ALKALINE CITRUS JUICE

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The older I get, the more I find myself referring to the all too familiar clichés I vowed I would never begin to say as an adult. Things like  “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” or “there’s no time like the present.” However, the more I think about them, the more truth I find they have. For example, this month has been possibly one of my most testing, emotionally and mentally, and I find myself repeating the common cliché “when it rains, it pours,” which more often than not, has a negative connotation. I have come to realize it doesn’t always have to, though; disarray in our lives can also help bring light to fresh and new opportunities whereas complete orderliness can become stagnant and listless.

Amidst the chaos, I have found ways to achieve balance. Meditation, yoga, and cleansing have all brought me clarity and awareness through this period of time. It’s super important, especially during times of hardship, that we focus on our physical selves because stress can deplete our bodies of essential nutrients, ultimately causing sickness.

When looking to prevent sickness, it is important to consider the acidic vs. alkaline levels in our bodies. Over-acidity can result in chronic issues like a tendency towards getting sick frequently, fatigue, and inflammation while an alkaline diet can help prevent these same problems. Knowing that lemons are the single-most high-alkaline food you can eat, I knew I had to make it a focus for a recipe.

I know some of you may be wondering why I added algae to the mix but as it turns out, chlorella is highly alkalizing and also aids in detoxification. Plus, the chlorella-citrus mix balance each other out quite nicely! The chlorella aids in lessening the tartness of the citrus, while the citrus decreases the super green algae taste, a win-win if you ask me. An added bonus: since this juice was made in a blender as opposed to an extractor, it still contains a good amount of fibre which is important for intestinal health and elimination.

The Ingredients {Yield: 1 big juice Total Time: 5 minutes}

  • 1 lemon, peeled or juiced
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • small knob ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon chlorella powder
  • 1 cup water

The Directions

1. Blend all ingredients together in blender until juice-like consistency

2. If you find the juice to be too thick like a smoothie, simply add more water

PS. Looking for more? The Alkaline Sisters blog is an amazing resource for recipes, tips, and up-to-date alkaline lifestyle information

CHOCOLATE MONTH: BANANA QUINOA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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It’s not often I choose recipes that require baking. I’ve grown comfortable with cooking and have gotten really good at eyeballing while doing so, adjusting and adding where I feel necessary. Baking, on the other hand, is a whole other beast. For me, exact measurements, precise oven temperatures, and strict directions often make for an overwhelming experience. Though, when one of my girlfriends, Stephanie, sent me this cookie recipe, I couldn’t shy away from it. I even purchased my first set of measuring cups {I know, I know… what took me so long?} to make the process more pleasurable. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free and according to Steph, it’s also boyfriend approved.

I must admit, when it came time to roll the banana dough into balls I was afraid it would simply fall flat in the oven as the mixture was a bit runny. Good news! It stuck together. You’ll know when the cookies are ready as the exterior will be hard to the touch and golden brown in colour. The bananas really provide a lovely gooey quality and offer a great amount of sweetness.

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To end chocolate month with a bang, I am giving away a couple goodies from Simplecare Products, including a Poached Chocolate Fig Scrub, to one lucky reader! Simplecare Products strives to create skincare products free of preservatives, fillers, chemicals and synthetics. Instead, you’ll find plant-based ingredients like cold-pressed oils and clays, fruits and veggies, as well as natural salts and citrus. To go that extra step, Simplecare also supports animal advocacy, fair trade, and sustainability by donating a portion of sales to non-profits and implementing reusable packaging. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Simplecare Products, available at notable retailers {soon to be announced} come Spring 2014!

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment below. Feel free to share your preference for using natural skincare products, your all-natural tips and tricks, or why you’d like to get your hands on the prize. Anything goes! You have until 3pm EST on Sunday, February 23rd to leave your comment for a chance to win. I will notify the winner by email the following day. Good luck! *This contest is now closed.

The Ingredients {Yield: 24 cookies Total Time: 35 minutes}

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup whole grain rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milled flax {optional}

The Directions

1. Cook quinoa as per package; 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer until cooked, about 12 minutes

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a stand mixer or fork, mash bananas until a globby mess like baby food {Steph’s words exactly}

3. Add quinoa, shredded coconut, and coconut sugar to banana mash and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, add oats, cacao nibs and chocolate chips, mix again. At this point you could add other ingredients like nuts, raisins, chia seeds etc.

4. Once you have your mixture complete, line a baking sheet with parchment paper

5. Form golf ball-sized balls with your mixture and place on baking sheet. If you wish, flatten cookies slightly using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass

6. Bake in oven for approx. 20-30 minutes or until tops of cookies are solid. If you can fight temptation, let cool to harden

CHOCOLATE MONTH: SWEET POTATO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

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flux, n.

