh so delicious. Like tangerine in my Dandy Blend with coconut creamer, lime in my water, peppermint in my raw brownies. And this one, right here: 

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I'm writing this recipe in anticipation of a Valentine's Desserts class I'm hosting at Jus Organic in Atlantic Highlands. Be sure to check them out and definitely join us for the class this Saturday - it's going to be a winner. Details here if you are local. 

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So without further ado...here we go....

Macaroon base:

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

4 tablespoons Coconut Nectar (may replace with maple syrup)

Pinch salt

13 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil

 

Chocolate Coating:

½ cup Coconut Nectar (may replace with maple syrup)

¾ cup cacao powder

⅔ cup melted coconut oil

Pinch salt

7 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil

Combine the macaroon ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles couscous and stays pinched between fingers. Using a spoon or a mini scoop, create 1 tablespoon-full macaroon “balls”. Refrigerate for about an hour.

After they are well chilled, combine the chocolate coating ingredients in a high speed blender. The longer this sits, the more it wants to thicken, so work fast. Coat each macaroon with the chocolate coating, and set them aside. Refrigerate another hour so they solidify even more. Serve cold, with some orange shavings on top. I bet you can’t eat just one! The bowl is fun to clean too :)

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Raw Carob Raspberry Brownies

Let's just be clear, there needs to be dessert in the house or I get cranky. Actually....scratch that. There needs to be CHOCOLATE in the house or I get cranky. But with insulin resistance (or on the mend from it!) there's not much dessert I can have....or so you'd think.

Lucky for you, I wrote a whole ebook (available here) on sweets that are low-glycemic with barely a drop of sugar in them (I can't say completely sugar free since I do use raspberries...but other than that, no dates, maple syrup, honey, sugar, raisins, none of that!) 

I've enjoyed raw brownies made with dates for a long time, topped with chocolate ganache (made with maple syrup) and raspberries...but I wanted to try something even better. Something you can eat without guilt!

Enter....The raw carob brownies...of your dreams. 

And yes, while carob doesn't necessarily make everyone's head turn or toes curl, this is actually a glorious marriage of dark beautiful chocolatey goodness. A blend you'd never suspect, but one that works perfectly.

Brownies:

3 cups walnuts

1/2 cup cacao powder

1 scoop sunwarrior protein powder, chocolate (optional)

pinch salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 dropper full of hazelnut or english toffee stevia

scant 1/4 cup water (or herbal coffee if you feel adventurous)

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Pour the coconut evenly on the bottom of an 8x8 brownie pan. Set aside.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until they resemble rice. Add in the other ingredients and process until mixture starts to crumble into even smaller bits. As machine is running, start to pour in the water little by little (you may not need all of it) until mixture starts to stick when pressed together between your fingers. Taste for sweetness and adjust with stevia. Pour this mixture in the brownie pan and press down to form a smooth surface. 

Ganache: 

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup cacao butter, melted

pinch salt

1/2 cup carob powder

2 dropper fulls hazelnut or english toffee stevia

Decorate: freeze dried raspberries and 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut 

Blend ingredients together in a high performance blender until smooth. You might add a few tablespoons of water if you need to get it running, but try not to if at all possible (it sort of separates)..... The ganache might look lumpy...that's ok. It's not going to be super smooth and that's actually a desired effect (more surface area means you get taste all of that ganache goodness!)

Pour ganache over brownies, and decorate with freeze dried raspberries and the remaining coconut. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut one out and enjoy it...eventually you'll want to tear them out of the pan like an animal, which is ok too (see the photos I enclosed). 



Mama's Green Beans

We all know that mama knows best, but honestly, I think MY mama knows best...she's offered wholesome, clean eating and recipes from the time I was a little tot, and I attribute my health journey to my upbringing. These green beans are her own recipe, and are a favorite in our household. No matter how often I make it, I swear hers still tastes the best. 

Best part is that these are hearty, low-glycemic, full of fiber, and super easy to make. Also, how sweet is this? She gave me the following recipe, and at the end, she wrote "...and love is a must". Of course it is. That's why hers are the best. 

