To kick off November I am sharing a tasty snack recipe that I like making a variation of at least once a month. These date based energy bites are relatively quick to make and the spicy ginger and molasses flavours are fitting for the wintery season we’re edging in to.
Am going to keep the chatter on this post short but I do want to let you know that you should totally make these and bring them to your next pot-luck event or office as a surprise treat for your co-workers (those that I work with may be getting a taste of these soon... just sayin').
Gingerbread Energy Bites Recipe
250 g soaked dates (at least an hour or more if they are quite dry)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp each cloves, nutmeg & salt
1 tbsp molasses
⅓ C each sprouted raw pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews, buckwheat groats, and rolled oats
Blend all in food processor (scraping down the sides however many time you need to get this texture). Makes about 18 small rounds.
1 - It's delicious. Granted I will eat nearly anything. However, these little seeds are excellent vehicles of flavour since they themselves have no flavour so this allows for creative flavour combos... although, I usually lean towards the slightly sweet for the puddings.
2 - It's a portable and make-ahead friendly! A few tablespoons in a mason jar with some almond milk and any extra flavour add-ins and you are on your way to pudding goodness. I usually make a few jars on Sunday night and leave them in the fridge for quick morning breakfasts, a midday snack or a tasty dessert if any last until the end of the week.
3 - Nutrient dense super food! These little seeds have a lot packed in to their tiny packaging. High in protein, fiber, omega-3, iron, magnesium and plenty more. Top off with add-ins like fresh or dried fruits, nuts and seeds and you've got yourself a really great combination of energetic fuel!
4 - They make an excellent egg replacer for baking! Just combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, let sit for 5-10 minutes and you now have an egg replacer for cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, or sweet breads! Sometimes I combine ground chia and flax seeds for an ultra nutrient dense egg replacer for baking too.
5 - They can be used to make a jams that do not require commercially produced pectin and the ridiculous amount of sugar needed to make the pectin work. Just berries of your choosing, a bit of sweetner (I like maple syrup or local honey) and chia seeds! Here's one of my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows :)
This is how I make my chia puddings:
Chocolate Chia Pudding
4 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 tsp camu camu*
1 tsp non-gmo soy lecithin**
1/4 tsp vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of Himalayan salt (or sea salt)
1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
1 tbsp maple syrup (honey or agave works too)
Toppings: sliced fruits, chopped nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, etc.
1 - Combine first six ingredients in a straight sided mason jar. Screw on lid and give it a good shake to mix all the dry ingredients together.
2 - Add milk and sweetener, replace lid and shake well.
3 - Remove lid and using a spoon or small spatula scrape down the sides of the jar to ensure everything is on the liquid.
4 - Replace lid again and let sit for 30 minutes or place in fridge and use within 5 days.
5 - When ready to eat just remove lid and place whatever toppings you'd like on top, mix and chow down. Or pour in to a bowl for added pretty presentation points ;)
*Camu camu is totally optional. I've recently been adding this to my chia puddings for additional vitamin C and antioxidants. Found it at The Light Cellar here in Calgary.
**Non-GMO soy lecithin is also totally optional. However, adding a lecithin add-in is something you may want to consider as a neurotransmitter it aids in memory retention (among many other benefits)! Another great find from The Light Cellar here in Calgary.
Do you include chia seeds in your daily/weekly diet routine? How about baking with it? If you haven't tried it before do you think you may give it a shot? Let me know in the comments or send me a direct message if you have any questions! Enjoy :)
The term Fire Cider has been around since the 1980s thanks to Rosemary Gladstar (a renowned herbalist). However, the concept of this tonic has been around for ages. Many people have parents or grandparents who fed them homemade elixirs or teas of honey, garlic, ginger and/or horseradish for winter time coughs or springtime allergies. A few years later and there are plenty of us who are worse for wear (or watched numerous family and friends) having survived thus far through the standard Western medicine money-grabbing machine. It's time to learn and develop self-sufficient health positive skills, complimentary treatments and preventative tools to be used for overall health maintenance.
