Decadent Date Caramel

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If you’ve ever wondered how to make date caramel, this is the recipe for you! Date caramel is so easy to make and extremely delicious, but there are a couple of important tricks to know before you dive in.

1. Make sure you have moist, fresh dates. If your dates are dry and hard, they won’t blend as well and will require soaking in warm water first in order to soften them. Otherwise, you won’t achieve that creamy, caramel-like consistency. So, whenever possible, look for the freshest, most sticky dates you can find.

2. In my experience, a food processor works best to get that ultra creamy, smooth texture. Blenders just require a little more time, effort and a bit more water to get things going.

Now that you have the basics down, let’s make caramel!

Date Caramel
A versatile, naturally-sweetened, raw caramel perfect for adding caramel-flavor to a variety of dishes.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup pitted dates
  2. 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. splash of vanilla extract
  5. dash of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients a food processor but the salt
  2. Pulse/mix on low until small bits remain. Then stream water until a paste is made. You will need to scrape the down sides and encourage it along periodically
  3. Be sure to only add enough water to form a paste - too much and it will be too liquidy
  4. Leave as is, or add a pinch of salt to enhance flavour.
  5. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, and often more.
Notes
  1. Serve it with freshly sliced apples, as a topping for your favorite raw vegan brownies or to fill raw cacao truffles.
  2. It also makes a wonderful natural sweetener in dishes like oatmeal and milkshakes.
Lifestyle in Shavasana http://lifestyleinshavasana.com/

 

Raw Carrot Cake Bites

 

Carrot Cake is probably one of my favourite cakes without any doubts!!! I have my very own recipe, and been proudly baking it every other week, for many years!!Not to mentioned that every time i had the opportunity to try a slice, i would voluntarily grab one and enjoy it with my favourite cuppa.Total fanatic!!!

My Carrot cake made it to endless gatherings and family celebrations. It was and is a pleasure cooking this amazing yummy cake with an absolutely decadent cream cheese frosting….Everybody looked forward to my dessert!!!

Because i love it soo damn much, i have decided to”study” a healthy version of my staple cake to be indulged at any time and anywhere, absolutely guilt free. That’s how i came across this yummy Raw Carrot Cake Bites recipe and added my favourite touches. This raw carrot cake contains freshly grated organic carrots, dates, raisins, spices, nuts and coconut oil. Compared with traditional cake made with flour, oil, granulated sugar, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter, a raw carrot cake is much closer to nature. It still contains fat, calories, and sugar, but in the form of whole foods that benefit and uplift your body. Yeyyy!!!

Raw Vegan Carrot Cake
Serves 15
vegan. gluten-free. grain-free. refined sugar-free
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Carrot Cake
  1. 2 cups shredded organic carrot
  2. 3/4 cup dates, about 9
  3. 1/2 cup raw pecans or walnuts
  4. 1/4 cup dried raisins
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  9. pinch of salt
  10. zest from 1/2 a lime
Cashew Cream Frosting
  1. 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 3 tbsp raw agave nectar or coconut nectar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. juice of 1/2 lemon
  6. pinch of salt
  7. 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  8. walnuts and extra cinnamon for finish
Instructions
  1. Grate the carrot in a food processor fitted with the grater attachment. Squeeze as much juice as you can from carrots using your hands. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In the clean food processor, now fitted with the blade attachment, blend the dates, walnuts/pecans, and raisins until combined but there are still some larger pieces of nuts, about 8 1-second pulses
  3. Add the spices, lime zest and carrots. Pulse until the mixture comes together and holds its shape. Place mixture back into large bowl.
  4. Using a ice cream scoop, measure out into balls and then flatten. Frost each cake with a heaping tablespoon of cashew frosting. Chill for at least an hour. Garnish right before serving.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In blender (preferably high-speed) mix all ingredients except coconut oil, until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may have to add more water to get everything to move.
  2. Add coconut oil and continue to blend until creamy. Chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator or until firm and spreadable.
  3. Use as frosting for cakes and cupcakes.
Notes
  1. You can turn these squares into yummy and awesome carrot cake balls with or without the frosting :)
  2. Try it in cake pops too!!!
Adapted from My Darling Vegan
Adapted from My Darling Vegan
Lifestyle in Shavasana http://lifestyleinshavasana.com/

Drinking Lemon Water in the Morning

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The way you start each day is incredibly important.

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.

Whether you’re a mom, a dad, a coach, a writer, an artist, a chef, a small business owner or a yoga teacher, what you do first thing in the morning matters.

Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature’s rhythms, balance the doshas & foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.

Your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out the door, that you can’t be late for work or that you just don’t have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.

But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this…..

Start the day out with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon (ginger and chia seeds is optional).

It’s so simple and the benefits are just too good to ignore. Warm water with lemon…Why?? you may ask. Read below:

1. Boosts you’re immune system
Lemons are high in Vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds and potassium stimulates brain & nerve function and helps control blood pressure.