3 large handfuls of green beans, cleaned (just the stem end), washed, broken in 2

1 yellow onion, chopped fine

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 tsp sea salt (or per your palate)

One 8oz organic tomato sauce (mom likes the thin kind but you can use crushed, about 1 cup)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a heavy pot (preferably cast iron) over low heat. Add the oil, onion and salt and stir. Cover and let the mixture soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add in the beans and water. Add a little black pepper, and cover. Cook on medium until done (bite one and test it). Then add in the tomato sauce. At the end, finish with the parsley.....And love is a must.

Moringa Green Apple Smoothie Bowl

You wouldn't think all of these flavors go well together but they are like a coconut apple pie in your mouth and so so so good. I've offered this more as a template than as a stress test: if you can't find these superfoods, do not fret. Use what you have on hand! Spinach instead of kale, skip the tea and make your own chammomile or even mint! Get creative. If you don't know about sunwarrior, I prefer this protein powder since it's really clean and lean and is based on raw, sprouted brown rice protein with nothing fake. You can also use the original which is just: raw, sprouted, fermented, bio-available clean brown rice protein. That's it! How can you go wrong? 

Also, I should say, I typically use 2 cups of water, but I've posted 1.5 if you're looking for more of a smoothie feel. I like it as a morning soup, though, but go with what oyu like. For me, I like to slurp it up with a big spoon!

I use only green powders here: 

1. moringa (this is a beautiful new superfood on the market that is touted to be pretty much everything for eveyrone - I don't know if that's true but I've looked into it and it has great fiber, chlorophyll, protein and fats and even the stem, leaves and pods are used in many applications). 

2. matcha (which is essentiall green tea powder, a metabolism booster, but I go easy on the stuff especially if you are sensitive to caffeine)

3. spirulina (a seaweed which is a great detoxifier, great in protein, but the taste can be quite a challenge and aquired taste, so I feel that 1 tsp is just the right amount to sneak it in)

IF you have none of the above, feel free to just use 3 tsp of your favorite green powder (green vibrance is one of my favorites). 

This smoothie is packed with protein, fiber, chlorophyl, is low-glycemic and a great way to start the day. Dig in! Happy St. Patrick's by the way, and eat your greens!

 

1.5 cups water, (optional: brewed wtih "Get Burning" tea, cooled - this gives it a nice apple pie flavor) or brew your own tea of choice, then cool it.

1 tsp each: moringa, matcha, spirulina

1 handful kale

1 cap of Sunwarrior Liquid Light (optional)

1 scoop Sunwarrior Classic Vanilla Protein

To garnish: coconut, cacao nibs and green apple

Blend the first 5 ingredients together, taste for sweetness and perhaps add a few stevia drops if not sweet enough. Pour into bowl and garnish with chopped green apple, unsweetened coconut and cacao nibs. 

 

Black Bean Pasta Puttanesca

I remember the first time I had puttanesca. I was lucky enough to grow up with an Italian best friend named Alessandra.  She was and still is one of the best cooks I know, and her family was practically my second family growing up. One day, a long time ago, she made me the fastest pasta I've ever had and nearly dropped to my knees, it was so good. She explained it as Puttanesca, and it described a quick sauce that the prostitutes would make when they were short on time. Probably the funniest thing I've ever hear, but a sauce I'd remember forever.

These days, there's not much pasta in my house, but if there is, it's usually black bean pasta, gluten free and low glycemic. I especially love this brand because it only contains black beans and water. Simple! You can also substitute zucchini noodles for a light meal. I had some olives, garlic, fresh tomatoes, basil, chili flakes, good olive oil, (and some kale for a boost) and I got to work. 

1 cup black bean pasta, cooked per package directions. 