I was first introduced to this tonic last winter and after attending a local weekly Folk Herbalist Revival session where we discussed the power of herbal medicines I knew it was time to start new batch. So with the help of the local herbalists session and a Mountain Rose Blog recipe I put this together:
My not-so-precise Fire Cider recipe brewed on October 3, 2015:
*All organic ingredients*
Equal portions of red, white and yellow onion
About half of the portions of onions in equal portion: garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric root
3 different hot peppers (with seeds)
Zest & juice of a lemon
Heaping teaspoons of: multi-coloured peppercorns, cloves, allspice and star anise
All topped with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar to cover.
(Sadly I couldn't find horseradish root at the time of making this batch... next time though!)
I placed the sealed bottle in a pantry cupboard and checked on it nearly daily. Shaking the bottle to mix the ingredients and watched the concoction change over the next few weeks from slightly murky to all the ingredients taking on the similar brownish colour (except the red hot peppers) and the smell reaching a spectacularly pungent kick.
After three weeks, I decided it was time to filter. The now mineral rich and powerful tonic had been infusing for 21 days was filtered from the contents and I added about 1/2 cup of raw unpasteurized honey. This last ingredient has two great benefits: firstly it sweetens the brew to reduce the harshness of the medicine and secondly, it brings the added benefits of wonderful raw unpasteurized honey to the mix!
After I posted the Fire Cider images above to my Instagram page I received a lot of great feedback looking for more details on the medicinal properties. Without making this the longest blog post ever and listing the seemingly endless details of each ingredient's property here are some key features that I like to focus on with this medicine:
- A potent flavonoid in onions called quercetin has been studied quite a bit for the antioxidant properties in preventing cancer. Also note that red onions have the highest levels of quercetin.
- Contains the compound allyl propyl disulphide and studies have shown that it seems to have a similar effect as insulin in balancing blood sugar levels.
- Fun Fact: Egyptians loved onions so much that they were regarded as objects of worship and images of the plant have been found inside some pyramids and tombs.
- Allicin is the compound of great attention here as it has profound antibiotic properties.
- The funny thing about allicin is that it is actually a defense mechanism created by two enzymes, allinase and alliin, and is produced after the plant have been injured. Therefore, chop or crush your garlic and get the most out of your food medicine folks!
- Also, there are blood pressure regulating properties in garlic when red blood cells produce hydrogen sulfide gas after absorbing the sulphuric compounds from the garlic consumed. This gas works by expanding blood vessels which in turn can lower/regulate blood pressure!
- The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are complex. The most potent compound is called gingerol (aka -gingerol... there are a few different numbers of this compound) and a number of studies have shown significant effect with arthritis patients.
- Added bonus there are anti-oxidative (keeps you young!) and antimicrobial properties. All good for the stressed out and not-always-good-for-you microbe filled environments we live and play in!
- Known as one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories on the planet and has been used in Aruvedic medicine for thousands of years.
- A component of great interest is curcumin as it has postitive effects on the body produced molecules that cause inflammation. Very important for alleviating arthritis.
- Yet another potent ingredient that does not disappoint with its many compounds and healing properties. The chief one for me being the antioxidant activities of the flavonoids (with phenolic acids) and capsaicinoids characteristics of hot peppers.
- Another amazing benefit, particularly because of my interest in fermenting anything I can find, is that there's been at least one study showing particularly positive evidence of the effects on heart health from consuming fermented red peppers. I will keep you posted as now I'm really looking forward to making my own fermented red pepper hot sauce!
- These little flavour spheres come in a variety of colours and contain an amazing compound called piperine that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects.
- However, what I found really cool about piperine is the anti-angiogenic effects. This means that it stops the growth progression of tumours... There still needs to be more studies on this major alkaloid but it's looking good so far!
- Also, there's potential that piperine may be effective in treating macular degeneration too!
- Known by many cultures and for centuries for its oral health properties it has also been studied for more of its localized numbing effects. It's been called the "most penetrating spice plant" (which totally sounds dirty) and because of that feature more studies are being done.
