Morning Glory Power Smoothie [Vegan/Refined Sugar Free]

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I look forward to waking up to a nice cup of green tea, warm lemon water and a nutrient filled breakfast. While I do enjoy a good bowl of gluten free oatmeal and pancakes from time to time, the best thing I can have in the morning is a power smoothie that’s plant based, low in sugar and gluten free!

Smoothies are effortless, efficient and you are guaranteed to collect all of your essential vitamins in just one delicious dose. Having a nutrient-filled powerhouse smoothie (like the one below), can set you up for a healthy and productive day. Due to the density of the beverage, they are capable of keeping you full, energized and satisfied longer. That way, you’re not tempted to reach for that sugar-laden muffin or feel like you are crashing by 11:00 am.

Smoothies are also a great tool for weight loss and weight management because you can customize and control the ingredients depending on your goal. You can get all of your necessary nutrients in just one cup without adding in extra or empty calories.

This is one of my favourite smoothie recipes to make. I have it at least 4 times a week for breakfast. Besides the veggie and fruit basics, I included a pizzazz of superfoods that up the nutritional value of my smoothie. I’ve learned about each ingredient and created a balanced smoothie that consists of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and complex carbs.

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What you’ll need:

1/2 cup of organic, cold pressed coconut water

1/4 cup of filtered water

1/2 frozen fair trade banana

2-3 cups of baby spinach (organic if possible)

1/4 cup of organic fresh raspberries

1 teaspoon of spirulina

1 teaspoon of chlorella powder

1 tablespoon of hemp protein powder

1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 tablespoon of baobab powder

1 teaspoon of organic goji berries (I love Rich Nature‘s!)

1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs

2 brazil nuts

5-7 ice cubes (adjustable)

Combine all ingredients in your blender or magic bullet. Blend well. Pour, sip and enjoy.

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Homemade Immune Boosting Tea

Life is absolutely wonderful.

It can go from chaotic to joyous in a matter of minutes! At times, it can go from amazing to stressful. Then there are the days when you feel like you just can’t keep up anymore!

That’s why I believe that the food we put in our bodies is one of the essential tools that helps us cope with the roller coaster moments of life. We all know that with a conscious effort, eating smart, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, exercising daily and doing daily affirmations and/or meditations creates the perfect balance and booster to one’s being. However, those days that you feel like you can’t keep up anymore hit us unexpectedly thus causing us to become sick from stress, lack of nutrients and vitamins, unhealthy eating, etc. And before we know it – our immune system crashes.

It’s no secret that a healthy body and mind begins with a healthy immune system. It’s been said that 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. In turn, what we put into our bodies forms and supports the foundation of our overall health. And we always want the best, right?

Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods that are mainly plant based is far better and ideal for your health than loading up on unnecessary supplements, or worse, falling victim to vaccines that expose you to health risks far severe than influenza and gut issues. Unfortunately, infections are inevitable. So whether you have a tickle in your throat, fighting off flu season, feeling a little bloated,or just need a little “super charge boost” in your day, try sipping on this immune-strengthening homemade tea that helps to ward off bad bacteria and viruses, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, all the while allowing you to naturally fight back. Sans Tylenol, sans over the counter pills.

Food is most nutritious and powerful when it’s close to its original form ergo having the properties to heal and nourish the body organically. Make this special (beware, it’s an acquired taste!) tea from a combination of pure herbs and whole ingredients and you’ll not only decrease your exposure to the circulating viruses but improve your overall health and longevity at the same time. Don’t expect this tea to be a miracle worker though; this hug in a cup works best with a healthful diet and lifestyle. So eat those veggies!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

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What you’ll need:

2.5 cups of water

Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

1 organic cinnamon stick

2 slices of fresh ginger (I like it grated sometimes)

1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

1 garlic clove OR 1/4 tsp of cloves (depending on which taste you prefer)

A pinch of cayenne pepper (add more if you can handle it!)

Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat. Let simmer for 7-9 minutes until well steeped.

Pour tea through a strainer. Drink mindfully.

Garden Of Life Protein Blondies + Greenie Smoothie [Vegan + Sugar Free]

Drop your protein powder scooper and step away from the blender…

Cause I think I found THE most efficient, delicious and well-rounded plant-based protein powder known to NAMB kind! And I must share with you. That is my duty.

