Kids in the Kitchen - Crackin' Coconuts

Have you ever noticed that kids get excited when you're excited? They often absorb the emotions that are in the room. When their brother or sister is upset, they feel upset - and when they are happy and excited - the other one is generally happy and excited also. This goes for the parents and adults in the children's lives too. Kids rely so much on their adult and sibling influences for their likes, dislikes, habits, and interests.

What I have noticed is that when kids give that scrunched up 'ew' looking face, it is often before they have tried something AND it is usually because of the way in which the food is being presented.

"Ok, Johnny, now you need to eat this spinach because you need to eat something green and it's good for you. I really need you to AT LEAST try it. Just give it a taste."

Seems harmless right?

Well, they are now looking at that spinach like it's different. Like it's not as tasty. Like it's a chore. Why not include them in the preparation so that they know all about all the ingredients that they are eating?

Bring up the nutritional facts on your iPad and let them read and learn about the different foods as your making them from the vegetables and herbs to the more desirable fruits and nut butters- allow them to become excited about healthy ingredients all on their own. Soon they will learn that spinach is a powerful antioxidant that includes vitamins C, E, A, manganese and minerals such as zinc and selenium. They'll learn that it also contains vitamin K, calcium and protein - all bone strengthening and muscle building properties. Ya'll remember 'Popeye the Sailor' right? The iconic energetic and muscular sailor dating back to the 1920s was often seen getting the benefits of spinach through his pipe and sometimes eating spinach from a can. While I wouldn't recommend either of those methods, the message was clear even then - eat your spinach to grow big a strong.

Why are we hiding the healthy ingredients? Real whole food IS the source of ingredients. Real whole food is what makes the meals that you and your family consumes. Giving children the opportunity to experience the texture, flavors and benefits of individual ingredients will instill a lasting appreciation for the food whether they acquire a taste for it or not.

Sure there are still going to be foods that they don't like as there are foods that adults aren't too fond of either (like I'm not fan of raw celery by itself... at all) but without a preconditioned judgement, they are free to make that determination after learning about and trying the food.

When we learn we generally grow an appreciation for it. Whatever it is. Judgement often comes from ignorance. The same applies to food.

Also know that you can pair healthy ingredients together strategically to make it even more desirable. Spinach and other tender greens go amazing with fruits such as strawberries and spinach or fruit salsas in boats of butter or romaine lettuce. And more dense options like celery and almond butter or dates and dark chocolate. Or simply blend into smoothies. The options are endless.

So, I spent some time at out my brother's house with his beautiful wife and three boys ages 4, 6 and 6 months old. While the 6-month-old didn't partake in the tasting festivities (although he was watching and smiling), the other two thoroughly enjoyed.

While I was there, there were smoothies with kale (YES!), spinach, avocado, and all sorts of fantastic fruits! There was also vegetable sautés, salads, and protein additions like sprouted seeds and nuts. One of my favorite nights was when they discovered their love of coconuts and coconut water.

This was an Organic Mature Brown Coconut.

To select the coconut, shake it and be sure that you can hear some water and that there is no mold or mildew by the hole/indents. 

If you have drill handy - this is the easiest way to get into the coconut. 

You'll drill into the indent that is darkest in color. In this case, it's the upper right spot.

Gettin' pumped!

You'll want to have a container ready to capture the fresh coconut water.

They were quite excited ;) 

Once the water is drained, you can open the coconut using a very sharp knife, ax, or machete. You can also simply crack open the coconut using something like a hammer by first cracking by the first hole and then continue to crack all along the coconut until it cracks apart - there is a natural line that you will be able to see eventually and it will crack along it.

Cheers!

You can watch our intro here.

Yes, kids can LOVE coconut water AND they'll tell you about it! (Watch here) ;) 

The coconut meat can be saved and shredded and used in all sorts of things, eaten on its own, strained into milk, or blended into coconut butter or oil.

The possibilities are vast in the world of fresh whole real foods - all found in nature.

So, next time you see a coconut at the store, go ahead and crack it on open with the kiddos and enjoy some of nature's most hydrating beverage.

With Love,

-AEB

Product Review: Windy City Organics brings a Rawesome Gust to the Palate

Raw.

Vegan.

Organic.

Superfood.

Living food. 

How does that sound?

This is what you get from Windy City Organics, the parent company of some of the most amazing raw food brands that I have come across: DastonySunBioticsRawGuru, and Rawmio. They also work very closely with Sprout Living, one of the leading manufacturers of raw, sprouted, vegan, and organic brown rice and superfood protein powders of the purest nature.

Based out of (you guessed it), Chicago, IL, Wind City Organics, is family owned and operated and is a dedicated raw organic food manufacturer.

Of course, as health conscious individuals, we want to eat fresh foods - never before packaged - straight out of a garden, as often as possible. But the simple fact is that we live in a modern world and not all of us have access to what we need to thrive in our own backyards. We live in a world where we are traveling by cars, planes, trains, buses, trams, subways - and countless other means of transportation. And when we aren't in a vehicle of sorts we are walking, biking, rolling or strolling into our next meeting - bluetooth in ear, coffee in hand, bags and/or babies in the other fighting crowds and desperately trying to keep our energy up. And we have what tucked away for a snack in between meals? What about those times that we are not in the hustle and bustle but we are on play time enjoying nature with a long hike or backpacking trip or taking it easy with a road trip? What's in our pack? An apple? A banana? Protein bars? And what else do we bring to sustain us between or in addition to meals that is nutrient dense?

The average protein bar consists of a long list of hard to decipher 'ingredients' like soy and/or whey protein isolate, dextrin, natural and artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, gluten (wheat/barley/rye) and genetically modified corn syrup - and even the ingredients that are otherwise healthy like nuts, seeds and coconut are typically highly processed/heated, destroying the enzymes and any nutritional properties - leaving them nutrient void and you unsatisfied. These bars will likely lead to a host of residual effects such as gas, bloating, lethargy and will leave you with hunger pangs shortly after.

I strive to consume fresh foods, that do not come in a package for the majority of the time. This is generally doable for me. I go to the market and fill my cart with oodles of produce. I also incorporate healthy fats and proteins with wild game, raw aged cheese, farm-fresh eggs (thanks Mom!), gluten-free whole grains, and superfood like seeds, nuts, cacao, coconut and concentrated dried or dehydrated fruits like goji berries, cherries and dates.

Enter Windy City Organics, a one-stop-shop for just what I need to fuel my body holistically. Their products are not only packed with nutrient dense ingredients, but the list of ingredients is short and sweet (or even just one ingredient like Dastony's Stoneground Raw Almond Butter...OMG divine) and 100% organic raw unprocessed goodness.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of their products within the Sunbiotics, Dastony and Rawmio brands. All I can say, is that it was hands down the best raw chocolate and almonds that I have ever had. For real.

I started with the Sunbiotics Probiotic Chocolate bar and Chocolate Almonds (soaked & sprouted) whilst sitting outside in the sun reading.

Wow. There is simply nothing about these that I would change. The raw ingredients of cacao, coconut sugar, yacon root and vanilla bean made for such a supple and sweet combination that just melted in my mouth. And the crunch of the sprouted almonds coated with raw cacao was absolutely delectable. Shockingly, I was able to stop myself at half each and enjoy the rest the next day.

