Lemon Tahini Dressing

Here's my go-to dressing that's perfect over steamed greens, like collards or curly kale. I also love this as a dressing over raw kale salad, paired with currants and toasted walnuts.  

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  1. Peel the zucchini and roughly chop. One cup is approximately half of a large zucchini. 
  2. Add all ingredients except for the olive oil. Blend until smooth. 
  3. Drizzle in the olive oil while blending on low. 
  4. Add cayenne, and taste. Adjust as desired. 

Simple meal planning tips

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

I recently sat down with one of my aunts, Tia Paulina, to pick her brain about meal planning. She’s a busy mother of four, and has been raising her children gluten-free for their entire lives.

Here’s her process: At the beginning of each week, she pulls out a calendar that’s specifically dedicated to meal planning.

Then, she takes out a few cookbooks, and flips through the pages until something jumps out at her.

Next, she writes the title and page number of each recipe into the planner, taking into consideration leftovers, and special nights during the week when she’ll need something made ahead of time.

Lastly, she makes a grocery list based on the recipes of the meals she’s chosen. She does this every week, on either Sunday or Monday. Sometimes she cooks nightly, or every other night, but it always depends on the type of week she and her family will have.

What I love about her process is that it’s simple. Yes, she has a special planner for meal planning, but all that’s written in the planner is a recipe title and page number! The important thing about her planning is that she prioritizes it because, well, she has to. One of her kids has a gluten allergy, so to make it easier, the entire family eats gluten-free.

If you’re interested in getting pregnant, currently pregnant, or already have a family, you’re probably motivated to eat healthy, nourishing food. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re set each week with a plan.

Create a process that works for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this, so try out a few strategies until something sticks.

How comfortable are you in the kitchen? Do you need recipes, or can you wing it?

If you feel like Top Chef at home, or you’re the type that just likes to put everything into a pot and see what happens, plan for bulk and mains, and switch things up with seasonal produce. Choose 2-3 protein options, and always grab your basic fresh produce, like lettuce, herbs, avocados, etc.

Here are a few other ideas if you’re more of a free spirit in the kitchen:

  • Plan 2-3 protein choices that can be used multiple times throughout the week. Consider a whole roasted chicken that’s pre-cooked if you’re in a pinch, or utilize a slow cooker (think slow cooked pork shoulder = pulled pork tacos, Mexican-style burrito bowl, or added to salad).  
  • Consider 1 large batch of grains to be used all week; great gluten-free grains include brown rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.
  • Pre-chop raw veggies, like celery and peppers, for snacks. Cutting them before storing may increase your likelihood to eat them.
  • When roasting vegetables, do a few types of veggies at a time!
  • For quick prepping and convenience, buy lettuce pre-washed, use frozen fruit for smoothies, or buy sauces pre-made (but read ingredient labels).
  • Always make multiple servings and freeze for future use; stews, spaghetti sauce, and chilis all freeze great.

For those of us who like a bit more structure and just need inspiration, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Cookbooks: If you feel more comfortable following recipes, then plan straight from a recipe book, similar to how Paulina plans for her family of six. Don’t forget to check out your local library for recipe books! You can put books on hold, and always have a new book for different ideas.
  • Get a magazine subscription. Next time you’re waiting in the grocery store line, flip through some food-centered magazines and see what style you like best. Examples include Real Simple, Bon Appetit, Paleo Magazine, etc. Every month you’ll receive fresh ideas, which are mostly seasonal. And remember, recipes are suggestions, so feel free to swap ingredients for healthier ones, or make replacements for what’s in season where you live.
  • Try a Meal Delivery Service. There are several services now that will deliver all your recipe ingredients, even measured out, and all you have to do is put them together! This is a good option for whenever you’re lacking inspiration, or want a fun bonding experience. Making it a weekly event could be a great way to bring all members of the family together. Some popular services include Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or Plated.

