Dec 18, 2012

Raw Chocolates: How-To

There are a few things this girl cannot, by choice, live without....and one of them happens to be CHOCOLATE!  It's interesting how, when I was a child, I detested it...with a passion.  So much so that I remember attending a birthday party when I was in elementary school and my friend had a chocolate cake adorned with chocolate frosting.  There I was almost in tears and thinking to myself, "I will be forced to eat that God-forsaken cake and there's nothing I can do about it."  As my friend's mother was walking towards me with the mound of chocolate on a plate, I became anxious.  But then, without hesitation as she was about to place it in front of me I quickly blurted out, "I'm allergic!"   Yeah...times have definitely changed since then, to say the least!

With the holidays coming up, I thought I'd get crafty in the kitchen and whip up some chocolate delights.  Never has my kitchen experienced this simple, yet delicious art form, but after tonight's rendition, the kitchen is now open for business!  And I must say, these chocolates will melt in your mouth, they are sooooo creamy!!  Mmm...mmm...mmm!

Here are the five (yes, 5) ingredients and "how-to".  This recipe is adapted from the book, Rawlicious.

7 oz. cacao butter (cocoa butter)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey or coconut nectar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
2 cups raw cacao powder

In a double boiler, melt the cacao butter.  Transfer melted cacao into a blender and add the coconut oil, raw honey and vanilla.  Blend on low until smooth.  Slowly sift the cacao powder into the mix, while still blending on low, until smooth and creamy.  Transfer into molds or ice cube trays and freeze.  (I used a tiki mask ice tray for my chocolates because these are a Christmas gift for some Hawaiian lovers.) The freezing process only takes about 10-15 minutes.  Then just pop them out, eat right away, save for later or wrap them up as a gift.

- Heidi

Nov 18, 2012

Vegan Avocado Buckwheat Pancakes

Yes, it's true.  I decided to replace eggs for an avocado this morning as I made my little girl her breakfast.  It was an accident, but it turned out to be a home run AND I am totally doing this every time I strum up some pancakes for her.  I like to make most everything from scratch.  I have worked really hard to avoid packaged anything in my home....with a few exceptions like nori sheets and superfoods...but those are limited to one ingredient on the package.  :)  Recently I have even stopped buying flour and now mill my own with my Vitamix.  There's something very satisfying about this that makes me feel like She-Ra every time I serve pancakes for breakfast.  I almost want to shout out, FOR THE HONOR OF GRAYSKULL!"  It's quite simple, really AND you have fresh flour!  It wasn't processed in a factory and sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.  All you need to do is purchase some whole buckwheat, place it in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder and mill away.  Flour in seconds!  I usually like to sprout my buckwheat first, then dehydrate and mill...but let's just start one step at a time.  And I have to tell ya....these pancakes were gobbled up in no time!  Here's the recipe!

Avocado Buckwheat Pancakes

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 2/3 cup fresh almond milk or raw cow's/goat's milk
1 avocado
1/2 of a banana
3 heaping tbsp coconut butter
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt - you don't have to use this, but make sure your salt has color....not white!
3 tbsp. raw honey

Place all items in a Vitamix and blend until smooth.  Coat a pan with coconut oil and on low heat, place 4 dollops of pancake mix and brown on each side until done.  Makes about 12 pancakes.  Enjoy!

Nov 12, 2012

Benefits of Mushrooms in Your Diet

Why was the mushroom invited to the party?  Remember that joke from your childhood?  Well, the mushroom is always on the invitation list in my home.  We go through them pretty fast around here...but we definitely don't overdo it and I'll tell you why you shouldn't either later on.  But I'd like to go through all of the amazing benefits this little forested wonder holds for the human body.  Are you ready?

First of all, let's look at the common button mushroom...the one that more than likely gets overlooked due to the popular portobello.  Well, for all you meat-eaters out there, this is a great mushroom for you to ingest as it reduces all of the "heat toxins" from the body.  Not only that, but it also decreases the fat levels in the blood.  Okay, you had me at decrease fat.  ;)  This little mushroom can pack a punch against respiratory mucus, tumors and post-surgery cancer metastasis AND it build immunity!  Can I get some Kung-Fu Panda moves on that one?  

The Shiitake mushroom is amazing, too.  So amazing that it is said to be a natural source of interferon.  What is that?  It's a protein that gets set off in the body to protect it against cancer and viral diseases.  Hmm...two mushrooms that protect the body from cancer.  Are you with me?  In fact, the Shiitake mushroom is used in treatment of cancer, especially stomach and cervical cancer.  

There is a caution with mushrooms used by long-term vegans and that is unless you are using it to treat a disease, you should limit the consumption as it can be too cleansing during convalescence.  

I love including mushrooms into my meals whether it be chopped up in a soup, sauteed, dehydrated or eaten raw.  Personally I take a mushroom supplement called Reishi Mushroom.  It's known to prevent cancer, especially ovarian cancer, and it decreases toxins in the liver.  You can find Reishi Mushroom at health food stores or online.

What kind of mushroom is your favorite?

Oct 17, 2012

Turning the Corner with Healthy Habits

It has taken nearly one year to make adjustments into my home in terms of healthy eating after my third pregnancy....the pregnancy where I was working a full-time job and taking care of a toddler all while being nauseous from the moment I got out of bed to the moment I crawled into bed.  By the time 4:30pm hit and was heading home all I could think about was which drive-thru it would be that night.  I only lived 7 minutes away from school, but in those 7 minutes, if I didn't have something in my stomach, I'd more than likely be pulling over to the side of the road.  And sure, I could've been prepared in the morning with a healthy snack, but that just didn't happen in my world. 

