Nutritious Chocolate Mint Smoothie (Paleo Style)

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I know, I know…I am a couple days late with this one! I had planned to have this post ready for St. Patty’s Day, but unfortunately (or not:)), I drank this delightful smoothie before I gave myself a moment to take a picture. So, I just promised myself another smoothie the next day…and the next. πŸ™‚ Yes, I have had three of these since March 17th, but I am not ashamed! There is no need to feel guilty for this one, because it is full of nutritious ingredients, paleo, and even more, it is absolutely satisfying. Go ahead! Make a few for yourself this week. πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1/2 avocado, peeled, cut into chunks, and placed in the freezer for an hour (Please do not skip this step! This is a smoothie “game changer” in regards to texture!)
1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
*1/2-3/4 cup coconut milk (Try this homemade recipe!) If you do not make your own, it is important to purchase a brand which does not contain carrageenan.
1-2 mejool dates
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, alcohol free (I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s.)
1/8 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (This is the brand I recommend, as it does not contain alcohol.)
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup ice
Optional add in: Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate (This is a great protein source and super for gut health. Make sure to purchase the green can, not the red one.)

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. A high-speed blender works great for this, but if you do not have one, a normal blender will work just fine. It just may take a little more work to get it all processed. πŸ™‚ Pour your delicious treat into a large glass. If desired, top with one of these brownies!

*Start with a 1/2 cup of milk. You may need to add a little more milk (or water) to assist in blending. Add a little at a time, so as to not make it too runny. You want your smoothie to have an “ice cream-like” consistency. πŸ™‚

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

GARLIC: A Powerful Ingredient in Your Kitchen (Guest Post by Sarah from Abundelicious)

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


I would like to introduce my friend, Sarah, the Founder and CEO of Abundelicious! Sarah is a
Certified Holistic Nutrition Counselor and is passionate about helping individuals pursue a life of balance and wellness. She has tremendous wisdom in the area of health, and shares a little today about garlic! Enjoy learning about all its benefits, and make sure to try the recipe at the end of this post!

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Garlic is one of the most potent natural medicines in the world. There isn’t much it doesn’t do! There also aren’t many cuisines in the world that don’t utilize it. In addition, it was given to the slaves who built the pyramids of ancient Egypt, as well as the Olympic athletes of ancient Greece.

People often shy away from eating too much garlic because of the smell. Don’t get too upset about garlic breath; It’s the stinkiness that makes it such a powerful antioxidant (not to mention mosquito repellant – seriously). These antioxidants guard against, and even reverse, heart disease and cancer. Garlic also supports the immune system and fights off seasonal allergies.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


In addition to the antioxidants, garlic is rich in vitamins and minerals. A few more of the many benefits of garlic include…

– lowering blood pressure
– blood thinner
– widens arteries
– prevents colon and stomach cancer
– stabilizes blood sugar by increasing the release of insulin
– antiviral (prevents the cold and flu)
– fights yeast overgrowth, as well as infections (use topically to treat athletes foot)
– better complexion
– tooth aches (press garlic oil or fresh garlic to the tooth and gum)

How does one best store garlic? Keep garlic uncovered away from heat and direct light. Fresh whole bulbs last about two weeks, but they only last about a week once broken.

Here is an easy and nutritious way to incorporate a little more garlic into your life! I have included a recipe that I hope you love. Substituting cauliflower for potatoes is also a great way to reduce starchy carbohydrates and inflammation.
Garlic
MASHED CAULI-TATOES
1 head of cauliflower
1-2 parsnips
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 shallots, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coconut milk
thyme or parsley, to taste
sea salt and pepper

1. Cut the cauliflower and parsnip(s) into one-inch pieces, and steam until tender. Strain, and let cool.
2. SautΓ© garlic and shallots in half of olive oil.
3. Place cauliflower/parsnip mixture, shallots, garlic, extra olive oil, and coconut milk in food processor. Blend until desired texture.
4. Top with herbs, salt, pepper and butter/olive oil.
*Serve them with gluten-free crackers, avocado and olives. Or this can be a delicious side dish to your main course.
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If you would like to learn more about Sarah, some additional great recipes, and the services she provides, you can find her over at http://www.abundelicious.com. Be well!
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*This page contains affiliate links.
*Recipe and Cauli-Tatos Photo Courtesy of Abundelicious.

