Juicing!

ImageMatt and I have been drinking green juice everyday for at least 2 weeks and we have been noticing some wonderful changes in the way we feel since staring this new regimen. We bought a Breville Juicer (if you buy it from BB and B, you can use the 20% off coupon they give out like candy) last June and were juicing mainly sugary plants (e.g. carrots, beets, apples). The juice tasted fantastic, but it really did a number on my stomach. Finally when watching this video I figured out what was going on. Kris Carr the author of “Crazy Sexy Diet”, “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” and a plethora of other books related to cancer and health explained that a juice too high in sugar actually feeds Candida (yeast) growth in the body subsequently creating an environment that diseases (like cancer) really enjoy. Kris Carr was diagnosed about 10 years ago with an incurable cancer and basically stopped it in its tracks through diet and lifestyle changes. She discusses the importance of chlorophyll for health and energy and, therefore we have been making sure our juice is always green. She also recommends a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit and I found that when we make juice using this ratio, the juice actually makes my tummy feel better, not worse.

So what changes have I noticed since beginning juicing? I’ve had more energy. I’m also doing a 14-day Bikram challenge (14 classes in 14 days) and I think that this juice has been my saving grace in keeping my energy levels up. I’ve also noticed healthier looking skin both in tone and clarity. I suffer from mild adult acne (usually one break out on my chin) and my skin has been clear since beginning the juicing. The tone of my skin has also improved (I think it may have to do with the fact that we add one or 2 carrots to every juice). Also, my fingernails are looking clear, and pink, and just better. I looked down at my hands the other day and was surprised to see how healthy my fingernails looked…Lastly, my digestion has been on point lately and I think it has been improved by the juice as well as the ginger root that we add to each juice. I feel great.

So here are some tips for juicing: We always make about 32 oz. and then fill mason jars up so we can drink it throughout the day, bring it to work, or whatever. Separating it into mason jars and sealing also helps to prevent oxidation of the juice (this is a tip I picked up from Kris Carr’s video).

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We also add 1/2 a lemon to each batch of juice we make. Lemon juice is supposed to create a more alkaline environment in your body (which prevents disease) and it’s just good for detoxifying the body. We also ALWAYS add ginger root. Ginger helps with digestion and just makes everything taste better! With ginger, you always want to add less at first, and then add more if needed. If a vegetable isn’t organic I’d recommend peeling it first. Certain veggies yield a lot more juice than others (cucumbers and celery are two good ones). You can use the throw away parts of veggies for juicing (e.g. the stalks of broccoli). Also, don’t be afraid of throwing herbs in there. I made a juice the other day with a little bunch of mint and it freshened everything up.

So what goes into a typical batch of juice for us? Kale, 1 cucumber, celery, broccoli stalks, 1/2 lemon, 1/2-1 inch of ginger, 1 apple and 2 carrots.

Some tips to cut down on cost include going to farmer’s markets or fruit stands. Sometimes you can get really good deals here (e.g. a massive bunch of kale costs 1.50 at the farmer’s M, but 2.50 at Whole Foods). Use the stalks of veggies (like broccoli). Juicing does cost more money but you could probably offset the cost by packing a lunch a couple days/week instead of buying lunch on your lunch break : )

Lastly, this juice actually tastes good. Everyone who has tried it has been super surprised because you think it’s going to taste disgusting but it actually tastes earthy, fresh and delicious. It’s even better cold.

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup!

This is a delicious recipe and you can add anything you want to it (potatoes, broccoli, tofu, etc). I was in a bit of a rush when I made this up because we had just gotten back from a 6:00 pm Bikram class. This soup is vegan and gluten free of course : )

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Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup

Makes 2-3 servings depending on how much you eat and how many veggies you add to it.

Ingredients:

1 white or yellow onion chopped

2 large cloves of garlic or 3 medium sized

11/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt pepper

1C coconut milk

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1C red lentils

olive oil

5C vegetable broth (we used bouillon and water)

1 handful of cilantro

Directions:

Add chopped onion to a olive oiled pot on medium-high heat, add salt, pepper, curry powder and turmeric. Saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Then add the lentils and 5C of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and add the pinch of red pepper flakes and half of the chopped cilantro. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes and then remove from heat and add 1C of coconut milk. Use an immersion blender to blend soup smooth, or you could use a food processor or blender. Be careful whenever handling hot liquids. The immersion blender is really the best tool to use for this. Ladle soup into bowls and add chopped cilantro for garnish. Enjoy.

If you are wanting to add any more vegetables or potatoes, tofu, etc. You would add these to the soup when it’s reached boiling point (for vegetables maybe add them to the soup during the last  8 minutes to avoid overcooking them).

Enjoy!

