Hemp Seeds for Optimal Protein

Building muscle on a plant-based diet can be challenging…at first.  Once I did my research I found out that there are plenty of very healthy and viable sources for protein  within the plant based food groups!

I drink about one smoothie a day and when I am doing a lot of weight training I like to get my post workout protein in this way. The best way I have found to get this protein is to make smoothies with a base of hemp seeds.  What I especially like about hemp seeds is that they are affordable, last a while, are RAW, provide a high amount of bioavailable (the degree to which it is absorbed) protein AND when mixed with water, they create a milky base for smoothies. Having this “base”  opens up a whole new world of recipe possibilities not to mention works well with the good old standby vanilla, chocolate or strawberry smoothie flavors.

In terms of the best brand, I have tried several I like them all but my favorite is Nutiva.  Their Organic version is readily available and affordable. Sometimes I can’t get organic in the other brands. Also, make SURE you get the RAW HULLED/SHELLED SEEDS! If you buy the hemp powder, you will get a very green taste, not ot mention a more processed product. These are my top three favorite brands of hemp seeds.

  1. Nutiva Hemp Seeds (Organic)
  2. Navitas Hemp Seeds (Organic)
  3. Manitoba Hemp Seeds (Conventional)

I have a few favorite hemp seed recipes, but below is my current favorite.

Blueberry Hemp Seed Smoothie

Blueberry Hemp Seed Smoothie

Blueberry Hemp Seed Blend/Smoothie

3-4 Tbsp Raw Organic Hemp Seeds

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Frozen Blueberries

1/2 Banana

In blender on high speed, mix together about 1/2 cup water and hemp seeds until milky, then add blueberries, banana, vanilla blend until smooth.

Organic Cilantro Coconut Lime Brown Rice

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Organic Cilantro Lime Brown Rice!
Slow cooked in light coconut milk (use veggie stock if you are watching fat) this is a great recipe! I are the entire batch in one sitting.
Recipe:
1 small onion
2 Cloves Garlic
14 oz light Coconut Milk
1 C Brown Rice
2 Limes
1 C Cilantro
2 dried red chiles
Cumin
Cayenne
Sea salt/pepper
*sub veggie stock for coconut milk if you are watching fat

Sauté chopped onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, add rice cook 3 to 4 minutes at low heat, add a dash of salt & pepper. Add coconut milk and enough water so that there is a knuckle widths space between the top of the liquid & the rice. Add zest of one lime and juice of one lime. Add bay leaf. Bring to boil, cover, cook until rice is finished.

Remove from heat, stir in chopped cilantro and juice of one lime & zest of one lime – add dash of Cayenne & two dashes cumin, add salt & pepper to taste. Crush the red chiles and stir into rice.

Baked Butternut Squash Latkes with Apple Salsa

This is an oil free, gluten-free, vegan recipe that is delicious! A warming dish that has a hint of curry, cinnamon, a little heat and fresh cilantro. A great way to prepare root vegetables.
Recipe:
Oven 425

1 Med russet potato
1 Med butternut squash
2 tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with ¼ cup of water
3 Tbsp soy flour
1/4 Tsp sea salt
1/8 Tsp pepper
2 Tsp curry
Pinch of baking powder
Cpl Dashes cayenne
1/4 to 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1 Onion
1/8 Cup red onion
1 Apple
1/2 Lime
4 Tbsp Cilantro

1. Finely dice apple (do not peel) toss with 1/8 cup finely diced red onion and 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, juice of 1/2 a lime. A pinch sea salt. Cover and refrigerate.

2. In a food processor or by hand shred the peeled potato and the peeled butternut squash. Place in a colander to drain excess liquid pressing down with spoon. Let sit for 30 minutes. Next shred onion. Set aside.

3. Mix together soy flour, curry, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne. In a large pool bowl pour flour mixture over shredded vegetables (potato, BN squash and onion). Mix flax meal and baking soda into mixture.

4. Place on sheets of parchment paper on baking sheet. Bake for 30 mins and flip. Bake for another 20 mins.

Note: I used a very small ice cream scoop to form latkes. Pressing down slightly onto parchment.

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Dessert Anytime!

Blueberries topped with Vanilla Soy Yogurt and Lemon Zest

Blueberries topped with Vanilla Soy Yogurt and Lemon Zest

Just a quick post today about dessert… its hard for those of us with sweet toothes to refrain from induldging. Especially this time of year. I try to keep things in the house that will satisfy my cravings when the hunger for sugar strikes. Frozen fruit is one staple in my freezer.

This was a simple remedy for my craving today, frozen blueberries, topped with vanilla soy yogurt and fresh lemon zest. The cold blueberries actually started to freeze the yogurt…satisfaction :)

Beautiful Basil: DNA protection and natural anti-bacterial

Organic non-gmo basil grown in my raised bed garden.