My Favorite Meal Planning App

I’ve tried several meal planning apps, and the Real Plans App is by far my favorite. I like it because it’s completely customizable to your own diet. For instance, you can choose a paleo diet with or without dairy, and specific food groups or ingredients to include or exclude. It also creates a food prep timeline based on the meals you choose, so you don’t forget to defrost something the night before if need be. Also, in the app you can access your shopping list, and mark things off as you add them to your basket. The shopping list also tells you which recipe each ingredient is for, and exactly how much of it you need. Two people can have the app on their phone, so when my partner says he’ll go to the grocery store, I choose the meals and he does the shopping from the list.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Sometimes the thought of doing something is more stressful than actually doing it. Planning what to cook every week might sound like a big ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be - and will make your life easier down the road. Step into it with the intention of nourishing yourself and family. Begin with the planning and everything will fall into place.

Is full fat good for you?

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Many people are surprised when I encourage full-fat dairy over nonfat yogurt, real butter over vegan butter, or full fat coconut milk. Of course, this is understandable. It seems logical to think, I don’t want to be fat, so therefore I shouldn’t eat foods that are high in fat.

Good fats and bad fats

When it comes to choosing full-fat foods, it is crucial to distinguish between health-promoting fats and rancid, corrupted fats.

Fats usually go from “good” to “bad” when they undergo some process of refinement. Oils and fats are often heated at high temperatures, oxidized through exposure to light/air, or polluted by commercial farming methods. High heat processing, for instance, removes healthful nutrients like Vitamin E and alters lipid compounds that the body cannot use for healthy cell building.

Here are a few common examples of “bad” fats that are highly refined:

  • Margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (read ingredient labels!)
  • Refined vegetable oils such as soybean oil, safflower/sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, etc.
  • Fried foods
  • Artificial trans fats (found in processed foods like doughnuts, biscuits, pie-crust mixes, etc.)

Good fats have not been refined, and all types of fat, whether saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, play a role in supporting a healthy body. Examples of foods that contain good fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Butter - organic, pastured
  • Coconut
  • Eggs - organic, pastured
  • Fish (especially salmon and sardines)
  • Olive oil (unrefined!)
  • Nuts and seeds

Why full-fat foods are better than low- or reduced-fat foods

Low- and reduced-fat products have gone through a refinement process. This process often removes the valuable nutrients that make that food so great to eat in the first place! Additionally, when products are refined to low-fat or reduced-fat, the flavor often diminishes, so more sugar is added to make up for taste. That means the fat is simply replaced by sugar (and excess sugar in the body just turns into fat). 

Some of my favorite full-fat foods

Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is full of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs can actually increase the body’s metabolic rate. These types of fats are more readily accessed for energy, meaning they are burned, not stored. Full -at coconut milk also contains lauric acid, which is antiviral and antibacterial. When full fat coconut milk is reduced to low-fat, much of the MCTs are removed, and therefore many of the benefits are lost. When choosing full-fat coconut milk, opt for the canned variety that is BPA-free and contains no additives. 

Yogurt: In most cases, low-fat yogurt includes added emulsifiers and industrial fibers so that it will mimic the creamy texture of full fat yogurt, not to mention added sugar to make up for flavor. The fatty acids found in full-fat yogurt, though, are quite beneficial. Yogurt made from organic, pasture-raised cows contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and phytanic acid. CLA has been found to be protective against heart disease and cancer, and phytanic acid has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, full-fat dairy from organic, grass-fed cows will offer a good source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A (in its active form, retinol) and Vitamin K2; two important ingredients that are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet. Several studies show that full-fat dairy is not associated with risk of cardiovascular death, such as this one that found a 69% lower risk of death compared to those who ate the least amount of full-fat dairy. 

