Vegan Chocolate Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream

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Chocolate Banana soft serve ice cream with cacao nibs garnish

So I got the idea for this recipe from a youtube video by Tara Stiles which is pretty much identical to what we did except we had to add a bit of almond milk because we used a food processor instead of a vitamix. If you have a vitamix it’s probably best to use that but we made do with our Cuisinart food processor. Check out the video here to actually watch the process. Here’s how we did it.

For two generous servings you will need:

3 bananas

A spoonful of Justin’s chocolate almond butter

Approx 3 tablespoons of Almond milk (you can sub rice or regular milk if you wish)

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this is the chocolate almond butter we used. We bought it at Whole Foods. It’s around $10 but you only need one spoonful/batch

If you are using a vitamix you may not need any almond milk, we just needed to add it to give the food processor a little help.

Directions:

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This is what the mixture will look like as you are blending it. Make sure to open the lid and push everything down a few times in between blending so the blade can catch it all.

Peel and then freeze the bananas for at least 4 hours. Add the frozen bananas to the food processor along with the spoonful of chocolate almond butter and pulse at first on low (if you are using a vitamix I believe there is a frozen dessert setting).  If using a food processor add approx 3 tablespoons of almond milk and blend everything together. This will take some blending and then stirring in order to get everything smooth but it’s worth it and the process takes under 5 minutes…so it’s super quick.

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Spicy Deeeelicious Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese

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Vegan Mac N’ Cheese with red pepper flakes, broccoli and Zucchini

Ughhhh my stomach is sooo full because I just pigged out on this vegan mac n’ cheese and decided to share the recipe with you guys while I was still excited about it. It’s super easy, you do need a blender, vitamix or a food processor to make the sauce, but you could make up this sauce and keep it in your fridge for the week to add to anything really (e.g. a bowl of lentils, brown rice, and veggies). Here’s how I made it but feel free to adapt this recipe to however you’d like.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place chopped veggies in a glass baking dish (I used broccoli, one shallot, and zucchini) toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then bake for approx 15 min. In the meantime boil a pot of salted water and add the pasta ( I used gluten-free brown rice pasta).

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For the Sauce:

1 1/2 C Cashews soaked for 2 hours in water, drained

1 C Water

2 Cloves of Garlic

Juice from 1/2 of a Lemon

1 heaping spoon of Dijon Mustard

1/3 C Nutritional Yeast

A couple shakes of cayenne pepper

A pinch of Tumeric (for color)

Salt and Pepper

Combine all ingredients into your blender, food processor or vitamix and whirl it until smooth (I used a food processor).

Take out the roasted veggies when they are done and then add the “cheese” sauce and drained pasta. Mix in red pepper flakes if you like it spicy (which I do), stir and place back into the oven to bake for 15 more minutes. If you don’t like spicy foods, omit the red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. If you like it spicy you could even garnish with red pepper flakes.

Enjoy. This dish is really good and I think I had more veggies than pasta so it’s fairly healthy!

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Yoga And Fitness??

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As I mentioned earlier in my post on yoga and aging, I’ve been reading “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards” by William J. Broad. Broad is a science journalist who has practiced yoga since 1970 and wrote this book to uncover which yoga claims are scientifically supported, and which are not. What he found about yoga and fitness was surprising to me. He found that yoga, while improving aerobic fitness somewhat, is not nearly as beneficial to your heart as running, biking or swimming. Many studies setting out to study the effectiveness of yoga as a aerobic exercise found time and time again that aerobically, it just doesn’t compare. However, one of the first major studies conducted by Duke University (pg. 56-57) found that the individuals in their yoga group reported feeling better about themselves with enhanced social benefits, better sex and social lives, and improved family relationships. The yoga subjects reported “enhanced sleep, energy, health, endurance and flexibility” and also described “better moods, self-confidence and life satisfaction”. These individuals felt that they looked better. The researchers were surprised, because although they measured that this yoga group hadn’t really gained any aerobic benefits, their perceived and felt benefits far outweighed the aerobic group or control group (pgs. 56-57)

In 2010 a literature review was published that compared the benefits of yoga with those gained from other aerobic activities. While yoga still doesn’t measure up aerobically to other forms of exercise (e.g. running, swimming) it excels past other forms of exercise with the benefits of improved balance, improved mood and sleep, decreased fatigue, decreased anxiety, and many more. For a complete list of how yoga crushes other exercises flip to page 73 in this book.

