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coconut yogurt & gRAWnola

I had a 90 minute run on the agenda for this morning, so I whipped up another version of my tropical smoothie for a pre-workout snack.

Tropical Smoothie – V2

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • squirt of agave

This version was great!  Check out the chunks of strawberries and coconut butter in there!

I ran 9.5 miles in 90 minutes for my weekly long run in about 10°F weather!  I came home to a post-workout smoothie!

Chocolate PB Banana Protein Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax

Blended to perfection!

Crazy Richards produces Krema PB as well, so I received some samples of this too!  It tasted just like the Crazy Richards Smooth PB.  It’s great!  I poured it right into my mix.

This guy was thick, but delicious!

I cooked up a storm last night – coconut yogurt and raw granola!  I was too exhausted to get the cookies in!  I have been trying to stay away from all dairy for the past week (since last friday, exactly) for experimentation.  I love yogurt, so I have been trying to find alternatives.  I don’t like soy yogurt, so I decided to try the new coconut milk yogurt that they have in stores, and I like it.  I like the milk, yogurt and ice cream!  So, I decided to try to make my own coconut milk yogurt!

I used the same steps as my last yogurt, but just used coconut milk instead of regular milk!

I started with 3 cans of full-fat coconut milk and added in 3 tablespoons of tapioca starch.  I was reading about how to make coconut milk yogurt and multiple people suggested to add it for thickness and texture.  Since I had some in my cabinet, I decided to do so.  We’ll see how it turns out!

I heated the milk to 180°F.

Then, I took the milk off of the heat and allowed it to cool to 110°F.  The milk is thick!  I’m not sure I needed that tapioca starch…

After cooling, I added 1 tablespoon of the plain store bought coconut milk yogurt as my starter.  I whisked that in until mixed.

I then poured my mixture into a pitcher and then into the 7 individual yogurt containers.

I plugged in my yogurt maker and set the timer for 12 hours, which is the suggested cooking time for coconut milk.  It will be done in the morning!

While that was cooking (it will be cooking overnight!), I started to work on my granola!  I started by zesting my orange and adding that to my food processor, along with the orange juice and pear.  I pulsed until coarsely chopped.

I had been soaking my almonds and macadamia nuts for about 3 hours, so I chopped each of them in the food processor individually, then added them to the pear mixture.

I mixed up some agave, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a separate bowl and then poured it onto my nut + fruit mixture.

I then stirred in my extras!  Chopped dried bananas, unsweetened dried cranberries, coconut, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Since my dehydrator is too small for a job like this, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread my granola mixture onto that.

I then put it in my oven on it’s lowest setting of 175°F, with the door slightly ajar and “baked” it for a long time – almost 5 hours.  Or, if you don’t care about the granola being raw, then bake it in your oven at 300°F for 1-2 hours.  Make sure you take it out and stir it around every once in awhile.

gRAWnola

adapted from the Fitnessista!

  • 1 pear, roughly chopped
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup raw agave
  • 1/4 cup pure grade A maple syrup
  • 1 T orange zest
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 cups soaked raw almonds
  • 1 cup soaked raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (i used 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)
  • 1 banana, diced – i used 3 dried, unsweetened bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries (added to original recipe)

Directions:

  1. Soak the almonds and macadamia nuts for a few hours before using.
  2. In a food processor, combine the pear, orange juice and zest, and pulse until coarsely chopped then move to a separate bowl.
  3. Add the macadamia nuts to the (empty) food processor and pulse to chop a little bit and add them to the pear mixture.
  4. Repeat for the almonds.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the agave, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add this to the nut + fruit mixture and mix very well.
  7. Stir in your extras – chopped dried bananas, dried cranberries, coconut, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  8. Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet in an even layer (or use a dehydrator).
  9. Bake (dehydrated) in your oven at the lowest temperature with the door ajar for about 6 hours (dehydrating will take longer).  Or cook at 300°F for 1-2 hours.
  10. After it is ‘cooked’, let sit for a little while to cool before storing in an airtight container.
  11. Serve with your homemade coconut yogurt!

The granola came out great!  I got impatient because I was ready for bed, so I turned up the heat in my oven for the last 30 minutes.  This browned the granola nicely!

