Summer Harvest Bowl

Bowl3

With summer produce in full swing I wanted to make something that highlighted all of the fresh vegetables growing in gardens and being sold at farmers market. I decided to create what I am calling a Summer Harvest Bowl. There is something really satisfying and nourishing about eating a meal from a bowl. I was also inspired by Sarah from My New Roots and her abundance bowls. Most of the time when I cook, I pick simple recipes and simple ingredients. I don’t have a lot of time to look up recipes or bring together many different ingredients, so this is a typical meal I might make. I created this dish from ingredients I already had in my kitchen, so I encourage you to combine vegetables, toppings and a base grain to your liking.

Summer-Bowl

Ingredients
Serves 2 people

1 cup quinoa (1.5 cups water)
2 summer squashes
1 cup of chopped green beans
Big handful of arugula
1 cucumber
Variety of  tomatoes
10 0lives
1/2 an avocado sliced
1/2 block of tempeh
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon
Fresh herbs such as: basil, oregano, thyme
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Pepper

Instructions

1. Make quinoa. I like to toast the quinoa with fresh herbs before adding water. To toast, add quinoa and herbs to a pan on medium heat. Stir occasionally, once the quinoa is slightly tan, or popping, add water. Be careful with this step, the quinoa will be hot and sputters out of the pan when water is added. Add the water slowly.
2. Marinate the tempeh in some tamari for a few minutes. Add to hot pan with coconut oil. Once one side is brown flip over to the other side.
3. Gather your vegetables, cut them up and saute in coconut oil, some salt and any cut up herbs.
4. Cut up the toppings: olives, cucumber, arugula, tomatoes. Other ideas: walnuts, goat cheese, sprouts, raisins, pine nuts, spinach, roasted garlic.
5. Make dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
6. Arrange in bowl (this is the hard part for me!) or just pile everything together. Pour dressing on top.

Enjoy!

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Black Sesame Chai Smoothie

Chai-Smoothie

I was first introduced to authentic chai when I was 18 years old when visiting India. From the first sip I was absolutely hooked on the piping hot, overly sweet and spicy drink. Chai is everywhere in India. You walk into a shop to look at saris and many times they sit you down on a tiny plastic chair and serve you a tiny cup. The minute  you walk into a home the host offers you chai and of course, if you need your fix, there are vendors on every corner (not something I would always recommend).  Since trying Indian chai, the slightly bland version that is sold in bottles and in cafés in America does not compare. Not even close. So, when I was introduced to Bhakti Chai I knew I had found what I always dream of when thinking of chai. It’s bliss in a bottle. Vegan, organic and spicy. They have ones with soy milk, almond milk, sugar free, with sugar or in concentrate form.

While I wouldn’t recommend it everyday, chai is lovely treat. Iced in the summer and hot in the winter it’s perfection in a glass.

Black Sesame Chai Smoothie

Ingredients
1/2 cup of cold chai
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 banana (frozen or not)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds

Blend and enjoy for a treat or for breakfast!

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Creamy (Vegan) Basil Salad Dressing

Basil Salad Dressing

When I think of summer I think of basil (and watermelons, biking on the trails, iced tea and dresses). I cannot get enough of the sweet, slightly spicy green herb. It’s excellent in pesto, in stir fries and in any Italian dish. Today though, we are talking about salad dressing. When you are in the mood for something a little more exciting than olive oil and lemon, I suggest making a batch of this and keeping it in your fridge.

This basil salad dressing is creamy, sweet and salty with that delicious signature basil flavor.

Basil Salad Dressing Vegan

Ingredients

1 cup cashews (soaked for at least six hours)
1 cup basil
3/4 cup water (start with 1/2 cup of water and add more depending on desired consistency)
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper

Instructions

It’s best to soak the cashews for at least six hours to get them soft and more digestible. Once soaked, rinse the cashews. Combine all of the ingredients plus about 1/2 cup of water in a blender or food processor. Blend until super creamy. Add more water if you want it more runny (I used 3/4 cup). Taste and add any ingredients if desired. I noticed that for some salads I wanted a little more flavor (add more apple cider vinegar or lemon and mustard) if needed. Store leftovers in the fridge.