Most people, especially pregnant/breast-feeding women and growing children, can benefit from more full-fat food sources, rather than refined low and reduced fat products. Even though it might feel counterintuitive, eating the right fats will not promote unnecessary weight gain. In fact, the opposite is true: healthy fats help the body build the right hormones and induce satiation so weight loss is a common result. Do your best to stay away from refined fats and processed foods containing hydrogenated fats, and instead opt for traditional foods like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut, egg yolks, and pastured, organic butter. 

Do you have any other questions about full-fat foods or good vs. bad fats? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer!

Bone Broth: the "superfood" trend you should actually try

Mark my words: bone broth is the new green juice.

Bone broth is an ancient food that has made its way back into the spotlight. It’s popping up in packaged form at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, butchers are now selling it in hot containers like coffee, and broth bars like this one are emerging onto the scene.

And although you should look at most health fads with a skeptical eye (e.g. products labeled as “superfoods”), the re-emergence of bone broths should be greeted with a warm welcome. Similar to the way fermented and probiotic-rich foods (like kombucha and sauerkraut) have been making great headway due to their impact on promoting a healthy gut, the nutritional benefits of bone broth also deem it worthy of a place in the modern kitchen.

What Is It?

Bone broth is simply a stock made from the meat and bones of animals, most commonly chicken and beef, as well as lamb or fish. The bones, joints, and other parts with cartilage are cooked over low simmering heat, in order to extract gelatin and other nutrients.

Stock or Broth?

Technically, broths and stocks are different. Broths refer to the liquid made from meats, vegetables, and other seasonings (not bones). Stocks, on the other hand, refer to liquids made from slow simmered bones, and they’re often unseasoned. However, when making a stock out of bones, there’s often meat still on the bones, which crosses it over into the broth category. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use the words broth and stock interchangeably, since we’re addressing the healing properties of slow cooked bones (a stock) but also want the flavor typical of broths (from meat, vegetables and other seasonings).

Nutritional Benefits  

Bone broths are helpful for strengthening bones, cartilage, tendons, and connective tissue for both a pregnant mother and her baby.

By slow-cooking the bones and marrow, collagen and healing amino acids such as proline, glycine, and glutamine, are released. Bone broths also contain essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur. These nutrients are easily digested and have been found to significantly improve gut and bone health, joints, and the immune system.

Consuming broth during pregnancy is especially helpful in providing extra glycine. While a mother can make enough glycine for survival, sufficient amounts of glycine are needed for fetal growth. The fetus can access glycine from the mother’s blood, or manufacture it with sufficient amounts of folate, a vitamin, and serene, an amino acid. A mother can ensure she gets adequate glycine by consuming bone broth daily.

Collagen is what solidifies and creates the jello-like gelatin. Collagen is found in bones, marrow, joints, and tendons, and offers a diverse array of health benefits, including:

  • Can protect and smooth the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing or reducing symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and reflux. The hydrophilic colloid found in gelatin attracts and holds liquids and digestive juices and supports proper digestion. Collagen also helps break down proteins, which can be useful for those with leaky gut syndrome.
  • Contains amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine are anti-inflammatory. Glycine is also calming and can promote better sleep.
  • Helps promote probiotic balance and growth.
  • Builds connective tissue, which can prevent bone loss and relieve joint pain. It can also help reduce joint pain and inflammation due to the healing properties of chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine. These compounds are extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
  • Supports the regeneration of connective tissue in the skin, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite. Additionally, the gelatin is supportive of healthy hair and nail growth.

Make Your Own Bone Broth

Bone broth can be easily made at home, which will far outweigh the nutrient content of typical boxed broths, which often contain MSG or other synthetic flavors.

Bone broth can be made with bones and cartilage of chicken, beef, fish or lamb, and sometimes includes a small amount of meat. Since the nutrients will be excreted from the bones of these animals, it’s important to purchase pasture-raised, grass fed, organic and local whenever possible.