My next endeavor was the Rawmio - Organic Gourmet Sour Cherry and Almond Raw Chocolate Bark (naturally I chose the other chocolate bar next lol).

I enjoyed this bar after a hike on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I cannot even begin to describe to you how tasty this treat was after my hike. That day I was totally fueled by carbs and after the hike needed some fat and protein for an added boost. I had this bar, my vegan (SunWarrior) shake and some coconut water. 

And then.. allow me to introduce to you the finest quality almond butter that has ever crossed these lips. Would I lie to ya'll? Of course not. Dude... this almond butter has a decadent flavor so rich and smooth that one would think there is a list 10+ long of ingredients listed on the back. Nope. Simply100% Raw and Stone Ground Almonds.

I topped mine with some raw cacao nibs...whoa.

And lastly, I tried out Sunbiots' Cheesy Almonds over a nutrient dense salad. 

These almonds added such a pleasurable zest to my salad that I did a little happy dance! Yes, this is what fantastic foods do to me ;)

Suffice it to say, that I couldn't have been more pleased with the products from Windy City Organics and I will be leaning on them for much of my rawesome fuel from now on.

Bed of romaine, shredded carrot, chopped broccoli and cumber with tomato and raw caraway seed sauerkraut, Sunbiotics Cheesy Almonds, and a side of strawberries.

All of these products can be found online at the specific brand's website listed above, wholesale at Windy City Organics or at RawGuru.

-Ashley

For the Love of Blueberry

Ummm... magic.

I'm at my brother's right now and the entire house including my nephews, ages 4 and 6, are on a smoothie kick. I mean, so much so that the youngest comes downstairs in the morning with sleepy eyes still and a sweet smile on his face and asks: "Can I have a shake?" And the older one now wants his 'shake' for his afternoon snack.

Watching them help make the 'shake' with things like banana, kale, organic frozen fruit, and green juice simply makes my day.

And hearing them say things like... "I love kale" and "I love greens," is music to my ears.   

My sister-in-law makes new creations everyday and the other day it was... "O.M.G. You have to try this...omg. Yeah. This is good. Yeah. This is really good. Let's write this one down."

Love it when that happens ;)

For the Love of Blueberry

1 1/2 ripe (spotty) banana
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 large leaf of kale
1/2 an apple (we used Pink Lady)
3 ice cubes
1 scoop French Vanilla Vega One 
3/4 cup coconut water (we usedC2O)

Method:

Add all ingredients in the order listed. Pulse with your blender for a a good 10 times and then blend until smooth.

Yields 1 large smoothie or 2 small smoothies.

And yes, use spotty bananas! 

Bananas help overcome depression due high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin -- the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter.

Spotty bananas can also help to relieve constipation (whereas underripe bananas can actually cause constipation), lessen anxiety and alleviate depression. 

Wishing you all an easy breezy day filled spotty bananas, blueberries and love!

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Easter Brunch

One of my favorite things in life is preparing food for others - and especially my loved ones. There is something so incredible about looking across the the kitchen and seeing them enjoying a meal that I created and hearing the 'mmms' and watching them reach for more. Inevitably I get the "Ashley, just sit down," or "Ashley, here take a break," or Ashley, come eat some of this..." Which I appreciate so very much. But the truth is, I often snack a little along the way and drink what feels like gallons of water during the whole operation so I am usually not all that hungry - the process fuels me in such a way that I don't typically find myself hungry until hours later. And, I thoroughly enjoy staying in the zone - prepping and preparing each course, listening to the laughter and joy in the room and watching their faces light up with pleasure as they dig into a dish that they love. 

In this post, I'll share with you the brunch menu that I built for my family this past Easter. 

After my coffee and before the food prep, I went out to stretch my legs for a few miles. 

I love being out in the open air. I've spent over the past year in Philly - which I grew to adore, but it feels nice to be out of the city. Typically, I walk in silence but I needed to zen out a bit so I put on some Buddha Bar.

When I returned, I started on the Lemon Cardamom Macaroons because I needed them to set in the fridge. The night before I made the Almond Joy Mounds so they were set already.   

Easter Brunch at the Bailey's

Starters #1

Fresh Veggies & Herbs (Basil & Parsley) Medley with Lemon
Fresh Fruit Medley with Mint
Sweet Guacamole Salsa

Starters #2 

Bacon Wrapped Dates (AKA Paleo Candy)
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus  with slivered almonds

Mains 

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (coated in EVOO and seasoned with garlic powder and ground pepper)
Cranberry Chutney
Lemon Kale & Garbanzo Bean Salad

Dessert

Almond Joy Mounds (I added oats)
Lemon Cardamom Macaroons

As you can see, we also had a ham roast - pork for days! 

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

When preparing meals for others, I love to introduce new flavors and concepts while catering to their likes and dislikes and still make it overall healthy, enjoyable and fun...with a bit of my flare ;) 

With Love,

-AEB

No-Bake Lemon Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

This recipe came to me quickly while putting together a menu for my family's Easter Brunch this year.

I am a sucker for a macaroons and I thought it would be a nice addition for a dessert on a spring holiday. And, I love desserts that are sweet yet not too heavy.

This one seriously took about 5 minutes. Wicked easy.

Lemon Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

2 cups unsweetened unsulphered shredded coconut flakes ( I like Let's Do Organic)
1/4 cup organic full fat unsweetened coconut milk (from a BPA-free can or carton, look for those without added ingredients)
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup organic hulled hemp seeds
3 T Raw honey*
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
Dash of ground cardamom

Method:

Add all of ingredients except for the coconut oil into a glass bowl, then pour the oil in and stir vigorously until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Form macaroon shapes (or whatever shape your heart desires) and place on a glass dish or wax paper, cover and let cool and set in the refrigerator. This would take at least an hour.

Yields ~ 16 macaroons

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of dangerous additives, preservatives, and chemicals that are added to otherwise safe and healthy food. For what? While the short and quick answer would be "longer shelf life," the reality is much more complicated. The reality, is that adding these things to food saves money by adding fillers and therefore making more at a lower cost. The reality, is that the chemicals that are put into packaged and processed foods are not only dangerous chemicals made in a lab - they proven to have an effect on mood and behavior leading to or contributing to a vast amount of behavioral disturbances such as hyperactivity, ADHD, tantrums, and even Autism.

These nutrient void "foods" are made to make your mouth water, your taste-buds crave more, and set you up for a sugar crash with urgent hunger pangs causing you to reach for more. 

"Research carried out by Dr. Neil Ward at Surrey University found that 89% of 357 diagnosed hyperactive children were adversely affected by artificial colours." (foodsmatter.com).

Be Aware of Food Additives 

We've all seen them on the back of packages and this list is no where near exhaustive but here are some of the scariest additives out there:

  • Artificial Colors: Azo & Coal Tar Dyes worst offenders (E102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128, 132, 133, 150, 151, 152, 155). These colors and dyes have been known to trigger reactions in asthmatics as well as trigger or cause allergic reactions. Artificial colors are found in products such as beverages, condiments, and other processed foods.
     
  • Artificial Flavors:  An artificial flavor must be comprised of one of the nearly 700 FDA-allowed flavoring chemicals or food additives categorized as “generally recognized as safe,” or any of 2000 other chemicals not directly regulated by FDA but sanctioned for use by an industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. Most of these chemicals exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them (ewg.org).
     