You see, a mere few weeks ago, Garden Of Life graciously sent me some awesome samples to try out for my blog. I’m a sucker for a) healthy vegan products, b) hip, modern company branding and c) anything free. I have tried a multitude of different vegan protein powders but Garden of Life takes it to another level. Most that I’ve tried are great sources of plant based protein usually containing 3 or less ingredients such as brown rice protein, pea protein and even sacha inchi protein. While some have made my recipes quite awesome, there were some that tasted like unappetizing cardboard and didn’t agree digestively. Needless to say, they were giving me my adequate amount of protein intake, but I didn’t want to consume anything that made my stomach bark and meow.

Unless you’re a physical athlete or working out immensely, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the lack of protein in your everyday diet. The overall focus should be about getting a healthy balanced amount of nutrients and vitamins. Of course, some may need more of one than the other, but ultimately, it’s about that fine balance. You know, the one that makes you feel oh-so-good overall.

Eating a variety of a bountiful, beneficial and nutrient dense whole foods is key to a healthy lifestyle. While vegan protein powders are not typically as essential as consuming whole foods such as fresh organic greens, lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and nuts, they serve a purpose in providing a sizable punch of protein efficiently and effectively for those who are health conscious like me. Personally, I consider them to be “health enhancers or boosters” more than supplements or replacements for real food. If you pair a fabulous protein product with your usual array of healthy foods, your food really can’t get any more super than that! So essentially, it’s ideal to opt for a protein powder/supplement that’s on par to a whole food source to really make it worth your while.

Garden of Life‘s line of Raw Protein and Organic Plant Protein both have the necessary check points of a high quality, whole food protein product that your insides can trust (and happily digest!)

Let’s face it – you deserve the best!

Raw Protein and Organic Plant Protein both have many admirable factors to say the least. What I love about Garden of Life’s products, besides the obvious fact that they provide clean protein, is that they offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals your body also needs and contain zero synthetic fillers and preservatives. Ingredients that don’t stress you out! The Raw Protein products are raw (duh!), certified organic, vegan and contain live probiotics (good bacteria), enzymes like proteases, essential amino acids, fat soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E and a bunch of sprouted goodness like flax seed sprouts, quinoa sprouts, lentil sprouts, buckwheat sprouts, broccoli sprouts to name a few. Let’s just say that there’s a whole lot of goodness in there! See for yourself here. Oh yeah, I should probably tell you that there’s about 17 grams of plant based protein per serving. That’s a good deal for the amount of very few calories. You can choose from 4 flavours – chocolate, vanilla, vanilla chai and raw original. For my recipes below, I used vanilla chai as it was my most favourite palate-wise and worked flawlessly in my blondies.

*Note: I’ve chosen to be ironic by using a raw protein powder for a baked good instead of the smoothie.*

Organic Plant Protein’s formula is a bit similar. The powder isn’t raw and it’s grain free but still has the same endearing qualities like being certified organic, vegan, nutritional and high in protein of course. For about 100 calories worth of a serving, there’s less than 1 gram of sugar (no added sugar and sweetened with stevia), roughly 3-4 grams of fiber and carries about 15 grams of plant strong protein. You also got some pea seeds in there, some flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds which all come together beautifully to balance and level out your blood sugars. What’s more is that they threw in some superfoods in there like moringa and baobab for that extra mineral and anti-oxidant kick. There’s 4 different flavour options and they’re all deliciously earthy tasting, smooth and versatile. The flavours are subtly apparent but the hint of sweetness to them isn’t overbearing but rather fortifying. Smooth Energy was my go-to because it contained a type of naturally caffeinated tea called Yerba Mate and added Vitamin B12 (warranted for vegans and vegetarians like me.) I must say, it’s less chalky than it’s cousin Raw Protein and more appetizing to throw and mix in a beverage like in my smoothie below.

All in all, they’re both worry-free, reliable options when searching for a standard protein powder product to call the one. Find a product that works for you and your preferences. Experiment with different recipes to keep things fun and interesting. I’m here to tell you that consuming protein powder doesn’t have to be boring!

