real raw kitchen: November 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RECIPE: superfood pumpkin chocolate cups with Detox Your World

I recently got an email from Detox Your World stating that they'd love to send me some samples to play with. I was beyond excited because I love playing with new ingredients, especially superfoods. I had come up with quite a few ideas but I settled on pumpkin cups because we are so close to Thanksgiving and this seems like the perfect dessert to bring to the table. 

I loved the combination of all the flavors, especially the Ginseng, with the pumpkin. Actually, my husband claimed that he loved these even more than the peanut butter cups! And considering how natural the combo of peanut butter and chocolate is .. well, this is a win.

Superfood Chocolate Pumpkin Cups

For the chocolate shell:
For the pumpkin filling:
For the chocolate shell:
  • Chop the cacao liquor and cacao butter into fine pieces, almost a powder, and place in a glass or ceramic bowl. 
  • Either place into a dehydrator until melted, or place over a small pot of simmering water and stir continuously until melted.* 
  • Once it is melted through, remove from heat and add the maple syrup and vanilla. Mix completely. (be sure the maple syrup is at room temperature)
  •  Take a spoon and spoon about a tablespoon into each cup liner. 
  • Once they are all coated (I got to about 7) place in the freezer for about 7-10 minutes to harden. 
  • Take them out and place on the counter for filling.
For the pumpkin filling:
  • If you are making your own puree select a small pumpkin, use the "pie" variety. Seed and then chop. Place in a high speed blender or food processor until a puree is formed.
  • Mix the puree and remaining ingredients in a bowl until incorporated. 
  • Spoon the mixture into a dry plastic ziploc bag.
  • Allow the mixture to warm to room temperature.
  • Cut a tiny piece of the corner of the bag so a small opening is formed. 
  • Using the bag like a piping bag, squeeze about a tablespoon of the mixture into each cup.
  • Return the cups to the freezer for about 5 minutes to allow the filling to harden.
* It is extremely important to make sure that everything is dry. Any water present will cause the chocolate to seize and it will not be smooth for the shell.

Final Assembly
  • Remove from the freezer and spoon the remaining chocolate sauce over the cups until the filling is covered.
  • Place back in the freezer for an hour to harden through.

Monday, November 25, 2013

PRE Thanksgiving CLEANSER: wheatgrass shots

If you're like anyone else in the U.S. then any holiday is an excuse to go crazy over food. Even I'm guilty of this: overloading on the latest vegan treat and having an extra serving of dessert just-this-once. I did it in my pre-raw days and I do it now. It's just the American way.

So as a preemptive cleanser I thought it'd be nice to review an excellent way to clean and strengthen your body and immune system just in time for the most gluttony-invoking holiday of holidays. The Hippocrates Health Institute has a pretty extensive list that covers the many reported benefits of wheatgrass.

If you're lucky and you have a fabulous wheatgrass juicer*, or even an Omega Vert* or Hurom Juicer* (or even Green Star* or Norwalk ..swoon) then you probably don't even need to read this. Truly. If you've got one of these guys then you probably know what you're doing in the juice department. (*affiliate links)
If you're like me and you do not have a coveted nice juicer, then there has to be another way to get your wheatgrass shots in. I actually have this* juicer for wheatgrass and while I love the idea of it, it just was not easy and didn't fit my counter ledge. I spent a very long time, hunched over the highest tabletop in our house, squeaking away on my plastic juicer until a shot of green juice came out. 

Following that experience I opted for my trusty mini chopper* and nut mylk bag* approach. The trick with wheatgrass is to add enough to blend with just a touch of water to facilitate processing. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

RECIPE ROUNDUP: Thanksgiving dishes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means crazy planning and minimal kitchen space. So I've pulled together some recipes that can help lighten the traditional fare.

