Viewing entries in
meals

Superfood Saturday: Iron-rich Molasses [Energy Balls]

Superfood Saturday: Iron-rich Molasses [Energy Balls]

*this blog post includes affiliate links.

Let me be honest. Sometimes I feel like I have something to prove, re: my decision to follow a mostly plant-based diet…as if, I am not allowed to get sick or feel low-energy because, if I do, my diet is surely to blame.

Oddly enough, when I got a call from my OBGYN letting me know that I am slightly anemic, I had been eating more non-plant-based foods that I have in ages — meat, fish, eggs, cheese…you name it…stuff that generally makes me feel BLEH but I had been craving (and decided to eat) during pregnancy!

My theory is that in filling up on these other foods, I was too stuffed to fuel my body with my usual iron-rich plant-based goodness. And so, I started to become anemic.

I decided to make a point of reintroducing and prioritizing iron-rich plant-based foods in my diet, regardless of what else I ate. My go-to assurance that I get enough? These Iron-rich energy balls (and, uh, lots of lentil soup). Almost all of the ingredients are natural and high-iron: molasses, hemp seeds, flaxseed, sunbutter, sweet potato flour….

Iron-rich [Energy Balls]

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned gluten-free oats

  • 1/2 sweet potato flour (other options: hazelnut flour, almond flour, flax meal)

  • 1 tbs hemp seeds

  • 1 tbs flax seeds

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • dash of nutmeg + ginger

  • 3 tbs blackstrap molasses

  • 3 tbs maple syrup

  • 3/4 cup sunbutter (or whatever kind of nut or seed butter you prefer)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine ingredients in a bowl

  • Roll into ball shapes (makes ~16)

  • Store in air tight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

Ingredients used:

Disclaimer: you can overdose on iron; talk to doctor if they recommend supplement before eating these or other foods for medical reasons or instead of taking a supplement.

Frozen Friday: Vegan Vanilla Yogurt + Goji Berry [Bark]

Frozen Friday: Vegan Vanilla Yogurt + Goji Berry [Bark]

*this blog post includes affiliate links.

Problems: It is the final stretch of my pregnancy, and I am craving SWEETS! But, I know that sugary, processed snacks make me feel lousy. And, every time I eat anything too heavy, I feel stuffed and uncomfortable for days...yes, literally for days. On top of that it is winter…in Florida. I am craving winter flavors + colors (think hot coco, pumpkin spice, peppermint bark) but it is too hot outside to enjoy my typical go to winter snacks.

So, what is this hormonal pregnant mama to do? Make this vegan vanilla yogurt and goji berry bark. It turns out that this creation not only satisfied my pregnancy and winter cravings, but also it is an easy-to-make healthy snack that my whole family loves! How is that for a win-win?

Give it a try. It might just become your new favorite too!

Vegan Vanilla Yogurt + Goji Berry [Bark]

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups vegan yogurt (I like to use the plain cashew yogurt from Forager Project)

  • 1 tsp organic vanilla powder (or you can use vanilla yogurt)

  • 1 organic banana

  • 1 tbs chopped walnuts

  • 2 tbs cacao nibs

  • 2 tbs goji berries

  • 1-2 tbs raw maple almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice. (I used Maranatha; see below)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine yogurt + banana in high speed blender or food processor until smooth

  • Pour mixture on parchment-lined baking sheet

  • Sprinkle walnuts, cacao nibs + goji berries on top

  • Put soft almond butter into a plastic bag and cut toff the corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle the nut butter all over yogurt. You can always add more later.

  • Freeze 2-4 hours (or until frozen)

  • Once frozen, break into smaller pieces and enjoy!

Ingredients used:

Fertility Friday:  Black Maca [Energy Balls]

Fertility Friday: Black Maca [Energy Balls]

*this blog post includes affiliate links

I must admit, I was (and still am) a little hesitant to write about this subject on my blog.  On the one hand, it seems like such a private and personal subject to me; on the other, I know that I am not the only person I know going through fertility struggles and maybe sharing my journey will help someone else who is going through similar issues.  So, here I go...