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

few pinches sea salt

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup olives, chopped

chili flakes

1 handful kale, torn

Black pepper, to taste

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium and sauté the garlic with a bit of salt. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Add in the tomatoes, olives, and chili flakes. Cover and simmer a few minutes, until they get juicy and they soften a bit. Throw in the kale to wilt, then add in the pasta. Cover again and bring to a simmer, just to heat through. When done, season with black pepper, to taste and enjoy. 

Smooth Greens Soup with Rosemary

The chillier nights are on their way as we soon enter November, and I long for soups that comfort and calm. Creamy soups have always been my love, but I don't always feel good eating them since they tend to be heavy and very fattening. Back in my dairy-eating days especially, soups were considered a light meal, but when you add in the cream and butter, they're anything but light! Inspired by one of my favorite chefs and authors Terry Walters, I've added in a few secret ingredients to thicken up the soup while still maintaining a lightness that I'm looking for.

It's all about the oats.

Terry taught me to use oats to thick soups and it works wonders in this recipe! Also I've added in just a few cashews to make it a bit heartier, but the whole fat is still light: there's only 1/4 cup in the whole soup pot! Hope you enjoy it. And if you want to add in curry, italian spices, anything you'd like ~ this is just a template so feel free to play with your food.

A little side note: We love buying heads of broccoli instead of the precut broccoli bags. The stems are great for juicing, munching on, and they're loaded with nutrition. The other day I realized I had collected 6 stems, so I I peeled and chopped them all and used them in the soup. They're a great way to use up the stems that few people know what to do with. Just get to the inner core that's sweet and crunchy and avoid the thick exterior. If you don't have stems this time around, just substitute with more broccoli florets.

one yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced small

1 tsp coconut oil

6 broccoli stems, peeled and chopped (or just add more broccoli)

florets from one head of broccoli, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cashews

water to cover veggies by 1 inch

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried rosemary

plain unsweetened coconut yoghurt, optional

Sauté the onion in  1 tsp coconut oil for about 2 minutes. Add the sea salt so that the onions sweat a bit, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the broccoli stems, broccoli, zucchini, oats, cashews, rosemary and enough water to cover the ingredients by about an inch, cover, and cook for at least 25 minutes on medium. Stir occasionally and when the veggies are tender, use an immersion blender to blend the soup well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve with crushed pepper and a tsp of coconut yoghurt if desired. Enjoy! 

 

My Favorite Kale Salad

One of my favorite places to eat here in town is Seed To Sprout. They have this addictive massaged kale salad that I can't get enough of! I've asked the chefs what they use to make it, and they graciously told me, but I'm not lying.... theirs is still the BEST! 

Still, when it's 9:00 pm and you want this kale salad, here's as close as you're gonna get. If you do have a chance to stop in for lunch, you want to go to the masters!

4 big leaves kale, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)

drizzle of olive oil

squeeze of lemon juice

few pinches salt

1-2 tablespoons really high quality nutritional yeast

Combine kale, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a big bowl. Using your hands, massage the kale well until it starts to soften. The oil makes it soft, and the lemon juice and salt will start to break down the cell wall. Lastly, sprinkle with some nutritional yeast and use a fork to fluff up (if you massage it with the nutritional yeast, most of it will remain on your hands). Enjoy! 

A December Hygge Challenge

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What in the world is Hygge? And what's a December Hygge challenge?

Before we start, I have to give you a little back story. 

One thing you may not know about me is that I'm a "get it done" type of person. Not quite Type A, but quite possibly VERY close, although I do my best to keep calm and smile and keep my internal environment joyful and relaxed...but I thrive in my work. I love calm, but I love my work. And I work all day. All day, every day, 7 days a week. Yep, I work 7 days a week, and when it's a balanced 7 days, I love what I do. 

I had an oils class last night and I was talking to two dear friends about the concept of Hygge and it reminded me how much, despite my type work ethic, how much a huge part of me enjoys cozy atmospheres, tea, slowing down, lights, and blankets. That's Hygge. It's a Danish concept, a movement and a lifestyle, really, that cherishes slowing down, cozy moments, and togetherness. I have read a handful of books on the concept and it resonates with the deepest part of me, because at the center of everything I do ~ whether it's sleep, food, oils, yoga, having a balanced life ~ is SELF CARE. And Hygge can only reside when we make self-care a priority. 