Simple Homemade Bone Broth Recipe

  1. Place bones in a large stock pot or slow cooker and cover with water.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to help excrete the important nutrients from the bone.
  3. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer (if using a slow cooker, turn on high for 1-2 hours, then back down to low for the remaining time).
    1. Fish stock: at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours
    2. Chicken: at least 6, up to 24 hours
    3. Beef/lamb: at least 12 hours, up to 72 hours
  4. Add vegetables and/or seaweed in the last hour of cooking.
  5. Strain and store in glass jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
  6. Enjoy as soup, in stews, sauces or stir-fries, or sip as-is, seasoned with herbs and spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bauman E. NC 2010. Musculoskeletal Health. [Power Point Slides]. Retrieved from http://dashboard.baumancollege.org/course/view.php?id=88

Cowan, T.S. & Morell, S. F. (2005). The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare. Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc. 

Mercola, DO (2013). Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples. Retrieved from <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx>

Which cooking oils are best?

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Small Change, Big Impact: Reducing Omega 6 Consumption by Switching Cooking Oils

One of the easiest ways to improve your health in a big way is to pay attention to your cooking oils. While vegetable oils may seem like a logically healthy food (oils that come from vegetables?), they’re actually one of the biggest culprits of promoting inflammation in the body.

Vegetable oils, or industrial seed oils, are oils that have been extracted from the seeds of plants. These seed oils have been stripped of their health-promoting antioxidants through refinement, and most refining processes include being bleached and deodorized with chemical solvents. Because these oils are so refined, they’re very unstable and sensitive to heat, oxygen, and light. The problem with these oils is that they have very large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid, meaning we cannot produce it on our own and we have to get it from food. There’s nothing inherently bad about omega-6 fats; however, we need them in the proper ratio to omega-3s in order to be beneficial, and too much omega-6 can cause a variety of health problems, including inflammation. Opinions about the ideal ratio of omega 3:6 varies from about 3:1, or at least 1:1. However, most people eating a typical standard American diet have a ratio that ranges from 1:10 to 1:25! 

Omega-6s and inflammation in a nutshell:

  • Because of our industrialized diet, most people get plenty omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils.
  • Too much omega-6 (without enough omega-3s) leads to systemic inflammation.
  • Systemic inflammation contributes directly to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and more.

Which cooking oils to avoid

Our food industry is inundated with refined vegetable oils. Oils such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil are the cheap and therefore standard in all pre-made foods, including salad dressings, sauces, marinades, spreads, etc. These low-cost oils are also commonly used in restaurants, fast-food establishments, and processed food items.

Common refined vegetable oils to avoid:

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed
  • Peanut
  • Rice bran
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Soybean

Which fats/oils to use for cooking

When considering a fat source for cooking, take into consideration if you will be using it for low, medium, or high heat cooking.

Best fats for medium/high heat cooking: These products are high in saturated fats, which makes them more stable for higher temperatures and less likely to be oxidized.

  • Butter/ghee
  • Tallow (beef fat, from grass-fed cows)
  • Lard (pork fat, from pastured pigs)
  • Duck fat
  • Avocado oil
  • Palm oil (organic, from an environmentally safe source)
  • Coconut oil (medium)

Best fats to use cold: These fats have more unsaturated fats, and are moderately stable at very low temperatures. Alternatively, add these fats to foods once they have been removed from heat.

  • Macadamia oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flax seed oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil*

*Unlike the fats listed in the medium/high-heat cooking list, extra-virgin olive oil contains more monounsaturated fats than saturated fats, so some believe it is less ideal to cook with at high temperatures. However, researchers have shown that olive oil may be able to stand up to the heat due to its polyphenol and tocopherol content, which help to protect the oil from oxidation. In the case of olive oil, quality may make a difference, since the more polyphenols, the less prone to oxidation it will be.

