Summer Smoothie Bowls!

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Summertime has got me on a smoothie bowl kick, lately. Berries are in season, and there’s nothing like spooning into that creamy, fruity thickness. During a time of year where hydration is essential, smoothie bowls are a wonderful way to stay hydrated, while filling up on fiber and essential nutrients.

Acai

Typically, acai bowls are most popular. An antioxidant-powerhouse, acai berries are very similar to grapes, their flesh and skin containing many vitamins and nutrients. When you have the opportunity to purchase the berries, DO IT! It’s a wonderful snack, with so many healing properties.

As far as smoothie bowls go, the most common frozen acai packs are Sambazon brand (found in many grocery stores). These are a wonderful, convenient way to make smoothie bowls, however, they come with a few, personal caveats: SUGAR and SOY. Be sure to check the label and make sure no added sugar is in these smoothie packs. Sambazon does sell an added sugar-free acai pack, but those contain soy lecithin, which is an emulsifier, or lubricant (and sometimes called “antioxidant-protector”). For me, as a woman who is always-focused on hormone health, soy is something to steer clear of (aside from small doses of fermented soy).

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit (also called (pitaya”) is said to have a taste similar to a kiwi or a pear. Personally, I think it’s damn close to acai, and the perfect headliner in a smoothie bowl! Dragon fruit has high amounts of fiber and magnesium, and a very low calorie (as well as sugar) count. It’s filled with essential antioxidants, and is very healing for the liver. PitayaPlus carries convenient, frozen smoothie packs, to easily create your own smoothie, or smoothie bowl. An added-bonus (and why it’s my favorite): DRAGON FRUIT IS THE ONLY INGREDIENT! No added sugar or soy!

smoothie bowl essentials

What creates the perfect smoothie bowl? Well, the beauty here is that it’s up to you! I find having a good frozen to non-frozen ratio is important, for creating thickness, but not too much thickness (haha, clear as mud, right?!) I love added nothing but fruit: banana, blueberries and strawberries.

Aside from the actual smoothie bowl ingredients, toppings are probably just as (if not more) exciting! I love to add a combination of nut butters, nuts, seeds, cacao and sweetness. Ryan and I love the grain-free granola from Truce, and this week, I tried to recreate it, based on their ingredients. Not exactly the same, but good enough!

Smoothie bowl essentials.

Smoothie bowl essentials.

Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 pack, frozen PitayaPlus pack (found at Whole Foods or Target)

  • 1 chilled banana (I leave in freezer for 30 minutes)

  • 1/2 cup frozen, organic blueberries

  • 1/2 cup frozen, organic strawberries

Directions

  1. Blend pitaya, banana, blueberries and strawberries, until thick.

  2. Pour into bowl, and smooth out.

  3. Add your favorite toppings. My current favorites are a remake of Truce’s grain-free granola, Hu Kitchen Hunks, Coyo Coconut Yogurt, or Coconut Cult, extra strawberries and some hemp hearts.

  4. Scoop and enjoy! I like to blend all of my ingredients together, so it’s a delicious mess. What about you?!

Are you a clean scooper?

Are you a clean scooper?

Or a messy one?

Or a messy one?


Ayurveda

As someone who is currently, especially focused on her gut, digestion is essential. Cccording to Ayurveda, it’s important to keep the digestive “fire” hot (which smoothie bowls can dampen, especially in the morning). Because of this, I always make sure to sip a warm cup of tea, while indulging on a smoothie bowl. I find it helps me feel a little less-bloated, and is easier on my system.

If you’re especially interested in following Ayurveda, it’s recommended that Vata’s, especially, consume fruit alone, and nothing else an hour before or after (to help with digestion). I’ve tried this before, and honestly DID feel better. I find that in the smoothie bowl-situation, a cup of warm tea is better than nothing!


What are you favorite smoothie bowl ingredients?! Now that summer is here, it’s fun to think of all of the options! Even hitting up a farmer’s market, and finding fresh fruit, and freezing it, would be an excellent option!

xoxo,

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Why You Should Be Eating More Chocolate!

How many of you experience SERIOUS chocolate cravings?! Maybe your period has just arrived, and there’s nothing you are dreaming of more than biting into a gooey, chocolate chip cookie?! Girl, I hear you.