  • Artificial Sweeteners (aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, acesulfame, saccharin, saccharin, xyitol): Artificial sweeteners provide zero benefits, are void of nutrients, and cause or contribute to a vast amount of ailments and disease including but not limited to diabetes, tooth decay, weight-gain, bacteria overgrowth, and toxin build-up.
     
  • Carrageenan: A thickener and emulsifier derived from an indigestible seaweed causing inflammation and linked to cancer, ulcerative colitis, and other diseases such as diabetes. Ironically, this one is generally found in alternative milks (like almond milk), juices, and infant formula.
     
  • Flavor Enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate - MSG (E621): "One of the scariest ingredients out there...Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills; explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and more." (Found in Eat Raw Not Cooked by Stacy Stowers).
     
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): The term 'GMOs' is being tossed around the health community like a ball in a dog park these days- but the fact is, GMOs are scary. If you aren't already worried about them - you should be. Hate to put it so bluntly, but there simply must be an awareness of GMOs and how they can and will effect your body. 
    • In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
    • GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
    • Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
    • Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.(http://www.nongmoproject.org/)
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup: This one has stirred quite a debate. As it's name entails, high-fructose is derived from corn - and it is... you guessed it, fructose. What's the big deal? Yes, it is higher on the glycemic index but what concerns me with HFCS the most, is that it is coming from an ingredient that is highly likely to be genetically modified (corn) and it is completely void of an nutrients. And yes, this too is made in a lab. Stick with 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar, or dates to sweeten up your foods/beverages where you will be getting the benefit of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins while you get your sugar fix.
     
  • Natural Flavors: According to its website, the FDA does not have a definition for 'natural' as it appears on food labels, and its willing to let marketers use it so long as the food does not contain added colors or synthetic substances. Yet Natural flavors are still made from compounds that were made in a lab utilizing chemicals and synthetic materials! Comforting right?
    • Further ... the FDA says that natural flavor is one that's derived from a "spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable  juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof"...Basically a natural flavor is one that's derived from a plant or animal (including insects). An artificial flavor, on the other hand, does not come from a plant or animal source, and instead is generated from scratch (in a lab).
    • Sodium benzoate and benzoic acid (E210, 211): Food additive/preservatives linked to worsening hyperactivity, allergies and taxing organs such as the liver and kidneys.
    • Sodium Nitrates: Food additive (typically in cured meats as a preservative) linked to gastric cancer, kidney disease/stones/failure. This one may seem relatively harmless on a label but it's a biggie - we humans have a threshold with the amount of sodium that our body can handle. Surpassing that threshold is a serious danger zone. In infants and toddlers, high concentrations of nitrate can lead to a condition called "blue baby syndrome," which can be fatal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that this happens with nitrates bind to red blood cells, blocking their ability to carry life-giving oxygen throughout the body. Nitrates are also associated with an increase risk in cancer and specifically brain tumors, leukemia and nose/throat tumors.
    • Sulfites/sulphites, Sulfur Dioxide : These two are different chemical compounds but are similar. Sulfites and sulfur dioxide are added to a slew of products to preserve their color and extend their shelf life. Sulfites are also used an alternative to bleaching (in things like white flours, spices, coconut and is also sprayed on shellfish and some fish right on the boat). Both of these additives have the ability to cause major allergic reactions. In fact, sulfites is amongst Canada's top 10 common allergens. Note: Sulfites are also found naturally occurring in fermented foods and beverages such as wine - though some wine makers add more to preserve it further, kombucha and fermented veggies many people can tolerate these naturally sulfites. These two additives are seriously everywhere so get accustomed to reading labels - but also know that if it is under a certain amount (10 ppm), they do not have to be on the label so severely sensitive individuals should also check with the maker/manufacturer. 

Before I go on, allow me to just give you some brief insight as to what I have experienced with some of these additives:

  • Artificial colors & dyes: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate
  • MSG: Joint pain, migraines, dizziness/vertigo, flushing, elevated heart rate, facial pressure and sensitive skin 
  • Sodium Nitrates and Sodium benzoate: Kidney stones 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: lethargy, joint pain, brain fog, digestive upset, headaches
  • Sulfites/sulfites, Sulfur Dioxide: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, itchy/watery eyes, brain dog, confusion, depression, joint pain, anxiety

Keep in mind that just because something is derived from a plant or animal (like in 'natural flavors' doesn't mean that it's safe. For example, Citric Acid - a seemingly harmless preservative is often derived from mold. And, ever hear of castoreum? Tastes like vanilla right? Well, this 'natural flavor' is actually a secretion that comes from two castor sacs located under a beaver's tail, right next to a pair of anal glands. This evidently tastes and smells like vanilla and is classified as a 'natural' food additive because it comes from an animal source. Yup, beavers butt. 

I recommend these few simple guidlines:

  • 7 ingredients or less rule: Many folks will say 5  but some of my favorite go-to healthy products contain celtic or Himalayan sea salt or spices like ginger and cinnamon that put it over the 5 limit. 
  • If you can't pronounce it - chances are you don't want to it. For real. 
  • If you don't recognize the ingredient, chances are your body won't either. Our bodies do an awesome job of assimilating and breaking down real whole foods - and naturally begins to reject things that it does not recognize as food.

So, let's step away from the "what  you don't know won't hurt you" mentality and get educated. Knowledge is power my friends.

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

This post took a bit of a detour - apparently I had some ranting to do before I praise one of my go-to organic food brands: Go Raw. I eat Go Raw products on a regular basis (their spicy pumpkin and sunflower seed mix is out of this world). All of their products are free of sugar, oil, flour, and 100% vegan. 

Their products use a delicate process of soaking, sprouting, and drying (under 105º fahrenheit), ensuring a nutrient dense and enzyme rich finished product. 

I had the pleasure of sampling a variety of Go Raw's new Sprouted Cookies. 

Go Raw's products are sourced from 100% organic ingredients. These cookies are made from a base of 3 simple ingredients: unsulphered coconut, sprouted sesame seeds, and dates that when combined, create a taste-bud experience unlike any other cookie. The good news? The cookie is actually good for you. Go Raw has come up with a variety of cookie flavors like Chocolate (yes please!), Lemon (heaven...), Carrot, Masala Chai, Ginger (OMG yum!) and Original. There was not one that did not like though my favorites are Chocolate, Lemon and Ginger. I may have had three of each in one bite for an epic combination....and by that, I mean that I did... 

For those that have nut allergies, Go Raw is a dedicated nut-free facility. 

Sesame, dates and coconut are nutritional powerhouses. 

Sesame Seeds:

Don't let their size fool you, these tiny seeds are loaded with goodness. Protein makes up 20% of the seed, offering 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. High in magnesium, sesame is an excellent way to get this nutrient in; which aids in digestion, sleep, blood sugar control, lowering anxiety and stress and is critical in preventing diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. The phytosterol is the highest in sesame in comparison to any other nut or seed - this compound has been found to have anti-cancer properties. In addition, sesame contains a high amount of iron, which everyone needs but particularly those with anemia or prone to anemia. And, just a small handful of sesame contains more calcium than a glass of milk. The list goes on and on from healthy skin and hair to eye health - these babies are indeed a superfood. 