Paleo Sweet Potato Brownies Topped with Ganache and Cassava Root Chips (Grain-Free, Egg-Free)

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So, I tried something a little new today, and I seriously was incredibly pleased with the results of these ultra gooey, flavorful, and nutrient-rich brownies! πŸ™‚ I am so excited for you to try these! They are very similar to the Gooey Goodness Brownies on my blog, but there are a few changes. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to post this slightly altered recipe for you. Enjoy every bite, knowing that you are getting not only a delicious brownie, but you are also consuming a dessert containing dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. πŸ™‚

Brownie Ingredients:
4 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, 69% Cacao if possible πŸ™‚ (Otherwise, the semi-sweet still work wonderfully!)
ΒΌ cup Natural Value coconut milk (I like this brand because there is no guar gum or thickeners.)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Β½ cup pure maple syrup, Grade B preferred
Β½ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
ΒΌ teaspoon sea salt
ΒΌ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons coconut flour
4 tablespoons arrowroot flour

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Stir constantly. Pour into a medium sized mixing bowl, and add in the maple syrup, cooked sweet potato, and vanilla. Beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together the coconut flour, cocoa powder, and arrowroot, salt, and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a spatula until just combined.
Place in a greased 8Γ—8 pan, and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove from the oven. Don’t worry about under baking a little. πŸ™‚ While the brownies are still warm, poke holes throughout the top and pour this amazing ganache recipe from The Comfy Belly over the top. Spread out evenly. These are delicious when the ganache seeps down inside the brownies! πŸ˜‰

Cassava Root Topping:
*Cassava Root Chips? “What on earth?!” you say. These are a delicious alternative to potato chips and are divine when crushed on top of brownies. The salty-sweet mix is heavenly. Right before serving, crush a handful of these chips over the top of your dessert. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!

*Of course, you can always use regular kettle cooked potato chips as well. πŸ™‚

*This page contains affiliate links.

*Remember, if you have never ordered from Vitacost before, make sure to use the $10 off coupon I have provided on the sidebar of my blog! πŸ™‚

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (Paleo Style:)

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These muffins are absolutely divine. πŸ™‚ Yummy, moist, and full of chocolate, this delicious recipe is not only easy to whip up, but they are full of nutritious ingredients! I originally found these muffins from Juli over at PaleoOMG, and then I tweaked it slightly. I am giving you the recipe with my modifications, but feel free to head on over to the PaloOMG blog to check out the original recipe. πŸ™‚

Ingredients:
1/3 cup organic pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter if dairy is tolerated
3 eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*ΒΌ cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
Β½ teaspoon baking soda
Β½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix together well. Add the chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula. Fill 8 muffin tins 2/3 of the way full, and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Watch to see that the muffins are not getting too dark on the tops. If this begins to happen, just simply cover the muffins loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time. πŸ™‚ When done, remove the muffins and cool completely. Enjoy with a glass of homemade coconut milk! πŸ™‚

*Note about coconut flour: Coconut flour can be tricky at times. Sometimes your batter will look more wet than other times. That is okay! Do not add more coconut flour to your recipe. This will change the texture of the final product.

*Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links.

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

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The cold weather is here, and that means it’s time to start gathering all of my soup recipes. πŸ™‚ There is something soothing to me about holding a cup of soup in my hands, curling up, and savoring every bite. Well, that is probably true of many of us, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ I have found several to savor, but this one is at the top of my list. I love it because it is so versatile, and one can subtract, add, or increase ingredients pretty freely. Plus, it is packed full of nutrients, with homemade bone broth being one of the main ingredients. Let this soup warm you up this winter. πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3-4 cups homemade bone broth (Start with 3 and increase to 4 if you want a thinner soup consistency.)
1/2 zucchini, cubed (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and place the butternut squash in the oven on a baking stone with parchment paper. Bake the squash for 40 minutes or until tender.