The take home message for me is that I may want to really pay attention to my body for the next few weeks during yoga to see if I feel like I am getting an aerobic workout. There are many types of yoga classes offered, and some may be more aerobic than others. For example, during a Bikram class, I feel like I am getting an aerobic workout but I took a vinyasa (super mellow) class one summer which did not feel like an aerobic workout at all, and I found myself craving a run after class. I used to run and really enjoyed being outside, listening to music, and using only my legs and feet as transportation, but since beginning yoga, I’ve noticed how much harder running is on my own body….joints, muscles, etc and then how tight my hamstrings feel afterwards.

In the end, every individual has to find what exercise is right for them because if it’s not enjoyable, it’s not sustainable.

Happy Weekend!

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I think this quote speaks to something that Gandhi said which was that “the means must match the end”. He used this quote to explain the necessity for non-violence; that you can’t expect a peaceful end if the means by which you achieve this is not also peaceful. If you don’t follow your heart, and follow what makes you feel alive along the journey, you can’t expect to end up in a place where your heart is fulfilled. There are certain things that we feel drawn to such as people, places, hobbies….things that inspire us, or make us feel more alive.  These feelings are part of our visceral compass; our internal guide that is also in-tune with the rest of the universe. Let yourself be silently drawn by that which you really love. It will not lead you astray.

Food Discovery of the Season.

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Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free oats cooked with almond butter, strawberries, and chia seeds added.

Strawberries are good in oatmeal? Yes, they’re so good! ..and this is my food discovery of the season. Some of you may be going “duh, I’ve been adding strawberries to my oatmeal for years. This is no big discovery”. Well it is for me. The farmer’s market has been having some sweet, dark, juicy organic strawberries lately and I haven’t been able to resist them. Luckily, the strawberries will be around all summer getting sweeter and juicier!

The other day I added sliced strawberries to my oatmeal and discovered that they add this wonderful sweet dimension to the breakfast. When you take a bite, the strawberry livens up the oatmeal (which can sometimes be dry and bland). I love to add almond butter for a little extra protein and fat (which helps to stave off hunger a little longer) and then chia seeds for added protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids!

Yoga And Aging

Can Yoga Really Prevent Aging or Turn Back the Biological Clock?

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I’ve been reading “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards” by William J. Broad to learn more about what yoga claims are actually backed by scientific evidence. Yoga has traditionally made a lot of claims without any true supporting evidence. The claim that yoga can slow down the aging process may be supported by scientific evidence. In “The Science of Yoga” William J. Broad discusses the scientific findings supporting this argument.  Telomeres, the microscopic bits of DNA that lie at the end of each chromosome, become shorted each time a cell divides. Telomeres shorten as a person ages biologically and Broad explains that the length of telomeres are actually a much more accurate indicator of age than one’s actual birthday. Have you ever met individuals who looked much younger than their chronological age? Telomere length is probably one of the factors at play for these lucky individuals. Specific factors can erode telomeres such as stress, unhealthy diets, and infections. In other words, you do have some control over your own aging based upon the lifestyle choices that you make (hooray!).

Dean Ornish lead a team of researchers to conduct a study that took 24 men ranging in age from 50-80. These men practiced yoga for an hour a day, six days/week for three months! At the end of the three-month program researchers found that these men showed a significant decrease in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, emotional distress, and……their telomeres had increased by 30%!!!  The researchers that discovered telomeres and their relationship to aging  won a Nobel Prize in 2009 for their findings and have concluded that telomeres are the key to both youth and aging. Thus, if yoga increases telomeres in the body, it is highly likely that yoga slows the aging process.  The team of researchers reported that these findings had “implications for cellular longevity, tissue renewal, disease prevention, and ‘increases in life span’ “ (Broad, 2012, pg.44) If you want to look this info up for yourself it can be found from pages 43-45.

Of course, I’m not sure if any form of exercise would do the same for your telomeres. This book focused specifically on yoga, but it would be something to look into if you are interested.

Happy Weekend!

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Our lives can change in an instant. In the moment, many changes appear to be negative but you never know what these changes are making way for in the future. When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he was humiliated and devastated, but he never would have started Pixar or Next if this hadn’t happened and….in the end he returned to Apple anyways. If you’re feeling hopeless remember this concept and hopefully the negative change is actually a precursor to something positive that is coming your way in the future.

If you haven’t checked out Eckhart Tolle’s book ” A New Earth”, you should seriously consider it. This is one of the books that changed my life, changed the way I experienced life and the way I looked at everything. Happy Weekend!

Homemade Energy Bars!

