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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Easy Peasy Tuesday Spiced Tacos (Vegan, GF/WF & Healthy)

So yesterday was Tuesday. If you’re like me, a Tuesday can (at times) feel more challenging than a Monday.

Maybe you’re feeling a little sluggish still from the weekend? Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by the lack of time you think you have? Or in my case, you forgot to meal prep on Sunday, forgot to buy stock up on produce and left having to figure out quick, healthy and delicious lunch ideas for the week…(doh!) this was yesterday also known as, you guessed it – Tuesday.

Now what’s one of the most popular and appreciated dishes to devour on a Tuesday? (Not referring to the ghastly “Toonie Tuesdays” at KFC!)

Answer: Taccccoooosss! (Arriba!) 

Beloved by all, many tacos are stuffed of refined and processed ingredients and nonessential meat grease. These easy peasy tacos I’m about to share with you are downright healthy in comparison. They’re nutritious, shockingly satisfying and just enough flavor to get you through the day!

The best part? Super easy to make and you can whip it up in a mere few minutes with just a handful of simple yet heart-healthy ingredients. You can improvise on the vegetables too – a little fresh organic corn would work great added in or some cooked beans if you’re in the mood. I prefer to keep it light at lunch so I kept these tacos to a few of my favorite greens, onions and ripe bell peppers. Certified easy peasy. 

However, the key to the overall taste is in the way you season and saute those veggies. One of my go-to spices is the infamous cumin powder. Ground cumin, or seeds, is a favored spice native common to regions of Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Now used worldwide, cumin not only adds a punch of exotic and savory flavor to almost any dish (IMO) but it actually has some surprising nutritious content that our insides would favor. It contains a wholesome antioxidant called curcumin, along with other elements, that provide health benefits. Some include its ability to aid in digestion and related issues, improve immunity, support heart health and can help treat and fight an assortment of conditions such as insomnia, anemia, skin and respiratory disorders, bronchitis and that pesky common cold.

Cumin is considered a low sodium herb and spice so by adding cumin flavor to your food, you essentially will use less salt and other high-sodium seasonings during cooking and at the table. Consequently, by reducing the unnecessary sodium in your diet, you help prevent and/or lower high blood pressure – FYI!

A little less salt please, a little more sprinkles of cumin!

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What you’ll need:

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and then minced

1 tbsp of cumin (organic without fillers if possible!)

1/4 tsp of ground black pepper

1/2 medium onion, chopped

Pinch of ground oregano

Pinch of turmeric

Pinch of chili powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional if you don’t want it that spicy)

Organic EVOO

Chopped bell peppers (not the green ones!)

Broccoli florets

Zucchini, sliced into thin strips

Raw baby spinach (keep this raw for your tacos!)

Sprouted organic corn tortillas (always buy corn and corn products organic!)

Heat a tablespoon (or two) of EVOO in a large saute pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic for a few minutes until nicely browned. Lower heat to medium if needed to avoid burning. Spread veggies of choice (except spinach) on the pan and sprinkle spices evenly. Stir and let sit for a minute or two until lightly browned. Lower the heat to low and let gently cook for a few more minutes while you heat up the tortillas in another pan or skillet.

Remove both pans from heat. Assemble and add baby spinach. And serve with homemade sugar free salsa and sliced lemons!

Enjoy your Tuesdays. x

Quinoa Fried Rice [Vegan + GF]

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Substitute rice with some wholesome protein packed quinoa in this delicious fried rice dish! 

Vegan, sugar free, low sodium, wheat and gluten free, preservative free and soy free. This recipe serves  about 4.

What you’ll need:

1 cup of organic white quinoa (pre soaked)

2 cups of water

1 tbsp of organic pure sesame oil

1 bell pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup of organic green peas or Non GMO organic edamame beans

2 cups of baby spinach

2 tbsp of gluten free tamari sauce (or gluten free low sodium soy sauce)

1/2 tsp of grated fresh ginger

A squeeze of lemon

Optional: a pinch of himalayan or sea salt, cracked black pepper

In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. While the quinoa is cooking, chop vegetables.

In a large pan or wok, saute the garlic cloves with the sesame oil on medium to low heat. Add the diced peppers. Cook until softened and fragrant.

Toss in 1 cup of spinach or half the amount of spinach with green peas in pan. Keep the other half raw to add enzymes to dish!

Add in cooked quinoa, grated ginger and gluten free tamari sauce. Stir well to combine.

Serve on the other half of raw baby spinach.

Feed Your Skin Naturally!

Good skin is always in!

I want to share a few natural beauty tips with you today. I’m often asked what I use to maintain my “healthy, glowy skin”and as flattering as it is, I actually don’t have a a line of high end beauty products that I use on a daily basis. My routine is quite simple and guileless. As you already know from a few of my recipes and posts, I like to keep things as natural as possible.

I always count chemicals and I am a thorough label reader – that’s including products I use on my skin too!