Conceiving baby #1 was easy.  Well, NOT EXACTLY EASY, BUT once we figured out when to do the deed, we only had to wait about 38 more weeks for little Elias to join us in the world.  We spent several months looking at a calendar and "trying" to conceive with no luck. Then, after some friends told us that they used fertility sticks to conceive all three of their children, we bought some:

We used the sticks on the first day we saw a little smiley face on them, and THEY WORKED!!!

So, when we decided to get serious about having baby #2, I got back on Amazon and bought the sticks again.  We were not so lucky this time.  Maybe, I thought, it is because I am a few years older now, over the hill in terms of prime baby making age.  I remembered that, at 36, I am still a few years younger than the average age of a woman who gives birth at the hospital where my son was born.  And, moreover, I was assured that I am healthy and have no fertility issues.  BUT, I do have a fertility issue...a big one:  I can't seem to get pregnant. 

So, I upped the anti and bought a fancier advanced fertility monitor (see below).  Still no luck!  I questioned whether extended nursing of baby #1 was to blame.  Research suggested that, because I ovulate and menstruate regularly, it is probably not.   

I read about secondary infertility (apparently it is a thing).  Ultimately, I decided that, before I go ahead and rip the "baba" (baby #1's name for the boob) away from the little guy or head to a specialist who might suggest pumping me with drugs, I would dig a little deeper and make a few more efforts to optimize my health.  I realized that, there are a number of changes that I needed and wanted to make to my lifestyle and health before conceiving another child anyway.

So, we hit the pause button on the attempted baby making, and I made some changes, big and small, over the past 45 days.  So far, here is what I did.  Some of these things may seem like obvious changes, others questionable.  I don't know what the answers are but figured I would document the changes, how they make me feel, and the results, if any.  

1.  I gave up my 2-4 cups of coffee a day (I know, gross) and replaced them with a morning matcha latte.  This is one of my favorite brands:

Matcha Green Tea Powder - Superior Culinary - USDA Organic From Japan -Natural Energy & Focus Booster, Antioxidant Packed. Matcha Tea For Mixing In Lattes, Smoothies & Baking 1.05oz By Matcha Wellness

2.  I cut out stevia and other refined sugars.  Some research suggests that stevia, in high doses, can act as a form of birth control. And, we all know (or should know) that refined sugars can do a number on our hormones, amongst other nasty things to our bodies and brains.  When I want a little sweet in my matcha, I opt for a drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup.

3.  I tried to replace as many chemicals as possible with natural cleaners.  I purchase a lot of my household cleaning supplies on Thrive Market (more on Thrive below) because I trust that they sell the most natural options out there, and I can usually find some good deals that save me some $$$!  

4. I carved out time for my self-care.  I have been attending at least one public yoga class a week and reincorporating daily meditation into my routine.  IT FEELS GOOD.  And, I am reminded about all of the amazing things happening in my life RIGHT now. And, more importantly, I am taking the time to enjoy them.  The result, my usual high stress levels (one of the biggest causes of infertility) are coming down. I feel better about myself, inside and out.  WIN-WIN!

5.  I started taking prenatal vitamins.  (My last OB-GYN told me to start taking them at least a few months before planning to conceive.). My favorite brand:  

SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins: Multivitamin, Folate (Methylfolate), Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3, Methyl B12, Biotin, Omega 3 DHA/EPA Fish Oil, 180 count (30 Day Supply)

5.  I carved out time for me and my partner.  As much as we just love soaking up as much time as we can with our little guy, we also love and need to spend time without him, nurturing our relationship with each other.

6.  And, finally, I researched fertility boosting foods and made an effort to include them in my diet. Each month, I place an order with Thrive Market, an easy place to purchase many of the fertility boosting foods on my list at discounted rates.  Some of my favorites are hazelnuts, maca, beans, cauliflower, bee pollen, green smoothie concoctions, and (when I am craving something sweet) dates! My favorite food fertility snack (also just a great energizing snack in general)!?