Coconut:

If you've been tapped into the health community, you already know that coconut is pretty much a miracle. You can read about the 101 uses for coconut by the lovely Wellness Moma here. Coconut can be used internallyand externally for a wide array of things, but I will tell you that as far as internally, it truly is a miracle food. It is high in lauric acid and Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA); which helps to boost the metabolism and aids in weight-loss. Yeah, it's 2015 and time to let go of the fallacy that saturated fat is bad. Here are a few of the other awesome benefits of regular use of coconut: helps to support thyroid function, has been shown to possibly prevent or reverse Alzheimers, controls insulin levels, boost hormone production, boost immune system, improve digestion and is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and, antioxidant.

Dates:

I'm happy to go out on date with this marvelous fruit any day. A sweet product of the date palm, dates are packed with an impressive mineral, nutrient, and vitamin profile of: fiber, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, vitamins A, B6, K and folates and contains antioxidant flavonoids such as b-carotene. Here are just some of the benefits of consuming dates: digestive health, reduced stroke risk, brain health, heart health, reduced blood pressure, weigh-management, anemia prevention, respiratory health and decreased (colon) cancer risk. 

Eat real whole foods. Go simple. Go Raw.

- Michael Pollan

www.goraw.com

-Ashley

Staying Healthy on Road Trips - Bodhi Life Style

My world has taken some interesting turns as of late - you'll see a stream of posts about that. But for now, I'd like to share with you a recent road trip that I went on and my journey along the way (including what I ate and listened to - two of my favorite things in life).

I have departed from Philly. And, before I return to the splendor of Bar Harbor, ME, I am soaking up some much needed time with my brother and his family. Isn't it amazing what spending time with family can do for your soul? My heart is happy and spirit lifted just being in their loving home. And oh, there are simply no words to explain the joy that their three little ones bring to me! Their laugh. Their smile. Their excitement at the little things - like worms after the rainfall, flowers on a walk, and painting Easter eggs. Their tender loving care with the newest addition that is just five months old.  And hearing them say things like, "Aunt Ashley you are like a park with hair," when I wake up in the morning. The precious moments that I have had the opportunity to be part of in just a short amount of time is priceless.

So, anyway, I'll get on with this post about my drive and how I fueled my body, mind, and soul along the way.

I've done a few cross country moves in recent years - so I have a bit of a system when it comes to packing my car and prepping the items that I will need will I drive. I have not only learned that I need to have high-quality fresh food with my while I travel, but for a couple of days after I arrive also. If you have ever driven 12 hours by yourself - you know that grocery shopping is the last thing you want to do when you arrive - even for a foodie like myself. I have visions of myself collapsing in a pile of kale with dreams of eating watermelon and drinking coconut water.

You can't always be sure what you are going to be walking into - and there is always the possibility of having to spend the night in a hotel so I always prepare for each scenario. This means on a road trip, I also travel with a coffee bag equip with my french press, coffee, mug and travel mug and store it within reach in my car...

To gear up, the day prior to move, I filled 3 glass Voss water bottles with filtered water. The morning of, I put freshly cut up lemon and frozen cranberries in them for an added boost AND I am kind of addicted to eating the cranberries while I drive to give me something else to do...

I'll mention though, that before I got started, I made a french press full of coffee and filled two antioxidant rich travel mugs ;)

This trip was almost exactly 12 hours door-to-door, so I ate A LOT, but mostly snack style because I hate having that heavy tummy feeling while driving. So I dug in when I was hungry and kept on cruisin' - stopping to pee quite frequently as I was drinking fluids the entire time.

To start my day, I had some lemon water before I even headed out the door and then for breakfast, I had coconut water with my probiotic powder mixed in (I useVSL #3), 1/2 of a cantaloupe that I previously cut and 1/2 container of blueberries. And put on some tunes... Who can road trip without Tom Petty, STP, The Stones or Clapton?

To stay fueled and help me catch my second wind, I had my Vega One Shake (that I mixed with cold water before I left and stored in my cooler) and the rest of my coffee.

I <3 Coffee

And then... some pineapple!

I also <3 Pineapple

And, my tunes... Staying pumped with some Poison, Zeppelin, Lana Del Ray, and music from the Lincoln Lawyer.

The weather was on my side for this trip - giving me the sunshine almost all day and warming up to 70 degrees.

Seeing the country is one of my other favorite things in life. I discovered that West Virginia is a seriously gorgeous state. I had no idea that it was so mountainous.

Some contents in my cooler (again, this was to last a few days...):

  • Basil
  • Red butter lettuce 
  • Celery 
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Raw Chia Almond Butter (Barney's)
  • Spinach & Arugula Medley (Whole Foods)
  • Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (Whole Foods)  
  • Additional VSL probiotics
  • Lemon 
  • Sliced green apple, celery, and cucumber 

And for the non-refrigerated items:

  • 1 whole cantaloupe 
  • 1 whole pineapple
  • Apples
  • Raw Honey
  • Vega One Vegan Protein Shake
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds 
  • Go Raw Sprouted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds (Spicy Cilantro) 
  • Unsweetened Raw Coconut  
  • Raw Chocolate Covered Kale Chips (Alive & Radiant) 

Mellowing out to some Brett Dennon, Linsey Stirling, Ben Harper, and Barefoot Truth.

I got a little worn out at hour 8...

And then I stopped to stretch my legs.

And then, I caught my third wind, after my favorite snack of the day that I strategically planned to have before I arrived - knowing I would be a couple of hours out from my destination. Raw Chocolate Kale Chips with Raw Chia Almond Butter.  

#Yes 

#Purebliss 

#Heaven

Before I left that morning, my friend had me promise to let her know when I cracked open the crack (AKA chocolate kale chips). I held to my 6PM on the dot. 

Do you ever get into a zone where you can't quite form sentences or communicate but you feel a sense of peace and calm? A zone where you feel good. Like... really good. But answering the phone or talking in general is just not going to happen for you? 

This is how the latter part of my drive was. Rolling fields of green. Sun setting. Zen'd out listening to Xavier Rudd at an incredible decibel - and hyped up on Raw Cacao and Kale. 

Kentucky is also beautiful 

After unpacking a few essentials from the life contents in my car and giving hugs to my family, I had my last meal of the day - thankful I had all of that food with me and prepped. 

Cucumber, green apple, celery, avocado, basil, spinach & arugula and sprouted seeds

The next morning, I woke to these precious creatures - my dear nephews. 

Pure love

Thankful once again that I had food with me already in the house for the next morning. And, so very grateful to be welcomed into my brother's loving home. What a beautiful family he has. 

So, folks, this is how I do a long road trip. 

-Ashley 

Food Philosophy

My 5 basic principles

Grand Marais, MI - Lake Superior

#1) Eat real food.

Eliminating processed foods is key in starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Consuming foods that are closest to their natural state as much as possible brings our bodies closer to the natural world and closer to our "set  weight." 

#2) Zero scales.

I believe weight scales are nothing more than white noise. You will know the optimal weight for you by the way you feel. If weight-loss is your goal, by becoming aware of how your body responds to food, if you do in fact need to lose weight for health purposes, weight-loss will happen. Trust me. 

#3) No templates.

I believe there are a few things that can be shifted and work for just about everyone, the rest depends on each individual person.

#4) Embrace patience.

When transforming your lifestyle, you are not just breaking one habit. You are breaking years of countless small habits and re-learning what health means to you and your body. This takes time and great awareness.