Me, on the other hand ... Unfortunately, for the first time in years, I will not be spending Thanksgiving with my family. I'm devastated and a little panicked at how I can possibly occupy my time during the time that I'm usually soaking up sun in Arizona, where my grandma lives. My time in Arizona usually consists of the same rituals, varying only slightly each year. During the early mornings I begin with a run, relishing in the flat terrain and dry air that I've been desperate to run in since the last Thanksgiving. Upon my return back to my grandma's house I enjoy coffee with my family members as they slowly trickle into the kitchen. We laugh, swap stories, and trade ideas on what to do with the day. It usually involves a hike on the nearby hills and a visit to the flea market. I'm obsessed with the hikes and my grandma is obsessed with the flea markets. As the sun starts to set we usually all gather around and marvel at the hot pink skies as the sun sinks behind the desert clay. Dinner appears some time during our sun-watching time where everyone sits around, eating, laughing some more, and sharing the latest gossip. Finally, the evening ends with my grandma presenting her Strawberry Pie while my dad jumps out of his seat and spins in circles in his old-man-dance-moves in order to celebrate The Strawberry Pie Tradition.

hiking in Arizona

my beautiful Grandma in Cali (pre-raw days)

Hiking Camelback Mountain

I haven't been away from my family during a holiday in years, and especially not since I moved to Miami. The thought of altering my usual tradition frightens me .. I think mostly because I fear that it's then an admission that my life has indeed moved on, away from my family and the things that matter to me, and onto this new city, one in which I feel very displaced.

So this year, instead of being sad, I'm working on big plans. Mostly, ambitious activities and decadent recipes. In the meantime, here are some fabulous recipes for all of YOU! These are simple, delicious, and crowd-pleasers (especially the desserts ..).

Chocolate Brownie Cake (not Thanksgiving themed but totally a crowd-pleaser)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

RECIPE: thanksgiving-inspired broccoli salad

This salad is unfortunately not very photogenic--or I didn't try too hard to make it look appetizing--which is a shame because it is a really delicious salad. I served this at a group dinner in hopes that I'd be able to offer a salad that was more than just a bag of lettuce and a generic dressing. The ingredients in the salad are a pretty safe approach to salad--broccoli, avocado, apple, cranberries--but the dressing is where I took a different twist. I wanted to use fresh cranberries and keep the salad, overall, within an 801010 ratio. If I had made this salad just for myself I would have used far less avocado, but since this was for a group I opted for lots of avocado, because, well, it usually pleases the masses.

I consider this salad a huge success because nobody questioned it as a "vegan" or "raw" option and instead gobbled it up along with their other eats. If I can sneak healthy raw foods into their unsuspecting tummies then I consider my mission a complete success :)

As a side note: I did not include any nuts in the salad because a friend at the dinner is very much allergic to nuts. I feel that nuts would be a great addition if you're looking for an extra crunch.

Thanksgiving Inspired Broccoli Salad with Cranberry Dressing
(serves many)

For the salad:
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup nuts, optional
For the cranberry dressing:
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1/2 cupe medjool dates, soaked and pitted
  • Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. 
  • To make your dressing, place the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** and process until a paste forms. 
  • Pour over the salad. 
  • Mix until incorporated.

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Monday, November 18, 2013

RECIPE: wholesome persimmon pie

One of the peculiar things about me and my Scorpio tendencies is that I do things in an all-or-nothing approach. My husband was teasing me the other night about how my "quest for health" turned into a lifelong dedication to a raw foods diet, striving for 801010 at that, and an entire blog dedicated to this lifestyle ... 

it's the Scorpio in me.

The same goes for any particular item in my life. In this case, it's persimmons (in the past it's been mango, figs, and this tahini sauce). I feel like I've been forced to wait an eternity just to get my plump hands on the juicy fruits and as soon as they hit the shelves at the market I fill my bags to the brim and march home with pride. Once I'm home I begin to realize how absurd this is because I cannot possibly eat all of these persimmons at once and they may take days to ripen. I love mono-meals .. but I love pretty food more. So I prefer to make different dishes to show off my latest obsessions (rather than gobbling them all up in one sitting).

So I bring to you, a persimmon pie. It's very simple and I'd actually even recommend omitting the crust if you're not up for the extra work. The persimmons and dates mixed together make an excellent pudding. Persimmon has a weird way of solidifying in the fridge once it's blended, so no crust is needed if you're looking for something super simple!

Wholesome Persimmon Pie

For the crust:
  • 2 cups buckwheat, soaked and sprouted
  • 7 medjool dates, soaked and peeled
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 t each, ginger, nutmeg, cloves
  • 1 t sea salt
For the filling:
  • 3 very ripe persimmons
  • 1.5-2 cups medjool dates, soaked and peeled
  • 1 T cinnamon
For the Crust:
  • Process the dry buckwheat in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** until a powder forms. Dump into a dry bowl and set aside.
  •  Place the dates with a little bit of water in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** and process until a paste forms. Add to the flour.
  • Combine everything and mix with your hands until a dough forms.
  • Place the ball of dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, then, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until a 1/4" thick crust is formed. 
  • Gently flip this over a pie dish and press down into a pie dish until evenly distributed. (If pieces fall off (which I'm sure they will) just scoop them up and press them into the crust, as needed.)
For the filling:
  • Place the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** and process until a paste forms. Spread over the top of your crust.
  • Garnish with fresh persimmons and serve!!

