Earthy Sourdough Pancakes

To make this recipe, you'll first need a sourdough starter. For directions on how to make a sourdough starter, check out this in depth tutorial here. It's actually quite simple to make a sourdough starter, and once you have one, it lasts years. In fact, sourdough starters have traditionally been passed down through families, from generation to generation. Natural sourdough is much better for you than regular bread. I'm going to make a bold statement here and say the only bread you should be consuming should be made with whole ingredients (e.g. flour, salt, water) and naturally fermented or sprouted. True sourdough goes through a natural fermentation process which breaks down the phytic acid found in bread, making the bread much easier for our systems to digest and making the nutrients found in the whole grains available to us. This is how bread used to be made before instant yeast was created, and one of the reasons gluten intolerance wasn't an issue for our grandparents' generation. Unfortunately, this bread is much harder to obtain since its a lengthier, more labor intensive means of baking bread. Read more about the process here

I found this recipe here, one of my new favorite blogs. I only modified the recipe slightly, adding in buckwheat flour because, 1. we love buckwheat, and 2. buckwheat is an even healthier grain than whole wheat flour IMO. It gave the pancakes a lovely earthy flavor, very very hygge.

So now for the recipe (trust me it's so delicious, it was worth all the reading to get to it). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Directions: The night before take 1 cup of active sourdough starter and add the 2 cups of flour to it. Mix thoroughly, set aside and cover in plastic or with a towel to sit out overnight (for at least 8 hours). The flours will ferment overnight naturally breaking down the phytic acid and making it easier for your body to digest the next morning. The next morning add the remainder of the ingredients to your sourdough mixture, add the baking soda last. The mixture will foam when you add the baking soda. This is a good thing : ) Then, ladle out batter onto a buttered or coconut oiled skillet and flip after the batter has formed bubbles and the bubbles have popped. Make sure the skillet has had proper time to warm up before you add the batter. Directly after you ladle out your batter onto your skillet is the perfect time to add anything you want (e.g. nuts, berries, chocolate chips). We kept it simple and added blueberries but the sky's the limit. Have fun with it. These are so good! I hope you enjoy them! 

Spicy and Aromatic Chai Recipe

As you may know, I recently began teaching Ashtanga yoga. One of the studio's traditions is for the teacher to bring some good Indian, yogi chai for students to enjoy Sunday mornings after class. So, of course, I've been perfecting my recipe, trying it out on my husband, and drinking it throughout the week. It's such a lovely, comforting ritual, a full sensory experience. The warming blend of spices smells like heaven, and the warm cup in between your hands as you drink calms the mind and body. 

Interestingly, chai tea has tons of health benefits. It's an Ayurvedic drink, said to help with decreasing anxiety, improving digestion and circulation, balancing blood sugar, helping with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and relieving PMS symptoms. The spices used have wonderful antioxidants and antibacterial properties, believed to help ward off cancer, lower inflammation, and boost the immune system. Plus, it tastes good, and makes your house smell wonderful as it's brewing!

I like to make up a big batch of the concentrate, store it in the fridge, and reheat throughout the week, adding in the milk and honey when I'm ready to drink it. Below is the recipe I've been using:

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of water
  • 8 slices of fresh ginger root
  • 50 black peppercorns (add less if your resting temperature already runs hot)
  • 30 cloves
  • 30 cardamom pods cracked open
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 black teabags (you can find these in bulk at any supermarket)
  • raw honey to taste (I have been adding 1 spoonful/glass)

Directions

Bring the water to a boil, add in all the spices, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes before adding the black tea. After adding black tea, let simmer for another 15 minutes. If you want your tea less caffeinated, add the teabags later on, but do let the spices simmer for no less than 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and strain your mixture. When you're ready to enjoy, add in milk and honey to taste, heating until the milk has warmed. I have been using equal parts milk and tea, and 1 spoonful of honey per glass I'm making. You should play around with ratios according to taste as some like a sweeter chair, others like a spicier chai, or milkier chai. I have been using organic whole milk but almond, coconut, or soy would also make a lovely combo. Optional ingredients also include star anise, and fennel, but I haven't tried these out in my chai yet. Again, you can save the tea concentrate and then heat up throughout the week. Enjoy!

 

Simple Pleasure of the Week: Holiday Baking

My mom and I used to bake all the time when I was little. We baked so many cookies. I even had my own special apron, with pockets long enough to fit my barbies. The time I spent working as a child and family therapist taught me the importance of rituals and traditions for children, for families, for us all. I still think fondly of the time I spend holiday baking with my mom and those experiences are something I will pass onto my children. There's something special about holiday baking. It's a full sensory experience as you mix the ingredients, smell the scent of the treats as they bake in the oven, and then finally get to bite into them. Holiday baking is this week's simple pleasure. Happy holidays!