What happened to my healthy-eating daughter was pretty much disastrous!  She was not only used to eating out, but she was used to eating junk.  There were many burgers, french fries, pizzas and ice creams.  I think I even went so far as to have the "Cake Shake" from Portillos a couple of times.  YIKES!  It's almost embarrassing how awful I was to my body in terms of food, but much of that was stressful eating. 

When my son was about 2 or 3 months old, I decided to start slowly shifting our diet back to raw/vegan.  I knew my daughter was hooked on her burgers, so I still bought ground meat, but always made sure it was pastured, grass-fed meat.  After a few more months, we invested in a veggie and fruits chart from "Today I Ate a Rainbow", which helped her to monitor her intake during the day.  Well, my son is now 15 months old - today - and our progress has been slow and steady, but we are definitely back on track.  Results are the following: 

1 - We only eat out once a week, if that, and it's usually at a place that serves healthy options.

2 - My daughter has significantly increased her veggie and fruit intake...going from 1 serving a day to 5 or more.

3 - There are no longer any arguments about eating out, therefore my daughter is quite happy with the meals provided at home.

4 - Green smoothies are finally being accepted again by the 4yo! 

5 - Kale chips are preferred over Cheddar Bunnies

6 - Quinoa is the new favorite grain, which is the new favorite meal.

7 - My favorite one of all, "Mom, McDonald's hamburgers and french fries are really unhealthy for you and really gross."  My response to that was, "Yes, but you always like to eat them anyway when you are with your dad."  Her response, "No, I'd rather have a hamburger you make because it's healthier."  (Hamburgers show their face on a minimal basis in the house, but I love the awareness.)

This goes to prove that transformations are possible with persistance, hope and the willingness to never give up.  I am the mother of this household and I care about what my kids put into their bodies.  My grocery cart only accepts items that will foster health.  I didn't take away everything all at once, but I replaced things one by one until finally we were back on track.  We are not 100% raw/vegan, but we are a heck of a lot healthier than we were over a year ago.  

Oct 2, 2012

Making Sprouted Grain Flour

Yes, can you believe it?  I make my own flour...who does that, right?  You're thinking, "She's crazy!"  I have to say, I am one step away from buying 100 acres of land and some John Deere tractors so that I can grow fields of grain.  Just kidding.  I worked on my grandfather's farm - that was good enough!  However, I feel VERY earthy about sprouting my own grains and grinding them into flour.  It just makes everything I make with it taste 100% better.  I believe in this little thing called, LOVE.  When love goes into food, it just tastes better and I feel better.  Hence the reason why I don't eat out much because that guy in the back who is making my food probably doesn't love me all that much and he's more than likely stressed out, so when I eat his stressed out food I gain stress.  Single mom of little ones....I think I'll pass on the extra stress.  Thanks! 

Anyway, making flour from a whole grain is so, so, SO simple that it's just ridiculous.  And it really doesn't take much time on your part at all. 

Here's how it goes.  Ready?

Step 1:  Soak your grains overnight in purified water.  I usually soak them in a sprouting jar (mason jar with a screen top).

Step 2:  Rinse your grains the next morning in a strainer and return to jars with screen.  Place jars slightly on their side to drain any excess liquid.  Repeat again before going to bed.  Do this step for 2-3 days in a row or until you see buds on your grains. (Wheat berries usually take only 1-2 days to sprout.)


Step 3:  Rinse grains thoroughly, then place them on dehydrator trays using the teflon sheets.  Dehydrate at 115 degrees overnight or until dry.  (This is an example of sprouted buckwheat.)


Step 4:  Place all grains in a high-speed blender and blend until a fine flour is created.  (Takes seconds.)  **You can also store the grains in a glass container in the refrigerator and blend when you are ready to use.  (This picture shows a food processor.  You can use a food processor, but a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, will process it into finer granules.)

Step 5:  Keep in a sealed glass container and place in the refrigerator.  Lasts about a month.  

Sprouting grains are more alkalizing to the body and inhibits phytic acid from blocking many important minerals from absorbing in the body.  It also increases vitamin content.  You can lightly steam sprouted grains and add it to casseroles, breads, etc. or you can grind it into flour for later use as I've shown above.  For just a little bit of time, you will gain more nutritional value in your food!  SNAP!

Aug 30, 2012

Hydrating Mango Mask


So, I have never won anything in my entire life - lottery tickets, door prizes, Publisher's Clearinghouse :), etc.  You can imagine my slight excitement when my local library called me two weeks ago to tell me I had won a prize from the Summer Reading Program.  I's the small things in life.  Anywho, I had my choice of many prizes....and they were GOOD prizes.  There was wine-tasting for four at a local winery, free dinner at nice restaurants and of course a free facial (which I chose) at a local spa.  Love my wine, but needed a facial!  To be completely honest...I've never even had a facial in my entire life.  I now see why people get them.  They are lovely in every possible way.  I decided to really treat myself and purchase a discounted 60 minute massage, too.  Why  not?  It was Sunday, my children were spending time with their dad and it was ME TIME!

After some warm towels on my face and cool facial cleaning, the esthetician looked at my skin with her REALLY bright lamp and gave me her overall consensus about my skin.  She let me know my skin was dehydrated (I tend to have oily skin) and gave me a little recipe to put on my skin twice a week as a hydrating mask.  It's messy and lovely in the same breath.  It's messy because there were literally chunks of mango dripping from my skin and I looked like I had just stepped out of a lagoon.  It was lovely because my skin soaked it right up and I noticed an immediate difference in some wrinkled areas.  My skin felt smooth and silky.

The recipe is easy.  It's one mango, 1 tsp. almond oil and 1 tsp. honey.  Blend it together and you have yourself a very inexpensive mask.  You will have enough for about two more masks and a little snack for your baby.  :)  My son loved it, too!