SO what better time to do this than in December? My busiest month. Perhaps this is more a reminder for me, but I'd like to have you hop on my journey.

Every day I will be posting elements of Hygge on my Instagram and Facebook, and I'd like you to do the same, if you can. If you can't document it, that's fine ~ just do it. You don't have to take a picture of every tea cup. Or every blanket you throw on. You just have to promise me that this month, the month of rush and "Do", you promise me that you'll take your own health and make it #1.

You'll breathe deeply at the parties you attend.

You'll enjoy the baking if you do that, and put on some sweet lighting and good music.

Before you pass out in bed, you'll cuddle with your spouse.

When your dog wants a nuzzle, you'll put your laptop aside and give in.

You'll diffuser some lovely oils with cinnamon and orange. 

You'll have a cup of tea whenever possible.

Most of all, you'll spend time in nature, and look out your window and daydream.

And you'll make these as important as everything else.

Because you don't have your health, we don't have you.

That's all I ask. 

We start December 1st, are you in? 

 

HERE ARE THE RULES OF THE CHALLENGE: 

1. Follow Little Bites of Joy on Instagram.

2. Follow Little Bites of Joy on FB. 

3. If you do post about Hygge, hashtag #LittleBitesOfJoy, and give credit to this challenge

At the end of the month, the three people who have done the above, and have the most posts and most creative content will receive a little GIFT in the mail from me! 

Wishing you all a beautiful month of Hygge. 

See you in a few days with a warm cup,

Andreea

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Winter Hands Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub

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I'll confess - I have dry hands in the winter. Um, who doesn't? And if you're a normal human being, you probably do too. It might be the gardener in me, the pianist who just plays and plays and plays (they get a beating!), or it may be that I dislike using gloves when I wash dishes (I know, I know, don't judge). But for so many reasons, when the heat comes on in the fall and winter, my hands shrivel up and it's so so important to take good care of them ~ meaning, when we age, we mostly show it on our face and our hands. So it's important to take good care of them, just as much as they take good care of us and others. It's a good idea to use humidifiers in the winter months to hydrate the air around you, too. But overall, I dislike general moisturizers since my skin is sensitive, and I do very well by these two recipes.

I'm sure there are 1000 sugar scrub recipes out there, all of which are worth of a post, but these two are just my own personal favorites. You can certainly use these as templates and add in your own favorite oil combos, change up the oil (sweet almond and jojoba are great oils also), add in dried lavender leaves, poppy seeds for extra exfoliant properties ~ most of all, have fun, and play around with them. But these two recipes, I've found, are quick, easy, and just luxurious for the hands. Enjoy! And if you do end up making them, let me know how they turn out and hashtag #littlebitesofjoy!

Recipe:

3/4 cups raw sugar

Enough unrefined pure olive oil for desired consistency (think 1/2 - 3/4 cup or so)

10 drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Mix well and bottle it up in your favorite glass container. I love keeping this by the sink and in the bathroom for after washing the hands. Take about one teaspoon and massage your hands well (but not too hard), and give them some love. Rinse under warm water, and dry well. You'll find that our hands are silky smooth and well nourished! 

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Alternate recipe: 

Instead of the vanilla extract, try adding in 10 drops Young Living Lemon essential oil. The result is a gorgeous lavender/lemon sugar scrub. 

If you are interested in where I get my oils, please check out my Essential Oils For Bliss site here.  See you on the other side! 

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Chaga Reishi Cacao Tonic

I've been obsessed with tonics lately. Here's the thing: I need chocolate. Unapologetically. Just a little, every day. And it has to be dark, rich, and full of good stuff. So this tonic covers all the bases for me, and this chocolate delivery system cannot get any more healthy and pure. You can throw in any herbs you'd like, but take the time to read up on why they're good for you, learn from them, get to know them. This particular one contains coconut oil, sea salt, my favorite nettle tea (great for allergies in the spring!), cacao, and two medicinal mushrooms: chaga and reishi. It also contains maca for a little hormonal and adrenal support. Have fun exploring with your favorite flavors, and enjoy!

