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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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!

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

Redefining 100% Natural – YES Please!

Today, I read a fantastic article on News.Mic about how many companies are labeling their products as “all natural” when in actuality, they’re far from that. The article talked about many unverified health claims from businesses like Snapple, Quaker Oats and Kashi using marketing tactics like claiming to use “all natural” ingredients or phrases such as “no artificial flavors or preservatives” and even “100% healthy and natural”. However, if you’re like me and carefully read every label, you know that all your left with in these products is loads of added sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup), toxic chemicals and synthetic substances like maltodextrin and my favourite, the ridiculous and unidentified natural flavors. That’s natural? No, it’s misleading.

Apparently the word natural doesn’t mean anything anymore. This is one of the most emotive words used in food marketing and consumers are being duped by many marketers who are constantly abusing it. Chances are, they probably don’t care about the public’s optimal health and how their “natural” ingredients can affect our long term health in the end. It’s being inaccurately thrown around and used inappropriately in order to make up for the harmful ingredients added and made to believe that they are acceptable to consume. At this point, the word means about as much as “real” does, especially when it comes to food marketing. This is why I’ve expressed on my blog 100 and 1 times about how truly important and crucial it is to read your food labels. Do not be fooled by the large bold words splattered on the front box stating to be wholesome and good for you. Even catch phrases like gluten free, low fat, half the amount of salt, can all be used to deceive you into buying their sugar/chemical laden products.

While some ingredients listed may be “naturally derived” from sources like soybeans, corn and canola oil, these ingredients aren’t the safest to consume and almost always manufactured artificially and manipulated. For instance, a company like Nature Valley can promote their granola bars as “100% natural” because the ingredients it contains like high maltose corn syrup is derived from corn (and most likely from GMO corn). But they ignore the absolute unnatural process it takes along the way to create this “natural” syrup. All this means to me is that foods that are genetically engineered or used with toxic chemicals are permitted to be labeled as natural. Unfortunately it is a processed sugar and should definitely not be marketed as a healthy, wholesome snack. Period.

[Eating] natural is such a nebulous thing these days but you can navigate and redefine it. Eat whole foods (you know, broccoli, spinach, mother nature stuff), buy products that only contain real quality ingredients, look for organic which means something substantial and avoid products that dub themselves as natural but use ingredients unpronounceable and misrepresented. Take the time to distinguish between the good and the bad. Remember that your health relies on it.

There’s a new premium drink in town! And they’re helping to redefine what it means to actually be ALL NATURAL.

YES Drinks has a promise to their customers – everything they make will always be 100% natural (and about 85% organic), they’ll only use the highest quality ingredients, there will not be any shortcuts taken, no preservatives, artificial ingredients, stabilizers or flavor extracts used and will always be kept 100% plant based. Oh yeah, and no added sugars! Yay!

The handcrafted drinks are a natural and healthy alternative to many sugary (and sugary-healthy) beverages and snacks. They are naturally sweetened with stevia and contain absolutely no funky stuff. What you see is what you get. All of the delicious beverages are cold pressed low in calories, gluten free, vegan and contain familiar super foods like organic chia seeds, raw sprouted rice protein, coconut milk, turmeric and psyllium husk. They’re also a delicious way to get a large helping of natural protein and fiber. They won’t cut corners so that we are only left to enjoy increased vitality with the most nutritious and great tasting all natural ingredients. A company that truly knows what’s best for us to achieve optimal health.

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Simple to read and you know exactly what you’re getting. Just how it should be.

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I like the Belgian Cocoa Hazelnut “Milk” and the Vanilla Charge the best! They boast so much flavor (real natural flavors) and I feel great after having a few sips. The bottles are so convenient to have on the go and you can swap your morning coffee with one of these bad boys for a more beneficial wake up call! Which flavor will you say YES to?

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.

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