BLACK MACA [ENERGY BALLS]

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 tsp Black Maca Powder

  • 1/2 cup Hazelnuts 

  • 1 cup Pitted Dates

  • 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder

  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

  • Almond Flour, Bee Pollen to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Optional: Soak hazelnuts in water overnight.  

  • Place al ingredients EXCEPT almond flour and bee pollen, in a high speed blender.  Blend until ingredients form a sticky paste. 

  • Roll mixture into balls; roll balls in almond flour and bee pollen (optional).

  • Refrigerate 

These energy balls are 100% family friendly in my house!  EVERYONE loves them!

Enjoy! 

My favorite brand of black maca (and the bag from which I adapted the recipe above):

Sunfood Black Maca Powder, 4oz, Raw, Organic

*Warning:  Some labels say that black maca "contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm."  Other sources say that this information is outdated and/or that black maca is known to increase potency in men and improve hormone balance and libido in both men and women.  All I can say is, do your research before you makes these snacks or make any other changes to your diet and lifestyle in order to increase fertility or induce any other results!  At the end of the day, there is definitely no one size fits all answer to any of our issues, right!?

P.S. If you feel uncomfortable, consider removing the black maca powder from the recipe and maybe replacing it with flax seeds or chocolate protein powder or almond flour.  We try not to overdo them in our house but love to snack on them from time to time -- with and without the maca!

RESULTS OF MAKING THE CHANGES LISTED IN THIS BLOG POST!? SO FAR, I FEEL GREAT.  AS FOR WHETHER THAT RESULTS IN BABY #2...TO BE CONTINUED...



Mindful Monday: Berry [Bodhi Superfood Pops]

*note, this post contains affiliate links

Fueling a family of any number can be time consuming, expensive, and tricky (to say the least) .  I must admit that I buy whole organic milk for my husband, my son, and our au pair (and try not to cringe as they drink it) and then buy my own separate non-dairy "milk" for me.  I buy one brand of gluten-free pasta for our au pair, another for my husband and son...and, occasionally, yet another for me.  R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S (I know).  So, you can imagine, when I find a healthy recipe that the whole family enjoys, I am beyond thrilled and am eager to share. 

This is one of these recipes!!!

The only problem:  I rarely get to enjoy these superfood packed, super delicious popsicles because my family manages to just about always eat them before I can get one!  Maybe it is time to invest in some more popsicle molds and double up on this recipe, huh!?  

FYI, if you don't have any popsicle molds yet, you have options.  On the super "budget" DIY side, you can freeze your "pops" in an ice cub tray and then stick popsicle sticks into them (it can get a little messy).  On the still pretty budget side, you can order molds like the ones on the right (which is what I do) and then practice the art of patience while you wait for your pops to freeze!  Or, if you are willing to spend a little more for (almost) instant gratification, you can invest in Zoku's quick pop maker (like the ones on the far right).

 
 
 
 
 

Berry [Bodhi Superfood Pops]

[VEGAN; GLUTEN FREE; NO ADDED SUGAR]

Ingredients

  • 2 Bananas
  • 6 ounces mixed berries (I used an organic frozen berry mix from Costco)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (if you have the time, soak them in warm water for at least 2 hrs and then drain...ti make them more easily digestible)  
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs of your favorite non-dairy milk (if you have the time, let the chia sit in this milk for a couple of hours before you combine both into the rest of the ingredients)

Directions

  • Peel the bananas
  • Add all of the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth
  • Spoon ingredients into popsicle mold using a funnel (otherwise it gets so so so messy)
  • Wait the required time depending on what mold you use.  (With these molds, I typically wait 6-8 hours)
  • Remove pops from mold as instructed (I run these under warm water for 30 seconds and then easily remove the pops)
  • EAT. REPEAT. ENJOY!

