Category Archives: Gluten-free

Simple Summer Side Salad

Friends! I know it’s been awhile. I’ve missed you.

Well, happy Friday, for starters!

I wanted to send you into the weekend with this fun little recipe. It’s the perfect summery side dish or snack.

Best part? It’s healthy! (Obviously.)

Second best part? It’s easy!

Now, who doesn’t love that combination?

Okay, here we go…

ORANGE COUSCOUS

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 10 dried apricots, chopped* 
  • 2 tablespoons dried raisins*
  • 3 medium carrots, shaved and chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • drizzle of olive oil at the end (optional)
  • 2 persian cucumbers, chopped and added at the end (optional)

*Dried fruit should be organic, unsulphured and with no added ingredients – just apricots or raisins

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour couscous into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a small pot, combine water, orange juice, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the dried fruit. Let simmer for about 1 minute.
  3. Give it a quick stir and then pour the liquid mixture over the dry couscous. Stir to eliminate any dry pockets. Add the carrots on top and then cover with a plate or towel to keep in the heat.
  4. The couscous will cook in 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. When the couscous is cooked, stir in the carrots and add in the pine nuts and cucumber. You may opt to drizzle olive oil on top.
  6. Best served cold or at room temp.

Now, some people don’t love couscous. That’s okay. For example, in my house the Hubby doesn’t like it so that means more for me. No complaints. 🙂

While couscous works best in this recipe, if it’s not for you, you can choose a different grain…or non-grain. Buckwheat is a heartier choice and arguably even healthier.

Why? Well, it’s gluten-free because it’s not actually wheat, despite its misleading name. It’s a seed related to rhubarb and it’s a great source of protein, fiber, complete essential amino acids, zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. Plus, it’s whole grain and very versatile, great in a sweet or savory dish.

I recommend Eden Organics Buckwheat. You should cook the buckwheat first (takes 30 minutes) or make it in advance. Then add the ingredients to it as you would uncooked couscous and the results should be similar. BUT, you should reduce the liquid substantially, since the buckwheat is already cooked. I’d say probably 1 tbsp of water, 1/4 cup of orange juice and 1/4 tsp of vinegar to 1 full cup of cooked buckwheat. You don’t want it liquidy. Let it chill in the fridge for a bit and add more buckwheat if it’s still too wet. If you like couscous, though, the recipe works better with it.

Also, I’m not the biggest lover of raisins, so sometimes I make this with just apricots, which I do love. Works great and I don’t feel the need to up the amount either. Plenty of sweetness here.

I’ve also been known to throw in some fresh herbs, too. Parsley and basil from my garden add a different flavor that I like sometimes. Herbs are super healthy, so that’s always a bonus. Just depends on my taste buds on any given day. Get creative!

And as always, all ingredients are organic. You know me. That’s how I do!

couscousBuckwheat

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Filed under Fruit, Gluten-free, Health, Organic, Recipe, Snacks, Vegetables

It Was A Shock…It was a Chocolat

That’s right. This post is about chocolate. How fun is that?!

I’m all about health, but I’m all about chocolate, too!

But I should specify – I love quality chocolate. I don’t like weird filler ingredients. I don’t like soy lecithin and emulsifiers. I don’t like artificial this, that, or the other thing. Oh, you know this about me by now. No need to repeat myself. 😉

So that means I like pricey, fancypants chocolate, but we all have our guilty pleasures, right? Craft chocolate is totally having a moment right now, just like beer and coffee. And I am all for taking advantage of it!

What do I look for in my chocolate? Only two ingredients and a whole lotta taste.

Ingredients: cacao and sugar.

Okay, you know I don’t think sugar is so great, but this is my one exception because dark chocolate – when 70% or higher – has antioxidants and deliciousness, and helps to curb hunger. And just a little bit goes a long way. We gotta treat ourselves sometimes, you know? We’re not nuns, here.

Alright, here we go. My favorite gourmet chocolate finds (click on the link to buy):

1. Dandelion – Venezuela and Colombia (both 70%)
Columbia has notes of caramel. Venezuela has notes of cinnamon and fruit. I love caramel, cinnamon, and fruit!

2. Rogue Chocolatier – 70% Rio Caribe
Notes of coffee, blood orange, nuts. Yum, yum, and yum.

3. Askinosie – I love the 77% from Davao, Philippines
This one contains a 3rd ingredient – cocoa butter. I can make exceptions.

4. Mast Brothers – 72% with cacao nibs (which is technically a 3rd ingredient, but doesn’t really count because they’re pure, unsweetened cacao pieces)

5. Ritual – 75% from Costa Rica
I’m not joking when I tell you this tastes like blackberry jam. Sometimes I can’t taste the notes they list on things, but I can tell you, there was no mistakin’ the blackberry in this. (It reminded me of the Friends episode with Joey and the jam.)

The grocery store selection can be good, too, but they typically have more than just two ingredients.

