Tag: real food

Green Goddess Guacamole!

Think of a food you dislike.

Maybe you’ve tried it before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, you know you don’t like it, and there’s no way anyone can get you to try it…right?

Until about 4 years ago, guacamole was one of those foods for me. Why? Because I was CONVINCED that guacamole had mayonnaise in it…and I’ve always disliked mayonnaise.

One day at work, we had a healthy cooking demo taught by a health coach like me, and we were learning to make none other than…guacamole!  I had all but made up my mind that I wasn’t going to try it.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long before I realized that it was NOT made with mayonnaise and that everyone else was trying it, so…

I gave in to peer pressure and was shocked to find out I LOVED IT!

What had I been missing??

Ever since that day, I’ve been an avocado and guacamole lover.

Delicious, fresh, and seasonal ingredients for this delicious guac!

Delicious, fresh, and seasonal ingredients for this delicious guac!

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can eat AND are known as a beauty detox food. Here are just a few of their awesome health benefits:

  • Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals promote moisturizing from the inside, which means healthy, smooth, radiant skin (a true beauty food!)
  • The healthy fat helps our bodies better absorb antioxidants from other fruits and veggies
  • The antioxidant they contain – glutathione – is a powerful cancer-fighter
  • The combo of good fat and fiber helps control blood sugar

My favorite ways to use avocados are in dips, soups, desserts, mixed in to salads, and (of course!) in guacamole. I found a super simple recipe that used a slightly different combo of ingredients than the usual ones, so I thought I would test it out.

Two of the other ingredients in this guac – cilantro and scallions (AKA green onions) – are also great for you. Cilantro helps the body detoxify and onions are one of the top anti-cancer GBOMBS foods, so enjoy them all you want!

Green Goddess Guacamole

Creamy guacamole goodness

Creamy guacamole goodness

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, seeded and peeled (here’s how to cut and peel an avocado)
  • 1 tablespoon FRESH lime juice (don’t sub the bottled kind)
  • 3-4 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced (also called scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mash with a fork or potato masher until you reach your desired consistency. We like ours to be a bit chunky, so we don’t mash it too much.

We love dipping fresh veggies like carrots, cucumber, celery, red peppers, and sugar snap peas into our guac, along with these tortilla chips!

You Had Me at “Fudgesicle”

With the weather finally resembling spring and the temps hitting almost 80 degrees today (yay!), I was inspired to share a new recipe for a deliciously decadent summertime (or anytime!) treat…

Fudgesicles!

I remember buying 18-count boxes of fudge pops when I graduated from college and enjoying them every day. Since they were a low-calorie AND sugar-free treat, I thought I was making a healthy choice!

Yum! Homemade fudgesicles!

Yum! Homemade fudgesicles!

Out of curiosity, I looked up the ingredient list for Popsicles Sugar Free Fudgesicles, and this is what I found:

nonfat milk, maltodextrin, lactitol, polydextrose, cocoa (processed with alkali), sorbital, whey, coconut oil, microcrystalline cellulose, tricalcium phosphate, mono- & diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 65 & 80, carrageenan, malt powder, salt, cellulose gum, aspartame, artificial flavor, acesulfame potassium, citric acid

Really? Do we need over 20 ingredients in a fudgesicle?? I don’t even know what half of those things are, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need them in my body.

I’m excited to share this recipe because it’s 2-in-1. The same recipe that makes fudgesicles ALSO makes creamy chocolate pudding if you leave it unfrozen. How cool is that?

This recipe is dairy-free and doesn’t contain any refined sugar (or the laundry list of chemicals in the store-bought kind!), and it results in a rich taste and creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture because of the avocado and coconut milk.

Bill and I and two friends tried these for the first time the other day, and we couldn’t tell the difference between these and the “real thing!”

Creamy Chocolate (Avocado) Fudgesicles (Dairy-Free!)

So decadent, chocolately and delicious!

So decadent, chocolately and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 6 medjool dates (pits removed, soaked and then drained)*
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk) – I used full fat coconut milk to make these nice and rich. You can find the coconut milk at any grocery store, often in the international aisle. I use this kind.
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Click here for the full recipe from Tasty Yummies!

Ingredients laid out for the fudgesicles!

Ingredients laid out for the fudgesicles!