2. Balances pH
Lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, believe it or not. Yes, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). As you wellness warriors know, an alkaline body is really the key to good health.

3. Helps with weight loss
Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster. And, my experience is that when I start the day off right, it’s easier to make the best choices for myself the rest of the day.

4. Aids digestion
The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen toxins, in the digestive tract.

Think about this… during sleep, you typically haven’t been drinking for at least 8 hours. Giving the body adequate water when you first wake up is a great way to get your body and your mind going.

5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic
Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.

6. Clears skin
The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.

7. Hydrates the lymph system
This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which helps prevent dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, or deeply dehydrated (adrenal fatigue) it can’t perform all of it’s proper functions, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and the list goes on. Your adrenals happen to be two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and along with your thyroid, create energy. They also secrete important hormones, including aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your adrenals that regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium, in your body, helping you stay hydrated. Your adrenals are also responsible for regulating your stress response. So, the bottom line is that you really don’t want to mess with a deep state of dehydration!

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It is always important to support our bodies by drinking enough water, especially in the morning. Lemon water won’t be a miracle cure but it might be a better alternative to caffeinated drinks, especially for those with adrenal problems.

I’ve found that starting to drink water first thing in the morning when you aren’t used to it can cause a few minutes of nausea, so it might be a good idea to start slowly and not used to drinking this much.

Adopting just this one practice of drinking a cup of warm water with lemon in the morning for a month can radically alter your experience of the day. Don’t be surprised if you begin to view mornings in a new light.Remember, real change comes from taking action.

Xx

The Autumn Detox Cleanse

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We think of spring as the staple season for cleansing—spring cleaning, spring detox, spring yard sales—but autumn is actually the more appropriate season to think about purging the old.

A fall detox cleanse will help to stave off seasonal colds, keep your immune system healthy, and prepare your organs for the colder months ahead. 

“In the fall, it’s about acknowledging that we’re overly busy, slowing down, and restoring the body.”

WHY WE NEED TO CLEANSE IN THE FALL

The fall detox should be all about the lungs and the large intestine. In both alternative and conventional medicine theory, these organs are linked to skin and breathing problems like asthma, eczema, rashes and dry skin—all of the most common things to ail us in the colder months.

To support the lungs and large intestine, I recommend (nothing new) cutting (0 tolerance) sugars, flours, dairy, cigarettes and alcohol for a healthy, mucus-free stomach. And for opening the nasal passages, drinking fenugreek tea. I love that warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves—the ones we use anyways in our fall baking recipes—actually support both intestinal and respiratory health, so it’s just perfect that they are good for both our health and the flavor of our foods during this season.

FALL DETOX JUICES

For a fall detox juice cleanse, stick with fall fruits and vegetables. Fall foods to use in your cleansing juices are apples, beets, leafy greens, and a hint of lemon (but don’t overdo the citrus). 

Sattva Juicery has 3 Cleanse levels where you can choose your own juices. Ask for more information at sales@sattvajuicery.com 

Detox-foods

FALL CLEANSE WITH FOODS (created by me) – 4 Days

Here is what you will need:

  • Twelve 500ml  of Sattva Juices – any flavor from our line of green juices
  • A wide variety of raw fruits
  • A wide variety of raw veggies and salad fixings
  • Your favorite organic green tea (Matcha for example)

The Basics:

Sattva Juicery  Cleanse Philosophy emphasizes the importance of detoxing your cells and nourishing your body gently and naturally. How? By combining Sattva Juices –  Green juices with an array of raw fruits and vegetables!
Each morning you will begin your day with a glass of water, a cup of green tea and a bottle of  Green juice. This morning mini-fast infuses the body with a huge flush of vital nutrients, while allowing the intestinal tract to continue to cleanse your cells of toxins. Moreover, green juice is the most effective and efficient way for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals.
Throughout the day, you will continue to hydrate your body with two more bottles of Juice. If you are feeling a little hungry, it’s okay to snack on raw fruit, which digests quickly and helps maintain a healthy blood sugar and sustained energy levels.
At dinner, it is time to equip your body with fiber and roughage through a large raw vegetable dinner. Fiber prompts the bowels to move and expel the day’s accumulated toxins. So while you continuously flood your body with large quantities of nutrients through green juice, you are simultaneously collecting toxins and getting rid of them!

