Category Archives: Vegan

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

Close Encounters for the Second Time

You know how I love my trips to Whole Foods, and last night’s little jaunt ended up being another fun health coach moment.

Remember the last one?

This time it was all about nutritional yeast!

Okay, some of you are probably thinking, “What the what?” We’re getting to that.

So a couple of guys found me grabbing at the kale krunchies and had to ask what they were all about.

“They must be good the way you’re stocking up,” one of them said. Then he read the ingredient list of Quite Cheezy and asked, “Now what about nutritional yeast? Is that good for you? What about yeast problems?”

“Nutritional yeast is the best part!” I screamed. Okay, maybe I didn’t scream, but I was VERY animated.

Here’s what I told him:
Nutritional yeast does not cause Candida (yeast overgrowth) because it is not an active yeast, so no concerns there. What contributes to yeast overgrowth is sugar.

Nutritional yeast is super healthy because it’s loaded with B vitamins, and B12 is the one vitamin that vegetarians and vegans can’t get from any food because it comes from animal products.

Nutritional yeast is also a great source of protein and folic acid. Each tablespoon has only 20 calories plus 1g of fiber and 2g of protein, so it’s a low-cal add-on that packs a hefty nutritional punch.

Now, for why it’s the best part…

It makes food cheesy! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have any salt, dairy, sugar, gluten, egg, animal derivatives, wheat, corn, starch, soy or any artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives. And it’s non-gmo. But somehow, miraculously, it tastes like parmesan cheese. I’m not sure why or how but it does and it sure jazzes up many a meal for me. I put it on popcorn, eggs, veggies, and Lydia’s kale krunchies.

So, since I got that question out in the world last night, and since up until a few days ago, two very health-conscious friends of mine who eat very little meat had never heard of it, I figured I’d bring all the rest of you up to speed, as well.

The two main brands are Bragg and Red Star and you can find them at Whole Foods, health stores, or online.

I’m no vegan but I don’t eat a ton of animal products. I’m all for a plant-based diet, but it needs to be done the right way, and getting all your vitamins, especially that B12 is very important. So there you have it.

I can’t wait for my next Whole Foods encounter!

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Filed under GMO-free, Health, Products, Snacks, 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