We bought the popsicle holders at Home Goods, and they were really cheap! You can also order them online here.

How to Eat Without Guilt and Enjoy Your Food

Every day, we make choices.

And so many of us struggle with our choices around eating.

It’s a challenge to consistently eat a nourishing diet…or to even keep track of what that means amidst the newest diet or health food fads that flood the media.

It’s hard to know exactly what and how we “should” eat.

People often ask me for advice related to these key questions. Here’s what I’ve learned and found to be most helpful and transformative along my journey of health and healing.

It isn’t about eating  “good” foods or “bad” foods.

Nor is it about “cheat” days or “cheat” meals.

And no, we’re not talking about “being on a diet.”

We glorify some foods and villainize others for the sake of “being good” or to have an excuse for those times when we want to “cheat.”

What if we started thinking and talking about food differently?

What if, instead of thinking of food in terms of good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, following the rules/cheating, we began to think of it as real/fake? Living/dead? Nutrient-rich/nutrient-depleting? Anti-inflammatory/inflammatory? Detoxifying/toxic? Healing/harmful?

At this point in my journey, this perspective shift means a commitment to being a “qualitarian” – fueling my body with the freshest, most nourishing, nutrient-rich, delicious food available to me, so that I have the energy and health to do the things I want to do and am called to do with my life. Having this kind of vitality also means being able to spend lots of quality time with my friends and family.

When I eat, I don’t think of the food as “good” or “bad” or ask myself if I’m “cheating.” Those words stir up feelings of guilt and shame, which don’t make us feel particularly good and aren’t the best motivators for lasting changes.

Our body actually processes food differently when we eat it in a state of guilt and shame vs. one of calmness and acceptance. If we’re going to eat it, we might as well enjoy it.

I know that Krause’s dark chocolate caramels aren’t exactly loaded with health-promoting nutrients, but they taste delicious, and sometimes I want one. When I do, I eat it and enjoy it. If I eat it, I own it. I wasn’t “bad.” I didn’t “cheat.”

I simply made a choice.

Eating without guilt is very freeing. It actually means we can enjoy food more.

And food was meant to be enjoyed.

Chocolate-covered strawberry in the middle!

Bill and I enjoying our delicious chocolate-covered strawberry!

Instead of “being bad” or “cheating,” what if we started asking ourselves questions like these before making food choices?

  1. Is it real? (Hint: If it has 35 ingredients and a third-grader couldn’t pronounce most of them, then it’s not a real, whole food. Michael Pollan has written an awesome book that distinguishes between “real” food vs. what he calls “edible food-like substances.” Following the guidelines in his book provides a helpful starting point for determining what’s real and what’s not.)
  2. Is/was it living? (Hint: The life in food gives us life. If we’re constantly eating highly processed foods created in factories and industrial plants and not including adequate amounts of naturally growing, living, plant-based foods in our diet, then we’re very likely to be missing out on how alive we can feel when we are well nourished.)
  3. Is it nutrient-rich? (Hint: High quality, fresh, organic (if possible) foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help our bodies function at their best, resist and fight disease, heal and stay energized and vibrant. Not only are highly processed and refined foods nutrient-deficient, but they also pull nutrients from our bodies as we process them; they deal a double blow.)
  4. Is it anti-inflammatory? (Hint: Inflammation is one of the main reasons we are getting and staying sick and carrying excess weight that won’t seem to budge. Inflamed tissues hold on to weight and are the breeding ground for disease and sickness. When we eat anti-inflammatory foods, we can reduce inflammation and impact weight and disease risk).
  5. Is it detoxifying? (Hint: Most of the food and drinks in our modern diet are literally toxic to our bodies, causing us to get sick, stay sick, and hold on to weight. Low quality, highly processed, refined, and sugary foods loaded with chemicals like pesticides, hormones, preservatives and antibiotics keep our bodies in a toxic state. Eating foods that naturally detoxify the body helps to keep us well.)
  6. Is it healing? (Hint: If the answer to the previous 5 questions is “no,” then there’s a good chance that  what we’re eating/drinking may be harmful to our body and our health. This can vary from person to person. For many people, myself included, dairy products are harmful – their consumption is tied to weight gain, inflammation, ear/nose/throat infections and illnesses, bronchitis, congestion, allergies, skin issues, etc. For others, gluten (the sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and a few other grains) is inflammatory and makes them very ill or keeps them from feeling their best. Curious if you might have a food allergy (we’re not just talking peanuts!)? Check out this post.)