DAY 1

Morning
Large glass of lemon water
500ml of Green Juice
Cup of organic green tea
Lunch
500ml of Green Juice
Grapefruit, or other raw fruit
Afternoon Snack
500ml of Green Juice
More raw fruit, if hungry
Dinner
Appetizer: Raw Carrot Soup – mix the following in blender until smooth, adding water (½-1 cup) as needed until desired consistency: 2 carrots, ½ de-seeded red bell pepper, 1 avocado, ¼ inch of ginger root, ½ handful of parsley leaves, sea salt and pepper (to taste); garnish with extra virgin olive oil and parsley leaves.
Main Course: Fall Fennel Salad – toss the following in large bowl: baby mixed greens, ½ finely sliced fennel bulb, ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, handful of finely chopped tarragon (2-3 stems) and basil (5-6 leaves), ¼ cup of pine nuts, 2 tsp. lemon juice (½ lemon), 2 tsp. of almond oil; add sea salt and pepper (to taste); garnish with sliced avocado.

Nightcap: Drink a cup of hibiscus tea. Filled with antioxidants, it reportedly helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol while also supporting your digestive system. When buying at the store, make sure it is caffeine free as some brands blend with green tea.

DAY 2

Morning
Large glass of lemon water
500ml of Green Juice
Cup of organic green tea
Lunch
500ml of Green Juice
Mixed berries, or other raw fruit
Afternoon Snack
500ml of Green Juice
More raw fruit, if hungry
Dinner
Appetizer: Raw Salsa and Veggies – blend the following until minced: ½ peeled sweet onion, 1-2 peeled garlic cloves; add to blender and pulse until desired consistency: 4 roma tomatoes, 2-3 stems of cilantro, juice of ½ lime; add sea salt and pepper (to taste); enjoy with array of raw veggies, such as carrots, celery and red pepper sticks!
Main Course: Raw Guacamole Tacos – prepare guacamole with: 2 cubed avocados, 2 chopped roma tomatoes, ¼ finely chopped red onion, 1-2 chopped garlic cloves, ½ bunch of cilantro leaves, juice of ½ lime, sea salt and pepper (to taste); top 4-5 large romaine leaves with: 1 scoop of homemade guacamole, handful of sprouts, 2-3 tbs. raw pumpkin seeds; roll into a taco.

Nightcap: Drink a cup of hibiscus tea. Filled with antioxidants, it reportedly helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol while also supporting your digestive system. When buying at the store, make sure it is caffeine free as some brands blend with green tea.

DAY 3

Morning
Large glass of lemon water
500ml of Green Juice
Cup of organic green tea
Lunch
500ml of Green Juice
Fuji apple slices, or other raw fruit
Afternoon Snack
500ml of Green Juice
More raw fruit, if hungry
Dinner
Appetizer: Avocado Cup – on top of a halved avocado, sprinkle: 1 tsp. raw hulled pistachios, almond oil (or similar nut oil), and sea salt (to taste).
Main Course: Herb Salad – toss the following in a large bowl: baby mixed greens, handful of finely chopped basil (8-9 leaves), mint (2-4 stems) and cilantro (2-3 stems), 1 diced small avocado, 1 tbs. pomegranates, 1 tbs. roughly chopped raw almonds, 1 tbs. almond oil, 1 tsp. agave nectar, juice of ½ lime, sea salt (to taste).

Nightcap: Drink a cup of hibiscus tea. Filled with antioxidants, it reportedly helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol while also supporting your digestive system. When buying at the store, make sure it is caffeine free as some brands blend with green tea.

DAY 4

Morning
Large glass of lemon water
500ml of Green Juice
Cup of organic green tea
Lunch
500ml of Green Juice
Melon slices, or other raw fruit
Afternoon Snack
500ml of Green Juice
More raw fruit, if hungry
Dinner
Appetizer: Raw Butternut Squash Soup – mix the following in blender until smooth: 1½ cups cubed raw butternut squash, ½ medium avocado, 1 cup filtered water, 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbs. maple syrup, 1 garlic clove, sea salt and pepper (to taste); garnish with handful of dried cranberries.
Main Course: Crunchy Rosemary Salad – toss the following in a large bowl: baby mixed greens, 2-3 finely chopped tarragon stems, 1-2 finely chopped rosemary stems, juice of ½ lime, 2 tbs. almond oil, 2 tbs. hemp seeds, sea salt (to taste); garnish with crumbled raw crackers and sliced avocado.

Nightcap: Drink a cup of hibiscus tea. Filled with antioxidants, it reportedly helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol while also supporting your digestive system. When buying at the store, make sure it is caffeine free as some brands blend with green tea.

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Enjoy!!!!

Xx

Note that cleansing/fasting may not be safe for everyone. We recommend consulting your physician prior to starting a cleanse or intermittent fasting routine.

Thursday Quickies

Using Flax and Chia as “Eggs” in Baking 

Flaxseed powder and chia seeds powder are extremely helpful baking tools. Due to their naturally high amount of mucilage (gluey/gelatinous substance), each has the ability to quickly form a gel-like substance when soaked in liquid – similar consistency to a raw egg white. While this “gel” will not rise like a cooked egg, it does serve as an excellent binder in baked recipes. As long as the recipe contains other agents to help rise (such as baking soda…), this beneficial superseded formula can be used in place of raw eggs with no problems.