It made a ton of granola!  A huge bowl full!

Speaking of yogurt, mine is done!  12 hours later, and 3 hours in the fridge to chill and it is the perfect thickness and texture.

My granola is also done, so I mixed up a bowl of coconut milk yogurt with about 1/a cup of my gRAWnola.  YUM.

The yogurt is definitely not something I could eat everyday, but it is perfect for a sweet breakfast or dessert!

pizza cheese

I started my morning off with a smoothie that I basically just threw together because I was so hungry!

I added the following:

  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 tbsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • squirt of agave

This basically tasted like a Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie!  I couldn’t taste the hemp powder or the blueberries, but they were in there to give me an extra boost of protein and antioxidants!  It was delicious.

I love smoothies, but I find that for breakfast they only hold me over for a few hours.  I think that my body craves food more in the morning…I am never as hungry at night.  Plus, I workout in the mornings which definitely makes me hungrier.  I guess that is a good thing since it gets my metabolism going!

Check out this article about Superfoods for women from Health.com!  Their top ten list contains the following:

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Wild Blueberries
  • Oats
  • Broccoli
  • Walnuts
  • Avocados
  • Red Beans
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Olive Oil
  • Dark Chocolate!!!

Other winners were almonds, beef, green tea, kefir, lentils, low-fat milk, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, raisins, soybeans, spinach, sweet potatoes, tart cherries and tomatoes.

It is amazing to me how many of those superfoods I get into my diet!  Yay me. 🙂  And, I’m sure that plenty of other women eat a lot of those foods as well.  I make a great dish with quinoa, pumpkin seeds, spinach, tomatoes and golden raisins!  I guess i’ll have to make that again soon, since it is packed with superfoods!

Before leaving for work this morning I toasted up 2 slices of Millet toast and brought some raw almond butter just in case.  And what do you know?  I was hungry around 10:30!  I ate about 1.5 slices with my almond butter and that kept my hunger off until almost 2, where I ate some leftover Spicy Thai Salad from last night – still delicious!

Avocados do not keep well after they have been opened up, but I stored my leftover dressing in a jar with a slice of lemon which definitely kept it from browning too much.  The top layer did brown, but I just scooped it off!  Mmmm…I love avocados. 🙂

Back up for a second to talk about Trader Joes Raw Almond Butter.  It is amazing!  For some reason, it tastes better to me than anything else I have tried – and trust me, I have tried many nut butters!  I get the chunky version and there are huge chunks of almonds in it!!!

Mid-afternoon I snacked on an Attune Chocolate Bar.  The nice people at Attune sent me some of their chocolate bars to try.  I am going to review the bars in more depth later after I try the other 2 I have because the idea behind the bar intrigues me.

From the Attune website:

“Attune® is the powerhouse probiotic bar that tastes absolutely amazing. And it helps you feel amazing. That means a digestive system that works like it should. And an immune system that puts up a good defense. Get Alive Inside™ with just one Attune bar every day.”

I tried the Chocolate Crisp bar, which tasted good.  Kind of like a Nestle Crunch bar.

I did not absolutely love it, but it was a nice treat with only 90 calories.  Apparently the bars contain more probiotics than yogurt, which ultimately will keep your digestive system in track.  More to come once I try the other bars!

Tonight was an easy 5 mile run!  Between my run and dinner, I sipped on a coconut water to replenish and hold me over for dinner.

For dinner, I whipped up a fancy cashew “pizza cheese” to eat with our lettuce wraps.  I am loving the ChoosingRaw.com recipes that Gena has, so this week is a variety from their, including the pizza cheese.

Cashew Ricotta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil (aka Italian Pizza Cheese!)

from ChoosingRaw.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for two hours or more
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white miso (optional) – I did not use this
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped – I used golden sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup basil

Directions:

  1. Throw nuts in a food processor and process till ground well.
  2. Add salt, lemon juice, miso if using.
  3. Scrape sides of bowl and run processor again, this time drizzling some water in. Keep doing this until the cheese reaches the consistency you like (similar to ricotta).
  4. Add tomatoes and basil and pulse until they are well combined into the cheese.
  5. Serve as you like!