Here’s what I look for:
*soy-free
*organic
*gmo-free
*high cocoa content

I know I’m not going to get all of these from every chocolate bar, but there are a few that come very close. And here they are:

1. Dagoba – 74% Chocodrops
This one does contain soy but it’s organic and gmo-free soy. They make bars, too, but I like the drops because you can just pop a few…or a handful…you know how it is…

2. Fearless – 70% Organic, Direct Trade
They have a few different flavors. All are good, but this is made with raw cacao and tastes a little different. It’s super healthy because preparing it at a low temperature preserves the antioxidant content, but the taste might not be for everybody.

3. Alter Eco – Gmo-free. Organic. Vegan. Soy and gluten-free. Fair trade.
I especially like the quinoa flavor even though the chocolate isn’t as dark.

4. Snake and Butterfly – Fair trade, organic, and milk, soy, and gluten-free.
They have some interesting flavors, like bacon toffee. Never tried that one, though…

Things to keep in mind when it comes to chocolate:

  • Chocolate processed WITH alkali is not as healthy because the alkali strips out most of the antioxidants and flavonoids
  • The higher the cocoa content, the lower the content of sugar (and other stuff if you’re eating chocolate that has more than just cacao and sugar), and that’s a good thing. We want higher cocoa content. So that 85% dark chocolate bar? It has more cocoa and less sugar than that 47% bar. And more antioxidants.
  • For the most antioxidants, eat raw cacao (this is where chocolate comes from but when we heat it at high temps and add in sugar, etc., it loses it’s nutritional punch). It’s delicious in smoothies, chia pudding, oatmeal, in a mix with walnuts and goji berries, in greek yogurt…the possibilities are endless. In fact, raw cacao is a superfood – and it’s the food with the highest antioxidant content on the planet. Yes, you read that correctly. Raw cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries – by a lot. And when eaten with berries, the antioxidant effect multiplies. Pretty amazing, right?  Chocolate is awesome.
  • 1 oz is the recommended daily dose (about the size of a dental floss container) because as we all know, chocolate has fat and sugar and most of us are getting plenty of those from other sources, too. 😉
  • Organic and raw is always a better choice when it comes to chocolate
  • Don’t choose a chocolate…or anything, really…with a long list of ingredients

So there you have it. Go grab my grocery faves or indulge in one of my high-end finds. Either way, it’ll be tasty!

p.s. Oh, husband…if you made it to the bottom of this post…feel free to shop those first 5 links, should you need to find a treat for me in the near future… 😉

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Filed under Chocolate, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Sugar, Superfoods, Vegan

Food Finds, Part 1

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been trying some new foods out these days…doing a little test run of products…and finding some gems!

I’m pretty picky when I read those ingredient lists. So, my basic requirements are as follows:

  • must have some protein
  • must be gmo-free
  • must be low in sugar and sodium
  • no agave
  • no soy
  • organic
  • still tasty!

So, here’s Part 1 of what I’ve found…

RAW KALE CHIPS
Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch makes kale chips so much more than I ever thought they could be.

I am seriously addicted to their Quite Cheezy flavor. The Chipotle flavor is also delicious if you like a little spice to your food.

These are great to take on the go – easy, healthy, and completely guilt-free. With only a few fantastic ingredients, they clock in at 100 calories, 4g of protein per serving, and 7g of fat (1.5g saturated). Sodium is higher than I’d like at 260mg, but kind of worth it. 😉

I’m also loving Lydia’s Organics Kale Krunchies. I get the Mega Green flavor, which has a little kick to them. For the same serving size, these have only 50 calories, 3g of fat (.5g saturated), 80mg of sodium, and 2g of protein.

Both options are raw, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and organic.

GRAIN-FREE CRACKERS
Lydia’s Organics also makes some tasty grain-free crackers. The Luna Nori Crackers are delicious on their own or with avocado spread on them.

Each serving (3 crackers) is 140 calories, 6g of fat (1g saturated), 120mg of sodium, and a whopping 5g of fiber and 6g of protein.

These are also gluten-free, raw, organic, and vegan.

All fats in these products are coming from heart healthy sources – nuts and seeds. Most, if not all, of these items should be available at your Whole Foods. Or click on the pics to buy online!

And make sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Filed under Agave, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Snacks, Superfoods, Vegan, Vegetables

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

Who remembers that crazy Chia Pet phase? And the ridiculous commercials for those ridiculous chia pets?

Well, chia has made a comeback. You’ve heard me (and probably others) squawking about chia seeds for some time now, so I guess I should tell you what all the fuss is about.

As you know, my dad got some chia seeds for Father’s Day. I thought about a chia pet instead, but with two Pulis, my parents really didn’t need another pet. What they really needed were superfoods to keep them healthy.

What’s a Puli? This.


They have these. With shorter hair. Reminiscent of a Chia Pet, actually. Hmm. Okay, let’s refocus.

Chia.