For the equivalent of two eggs:

Mix 2 tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seed powder with 1/3 cup water or nut milk. Stir, wait 5-10 minutes and stir one more time. Easy peasy!!

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Frozen Banana 101

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Frozen bananas are a superfood kitchen Must Have for two reasons:

First, they provide a frosty ice cream-like texture to blend mixtures that’s different from a fresh banana. Second, frozen bananas are a fantastic way to save bananas that are past their prime.

Check this 5 steps to freeze your bananas

  1. Use the ripest bananas possible. Brown is good!
  2. Always peel the banana prior to freeing them
  3. Slice the bananas into rounds before freezing. Why? Your blender’s blades will thank you!
  4. Store in a large ziplock bag, spread it into a flat layer
  5. As a guide: one handful of frozen banana slices is about one banana

Mason Jars

I am OBSESSED with these Jars!!!!!!

These timeless kitchen staples are enormously handy—and stylish in that shabby-chic sort of way. Originally used for preserving food, mason jars are made of sturdy glass that stands up to hot and cold temperatures—so you can freeze, bake, microwave, or chill them. Don’t know where to begin? Take a cue from one of these clever ideas:

Mason Jar Pros

Multi-Purpose – Apparently these are not just for salads 
Portion control – If healthy food is prepared, measured, portioned and packaged for individual servings, it is less likely that you will over-serve or choose something less healthy or eat out altogether.
Cute! – I think a mason jar looks much nicer than the plastic stuff.
Space – Mason jars might take up space or sometimes they can help make space.
Leftovers – Sometimes we can’t find the container we want to use or you can split a larger portion into single servings by just storing it in the mason jar rather than storing it all in a larger container which will have to be separated later
Portable – I know plastic containers are lighter but you can still just grab and go. This is not as easy with a large storage container.
Safe in the microwave, fridge and oven – I have heard there are some that are freezer safe, too. (Mine are not)
Safe – No BPA. There are questions as to the safety of some materials found in plastic containers.
Less mess – I haven’t had anything leak or spill (yet). However, I have had lids “warp” and open up in transport which did end up getting all over my stuff. Even if it was “empty” the plastic containers would get messy.

Mason Jar Cons

Breakable – This has never happened to me…it is probably just a matter of time.
Lids – the metal lids rust or get stuck together, but you can get plastic lids, too.
Clunky – Kind of clunky to carry around

Buy Mason jars in Macau

  • Parkn’ Shop – Taipa
  • Better Homes – Taipa

Online:

  • Party with Meemo
  • Tao bao
  • Kara’s Party Ideas
  • Pottery Barn

Raw Vegan Cacao Energy Bars

It doesn’t come as a surprise that we need healthy snacks at home. Both Hubby and I workout everyday, we need energy to take care our sweetie pies and keep it up with their pace plus we need the focus to do our job.

With all these demands, i am dedicating every Sunday to develop and try new recipes. For 5 Sundays in a row i’ve been working around guilt free desserts and snacks…Some turned out pretty impressive, others not so….One of the best parts of cooking and specially on Sundays is that Sienna can help…”Mommy, Sienna help” she repeats over and over. It is so important to involve your kids in everything you do and specially when cooking healthy foods…

These convenient nutrition of these yummy bars has made a staple in my kitchen…It’s definitely the best grab-and-go snack. You can enjoy it as a mid morning or afternoon snack, or as a dessert too. Needless to say that in 15 minutes you have your end result before you. You just need to add 30min + for refrigeration.

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Pair it with your favourite Sattva Juiery Cold Pressed Juice and make it THE snack!!!

Raw Vegan Cacao Energy Bar
Serves 8
Delicious bars with the best of the superfoods available!!
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 15 soft Medjool dates (pits removed)
  2. 1/4 cup raw almonds
  3. 1/4 cup raw cashews
  4. 1/4 cacao powder
  5. 3 tbsp cacao nibs
  6. 6 tbsp hemp seeds
  7. 1 tbsp chia seeds
  8. 2 tsp maca powder
  9. 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  10. 2 tbsp raw nuts/seeds
  11. 1/4 cup of raisins
  12. 1/2 tsp cold water - just in case you need
Instructions
  1. Grind all ingredients together in the food processor except for the last 2 tbsp raw nuts/seeds and the 1/4 cup of raisins, until a coarse dough has formed.
  2. Stop the machine and check the consistency (need to stick together easily - otherwise will crumble).
  3. Add a tiny amount of water if the dough is too dry.
  4. Blend again until the desired sickness is achieved.
  5. Add the last 2 tbsp raw nuts/seeds and dried fruits and pulse several times until just coarsely chopped
  6. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface and spill out the dough on top.
  7. Gather into a solid mass in the centre then use the sides of the plastic to wrap over the dough really tight.Press, pound and shape it into a rectangle aprox. 1 inch
  8. Place bar in the freezer for 30min before cutting
Lifestyle in Shavasana http://lifestyleinshavasana.com/

Micro Greens

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Standard vegetables, take a seat please – there’s a younger model in town!