- Cloves boost circulation while also being a pain desensitizer. The latter effect is caused by the compound eugenol.
- These little spheres of spice that taste like all the other spices combined has origins in Jamaica and has some similar properties as cloves.
- Fun fact: It was recorded that soldiers fighting with Napoleon in 1812 would crush and sprinkle allspice on their feet and in the boots to help keep them warm and ward off infection.
- By the time I reached this ingredient in my research I didn't think I could be more impressed by the powers of spices but Star Anise knocked it out of the park!
- The star compound (pun intended) where a lot of research has been focused is called shikimic acid and known as the "starter ingredient" for the widely used Tamiflu medication that was distributed worldwide during the swine flu scare a few years ago.
- Although amazing in its powers, to extract one pound of shikimic acid it requires 30 pounds of star anise. This created a significant price spike of this already not-so-cheap spice during the swine flu scare.
- These bright yellow fruits have been known for their health benefits for centuries especially in regards to its vitamin C properties.
- Vitamin C plays a vital role in a lot of functions but one that I did not know about until recently was that it works in the formation of collagen, which in turn is extremely beneficial for skin tone and overall healthy skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- There are countless claims to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar on the internet. However, there is also plenty of legitimate scientific studies to back up many of these claims.
- The more important to me is its antioxidant properties due to the polyphenol compounds in ACV which reduces cancer risks.
- An ancient healing nectar that humans have been harvesting for thousands of years - there's even cave drawings in Spain from 8,000 years ago depicting a harvest!
- Among its many health benefits, the antimicrobial abilities of honey have been studied throughout the scientific community and whether you use raw or processed it is still very powerful. In any case, I always prefer raw honey and as local as possible.
By learning what is in and how to make our own medicines I believe a positive ripple of empowerment, health and positivity naturally expands through our connections, communities and throughout the world... one small but powerful individual step at a time.
Will you try making your own medicine? Will you share this knowledge with your family and friends and expand the ripple?
P.S. If you have read this far I'm really humbled and wanted to share one final tip... When you chop raw turmeric expect to get yellowed fingers, cutting boards, knives and pretty much anything it comes in to contact with. It's worth it though, only lasts a few days and is far better than using a rubber glove that will just end up in the garbage. Also, scrubbing with a bit of baking soda helps to remove the yellow staining from your kitchen tools!
*Reference for cloves, allspice and star anise: Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. By: Aggarwal, Bharat B.
I love breakfast. A lot. Not only is it the most important meal of the day but I find that eating a really fulfilling meal in the morning really sets the day off on the right foot. I do usually prefer a savoury breakfast over a sweet one when given the option but have recently been on a smoothie and chia pudding train for a few months now... and have arrived at:
As I'm always on the search for different ways to change up breakfast I stumbled across this recipe from a newly found blog called Kiss My Broccoli. Great blog and I totally will be trying out more finds on this funny lady's site.
At first glance this pudding totally kind of looks a bit like baby food but once some crunchy texture was added with nuts and buckwheat groats it took on a whole new level of chia pudding that I will most certainly be making again (and since we ended up making 4 servings I get to have this again tomorrow! Yes!!).
Now, if you haven't had buckwheat groats before I highly suggest giving them a try. Despite the name, buckwheat groats are not actually related to wheat but are considered a fruit and are chock-full of good for us nutrients including all essential amino acids (aka proteins), are high in fibre and are gluten free! If you'd like to learn more about this great food check out this Wikipedia article. I like eating them raw (after a quick rinse) and I've also cooked them for salads (to replace rice). They're nutty flavoured and add just the right crunch for this breakfast pudding.
Without fail there were changes to the original recipe inspiration and this is what ended up in my version:
Carrot Cake Chia Pudding
1 serving (multiplies easily)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
3-5 drops liquid stevia (I used English Toffee flavoured)
1/2 tsp Hazelnut extract (or vanilla)
Toppings: dates, raisins, shredded coconut, walnuts and/or buckwheat groats (I use this Bob's Red Mill variety - usually available at most health food stores or larger grocery stores)
1 - Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir well, cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight. I always end up storing in canning jars since I eat breakfast once I get to work - they're portable, sturdy and a great portion size!
