Monday, May 23, 2016

MINERAL RICH MILK (The Best Nut Milk Makeover)

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Many years ago I wrote a blog post about making nut milk. So now I think it’s high time for a nut milk makeover…not only to boost your health but also to help keep your wallets full! Plus, I love to give a friendly reminder every now and then that nut milk should be made at home instead purchased at the store.

The only tools you need to make creamy, rich, and smooth nut milk is a high speed blender and a fine mesh nylon nut milk bag. Its soooo simple to make and the quality and cost far outweighs what you can buy at the store. I know I might be preaching to the choir, but there is no shame in repeating it---because we all get lazy. No more boxed almond milk that contains extra fillers, sugar, and is watery in flavor. And yes, you can buy a 12oz bottle of raw cashew nut milk for $8 at Whole Foods. But really, why spend so much on so little, when you can make an even BETTER nut milk at home for pennies on the dime?

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Where is your money going??

Boxed Nut Milk: These nut milks contain ~ 5-6 almonds per cup of nut milk. That is why they are low in calories, generally 30-40kcal per cup. However, they lack creaminess, richness, and nutritional density, making them a poor substitute for creamy whole fat milk. Plus they usually have added stabilizers, cane sugar, and generally do not use soaked and sprouted nuts.

   32 oz Non-Organic Pasteurized Nut Milk: $2-$3
   32oz Organic Pasteurized Nut Milk: $3-$4 dollars

Store Bought Raw Nut Milk: Although the ingredients and quality is far superior then boxed nut milks, and they taste creamy and rich, they generally cost an arm and a leg. I have only come across Raw Cashew Nut Milk at Whole Foods which costs ~ $8 for a 12 or 16oz bottle. Plus, it doesn't contain nearly the nutritional diversity as homemade MINERAL RICH nut milk.

Homemade Raw Nut Milk: Using ~1 cup of nuts to 4 cups of water, makes this beverage creamy, rich, and satisfying just like a glass of whole milk (if you like to drink whole milk by the glass that is). It also contains higher quality ingredients. You are 100% in control. You can choose to add a healthy sweetener (date, maple syrup, honey), add spice, or decide whether you want to purchase organic or conventional nuts and seeds. The price? For organic, raw, sprouted, and of course homemade MINERAL RICH nut milk, I spent about $2.50 for a 32oz serving. Now, who can beat the price and the quality of homemade nut milk?

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So my new version of nut milk, is not just any nut milk. Most recipes you see on the web are for almond milk, cashew milk, sunflower milk, etc. Yeah they are great, but why not mix it up a bit? Each nut and seed has unique nutritional benefits. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium and zinc, sesame seeds are rich in calcium, and on and on it goes. Why stick with just the same old almond or cashew? Why not make a super rich and creamy nut milk that is full of a variety of nuts and seeds??

That is why I have created a very tasty and very MINERAL RICH nut milk. You wont find this anywhere, grocery stores will not even carry a boxed version of this.

So get out your blenders, purchase a nylon nut milk bag (it makes all the difference, trust me) and pick up some nut and seeds so you have a nutrient rich, plant based milk to add to your coffee, oatmeal, or green smoothie tomorrow morning! No more slacking, its time for a nut milk revolution!!

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Brazil Nuts
These nuts are pretty amazing because just one nut meets over 100% of your daily selenium needs. What is selenium? It is a trace mineral that along with iodine, and zinc plays a very important role in healthy thyroid function and helps reduce oxidative stress within the body. A diet low in selenium can thus have far reaching effects on metabolism, energy, and ability to combat free radicals. However, as with everything too much can be harmful to our bodies as well. Since Brazil nuts are the most concentrated source of selenium, limiting yourself to 1-2 per day is all you need.

Pumpkin Seeds
If you haven’t incorporated pumpkin seeds into your life, you should start now. These tasty seeds are super rich in minerals zinc and magnesium, both of which are very important for optimal health. Interestingly, many people tend to be deficient in magnesium, either due to poor intake of whole grains, nuts and seeds, or also because the soil is becoming more depleted of this mineral. Either way focusing on getting more magnesium into your diet can have far reaching positive effects. Magnesium can help reduce headaches, reduce cramping, increase overall energy, control blood sugar, and just generally help reduce inflammation.  What more do you want?