The first time I saw microgreens, I thought, “Awww how cute are these!”

We’ve come to accept the baby-fication of our vegetables – baby spinach, baby lettuce, and baby squash prized for their tenderness and cute size have staked out territory in the produce section of many a grocery store including in our Parkn’Shop.

For a bit now, growers and a few inventive chefs)have decided we need vegetables that are even more juvenile than babies — seedlings so small, and so young, they’re called microgreens. The advantages of these tiny leaves less than 14 days old are many, their proponents say. They make vibrantly hued garnishes to salads, sandwiches and soups. And whether they’re spinach, pea, beet or purple mustard, microgreens are rumored to pack even more nutrients that their adult versions.

Micro Greens Have Up to 40 Times More Vital Nutrients Than Mature Plants

After all, What Are Micro Greens?

Micro Green is the universal name for almost any green vegetable or herb that has edible leaves and is harvested at the coteleydon growth stage – the stage when the first set of true leaves sprout. The coteleydon growth stage comes after the germination and sprouting stages but before a plant fully develops its root and leaf structures. The first set of true leaves develops after the coteleydon – or the first two visible leaves – of a plant appear. When the next set of leaves – anywhere between two to four – are produced, the plant actually enters the coteleydon stage. If the plant is allowed to grow, it becomes a seedling.

Types

Benefits-of-Microgreens
Micro Greens are most commonly harvested from leafy greens such as kale, arugula, beet greens, onions, radish greens, watercress, chard and bok choy and herbs such as cilantro, basil, chervil, parsley and chives. The taste of micro greens depends on the original vegetable. Micro Greens have a very strong and concentrated taste of the original vegetable. This means that cilantro microgreens will still taste of cilantro but in a stronger, more vegetal and condensed format. The health benefits of microgreens are similar to those of sprouts; however, the specific nutritional profile for each micro green depends on the type of plant it comes from originally.

Understanding the Sprouts

Sprouts and microgreens have the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie of any food. They are the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, chlorophyll and protein, and provide us with substantially greater health benefits than raw fruits and vegetables.

Sprouts are germinated seeds. They grow for 2-5 days depending on the seed. Sprouting magnifies the nutritional content of the seed, more than tripling vitamins A, B-complex and C. The vitamin content of some seeds increase by up to 20 times the original value after just a few days of sprouting.

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The smaller seeds, such as broccoli, alfalfa and radish, contain up to 100 times more of the incredible phytonutrients than their mature counterparts. What this means is that just a handful of broccoli sprouts can provide you the same nutritional benefits as a bucket full of mature broccoli. The larger seeds, such as the grains (kamut, oats, rye) and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), provide with the energy (calories) we need to function. In addition to boosting the antioxidant, vitamin, essential fatty acid, and enzyme content, it’s been well documented that the soaking and sprouting process also increases the quality and quantity of fiber and protein. Sprouting is simply the best way to prepare grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It activates enzymes, releases anti-nutrients, and improves our digestion and absorption of beneficial nutrients, allowing us to get the most health benefits from our food. The beauty of it all lies in the fact that sprouts can be grown on your kitchen counter every day of the year, and with minimal effort.

Nutrients and Health Benefits of Micro Greens

The nutritional profile of each microgreen depends greatly on the type of microgreen you are eating. Leafy greens are a good source of beta-carotene as well as iron and calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin. Because microgreens require only minimal sunlight and space to grow, they can be grown in your kitchen or in a windowsill, allowing you to control the type of microgreens as well as their growing conditions. Home-grown microgreens are not exposed to as many pollutants as commercially grown varieties. Because you have greater control over their growing conditions, such as exposure to pesticides and the type and quality of soil used, you will have fewer added or environmental toxins in your microgreens. Growing your own microgreens means that you have easy access to them and can incorporate them more readily into your daily diet, increasing your vegetable consumption.

Serving Suggestions

  • Dress microgreens with a simple vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, and cracked black pepper. Serve as a side dish or a bed for a serving of salmon, beans, or another lean protein.
  • Toss microgreens with pesto (anything from the traditional basil type to roasted red pepper or sundried tomato varieties works) and use as a topping for an open-faced sandwich.
  • Add microgreens to an organic omelet or tofu scramble with other veggies such as mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper.
  • Use raw microgreens as a garnish on a hearty bean or lentil soup, pizza, or in place of lettuce in tacos.
  • For a simple chilled entrée, combine microgreens with vinaigrette, a small scoop of cooled whole grains (I like quinoa or wild rice), and a lean protein like cubed tofu.