#5) Nourish, then exercise.

I believe that what you eat has a far greater impact on their health than exercise. Exercise will then support you in living a healthy lifestyle.

My body responds well to gentle exercise such as walking, jogging, hiking, light weight-training and yoga. 

We all must find what works well for us.

With Love,

-Ashley

The Trifecta that Destroys our Relationship with Food

The more that I talk to others about food and hunger - the more I discover that humans are becoming completely overwhelmed with how and what they should be eating and are completely out of tune with their body's signals on when they are hungry and what would satisfy that hunger.

I've determined that what destroys a human's relationship with food and natural ability to listen to what their body needs and wants nutritionally, can be boiled down to three things: Lack of self-worth, diets, and processed foods. It may be one of these elements, or two, or a combination of all three that can destroy our relationship with food. 

Yes, there are extenuating circumstances such as illness and disease - but I am going to allow these to be outliers for sanities sake. I also believe in the metaphysical notion and mind-body connection that disease can be exacerbated if not caused by not being at ease or ...

disease

As I have discussed in previous posts, Louise Hay, the great Metaphysical Teacher and motivational author, explains this concept at length.

If there are four fictitious gals that reflected the realness of the highs and lows of self esteem, worth and love - it's Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. And, although I may make reference to Sex and the City - which exudes femininity to highlight some of my points, I have known just as many men in my life that struggle with their relationship with food as I have women. 

sex and the city girls.jpeg

1) Lack of Self-worth

What does having self-worth mean? Or look like? What does self-worth have to do with food, and specifically our relationship with food? 

I'll admit, I'm sitting here with my cup of coffee and looking at the words 'self worth,' and realizing this concept may be rather difficult to define. 

Or, perhaps not. Perhaps it is quite simple to define - though grasping the definition may be where the difficulty presents itself. 

Self. Worth. The self is worthy. 

The self is worthy of what? Love. Respect. Happiness. Success. Peace. Forgiveness. 

These are only a some of the essential life giving states of being that self-worth fosters. 

To get a broader context, I quickly googled 'self worth,' below is the first result (which seems to also define self-esteem):

  1. "In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person's overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self esteemencompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent," "I am worthy") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame." 

And the dictionary definition of self-worth is: 

"The sense of one's own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect."

When one does not feel worthy or deserving of: love, forgiveness, or wellbeing (to name a few) - it is a far cry to ask of them to nourish themselves as they so rightfully deserve. Mind you, nourishment absolutely comes in many forms to feed our body, mind, and soul - but I'm going to focus on food. 

It is when there is a belief of being unworthy, that we use food to abuse our bodies. I hear it time and time again "I know what I need to do, I just need to do it." 

Sound familiar? 

Humans under-eat as a way to punish or deprive ourselves. We overeat as a way to fulfill a hunger that cannot possibly be filled with any type of food.

We eat foods that we know are going to leave us feeling lethargic, bloated or other undesirable side-effects because we are already tired, depressed, and dependant. 

We tax our internal organs with an excess of alcohol consumption or drugs (either OTC or otherwise). 

Each and every one of these extremes are destructive behaviors that threaten our peace with food by causing emotional and physical distress like pain, discomfort, anxiety, fear, disappointment and self-loathing. 

Why do we do this? 

The causes of have lack of self-worth or low self esteem are vast and in and of themselves can be extraordinarily complex but I will attempt to address some of them. 

Several factors may be a play: 

  • There is a belief deeply rooted that we don't deserve to be well (or happy, satisfied, healthy, accepted) 
  • There is a belief deeply rooted that we are not enough or whole 
  • We don't love ourselves or respect and honor our body 
  • We are using food (or alcohol/drugs) to distract ourselves from being with ourselves and our life - to distract ourselves from feeling
  • We are placing the needs of others before the needs of ourselves leaving us drained and bitter
  • We are in a toxic relationship that is effecting the value that we place on ourself 
  • We are in a toxic or environment that clouds our judgement 
  • We have a chemical or hormonal imbalance that impairs are ability to make healthy lifestyle choices and/or perpetuates dependancies  
  • We have attempted dieting to promote a healthy lifestyle which left us more confused and out of touch with the mind-body connection than ever before - see below for Trifecta #2: Diets

All of these scenarios will have an effect on one's self-worth and not only destroy someone's relationship with food - but also their relationship with their self and ultimately risk becoming out of touch with who they are:  their authentic self. 

carrie.jpeg

2) Diets

They don't work.

Living diet-free is a concept not commonly known to Americans. Below is a bit of my philosophy. 

#1) Eat real food. Eliminating processed foods is key in starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and relationship with your body. Consuming foods that are closest to their natural state as possible brings our bodies closer to the natural world and more capable of relying on our body's natural intuition. 

#2) Zero scales. Weight scales are nothing more than white noise. You will know the optimal weight for you by the way you feel. If weight-loss is your goal, by becoming aware of how your body responds to food, weight-loss (if it's needed) will happen. 

#3) No templates. There are a few things that can be shifted and work for just about everyone (like reducing processed foods), the rest depends on each individual person.

#4) Embrace patience. When transforming your lifestyle, you are not just breaking one habit. You are breaking years of countless small habits and re-learning what health means to you and your body. This takes time and great awareness.

#5) Nourish, then exercise .I believe that what you eat has a far greater impact on their health than exercise. Exercise will then support you in living a healthy lifestyle.

Sure, we can be guided. We can have doors opened for us. We can be informed. But it isn't until we get to know our body and how food effects our mind and body that we become in tune with the right way of eating for our individual body. 

What comes to mind when you hear or see the word diet? I'm guessing the words freedom and abundance don't come to mind. Certainly not peace. 

Atkins, Paleo, Zone, South Beach, Raw Food, Ketogenic, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Weigh Watchers, Jenny Craig, Blood Type, Glycemic Index Diet, Macrobiotic, Master Cleanse - the list goes on and on. Shoot, I even discovered that there is a grapefruit diet and cabbage soup diet. Oh, and I've even gone to Banana Island.

Now - have some of these diets been successful or even aided in great weight-loss and/or healing ailments, illness and disease? Absolutely! But the problem is that they are not sustainable. Nor should they be for proper nutrition intake and assimilation

Many of these diets are awesome short-term "resets" such as raw vegan as a way to heal gut-health and/or cleanse the body of heavy metals and other toxins and bring the body back into a more slightly alkaline state rather than overly acidic.

Mind you, these lifestyles (such as vegan, raw vegan, paleo, keto) each have a high success rate even though they are vastly different because they are focused on eating real whole foods - in other words, they are getting away from the Standard American Diet (aka SAD) and going back to a more simple and nutrient dense way of eating. 

listen to your body.jpeg

Eating real whole foods as close to their natural state as possible (and organic when possible) promotes mind-body health, abundance, and happiness and can be maintained long-term so long as the individual stays in tune with their body and evolves the foods they are eating or not eating over time. What works for one person now may not work for them 10 years from now. We are constantly changing - even on a cellular level.