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Sweet Potato Curry Hummus

Sweet Potato Hummus

I love having hummus around for snacks or meals, it’s a great go-to spread. Creamy, smooth and slightly sweet, this sweet potato hummus is perfect for dips, sandwiches or eaten straight on a spoon!  The sweet potato in this recipe is such an exciting addition. It adds a different taste profile that you do not normally get from regular hummus. Not only does it taste sweeter and creamier, but the sweet potato adds vitamin C and A, is anti-inflammatory, regulates blood sugar and has antioxidants. The curry boasts another long list of benefits and is a good compliment to the sweetness in the hummus.

Sweet Potato Hummus Dip

Sweet Potato Curry Hummus

Ingredients

1.5 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15 ounce can)
1 small sweet potato
1/3 cup tahini
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt
Pepper

Instructions

1. If you are using dry garbanzo beans put them to soak in water overnight. The next morning drain the liquid, add new liquid and boil on the stove for about 3 hours. When the beans are soft take them off the heat.
2. Meanwhile, put the sweet potato in the oven at 375 for one to two hours.
3. When the sweet potato is soft, left it cool.
4. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add a few tablespoons of water if needed to make it creamy.

Note:
I enjoy making hummus because it doesn’t require perfect measurements. When you make the recipe, add your own flare or change the measurements according to your preference. Some people like their hummus to be more citrusy, nuttier flavor from the tahini, saltier or creamier. It’s up to you. Taste the hummus as you go along and add accordingly. Enjoy!

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Chia Pudding Parfait

Chai parfait

If you live in America, Happy Fourth of July! I thought it would be fun to share this red, white and blue breakfast/dessert chia pudding parfait! I love a breakfast that can also be served as dessert. It feels like I’m breaking the rules when I eat it for breakfast and it feels healthy when I’m eating it for dessert. A win-win in my book!

It’s also super easy to make, you just need to plan ahead the night before and start the chia pudding so it can sit overnight. Chia seeds are a super food, full of antioxidants, fiber and protein. An interesting thing to note is that chia seeds are not as good of a source of omega 3′s as some believe. The omega 3′s in chia seeds are mostly ALA, not DHA, which is the most important omega 3. To read more about the benefits of chai seeds this is a great source.

Chai Pudding Parfait

Ingredients
Serves Two
1/4 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups nut milk of your choice (I used So Delicious coconut milk)
Fresh, seasonal cup up fruit
Optional: sweetener of choice such as maple syrup, honey or agave.

Instructions

1. Combine chia seeds and milk in a bowl. Optional: add your sweetener. Stir and let it sit overnight
2. In the morning stir the chia pudding well.
3. Layer in a glass with cut up fruit of your choice

Note: There are many variations for chia pudding.
1. If you want chocolate chia pudding when making the pudding, whisk raw cacao or use chocolate almond or hazelnut milk.
2. Sprinkle coconut flakes, hemp seeds, cacao nibs on top.
3. Add some nuts such as walnuts or almonds.

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Ways to Support Your Liver

Liver loveAs mentioned in my other post, the liver plays a big role your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, etc). It also has many other roles, around 500! Can you imagine working that hard and not really getting any credit? I think I would quit if I were a liver. Among many roles, the liver plays a big role in digestion, metabolism, storage of essential nutrients and vitamins, the immunity and detoxification. One important role of the liver is to eliminate any toxins that come into our body, which can be a lot if you aren’t conscious of what foods you eat, what you put on your body and what you clean your house with.

Let me explain a little about how the liver works. The liver has two phases: phase one and phase two. In phase one the liver converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins so the body can eliminate them. The body uses oxygen and enzymes to do this (this is called oxidation). Phase two is called conjugation and the liver uses sulfur and amino acids to excrete the toxins into the bile. Both of these phases need to work together in order for the toxins to get eliminated. You don’t want one phase to stop working!

I think it’s time to give our liver some more love! The main way to support your liver is to eat a clean, plant-based diet. Foods that come straight from the earth without any processing or manipulating are easier for your body to process . These foods include vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and grass-fed organic meat (if you choose to eat meat). There are also some specific herbs and foods that give your liver extra support.

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1. Lemons
Lemons help stimulate the liver and get digestive juices flowing. Use lemons in homemade salad dressing, put in water or squeeze over a fresh fruit salad.