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The Healthiest Oils – To Cook

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Fats – get them right and you’ll help protect your heart, lower cholesterol and maintain good cognitive function. Get it wrong however and there could be trouble. ‘Bad’ fats are implicated in the development of everything from coronary heart disease to Alzheimer’s and depression.

The best oils are cold pressed. The oil is obtained through pressing and grinding fruit or seeds with the use of heavy granite millstones or modern stainless steel presses, which are found in large commercial operations. Although pressing and grinding produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F (49°C) for any oil to be considered cold pressed. Cold pressed oils are produced at even lower temperatures. Cold pressed oils retain all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. Olive, peanut and sunflower are among the oils that are obtained through cold pressing.

WHY WE NEED FAT

Mediterranean eating is hailed as an example of the best in the world for longevity, partly due to consumption of good fats like olive oil. We need fat; it’s crucial to a number of bodily functions. It’s vital for our brains because it builds part of the myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding each nerve fibre which allows the brain to carry messages quickly. It also regulates the production of the sex hormones, helps the body use fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and keeps skin looking and feeling healthy. Recent research suggests that having a mixture of oils in our diet is the most beneficial, as too much of any single fat can be detrimental to health.
But there is no point having a cupboard full of healthy oils without knowing how to use them for maximum effect. Here are which ones to stock up on, and how to incorporate them into your culinary masterpieces…

Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil is a staple in my diet. It is incredibly versatile, has a delicious flavour, and has extraordinary health benefits.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is well documented for helping to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and asthma. It can lower cholesterol and blood pressure; assists to balance blood sugar levels; has potent anti-inflammatory effects, powerful antioxidants to combat free radical damage, and supports good gastrointestinal health.

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Olive oils come in a variety of flavours. They can be rich and fruity, or light and buttery. They also range in colour: from dark green to light gold. Generally, the deeper the colour, the richer the flavour. The colour and flavour are dependent on the variety of the olives; the climate and quality of the soil; cultivation and farming practices; and storage techniques.

BEST FOR COOKING AT MEDIUM TEMPERATURES

Sesame oil
USE IT FOR: Cooking, stir-frying and salad dressings.
This oriental cupboard staple is bursting with nutrition and will impart a distinct nutty flavour to any dish. This oil is not only high in cholesterol-lowering mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it also contains vitamin E, K and B6, plus the minerals magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and zinc.
Avocado oil
USE IT FOR: Cooking, frying and salads.
Avocado oil has similar anti-ageing properties to olive oil, but is slightly lower in saturated fat and milder in flavour. Refined avocado oil is stable at high temperatures which makes it great for cooking, plus it contains lots of mono-unsaturated fat which can reduce the build up of bad cholesterol.

BEST FOR COOKING AT HIGH TEMPERATURES:

Coconut oil – my favourite!!!!
USE IT FOR: Cooking, frying and baking.
This solidified substance has shot to fame in recent years and can count celebrities among its fans. Anecdotally it’s been said to benefit dementia sufferers – the fats in virgin coconut oil can be converted into ketone bodies which provide an energy source for the brain. Experts speculate this may provide alternative fuel to the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. But like any fat which is solid at room temperature, coconut oil is full of saturated fat, and that’s bad, isn’t it? Although this oil is high in saturated fatty acids, they are shorter ones than are found in animal fats, they are taken to the liver and burnt for energy rather than to the cells where they could impair insulin function, like the saturated fat in animal products can. So while experts still advise it’s only eaten in moderation, it seems this is one sat fat which isn’t all bad. Coconut is regarded as superior to olive oil due to its lower level of polyunsaturates and it’s twice as stable as its Mediterranean counterpart; olive oil will oxidise and produce rancid by-products when heated to very high temperatures, making it less suitable.
Macadamia nut oil
USE IT FOR: Cooking, baking, frying, roasting and salads.
Not one for nut allergy sufferers, this nutritious oil offers an explosion of antioxidants, boasting four to five times the vitamin E of olive oil. It’s low in polyunsaturated fatty acids which tend to be very unstable and release rancid by-products when heated. This oil is particularly good for cooking because it’s twice as stable as olive oil.

BEST FOR DRIZZLING

Flax seed oil
USE IT FOR: Salads.
Great for drizzling, this oil should never be used for cooking as it is very unstable at high temperatures and will produce rancid by-products if heated. Flaxseed oil provides a much-needed injection of omega 3 into your diet, although the level is nowhere near as high as the omega 3 found in fish oil, flaxseed is the highest non-animal source available so is a great way for vegans and vegetarians to supplement their diets. Omega-type polyunsaturates such as those found in this oil have been discovered to be beneficial in more than 50 health conditions.
Hemp seed oil
USE IT FOR: Low temperature cooking and salads.
Hemp has many a fan and this relatively recent addition to the health-oil cannon is reportedly beneficial for conditions such as eczema, asthma and arthritis. Hemp seed oil is very high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids, which means it’s only suitable for really low temperature cooking as it will oxidise, but it’s great for drizzling and has a pleasant nutty flavour. Hemp’s fatty acids are mainly omega 6, but it does contain omega 3 too. There have also been promising results reported by parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

 

Good quality cold pressed and unrefined fats and oils are necessary for optimum health. But it is extremely important that they be of premium quality. I always buy high quality, organic, cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, unrefined fats and oils. In other words, oils that are as close to their natural source in flavour and aroma as possible, with minimal processing.