The first step to great skin is by what you put at the end of your fork. I consume A TON of greens, stay away from meat and dairy products, wheat/gluten containing foods and don’t drink or smoke! You’ve already heard the importance of drinking lots of H20 but having more than 6 glasses of water a day really does make a difference. Keep it clean and drink up, buttercup!

Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of our skin. Acne, breakouts, psoriasis, dry skin, dull skin and wrinkles are all affected by your diet and lifestyle so by eating the right kind of foods, you can help by reduce or even eliminate these stubborn skin conditions. These are the main minerals and nutrients your body needs to naturally help you achieve healthy skin from the inside out:

Silicon: cucumbers, bell peppers, greens, flax seeds, lentils, BioSil capsules

Sulfur: garlic, greens like kale, broccoli

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds

Biotin: raw almonds, raw almond butter, swiss chard, raspberries, sweet potatoes

Zinc: nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach. chickpeas, raw cacao

Antioxidants: blueberries (organic and wild), pure green tea, baobab powder, more greens!

I always incorporate these specific foods into my everyday diet whether I toss them all into a delicious salad, add them to smoothies or eat them raw as nutritious snacks. These essential foods have definitely been beneficial in improving and maintaining the health of my skin and they’re all nature approved too!

When it comes to a living healthy and natural lifestyle, what you put in your body is just as momentous as what your put on your body. Many people are still unaware of how great an impact the beauty cosmetic lines they use on a daily basis can have on their skin – and health! Our skin readily absorbs chemicals and other harmful substances deeper into our body through our skin layers and then ultimately into our bloodstream. The absorption rates on our scalp, underarms and face are 7-10 times higher than a lot of other body parts. And when we are constantly putting products on our skin that contain parabens, alcohol, petroleum, parfum/fragrance and other harsh chemicals, we are also consuming them and allowing them to get inside our bodies. The skin is the largest organ of the body and since it’s porous, you better believe that it absorbs whatever you choose to put on it.

It’s important to pay careful attention to the ingredients in our skin care products. Unfortunately, the majority of of the mainstream products on our shelves today contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals, carcinogens, allergens, synthetic additives and irritants that contribute to our wellness and what we see every morning in the mirror.

How can we achieve healthy, glowing skin naturally? Just like the food we eat, we should always read the labels, understand what we’re putting on our skin and consider a gentler, natural alternative that’s favorable for us and the planet. Minimalism is always the best option. So choose organic products and natural skin products with simple ingredients whenever possible. Or even use whole ingredients and make your own DIY safer products at home.

Here are my everyday skin/face essentials suitable for ALL SKIN types:

Organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil – Probably the only plant based moisturizer you’ll only ever really need! Don’t be afraid of applying oil on your face. It’s dehydrated and most likely dried out from the harsh alcohols and chemicals that a lot of skin care products consist of. Anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti septic and excellent for balancing the natural oils our skin produces. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of coconuts?! 😉

Baking soda – An affordable and easy way to balance the skin’s pH levels and a great exfoliator too!

Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar –  Great for healing acne, stubborn pimples and light scars. Works great as a natural, plant based toner.

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn – I’m absolutely obsessed with this line! It is probably the only company I’ve come across that uses pure, whole elements that’s sustainable, organic, cruelty-free and skin friendly. While many companies claim to be “all natural” or plaster ridiculous amount of labels to fool you into thinking their products are safe, chances are, if you turn to read the labels, you’ll find a plethora of not so hidden, not so natural ingredients. You can count on S.W. Basics to be 100% pure and only using the finest ingredients that’s actually good for you. They even think about our planet! Aren’t they so sweet? Their products are all fair trade and the ingredients are locally sourced from small, family farms. S.W. Basics also has exceptional branding (I’m a sucker for good branding and packages!) and their story is beautifully simple: Fewer ingredients means less chance for irritation, higher potency and a smaller, overall ecological impact. For them, less isn’t just more, it’s everything. And I agree! This is a line of products your skin will thank you for.

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All of their products have less than 5 ingredients. And they’re all ingredients you can pronounce and probably have in your kitchen cupboard. Luscious stuff like coconut oil, shea butter, ACV, olive oil, vegetable glycerin and cocoa butter. You also won’t need to do a back label read since all of the ingredients are conveniently listed right on the front of each product. So simple and no second guessing. They’ve made it so easy for us how can you not love them?

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Go ahead – put your best skin forward!

Raw Protein Nib Bars [Vegan, Sugar Free, Grain Free]

But where do you get your protein?” is one the many commonly asked questions when I’m talking to someone about my plant based diet and lifestyle. Whatever “diet” you may be on be it vegan, vegetarian or the funny named flexitarian, if you care about a healthy one, want to increase your muscle mass, or gain/lose/maintain weight, then you know that a clean, full and sustainable protein source is vital. My answer to the question: protein is a non issue for me as high quality protein is quite abundant in a lot of plant foods!

How much protein do we need on a daily basis? Well, the RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram or 0.36 grams per pound. This can fluctuate base on your activity levels and desire to gain more muscle mass. Our bodies use sufficient protein to support optimal tissue health, immunity function, growth and maintenance of lean body mass during activity, muscle recovery and overall vital body preservation.