1 cup brewed nettle tea (or your favorite herbal tea)

1 tsp coconut oil

2 small pinches sea salt

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 tsp each chaga and reishi powders

1 tsp maca

a few drops english toffee (or original) stevia, for your taste

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Taste for sweetness and add in more stevia if you need it, and pour in your favorite mug. Did I mention this actually makes a great drink for the morning? Get your tonic in! Or it also fits in nicely when you need a little boost around 3:00 pm. Enjoy! 

Coconut Cream of Butternut Soup

Many days I sit and try to think of unique combinations of foods that together would spark something new and unique, and then real life sets in...the life where we all have appointments, and to do lists, and we're just plain hungry. It would be nice to say I have all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen, but I venture to guess that I'm someone very much like you: a working person, mom, wife, someone who tries to make time to exercise, clean the house and just get stuff done on a day-by-day basis. Showering would be nice. A bath would be even better. But just "get things done and enjoy life" mode....Enter simplicity. I simply can't make things complicated any more, and I'm not apologizing for it. Especially when there's THIS soup to be had.

I made this soup by accident, having found coconut cream (thick and solid) rather than coconut milk (I just didn't read the can well enough) at Trader Joe's. I opened up the can and inside was this glorious white coconut cream just screaming back at me with love and delight, saying, "hello best friend, nice to find you here". Little did I know that the cream over the milk would make this soup incredible. 

If you can find whole butternut squash, that would be best. Simply cut the knobby end, cut in half width-wise and peel. Scoop out the seeds, chop into 1 inch cubes and you're ready to go. Sometimes we can find ready-cut butternut, but for some reason, I really do enjoy cutting through these squashes...it releases tension and helps me unite the the food (something I don't get when I just tear open a package and add it to the pot). Additionally, whole squashes tend to be more fresh then packaged ones. 

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 butternut squash, cubed (or about 4-5 cups)

1/2 can coconut cream (I use the Trader Joe's brand)

water (or you can substitute broth) 

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté the onion in coconut oil with a few shakes of salt on medium heat. If you cover it, it will sweat better and start to release its own juices. Add in the squash and cover with water/broth about an inch over the squash. Bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer covered about 25 minutes or until done (when pierced with a fork). Add in 1/2 can of coconut cream and stir to warm through. Using an immersion blender, blend MOST of the soup (a few chunks are actually a really nice texture). Serve with some red pepper flakes, a LOT of crushed black pepper, and a nice salad. 

 

 

 

Cabbage Carrot Slaw & Tempeh Love Bowl

I like to keep things simple, as simple as possible. If you know my recipes, most of them include 3-5 ingredients at most, mostly relying on the colors, textures, tastes and nutritive values of whole, organic beautiful produce. I don't think recipes should be complicated to be beautiful and nutritious, and this one is a perfect example. 

I grew up with cabbage slaw, the way my mother made it in romania: shredded cabbage, oil, vinegar and salt. It's not as much a slaw as it is a salad, and I was known (much to my parents' surprise) to take the bowl and drink the remaining dressing when all the slaw was gone. I remember it clearly: 6 or 7 years old, dinner table, I take the big bowl and sip. I knew back then what I know now: this salad is lean, mean, crunchy, satisfying, colorful, and simply the bomb. I've only changed it a bit by using oils and vinegars we find here in the US, and throwing in some shredded carrots.

The tempeh is a regular household staple. I keep a container of if in the fridge and use it to chomp on between teaching, writing articles, before a hike, you name it. It's salty, has a fun umami taste, is nourishing, high in protein, and it keeps well.

The tempeh and slaw together are also low-glycemic, which is ALL I ever think about these days, working with clients on insulin resistance and working to heal my own. It's a winner, I promise. 