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

RECIPE: chocolate brownie cake with raspberries (low fat)

Trader Joe's has finally made it to South Florida. There are many things I miss about the West Coast (the list is almost never ending) but one of the things that has most certainly made that list of Things-I-Miss-The-Most-About-California is Trader Joe's. Everything is so affordable, but also good quality and no preservatives, food dyes, or flavor enhancers are used. Plus, there is a huge variety of organic foods available at very affordable prices. 

I love that place, bad.

Well... after trying to go to my beloved grocer every weekend since it opened I was finally able to make it in. (The first time we couldn't get into the parking lot--too full--and the next time we finally found parking but the store was out of everything. The next time I couldn't even make it onto the side street that led to the parking lot because it was too backed up...)

 Miami has this peculiar way of welcoming new businesses ... the people become obsessive with the latest "It" thing and make it nearly impossible to ever get to participate in the "It" thing because it's just too full of the latest Miami Trend Setters. Unfortunately, Trader Joe's has fallen under that category. As history shows us, the "It" thing usually lasts about 6 months and then it's forgotten about, and most of the time the business closes (you may think I'm kidding but it's actually a huge economic problem for this city). I doubt Trader Joe's will close but it has definitely made it impossible to shop there, so far.

Anyway, I finally made it in by going first thing in the morning. I was able to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies in unreasonable quantities. One of the ingredients I stocked up on was raspberries. They are usually incredibly expensive at the grocery store but were only a couple bucks at TJs. All I could think was "ohmygoshthatwillbeSOgoodwithchocolate". I grabbed two containers. 

Without further ado .. and as a reward for you bearing with my vent on my TJ experience ... here is an incredibly delicious, indulgent, and EASY low fat recipe. 

Chocolate Brownie Cake with Raspberries (low fat)
serves 1-2

For the brownie base:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, soaked
  • 1 T cacao powder
  • 2 medjool dates, soaked and pitted
  • pinch sea salt
For the fudge filling:
  • 4-6 medjool dates, soaked and pitted
  • 2 T cacao powder
  • 1 T water
  • 1 t vanilla

For the brownie base:
  • Process all of the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** until a crumbly mixture forms. 
  • Press down into a pie dish until evenly distributed.
For the fudge filling:
  • Place the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** and process until a paste forms.
  • Spread over the top of your crust.

Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve!!

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

GIVEAWAY: an ongoing rewards system

So I somehow stumbled upon this neat system by PunchTab and I couldn't help but feel a little skeptical. It is a website that helps bloggers, like myself, host giveaways ... which is fantastic and FREE. The sketchy part is that it also offers a reward system for readers where you can accumulate points and once you reach a certain goal you can earn gift cards. For free. Free for me and free for you.

Say what?!

I couldn't believe it so I started looking around and it seemed to be true. So ... good news for YOU is that I've installed it on my website which means that you can earn gift cards for doing nothing but visiting my page and commenting, just like you already do!


Here's the deal:
  • You will notice a banner at the bottom of the blog. You can easily sign up to be a part of this rewards system here. Then it will just log your activity on my page and count your points.
  • You will notice a teeny tiny little red flag at the bottom of my posts. This means that you have an opportunity to earn more points on that particular post.
  • Every comment, share, like, visit .. anything you do that involves this blog will earn you points!
  • The rewards catalog allows you to choose which reward you receive.
  • That's it!
Do you HAVE to participate? Absolutely not. But I love you guys so much and there is no way I can afford to do all the things I want to do for you (yet!) so in the meantime I figured I'd do what I could to offer you something that's FREE for both of us.

I can't get over how cool this is! What are your thoughts?? Do you think you will participate? (and btw, no need to participate in THAT in order to participate on HERE won't track you unless you sign up so feel free to continue doing what you're doing, either way)


Friday, November 8, 2013

how-to: VACCINES .. what's a mama to do?