There are numerous other problems with diets -  I'll attempt to highlight the biggies below: 

  • They are not individualized and are often based solely on what worked well for one person or a subset of people in completely different life circumstances 
  • They can disrupt the gut-flora balance 
  • They can be too restrictive causing feelings of frustration, deprivation, and may lead to binging or other disordered eating
  • They can cause obsessive thinking and eating behaviors that may be a gateway to eating disorders
  • They promote automatic/mechanical ways of eating vs. listening to our intuition and honoring our hunger
  • They take the joy, pleasure, and fun out of eating and promote feelings of anxiety, fear, and sadness 

There are few things that sadden me more when I hear things like 'curb your appetite,' 'suppress your appetite.' Hunger is a natural and healthy part of being human! The key is finding the right foods for you . Food is fuel for our body. There is no doubt about that. But, food also brings us pleasure. Food comforts us. Food brings people together. Food brings us life. 

And don't even get me started on the Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig's of the world. Listen, I love that they are intended to make people good, lose some weight, and become more aware of their portions but they are focused on weight loss rather than health and the food is packed full of nutrient void processed ingredients.  

The first step, is to eliminate all processed foods and focus on eating real whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. This leads my to the third factor in the trifecta that destroy's our relationship with food. 

3) Processed Foods 

Where to start with this one?

It seems as though there is a real movement in eating whole real foods (yay!), yet there is still a mass amount of processed foods on the shelves at shockingly low prices. And many are wondering, what is so bad about processed foods? I look a the box and it says that it is an 'excellent source of fiber and protein,' what's the problem?

The problem lies in the process in which the ingredients go through before they even hit the assembly line. The heat and bleaching that is done to otherwise nutritious ingredients strips the healthy enzymes and vitamins right out them making them essentially nutrient void and in some cases toxic.

The problem lies in fillers that are not food and instead are artificial chemicals produced in a plant. 

When we eat things that are unnatural and void of nutrients - it causes an entire host of complications such as: 

  • Hormone and endocrine disruption 
  • Gut-flora imbalance creating a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria 
  • Onset or trigger of disease and illness 
  • Onset or trigger of autoimmune disorders
  • Mental disturbances such as anxiety, depression, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Bipolor Disorder etc. 
  • Metabolism disruption causing excess fat and weight 
  • Inability to assimilate and breakdown nutrients 

So what now? 

It's time to become very familiar with what we are putting into our bodies. Our bodies are the vessel that carry us through this life. What we feed our bodies - physically, emotionally and spiritually are the keys to a healthy relationship with food. Our minds and bodies are constantly adapting to the environment around us and that what we consume can free our beings to achieve optimal health. Being mindful of the nature of things in how we live our lives, what we consume, and how we move can empower us to come closer our natural and intuitive state.

julie child.jpeg

Does this mean that you cannot ever enjoy something that is packaged/processed like your favorite chocolate bar, ice cream, or pancakes? No, I believe in the positive power of indulgence ... but you will be coming from a place of knowledge and empowerment vs. confusion and helplessness.

Believe in yourself, trust your body and eat whole real foods.

You got this.

With Love,

-AEB

Product Review: Clif Gluten Free Bars

Call me crazy (go ahead, most people do), but I feel my best physically and mentally when the food that I eat is properly sourced. For me, this means that in a perfect world, I would be eating organic 100% all of the time. And in this perfect world of mine, I would not be eating food that is packaged - as I would be eating fresh unprocessed food at all times (ha!).

Well, dear friends of mine, we live in an imperfect world (but that is kind of cool right? Because imperfections are beautiful...), and this means that I do infact eat foods that are packaged. But the beauty here is that I get to choose which products I buy and allow to pass through my lips.

food is medicine.jpeg

It goes without saying (except I'm about to say it), that any food I eat that comes from a package needs to be free of gluten, dairy, and sulfites. And I prefer organic... and of course non-GMO ingredients. I also like to stick to my  'Rule of 7.' Meaning, the product does not contain more than 7 ingredients. While our world (especially in the States) is becoming more and more aware of how ingredients are sourced and the damage that occurs as a result of processed foods, these natural products are still hard to come by.

World, meet Clif Bar

Wait... you may have already met. But, did know that Clif bars are all organic and they have bars that are gluten free? Not only that, Clif Bar was born out of an innovative business model guided by Five AspirationsSustaining our Business, Brands, People, Community and, the Planet.

That's a company that I can stand behind and feel good about consuming their products.

clif bars.jpeg

I had the pleasure of trying out some samples and my favorites of the fruit & nut and fruit & seed line, happen to meet my 'Rule of 7.' These are gluten, dairy, and soy free.

Favorite #1) Cherry Pumpkin Seed

Holy goodness! I love this bar, it's not too sweet and with the superfood pumpkin seeds, they are the perfect snack. These contain just 6 ingredients: 

Organic Dates, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Cherries, Organic Apples, Sea Salt, Organic Rosemary Extract.

cherry clif bar.png

Favorite #2) Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut

When the afternoon rolls around and you just want a handful of chocolate chips... (wait, is that just me?) Get your fix and then some with the Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut bar. Simply heavenly and with a perfect mixture of healthy fats, this bar curbs that sweet tooth square away (I don't even know if that expression makes sense but it did in my head). Six simple ingredients in these bad boys also: Organic Dates, Organic Almonds, Organic Unsweetened Dark Chocolate, Organic Coconut, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Sea Salt.

dark choc clif bar.png

Though they don't meet my 'Rule of 7' criteria, the Mojo Trail Mix Bars are also amazing. And they remind me of Chris Beard's song, All Night Long. Since they have a bit more ingredients including rice and soy, I save these for my long hikes. It is probably of no surprise that my favorite Mojo is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond.

Favorite #3) Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

dark choc mojo.png

I was talking with my sister about the Mojo Clif bars and how I was going to write this post and she also tried these bars -  and I couldn't have articulated it better myself:

"It's something more fun - it's not like other bars where you're like 'OK, I'm going to eat this bar to get my nutrients and protein in even thought's not that great - the Mojo bars are actually good they have a different texture and great taste. It's a bar I'm actually excited to eat." 

So there ya' have it folks, for your next trip, hike, or snack after coffee - pack along some Clif bars. For the gluten free bars, stick to the ones below:

And stay connected with Clif Bar @Clifbar and www.facebook.com/clifbar

-AEB

Vega One Power Smoothie

I've been drinking Vega One as shake in the morning for a few months now and I have to tell you - it really has been one of those things that has changed my life. I love brekkie time, but I was beginning to be in a bit of a funk when it came to what to eat because what I was eating was not making me feel well. It wasn't giving me energy. I switched to an all fruit brekkie which made me feel amazing, but it wasn't sustaining me. I needed something more. I found Vega One and never looked back unless of course, I have my new favorite signature dish, The WAKE Bowl. Or... perhaps combine the two (AMAZINGNESS).

Vega One is 100% plant-based, dairy, gluten, and soy free. It has a complete protein blend and balanced amino acid profile made up of of sprouted whole grain brown rise, pea, hemp, and savi seed. Each serving provides 15 grams of protein as well as 3 servings of greens, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Here is a complete list of ingredients.

Anyway, usually I have the shake with added chia seeds and almond milk, coconut water or water and then fruit along the side but I was super hungry and didn't feel like a salad for lunch so I threw all of this in the blender and viola! Vega Magic.
 