Gluten and Flexibility

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Standing Bow at Carmel River Beach

So Matt and I have been gluten free for 2 weeks now and we definitely notice a difference in our flexibility. We practice Bikram yoga 4x/week and we noticed a difference in our practice by the third day of our gluten free diet. While I’m naturally very flexible, my hamstrings have always been tight and pretty resistant when I try to stretch them in the asanas. The third day of our diet I noticed decreased resistance in my hamstrings first in standing hands to feet pose (Pada-Hastasana). During this pose my legs just kept straightening and straightening, my hamstrings looser than they had ever been.

After that Bikram class I mentioned this to Matt during the car ride home and he had the same experience. Matt is not naturally flexible and he reported experiencing increased flexibility everywhere as well as more open hips and joints. We didn’t want to mention anything about this for fear that it was just the placebo effect or that we had just had a good day in yoga, but our increased flexibility has remained constant since this third day on the gluten free diet. While we haven’t been able to find any research confirming a link between increased flexibility and a gluten free diet, Matt and I have both felt undeniably more flexible. My hamstrings are going places they have never gone before! And..even our yoga teacher has made comments regarding Matt’s increased flexibility.

So, if you are looking to take your yoga practice to the next level and increase flexibility, I would recommend trying a gluten free diet for a week. We felt the effects by the third day (both of us) so it seems as though you will see results quickly if gluten is linked to your flexibility.

And..if any of you readers have had a similar experience or know of any research linking flexibility to a gluten free diet please leave us a comment about it!!

Healthy Quick and Easy Kale Salad

This kale salad is my current favorite. The dressing is so complimentary, the sunflower seeds add a nice texture and the color combo is aesthetically pleasing.

ImageI first had a variation of this salad at my friend’s house for dinner. She’s also into healthy, beautiful living and you can check out her blog here. 

Here’s the skinny on how to make this salad (it is great for packing as a lunch).

Ingredients:

Clean, dry, chopped kale

Chopped Bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange add a nice color variation to the salad)

Sunflower Seeds (We used unsalted but salted are good as well)

Sliced Avocado (not necessary but definitely a nice addition)

Garbanzo Beans or any bean of your choice for protein

To make the Dressing:

Mix equal parts olive oil to Bragg’s Aminos with 1/2 fresh lemon juice

For example (1/4 C Olive Oil, 1/4 C Bragg’s Amino, 1/8 C lemon juice)

Bragg’s Aminos is a soy sauce alternative. It’s all natural, gluten free, certified NON-GMO and contains essential and non-essential amino acids. We purchased ours from Whole Foods and more information about it can be found here. In my opinion, it makes the perfect salty dressing.

Kale is a bit of a superfood. It is low in calories, high in fiber, and per calorie has more calcium than milk and more iron than beef. It’s usually easy to find at farmer’s markets or if you are extra lazy you can buy it cleaned, and cut at Trader Joe’s.

The Creamiest Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto Ever!

Who says gluten free vegans can’t have creamy flavor filled risotto? Not me, because I just had some for dinner and it was the ultimate comfort food.

ImageIngredients (makes 4 servings):

1 White or Yellow Onion Chopped

1 1/2 C Risotto (arborio rice) dry

1 Medium Butternut Squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1 in cubes

1 Vanilla Bean

3 Tbs Olive Oil

8 C Vegetable Broth

1/2 C Almond Milk

Chives Chopped for Garnish

Salt and Pepper for Seasoning

Directions:

Place the vegetable broth in a pot to boil and split and seed the vanilla bean, placing the seeds into the broth, and then throw the rest of the bean in as well. Once boiling place the cubed butternut squash inside for 15-25 minutes (until tender with a fork).

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Meanwhile…Add the olive oil to a saute pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Next add the risotto and stir for 30 seconds until slightly toasted. Next add a ladle full of the hot vegetable broth to the dry risotto and stir. Continue adding a ladle of broth to the risotto when the last ladle of broth has been absorbed. Stir. This will take about 20-25 minutes. When the risotto is ready you will see it puffed and creamy in appearance. There should be no bite or crunch left when you taste the it.

The secret to Risotto: The broth that you add must be hot in order to release the natural starches of the arborio rice and it can only be done little by little so while risotto is easy, it must be watched and tended the entire time. Arborio rice releases its starches when cooked correctly so much so that it takes on a buttery, creamy texture without any added butter or cream.

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After the Butternut Squash is fork tender remove from the broth and place in a food processor or blender with 1/2 C almond milk, salt and pepper.

ImageGive it a whirl until the squash is pureed and add to the cooked risotto. It should look something like this..

ImageGarnish with the chopped chives and enjoy!

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Broccoli Lentils with Baked Sweet Potato!

TGIF everyone! I wanted to share one of our go to dinners with you because it is packed with flavor, quick, and easy. We try to always have sweet potatoes in our house because they are so easy to make, good for you, and way more delicious than those common russet potatoes (in my opinion). Now some stores (like TJ’s) label the yams as sweet potatoes. These are most definitely NOT sweet potatoes but rather an orange mushier imposter, so don’t get them confused. Yams have more of an orange color while sweet potatoes appear yellowish on the outside and more potato-looking (comment if you have any questions about the differences between these two).

