Homemade "Lara" Bars
I've recently found myself all too often spending $2+ on Lara bars...as they are really the only healthy snack food you can buy in any close proximity to my work-place. They only have 2 or 3 ingredients, such as cashews, dates, and coconut. I thought to myself over the weekend, "I could easily make 10 of these for the price I'm paying for 1 or 2." And not only was that accomplished, but (if I may brag for a moment), they came out much better! It really is so simple to make our own snack foods, whether they be raw like this recipe, dehydrated (still raw of course, but a bit more time consuming), or something baked, such as homemade granola bars (which can also be made grain or gluten free, depending on your diet/taste/digestive status). My one problem with these is exercising self-control...while they are undoubtedly healthy, they do contain a good amount of sugar (dried fruit), so its important not to go crazy! Check out the recipe:
Homemade "Lara" Bars
Adapted from loveveggiesandyoga.com
1 cup organic dried fruit (whatever you want, I used dates, currants, and cranberries)
2/3 cup nuts and seeds (again, any kind will work, I used walnuts and almonds because thats what I had around)
As with any recipe, you can play around with this! I added cinnamon, a bit of raw cacoa powder, and shredded coconut. Experiment with your favorite spices!
Grind nuts/seeds in either a Vitamix or food processor, remove and set aside.
Next, grind dried fruit
Add ground nut/seed mixture to fruit, and grind together until it forms a paste (also, add whatever other ingredients you'd like at this point)
Last, lay out mixture and form into bars/balls/whatever you want. Wrap individually (or not, although they do stick together a bit), and refrigerate.
Its that simple...Enjoy!
Homemade Almond Butter
Almond butter, sooooooo delicious, yet soooooo expensive. I was introduced to this recipe last year by fellow Nutrition Educator Ruby Germono. After making it last night and being reminded how delicious it was, I thought I'd share! First, lets look briefly at the health benefits reaped from the main ingredients of this recipe: almonds and coconut oil.
Almonds are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also high in vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. Almonds have been shown to lower our "bad" cholesterol (LDL), and are also high in fiber.
Coconut Oil is amazing. Enough said. By now, you all know how I feel about coconut oil, but here's a quick reminder of its myriad of health promoting properties. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, which has been shown to boost metabolism and actually help with weight loss (despite what conventional nutrition would warn against all saturated fats being evil). Additionally, coconut oil is an anti-microbial, and can help with gut (and other) inflammation, it has many antioxidant properties that protect against cancer and degenerative disease, and is a great immune booster. Read my previous blog on coconut oil for more info.
2 cups almonds
3/4 cup coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons raw honey (I'd start with one and then add to taste)
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt (again, start with just a pinch)
For this recipe, you will need either a powerful blender (I have a VitaMix), or a food processor. If using a VitaMix, put all ingredients in the blender and just go for it. If using a food processor, first grind the nuts and sea salt, then add honey and coconut oil and process until smooth.
You can also use any other kind of nuts! I recommend soaking the nuts first, as nuts, seeds, and grains all
have enzyme inhibitors (designed by nature to protect), however it makes these foods partially indigestible. By soaking (with almonds, soak for 8-12 hours), it allows us to digest more of the vitamin and mineral content and is less likely to cause digestive distress. This is not absolutely necessary, but a good idea!
Ground Lamb and Basil Burgers
Yum!!While another fascinating nutrition post is soon on the way (I know I know, you're all holding your breath and haven't slept in days), I wanted to share this delicious recipe I just made! Lamb is a great source of protein, as well as the mineral Zinc. Zinc is vital for our immune systems, wound healing, bone density, and prostate health (as well as many other benefits!). Lamb is also high in vitamin B12, which is crucial for proper brain and nervous system function. I wrapped mine in kale leaves and topped with some spicy mustard and raw sauerkraut. Enjoy!!!
Basil Lamb Burgers
1 lb Ground Lamb
3 Cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ Cup scallions, chopped
¼ Cup fresh basil, chopped
1Tbs ground flax seeds
1 Tabs sea salt
Pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, garlic, cayenne pepper, scallions, basil, salt and pepper.
2. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Take the mixture and make them into patties of desired size.
4. Grill on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes each side or until done.
5. Serve with rosemary potatoes from previous recipe.
Raw Kale Salad Recipe
Just wanted to quickly post this amazing kale salad recipe that is so simple, tasty, and good for you! I have served this dish to people wary of kale and they've loved it, and fellow kale enthusiasts find themselves making it weekly. The following recipe is the whole sha-bang, if you will (and you will)...but if you're pressed for time simply throw the three main dressing ingredients together and massage it into some kale. And there ya go, you've got yourself a salad!!
Let me give a brief overview of the myriad of kale's health benefits. It is incredibly nutrient dense, first of all being full of powerful anti-oxidants that protect our cells from free radicals (like those found in rancid oils, like canola and vegetable oils). Kale is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, as well, which is crucial for anti-blood clotting properties and absorption of calcium (among other things). Furthermore, kale has been proven to act as an anti-cancer agent , provides cardiovascular support, and is very anti-inflammatory due to its amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids. According to whfoods.com, It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide us with 25-35% of the National Academy of Sciences' public health recommendation for the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). We suspect that this amount will be plenty to show direct anti-inflammatory benefits from regular kale intake." So...eat up!!