Salad Ingredients:

2 cups super thinly shredded cabbage, any color

1/2 cup shredded carrots

drizzle of olive or flax oil, about 1 tablespoon

drizzle of raw apple cider vinegar, about 1 tablespoon

two to three pinches of salt

Combine the ingredients together and toss. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the flavors marry and so that the cabbage softens a bit. 

Tempeh ingredients:

1 package flax tempeh, cubed (preferably gluten free)

1 package original tempeh, cubed (preferably gluten free)

1/2 bottle of coconut secret garlic sauce (this brand)

Heat a skillet or heavy bottomed sauce pan, and add in the sauce. Add in the cubed tempeh, stir to mix, cover and turn heat to medium. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn, but heat through until the tempeh has absorbed most of the liquid, about 5-8 minutes. 

In a bowl, combine the cabbage slaw with the tempeh, and enjoy! 

Three Layer Spiced Apple Pie

I wanted to share this fun new video, as my submission in the "Hot Raw Chef, 5 in 5 Video Recipe Contest", through Living Light Culinary Insitute. The grand prize winner receives a scholarship to attend classes at Livin Light in Fort Bragg, California. Here goes nothing. Wish me luck :) 

The best gift, however, is actually spreading the word about plant-based foods, and more specifically, raw foods with all of you. Whatever happens, I'm happy I gave myself a kick in the tooshie to make this video and to share a fun recipe with you. Enjoy it! 

Check out the link HERE and give it a thumbs up! PS. you may want to subscribe as there wil be more videos coming your way!

October is "Salad A Day" Month

We had so much fun last October 2015 doing this all together, that we're doing it again! 

October is "Salad A Day" month! Challenge starts on Mon, Oct 3rd and runs through Monday, October 31st!

Ok, I pretty much made that title up. The truth is that I think every month should be "salad a day" month, and October is coming up, and what better way to start? Fall is the perfect time to begin a new habit and invest in some much-needed self care! Summer tends to be all over the place with parties, vacations, places to go, people to see...Fall offers us the opportunity to fall into a new and possibly life-changing routine! And a salad a day will be one of the easiest habits to implement with some of the greatest rewards.  

Greens are at the top of the nutritional food pyramid, and sadly most of us don't get enough ~ kale, collards, romaine, arugula, spinach, even herbs like parsley, cilantro. The darker the green, the better for us and more cancer-fighting phytonutrients. In fact, the more chlorophyl, phytonutrients, fiber and veggie-based vitamins we can get, we can expect better elimination, improved skin, more natural energy, calmer nervous systems, and by default, a slimming waistline. You may even experience a better attitude, better body odor {yes! chlorophyl acts like an internal deodorant}, better sleep, and just overall rockstar status! So who's in?  

But we all know that salads can be just, meh. It really takes a fun add-ins, dressings, textures, colors, and a variety of healthy veggies to doctor them up. If you're interested in new recipes, please consider purchasing our latest Salad Ebook, volume 1! It's 14 recipes to ignite your love for salads (and it's on sale here)!

So what are the guidelines of this challenge?

1. Make a salad every day and shout for joy when you're eating it. Well, internally. Your cells are doing just that. If you'd like some extra credit, include a green smoothie {greens and fruit} or even a blended soup {take those veggies and greens and blend them up with spices, garlic and a little avocado ~ yum!}. 
2. Visit & LIKE our Little Bites of Joy FB Page which will act as a platform for sharing tips, salads, dressings, photos, post questions, and start a dialogue with those working in this challenge together!  
3. Take inventory: collect data on weight, attitude, skin, sleep, overall mood, relationships, etc. At the end of the month, mark down how things have improved {since they will!}, and find ways on what has worked in case you'd like to continue. 
4. Inspire those around you to take on this healthy habit too {after they see how fabulous you look!}

And here are some tips for rocking this challenge:

1. As many colors as possible: a green salad is great, but add in some orange carrots, red or yellow peppers, green broccoli, even blueberries or white cabbage. Go crazy. It's ok, nobody's watching.