Green Detox Breakfast Smoothie

I believe I've mentioned before that Matt and I have a green smoothie for breakfast most mornings. We switched over to green smoothies about a year ago and noticed how much more energy we had, how much lighter we felt, and we haven't looked back since. Starting your day with a smoothie provides an awesome opportunity to get some good servings of veggies while giving your body a few more hours to divert energy it would be using for digestion to rebuilding and repairing. Recently, I figured, if I'm going to be making smoothies every morning, why not create a recipe that has even more health benefits. This smoothie is packed full of good-for-you plant-based ingredients! If you're not a cilantro fan, this probably is not the smoothie for you, though I must say the flavor is quite subtle and refreshing in this recipe.

This recipe makes approx 2 smoothies

  • 1 avocado
  • 1.5 handfuls of frozen mango
  • 8 leaves of kale (though you could substitute any greens of your choice)
  • 4 tbsp flax
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Approx. 1.5 inches of ginger root peeled
  • 4-5 large ice cubes
  • Approx. 1.5 cups water
  • Protein powder (this is our favorite protein powder)

Directions: Blend. Enjoy.

I have a fairly fast metabolism and this smoothie keeps me satisfied until lunchtime. So why these ingredients? Supposedly the combination of cilantro and flax help to detoxify the liver. Cilantro is a major detoxifier, supporting to rid the body of heavy metals, and decrease inflammation. Flax contains good plant-based omega-3 fatty acids which are so good for the skin. It also helps to balance hormones, and works in conjunction with cilantro to support the detoxification process. Mango adds a bit of sweetness, and a smooth consistency to the smoothie while providing a great dose of Vitamin A and C, both of which stimulate collagen production (necessary for smooth supple skin). Kale provides tons of antioxidants and fiber, avocado provides plant-based fat to keep you full longer, while fueling the brain and body, and ginger root further supports digestions and fights inflammation. We use and love the Vitamix blender. It's definitely an investment, but so worth it if you're into healthy eating. We use ours every morning for smoothies, for making vegan sauces, and raw desserts. We actually bought our Vitamix certified refurbished and it's worked perfectly for years. If you've been eyeing a Vitamix but just don't want to spend the money on a new one check out the refurbished options (you save about half the price) here here and here

The Detox and Rebalance Breakfast Smoothie recipe was created after reading the below articles. Check them out for more information on the smoothie ingredients, and how they work to detox and rebalance the body. 

The Best Smoothie Recipe For Bad Skin Days

The Two Random Foods That Cleared My Skin and Balanced My Hormones

Raw Energy Bites

These are such a simple treat to make, require no baking, blending, boiling, or cooking of any kind really. They're raw, so it's just a matter of putting ingredients together. Also, they're so good. I've brought them to yoga potlucks, served them as dessert after dinner parties, and fed them to my hungry husband. They are delicious, but also people seem to be so impressed when you tell them it's a raw, plant-based treat. I do think of these as a healthy treat. They are filled with whole food, good for you ingredients, and contain good plant-based protein. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried oats
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/3 cup nuts (I used chopped walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts)
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Directions: Add all dry ingredients in the bowl first: oats, hemp seeds, nuts, cacao nibs, coconut and mix together. Next add in wet ingredients: almond butter, honey, vanilla extract and mix together. Once the mixture is completely combined, wet your hands with cold water (this helps the mixture from sticking to your hands) take a small portion of mixture and roll it into a ball, arranging them on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet. You may have to wet your hands a few times until you have the balls completed. Once the balls are completed place them in the refrigerator to cool and enjoy after 10-15 minutes of chilling. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy whenever you need a bit of energy or just a little treat. These will keep for about a week but I'd be amazed if they last until then. 

Tulum-Inspired Quinoa Breakfast Bowls

We were first introduced to the idea of quinoa for breakfast in Tulum. I ordered this breakfast bowl early in the trip and then many times after that. This recipe is so simple and easy, filling but light, healthy, and unexpected. Below are the directions for two servings

Ingredients:

  • 2C dried quinoa
  • Soy milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Fruit/berries/nuts of your choice

Directions: First of all, cook the quinoa. I use a rice cooker to cook my quinoa and it's so simple. I use 2:1 water to quinoa, turn the cooker on and wait about 15 minutes. I added some sprinkles of cinnamon to flavor my quinoa for this recipe. Once the quinoa is cooked, add milk to give your bowl a porridgy consistency. My favorite milk of choice to add is soy because I think it gives the bowl a nice nutty flavor but choose according to your preferences (almond, coconut, ect). Top with chopped fruit (I use whatever I have around but berries, apples, mangoes are all good choices), add any chopped nuts if you'd like and sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy! Cooked quinoa is always nice to have on hand, so you could always have some made ahead of time to save time in the morning. In that case, you'd just warm the quinoa with milk, and add your toppings. 

Raw Lemon Vanilla Coconut Cheesecake

We always like to try out raw, vegan, gluten free recipes. It's pretty amazing how plants can replace sugar, cream, and butter. When it was our dear friend's birthday last month, we decided to try our hand at a raw birthday cake that was completely plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, and processed sugar-free. This cheesecake was not only delicious but also a big hit at the celebration. I altered this recipe to decrease the sugar and swap out a couple of ingredients. 