If we start to shift the ways we think and talk about food, perhaps we can start making some lasting changes around what we’re eating without “dieting” and without guilt. 

When foods are no longer “bad” foods or “cheat” foods, it diminishes their allure, and we don’t want to eat them as much. We’re no longer rebelling against ourselves but are supporting ourselves to be well.

Imagine the health, energy, and physical well-being we could have if we focused on eating real, living, nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, healing foods!

The next time you eat, regardless of what it is, remind yourself, “it’s a choice, not a cheat“…and enjoy it!

3 Chocolatey Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

3 Chocolately Valentine’s Day Sweet Treats

I will always remember my first Valentine’s Day with my then boyfriend, now husband, Bill. I’m super sentimental and have been known to pull the line, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money – just do something creative. I like homemade things.” Haha. This is an evil thing women do to men, but he always comes through for me, so it must be working!

Vday

That first Valentine’s Day, he took my words to heart and made me a card, complete with foam, puffy paint, and felt letters he cut out himself, along with a now scruffy-looking teddy bear and flowers. The card read, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I feel blessed to be married to a man who knows the importance of romance and making me feel loved on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Since we are likely to be snowed in on Valentine’s Day this year,  we decided to make the most of the time and whip up some yummy Valentine’s Day sweet treats!

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, walnuts and almonds, you will like at least one (if not all) of these recipes!

All the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and raw, so everyone can enjoy them! They come from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon, at oh she glows.

They’re listed in order of awesomeness. It should be no surprise that the chocolate peanut butter combo is the winner. It is AMAZING!

IMG_3306

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip – oh my chocolatey peanut buttery goodness. That is all I will say…you HAVE to make this stuff…As tempting as it will be to literally drink the whole bowl, try dipping strawberries, bananas, or apples in it!

IMG_3305

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge – Holy cow. This melt-in-your-mouth fudge is simple to make, loaded with chocolate/walnut/maple flavor and won’t stay around for long!

IMG_3312

Raw Almond Butter Cups – Almonds. Cinnamon. Chocolate. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

This Is Community

Growing up, I preferred being alone more than being with other people.

It’s not because I didn’t like people; I was just super shy and introverted and felt safer and more comfortable in my own company than I did with others.

As I’ve mentioned before, studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college left an indelible mark on me, expanding my palate beyond what I ever thought possible. It also transformed my social tendency to prefer being alone.

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The Hispanic culture is a very social one. I was surrounded by people all of the time and rarely had the opportunity to be by myself. When I returned from my semester abroad, instead of spending all of my weekday evenings hunkered down in the library reading, studying or writing, I began to value and enjoy staying up until 2:00 a.m. playing cards, baking, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to be around people more than I wanted to be alone.

Graduating from college and leaving the academic world for the first time two years later was frightening for me. All of my identity was wrapped up in how well I performed as a student and whether I got good grades.

I had just started my first dating relationship, moved out of my parents’ house and into an apartment with someone I didn’t know, and was working two jobs. In the midst of all of those transitions, I felt alone, lonely, and sad. I lacked community.

My then-boyfriend (now husband!) and I went through some challenging times as individuals and as a couple as we sought to establish new connections and find community.

Over the past seven years, we have been blessed by the generous, loving, supportive community of family, friends, church members, and co-workers that surrounds us.

We have experienced the significance of what it means to be in community.

When a couple in our church has a baby or is going through a challenging time, and dozens of people sign up to bring them dinners for two months…

This is community.

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When we sign up for a missions trip to Nicaragua as we are buying our first house and don’t know where the almost $3,000 we need for the trip will come from but end up being fully funded

This is community.

When a kitchen sink pipe starts leaking the day we move into our new house (which we had to get some loans to get in the first place), and our next door neighbor (who happens to be a plumber) offers us his industrial air blower to dry out the floor and replaces the pipe for half of what it would have cost elsewhere…

This is community.