Chia seeds are amazing. When they get wet, they form a gel that helps food glide through your digestive tract, but they still have a crunch to them. Nifty, right? And they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids for heart healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

One tablespoon has only 60 calories (give or take – different brands list different stats). And it gives you a good dose of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

Additionally, chia seeds are a complete plant protein and gluten-free. This makes them a great option for vegans or vegetarians, as well as those with gluten intolerance or Celiac.

Let’s talk about fiber. In that single tablespoon, you get a whopping 5g of fiber. Gals, you need at least 25 grams a day. And guys, you need at least 38 grams. Pregnant gals, you should aim for 28 grams. For men and women over 50, you need at least 30 grams and 21 grams, respectively. So with just one tbsp, you’re making a good dent in that fiber requirement.

With all that fiber, and because the seeds grow when wet, they not only help with digestion, but a little bit fills you up and aids in weight loss, too. Chia seeds also help balance blood sugar, help lower cholesterol, and prevent against heart disease.

Although these are all great benefits, too much of anything is never a good idea. So don’t start eating insane amounts. A couple tablespoons a day is plenty. And for those of you on blood thinners, chia might not be for you. Talk to your doc.

I recommend organic only, of course. You can find chia at Whole Foods, your local health food store, or online. I like the Navitas Naturals brand because they’re raw, vegan, kosher, gluten-free, and organic. And I like the company. But there are a lot of other great brands, too.

I’ll put chia on just about anything. I put it in my oatmeal for breakfast, in salads, on veggies, on soups, and in smoothies. You can also put it on yogurt, in cereal, or grind it and bake with it. They really don’t have much of a flavor so they work well in a sweet or savory dish.

And here’s my new fave dessert:

Chia Pudding

2 tbsp of chia seeds
1/4 cup of almond milk
15 frozen raspberries
1 tsp of raw cacao nibs
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
liberal shakes of cinnamon
2 shakes of cloves

Here’s what you do. Get a bowl. Add in everything but the cacao nibs. Mix until it’s all mixed up. Mush the raspberries. Make sure it’s mixed really well. Then let it sit on the counter or in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. Let it get really thick. Then sprinkle on the cacao nibs when you’re ready to eat so they stay crunchy.

Now, I should warn you that I don’t like it too sweet. If you like more sweetness, you can add 1/4 – 1/2 ripe banana, 20 frozen blueberries, 1 tsp of coconut nectar or some raw honey.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Gluten-free, Health, Organic, Products, Raw, Snacks, Superfoods, Vegan

No Monday Blues Here

Happy Monday, everyone!

As some of you smirk at that, I must tell you what a happy Monday it has been for me. What I assumed would be a routine trip to Whole Foods turned into a Health Coach moment for me and I got to revel in how much I love what I do.

So here’s what happened…

I was shooting up and down the aisles, snatching everything I needed at lightening speed so I could get back to work. (I’m a very speedy machine these days.) Then I sort of got in the way of a woman while I was grabbing for the hemp seeds and I apologized and she just sort of looked at me and then looked up at the hemp seeds on the shelf and then back at me and back at the hemp seeds.

I felt a question coming on so I lingered there for a moment, taking the opportunity to make sure I had all the superfoods I needed. You know, you never want to leave Whole Foods without all your superfoods.

(Superfood = food that is exceptionally good for you.)

And finally she spoke. “So does that give you a ton of energy or something?”

Well, folks, I wanted to share with you all exactly what I shared with this nice lady at Whole Foods because this really is good information.

“I guess so! It’s a great source of protein,” I said. “It’s actually a perfect plant protein.”

“So it’s not a bad protein?”

“No! Not a bad protein. It’s an excellent protein!” I said. “And it’s great because you can put it on cereal or oatmeal, or sprinkle it on salads. It has a nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. It tastes kind of like quinoa but you have to cook quinoa and this you just sprinkle on. Easy!”

Now, for those of you who are wondering, I like the Navitas brand. The hemp seeds are certified organic, raw, vegan, kosher, gluten-free, fair trade, sustainably grown, and tasty. Some of you might only care about that last part. That’s cool.

But hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant protein, as they have a high protein content and are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. If you don’t know what that means, all you really have to know is that it’s the healthiest kind of protein.

In addition to protein, hemp is a great source of magnesium and zinc, and also a good source of potassium and iron. Additionally, hemp seeds have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ideal ratio. That might also be confusing, but what you really need to know here is that most of us are getting way too much omega-6, and the balance of the two is key.

I then grabbed a bag and handed it to her. She was excited to try it. I love spreading the superfood love!

And that brings me to my final point here on a Monday. This is a reminder to do what you love. There was a time when I dreaded a Monday as much as the next guy. But these days, Mondays are just another day to do what makes me happy.

Question of the day:
What makes YOU happy? Now, I know we all have answers to that so let’s hear from you below!!

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Filed under Gluten-free, Organic, Product Review, Raw, Superfoods, Vegan