Almonds
These common household nuts are a great source of vitamin E, a powerful fat soluble antioxidant. Naturally, ¼ cup of raw almonds contains 40% of your daily vitamin E. Food for thought. If boxed nut milks actually contained enough almonds per serving, the manufacturer would not have to fortify milk with added synthetic vitamin E.

Sesame Seeds
These tiny little seeds are an especially good source of plant based calcium and copper. They are also contain magnesium, although not nearly as much as pumpkin seeds. We all know that calcium is important for bone health. However, what about copper? Copper is needed to help our mitochondria produce energy (ATP) and to support healthy connective tissue formation, in the skin, heart, vessels, and bones.


nut milk, seed milk, dairy free, vegan, raw, paleo, brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, mineral rich, nuts, seeds, milk, mylk
nut milk, seed milk, dairy free, vegan, raw, paleo, brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, mineral rich, nuts, seeds, milk, mylk
nut milk, seed milk, dairy free, vegan, raw, paleo, brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, mineral rich, nuts, seeds, milk, mylk

Wow! Isn’t that a lot of goodness in one simple nut milk recipe?? Plus if you want to kick it up a notch…1/4 teaspoon of spirulina mixed with 1 cup of nut milk, is super tasty and gives you an extra nutritional boost. Read more about spirulina and its' benefits here, here, and here!

So, get creative, make your own blend of nut milk joy. Swap the almonds for cashews or hazlenuts, the sesame seeds for hemp or flaxseeds, or add some vanilla for extra flavor. Either way, mixing it up, is the best. Out with the old, in with the MINERAL RICH!

Mineral Rich Nut Milk
Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, hulled
4 Brazil nuts
Pinch sea salt
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

INGREDIENTS

Place the nuts and seeds into a bowl and cover with warm water. Allow the nuts to soak 4 hours or overnight. Strain and rinse the nuts and seeds and put them into the blender. Add 4 cups water, the pinch of salt, and the optional 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup. Blend on high for 45-60 seconds.

Line a bowl with the nut milk bag and pour the nut milk into the bag. Squeeze out the milk, leaving behind the nut pulp and fibers. Save this pulp to add to baked goods, to make crackers, or simply compost.

Store the strained nut milk in a glass container for a week in the refrigerator.

Note: If you want to make Mineral Rich SPIRULINA Nut Milk then add 1/4 teaspoon per cup of nut milk. 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Papaya LOVE and a Spirulina Chia Pudding


papaya, spirulina, coconut milk, chia pudding, skin health, gut health, fiber, vegan, gluten-free, raw food, summer, vitamin a

I went to the market today and saw the year’s first poppies for sale. I couldn’t resist. I had to buy a bouquet. For me they symbolize the essence of summer with their mesmerizing delicate beauty. They are almost as intoxicating to look at as it is to drink a glass of good wine. They just make me feel so happy.

And if I talk about my love for poppies, I also have to talk about my love for papayas. As you may have guessed POPPIES and PAPAYAS are hands down two of my favorite things in this world. As much as I am mesmerized by the beauty of the poppy, I am enthusiastic about the musky flavor, vivid sunset color, and unique properties of the papaya. There truly is nothing else quite like it. 

There are many ways to eat papayas. Recipes can be very simple or a little more complex.  Have you tried diced papaya with a squeeze of lime? Absolutely delicious! Or blended together with ginger and turmeric in a Balian Smoothie? So refreshing! And what about a savory green papaya salad? One word…YUM! You can even make papaya breakfast boats, filled with your favorite yogurt and fruit topping.

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Papaya LOVE

Rich in vitamins A and C, this fruit is an antioxidant powerhouse, which can be especially helpful for those struggling with chronic inflammation. Although it doesn’t taste sour, 1 cup alone provides over 200% of your daily vitamin C. Feeling like your immune system is low?? Then reach for papaya instead of Emergen-C. Plus the vitamin A will help keep your skin looking and feeling great!