Benefits of Fermented Foods

Photo by Stephanie Crocker

Photo by Stephanie Crocker

The process of fermenting food is a long practiced tradition that has been enjoyed by cultures around the world. In Japan, miso and natto are two types of fermented soy that are central to the cuisine. Throughout eastern and Central Europe, kefir is a widely consumed. And in Indonesia, tempeh is a traditional food. Today, foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are gaining as much attention as bone broth, and for good reason too! 

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a process by which the starches and sugars in fruits and vegetables are transformed into lactic acid by lactobacilli, a type of bacteria present on the surface of all living things. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that prevents putrefying bacteria.

When fruits or vegetables are fermented, they become more digestible, and promote the growth of healthy flora in the gut.  The lactobacilli produce numerous helpful enzymes, antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. They also support a healthy immune system, 70-80% of which resides in the gut.  A healthy digestive system will ensure optimal absorption of nutrients, and proper cleansing of metabolic waste and toxins. Among other things, healthy gut microbes:

  • promote normal gastrointestinal function
  • protect against infection
  • regulate metabolism
  • house the majority of immune cells

How it’s helpful for pregnancy  

Incorporating fermented, probiotic rich foods is important for anyone who wants optimal health, as it serves as the foundation for everything from having a strong immune system, to maintaining a healthy weight and happy mood. Women who are interested in getting pregnant, or who are already pregnant, will benefit from the strong foundational support that a healthy digestive system and flora can provide as their body takes course in the building of another human. Additionally, many mothers are often warned of harmful bacteria that can jeopardize pregnancy, such as listeria monocytogenes from soft unaged cheeses, for example. But having a healthy flora, especially if implemented prior to conception, can make susceptibility to these types of bacteria low. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or lacto-fermented vegetables can also serve as a great source for women who crave sour foods. As an easy snack, enjoy some sauerkraut and diced avocado on gluten-free rice crackers, or wrap it up in a lightly toasted nori sheet. 

How to start incorporating into daily life

For many people, the taste of fermented foods is an acquired taste (remember the first time you tried beer?). The good news is, fermented foods are meant to be eaten as condiments, so you can start out small until you begin to like it.You can begin to support a healthy digestive system and flora with the following foods and beverages:

Dairy based:

- Look for those that are labeled “live and active cultures”

- Best to obtain from grass-fed cows and organic.

- Found from a local farmer would be ideal!

  • cultured butter/cream cheese/sour cream
  • kefir
  • lassi
  • yogurt (always get plain, full fat)

Vegetable based

- Should be labeled raw, and should be carried in the refrigerated section

  • Kimchee
  • Sauerkraut

Grain or Legume based

Note: heating and cooking will reduce living bacteria; choose organic/ non-GMO when possible

  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Tempeh

Other:

  • Kombucha
  • Water kefir, Coconut kefir
  • Beet kvass

Easy suggestions for daily intake:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of sauerkraut or kimchi with each meal
  • 1/2 cup of kombucha in the afternoon for a pick-me-up
  • 1/2 cup of live, active yogurt or kefir (try it in a smoothie)

 

This post also appears Cherish.us, a website that offers wisdom, inspiration, and resources for the modern parent. 

Easy Breakfast Ideas

Photo by Steph Crocker

Photo by Steph Crocker

Get your morning off to a smooth start with these three easy breakfast ideas. All of these recipes can be made ahead of time, and of course can be catered to individual tastes and preferences.

Sun-dried Tomato Egg Muffins

If you struggle with cravings, try a protein rich meal, like these egg muffins. They’re basically a crust-less quiche in bite-size form, perfect for grab-n-go or for a mid-afternoon snack.

  • 6 large eggs 1/2 c coconut milk, full fat*
  • 1/4 c water or chicken/vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 green onion, sliced small
  • 1/4 c chopped sun-dried tomato, packed in olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, beat the eggs.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Pour all ingredients in a muffin tin, dividing evenly, about 1/2 - 3/4 of the way full in each.
  4. Place in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes.