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These are vegan and gluten free. They are a wonderful snack on the go or a great way to start the day. I adapted the recipe quite a bit from here (my inspiration).

Ingredients:

¾ C Almond Butter

¼ C maple Syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons Almond Milk

1/2 -3/4 tablespoon Brown Rice Syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 C Oats (gluten free if you wish)

25 Almonds chopped

9 Dried Apricots Chopped

2 tablespoons Cacao Nibs

2 tablespoons Chia Seeds

ImageDirections:

In a bowl mix together all of the wet ingredients (almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, brown rice syrup, and vanilla) then add in the dry ingredients (oats, almonds, apricots, cacao nibs, and chia seeds). Place into a greased (I used coconut oil) glass dish and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Take out dish, cut into pieces and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove dish, let cool, and then pop into the fridge when it’s cool enough so that everything can really harden up. Enjoy : )

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These would be great to have in the house if you suffer from low blood sugar, or if you just get really cranky when you’re hungry like me   : ). You could pack them for road trips, camping trips or just to prevent starvation when running errands. You can also substitute any of the ingredients really (e.g. chocolate chips for the cacao nibs, raisins for the apricots). Do give this recipe a try though if you like apricots. I find that as they bake in the oven, they get really warm and gooey and burst with flavor as you bite into them. It’s a wonderful combination.

Sincere But Not Too Serious…

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Image Credit goes to Caitlin Hicks from Oh My Bikram Blog

I remember one yoga class about a year ago where we were all getting into Standing Head to Knee pose, standing leg locked, right knee bent, hands clasped under our foot, staring…more like glaring into the mirror with intensity and determination. Nobody was smiling (not that smiling is a common practice during a Bikram class) and everyone was taking the class waaaay too seriously (including me). As our teacher was verbally leading us into this pose she said something that has stuck with me ever since. She instructed the class to “be sincere but not too serious” because we were all too serious at that moment. After hearing this, I remember becoming aware of how seriously I was taking this particular yoga class and this particular yoga pose… and I relaxed, smiled a little to myself, and tried not to take the class too seriously after that.  My yoga teacher (a different one) reminded me of this philosophy a couple of days ago when she instructed the class not to judge themselves too harshly ESPECIALLY in the yoga studio and I thought to myself “be sincere but not too serious”.

Can’t we take this mantra to our everyday lives? We will all be dead someday (sorry if that is too morbid for you but it’s true) let’s have some fun along the way. The perspective that we take in life is our choice. Some people make life into a joke and others never have any fun, taking everything too seriously. Sometimes, I know, that I take the latter perspective and feel like I must do everything perfectly in order to “be good”. There is a balance between these two perspectives, however and that is to be sincere in life, to try and remain true to who you are, to live your life with intention, but not to take life too seriously that you miss out on the fun that can be found in everyday activities. The yoga studio is certainly a place where fun should be had, and judgements should be left at the door. Not everything is life or death and if you can’t get into that pose, or if you need to rest, this should not be taken as an extension of your self-worth. If you fall out of a pose, smile to yourself and get back in. In the outside world ask yourself “will this matter in a year?” and if the answer is “no” don’t sweat it…Be sincere, not too serious.

Happy Weekend!

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Where we feel the most pain is usually where the most possibility for growth lies. Matt recently had something that had been bothering him for the past month or so. It was an interaction with another person (not me) that he still felt so much resentment about and we talked about it yesterday because he was still feeling pain, resentment and bitterness about this interaction. He had been dismissing this experience because of his belief that it was such an insignificant petty thing to still be upset over and he didn’t want to accept that he could be upset over something so “little”. In our discussion we examined what this interaction may have represented, because little actions and behaviors often represent larger meanings for our lives. Matt realized that by allowing someone to speak to him in a disrespectful manner, he had subconsciously acted in a way that was betraying himself. His passivity in this interaction had represented how he allowed himself to be treated by others and was really a matter of boundaries. He had an “aha” moment about his long history with poor boundaries. These boundaries, no longer matched with his evolved sense of self and therefore it was really bothering him. After discovering what was truly bothering him and discussing it with this person, he was liberated from the pain he had been experiencing and learned something about himself. I have no doubts that this experience will have a profound effect on his awareness of his own boundaries from now on and change the way he interacts with others forever. It was a lesson he needed to learn in life but the point is that the pain was the sign pointing him to this lesson. Where are your wounds and what can you learn from them? The wound is where the light shines in. Pay attention because our wounds are often an opportunity for tremendous transformation.