I'm not quite sure what's happened. I can't decide if it was caused by my recent birthday--the one that brought me closer to my 30s than my 20s, if it was my recent marriage that has brought me closer to motherhood than to single-hood, or if it was because of a recent pregnancy scare that was secretly thrilling more than frightening .. but something has happened and suddenly I am hunkering down and working overtime to educate myself on what it takes to bring a child into this world. Naturally, that has brought me to the topic of vaccines.

About a week ago I made the mistake of jovially posting a link about flu shots from one of my favorite websites, Mind Body Green, to my personal Facebook page. I quickly received a lot of negative attention, mostly from the med-school types that pointed out that MBG is in no way a reputable scientific source. My bad. I didn't mean to ignite a debate and was honestly quite surprised anyone would notice my post at all ... after all, my caption had a smiley face in it. What the hell people!


This made me realize that vaccinations--of any sort--are actually a hot topic (anyone remember Jenny McCarthy, The Advocate?), more so than I'd realized. I was shocked to find that I'm actually in the age group that cares (as opposed to about 5 years ago when the topic was of no importance to me or my peers and a post like this would have gone unnoticed ...). I removed the post, ashamed that I had offended someone, and decided to keep my hippie tendencies to myself until further research was completed. So I began pouring over research articles and news reports to find out exactly what the big deal was.

While I agree with my very strange nay-sayer on Facebook that MBG is, in fact, not a reputable scientific source of information, I do find that many of its contributors are reputable professionals. So I began my research there (withhold your judgement for about two minutes, please) to get a clear, layman's terms understanding of what the two sides of the argument were. From there I then researched the science behind it and the ingredients within vaccines that are causing concern among parents.

So here are two (very simplified) sides, according to my understanding:

Vaccines: The Pros

The CDC has made a nice little pamphlet that quickly outlines why it is important to vaccinate your children. I appreciated the effort to communicate, simply, why we should make this a priority. I am disappointed, however, at the simplicity of it. I would have really appreciated hard statistics that relay the significance of the diseases and the likelihood of contracting the diseases if we come in contact. "Highly likely" and "dangerous" are scary terms, but I'd like the opportunity to see it in objective terms, like "98% of people that came into contact with the Polio disease then died" ... if that were real, then I'd certainly be concerned.

Hepatitis B
After further digging I came up with quite a few diseases of concern. The first one being Hepatitis B (Hib). Before the Hib vaccine, it was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis for children younger than 5 in the US. If you are unfamiliar with meningitis, it is essentially a brain infection that can lead to serious brain damage and ultimately death. Those that contract Hib don't necessarily advance to meningitis, but those with meningitis don't necessarily survive. By receiving the vaccine, you are much less likely to contract the disease, thus saving yourself from potential death.

MMR (Measles, Mump, Rubella)
Measles is the leading cause of death in children worldwide.The death rate for measles dropped 71% between 2000 and 2011 as a result of the MMR vaccine. The children at most risk are those in underdeveloped countries and malnourished. With a healthy immune system (and adequate nutrition) the symptoms will likely be a high fever that lasts 4-7 days, along with a cough and runny nose. If it progresses, then white spots can occur on the inside of the cheeks and a rash can spread all over the body. This will eventually pass after a few days if the body is able to fight it off. Those with compromised immune systems and poor nutrition are most likely to suffer severe symptoms.

Rubella has a similar pattern in that it is a virus that spreads throughout the body over the course of a few days. The symptoms are low fever, rash, and some nausea that lasts for a few days to a week. According to the World Health Organization fact sheet, there is no indication of how serious the disease is, other than its severity with pregnant women. If a pregnant woman contracts Rubella while pregnant it can cause serious birth defects and even stillbirth.
Meningococcal meningitis
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection of the brain and can spread pretty quickly among those that are not vaccinated and/or have weakened immune systems. There have been mini-epidemics in recent years, the last one being in 2009. About 5-10% of those infected die and others still can get serious side effects as a result, such a mental retardation, learning disabilities, loss of use of certain limbs and/or function of certain senses (and this is all with treatment). Without any treatment about 50% of cases die and many have severe brain damage as a result. By becoming vaccinated you are protecting the body from a severe infection, better allowing your body to fight off any contamination.

Vaccines: The Cons

The obvious concern that immediately comes up is that you would be potentially injecting a strain of a deadly virus into your child. This seems cruel to me but I understand the medical and scientific merits and so this is not really a point I'd want to linger on. Instead, I would leave this point as a personal stance and leave it to you to decide, with no judgement here.