Ingredients

Crust

  • 12 pitted medjool dates
  • 2 tbls water (to help bind everything together)
  • 2 cups of your choice of nuts (I did a combo of cashews, walnuts, and hazelnuts)
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

  • 2 cups raw soaked cashews
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 cups coconut oil liquified
  • 2 tbls maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Directions: First thing's first. Soak those cashews in water for 2 hours or longer. You want them to be soft and plump when you are ready to use them. Grease a pan with coconut oil. I used a 9' spring form pan. Springforms make raw desserts much easier and I can't recommend them enough. For the crust: add the pitted medjool dates, nuts, and salt to a food processor and pulse until mixture is chopped, then add the water and pulse a few more times until the mixture takes on a sticky consistency. Spread the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan and place into the freezer. For the filling: drain the cashews, then add all the contents to a high speed blender or food processor and blend away until everything is smooth and creamy. We used our Vitamix and it mixed everything like a dream. Once the filling is smooth, pour filling into your pan on top of crust and spread out filling evenly. Garnish with lemon zest, then place cheesecake into your freezer for 1-2 hours to set. Done. 

When you're ready to eat the cheesecake, take it out of your freezer and let thaw for 30 minutes or so. You can decide what temperature you prefer your raw cheesecake. Frozen, it will be harder, and as it thaws it gets softer and softer. I prefer mine to be about 30 minutes defrosted. This is such an easy dessert to make, the only drawback is the amount of time it takes with the soaking of the cashews and the freezing of the cake itself. The actual assembly is quite simple and the finished result is beautiful, delicious, and healthier. It's also a nice treat to serve with berries. 

Sweet Potato Kale Salad

We spent the weekend in San Francisco this weekend and had the most unique, delicious kale salad. I thought I would try to recreate that salad but in a simpler recipe. Below is my take on a sweet potato kale salad with olive tapenade. This salad is vegan, gluten free, and so delicious. 

Ingredients: (2 servings)

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • Salt & pepper
  • Dried cranberries
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Olive tapenade
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 6 tbsp Hemp hearts

Dressing:

  • 2:1 ratio of lemon juice:olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 450F and then bake sweet potato wrapped in foil for approx 1 hr, or until soft. While potato is baking wash and chop kale, pour dressing over kale and add generous portions of salt and pepper. Dressing the kale while potato is baking allows kale to marinate and soften a little. After sweet potato is finished, let cool, cube and add to salad. Add cranberries, pepitas, hemp hearts, and olive tapenade. Enjoy!! 

This salad is a wonderful balance of flavors and textures with the salty tangy tastes from the tapenade mixed with the sweet from the cranberries, the crunchiness from the pepitas, and the texture from the hemp hearts. Hemp also adds a nice dose of protein (11g/salad from hemp hearts alone).We only used about half of the sweet potato and plan to use the remainder for another salad later this week. 

Hope you enjoy this salad as much as we did.

Tulum Inspired Smoothie Bowls

Typically on vacations, you splurge when it comes to meals, forget about your diet, and just eat whatever you want. Surprisingly, on our recent Tulum vacation, we ate really clean majority of the time. One reason we were drawn to Tulum was the yoga, holistic vibe going on there. The vegan, raw, holistic food scene there is unreal, and we returned home inspired, with ideas for new recipes. Smoothie bowls were something we ate a lot of in Tulum. They were surprisingly filling, and so refreshing in warm weather. Below is our version of the Tulum's smoothie bowls:

Ingredients: (2 servings)

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 handful frozen mangoes
  • 1/4-1/2 almond milk dependent on consistency
  • 1 in of ginger root peeled
  • 1 packet of frozen acai (found in frozen section at your grocery store)

Toppings:

  • Sliced fruit (bananas, papaya, strawberries)
  • Nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, gogi berries

Directions:

Combine all bowl ingredients in a blender and blend away. We use and love a Vitamix. For vegans and raw foodists, a Vitamix can be a game changer. Other high-powered blenders would do the job as well : ) You want the consistency to be thicker than a typical smoothie you drink. Pour smoothie into bowls and top with fruits, nuts and seeds. We topped our bowls with mangoes, strawberries, banana, hazelnuts, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), chia seeds, and gogi berries. I forgot to add the shredded coconut, but normally would top my bowls with coconut as well. That's it. Enjoy, preferably with an extra large spoon. Buying frozen fruit, and nuts at Costco is a great way to keep the cost of smoothie bowls down. 

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Vanilla Oatmeal Muffins

There was one day last week where I just really wanted some muffins. I was also feeling adventurous, so I decided to pull out a bunch of stuff from our cupboards and fridge, to make my own recipe. These muffins are pretty good, even better the next day for some reason. Give them a try when you want baked goods without refined sugars or gluten. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4C maple syrup
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4C plain yogurt
  • 1/2C blueberries (I used frozen)

 

  • 1C oats
  • 1/4C coconut flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together bananas, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, lemon juice, yogurt, and blueberries. In a separate bowl mix oats, coconut flour, pinch of salt, protein powder, baking soda and baking powder. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle top with a few dry oats. Bake 25-30 minutes. Muffins should be golden brown around the edges and inserted toothpick should come out clean. 

I hope you all enjoy these muffins as much as we did. They are best warmed with some butter or coconut oil added.