But what really sets the papaya apart from other fruits, is that it contains a very unique enzyme called papain, which helps digest proteins. Have you ever purchased digestive enzymes?? Well, they probably contained papain from papaya!! This enzyme is more concentrated in green and unripe papayas (which are great for green papaya salad) but you will also get papain if you eat a ripe papaya. So next time you have a protein heavy meal, have a little papaya on the side. Plus research has also found that the enzymes in papaya, papain and chymopapain, can help reduce inflammation in people struggling with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

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papaya, spirulina, coconut milk, chia pudding, skin health, gut health, fiber, vegan, gluten-free, raw food, summer, vitamin a
papaya, spirulina, coconut milk, chia pudding, skin health, gut health, fiber, vegan, gluten-free, raw food, summer, vitamin a

Whats Cookin' Good Lookin'?

Today I will highlight the papaya as a simple topping to a delicious chia pudding. This treat can be a light breakfast, simple dessert, or quick snack. When it’s hot out…this totally hits the spot. So bring on the summer and bring on the GLOW, because this recipe will make you feel soooooo gooooood from the inside out!

In this recipe papaya is paired with the best of the best...spirulina, chia seeds, and coconut milk. Plus I like to add in hydrolyzed collagen and probiotic powder to increase the GLOW factor of this recipe. The hydrolyzed collagen supports skin and joint health, while the probiotic powder provides all the good bacteria to support your gut health. So along with the chia seeds (a source of soluble fiber which feeds the good bacteria), full fat coconut milk (which helps absorb fat soluble vitamin A), and the spirulina (which supports detoxification), we got a super tasty and super healthy treat.

Oh and the lemon zest and fresh mint, just add the extra ZING that makes this UBER delicious. So are you ready?? Here you go!!

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papaya, spirulina, coconut milk, chia pudding, skin health, gut health, fiber, vegan, gluten-free, raw food, summer, vitamin a

Spirulina Coconut Chia Pudding with Lemon & Mint
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
½ cup homemade nut milk
½ cup full fat coconut milk (my favorite is Aroy-D)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon spirulina
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon lemon zest (~ ½ large lemon)
Pinch of sea salt
2 ½ tablespoons chia seeds
Optional: 2 tablespoons hydrolyzed collagen and ¼ teaspoon probiotic powder
Diced fresh PAPAYA, strawberries, or any other fruit
Fresh mint, finely minced

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl add the nut milk, coconut milk, vanilla, spirulina, maple syrup, lemon zest, and sea salt. Whisk until combined and the spirulina is dissolved (some of the spirulina will remain in little clumps..that is okay it will dissolve over time). Add the chia seeds, optional collagen/probiotic powder, and whisk some more. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours to allow the chia seeds to plump up. Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients into a mason jar, screw the lid on tight, and shake vigorously for a minute or two.

Note: you may need to stir or shake the chia pudding one or twice while it sits for the 8-12 hours so that the chia seeds are evenly dispersed.

To serve divide the chia seed mixture into bowls (or into small melons), and top with PAPAYA (or your fruit of choice), and a sprinkle of fresh mint. Sometimes I add a little extra coconut drizzle for extra creaminess.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why YOU should LOVE Artichokes Too!

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I LOVE ARTICHOKES….almost as much as I love papayas. And now they are in season! They may be intimidating for those that have not yet ventured down the artichoke path with their prickly pointed leaves, tough fibers, and quite the unusual appearance when compared to other vegetables who are smooth to the touch, juicy, and generally inviting.

I clearly remember my first experience with artichokes. And no it was not artichoke dip.  As a young child my mother would prepare a one pot baked meal including four artichokes, one for each of us, with chunks of carrots and potatoes mixed throughout. Alongside she would serve a green salad and a cream cheese and dill dip. As children we never second-guessed what was on the table, and happily devoured this one pot meal. It was delicious, simple, and very nourishing.

These days, I typically don't bake an artichoke, I steam it. And instead of a main meal, usually I eat it as an appetizer.