The concerns that most anti-vaccine parents have are with all the fillers that come along with the vaccination. In addition to the strain of the disease being injected, there are quite a few other ingredients that I will go over, here.

I've used the list of fillers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided on its website for a quick breakdown of what these fillers are and the point of each of them being used:
  • Aluminum gels or salts of aluminum which are added as adjuvants to help the vaccine stimulate a better response. Adjuvants help promote an earlier, more potent response, and more persistent immune response to the vaccine. 
  • Antibiotics which are added to some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs (bacteria) during production and storage of the vaccine. No vaccine produced in the United States contains penicillin. 
  • Egg protein is found in influenza and yellow fever vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs. Ordinarily, persons who are able to eat eggs or egg products safely can receive these vaccines. 
  • Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines, (these are vaccines that use an inactive bacterial toxin to produce immunity.) It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. Most formaldehyde is removed from the vaccine before it is packaged. 
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol which are used as stabilizers in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain unchanged when the vaccine is exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity. 
  • Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose to prevent contamination and growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
There are several ingredients in this list that concern me, but the top of this list are Aluminum, Formaldehyde, MSG, and Thimerosal. For starters, Aluminum is a cause for concern because of the neuronal damage that can occur with high exposure, such as the form of vaccination. Many are attributing this to autism, along with other factors (such as poor cholesterol sulfate synthesis, prenatally, and low sun exposure). The autism link is still a hotly debated issue because research doesn't really provide overwhelming causal results, instead it just shows that there is indeed a connection. Aside from the autism link, consuming aluminum is still a risky issue. High amounts of aluminum exposure are already discouraged because of the neurological connection, and the most dangerous form being, notably, through injection. With the consumption and exposure of aluminum you are likely to develop serious central nervous system deficiencies and neurodegeneration. What does this mean? Decreased brain functioning in the way of motor skills, processing speeds, and memory. Ouch.

The second major ingredient, Formaldehyde, is a known human carcinogen, meaning that there is extensive research on its effects on the human body and its links with cancer. More recent research indicates that it can impair learning and memory abilities in the form of neurodegenerative disorders. I understand that the standard protocol is to have most of the formaldehyde removed from the vaccine before it is packaged, but the fact that for much of the vaccine's life it is swimming with formaldehyde, in a way, that makes me incredibly nervous. In my simple mind, this sort of seems like "washing" pesticides off of your fruits and veggies ... the bulk of the toxins are removed but there is still a trace amount that we are exposed to in each and every vaccine.

As far as MSG goes, I've already written about it here and I will elaborate just a touch, now. MSG is a known neurotoxin/excitotoxin that affects the neuroendocrine system and results in serious neuronal damage after repeated exposure. It is a pretty serious irritant that can cause immediate symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and nausea but with prolonged exposure these symptoms not only get worse but the MSG continues to "excite" your brain to the point of damage. Not only is this stuff found in vaccines, but many foods as a "natural flavor enhancer" .. and we wonder why there is an ADHD epidemic?! (now that is another long post for another time)

Lastly, Thimerosal, aka Mercury (again, in layman's terms) is another neurotoxic chemical that can impact the healthy functioning of the central nervous system. To be clear, the FDA monitors the use of the substance so that it is kept within "safe limits" for humans ... I don't know about you but I feel like a known neurotoxin really isn't something I'd want at any level, FDA approved or not (and probably especially FDA approved).


There is a saying, and it has been attributed to many wise people so I'm really unsure where it originated, but I think it applies perfectly, here:

The more you know, the more you realize you don't know.

I'm still unconvinced of either side of the argument because I think both sides warrant serious consideration. The possible diseases that exist move rapidly and are potentially fatal. They aren't always fatal and aren't always contracted upon exposure, but that is a scary risk to pose on your child. On the flipside, the fillers in vaccines are not only unsafe, but they directly affect the functioning of the brain and central nervous system ... which I tend to believe is a big deal. I think the driving factor in my ultimate decision is that I don't want my child to be an experiment (whether it be an experiment to see if he can survive a disease or an experiment to see if he can survive the neurotoxins) and so whatever decision my husband and I come to will be well-informed .. but mostly reached out of love.