I followed Gena’s directions exactly, and my “cheese” came out looking just like hers does!  Fluffy and creamy with a consistency similar to ricotta.

Nut spreads, cheese and pate’s are really big in the raw food world because it gives some flavor to your dish.  Some people do not love the texture, but personally I love them!  I do not love meat, so sauces and spreads (such as hummus, guacamole, and nut cheeses) kind of act like my meat, if you know what I mean?!

I spread my Cashew pizza cheese in cabbage tacos and topped them with shredded carrots and slices of tomatoes.  They were delicious!

I love the raw idea, but I am still craving some cooked foods!  But, like everyone says, start out slow with any kind of diet change.  If you try to change everything at once, you will just end up failing!  Small steps towards a healthy lifestyle are definitely the way to go.  It took me a few years to really get into the healthy, all-natural way of eating.  But, now that I am here, I would never even dream of going back!  The candy and cookies and chips that I ate all the time in college are not even appealing to me anymore.  I am healthier and happier than I have ever been before!

spicy thai salad

To eat raw means to eat foods that are not refined or processed; they are in their natural state.  When you cook food above 130°F, the vitamins and photonutrients are damaged or destroyed.  Above 118°F, the enzymes are killed, therefore raw foodists do not cook their food beyond 118°F.  This does not mean that you need to only eat salads!  You still have so many different options!  I am very interested in the raw food lifestyle and have been doing a lot of research on it, so you will definitely be hearing more about it from me!  I will try to post all of my recipes to give you ideas and show you that you can do so many things while eating raw.

The enzymes in food help to digest the food that you just ate.  If we destroy those enzymes, then our body has to work harder to digest your meal.  By eating fresh raw food, your body does not have to do as much work because the enzymes immediately spring into action and aid in digestion.  This causes your energy to increase, since your body is not using up your energy on digestion.  Eating fresh, raw fruits and veggies will increase the vitamins and micronutrients in your diet and you’ll notice a difference in your energy levels immediately!

I have been eating about 50-75% raw over the past 4 days and honestly, I already feel a difference!  I feel like I have more energy, but more importantly I do not feel tired or sick after I eat.  I, like many other women today, have some digestion issues, and eating more raw food seems to help because fruits and vegetables digest so quickly.  I will get into this more in future posts!
I definitely do not plan on eating 100% raw, but I do want to work more raw foods into my life and my diet.  I already love to eat healthy, so this really should not be a problem for me at home.  Dinners will most likely continue to be cooked for my husband! 🙂  So far, I like the way my body feels when I eat raw, but I’ll continue to keep you updated!  Like I have said before, everyone feels differently!  The key and most important thing here is to eat healthy!!!
I spiced up my juice at breakfast this morning and added lemon to the mix!  This made it sweet and tangy, I loved it!  In to my juicer went a small apple, a small pear, a carrot, 2 celery stalks and 1/2 a lemon, skin and all!
Yum!
I also munched on a piece of Millet toast with Blueberry Superfruit Jam and some ground flax seeds.
Did you know that flax seed is one of the greatest sources of essential fatty acids?  Flax seeds are made up of 1/3 oil, protein and mucilage.  They are high in protein which is easily digested because the seeds and oil contains all of the amino acids needed to build a strong body.  The fiber in flax acts as a broom and sweeps the colon of toxic material and waste.  It is a gentle non-irratating laxative which is perfect for someone with a sensitive stomach.  Just a fun fact. 🙂
I snacked on a banana with peanut butter mid morning, and then had a great salad for lunch!
My salad was on a bed of romaine.  It contained grape tomatoes, orange pepper, bean sprouts, walnuts and goldenberries!  I forgot my dressing, so a poured a little pomegranate juice in the mix!  It was actually pretty good!
Goldenberries are a sweet and tangy dried berry – yum!  They look kind of like a plump raisin.  But, they are nothing like a raisin!  They have high amounts of carotene and bioflavonoids (vitamin P), which are nutrients studies have shown to produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity (among many other benefits).  They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and contain a good amount of dietary fiber and protein.
I did my workout after work today, which included some speedwork on the treadmill and then some weights!
Back & Biceps
  • Seated Row (3 sets of 12, 40 lb weight)
  • Lateral Pulldown (3 sets of 12, 50 lb weight)
  • Back extension (3 sets of 10, 10 lb weight)
  • 21’s (3 sets, 18 lb bar)
  • Rope Pressdowns (3 sets of 12, 40 lb weight)
  • Hammer Curls (3 sets of 12, 7.5 lb weights)
  • Dumbbell Fly ( 3 sets of 12, 7.5 lb weights)

It was a great workout, but I was ready for dinner!!

