Category Archives: Raw

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

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 2

We’re back with Part 2 of my new food finds! In case you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

And without further ado…

KOMBUCHA
You know I love water, but now I’m also loving Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha, specifically the Multi-Green flavor.

Kombucha is so healthy for you – the cultures in this effervescent drink work as a probiotic, helping your digestive system do what it needs to do. It works the way yogurt does, adding healthy bacteria to your gut, but without dairy.

Multi-Green is surprisingly sweet (sounds like it would be vegetabley, right? yeah, not so much.) with only 4 grams of sugar in the entire bottle, but with spirulina, blue green algae, and chlorella, which are three superfoods that are amazing for you. I sip it throughout the day (keeping it in the fridge, of course) so that I get a little hit of sweetness and healthy bacteria after I eat.

If you’re not digging the greens, that’s okay – Citrus and Original flavors are great, too. But Multi-Green is packing some serious nutritional punch.

POPCORN

My pick for popcorn these days is the Whole Foods 365 brand of organic, reduced fat, low-sodium popcorn. They use gmo-free corn, which is really important. And this popcorn passed the husband test, which means it tastes good and isn’t cardboardy.

BREAD

And for those of you in Southern California, I want to share with you my new favorite bread and bagel option. Silver Hills Bakery makes some awesome stuff – super healthy and oh so tasty. I’m officially head over heels for the Squirrelly bread and bagels because it tastes delicious and has the cutest name. Plus, the husband likes them.

Pick up these products at Whole Foods, Jimbo’s, Sprouts, Erewhon, or your local health food store.

Now go forth and find a fun, new healthy food this weekend!

Question of the Day:
Anyone ever have anything crazy happen on Friday the 13th?

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Filed under GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Snacks, Superfoods, Water

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