2. Alternate your greens: you're not getting AS much nutrition as you could be getting if you're having romaine day after day after day. Switch it up ~ spinach, kale, collards, arugula, red leaf, green leaf, baby lettuces, micro-greens & sprouts, escarole, the sky is the limit! Maybe buy three types, eat those throughout the week, then buy another three types and rotate.

3. Include a good fat, but not too much: you can easily add on olive oil, olives, avocado, nuts and seeds, and dressing...but basically you've got a "fat-fest". Many of our vitamins are fat soluble, which means we should be eating our greens with some kind of fat to fully absorb the nutrients, but try to stick to no more than two fats per salad. Love olives and avocado? Then make a no-oil dressing {there are many!} That sort of thing. 

4. Chew, chew, chew. Digestion starts in the mouth, so if you have some digestive issues, perhaps eat in a quiet space {without your laptop or phone} and take time to chew each bite really well. And when you don't feel like chewing or don't have the time, you can even dump your salad into a vitamix and make a blended soup. It's actually ridiculously out of this world delicious and so much more fun when you don't have as much time to sit down to a salad. I've done it and sometimes you can too.  

5. Be prepared: You may want to think about creating your own mini-salad bar. One half hour on a sunday will set you up for the whole week if you just take a long lasagna-shaped pyrex pan and create little sections of cut up peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, etc. And serve yourself when the time comes and create a hassle-free habit to help yourself out when it comes time to eat. 

That's it! You ready to dig in? Here are some pics to feast your eyes on and enjoy the journey! We officially start Monday, October 3rd, 2015, after we all buy some weekend groceries. So keep the pictures coming on social media and reach out with any questions!

 Kraut, olives, sprouts, avocado, peppers, onion, no dressing {just mash it all up!}

Kraut, olives, sprouts, avocado, peppers, onion, no dressing {just mash it all up!}

 Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers and dijon {recipe coming up in our  next class! }

Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers and dijon {recipe coming up in our next class!}

 Carrots, heirloom tomatoes, romaine, seasoned sunflower seeds. 

Carrots, heirloom tomatoes, romaine, seasoned sunflower seeds. 

 Raw vegan Taco salad with chipotle salsa fresca.  Find the recipe HERE!

Raw vegan Taco salad with chipotle salsa fresca. Find the recipe HERE!

 Chopped salad with pizza crackers and caesar dressing. 

Chopped salad with pizza crackers and caesar dressing. 

Mexican Zoodle Bowl

Spiralized zucchini are one of the easiest summer foods (especially when you have them growing in your garden). It’s not their season just yet, but this sets you up for success when they’re on sale in the stores or you’re growing so many, you can’t keep up with them {enter the 1.5 food bohemith we grew last summer!?!?}

One of the things that I have to watch out for (and probably many of us) is how glycemic foods can be, especially pasta, breads, baked goods. Zucchini noodles low glycemic, raw, huge in fiber, and taste “al dente”, almost like the real thing. Of course, you can spruce them up with red sauce or pesto, but my favorite is chipotle garlic salsa. Don’t knock it till you try it! It’s delicious. A little cilantro, even some avocado, you’ve got a meal!

I use the following spiralizer for zucchini when I'm just making this dish for myself or for two: it really just makes angel hair, which is great for me. But when I want to get really fancy, and require additional thicknesses, like udon or spaghetti, this is the gadget you’re looking for. I really just pull this one out when we have company over.

So, let’s get ready to eat!

Ingredients:

1 medium spiralized zucchini (keep the peel on - it's prettier that way)

½ cup chipotle garlic salsa (I get mine fresh from whole foods, or you can make your own)

So, get yourself a nice bowl, place your “zoodles” at the bottom and pour the salsa on top. Yum!

That’s it! In the past, I’ve added in some coconut bacon, avocado, even some pumpkin seeds and cilantro, and it’s all delicious. But most days, it’s just these two ingredients and it hits the spot!