When the squash has approximately 15 minutes of baking time left, begin preparing the soup. In a large soup pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables have begun to soften and the onions have turned translucent. Next, add the garlic and saute until it is fragrant (1 minute). Add 3 cups of the bone broth, the roasted butternut squash, optional zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow the soup to cool, and then add the soup mixture to a high powered blender. You do not want to put hot liquids right from the stove in your blender. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, I believe you could do this in a regular blender as well or a food processor; you just may need to blend in batches. Blend until smooth. If you want a thinner soup, add more broth. πŸ™‚ To heat, just place the blended soup back on the stove, and let it warm. Serve with plantain crackers, cheese, or your favorite topping! πŸ™‚

*Optional add-ins: Make this a main dish by adding shredded chicken, grass-fed ground meat, or any other favorite meat/protein.

*Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links.

Homemade Coconut Milk

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In my journey of wellness, I have found that there is one particular pantry staple that is essential: good ol’ coconut milk. πŸ™‚ What I have also discovered is that I don’t love the fact that many coconut milks contain stabilizers and thickeners which I believe take away from the nutritional value of the product. In fact, a common ingredient now found in store-bought cartons of “dairy milk substitutes” such as coconut or almond milk is carrageenan, an ingredient with no nutritional value and known to cause possible health problems. Read more about this potentially harmful ingredient here.

Another thing worth noting regarding coconut milk is that some coconut milks come in cartons, while others come in cans. If I do buy coconut milk, I always prefer to buy it in the can, but I do make sure that I use one that contains no added fillers, stabilizers, or thickeners. Another detail that I watch is that the company uses cans which are BPA free. Finally, I prefer to use the full-fat version of coconut milk versus the light, especially when using it for paleo treats (It usually yields a better product. Plus, it contains healthy saturated fats as well as medium chain fatty acids.) If an individual comes to me looking for my recommendation for a canned coconut milk, I suggest this one

Yet, one fact about coconut milk in a can: it is not necessarily cheap, especially if you are using it frequently (my toddler loves to drink it right from the glass!). That is why homemade coconut milk is an excellent choice. Not only is it a much cheaper alternative, but it is also very easy and quick! One can easily make a batch in 10 minutes. πŸ™‚ I also think that it tastes better than any I have tried from the can or the store-bought cartons. What are waiting for? I am pretty certain you will enjoy the final product.
Homemade Coconut Milk
2 cups of shredded coconut
4 cups filtered water

Directions: Place the coconut and water in a high-speed blender and blend on high for several minutes. Pour through a mesh strainer and then again through a thin dish towel to remove any remaining coconut shreds. Use over cereal, in recipes, or straight out of the glass with one of my warm gooey brownies. πŸ™‚

*Thank you, Healthful Pursuit, for the recipe. πŸ™‚

*Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links.
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What about you? Do you make your own coconut milk? How do you use it?

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Apple Pie (Grain-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Paleo)

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I am excited about this one, especially with Thanksgiving so quickly approaching! For many people with various food allergies, sometimes the holidays can be quite challenging, especially when having to avoid so many of the treats they used to enjoy. Wait no longer. πŸ™‚ Here is one that is sure to please your guests! It is free of the common allergens, but it certainly is not “taste-free”.

This recipe is a combination of my own creative twists and the help of Breanna from He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. I used her recipe for the crust of this pie. You can find this recipe here:

Apple Pie Crust

For the filling, I followed most of Breanna’s instructions, but I changed a few things. For the sake of making things clear, I will post the instructions right here:

Filling:
5-6 medium apples-peeled, cored, and thinly sliced ( I used a combination of Granny Smith and Gala.)
3 tablespoons of sucanat
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup (grade B preferred)
pinch of salt
*Place the apple slices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sucanat. Add to the apples and stir. Finally, add the maple syrup and salt, and stir until combined. Pour into the unbaked pie shell (which you have already placed into a pie dish :)).

Finally the topping… πŸ™‚
ΒΌ cup palm shortening
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons coconut flour
Β½ cup sucanat
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
*Mix all of the ingredients with hands. The mixture will be slightly crumbly but still stick to your hands somewhat. Place the topping over the pie.