Dinner tonight was also a salad, but was much more fun than lunch!  We had a Spicy Thai Salad which I found a recipe for from Gena on ChoosingRaw.com.
It looks like your basic salad until you add the delicious dressing!
There is a bed of romaine mixed with sweet basil leaves.  On top we added carrot sticks, red pepper, cabbage, bean sprouts and about 1/2 of an avocado.
Then comes the dressing!  It was a great mix of spices, herbs and an avocado.

Spicy Thai Salad Dressing
makes almost 2 cups!
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup basil
  • ¼ tsp salt (or more)
  • 2 dates
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 inch ginger for heat
Blend all ingredients in a food processor on high and adjust seasoning to taste.  Here is what you get:
It is a little sweet, which a hint of spice.  I would definitely make this again.  It would be a great dip for veggies too!
And my salad post dressing – much better!
We served this with some toasted whole grain bread, but it would be great on it’s own as well.

a raw day

I cracked myself up with the title of my post today. 🙂  I woke up to pouring rain in Boston!  I am happy for rain, instead of snow here in the city, but it is not looking good for skiing since they are having lots of rain up north as well. 😦  The temperature, however was over 40°F so it was not raw outside, but lots of my eats today will be raw!

I took a rest day today.  My legs and body are tired and sore from my first full week of weight training, and from my fun winter activities over the weekend.

So, I started my day with toast and a smoothie!  My toast was Millet bread from Food for Life.  I love this bread.


It is perfect for anyone with a gluten allergy, and for folks in need of a change!  It is light and slighty sweet due to being sweetened by fruit.  The list of ingredients is very short, compared to other store-bought bread which has a list a mile long!


I normally eat Food for Life’s Ezekiel bread, which is sprouted whole grain bread.  The Millet bread definitely feels lighter, and more delicious!

On top of my millet toast, I spread some Crofter’s Superfruit jam that the company sent me to try.  Each jar of their organic superfruit jams are apparently stuffed with 1 pound of premium organic fruit, sweetened with fair trade sugar and contain one-third less sugar than normal jams.  I tried out the North America jam today which is wild cranberries and blueberries blended with red grapes and morello cherries.


This jam was definitely delicious!  I really like blueberry jam, so this was perfect.  It was packed with real chunks of fruit, which I also loved.  My one concern is the sugar.  Even though the jam is made from fair trade sugar, it is still sugar!  I prefer my jam without any added sugar, because I like the natural tartness of the berries.  But, I do think that with all of the tart superfruits added, the jam would be too tart for most without the added sugar.  Luckily, it does contain much less sugar than the normal jam on the store shelves today, so it is definitely an upgrade!  Plus, it tastes a heck of a lot better!

It was perfect spread on my millet bread!

Now, my toast was not raw, but the second part of my breakfast was!  I have to say, 2 days of eating mainly raw foods has already helped me to feel better!  I do not expect to always be able to eat completely raw because I love some foods, like toast and oatmeal and yams and stuffed peppers, and when going out to dinner it may be harder to do so, but I am experimenting with the way my body feels.  This is important to me, just as it is important for others to eat the foods that make them feel best!  I find that when I eat certain foods, my body feels better than when I eat others due to the way it processes and digests the types of foods.  Other people might not suffer from the same problems, which is great!  You should eat what is best for you, and not be persuaded to eat as someone else does.  So, for the next few weeks I plan to experiment with raw foods, with removing cow’s milk dairy from my diet and with combining different types of foods, which I’ll explain in more detail in later posts.

Part two of breakfast was a (raw) Chocolate Strawberry-Banana power smoothie!