So we all know the importance of adequate protein as well as good fats and vitamins and minerals sourced from plant based foods. However, having an active lifestyle while living in a very fast paced society, it can be a challenge to prepare healthy smoothies, juices, complete meals and snacks to fuel my days. Let’s face it guys – counting your calories and carbs, making sure you’re getting the proper amounts of protein and vitamins can be a pain and time consuming! Especially if you’re a vegan/vegetarian since we’re often told to be more mindful of our protein intake. But regularly consuming a variety of whole foods and nutritious snacks, you won’t need to play diet mathematician! Though there aren’t many plant based friendly, sugar free/low sugar products catered towards protein density on the market (yet), the best option is to always make your own! All you need are the best of the best ingredients, a set time during the week and a little bit of arm work. It’s definitely worth it and you’ll feel more at ease knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body.

So when Raw Green Organics provided me with their RAWJUVENATE Organic Vegan Protein powder in vanilla for an original recipe on my blog, I knew I could not just make an easy peasy smoothie. Of course, it’s definitely delicious enough to throw in smoothies and other energy beverages or even just milk – that is how it is mainly used, yes? But variety is the spice of life and there are many yummy and fun ways to incorporate protein into your everyday ritual. Like these moist, luscious good-for-you bars I’m about to share with you. One of the best parts about these bars is that you don’t feel like you’re eating anything “healthy” – they’re that good! It’s as if you’re eating raw cookie dough but without the added nasties. There’s also no need for unnecessary protein supplements because these bars have you covered! Thanks to my new favourite vegan protein powder, they’re naturally rich in protein, high in healthy Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids and certified organic! A perfect base to the protein bars and actually, they make em taste….better! I’ve found that many commercial protein powders contain a whack load of refined additives, added sugar and sometimes make my recipes taste dry and chalky. This was especially apparent in some brown rice protein powders I’ve tried as well. But Raw Green Organics locally sources all of their organic ingredients so that we are compensated with only high quality tasting products.

Their Organic Vegan Protein powder is naturally derived and made with organic yellow peas, organic sacha inchi protein, organic hemp protein and organic flaxseeds. The formula was carefully formulated to appeal to those on the vegan diet as well as those with the common food allergies and is 100% free from lactose, dairy, whey, gluten, wheat, sugar and soy. Each serving (about 2 tbsps) provides about 15 grams of protein and supplies a balanced fatty acid and complete branched-chain amino acid profile. These serve as important fuel sources for our muscles during times of stress and exercise.

Hold up! What is organic sacha inchi? Also known as the Savi Seed, sacha inchi is a plant that’s grown in mountainous regions of South America like Peru. It’s been used for thousands of years but you will most likely start to see this popping up more and being developed for commercial purposes and benefits for health products like this protein powder! Nutritionally, it’s impressive profile is very similar to hemp in that the plant offers a wide variety of EFA’s and high complementary or standalone protein content. There are sources that state sacha inchi is one of the most nutritionally complete foods you can include in your diet because of its vast beneficial benefits because the seeds are rich digestible protein content and contain about 25% of Omega 3’s by weight alone. Like chia seeds and maca powder, sacha inchi is definitely another “superfood” we can benefit from particularly if the indigenous peoples have been consuming it for energy for centuries! Another naturally vegan plant based protein source we can add to our list which also gives the extra health boost needed in these protein bars! Mmmm.

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A good quality protein bar can be convenient fuel, whether it’s post strength training workouts, during long hikes with friends or for easy breakfast morning grabs. Making these raw high protein bars is an excellent snack option that will keep you satisfied and help maintain your healthy regime. These bad boys are raw so baking is not required here. This definitely helps to cut down time while giving you more time to enjoy your happy, active life!

These homemade protein bars are raw, vegan, dairy free, soy free, corn free, grain free, wheat free, yeast free, preservative free, sugar free and packed with vitamins and minerals!

Keep them individually wrapped and cool in the fridge for a convenient way to grab, go and nourish!

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What you’ll need: 

2 tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil

3 tbsp of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other non dairy milk of choice)

1/4 cup of granulated xylitol (or raw coconut sugar but it won’t be sugar free!)

1 tbsp of non alcohol vanilla extract

3/4 cup of Organic Vegan Protein Powder (Vanilla flavor is my favourite!)

3/4 cup of 100 % almond flour or almond meal (to make it nut free but still grain free, try coconut flour or buckwheat flour – taste will differ a bit)

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of raw organic cacao nibs

1 tsp of organic cinnamon powder

Optional: 1 tsp of maca powder, carob powder or chia seeds for an extra kick!

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan or bowl. Whisk in almond milk, vanilla, sweetener, and cinnamon until well combined. Add the dry ingredients. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. If it’s a little too dry, add a tiny bit more oil or 1 tsp of nut butter! Do not add more coconut flour or protein powder as they set and dry out when chilled. Fold in cacao nibs and mix.

Using your hands, grab mixture and press down on parchment paper. Shape into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Place in fridge to set. Cut into bars, eat and conquer the day!

 

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