Organic Basil from my raised bed garden.

Basil. There are many varieties, each with a slightly different flavor and aroma. My favorite is Genovese Basil (Ocimum basilicum var genovese). I grew this basil pictured above from organic non-gmo seed I ordered from High Mowing Seeds in Vermont. It grew fast and was very hearty. Of course lots of pesto was made this summer and fall! I also love to put fresh basil on sandwiches. Benefits are best received when herbs are consumed raw.

Herbs have tremendous healing power. Basil in particular has two main qualities that provide our bodies with remarkable health benefits, particularly in areas of DNA protection and anti-bacterial properties. According to research cited on Worlds Healthiest Foods website, basil displays unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas: basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils.

“The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that have been of particular interest in basil, and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

In addition, basil has been shown to provide protection against unwanted bacterial growth. These anti-bacterial properties of basil are not associated with its unique flavonoids, but instead with its volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. Lab studies show the effectiveness of basil in restricting growth of numerous bacteria, including : Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O:157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” Source: WHF

One of my favorite breakfast foods!

Raspberry Cacao Chia Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great and inexpensive way to start your day. I like to add chia seeds soaked in vanilla almond milk to my oatmeal. Sometimes I use a multi-grain hot cereal instead of just oats. Whatever your choice, always keep it organic! For a healthier version make “Overnight Oats” with apple cider or your choice of nut milk. Overnight oats are simply oats you soak overnight in whatever liquid you choose. This eliminates the cooking process, yet most oats are subjected to heat when they are rolled. The only oats I know of that are not processed in any way are oat groats.

Maple walnut chia oatmeal

Maple Apple Walnut Chia Oatmeal

Why start your day with oatmeal?
Oats contain beta-glucan, which is known to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and heighten immune response. It also has a good amount of fiber which we know is key to colon health and oatmeal also is great in helping people with Type 2 Diabetes.

Cinnamon Apple Raisin Oatmeal

Cinnamon Apple Raisin Oatmeal


How Do You Like Your Chlorophyll?

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Greens are a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. I get most of mine by drinking plenty of green smoothies, I aim to drink at least one a day, typically in the morning or post gym.
Seems everyone has their own way of making the “green smoothie“. I tend to go through phases. Lately it has been spinach or kale and frozen bananas with almond milk and usually some random other piece of fruit (usually blueberries) thrown in.  Other times I love fresh red grapes, blueberries and kale; one of my all time favorites.

Why is green so important?

Because eating them is like harnessing the power of the sun and putting it into your body!  One of the most interesting aspects of chlorophyll is how closely it resembles our red blood cells, known as hemoglobin, the pigment that gives our blood its red color as well as its oxygen-carrying capacity. The hemoglobin of the red blood cell and the chlorophyll of the plant are so similar in molecular structure, with the only difference being the center atom.

Chlorophyll is a powerful blood cleanser and blood builder. Chlorophyll delivers a continuous energy transfusion into our bloodstream, replenishing and increasing red blood cell count. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to our cells, and since disease-promoting anaerobic bacteria cannot live and thrive in the presence of oxygen, this is a vital process that must occur for us to stay healthy!

However it is you get your greens, just make sure you get those greens on a DAILY basis! The chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and of course fiber (colon health!) is so crucial to promoting optimal health.
Please feel free to share your favorite green smoothie recipe!

Curried Cauliflower & Sprouted Tofu

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Oven roasted cauliflower and sprouted baked tofu on a bed of vegan cheese grits.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with wonderful health benefits! It is high in Vitamins C, K and B6; it is also high in folate, choline and potassium. There are also many other vitamins and minerals that are contained within this wonderful plant.

The World Health Organization says this about Cauliflower

You will find several dozen studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention, particularly with respect to the following types of cancer: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. This connection between cauliflower and cancer prevention should not be surprising, since cauliflower provides special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are (1) the body’s detox system, (2) its antioxidant system, and (3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase risk of cancer, and when imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly.

Recipe:

Oven 400

1 Head Organic Cauliflower

1 Tbsp EV Coconut Oil

Sea Salt/Black Pepper

1/2 Package  Organic Sprouted Tofu (I used Woodland brand – savory!)

Grits

2 Slices Vegan Cheese (I used Daiya brand)

For roasted cauliflower, cut florets off head, toss in coconut oil and curry powder with a pinch of sea salt/pepper. Roast in oven on a pan or in a cast iron skillet for 25 mins, turning a few times. During last 10 minutes, place cubed tofu in oven with cauliflower. Meanwhile, make grits, add cheese. Place roasted vegetables and tofu on grits and finish with finely Julienne fresh sage.