To the mix, I added the following:

  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp hemp protein powder
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs (for the texture)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • squirt of agave (to add sweetness to the raw cacao powder)


I also added some ice and blended all the above ingredients together!


Yum!  This smoothie was just right, not to chocolaty at all.  I love using the raw cacao powder with just a squirt of agave because it gives it the perfect amount of sweetness.

I also like to use a protein powder in my smoothies to give me some extra protein in the mornings, especially after a hard workout to fuel my muscles.  There are a lot of protein powders on the market today with many fillers in them.  I prefer a more natural plant-based form of protein, such as hemp protein powder.  Others prefer brown rice protein powder instead.

Hemp protein powder is literally hemp seeds ground into a powder, nothing else is added to it.  The two turnoffs to some people are that both the seeds and powder have a nutty taste to them and the powder is green, but when added to smoothies like mine this morning you can hardly even tell!  Hemp is packed with protein, along with all the 20 essential amino acids that are used in the human body.  It also has the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 in a healthy 3:1 ratio, and a lot fiber.  Two tablespoons provides 8 grams of fiber!  It’s a perfect, and healthy way to add more protein to your diet.

As I was making my lettuce wraps for dinner last night, I made sure to pack up lunch for today!  This way, I can make my morning as stress free as possible.  So, lunch was lettuce wraps with guacamole and a small side of sweet potatoes.

I was much better at wrapping them up for lunch, than I was for dinner last night!  Delicious meal that left me feeling more energized, instead of exhausted after eating a heavy lunch!

My sweet treat after lunch was a mug of Cacao Berry tea and a chocolate macaroon.  Normally I do not eat anything sweet after lunch, but with the rain today I was really craving some tea and chocolate! 🙂

The Cacao Berry tea is a superberry tea from Zhena’s Gypsy Tea to support breast cancer research.  It is top-tier Sencha green tea with rooibos, cacao, raspberries and dark chocolate.  It is definitely delicious.  You can taste the chocolate and the berries – yum!

Each tea bag is a pyramid to allow the leaves to expand more for a better steep, and they are 100% biodegradable!!

Back to work to enjoy my tea!

guacamole & lettuce wraps

Our Sunday night feast was lettuce wraps!  This is such an easy dinner to put together, which is perfect after a weekend full of skiing.  Adding guacamole to the mix gives the meal some fat and protein, which will ultimately make it a more satisfying dinner along with all of the fiber from the veggies!

I have been reading about and researching many aspects of eating raw for the past few months, so this is a perfect raw meal!  I am not planning on only eating raw, but adding some raw meals or snacks to your day can only be a benefit.  You’ll be seeing lots of new meals and tips on here, including raw and cooked meals!

On to dinner!

I started out by slicing up some yams for a side dish.  Yes, they are cooked, so my meal was not 100% raw. 🙂

The yams were coated with a drizzle of olive oil, cinnamon and paprika and cooked for 35 minutes at 400°F.

After 35 minutes, they came out hot and crispy!

While the yams were cooking, I started working on my guacamole and lettuce wraps, which were inspired by Gena at ChoosingRaw.  For the guacamole I started with an avocado, a red pepper, cilantro, grape tomatoes and lemon.

Mash up the avocado with the juice of 1 lemon, keeping texture to the avocado.

Then, chop of your veggies and add them to the mix.

I sliced up the rest of the red pepper, along with some cucumber and carrots.  Then, it was all wrapped up in a romaine lettuce ‘wrap’.

These were a little messy at first, but worked out just fine.  I prefer lettuce as a ‘wrap’ sometimes when I want something a little lighter than bread.  It is a nice change.   This would be a great meal to serve to guests because preparations are minimal and they can each assemble their own wraps!  You could add a different source of protein if you want, such as hummus or cheese instead of the guacamole.  Or offer all three options!

Gena’s Guacamole

from ChoosingRaw.com

Serves 1 or 2

  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, finely diced
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, packed and chopped
  • 1/2 packet stevia, or a few drops (you could also use agave or honey)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Mash up the avocado with the lemon or lime until it is mixed up, but still has texture.  Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Serve on lettuce wraps, or with chips!