*full fat coconut milk will separate, so blend briefly to mix the fat and water

 

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

3-4 servings

This pudding can serve as a great snack or dessert.Try infusing it with different flavors such as unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other of your favorite spices.

Using full-fat coconut from the can will give you creamy, decadent pudding. The full fat version will separate in the can, so make sure you blitz in a blender, just briefly to combine. You can use other milk alternatives too, the pudding just may be thinner, and you may need to add more chia seeds.

Ingredients:

Pudding base:

  • 1 cup coconut milk, full fat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • small pinch sea salt
  • 2 dates
  • 2.5 tablespoons chia seeds

Example Toppings: use what you have or what’s in season!

  • Chopped nuts/seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Chopped fruit (apple, kiwi, banana)
  • Raisins, currants, or other dried fruits

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut milk and water to a blender and mix until just combined.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, dates, and pinch of sea salt and blend until the dates are fully pulverized.
  3. Pour milk into a bowl.
  4. Add in chia seeds, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly with a spoon as you pour them in.
  5. Let sit for 5 minutes, then mix again.
  6. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
  7. Once settled and chia seeds have expanded, add more milk or water if you want it thinner, then add desired toppings.
Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Quinoa Porridge: Sweet or Savory

Women from the South American Andes used to eat quinoa due to their belief that it increased breast milk. Although often referred to as a grain, quinoa is a pseudocereal, and with proper preparation can offer great nutrition. It is gluten-free, and contains all the essential amino acids, and is a great source of magnesium and manganese.

To make quinoa easiest to digest, soak it overnight in 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar, then rinse before cooking. Not only will this make quinoa easier to digest, but it will also remove any bitter taste from saponins. Once cooked, choose how you want to flavor it.

Sweet Quinoa Porridge

Ingredients: 

  • About 1 cup pre-cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (almond or coconut) 
  • Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, as desired
  • Tiny pinch of salt 

Toppings: 

  • de-pitted and chopped dates 
  • lightly toasted and chopped walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds 
  • seasonal fruits chopped small, such as pears, persimmons, pomegranate, apples, etc. 

Directions. 

  1. n a small pot over low heat, add the quinoa and milk of choice. Gently warm.
  2. Add in desired spices and stir. 
  3. Remove to a small bowl and add any of the toppings as suggested or whatever else you have on hand.  

 

Savory Quinoa Porridge

Ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon ghee 
  • About 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup vegetable broth, chicken broth, or bone broth
  • Tiny pinch of salt 
  • splash of tamari or coconut aminos, optional 

Toppings: 

  • fried egg  
  • lightly toasted sesame seeds 
  • kimchi/sauerkraut 
  • chopped green onions 

Directions:

  1. n a small pot over low heat, add the ghee, quinoa and broth. Gently warm.
  2. Add in the optional tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos (soy-alternative) and salt. Stir. 
  3. Remove to a small bowl and add any of the toppings as suggested or whatever else you have on hand.

Gluten Free Flour Blend

If you're committed to that gluten-free life (optional, but highly recommended), check out this DIY gluten-free flour blend. 

There are plenty of ready-made gluten free flour mixtures on the market, such as King Arthur or Cup 4 Cup. I think these are great options, but when you make your own blend you can get more bang for your buck, especially if you buy flours from the bulk section.  

If you're new to GF baking, be aware that removing the gluten can often result in a less moist, or crumbly outcome. Gluten is what gives wheat/white flour elasticity, translating into soft, chewy cookies or fluffy breads and cakes. For this reason, some gluten free recipes call upon xanthum gum, which is a is thickening or stabilizing agent, often found in almond milk. It's not my favorite ingredient, because 1) it's super expensive and 2) for some people it can cause digestive upset.  

Some alternatives to xanthum gum include chia seeds, flax seeds, or psyllium husk powder. You can check out this resource for how to use each of these and other whole food options. 