1/3 cup tamari soy sauce (tamari is better than regular soy because its fermented! Yay probiotics!)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup flax seed or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium- seized red onion
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 lb. fresh kale
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake or crimini mushrooms (optional)
Combine the Bragg or soy sauce and lemon juice in a blender or whisk in a bowl. Slowly dribble in the oil as the blender turns or as you whisk vigorously. Slice the onion into thin half-moons and marinate in the dressing as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Toast the seeds in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until seeds are just golden and fragrant. Toast each seed type separately as their size requires varying roasting times. Cool to room temperature.
De-stem the kale. Stack the kale leaves and slice into 1/4 inch ribbons. This is the most important step so make sure that you take your time. The success of this recipe lies in cutting the kale into small ribbons and in completely massaging the kale with the dressing.
Toss the seeds, sprouts, and kale together in the marinated onions and as much dressing as necessary to lightly but completely dress the kale. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands. Add the avocado and mushrooms if using and toss again with your hands.
Hello all! Well this recipe is a little late considering Thanksgiving has come and gone (along with our tighter-fitting clothes...we'll simply retire you until Spring), but I made this dish for the occasion and it would be great for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any night Monday-Sunday. Its absolutely delicious, and a nice change from 1) standard mashed potato dish which, if you have inflammation and particularly joint pain, you should stay away from (as well as all other nightshade vegetables), or 2) typical sweet potato dish with marshmallows and whatever other crap is generally included.
As always, a brief lesson the endless benefits of yams. Yams are a great source of potassium, which is crucial for controlling blood pressure. Also, they are full of vitamin B6, which is linked to decreased risk of heart attack and stroke. Yams are additionally good for blood sugar regulation, as they are a complex carbohydrate which release sugar into the blood at a slow and steady pace. This mixed with its high fiber content make us satiated, and therefore, help with weight control. Yams are also very high in vitamin C (27% of our daily value in one cup of cubed yam), B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Also included in this recipe are macadamia nuts, which are chalked full of of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats. The recipe also includes coconut, which I previously wrote an entire blog on because its just that good...but includes among other things incredibly healthy short and medium chain fatty acids (that are great to cook with because they don't go rancid at high temperatures), provide us with energy that is not stored as fat (it can actually help us lose weight), and is rich in lauric acid which protects and boosts the immune system.
So now that we're all excited...try out this recipe!
Coconut Macadamia Nut Sweet Potato Mash
Source: Heidi Swanson (6 servings)
2 ½ lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
⅓ cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut
2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
⅓ cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.
Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with the tines of a fork and place in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes - in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes.
In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If my sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, l take a hand blender to them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to - this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 30 - 40 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts.
Baked Coconut Chicken Recipe
This was described last night by more than one person as the best chicken they hadever had...and I am inclined to agree. Its full of healthy fats like coconut, organic butter from grass fed cows, and ghee (see previous blog on fats). Hopefully by now we have embraced the importance of good fats in our diet and are eating plenty of protein which is so essential to our overall function (at least 20 grams per meal, especially at breakfast!). This recipe was adapted fromEat Fat Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. They call for 1 cup of sourdough breadcrumbs, but I substituted flax and almond meal. Enjoy!
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
6 chicken thighs (or whatever chicken you have)
1/2 cup of either butter, ghee, or coconut oil (I used a blend of all three)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together flax and almond meal, curry powder, salt, and coconut on a large plate. Pour orange juice into a small bowl with one beaten egg. Dip the chicken into the juice/egg mixture, and then in the "breading" mix. Place prepared thighs into a buttered pyrex pan. Melt butter/coconut oil/ghee together in a small saucepan (or in the oven) and pour over chicken. Bake for at least an hour, or until chicken is cooked through.
Seaweed (particularly of the brown algae variety, like wakame used in this recipe) have been shown to significantly aid in detoxification, especially when it comes to heavy metals.
Half of this recipe (the most important half), was inspired by fellow Nutrition Educator Sarah Eddison, and I think she got it from yet another Nutritionist. I used Ready-to-Use Pacific Wakame from the company Emerald Cove, which I got at Rainbow Grocery (a co op in SF). As with all salads, get creative!!
Seaweed, Beet, Carrot Salad Recipe (1-2 servings)
1 C Wakame
1/2 C Expeller Pressed Sesame Oil
2 cloves garlic
1 grated carrot
1/2 C grated beet
1/2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1-2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds
1 tsp. seaweed gomasio
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Soak the wakame in the sesame oil for about 5 minutes to rehydrate (mix well, and add a bit of water if you want. I probably added about 1/2 cup water, it depends on the consistency you like your seaweed).
Add finely chopped (or grated) onion and garlic, and maybe a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Then add all ingredients together.
I served mine with hard boiled egg, but it would be delicious with a protein like chicken or salmon, and maybe some avocado. Yum!! Insert this into your holiday dinner for a giant boost of nutrients to combat some other things that may grace our tables. :)
Rachel Fiske, NE and Certified Personal Trainer