I consume a variety of unrefined plant based fats and oils in an attempt to balance my diet. My choice of oil for a given recipe is dependent on two things: the temperature the oil will be exposed to, and the flavour palate of the dish. I want to use an oil that will complement the natural flavour of the bare ingredients, and can withstand the temperature of cooking. There are oils that should never be heated or they become carcinogenic.

Always store oils in dark, light-proof bottles in a cool dark place to prevent oxidation and rancidity. Shelf life varies depending on the oil. Fats and oils are not like fine wines. They do not improve with age. Make sure once you open a fresh bottle of oil, you use it in good time. Don’t save expensive oils for use on special occasions like that outfit you’ll never wear that is now out of fashion and still has the tags on. Enjoy them!

 

1st day of School

Parenting | September 7, 2015 | By

Even if your newbie preschooler will be away from home for just a few hours, the 1st day of school is always a big step for someone wearing wearing such little booties.

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Yep…it’s finally here…that time of the year!

At 7’clock the alarm rang sharp!!!We were all excited to get out of bed. Sienna knew she was going to school, but as all 2.5 years old toddler, she isn’t/wasn’t aware of the 1st day of school. For her, she thought she was going to see Margarida, Jaque and Olga…and all her classmates from Nursery. She had no idea a new school, new teachers, new friends, new atmosphere, new schedules and new routines were about to greet her! Specially when her gap between nursery and preschool were of 2 weeks only.

For a week, we have been showing her pictures of her new teachers as well as her class room and her uniform. Her response was great. We were all happy and confident that everything was going to go well on her 1st day of Kindergarten. As parents, we believe that anticipation is key, specially when something…something big is about to change in your kids life. Like for example, a change of teachers…more so then the change of school.

Parents of toddlers like us, heading to preschool for the first time have lots in their minds – and is just so normal!! I couldn’t stop thinking about it since March, when we had enrolled our little Sienna.Separation anxiety can rear its ugly head at any time during your little one’s preschool experience, but making the first day a good day helps set the tone for the school year to come. Understanding you aren’t alone when it comes to finding solutions is key, as well as sticking with a routine.

See what we have learnt from last year’s – when Sienna first started nursery. I am not saying that is easy…i’m saying that it get’s easier and trust me, i am probably the most emotional creature around. I couldn’t hold my tears today, again…they just rolled down my cheeks without excuses!But nothing compared to the 1st weeks we had last year…The separation anxiety was bad…from Sienna and from us…specially being pregnant at that time…where the hormones were pretty much everywhere…ai ai…i will always remember…

Here are a few helpful tips that you might consider in order to create a less painful drop-off!!!