The natural state. Our moods change. Our lives change. Our feelings for each other change.  Our bearings change. The song changes. The air changes. The temperature of the shower changes.

Accept this. We must accept this.

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I always find myself coming back to those words when going through a period of ambiguity and confusion. I read the quote {as it is not so much an actual definition} ages ago and thought to write it down, not knowing how much it would serve me over the years. Whenever I feel uneasy, I read it over which I find to be quite grounding. We can plan ahead but nothing is truly certain and we must accept this. Once we do, many of our doubts and negative thoughts will dissipate.

My trip to Costa Rica was put on the back burner as a series of events unfolded the day of my departure. Instead of dwelling on disappointment and fear of missing out, I focused my energy on the positives. I had the chance to work on an upcoming opportunity, visit good friends, attend back-to-back yoga practices, check out Brendan Brazier‘s book launch, and of course, eat chocolate. Doesn’t chocolate always make things better? It does for me, at least a little bit.
If chocolate isn’t your go to for feel-good foods, perhaps the individual ingredients of this recipe are. Sweet potato and cacao both have tremendous health benefits and are packed full of nutrients.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and boast antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar regulating nutrients. The antioxidants found in sweet potatoes may even be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. Like sweet potatoes, cacao also promotes cardiovascular health with its antioxidant power. It is also rich in fibre, stimulating the body’s production of digestive enzymes. And that makes things better for us all.

This recipe makes for one serving but can easily be adjusted to make two by doubling up on the ingredients. It’s the perfect dessert to serve if you’re hosting a dinner party, especially if, like me, baking isn’t your forte. To make things easier or if you’re in a rush, keep in mind you can also pre-bake your sweet potatoes so they’re ready to go. This will decrease your prep time by at least half an hour to which you can simply blend all ingredients and let set in the fridge until guests arrive.

The Ingredients {Yield: 1 serving Total Time: 45 minutes}

  • 1 sweet potato, baked
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave, honey, or maple syrup
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • dash cinnamon

The Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potato on cooking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender

2. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth

3. Scoop in to individual size serving bowl and place in fridge for approx. 15 minutes to set

4. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, add toppings! I opted for chia seeds, raspberries, and mint {other topping ideas include unsweetened shredded coconut, cacao nibs, whipped cashew cream… the list goes on}

*Should you find yourself without vanilla beans, use vanilla protein powder or pure vanilla extract in lieu

CHOCOLATE MONTH: RAW CHOCOLATE WITH ALMOND FILLING

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When asked the question “which do you prefer, sweet or savory?” my initial response is almost always savory, without a doubt. Yet a second later, I’m usually second guessing myself, wondering if I should have chosen sweet. I’ve tried to pick which I prefer but I’ve come to conclude I don’t need to pick favourites; I can love both equally, or I can even love one more than the other on any given day. On days that my sweet cravings are in full swing {which have gone down considerably since I have been more conscious of the foods I put in my body}, I feel as though I’d do just about anything to get my hands on some chocolate. I’ve even gone as far as eating previous years’ Christmas chocolate that had been hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of my kitchen cupboards. Thankfully, this chocolate recipe has less ingredients than I do fingers and is not at all difficult to make over and over again. This way, I won’t ever have to be without it.

Coconut oil has really exploded as a health staple over the last year or so, and as much as it is looked at as a fad {see also: kale, açaí, chia seeds, and quinoa}, it’s also what I would consider a superfood. It makes a great vegan substitute for spreads, is a source of lauric acid, and also contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. Looking for an all-natural way to moisturize your body and hair? It can do that too. It’s the key in making this chocolate extremely creamy, which is a super important quality for chocolate to have, in my opinion. It’s so good in fact, I’m eating it as I write this. Although I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that I’m leaving to the land of sun and sand, or better known as Costa Rica, in just a few days so I’m going to be bringing some – not all, of course – of my leftover chocolate to work as a sweet treat for my coworkers. Brownie points!

Speaking of Costa Rica, I am beyond happy to be escaping the polar vortex that has been the majority of winter here in Toronto. Next week’s chocolate post will be delayed by a few days while I recharge, reconnect, and most importantly, bask in vitamin D.

Show of hands, who would be interested in seeing a tropical Costa Rican inspired post?