 

Mindful Monday: Almond Flour [Holiday Cookies]

These are the simplest and healthiest cookies I have made, ever.  Hands down.  And, my family LOVES them.  

Almond Flour [Holiday Cookies]

[Vegan; Gluten Free; Low Sugar]

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 3/4 cinnamon/ 1/4 nutmeg blend)
  • ½ teaspoon pink sea salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tbs coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond or coffee flavor depending on who is going to eat them)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  • Add in wet ingredients and then mix them into dry ingredients.
  • Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper until about ¼ thick
  • Refrigerate for 45 minutes
  • Remove top piece of parchment paper
  • Cut out cookies with small cookie cutters
  • Using a metal spatula, place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Bake at 350°F until lightly browned, ~ 5 minutes.
  • If you care what they look like, let cookies cool completely before handling them. 

 

Meatless Monday: Cacao + Persimmon Pumpkin [Pudding]

I believe in fueling my body with whole, plant-based foods...about 85 - 90% of the time.  Check out my latest fall creation, full of superfoods said to combat heart disease, lower blood pressure, slow the aging process, and promote strong eyesight.  

Cacao + Persimmon Pumpkin [Smoothie]

[Vegan; Gluten Free]

Ingredients:

  • 1 persimmon, sliced
  • 1 banana
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree 
  • 1 pack frozen acai
  • 10 macadamia nuts
  • 1 tsp cacao
  • 3 drops vanilla stevia
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Blend in Vitamix or high speed blender to desired consistency.  
  • Pour into dish
  • Garnish with cinnamon and/or cacao
  • Refrigerate or eat immediately

 

Superfood Saturday: Ginger Apple Kale [Smoothie]

Long story short:  this superfood smoothie has a special place in my heart.  The recipe was literally handed down to me...on a loose piece of notebook paper...from my mom...who got it from one of the least healthy people I have ever known...my dad.

[RIP, MAJ.  I wish you drank more of these.  You might have had a fighting chance.]

Ginger Apple Kale Smoothie

[Vegan; Gluten Free]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic apple cider
  • 2 generous handfuls of kale
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 inch ginger
  • 1 small apple, cored
  • 1 cup ice (optional)

Directions:

  • Blend in Vitamix or high speed blender to desired consistency.  
  • Pour into a glass.
  • DRINK UP!

 

Pictured with two of my favorite things:  The Ginger People candies and dried lavender

Pictured with two of my favorite things:  The Ginger People candies and dried lavender

Superfood Saturday: Rhubarb [Crisp]

I remember growing up in upstate NY and just waiting for the time of year when my mom and grandmother would make their delicious rhubarb pies.   Years later, when I realized that gluten, dairy, and sugar made my body go a bit cray cray, I figured it was best to retire by rhubarb pie habit.   

But, recently, when I came across an article talking about the many health benefits of rhubarb, I decided to give the old rhubarb pie recipe a facelift.  Enter my vegan Rhubarb Crisp, high in fiber (easing digestion) and vitamin K (helping to protect against osteoporosis and Alzheimer's), and super duper tasty too!

Rhubarb Crisp

[Vegan; Gluten Free]

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rhubarb mixed (if using frozen, place in colander and briefly rinse under cold water)
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries or strawberries (or a mix) ((if using frozen, place in colander and briefly rinse under cold water)
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cub favorite gluten free granola mix
  • 4 tbsp cold vegan butter
  • Coconut cream topping (optional) (one 4 oz can coconut cream, mixed with a tsp coconut sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, scoop of chia seeds; mixed and refrigerated for at least 1 hr)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly (vegan) butter an 8X8.
  • Add fruit directly to the dish and toss with sugar and maple syrup.
  • Add oats, nuts, granola, and vegan butter to a mixing bowl and mix until all of the butter is evenly distributed. Distribute evenly over fruit.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with coconut cream or your favorite vegan ice cream.