So bake a sweet potato like you would any regular potato (we like to wrap them in foil, pierce them with fork and then stick them in the oven on 425F for about 45 minutes).

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Baked sweet potato and a wam broccoli lentil salad with a garlic dressing

So for those of you who are unfamiliar with lentils, they are a legume. They are packed full of fiber and protein and an excellent food to cook if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. This is how we do it.

Ingredients for Lentils

1C lentils dry (for 2 people…2C if you are cooking for 4)

2 garlic cloves

1/4 C olive oil

1 small bunch of parsley chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

As much steamed broccoli as you want!

Place lentils in a pot 1/2 C dry for each person you are making these lentils for (1C for 2 people, 2 C for 4 people, etc). Cover lentils with vegetable broth like you would pasta (we use water and then bouillon) . Let boil for 15-20 minutes (check in 15) until lentils are still a bit firm and chewy (no raw bite left in them). While the lentils are boiling take the garlic cloves, peel them and them grate or garlic press them into a large bowl with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper and let sit. When the lentils are done drain them and add to the olive oil/garlic mixture. The heat from the lentils will release the smell and taste of the garlic. Add the steamed broccoli, toss, and then add in the chopped parsley. Your lentils are done!

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grate the garlic or use a garlic press and add to the bowl with olive oil.

We like to take the sweet potato and drizzle it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Hope you like this recipe. Let us know if you do.

You can also have lentils without broccoli added, or you could to a mediterranean version adding halved cherry tomatoes and mint instead of parsley. That is delicious as well and that combo gives the recipe a completely different feel.

AMAZING Oatmeal Raisin Gluten Free, Vegan Cookies!!

So I think you all have read about our Epic fail making chocolate chip cookies with coconut flour. It was truly a disaster and depressing because our sweet tooth was left unsatisfied that night. It made us wonder if we could have yummy baked goods while avoiding gluten. Then I found the recipe for these AMAZING cookies! The dough is good, the cookies are fantastic and you don’t feel sick after eating them like you do with regular cookies.

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Yum! I was very happy with this plate of cookies.

This recipe was adapted only slightly from here. I basically only switched the flours and combined a couple of the steps.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 C toasted walnuts (if you don’t know how to toast walnuts you can google it)
2 cups regular oats divided in half
3/4 cup Gluten free all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. (not quite full) guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 tbsp almond milk or soy or rice
3 1/2 tbsp coconut oil (warmed so it’s in liquid form)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. After toasting the walnuts combine them in a food processor along with 1 cup of the oats, flour, guar gum, baking soda, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Give that processor a whirl until everything looks like a meal. If you only have a small food processor you can do the walnuts and oats and then add them to the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl warm the coconut oil (in a microwave or on the stove) until it is liquified and add this to the maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Then, mix both the wet and the dry ingredients together in the processor, add them to a separate bowl and add in the remaining cup of whole oats and raisins. Mix by hand and then place spoonfuls of the dough on parchment papered cookie sheets. Feel free to eat the dough as you work. We found that eating this cookie dough didn’t make us feel sick the way traditional cookie dough does and I’d like to adapt this recipe into a raw cookie recipe at some point because the dough really is delicious. Also, I know…parchment paper is wasteful. I’d like to get some silicone sheets at some point. If you don’t have or want to use parchment paper, you could just oil the sheets prior as well. Bake at 350F for approx 10-12 minutes (10 if you like them on the chewier side and 12 if you want them a little browner/toasty on the outside). Enjoy!

Pics of the Process. Seriously try these. You won't be disappointed!

Pics of the Process. Seriously try these. You won’t be disappointed!

The end result is something like THIS:

Matt was a very happy camper.

Matt was a very happy camper.

As two self-proclaimed foodies with an overactive sweet tooth, we can say that these cookies are as good as any oatmeal raisin recipe we’ve tried. You won’t miss the egg, butter, or gluten. I promise.

Breakfast Oatmeal

There’s gluten in oatmeal? What! Yes. Apparently if you don’t look for the gluten free oats, there’s gluten in oatmeal. Thus, we returned our gluten filled oats to Trader Joe’s (they will gladly take anything back without so much as a question) and bought some gluten free oats from Whole Foods (sorry TJ’s but get some gluten free oats). We have basically been throwing our money at Bob’s Red Mill products because this brand provides a gluten free assurance that their products have not been made on any equipment that could be contaminated with gluten.

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Bob’s Red Mill oats with whole ground flaxseed meal and peanut butter.

Anyways, we bought some oats and have been eating more oatmeal than usual. We have been sprinkling whole ground flaxseed meal on top with a spoonful of peanut butter for flavor. You could also use almond butter and add blueberries, etc. Delicious.