The Ingredients {Yield: 150g Total Time: 45 minutes}

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 5 tablespoons agave, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • dash coarse sea salt

The Directions

1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together, excluding almond butter and shredded coconut

2. Pour half the chocolate mixture in a pan and put in freezer for 10 minutes

3. Once chocolate is solid, remove from freezer and smear with almond butter and sprinkle shredded coconut, then pour remaining chocolate on top. If you wish, add extra shredded coconut and coarse salt on top for texture

4. Put back in freezer for 30 minutes. Once ready, cut chocolate into pieces and enjoy!

*Chocolate is best stored in fridge or freezer to prevent melting

MAMA’S HOMEMADE GRANOLA

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I currently eat granola at least 3 times per week, usually for breakfast. Whether it’s mixed with a banana and almond milk as a cereal, or topped with berries and coconut yogurt for a parfait. I absolutely love it; it’s just as easy to eat at home as it is on the go, simply throw it into a glass jar and you’re ready. However, I have a little confession to make… I often end up buying {though organic and preservative free} packaged granola. Why I didn’t think of making my own granola sooner, I don’t know. Luckily, my mama is in town and I’ve asked her to show me her secret to a delicious, filling, and heart-healthy granola that can easily be made into large batches to last through the entire week.

Having mom in town also means taking her to some my favourite shops in the city. We spent an afternoon this past weekend perusing, which lead to a minor splurge on my part. I stumbled upon a really neat reusable plastic wrap alternative, Abeego hemp & beeswax food wrap, which I ended up using to seal the lidless vintage glass mason jars I bought. So cool right? The food wraps come in 3 different sizes and are just so versatile. Not only do they cut down on waste but they last forever and also keep food fresher, longer.

Whole grain rolled oats are an all-natural, gluten-free source of fibre and iron. By adding hemp hearts, you’ll get an extra boost of fibre and iron, as well as protein and complex carbohydrates, providing long-lasting energy for the day ahead. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, either! Other delicious options to consider are cacao nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, dates, dried apricots, and warm spices {think nutmeg, all spice and cloves}. Not only is this granola simple to make but it’s also a convenient portable meal for all the super busy “I have no time to breathe, let alone eat breakfast” folk.

The Ingredients {Yield: 6-8 servings Total Time: 30 minutes}

  • 3 cups whole grain rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • sprinkle coarse salt

The Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and in a bowl, mix together all ingredients using your hands, making sure all dry ingredients are fully coated

2. Scoop granola mixture onto baking sheet and spread out, creating an even layer

3. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, mix granola using a wooden spoon to ensure a golden colour throughout

4. Let cool and serve as a snack or with almond or soy milk and a generous serving of fresh berries

NATURAL CURES FOR YOUR WINTER COLD

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Well here we are, smack-dab in the middle of winter. Cold & flu season has arrived, but what does that even really mean? Contrary to popular belief, cold weather itself has little impact on whether or not we get sick; we will not simply catch a cold by going outside with our hair wet, either.

We tend to get sicker during the colder months likely due to a number of reasons. Firstly, people are spending much more time indoors and in close proximity to others, making it much easier for the body to pick up nasty germs. Lack of vitamins A, C & D, and lack of sunshine in general, are also factors that are essential in keeping the immune system happy. According to Raymond Francis, author of the book Never Be Sick Again, if you’re already sick, take vitamin C every half hour to bowel tolerance, which means taking it up to the point where you begin getting excessive gas or diarrhea then back off. It is claimed to be so effective that in a matter of hours, the cold will be gone! I have yet to be sick this winter, so I can’t confirm that the above method works but you won’t know if you don’t try. Lack of rest also plays a role as to why we get sick. Sleep is critical to health and getting adequate amounts strengthens the immunity. Your best bet is to slow down this winter and take more time to relax and sleep {helloooo, glorious naps}. Lastly, poor diet is also known to contribute to colds and flus. As a preventative measure, focus on incorporating whole foods high in nutrients; dark leafy greens, root vegetables, and seasonal fruit are all great options.

Should you find yourself bedridden, all congested and snotty-nosed, then see below for 10 natural cures sure to bring you back to life:

1. Oil of Oregano, containing antiviral and antioxidant properties. When sick, apply 4 drops under your tongue, twice daily. This stuff is potent; if it’s too strong for your liking, mix the drops in a glass of orange juice

2. Vitamin C, take fresh or as a supplement. Try juicing 2 oranges and 1 lemon for a perfect glass of OJ

3. Clear Fluids, helps break up congestion and keep you hydrated

4. Sweat, either in a steam room or sauna. Sweating eliminates the body of toxins and is also a sleep aid

5. Homemade Lemon Ginger Tea, an anti-inflammatory tea that is packed with vitamin C and known to relieve nausea

6. Raw Honey, taken by the spoonful to suppress cough and sore throat

7. Raw Garlic, can be taken by the spoonful {do not chew or eat on empty stomach} or added to dishes to boost the production of white blood cells, helping to fight off bacteria, parasites, and viruses

8. Rest, lots and lots of rest. Not providing your body with enough rest while your immune system is down is a surefire way to remain sick

9. Epsom Salt Bath, not only will the bath relax you, it may also relieve headaches

10. Positivity, every thought has a physical effect on your body, for better or worse. Something as simple as having a daily mantra can work wonders

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