  1. Don’t rush through the Morning – No one likes to race through the school morning routine — especially on the first day. So get everyone up at a reasonable hour. That way, you won’t have to hurry your child as he munches through his morning meal — or risk being late because you had to tame your frazzled tot’s tantrum.
  2. Arrive fashionably early  – This way, your little one can slowly settle in before the real action starts. He’ll also get more face time with the teacher, too, which will be tougher to do once all the other kids are there to vie for her attention. 
  3. Make a plan for the first day of school and then stick with it (we made ours 2 weeks in advance). Your tot works well with routines, and when they are broken, things can go downhill fast. Whether it’s reading a book before drop-off or a special kiss, sticking to a routine means early-morning success. Make sure to chat about the routine with your child before heading to school so she knows what to expect.
  4. Discuss with the teacher what the recommended amount of time is for hanging out on the first day and stick to it. If 10 minutes is OK, then watch the clock — and your tot — and then say goodbye. Showing your child that you feel confident about leaving her at school let’s her know it is a safe place to be. It may seem like a good idea to sneak out if she’s having fun, but it’s best to give a quick goodbye hug and a peck on the cheek before heading out. I admit that i was there for maybe 30minutes…and i was the last parent leaving the classroom…
  5. Walk away even if your kid is sad – Probably the worst thing we have to do…is painful enough to see your baby sad, and still you are supposed to leave?In the midst of tears and sadness?It just break our hearts but i know that this is what we should be doing.We all wish for happy kids at drop-off, but sometimes things don’t go that way. Even if your tot is still a bit sad after you’ve said your goodbyes, it is still time to walk away. Unless you feel your child is a danger to herself or others, asking a teacher for help and walking away from the situation allows the teacher and your child to work through what’s going on.
  6. Keep good-byes short n’ sweet  – When it’s your cue to make an exit, hold back your tears a little longer (smiling helps unscrunch those furrows in your worried brow), give your new preschooler a hug, and let him know when you’ll be back (“Mommy/Dadda I’ll pick you up after lunch”). Then head out — don’t linger (he can’t get on with his day until you do). And no matter how tempting, never sneak out when your preschooler is looking the other way. It’ll make him feel insecure and less trusting.
  7. Just remember, it’s normal for kids to have a meltdown when it’s time to separate (though many don’t). But even if your child is howling like a banshee and clinging like a barnacle, chances are he’ll be fine five minutes after you walk out the door. If it’s taking a while for your little one to adjust, don’t panic — preschool teachers (and their assistants) have seen it all and they know just what to do, so ask his teacher for help. Just don’t be surprised if your child’s too happy to say hello to you (or talk about his day) once preschool pick up rolls around!
  8. Trust the teacher – You picked the preschool because you trusted the teachers and staff. Understand that they are professionals who love their jobs and want to work with your child, meaning they will do everything possible to comfort a little one when sad or anxious. Trust that even when you aren’t there, your child is being treated with loving care and the teachers will do what is right in the situation.
  9. Don’t Let Them See You Sad (that didn’t happen), seeing your child having a total meltdown is not fun or easy, but don’t let her see that you are sad too. Kids feed off others’ emotions, so when they see someone they love in distress, they often mimic the behavior. Keep a smile on your face — even if your heart is breaking — give lots of reassuring hugs and kisses, and leave.
  10. Call and check in  – (yep, we did that, we even had pictures sent through whatsap) – Don’t fret if things didn’t go as well as you’d like at drop-off; it’s totally normal for things to be a bit bumpy at first. Worried your child hasn’t calmed down? Ease your mind by giving the preschool a call, but try to wait at least 30 minutes before reaching for the phone. This allows just enough time for your child and teacher to get adjusted.
  11. Be on time – If pickup is at 12:30, then be there at 12:30! This ensures your toddler understands that Mommy and Daddy always come back and are trustworthy, building a bond that encourages healthy behavior and self-confidence in your toddler. Create a pickup routine, just like at drop-off, that is comforting and enjoyable. Sing a special song, snuggle in a quiet corner of the classroom, or enjoy an exciting activity once everyone is home.

 

Love and Good Luck,

Xx

Berry Chia Jam

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By now, you probably already know why chia seeds are awesome. For one, these tiny, pinhead-size seeds are rich in omega-3s — and they’re incredibly high in fiber, to boot.They’re so high in fiber, in fact, that they can absorb approximately 10 times their size and weight in water.

These little super-soakers develop a gelatinous coating after they’ve taken in all that liquid, which lends itself to all kinds of interesting food uses. Puddings, smoothies, and — yep — a super-easy, healthy “jam” made with just berries, a little natural sweetener, and chia seeds. And that’s it!

So today, I thought I’d show you exactly how you can make your own chia seed jam.

Traditional jam relies on pectin to gel, and if you’ve made it before, you know that it can be a fussy beast. The right balance must be struck between the fruit (and the amount of natural pectin it may already have in it), sugar, added pectin, and acid in order to create the perfect consistency. It can take a lot of time boiling and stirring and fussing and ultimately possibly cursing over a stove. Not that I know anything about that.

But chia seed jam? It’s a piece of cake. And the result is a fruit spread with a similar texture as its predecessor, but it’s one that, to me, tastes more of the fresh, bright fruit it’s made of. Better yet, you can leave the sugar out entirely if you wish. Or if your jam needs to be a touch sweeter, pure maple syrup or some honey will do you just fine. Oh, and there’s also the nutritional boost that those super seeds provide.

Berry Chia Jam
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries
  2. 1/4 cup pure coconut or agave nectar - more or less to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Clean and process your fruit, removing stems/seeds as needed.
  2. Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the fruit and sweetener (start with a little; you can always add more later).
  3. Heat fruit, stirring occasionally, until it begins to liquify, 5-15 minutes depending on your fruit. Allow the fruit to come to a boil, and let it continue to boil until it begins to break down and form a saucy consistency, about five minutes. If nccessary, carefully mash fruit with a fork or masher until it reaches the consistency you'd like.
  4. Taste your jam and see if you want to add more sweetener. Add a tablespoon at a time until you hit the right sweet note for your tastes.
  5. Stir in the chia seeds and let cook for another minute. Stir again, remove from heat, and let sit until thick, about 10 minutes. If the jam seems a little thin, add another teaspoon or two of chia seeds, stir, and let sit for another 10 minutes, but keep in mind that he jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
  6. To store, place in an airtight jam jar or other container, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Can also be frozen for up to two months.
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