Monthly Archives: September 2012

Falling Into Fall

Wow. Summer is done. I think it’s officially the fastest season of the four. Every year it seems to fly by in a flash!

I hope you all managed to squeeze in a relaxing vacation. Ever noticed how amazing someone looks after some R & R? Yeah. Vacations are super healthy.

I wish I could say I took one, but alas, there’s too much going on for me right now. I’ve been working ’round the clock!

And although it was a VERY busy summer, it was a fulfilling one. The most rewarding things are those we work hardest at, and I can say that I’ve seen many labors of love come to fruition of late. (Keep reading for more on that!)

As we settle into Fall, I’ll revisit some old recipes I haven’t made in awhile and stick my hand into a fresh pumpkin again!

Pumpkin is absolutely one of my favorite foods – I love the taste and I love that it’s high in fiber and low in calories, as well as rich in so many vitamins and minerals. I add it to oatmeal, smoothies, steamed veggies, baked goods…pretty much anything I can.

And pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are a superfood – loaded with good stuff we need like magnesium and zinc – as well as high in protein and fiber. But don’t over-roast them: 20 minutes is the max.

**For all my pregnant readers, you should know that pumpkin seeds are a fantastic food for you and your growing baby. With important vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, you should make these little guys a regular addition to your snacks or meals.

As for those labors of love I mentioned above, I am thrilled to announce that we have opened our much-anticipated Roastery Roll-Up Bar at Barefoot Coffee Roasters. It looks amazing and our incredible team has worked incredibly hard on it. Many thanks to them for making my vision a reality.

So come on over to Barefoot Coffee Roasters at 76 Sunol Street in San Jose for some kickass coffee!

 

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Filed under Health, Superfoods, Vegetables

Adventures in Nut Milk

In addition to dehydrating up a storm, I had my first foray into homemade nut milk last week. You all know how I feel about dairy, so this girl does nut milk.

I have to say, making my own almond milk was a wee bit of work but so incredibly worth it. The taste was unreal.

I had been buying the 365 Brand of Unsweetened Organic Almond Milk from Whole Foods. It’s very good as far as pre-made nut milks go – in health and taste – but there are still ingredients in it that I don’t love. And people kept saying it was easy to make it yourself so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Now I know. They taste like two totally different drinks.

The real mess was the cheesecloth because you have to strain the almonds to get smooth milk. Cleaning the cheesecloth was a bit tricky so next time, I’ll go with a fine mesh metal strainer.

BUT! I also bought some cashews to try cashew milk. While the taste of almond milk is superior, cashew milk is SO much easier to make and still tastes great.

Cashews don’t have to soak as long, which is a huge plus if you forgot to soak and need some milk (um, that was me this morning!). But the best part is that you don’t have to strain them. Cashews are soft enough that they blend really well. Faster, easier, and less mess! This makes homemade nut milk a much more realistic option.

Everyone knows that almonds are a very healthy nut but what about cashews? Well, did you know that a couple of handfuls a day fights depression? Read more about it here.

Here are the two recipes…

ALMOND MILK
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw almonds (organic preferred)
  • water for soaking nuts
  • 3 cups of water
  • a few shakes of cinnamon (optional)
  • sweetener: 1-2 dates or figs (optional)
  • sprinkle of ground vanilla (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak the almonds in water overnight or for at least 6 hours.

2. Drain the water from the almonds and discard.

3. Blend the 3 cups of water, almonds (and whatever else you choose – I used only cinnamon) until well blended and almost smooth.

4. Strain the blended almond mixture using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.

Homemade raw almond milk will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

I soaked overnight and didn’t use dates or vanilla and it was amazing. A bit of cinnamon adds a nice flavor (I love cinnamon) and serves as an antimicrobial agent.

CASHEW MILK
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of raw cashews (organic preferred)
  • water for soaking nuts
  • 3 cups of water
  • sweetener (optional): fig, date, raw maple syrup, raw honey (unless you’re pregnant!), or coconut sugar (never agave!)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon (optional)
  • ground vanilla (optional)
  • a dash of pink salt (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cover raw cashews with water and allow to soak for at least one hour.

2. Drain and rinse.

3. Place 3/4 cup of soaked cashews and 3 cups water into a blender or food processor and process until smooth, at least one minute.

4. Optional: add sweetener to taste if necessary.

Homemade raw almond milk will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

You can use more or less water to alter the thickness of your cashew milk, but in general, you want a 1:4 ratio of cashews to water.

You may also choose to strain your raw cashew milk. I, of course, did not.

**In my first round of cashew milk, I did not use any sweetener or salt. Just some shakes of cinnamon. It was good but not great. In my second round, I used some shakes of cinnamon and a fig. Better. In my third round, I used some shakes of cinnamon, a fig (fresh), and a sprinkling of ground vanilla bean. We have a winner!

Both milks are great on their own, in smoothies, or in oatmeal/cereal.