A notable book full of information (more detailed and I'm sure more educated) is The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears**. Dr. Sears and his team break down all the different ingredients in each vaccine and explain why they are used and the potential harm of each. The book does not shun vaccines, nor does it promote them. It simply gathers all the information and puts it in one place so that way parents can make informed decisions when considering vaccines.

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

I'm sure the same goes for many of you mamas and papis! What are your thoughts? Do you have more to contribute to this discussion?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

RECIPE: persimmon cake/pie dish

What is this thing? Who knows. A collaborative effort by my husband and I to put together some flavors and make it look halfway decent only to pack it away in a container and send it to work to be devoured after lunch. I think it worked.

My husband has been patiently watching the persimmons ripen in our kitchen while quietly whining that he would love some persimmon bread pleeeaase. I still have some persimmon recipes in the werks but I put this together on a whim, hoping to assuage his desperation until the other recipes come to life.

This particular version relies on the persimmon, itself, to carry the flavor and sweetness. So, as a result, it's not incredibly sweet. My husband prefers desserts that are less dessert-ey and more fruit-ey, so that's why I chose to omit any sweetener of any kind. If you would prefer sweetness in your dessert, you can add the optional sweetener.

Persimmon Cake/Pieserves 1-2

For the crust:
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, soaked in water
  • 1/4 cup almonds, soaked in water
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, etc (optional)
For the filling:
  • a recipe
  • 1 persimmon (very ripe)
  • 2-4 T maple syrup (not raw) - OPTIONAL
For the crust:

  • Place the soaked figs in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** until a a chunky dough forms. 
  • Place the dough in a large bowl. 
  • Process the almonds a bit until a crumbly mixture forms and add to the bowl. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well until a dough is formed. I used my hands to mix.
  • Press down into a pie dish until evenly distributed.
For the filling:
  • Place the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** and process until a paste forms.
  • Spread over the top of your crust.

I lined the crust with shredded coconut to fancify it, but that is totally optional and not necessary to the dish.

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

RECIPE: birthday cake

A few weeks ago it was my birthday and all I wanted was a nice, relaxing day and some chocolate. Lately I haven't been eating desserts as much and I think that's in large part because I've been following the 801010 diet more and more each day. In doing so, I've had as much natural sugar as my happy little heart can handle and by the end of the day I really feel unmotivated to make--or eat--a dessert. And then when I do .. it's magic.

Chocolate Birthday Cake
serves 8-10

For the chocolate base:
  • 1 cup dry buckwheat
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 3-4 medjool dates, soaked and pitted
For the chocolate filling:
  • 1 cup medjool dates, soaked and pitted
  • 2 T cacao powder
  • 2-4 T water, as needed
  • 1/4 t vanilla
For the strawberry garnish:
  • 15-20 strawberries
For the chocolate base:
  • Grind the buckwheat in a food processor, blender or mini chopper** until a powder forms. 
  • Place in a large bowl. 
  • Process the dates with a couple tablespoons of the soak water until a paste forms and add to the bowl. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well until a dough is formed. I used my hands to mix.
  • Press down into a pie dish until evenly distributed.
For the chocolate filling:
  • Place the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini chopper**  and process until a paste forms. Spread over the top of your crust.
For the strawberry garnish:
  • After washing and coring, slice the strawberries and arrange in a pretty pattern.


**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

how-to: POO

Okay. I get it. In some circles this conversation is a no-go. However, in my circles it is one of my favorite topics: POO. I'm not the only one, either. Katie at Wellness Mama also loves the topic (and introduced me to my favorite bathroom accessory*) but Kris Carr has also been discussing poo in detail since I can remember. And for good reason. Mark Twain sums it up quite nicely ...

"There is nothing so overrated as sex, and nothing so underrated as a good bowel movement."  Mark Twain

Digestion is a BIG topic in a lot of wellness circles and so you will often see many articles regarding the topic. I included a cute infographic awhile back because I am a firm believer in healthy bowel movements. I rarely run into any problems with this and when I do it's usually for several reasons, most of them centering on an increase in cooked foods.

Good digestion is important to overall health for many reasons, but the #1 reason, for me, is that I hate the discomfort of bloated intestines. Slow digestion can zap your energy, increase inflammation in the body (which can look like arthritis, skin rashes, sickness, etc.) and it can also house the toxins your body is trying to naturally release.