When our bus gets stuck in the mud in an impoverished village in Nicaragua as we are on our way to a feeding center, and the villagers stop what they are doing to find rope to pull us out, dig their heels into the mud to push from behind, and bring whatever precious water they can find to help us clean ourselves up afterwards…

This is community.

When my husband has hand surgery and can’t drive his manual transmission car for a month, and four friends eagerly offer to lend us theirs…

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This is community.

And days later, when a snowstorm comes through, and our next-door neighbors take it upon themselves to shovel out our walkway, sidewalk and driveway, as they tell us, “We know your husband can’t use his hand. We take care of you.”

This is community.

This is what happens when we are in community. We were meant to be in community.

So, what does this have to do with food?

As I’ve written before, we believe good health begins in the kitchen. It’s a place of connection, community, and comfort.

Unique communities around the world identified as “Blue Zones” are home to the world’s longest lived people, people living active, fulfilling lives well into their 90s and even 100s. Belonging to some kind of faith-based community, being in a social circle that supports healthy behaviors, and eating a plant-centric diet are three of the nine lessons learned from people who live to be 100+.

The next time you have an opportunity to spend time with friends, family or even a coworker, create community in the kitchen. Make a healthy, nourishing meal together. You don’t have to have a fancy kitchen or be an experienced chef to do this – maybe a pot, a pan and a knife, or some of these inexpensive kitchen staples.

Pick out the menu, go grocery shopping, prepare the meal, and savor the food together. It will be more enjoyable than doing it by yourself. Do that enough times and maybe cooking will become something you get to do instead of something you have to do.

Looking for some healthy recipe inspirations? Check out my Pinterest board or some of the links below for ideas!

  • Kath Eats Real Food: Real food. Nothing processed here. Delicious and simple ingredients and recipes…check them out!
  • Girl Makes Food: Discover how delicious and easy healthy food can be!
  • Clean Food: Terry Walters cooks seasonally and prepares delicious, nourishing recipes. I have her cookbook, Clean Food, and we have made nearly a dozen delicious recipes from it!
  • Healthy Girl’s Kitchen: After struggling with diet obsessions for years, Wendy has lost and kept off over 40 pounds through a plant-based diet. Check out her awesome recipes!
  • The Gracious Pantry: Clean eating recipes for everyday living.
  • oh she glows: In addition to being meat and dairy-free, many of Angela’s recipes are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods…did I mention they are also delicious?

Grocery Shopping? Get Fooducated!

In an ideal world, we would all eat organic, unrefined, unprocessed, pasture-raised, grass-fed, cage-free, real food all the time.

My husband, Bill, and I make it a priority to eat the highest quality of food we can afford as often as we can because when we do, we look and feel energized and healthy.

…but because we don’t live in an ideal world, we don’t always eat that way.

For many people, the idea of making that type of food transition is so overwhelming, they just give up.

Braxton

Change is hard. I’ve heard the only person who likes change is a baby in a wet diaper. I’m sure my 5-month old nephew can attest to that!

What if in the midst of feeling confused and frustrated about which bread, cereal or pasta to buy or how to know if a food contains harmful trans fats, artificial colors or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

…there was a FREE mobile app that would tell us in seconds what was really in our food AND help us make the healthiest choice all by using a simple grading system that we learned in school?

We would find out pretty quickly that, despite what we’ve been led to believe by food marketers, Special K Honey Nut Cereal Bars (with a grade of C) probably aren’t the best choice, BUT we would also find out WHY and have the option to pull up a list of healthier alternatives.

The app? Fooducate.

The main version is FREE for iPhone and Droid and has lots of super cool features.

fooducate scrnshot

You can buy up to other versions within the basic free app if you have food allergies or sensitivities (gluten, milk, lactose, soy, peanuts, tree nuts eggs, fish and shellfish) and want the app to notify you if foods you scan contain those off-limits ingredients.

Several of my friends have recently been diagnosed with gluten sensitivities and intolerances, so I’m sure they would love to have a tool like this! By the way, stay tuned for future posts about food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. They affect millions of people, and we often don’t even know it!

Sure, the app has its limitations, and buying foods that aren’t processed or refined is ideal, but overall, Fooducate is a helpful tool for making better food choices.

It might take you a little longer than usual to grocery shop the first few times you use it, but at least it’ll make it seem more like a game and less like a chore!

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