Have you ever wondered why you’re craving that chocolate, in the first place? Or what your body is really asking for?!

Chocolate isn’t bad for you, and in fact, when you’re eating quality-stuff, it’s pretty damn healthy (as well as tasty)! Today, I’m dishing all on chocolate.

Cacao VS. Cocoa: The Differences

Have you ever wondered why some people say “cacao” while others say “cocoa”? Isn’t chocolate chocolate? While both start off the same, the processing they go through (and how they end up) is very different.

Cacao beans come from cacao trees. You can eat the bean raw, which in its purest form, is very bitter.

Cacao

Raw (or minimally-processed) cacao beans are superfoods. Some benefits include:

  • Antioxidant effects. Cacao beans are packed with phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids, which protect your cells against damage from free radicals.

  • Boosts your mood and cognitive performance. Epicatechin, the main flavonoid in cacao, improves various aspects of cognition, preserve cognitive abilities during aging, and even puts you in a better mood.

  • Lowers blood pressure. Flavanols have been shown to lower blood sugar and increase blood vessel flexibility.

  • Protects your heart. Flavanols and procyanidins, from cacao, increased antioxidant capacity in the blood plasma and reduced platelet reactivity, resulting in a healthier heart.

  • Regulates insulin levels. Epicatechin, a flavanol in cacao, activates key proteins and help regulate glucose production, even among diabetics.

*Flavanols are naturally-occurring compounds found in a number of commonly enjoyed foods

Cacao beans are also rich in nutrients, like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Types of cacao

Cacao beans are dried, fermented and heated (at low temperatures). The heating helps separate the fatty part, of the bean, from the rest. Let’s discuss what different cacao options are out there:

  • Cacao butter: Made of the fattiest part of the cacao bean. It is white, and has a very rich texture. Being very similar to white chocolate, cacao butter is excellent for baking, as well as for DIY skincare. I love to add a couple pieces of cacao butter to my homemade lattes, for added thickness/creaminess.

  • Cacao nibs: Nibs are chopped up cacao beans. They resemble chocolate chips, but are much more bitter and strong than your typical chocolate chip! They’re a great way to get all of the benefits and antioxidants of the cacao bean! I like to add some on top of smoothies, or in my homemade, chocolate avocado pudding!

  • Cacao powder: The powder is made after all of the fatty parts are removed. Cacao powder is great for homemade hot chocolate, baking, and even dry shampoo (if you have brown hair)!

Cocoa

Cocoa starts off exactly the same as cacao, however, it’s heated at much higher temperatures, during processing. This gives it a bit of a sweeter flavor. Because of it's sweeter flavor, it’s much more popular in baking, than cacao.

Types of Cocoa

There are two types of cocoa powder:

  • Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder: This kind goes under an additional processing, with an alkalized chemical solution, to make the taste less acidic and more rich. More processing means less antioxidants.

  • Natural Cocoa Powder: This flavor will be more acidic than Dutch-Processed.

There is a time and place for both, cacao and cocoa. Cocoa is more readily-available (and cheaper) than cacao. The challenge is in finding good cocoa options without added ingredients like sugars, dairy products, and other “fillers”. Because cacao undergoes less heat, during processing, more antioxidants and nutrients remain, compared to cocoa.

Milk Chocolate Vs. Dark Chocolate

To most, milk chocolate tastes better, and that should come at no surprise. It’s got added dairy, sugars and other ingredients to make it that way! However, adding dairy to chocolate limits the body’s ability to absorb the phytonutrients found in chocolate. So, that means there are no health benefits to eating milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cacao. The more cacao, the more nutrients.

The unfortunate thing is that most chocolate out there contains some form of dairy, which means that even if you’re consuming more cacao, the dairy is blocking the antioxidants from being absorbed.

I always recommend dairy-free chocolate, when you can. Yet, most dairy-free chocolate, found at regular grocery stores, contain lots of added sugars. Pick your battles!

Best Cacao options

Instead, I have a couple of recommendations:

Photo posted by  Cosmic Cacao , and taken by  @matterpatter .

Photo posted by Cosmic Cacao, and taken by @matterpatter.