And I made an amazing shake that tasted like ice cream, so I’ll share that with you, too. 😉

KINDA LIKE ICE CREAM SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tbsp of organic peanut butter (My choice is Maranatha!)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 fig (dried or fresh, depends on preference and what you have in the kitch)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon
  • a cup of almond or cashew milk (use more or less depending on the consistency you like)
  • ice
  • 1 tsp of cacao nibs

Blend and drink, my friends!

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Filed under Agave, Dairy, Health, Organic, Raw, Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Dehydratin’ Away…

So the hubby and I are pretty much inseparable. We work together, we live together (obviously), and we go places together. It’s awesome. And the dog ain’t far behind.

I mean, look at that face. Would you leave her? Exactly.

But this week, I have a new best friend. Her name is Excalibur.

That’s right. Health Coach Jillian is dehydratin’ the bejesus out of anything she can get her hands on with her new 5-tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator. It’s BPA-free and phthalate-free.

But if the hubby feels threatened, he has only himself to blame. (And maybe two employees at Whole Foods.) All three commented on my out of control addiction to kale chips. All of them said, “Why don’t you make your own?”

The first time I got the question I replied, “Whenever I make kale chips in the oven, they burn.”

But last time I got the question, I fielded it differently. “MY DEHYDRATOR IS ON ITS WAY TO ME!! I JUST ORDERED IT!”

Okay, maybe the cashier was unprepared for that level of enthusiasm, but he asked and with my Excalibur en route, I was excited. Super excited.

So now I’m trying anything that sounds like it will taste good when dried out: apple with cinnamon, strawberries, figs, carrots, zucchini, and of course, kale.

Now, one might wonder what the point is. Don’t we want the water that’s in these foods? Sure!

And when you eat dehydrated food you should drink water to rehydrate. So it seems totally pointless, right?

Not exactly.

I keep the temperature on 105F so the foods are still technically raw, but cooked. Cooking with high heat destroys much of the nutrients in food, but at this temperature, I’m preserving the nutrients and the live enzymes that are in raw food. And I get on-the-go healthy snack food – like carrot chips and zucchini chips. This way, I can make some healthy concoctions instead of always eating cold food out of the fridge. But mostly, I just eat truckloads of kale chips.

Finally, I gotta give a special shout out to the Mom and Dad – my new bestie is a result of some birthday cashola (yes, HCJ gets older in the summertime). Thanks, guys! I’m having a blast with my new toy!

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Filed under BPA, Chemicals, Fruit, Health, Organic, Raw, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Water

Everything is an Opportunity

We are motivated by the happy moments: successes, holidays, milestones, and fun.

But snafus, stress, struggles, and sadness are inevitable.

We all make mistakes. We all have stress. We all endure tough times.

We all know that.

The important thing is that we get through these moments gracefully. These trials happen so that we may learn from them and evolve as individuals.

Here’s how…

1. Let it out
Have an outlet. Release the stress. Cry if you need to. Whatever you do, don’t keep it in. If you bottle it, it will fester. And that’s not healthy.

2. Look at the positive
Think about what good might be lurking in a bad situation. Hold onto that and appreciate that things happen for a reason. Journeys are not meant to be easy – they are meant to be valuable. Find the nugget.

3. Learn from it
See how you can do it differently next time. See how you can grow from it.

4. Move forward
Don’t dwell. Take the time to grumble, yell, pout…whatever. And then look forward. Better moments await you.

And what is true in life, is often true in food. When you indulge a little, don’t let that be the slippery slope that derails you from your efforts. Make your next choice a healthy one and get right back on track.

Mistakes, misfortunes, and misunderstandings are a part of life. Missed opportunities shouldn’t be.

And finally, as today is September 11, we all take time to remember the heroes, the lost lives, and the unbelievable shock and sadness that reverberated through this country 11 years ago…and for a long time after. I give special thought to Deora Bodley, who was on Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, PA. I knew her in high school – we ran track together. I feel such sadness for her shortened life, but today, I have someone’s birthday to celebrate, too. It is not all bad.

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Crockpot Chicken Extraordinaire

Whoa. I freakin’ knocked dinner out of the park last night.

Normally, the husband and I take to the kitchen separately to make our own salads. That’s right. The husband eats salads for dinner. How great is that?

But yesterday I said, “Husband! We’re having chicken tonight.”

(There were vegetables, too, of course. And it was all organic. You know how I roll.)

And the best part? In all it’s deliciousness, it couldn’t have been easier.

For the veggies, I sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and green beans in coconut oil and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle. That’s it. You’ll get the au jus from the chicken so no need for more flavor. You can do whatever veggies you want, however you want, but make sure you’ve got some greens in there. 😉

As for the chicken, I did it slow cooker style. Meat was falling off the bone. You’re welcome.

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle 24 Herbs & Spices
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove giblets from the chicken (HCJ’s secret: have the meat guy do that for you).
  4. Rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  5. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. Don’t add any liquid.
  6. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Save the scraps and make a stock!

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Filed under Chicken, Health, Organic, Recipe, Spices, Vegetables