There are many books and articles and websites on the topic but I try not to get too into the whole self-diagnosing trend that is floating around the web. Do I have a leaky gut or adrenal fatigue? How should anyone truly know this? If the symptoms remain the same I believe a lot of the treatment is the same, as well: clean, wholesome diet (whatever "wholesome" means to you and your body), moderate exercise, sunshine, good sleep, and lots of clean water. These 5 things can help eliminate a lot of problems. 

So many people claim that they are pretty satisfied with their digestion thank-you-very-much but don't realize that just because you visit the toilet in the mornings it doesn't mean you have smooth digestion. Actually, we should be eliminating 3-4 times a day! Ideally, we would eliminate for every meal we eat, allowing our bodies to process, absorb, and then eliminate the foods we eat within a timely manner. If you are pooing less than twice a day then you are more likely to be constipated than you are to have a strong digestive system.

Here are my own tips for good digestion:

  1. Clean diet. This is an obvious answer but I just cannot even tell you how much my health improved when I started eating things from the Earth and stopped eating things from the factories. Eating the way your body was designed to eat just makes sense, so your body will thrive best when you honor that. For me, that means a plant-based diet that is low in fat. Every once in awhile I'll eat animal products but I never eat meat. And this is what works for me. Every body is different so every diet will be different, but the fact remains the same: eat what exists in nature and your body will thrive.
  2. Probiotics. Probiotics* have become a happy part of my daily routine. Every morning I take my probiotics before I eat anything (usually in between LOTS of water and then fruit). Your gut is made up of lots of different kinds of bacteria and the probiotics help boost the good kind. They are excellent little workers in boosting your immune system and overall digestive function. Give them a whirl and watch how your body responds.
  3. Water. This really should be #1 on the list because this is so important. So many people do not drink enough water and their overall health suffers. If you do not have enough water then the toxic waste in your body has nothing to move it out. The water sort of acts like a lubricant in your intestines, so give your poo a lubricant to come out!
  4. Raw Fruits and Veggies. On that note, it is important to clarify that fruits and veggies are important for digestion (in case you didn't assume this in #1). Fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, which acts as a natural, and gentle, broom that sweeps through your intestines and collects anything that doesn't belong there. Paired with the water you're drinking (see #3) and the water content in the fruits and veggies, waste is more free to move through you rather than get stuck. 
  5. Exercise. This is a dreaded to-do for many people but I don't actually mean lifting-weights. What I mean is this: use your body how it was meant to be used (this is in line with #1). We are creatures of the Earth and we are not meant to sit on a couch or sit in a chair all day. Sure it pays the bills these days but it does horrible things for our health and also our digestion. By increasing your heart rate and blood flow you are allowing your body to use its very own plumbing system to push out all the gunk that is stored inside. Go for walks. Play outside. Do some yoga. Ride a bike. Run, slowly. My digestion is never so spectacular as it is when I'm running regularly ...
  6. Sleep. Sleep is one of my favorite ways to practice self-care and is also one of the easiest--and cheapest--ways to take care of your health. Appropriate amounts of sleep help regulate your hormones and bodily functions, allowing your body to properly process everything from your head to your toes. It's not a direct link to digestion, but it is a direct link to everything else and everything is related to digestion. Stress, hormones, fatigue ... it all gets in the way of a good poo. Get some rest and I can bet a lot of areas in your life will improve.
  7. Optimal Sitting. This is a foreign concept to many but adjust your body to mimic the use of this gadget* and watch a shift in your daily ritual. Or, even make the purchase and try it, full-force. The position your body is in when using this gadget really plays into the yoga positions that help stimulate your digestive tract so it's no surprise it works.
  8. Magnesium. And as a last resort I like to recommend Magnesium Caps* to get things moving. One or two of these guys and your bowels relax enough to let whatever is in there to move out freely (and painlessly). I don't recommend this first because #1-7 work wonderfully but I also recognize that sometimes it's just helpful to have an extra push. 
This works wonders for myself and I'm certain you will notice changes in your own digestion, as well ... and I'm also pretty certain you will notice a shift in your overall health if you practice these tips, daily.

Happy poo'ing!

**disclosure: if you purchase anything I link to you via Amazon I make a small percentage out of it at no cost to you! So cool for me, so cool for you!

Also, in case you haven't entered yet, check out the latest A L L N A T U R A L giveaway I'm having!! It debuted at midnight and runs for one week. Good luck!