  • Eating Evolved: Their mission is that “It’s Food. Not Candy”. All of their products are certified organic, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, and vegan. No additives. Nothing unnatural.

  • Hu Kitchen: Hu mentions their “NO’s” to ingredients like dairy, gmos, emulsifiers, soy, gluten, refined sugar, cane sugar, sugar alcohols.

  • Cosmic Cacao: Local to Minnesota, Katherine’s mission is “to create a chocolate that not only tastes great, but feels great!” Each bar is made using fair trade and organic ingredients, as well as local honey, and superfoods to make you feel amazing. I’m a BIG FAN of this business!

  • Dandelion Chocolate: A super-cute spot, in the Mission District of San Fran, Dandelion sources high-quality cacao and carefully crafts small batches of chocolate, striving to bring out the individual nuances of each bean.

  • Honey Mamas: Honey Mama’s are honey-cocoa bars made from five nutrient-rich ingredients. They are direct-trade, non-GMO and organic.

The thing I love about all of these chocolate bars are the variety in which they can be used. Making a recipe that calls for chocolate chips? Break up one of these chocolate bars!

Cosmic Cacao even has a “Joint Bar”, which contains 55 mg of CBD oil. I recently found out that cacao, and turmeric (which are in the “Joint Bar”) help the body absorb the CBD more readily, giving maximum benefits! HOW COOL!!


The next time you’re craving chocolate, go ahead and have some! Chances are if you’re indulging in the good stuff, your body is going to thank you - in more ways than one!

xoxo,

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Paleo Pumpkin Custard

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*Written last week*

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s the official start of the holiday season; a time to get together with family, and an opportunity to eat some delicious comfort food. As a person with unique dietary preferences, Thanksgiving has always been an occasion for me to try some new recipes. One year, I attempted a vegan cheesecake (using non-dairy milk and cream cheese); another year, I graduated in the dairy-free department, and moved onto a REAL vegan cheesecake, made with cashews. During my “meat-free years”, I made lentil balls and delicious collard green salads. And some years, I’ve eaten everything everyone else has, minus the gluten and the dairy. It’s an opportunity to try new things, which is always a passion of mine.

Most years, I tend to go overboard in the kitchen. Overwhelming myself, at the last minute, wishing I would have started earlier, or picked something easier, and so for that reason, this year is all about simplicity: with the menu and the ingredients.

We bought the turkey. It’s brining in the fridge, and last night, I decided to make my desserts ahead of time. This year, I’m making pumpkin custard. The recipe came from one of my dearest friends, Carrie. It’s easy, delicious and actually really healthy for you!

Pumpkin is high in Vitamin A, which is good for skin-health. It’s low-calorie dense, meaning it contains mostly water, and fills you up, on fewer calories. It’s high in antioxidants, in general, and is a good source of fiber.

Coconut is antifungal and antibacterial, and is very helpful in treating certain illnesses. Their high levels of antioxidants are helpful for skin and aging, as well.

Honey (when purchased locally) is a wonderful source of antioxidants, and great for allergies and colds.

Gelatin is great for gut health! It helps coat the lining of the stomach, and is a great source of protein and collagen! Collagen is helpful for bone health, as well as skin and nails, plus it the Lysince (an amino acid) helps promote restful sleep.


Paleo Pumpkin Custard

  • 1 can pumpkin

  • 1 TBSP honey

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 1 TBSP gelatin (I use Vital Proteins)

  1. Mix pumpkin, honey and cinnamon in a bowl.

  2. Heat coconut milk, in a saucepan, but turn heat off before it boils.

  3. Slowly whisk in gelatin (working to get rid of any big pieces)

  4. Mix in heated milk/gelatin in with pumpkin.

  5. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate.


This recipe isn’t going to taste like pumpkin pie, FYI. My mom and my brother’s girlfriend both tried it, without knowing this, and I think they were wishing it was sweeter. The texture, however, is just like pumpkin pie (thanks to the gelatin). If you decide you do want it to be sweeter, you could add in more honey.


Thanksgiving aside, this recipe is one I like to make every so often, for a quick and healthy dessert. It’s quickly become a staple at my home. Let me know if it becomes one in yours!

xoxo,

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Friday Feels!