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BLONDIES (use organic and preservative free ingredients whenever possible!)

1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour blend (I used buckwheat flour and brown rice flour with a bit of coconut flour)

1 tsp of baking soda

1/4 tsp of coriander

1/2 tsp of cinnamon (I like to use a little more)

1/4 tsp of cardamom

1 pack of Raw Protein Vanilla Chai protein powder

1/4 tsp of guar gum (optional but keeps ish together)

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond or cashew milk

1/4 cup of cold pressed virgin coconut oil (melted)

3 tsp of alcohol free vanilla

6-10 packs of stevia (use your taste bud discretion)

1 cup of vegan, stevia-sweetened dark chocolate (chunks or chips – your call!)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking pan with some oil.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Except chocolate! Mix together wet ingredients in another bowl.

Stir to combine both bowls into one. Fold in chocolate chunks/chips. Don’t be stingy! Next, spoon the batter into the greased pan and smooth down with a spatula or the back of your spoon. Add more chocolate if you please. And please do.

Bake the blondies for 16-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing into desired squares. Bite, devour and repeat.

Then enjoy this smoothie:

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GREENIE SMOOTHIE

Half of a small frozen banana

1/4 cup of frozen strawberries

Handful amount of baby spinach (I say the more the better!)

1 generous scoop of Organic Plant Protein Yerba Mate Smooth Energy

2 tbsp of raw cashews

1 tbsp of chia seeds

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

4-6 ice cubes (I usually more cause I like it creamy!)

Blend it. Love it. Drink it.

Super Lentil Veggie Tacos [Vegan + Bad Fat Free]

Who says taco nights only have to be on Tuesdays?

Secretly, I wish taco night was every night. Taco Monday, Taco Wednesday, Taco Sundays, Taco errrday. These hearty and nourishing tacos were made (on a Saturday) so that I was able to stuff as many tacos in my face without feeling guilty about it.

The trick to making a hearty meatless bunch of tacos is to choose dense ingredients that are deep and rich in flavor – and of course, satisfyingly filling. Think chickpeas, beans, lentils, avocados, sweet potatoes, organic quinoa….the possibilities are endless and delicious!! The goal when loading up your perfect taco is to create an interesting and tasty abundance of flavors and textures. By mixing these ingredients with savory spices and your favourite preservative free fresh salsa you’ll have a crave worthy taco for any night of the week. Not just Tuesdays! You can’t tell, but I’m already drooling.

These tacos are not only vegan, they’re also absolutely bad fat and cholesterol free (cause some fats are good for you) and so substantial that your tummy will thank you. Thought I can’t guarantee that you’ll stop at just eating one. 😉

Warm lentils simmered in crushed minced garlic pair so well with the tangy, mildly spiced salsa by Green Mountain Gringo. They’re salsa is non GMO, versatile and made with natural unprocessed clean ingredients. No sugars, artificial or funky stuff added. See for yourself here!

I chose to use brown lentils as the main base because they’re fulfilling (even for the meat eaters out there) and they offer a plethora of heart health nutrients and vitamins. Being “bad fat free”, these magical legumes also help to lower cholesterol since they contain high levels of soluble fibers. The (soluble and insoluble) dietary fibers found in lentils have also shown to help prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like IBS and diverticulitis. Lentils are also high in good protein, stabilize blood sugars and an excellent source of iron and energy (good carbs).

I’ll now leave you with the recipe of awesomeness. You’re welcome. Happy taco eating!

Green Gringo

What you’ll need:

1 cup of washed and drained whole brown lentils (try not to use canned lentils if you can)

1 medium yellow onion, minced

4-5 garlic cloves, crushed then minced

1/2 large bell pepper, chopped

1/2 tsp of chili powder

2 tsp of cumin powder

2.5 tsp of dried thyme

1/2 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp of oregano

Dash of cayenne pepper

1.5 cups of Green Mountain Gringo salsa (medium or hot – your call!)