When I made this gluten-free flour blend, I got most of the flours in the bulk section of my natural grocery store. If your grocery's bulk section doesn't carry these, Bob's Red Mill has them too. I put all the flours in a giant bowl and sifted. Then I transferred the mixture to an air tight jar. Now, when I get that unshakable urge for something bread-like or a special treat, I'll use a conventional recipe and replace the flour with this blend. In addition, I usually cut the sugar by at least 1/3, and use maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar, or coconut oil instead of butter. 

Gluten Free Flour Blend

  • 4 cups brown rice flour 
  • 2 cup sorghum flour 
  • 2 cup potato starch 
  • 1 cup tapioca starch 

*For every 1 cup of flour blend, add 1/2 tsp of stabilizing agent, such as flax seed, chia seed, or psyllium powder, as recommended above 

Upgraded Matcha Latte

matchalatte

Matcha lattes are one of my favorite morning beverages. As someone who is caffeine sensitive, I still feel a lift from the ~30 mg or so of caffeine, just enough for a little perk without the energy crash.

Matcha is ground green tea, or green tea powder. Most of the health benefits associated with green tea come from a type of antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Compared to black, oolong, and traditional Chinese green tea, matcha contains the highest amount of EGCG. The benefits of this powerful antioxidant include promoting cardiovascular and metabolic health, inducing preventative measures against certain types of cancers, supporting skin health, reducing inflammation, and more. Additionally, green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can help stimulate the mind, without causing drowsiness.

You may be able to find matcha at your local natural grocery store, sometimes carried in the bulk section. If you’re interested in a specific brand, I’ve really been enjoying Matcha Ocha. Their matcha is grown in the Nishio region of Japan, and they’re meticulous about the cultivation, harvest, and quality of their tea. This translates into better aroma, flavor, and nutrition. Just like with other foods, soil quality and how the food is processed impacts nutritional status. Matcha Ocha is also certified organic, and you can learn more about their commitment to quality here.  

The Recipe

The recipe here is simply luxurious. The creaminess satisfies exactly what I’m drawn to about regular lattes. Plus making my own concoctions like this feels like a form of self care that no coffee shop could ever create for me. I get exactly what I want, in the most nourishing form, without compromising anything.

My favorite base for this latte is full fat coconut milk. This is what gives the beverage a full-bodied creaminess. I usually make a batch of this to have on hand all week. Here’s my favorite brand of coconut milk because it’s organic and the lining of the can is BPA free.

I especially love this beverage when I’m feeling the desire for a day of intermittent fasting. I don’t do this very often, but every now and then my appetite is minimal in the morning, or maybe I ate a large dinner the night before, and I choose to wait until noon for food.
 

Coconut milk

  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat
  • 12 oz water

Blend the water and canned coconut milk together. Store in an airtight container or mason jar and keep 5-7 days.  

Upgraded Matcha Latte

  • 10 oz warmed coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp matcha
  • 2 tablespoons collagen (I like this brand)
  • ½ tsp MCT oil (or regular coconut oil)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 date or ½ teaspoon honey, optional

More Add-In’s:

  • 1-2 teaspoons moringa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon maca powder

Gently heat the coconut milk in a small pot. Once hot, transfer the liquid to a blender. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend on high for about 20-30 seconds. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

Want some more matcha magic in your life? Try this Matcha Maca Green Smoothie

Gut Health Gummies

Raspberry Mango Gelatin Gummies. Photograph by: Stephanie Crocker 

Raspberry Mango Gelatin Gummies. Photograph by: Stephanie Crocker 

These Gelatin Gummies are an excellent snack that are truly health-promoting! Their gummy texture is made from gelatin which, unlike common Jello, contains amino acids that promote healthy growth. Store-bought Jello or similar products have artificial sweeteners and colors. However, high quality gelatin can be a super healing addition to almost any diet, especially for those aiming to improve gut, mental, joint or skin health.