2. Greens
I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but greens are powerhouses! Not only do they support the liver, but they also have calcium, Vitamin C, E , folate and more.

3. Dandelion
I had to include this green separately from the greens section because the bitter dandelion green is an amazing liver cleanser. A great way to include dandelion into your diet is by drinking dandelion tea (it doesn’t have much of a taste, so it’s easy to drink). Or you can sauté the greens into your stir-fry or juice a handful.

4. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle helps with phase two. It essentially repairs cells in the liver and stimulates bile production. From what I’ve read it’s best to consume milk thistle in seed form, not plant. Take it in capsules or get the seeds and grind them up and put them in smoothies.

Beans and Veggies

Add broccoli, onions and other sulfer rich foods to stir frys…yum!

5. Sulfur Rich Vegetables

Sulfur rich vegetables, such as onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc), help with phase two.

6. Turmeric
Put this amazing yellow spice in everything such as your vegetables, soups, smoothies, teas and more! This powerful spice has so many amazing benefits, including removing dietary carcinogens.

7. Foods High in Cysteine and Methionine
As mentioned above amino acids are important for the phase two detoxification process. Cysteine and methionine are two important amino acids that you should make sure are in your diet. Vegan sources include: nuts, seeds and beans. Other sources include meats, eggs and dairy.

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Flowers are Blooming!

happy spring

I am writing this from an Airbnb apartment in Slovenia. The sun is finally peeking through the clouds after a few rainy days. The window is open and the outdoors are calling my name. Looks like I should go for a walk. I’m not one to talk considering I skipped winter this year by going to Asia, but spring always feels like a new beginning. As the animals come out from hiding, the trees start growing leaves again and flowers start blooming, it feels like a perfect time to start a new chapter, or create a new life-supporting habit.

While my spring is going to be spent in Europe (Budapest, Slovenia, Barcelona, France and Berlin) I still want to focus on a few simple habits.

1. Drink green juice!

If I were home I would be using my juicer daily to juice green vegetables! Green juice is such a great thing to drink each morning and spring is a great time to really focus on detoxing the liver. I’m hoping I can find some juice bars that don’t cost $8 a glass…

If I can’t find green juice I will buy lemons and make lemon water. Easy and simple for traveling.

2. Write down some mini goals

Every second is a chance to create new healthy habits, so start now! Write down some mini goals. Let this video motivate you. Are you an OWW or a WOW? I’m an OWW…

3. Do more yoga and walking

Hotel room yoga isn’t ideal, but can be done. Walking around the cities is easy and enjoyable. Especially when I get a treat from a bakery or gelatoria.  ;)

What do you want to do this spring?

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Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus

One of my favorite vegetables in the spring is asparagus. Each year I look forward to seeing these lovely green vegetables show up in the grocery store (for a reasonable price) and in my parent’s garden. :) I can’t say I look forward to the pee smell, but that is a different story…haha!

A few days ago my husband and I arrived in Germany, after six months of being in Asia (and a bit in Australia). We are staying at friend’s house and I was overjoyed to see asparagus in his fridge. You can be sure I whipped up an Easter meal that included a big pot of sautéed asparagus. Since I’m not home to create an amazing spring asparagus dish to share with all of you, I have collected a few recipes that highlight my wonderful green friend.

Click to see the recipes!

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On The Road- Road Trip Essentials

Road Trip

I know this is premature, but when I think of summer (I know it’s barely spring, but that does mean summer is coming our way!) I think of road trips. There is something exhilarating about being on the open road, watching the landscape whizz by and getting to see different things. Next time you are on a road trip here are some tips for a fun and healthy trip.

{This is a repost from my previous blog, I thought it was useful so wanted to share here}

I am not a big fan of driving long hours, but I do find that there are some road trip essentials that make the trip better. Here is what I need in my car.

Click to read more!

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5 Ways to Reduce Menstrual Cramps

Many teenage girls and women in their 20′s and 30′s suffer from painful periods each month. Some experience mild discomfort while others have to deal with debilitating pain. There are many reasons for period pain and sometimes it’s hard to diagnose, but if you do have pain, it’s good to see if you can get to the root of the problem to reduce menstrual cramps and pain.

Cramps2

Some causes of menstrual pain:

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