1 tbsp of lime juice (or lime squeeze)

Heat 1/4 cup of filtered water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions for a few minutes until nicely browned and softened. Stir in the minced garlic. Stir for 2 minutes. Throw in bell peppers and spices. Mix well. If the pan starts to dry up a bit, add a few more teaspoons of filtered water. Pour in salsa. Add the washed lentils and stir well to mix. Add enough water to cover the lentils. Bring the lentils to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and let lentils cook until they are very tender and fully cooked. Add more water if needed but no more than 1/2 cup at a time. Don’t add too much because you want the lentils to be hearty not liquid-y. Add in lime juice or squeeze one lime over mixture. Stir until well cooked and flavorful to taste. Remove from heat. Assemble organic taco corn shells with raw baby spinach (or any leafy greens of choice) and stuff desired amount of lentil mixture. Top with more salsa. Enjoy!

Not Another Model Salad + Creamy Cashew Dressing (Oil Free & Vegan)

Homer and Bart once said to a devoted vegetarian Lisa Simpson that “you don’t win friends with salad.”

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Courtesy of the internet.

Little did they know about this delicious salad recipe. (I like to pretend it’s one of Lisa’s go to favourites!)

A salad so simple, creamy and nutritious, it’s hard not to impress people (or at least your taste buds) with all of its glory.

And if you’re like me and absolutely crave a filling tossed salad, this recipe will become a staple in your cooking routine. Works perfectly as a side dish to a hearty entree or just as its own. This salad is very similar to my popular lemon tahini dressed kale salad. Which by the way, was an absolute hit on Facebook! 😀

In this case, I use cashews as the main base to achieve the creamy-ness and “milk-like” flavour. Cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are some of my favourite ingredients to use in the kitchen! Chop em, mash em, blend em, bake with em, these tiny yet powerful entities are so versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. (You can even make your own vegan “cheese” with cashews!) However, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t familiar with the health benefits of consuming them, and sometimes think twice about eating them because of their “high fat content” (which is mostly the healthy kind of fat). I’ve stressed many times in my blog about the importance of eating good healthy fats and incorporating cashews into your everyday diet is a great way of doing so.

Did you know that cashews come from trees? The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentaleis native to Brazil, where its fruit is considered a delicacy. Technically they’re not even nuts, rather a seed (or fruit) that comes from a tree that thrives in tropical climate. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese introduced them to India and a few African countries, where they now also are grown and produced. What we call the cashew nut is actually the seed of a fruit, very similar looking to a large bell pepper, that hangs off the cashew tree.

They’re typically sold shelled and roasted. If you do buy cashews labeled raw, they are not truly raw but instead gone through a process of steaming, light roasting or otherwise processed to remove its toxic oil. This toxic oil is found in the double shell that encases the raw cashew called anacardic acid, which is a poisonous oily substance that can trigger significant skin rashes, and can be toxic when ingested. Alike to the toxic compound that’s found in poison ivy and poison oak.

Despite its proneness to poison, this potent C shaped ‘nut’ is lauded for its substantial emporium of vitamins and nutrients. They’re deliciously rich in iron, phosphorus, niacin, selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium, you know – all that good stuff our bodies require! And like most nuts, cashews are an excellent source of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, flavanols, antioxidants, vitamin E and protein. Being cholesterol free and high in mono-unsaturated fats helps lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.

So before you crack open that big bag of cashews (for our recipe), please take a moment to value the hard work that went into them and the long expedition those beloved nuts took from the exotic tree to your hands!

And if we don’t win friends with salad, then dang-it…it just means more for us!!

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What you’ll need:

3/4 cup – 1 cup of preferably organic unsalted cashews (Using 1 cup will make your dressing creamier!)

1 cup of filtered water

1 1/2 Tbsp of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tbsp of lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)

1 garlic clove

Optional: 1 Tbsp of All Natural Dijon Mustard (if you like your dressing zesty and tangy!)

1/2 Tsp of black ground pepper

Soak cashews in warm filtered water for about 2-3 hours. If you have a high speed blender, Magic Bullet or Vitamix, then you can skip this step.

Blend all ingredients until you get a smooth and consistent dressing – start with just a 1/4 cup of water and add more as you blend until you reach a consistency that you like. The more water, the more of a dressing it will be. Use less water, you’ll have a thicker sauce like dressing. Adjust to taste.

Coat baby kale, chickpeas, chopped peppers, cucumbers and broccoli (or veggies of choice) in homemade dressing. Serve immediately. x

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