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Artichoke Love
So why do I love artichokes so much?? Perhaps it's the fond memory of years past but here is a good list of other very important reasons why:

  • You have to take the time to eat the artichoke. Slowly, layer by layer, it encourages mindful eating. Plus you have to work to get to the meaty prize…the artichoke heart!
  • Per artichoke you get about 10g of fiber!! This nourishes the healthy bacteria in our guts and promotes satiety.
  • It is low in calories, about 60 per artichoke, but very high in plant protein (4g), potassium (13%), magnesium (19%), vitamin C (25%), and iron (8%).  
  • It helps promote healthy digestion and liver function by stimulating the production of bile.
  • And finally, it just simply tastes delicious when served with a creamy dip. See the recipes below for a creme fraiche dip or a vegan creamy coconut dip! Plus, this avocado dip pairs really nicely with a steamed artichoke too!


artichoke, dip, health, weight loss, detox, nutrient dense, creme fraiche, coconut cream

Finding the Perfect Artichoke
Now that you know that artichokes are wonderful, and may perhaps be more inclined to pick one up at the grocery store, here are some tips to get the best bang for your buck.
  • Look at the cut end of the stem. Is it very brown and dry? Or is it lighter in color and fresh? The lighter it is, the more tender and more flavorful your end product.
  • Are the leaves open or closed? The tighter the leaves the fresher the artichoke. The more open the leaves the older the artichoke.
  • Does the artichoke look bright green or browning? Pick one that is bright green in color.
  • Store the artichoke in the refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag and use within a couple days of purchasing for best flavor.


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Preparing the Perfect Artichoke
You the bought the perfect artichoke. But now how do you prepare it? First gather up a couple of tools. You will need, a large pot, a steamer basket, kitchen shears, a sharp knife (I find a bread knife works best), and a cutting board. Furthermore, plan on preparing the artichoke 1 to 1 ½ hours prior to your meal. Steaming an artichoke doesn’t take much effort, but it does require some time.

  • Using your sharp knife cut a ½ an inch off of the stem and peel off the lower leaves along the stem.
  • Proceed to cut the top 1 ½ inches off of the artichoke to open the center. Use your bread knife with serrated edges for this.
  • Finally, using your kitchen shears, cut the pointy edge of each remaining leaf. This makes the eating process more enjoyable later.
  • Place the steamer basket into a large pot and fill with water until it is right below the level of the basket.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the cut edges of the artichoke. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, and cover. You can also pour a swig of vinegar into the water for added flavor.
  • Over high heat, bring the water to a boil, and reduce heat to medium low. Steam the artichoke for 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the size. You may need to check on the water level halfway through to make sure it isn't running low. You do not want to burn your pot.
  •  Meanwhile prepare the creamy dip (see recipe below for both dairy and vegan version).
  • Test for doneness by pulling on an artichoke leaf. The leaf should easily come off of the base without resistance. Taste test by pulling off the soft tender flesh with your clenched teeth.
  • Serve with a creamy dip and a bowl to discard remaining plant fibers.


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Eating the Perfectly Steamed Artichoke
Now that you have a perfectly steamed artichoke with a tasty creamy dip it's time to dig in. But how??? Start with the outer leaves and work your way in. Once again you eat the leaves by gently clenching your teeth on the leaf and pulling away the tender bottom flesh. As you get closer and closer to the heart of the artichoke, you will reach smaller and smaller leaves, until you reach leaves and hairs that do not contain anymore flesh. Using a spoon scrape off the fuzzy/hairy layer and discard. You have finally made it to the heart of the artichoke. Enjoy the meaty delight!

Note: For another creamy dip option try this AVOCADO DIP


Garlicy Crème Fraiche Dip
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 tablespoon milk or half and half
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 clove garlic, pressed or grated with microplaner
Salt and pepper to taste
Finley minced chives

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend until the artichoke is done steaming.

Creamy Coconut Dip (v)
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 tablespoon coconut water
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed or grated with microplaner
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely minced chives

DIRECTIONS

Open a can of full fat coconut milk and take 2 tablespoons of coconut cream from the top. Punch a hole through the cream using the end of a spoon or fork and pour out a tablespoon of coconut water. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend until the artichoke is done steaming.

Note: I used Native Forest full fat coconut milk that had been stored in the refrigerator to ensure that the cream is at the top.

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