*Make sure the oven is preheated to 350. Once preheated, cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an extra 10 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Keep an eye on the crust. If it seems like it is getting too brown, cover just the crust edges with foil while leaving the center of the pie exposed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream if dairy is tolerated. :))

*Disclosure: This page may contain links of which I earn a small commission.

Homemade Plantain Crackers

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Okay…I am addicted to these. Seriously! I love them. I discovered this recipe from The Paleo Mom about six months ago, and I have made them several times. I will admit that my early batches did not turn out as well, and it took some time to play with the mixing times, the oil amount, the baking times, etc. Here are some things I have discovered:
1) Take time to mix the batter well. It should take about 4 minutes to mix in your food processor, and you will have to probably stop the processor a couple times to scrape the sides.
2) Start with 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil in the beginning of mixing your ingredients. Slowly increase the oil to reach 1/2 cup. Sometimes you will not quite need 1/2 cup, while other times, you may need a bit more. A lot depends on the size of your plantains. (A little update: I LOVE the Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I think it almost has a buttery flavor to it. Otherwise, another great coconut oil is Wilderness Family Naturals, and I have provided the link to that on Amazon at the end of the post. πŸ™‚
3) Baking times have varied with my batches. Some crackers are done in 55 minutes, while others have taken 1 hour and 10 minutes. Sometimes the crackers toward the edge of your pan will be completed sooner than your center ones. If that happens, simply remove the ones on the outside of the pan, and place the remainder back in the oven.
4) As they cool, they will harden. πŸ™‚
5) They are great with cheese or hummus! πŸ™‚
6) Make sure that you store any unused plantains in the fridge until you bake with them. This will keep them from ripening. You WANT the greenest plantains that you can get. This creates the “crisp” cracker. As soon as they start to ripen/turn yellow, they will not turn out as well. They stay green in the fridge for approximately 2 weeks, but you should keep an eye on them. πŸ™‚ Use them right away if you observe that they may be ripening.

This is a great option for those choosing to avoid grains. Plus, plantains are full of great nutrients! πŸ™‚ I have found mine at Whole Foods. Thank you to The Paleo Mom for this great recipe! Click HERE for the recipe link.

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Homemade, Nutrient Rich Bone Broth

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I wish I could take credit for this amazing recipe, but it is quickly becoming a more popular recipe amongst health circles. Known for its amazing health benefits, homemade bone broth is full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and collagen. It is extremely beneficial for a strong immune and digestive system, as well as excellent for the joints, skin, nails, and hair. It is great for both children and adults, can be used in place of store bought broth in a recipe (with much higher nutrient quality!), and is super easy to make! I actually have been giving it to my one-year-old son in his sippy cup, and he loves it! Being that I am weaning him currently, I personally feel good knowing that, in addition to the rest of his diet, he is getting valuable nutrients from this broth. If you haven’t made this recipe before, I would really encourage you to start. It helps our family stay healthy during flu/cold seasons, gives the kiddos extra nutrients that I feel are far richer than standard milk, and is so versatile! I order my bones from Northstar Bison, or I save bones from whole chickens that I roast. I follow the recipe on the Wellness Mama blog, and you can find it by clicking on this link. She does an excellent job discussing the “why” and “how” of bone broth. Enjoy, knowing that you are adding a great staple to your family’s diet. πŸ™‚
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Disclosure: This blog contains links/ads of which I may earn a small compensation/commission by your purchase.

Pumpkin Coconut Patties

As I continue to celebrate fall, I find myself making more pumpkin recipes these days! In the spirit of the season, I want to share a few more fall delights for you so that you have delectable treats to savor. Enjoy this recipe that is simple, yet healthy and completely guilt free. Go ahead. Grab two cookies!

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Ingredients:

2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup pitted mejool dates, packed
2/3 cup organic pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B is preferable; Trader Joe’s sells it currently)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (Do not omit the salt! It brings out your spices in the cookie.)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press each cookie down slightly with your hand. Bake the cookies for 17 minutes. Cool completely and enjoy! Store in the refrigerator. πŸ™‚