FRIDAY! Everybody's favorite day of the week! A time to let loose, relax and enjoy ourselves. Since Friday is such a popular day, all around, I wanted to give you one more reason to look forward to the day. Let me introduce to you, "Friday Feels"; a weekly post covering bits and pieces, odds and ends, favorite products, current events, health news, how I'm feeling, YOU NAME IT! Have a topic you'd like me to cover?! Let me know! This weekly post is for you guys!

Primal Kitchen... Your Future Best Friend, in the Kitchen!

Primal kitchen mayo. Photo, primal kitchen.

Primal kitchen mayo. Photo, primal kitchen.

First up today is a brand I'm LOVING: Primal Kitchen. Primal Kitchen, started by Mark Sisson, is a company that puts high-quality, primal, anti-inflammatory ingredients at the top of their 'to-do list'... always. From salad dressings to collagen protein, this company produces products consumers can feel good about!

My all-time-favorite-product? Their mayo! Now, I know what you're thinking, "MAYO?! Ewwww!" But let me stop you there. Mayo, when made the RIGHT way, is actually incredibly healthy for you. Primal Kitchen knows how; they combine avocado oil (instead of canola or soybean oil), with organic, cage-free eggs, and some vinegar and salt... that's it! No sugars, no syrups, no BS! FINALLY, a mayo I can feel good about consuming, and boy do I consume it, regularly (hello egg and chicken salad)!

All of Primal Kitchen's products are paleo-approved, containing NO added sugars (amazing, right?!) Their mayo, dressings and avocado oil are keto-approved, as well.

Primal Kitchen salad dressings. Photo, primal kitchen.

Primal Kitchen salad dressings. Photo, primal kitchen.

Another one of my favorites is their salad dressing! Similarly to their mayo, these dressings don't contain any BS, and boy do they taste delicious! These dressings are made with avocado oil, and contain no dairy, gluten OR sugar (hard to come by in a salad dressing)! My current favorite? The Green Goddess Dressing, which has a slight ranch-taste, with added herbs and spices; so tangy and so delicious!

Hop on the Collagen-Train

Collagen has SO many benefits; the world is talking all about it! Bone, joint, skin, hair, sleep, gut health... you name it! Collagen contains a ton of amino acids that help your body heal, from the inside. As you all know, Vital Proteins collagen and gelatin holds a special place in my heart, but that doesn't mean I don't like to sniff around for other great collagen-based products! Primal Kitchen has a couple of super-awesome ones, and I wanted to talk about these, as well:

Primal kitchen collagen fuel. photo, primal kitchen.

Primal kitchen collagen fuel. photo, primal kitchen.

  • Collagen Fuel (Vanilla and Chocolate): These collagen powders contain powdered coconut milk, a healthy dose of fat to help you curb your hunger for periods of time! They're sweetened with monk fruit, a natural sugar-free sweetener (similar to Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer).
  • Collagen Peptides: This flavorless and odorless powder is great to add to hot or cold liquids (similar to Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides).
  • Collagen Nut & Seed Bar: These bars are tasty! They're like a healthy nut bar, with added collagen-benefits.

Right now, Primal Kitchen is offering a sweet deal! If you sign up for a subscription of their Collagen Fuel, you will receive that for 10% off, as well as a bottle of their Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette, FOR FREE! Seriously, a great deal and opportunity for you to try a couple of these great products! Subscriptions age great, too, because they give you the choice of determining how often you'd like to receive product, without worrying about running out.

Get 10% off, Always

Maybe the Collagen Fuel isn't for you; maybe you don't want to commit to a subscription. If you're still interested in any of these wonderful products, I have a sweet promo code that you can use, which will offer 10% off your entire purchase, each time you buy. Click here and use promo code, "KATE10"!


Chicken Salad Recipe

Eating chicken salad outside. my q-life.

Eating chicken salad outside. my q-life.

  1. Cook chicken to your preference (I usually just boil, on the stove). Shred and let cool. Place in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add celery and cucumber and spices to taste.
  3. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat. I like to put my chicken salad on a bed of organic arugula, and sometimes on top of a toasted slice of bread, or with a Siete tortilla.
  4. Enjoy!