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Kale & Tempeh Salad …and why sulphur is so important!

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Dinner last night came to me as I was preparing it. Using some fresh vegetables from my fathers garden and from mine, along with some pan seared tempeh and a few other items I decided to throw in the pan.

I was craving greens so I decided to feature kale as the main ingredient and then I built the salad around that. Aside from smoothies, I am always looking for delicious ways to incorporate kale into my diet. This salad did the trick and tasted good but also “healthy”, which is a taste I have come to embrace and now love.  The better I eat, the more I crave the healthy, whole foods. It’s a win/win. Sure we all have unhealthy cravings and indiscretions, but knowing that I can always get back on track with a healthy meal is reassuring!

Let’s talk a little about kale… Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Most of us do not get enough sulphur and it is critical to a healthy body, especially with its vital role in regulating our metabolism.  When our body does not get enough sulphur our cells become glucose intolerant; this deficiency can lead to all sorts of muscular and skeletal problems accompanied by pain and inflammation. Sulphur deficiency is also linked to obesity because one way the body compensates for defective glucose metabolism is by gaining weight.

To further complicate things, when sulphur deficiency occurs within the context of a low-fat diet, the problem becomes more serious as the additional sources of glucose present in a low-fat diet in the form of carbohydrates are converted to fat and even worse, released into the bloodstream as triglycerides as fuel for the damaged and inflamed muscle cells.

So, there are many benefits to eating kale, this is just one that I wanted to highlight because sulphur deficiency does not get much attention in nutritional conversations.

On a separate but equally important note, some research suggests that people who are mercury-toxic have problems with sulphur in food. If you have amalgams in your teeth you may be mercury-toxic. Sulphur can actually mobilize the mercury in your blood, which can bring about symptoms of fatigue a few hours after you eat the sulphur rich food. More on this topic can be found here High Sulphur Foods

RECIPE  - Kale Salad with Tempeh (Serving Size:1)

Organic Non-GMO Tempeh

Kale (about 2 leaves, vein removed)

1/8 to 1/4 C Sun Dried Tomatoes (I like the ones packed in herbs/EVOO)

Handful Green Olives

1/8 Cup Chopped Onion

1/8 Cup Green Pepper

3/4 Small Eggplant or lesser of a larger Eggplant (cut into medallions)

Fresh Basil  - Julienne (about 6 leaves)

EVOO

Balsamic Vinegar

Sea Salt/Black Pepper

In a cast iron pan, heat EVOO and pan sear tempeh with balsamic vinegar. Just pour the vinegar onto the tempeh while it is in the pan or you can marinate before hand. In same pan, saute onion and green pepper. Once onion begins to get clear, put eggplant in pan, sprinkle with ample sea salt, at same time, make sure each eggplant medallion is making contact with the pan. Next, add olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the onions/green peppers. Now flip the eggplant over to brown on the other side, and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Meanwhile you can push the tempeh to the side of the pan to keep it warm.

While contents of the pan are cooking, chop the kale (fairly fine) and add to a large bowl. Julienne the basil. Add all contents of pan (except for tempeh) to the bowl of kale, toss with basil and sea salt/pepper. Place salad on plate and arrange tempeh on top.

Note: I served this with a side of sun-dried tomato polenta with fresh basil on top.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
My breakfast this morning was this very easy to make chia seed pudding with fresh berries. When you eat chia seeds you are getting fiber, antioxidants, minerals, as well as lots of satiety (fills you up!). Chia seeds are gluten-free and they also help regulate blood sugar! So those who are diabetic or looking to lose weight should absolutely add chia seeds to their daily intake!

In addition, and a VERY IMPORTANT part of why I eat chia seeds is that
they pack major energy plus a very high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, even more than salmon and flax! In fact there is no other plant that we know of which has more Omega-3′s! Omega-3′s have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. They also help our brains stay healthy; they help and with things like cognitive function, depression and improve mood. Research shows that omega-3′s have been linked to treatment and prevention of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, obesity, arthritis, ADHD and many forms of cancer. And there’s way more on this list of benefits!

Oh, Omega-3′s also help to beautify hair, nails and skin too . And women, doctors have even found a correlation between increased menstrual cramps and low omega 3 concentrations in the blood.

I’ve also seen testimonials from parents who have had breakthroughs with their autistic children after feeding them chia seeds. Pretty amazing!

RECIPE: VANILLA CHIA SEED PUDDING

1 CUP VANILLA ALMOND MILK (make your own or buy it)
3 TBSP CHIA SEEDS (doesn’t matter which color)
1/2 TSP PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Stir again in about 5 mins. Let sit a total of 10 mins. Stir again. Then top with your favorite fresh fruit. I used fresh strawberries and blueberries in the picture above, with a drizzle of raw agave.