2 - When ready to eat top with desired toppings (I used chopped walnuts and groats for texture and flavour) and prepare for breakfast decadence.
Note: I wouldn't want to eat this every day with all the coconut milk but perhaps making it with another milk option would lighten it a bit. However, since pumpkin comes in giant cans I'll likely be trying out another recipe from Kiss My Broccoli - Carrot Cake Quinoa! Wowsa!!
So - will you give this a shot? I sure hope you do and tell me all about it :)
My roomies and I decided that we would do our best to try to eat a clean, raw and vegan diet for a few weeks. Of course, life happens and this week has proven no different and although there have been a few "cheats" they were still healthier than alternatives available. There are work schedule changes, lunch dates and homes that are filled with the air equivalent to the inside of a hot oven that sucks all energy out of you at the end of the day.
Last night, however, we tackled a new recipe and with a few personal touches the results were far beyond expectations. Inspiration for the dinner came via Pinterest and a recipe found on Eating Vibrantly. Since we have big appetites in this house we doubled the recipe and it worked out really well for four hearty portions plus two lunches! There were some tweaks so here is how we ended up making this delicious dinner:
Raw Taco Salad
Walnut Taco Meat
1.5 packed cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 2 hours (up to 8 hours) and drained
2 cups walnuts
1 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp olive oil
⅛-1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
¾ tsp each chili, cayenne and/or chipotle pepper (more or less how you like it)
Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours (up to 8 hours) and drained
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup filtered water
⅔ cup ice
1 tsp smoky spice blend (we had a Caribbean flavour variety)
1 tsp garam masala spice blend
1-3 tsp Sambal Oelek chili paste or any kind of hot sauce on hand (more of less how you like it)
2-3 Ripe avocadoes, diced and scooped from shells
¼-1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 lime, zested and juiced
1-2 small tomatoes, diced
½ sweet pepper (colour – your choice), diced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, finely diced (more or less how you like it)
Salad Assembly (1 serving)
1-2 cups mixed greens (whatever you like best)
½ to ¾ cup Walnut Taco Meat
¼ to ½ cup guacamole
1-3 tbsp Cashew Sour Cream
2-4 crumbled raw tomato chips (we pick up ours at the Healthy Delights Living Foods vendor from the Calgary Farmer’s Market)
In two separate bowls place sun-dried tomatoes and cashews in water and leave to soak for at least 2 hours (the more the better). Drain.
Combine all guacamole ingredients in a bowl, stir gently and thoroughly and let flavours blend by putting in fridge until ready to use for serving assembly.
Make the walnut taco meat by combining drained sun-dried tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse, scrape down the sides of processor bowl and continue processing until well combined, but still chunky.
Make the cashew sour cream by combining the drained cashews with all the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the spices in a blender until smooth and creamy. If you don’t have a high-powered blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) this process will take a few extra minutes of pulsing/blending and using a spatula to scrape down the sides and continue blending until it gets as smooth as your machine will make it. The cream will at first look really thin but not to worry it does thicken as it sits blends. Once blended to your preference, pour in to bowl and stir spices and chili paste.
Assemble salad ingredients on individual plates or in bowls. Eat and be amazed.
If any leftovers of the walnut taco meat or cashew sour cream survive the meal keep in the fridge for up to a week. Also, the cashew sour cream will really thicken in the fridge so if you will be using it for another recipe, remove from fridge at least 20-30 minutes prior to using so it can soften and be more workable.
And that's it! I highly recommend trying this out. Each component of the meal brings so much flavour and we were coming up with other ways to change them up for breakfast burritos, lunch wraps and all sorts of other ideas. I wouldn't want to eat this more than once a week since it's so nut laden but will certainly be keeping this in the rotation.
Leave me a comment below if you give this a go! I'd love to hear how you made this your own.