Get the Glow

Gelatin is cooked collagen, and it contains large amounts of the amino acids glycine and proline. Both of these amino acids are critical for our body's production of collagen, a major structural protein found everywhere in the body. Collagen can be softer (cartilage) or more firm (tendons). Since collagen is a primary element of skin, gelatin is excellent for skin health, and often recommended for reducing wrinkles and attaining a radiant “glow” to the skin. Gelatin can be found most commonly in slow cooked bone broths, as well as in supplemental form.

Amino Acid Glycine

The glycine found in gelatin aids in the metabolism of methionine, which is found in high amounts in meat. Too much methionine (without sufficient glycine) can lead to toxic levels of homocysteine, which has been associated as a high risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Glycine is also excellent for blood sugar support, reducing sugar cravings, improving cellular energy production, inhibiting muscle spasms, and for liver detoxification support.

Gut Health and More

It must also be highlighted that gelatin is super soothing to the gastrointestinal tract, which is why it’s often used by those with intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome. It helps to restore healthy mucosal lining in the stomach and enhance gastric acid secretion. Furthermore, gelatin helps to keep fluid in the digestive tract, allowing for nice-n-easy bowel movements. The collagen in gelatin is also helpful for joint and musculoskeletal health. As mentioned, ligaments, cartilage and tendons all contain high levels of structural protein collagen.

Who Should Consider Gelatin

I would recommend gelatin-rich foods for anyone recovering from surgery/injury, dealing with joint conditions like osteoarthritis, or for athletes/anyone who exercises frequently. Additionally, because glycine plays such an important role in building and growing the body, gelatin is important for both pregnant women and children. As pregnancy progresses, the demands for glycine also increase. Children grow at an especially rapid rate, so glycine will continue to play an important role in building a strong body as they get older.

Last but not least, gelatin can be a great dietary supplement for soothing the nervous system. Personally, I’ve found a warm mug of bone broth to be gently grounding and stress-relieving.

Getting it in the Diet

The best way to add gelatin-rich foods to the diet is in the form of slow-cooked bone broths, or by way of supplemental gelatin. I believe bone broths are just now beginning to make their way back into our modern kitchens, and several companies and restaurants are beginning to catch on. While bone broths from pasture-raised animals would be ideal, I’m offering an alternative via Gelatin Gummies! These little gummies are so easy to make and can be less intimidating than bone broth. They’re an excellent treat for kids, as the texture is just like jello and can be sweetened naturally with fruit or honey.

The brand of gelatin I like is Great Lakes, and this is the one that gels nicely for gummies like the ones below. As a note, whole protein gelatin will gel, while hydrolyzed collagen will not gel but can be used to easily add to smoothies, cold liquids, etc.

Simple Raspberry Mango Gelatin Gummies

  • 2 cups raspberries*

  • 1 whole mango, peeled and roughly chopped  

  • 1 cup filtered water

  • 3 tbsp high quality gelatin

  • 1-2 tbsp honey (optional)

1. Blend the raspberries, mango, and water until smooth. *Note: For the raspberries, I just buy frozen ones, then let them defrost before blending.

2. Strain the blended mixture through a fine mesh sieve, or using a nut milk bag, into a medium pot. If you don't mind the tiny seeds from the raspberries, you can skip this step.

3. Gently warm the pot on the stovetop. Do not let it get to a boil. Once warm, whisk in the gelatin 1 tbsp at a time. Make sure the gelatin you've added is thoroughly dissolved before adding the next tablespoon.

4. Pour the gelatin mixture into an 8x8 inch glass pan, or pour the mixture into silicone molds. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Once solidified, cover tightly and keep stored in the refrigerator. Gummies will last 3-5 days.

Variations:

There are so many variations you can do with this recipe. Try adding in lime, lemon, or ginger juice. Or, use different fruits like orange and pineapple.


This post also appears Cherish.us, a website that offers wisdom, inspiration, and resources for the modern parent.