Vega One Power Smoothie

1 banana
1 avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
3 T coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 T raw honey
1 serving Vega One (I used French Vanilla)
1 serving liquid chlorella (about 18 drops)
~ 2 cups water (I didn't measure so use your best judgement for consistency)
Few ice cubes (this makes the spinach blend better)

Method

Throw in the blender and blend silly ;)

Makes one large green awesome smoothie.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

The WAKE Bowl

I have gone though countless breakfast phases - from eggs, potatoes and sausage (yes, really) to coconut flour waffles, to spinach pancakes. But, one thing has remained the same - and that is my love for breakfast and morning. I adore my mornings and the breakfast ritual. Especially on the weekends. I open the blinds, prepare my coffee in the french press, dance a round a bit, stretch and make breakfast (or what I like to call 'brekkie,' which I picked up in Australia). The tunes play as I enjoy my brekkie, read about what is happening in the World, and perhaps do some writing. My weekend mornings are quite ritualistic and if you're ever around me during this time, good luck getting me out of the house before noon.

wake bowl.jpeg

This recipe was born out of me having a couple of nights filled with some heavy food that my system isn't really use to eating and I was feeling like I needed something that was cleansing yet fulfilling and satisfying to my morning appetite.

I've continued to make this brekkie meal over and over - experimenting with different fruits, herbs and spices but the version below is by far my favorite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeming this my signature dish. 

The WAKE Bowl

1 T chia seeds
1 C unsweetened almond milk (carrageenan free like Whole Food's 356 brand)
Small handful of spinach  (torn into small pieces)
1 Banana, sliced
Small handful of raspberries
Small handful of blueberries
Small handful of goji berries
Handful of cubed pineapple
Sprinkle of cardamom
1/8 t fresh ginger
1 leaf of fresh basil (torn into small pieces)
2 T Coconut meat/flakes
1 T hemp seeds

Method

Soak the chia seeds in the almond milk (in the fridge) for at least an hour or overnight (better tasting IMO and easier to digest). Add in all the other ingredients (I do in the order listed so that it looks pretty ;)), give it a stir and enjoy!

Yes this will WAKE you up!!!

wake bowl 2.jpeg

Enjoy ;) 

-AEB

Vegan Spicy Yam Chili

Yeehaw!

That is how I feel about this Vegan Spicy Yam Chili!

So, I've been thinking about this change of season thing that occurs, and it's really very interesting. First of all, it has still been quite warm here in Philly (not complaining). Yet, I am still craving fall foods like mad. Pumpkins, Kabocha squash, Carnival squash, pomegranates, apples, cranberries, brussels sprouts... I even went to Jamaica recently where it was so hot that I thought my coconut oil would actually evaporate, and I was craving apples the entire time. My point is that, it must not just be the change in weather - that effect our state of being during the shift of seasons. Perhaps there are other forces at play like ecology, astrology, and even genotype.

On with this fall inspired and completely satisfying vegan dish (and feel free to make in non-vegan with some meat of your choice!) 

vegan chili.jpeg

Vegan Spicy Yam Chili

13.4 oz Organic no-salt added black beans (I use the 365® BPA-free boxed, if you used canned, make sure it's BPA-free like Eden®)
1/2 cup filtered water
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
2 handful bok choy, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 handful spinach
1 T fresh chive, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (actually use your hands to pull the cilantro apart vs using a knife as it releases the oils better)
1 T EVOO
Heavy dash of: Cumin, Cayenne, Chili Powder and Pepper)

For the Yams (btw... there is a difference between yams and sweet potatoes)

1 large yam or 2 small yams, diced (skin-on)
1 T coconut oil
1/2 T Cinnamon

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 400º, dice your yams, toss in a large glass baking dish, and massage the coconut oil evenly on all pieces. Sprinkle the cinnamon overtop and roast at 400º for about 1 hour. Turn over pieces two times throughout for even roasting.

Meanwhile, boil the 1/2 cup water and add in the zucchini and boil for about 1 minute, then add the bok choy, boil another minute, and then add in the kale. Boil for about one more minute, and then turn down to a simmer - drain the majority of the water out and add in the EVOO. Proceed to add in the remaining chili ingredients (keep the water from the beans or add in 1/4 of filtered water), turn the heat up to medium and cover for about 5 minutes and then turn back down to a simmer until the yams are done.

Add in about 2 cups of the yams (yay you'll have some left over!)

Pour into bowls and top with avocado.

(Note: I recommend adding the avocado fresh to avoid oxidation)

Serves 4

I think when I make this again, I will add in some lime but I didn't have any limes (um why not?!? One should always have limes!)

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Lavender Lemon Pancakes

Oh...and, this recipe also works for bread (see adaptations below). 

pancakes.jpeg

There are some (like my sister) that think eating lavender is 'weird,' or they think it's 'like eating perfume.' I, am not one of those people. In fact, I would go far as to say that I love the taste of lavender. Plus, it's ridiculously good for you.

So, I made these pancakes the other night for a quick bite to eat the next day while at work. I'm pretty sure that I said out-loud "whoa, these are frickin' delicious!" Yeah...

Lavender Lemon Pancakes

1 egg, cage-free/organic
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup white rice flour
Dash of cardamom
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup oat milk *
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
Pinch of dried lavender flowers
1 tsp baking powder

Method:

Coat a large skillet with some coconut oil (extra virgin/unrefined or your favorite oil) and heat on medium.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whip the egg and applesauce together. Add in the rice flour, cardamom, sea salt and oat milk, stir well. Next, add in the lemon juice and lavender then the baking powder. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour ~ 4 pancakes in the the skillet. Heat about 3-4 minutes on one side (or until tops begin to bubble). Flip, and heat on the other side for about 3 minutes or until they begin to brown.

pancakes2.jpeg

Seriously, YUM! I was not expecting this to be so good.

Now, to make this a bread:

4 egg whites, cage-free/organic (reserve yolks)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup oats (certified gluten free)
Heavy dash of cardamom
Dash of sea salt
1/2 cup oat milk *
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Dash of dried lavender flowers
2 tsp baking powder

Method:

Coat a bread loaf pan (I used glass) with extra virgin/unrefined coconut oil (or oil of your choice).

Whip the egg whites until they begin to froth but do not whip them so that they are white. Set aside.

Combine the egg yolks and applesauce. Add in the rice flour, oats, cardamom and salt. Mix well then add in the remaining ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.

lavendar bread.jpeg

A...maz...ing.

* If you have a significant allergy/intolerance to gluten, be sure to check the label on your oat milk and make sure it was made in a gluten-free facility as there is potential for gluten-cross contamination with oats.

lavendarbread 2.jpeg

Enjoy!

-AEB

Lentil, Butternut Squash & Kale Bake

I've recently become quite fond of the lentil. With 17 grams in one cup, these little legumes are an excellent source of protein as well as healthy, low-glycemic carbohydrates. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of healthy fiber, manganese, B-vitamins, folate and iron. A true superfood, IMHO.

Like other beans and legumes, you can either soak them or cook them or a combination of the two. For this recipe, I decided to cook them. 

On a side note, do you ever just fall in love with an artist all over again? I've been listening to Adele like it's the fist time hearing her this past week and each song undoubtedly moves me. She evokes so much passion...so many emotions... Lovely. 

Anyway, on with this hearty (vegan and vegetarian friendly) dish ;)

Lentil, Butternut Squash & Kale Bake

For the lentils

1 cup green lentils
3 cups water

Method:

In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring often. The legumes, when done should be soft throughout.

For the squash

1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced diced
1 tbls coconut oil (Extra Virgin/Unrefined)

Method:

Combine the diced butternut squash with the coconut oil and bake at 400° for about 30 minutes (tossing once halfway through).

For the bake:

3 handfuls of kale, chopped
1 scallion, minced
1 tomato, de-seeded and chopped
Heavy dash of garlic powder
1 tbls cumin powder
Dash of sea salt
4-6 fresh oregano leaves, torn into pieces
3/4 cup water (you'll be splitting this up 1/4 cup at time)
1 tbls coconut oil

Method:

Mix the garlic powder, cumin and sea salt with the 3/4 water. Stir well.

Combine the lentils with the butternut squash, pour 1/4 of the seasoned water over-top and bake another 10 minutes.

Add the tomato and scallion, pour another 1/4 cup of the seasoned water over-top and bake another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°.

Lastly, add in the kale, oregano, coconut oil and remaining water. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes.

lentil bake.jpeg

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Product Review: Tagliatelle Jovial Pasta

This pasta dish was by far the best pasta that I have made and I am thinking it may be the best pasta I have ever had. I know, that is a bold statement.

Jovial was kind enough to send me a box of their Gluten Free Brown Rice Egg Tagliatelle and a jar of their Diced Tomatoes to do a product review. The timing was perfect as I had been craving pasta for a while. Being gluten-free for as long as I have been, I can assure you that is indeed the best gluten-free pasta that I have had. I would feed it to any gluten-eater out there. Any day.

Tagliatelle Jovial Pasta & Chicken Sausage

1 box Jovial Brown Rice Egg Tagliatelle Pasta
1/8 jar Jovial Diced Tomatoes
2 tbls grapeseed oil (for your skillet)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 handful of kale, chopped
4 Al Fresco Chicken Sausage (Roasted Garlic), thinly sliced
2 basil leaves, chopped

Method: 

Boil the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat your grapeseed oil in a large skillet (I do think grapeseed makes a difference in this recipe - it adds a nice buttery and somewhat nutty flavor). Add the fennel, zucchini, onion, carrot and garlic and begin to saute. 

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Set the pasta aside.

Add the kale and chicken to the saute. Once the chicken is thoroughly heated, combine with the pasta and add in the diced tomatoes and basil leaves.

And... Viola! ;)

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Serves ~ 4 (or 1 with the best leftovers ever ;))

So looking forward to eating this dish again.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Moroccan Stew

While a true Moroccan Stew would likely call for lamb, chicken or beef, this dish was incredible with bison. You could use the meat of your preference or omit meat all together to make it vegan. 

Moroccan Stew

1 cup organic (white) basmati rice
1 lb ground grass-fed bison
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, minced
1 zucchini, thinly chopped
Handful of kale, chopped
1/2 tomato, diced
1 butternut squash, chopped and steamed
2 carrots, chopped and steamed
2 parsnips, chopped and steamed
1/4 cup raisins
Dash of ground cumin
Dash of ground cardamom
Dash of ground clove
Dash of ground turmeric
Dash of ground pepper
1/2 cup water

Method:

Brown the bison in a large skillet, adding the garlic and scallions.

Meanwhile, steam the butternut squash, carrots and parsnips and prepare the white rice.

When the meat is nearly cooked, add in all the rest of your veggies and seasonings.

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When the veggies are cooked to your liking with the bison, combine with the steamed veggies, rice, raisins and water. Cook on medium for about 10 minutes, stirring often to allow the flavors to meld.

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I can't wait to make this again, so good. I was excited every night to eat leftovers. 

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Enjoy (with some Hibiscus Rose Sake... ;))

-AEB

Mexican Sweet Potato Salad

One of my favorite things in life is to turn on some music, sip on a refreshing adult beverage and cook up a hearty meal using fresh ingredients. It's like therapy for me. Seriously. 

Mexican Sweet Potato Salad

1 lb ground bison, grass-fed
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 yellow onion, minced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 summer squash, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 large handful of kale, chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Dash of ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt 

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Method: 

Begin to brown the bison in a large skillet, add in clove of garlic and onion and saute. Add in the sea salt and pepper. While the bison is cooking, chop up your sweet potato and steam for about 12 minutes.

Add in the remaining ingredients to the bison and cook until the bison is cooked to your liking and the vegetables are tender. 

Serve with the diced avocado.

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Now, I went light on the seasonings because I was just excited about the fresh ingredients but you could jazz it up with some oregano, chili powder, cayenne etc...

Serves 3-4 (or...leftovers...)

And with the those leftovers, just toss over some romaine and eat cold ;) Yum! 

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My new beverage of choice... 

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Zipang

is the greatest thing since sliced bread IMO (gluten free sliced bread that is ;)). Seriously incredible. It tastes almost more like brew than a wine. I could go on and on about it, so you'll just have to try it. Not sweet, super refreshing AND gluten/sulfite-free. Aaah....

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Spinach Bread Loaf

Well, I really wanted to get this recipe out sooner because I am kind of in love with it, alas, life had its way with me again. So, I apologize for the delay, only because this recipe should most certainly make its way into your life.  

You all know how much I love breads and pancakes, so I thought, why not combine my favorite bread recipe with my favorite pancake recipe?

I now present to you my newest favorite.... Spinach Bread Loaf. Oh yes. 

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Spinach Bread Loaf

1 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
2 egg yolks, organic/cage-free (reserve the whites)
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 cup brown rice
1 cup oats
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 cup spinach, chopped
Heavy dash of cardamom
Heavy dash of turmeric
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Method: 

Whip the egg whites until the begin to turn white (but not quite frothy), set aside.  

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the egg yolks, apple sauce, vanilla and maple syrup. Add in the flours, spices and spinach and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Lastly, add in the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and mix well.

Grease a bread loaf pan (I used grapeseed oil) and bake at 350° 25 minutes, turn down to 300° and bake another 15 minutes with foil over-top. 

Delicious! 

When the temperature drops enough for me to not feel insane for turning an oven on, I'll be making this again.  Yes, even on the coast in Northern Maine, it's HOT. I love it... I really do.

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Enjoy (for brekki, lunch, dinner or a snack! :))

-AEB

Banana & Pear Chai Spiced Bread

The idea of a chai spiced bread had been spinning around in my head for a few days before I made this. Then, the thought to put some pear in it came to me and I couldn't wait to try it out. Seriously... delicious. I may have said this before, I'm sure that I have (because I'm vain like that...), but this is likely my favorite bread to-date.

Banana & Pear Chai Spiced Bread

3 bananas (very ripe or previously frozen)
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
4 egg whites
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups brown rice flour

Chai spice:

  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of Cardamom
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Pinch of clove
  • Pinch of Nutmeg 

Pinch of sea salt1/4 tsp ground flax-seed (optional)
2 tbls grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 pear, peeled & diced (I used Bartlett)

Method:

Whip the egg whites until the begin to turn white (but not quite frothy), set aside.

Thoroughly blend together the bananas, yolks, maple syrup and vanilla. Add in the flour, chai spice, sea salt, flax-seed and grapeseed oil, stir well.

Fold in your egg whites and thoroughly combine with the dough. Add in the baking powder and soda and top with the apple cider vinegar. Give it a good stir and then fold in the pear.

Bake at 350º for 30 minutes, cover with foil and then back another 15-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

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I will definitely be making this one again.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB