Healthy Holiday Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Although it’s not officially winter yet, the temperatures here in south-western Ontario are mighty chilly! I am still cranking out Green Smoothies every morning but to be honest- a cold drink just doesn’t cut it when the thermometer reads -10 C.

Yes I could race to my favourite coffee joint to warm myself up but lately I’ve been using my Vitamix to whip up my own hot drink that is just as satisfying and infinitely healthier. It’s chock full of antioxidants, magnesium, protein, iron and healthy fats and is minus the refined sugar and artificial ingredients that I’d get from my regular latte. And it tastes amazing!

Take a look at some of the potent superfood ingredients:

Raw Cacao Powder– not to be mistaken with the overprocessed “cocoa” that is often used for baking – raw cacao powder is the product of milling pure cacao beans at low temperatures. The result is a powerhouse chocolate powder that is loaded with antioxidants, magnesium and iron.

cacao powder

Raw Cacao Butter – these solid white chunks of butter are produced from the fat inside the cacao beans. But don’t forget that not all fats are created equally and the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from cacao butter are healthy and full of nutrients for our bodies. Cacao butter is an antioxidant, is good for lessening arthritic pain and is a mood enhancer. (I also used this stuff to make amazing chocolate-scented body butters).

giddy-cacao-butter-lg

Hemp Seeds– I love these tiny seeds because they are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, balance hormones, alleviate headaches and regulate blood pressure and cholesterol.

hemp seeds

Raw Cashews– Raw cashews are naturally high in beautifying oleic acid, which is also found in high amounts in extra virgin olive oil. They are also rich in magnesium and manganese, and are a good source of selenium and zinc.

cashews

I also throw in a couple of drops of Living Libations pure Peppermint essential oil (anti-inflammatory and soothes the tummy), raw organic dates (fiber and antioxidants), pure maple syrup (antioxidants, zinc and manganese), 2 capsules of Ortho Adapt Vegan (improves mental and physical performance) and 2 capsules of Now brand Vitamin C (immune boosting) to round out my drink.

Try subbing your morning coffee with this creamy, healthy and delicious Peppermint Hot Chocolate at least 1 day per week and I’m willing to bet you’ll find it warming and satisfying. I’ve even got my toddler drinking it by cooling it off with some almond milk and calling it a “candy cane hot chocolate.” Oh and I might have stuck a marshmallow or 2 on top of his drink just for good measure!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
(makes enough for 2 big mugfuls)

cashew cream latte

1/4 cup raw organic cashews
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 pitted medjool dates
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup (more or less depending on desired sweetness)
2 drops food-grade peppermint essential oil
2 heaping tbsp. of raw cacao powder
1-2 medium-sized chunks of cacao butter (approx. the size of a loonie)
2 capsules Ortho Adapt Vegan
2 capsules Vitamin C
4 cups of boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour into big mugs and enjoy!

Advertisements

Potent Superfood Add-Ins For Your Smoothie

Green smoothies are a staple in my house and you can hear the whir of the Vitamix coming from the kitchen pretty much every single morning. And although at least one of the kids will inevitably complain bitterly, we all chug down our green goodness to kick-start the day.

The greens, veggies and fruits are the stars of the show but I also like to slip in some potent superfoods to get a bit more bang for my buck. These are definitely optional and some of them are down-right decadent judging by the price tag but if you have the inclination and the extra cash, you might want to try a few of my favourites:

SPIRALINA– This blue-green algae comes from the sea and is a superior source of protein. It’s a powder so it requires very little energy to digest and is amazingly rich in chlorophyll a phytochemical that comes straight from the sun’s energy. It also helps detoxify and nourish the blood and every cell of the body. Spiralina can add a bit of a fishy taste to your smoothie so start with a half a teaspoon in the beginning and amp up the honey or dates to cover the sea  flavor. It will also make your smoothie a brilliant green colour!

spirulina

CHLORELLA– I recently purchased Vega chlorella tablets to add to smoothies and for my son to take after particularly grueling soccer practices and matches. This green algae is roughly 65% protein and also contains all of the essential amino acids and tons of chlorophyll. According to nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, “it can be helpful in warding off energy slumps and thanks to its high protein content, it’s useful for active athletes.” Be warned though – a bottle containing 300 tablets set me back $70.

chlorella

CHIA SEEDS– I love chia seeds for their amazing amino acid profile and omega 3 essential fatty acids.  Just 2 tablespoon added to a smoothie contains five times the omega-3 content of a 1/4 cup serving of walnuts, twice the iron and magnesium of a cup of spinach, as much calcium as a half-cup of milk, as much potassium as a third of a banana and more than twice the fiber of a cup of oatmeal. And it’s loaded with antioxidants. One note though – if you are adding chia to your smoothie it’s best to drink it right away. The seeds swell over time and will make your smoothie thick and clumpy if you let it sit.

chia

SUNWARRIOR PROTEIN POWDER– I have tried several protein powders and this one is definitely my favourite. It’s not chalky or grainy, tastes pretty good and it’s easy to digest. This whole grain brown rice protein powder is 85% protein, soy-free, raw, sprouted, and vegan. It is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals and contains high amounts of antioxidants. It also contains other essential nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, iron, and potassium. But again – it’s not cheap at $65.99 a bag.

sun-warrior-protein

IRISH MOSS– I first learned about this superfood at a course with Meghan Telpner and I’ve been hooked ever since. Now brace yourself – it’s kind of a weird one but the health benefits are truly amazing. According to Meghan, this sea vegetable is “nature’s only plant-based source of thyroid hormones, is abundant in potassium which can significantly improve behavior and mental functioning and is also very helpful for fibromyalgia,  moodiness, agitation, depression and anxiety disorders. It is highly concentrated in iodine and abundant in selenium which is a necessary factor in thyroid hormone production and if that wasn’t enough Sea Moss contains Algin. This phytonutrient has magical therapeutic value as a heavy metal detoxifying agent- meaning it helps pull heavy metals out of the tissues of our bodies.  Additionally this food is a healing agent to all mucous membranes.” Wow! Irish Moss comes in a bag looking like a weed you might pull off the beach so follow this link to see how to prepare the moss before you add it to your smoothie- http://meghantelpner.com/blog/the-mystery-revealed-how-to-prepare-irish-moss-sea-moss/

irish moss

MSM POWDER – Raw food expert and author David Wolfe speaks passionately about the benefits of this naturally occurring form of dietary sulfur found in fresh raw foods that are involved in the cycle of rain. “MSM is deficient in foods grown in greenhouses or in foods grown through irrigation. MSM is volatile and destroyed by cooking. In the body, MSM builds collagen and maintains healthy joints. This is also why MSM increases flexibility, hastens recovery time from sore muscles, and is excellent for recovery from athletic injuries. Because of its collagen-building properties, MSM creates smooth skin, thick lustrous hair, and strong nails.” I love Omica Organics 100% Pure Plant MSM Crystals that are derived from natural wood pulp. And if I don’t put a scoop in my morning smoothie, I’ll stir a 1/2 teaspoon into a glass of water later in the day.

msm

FREEZE DRIED ACAI BERRY POWDER– this powder derived from the acai berry contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which protect the heart and circulatory system while promoting tissue growth development. Acai’s high antioxidant content has been shown to slow down the effects of aging and prevent the development of certain cancers. I throw in 1 teaspoon as a potent antioxidant smoothie addition.

acai

 MACA– this root grows in some of the hardiest terrain in the world on top of the Peruvian mountains. Because it’s so durable, it is called an “adaptagen” which means it helps us cope and better manage stress. As a result, it can also boost our libido, improve hormonal balance, and stabilize our mood and energy. Remember – a little maca powder goes a long way so start with a 1/2 tsp in your smoothie and build up to 1/2 a tablespoon.

maca

These are just a few of the amazing superfoods that I keep stocked in my pantry and I’ll toss 1 or 2 into my smoothie each morning as the mood strikes me. I also love to add a tablespoon of coconut oil, a pinch of Celtic sea salt, a couple of Vitamin C capsules, a teaspoon of cinnamon and/or turmeric powder and 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds. Don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy a whole arsenal of new products – just try a few and experiment with adding them to your smoothie until you come up with a few new yummy and healthy drinks.

Happy blending!

Green Smoothie 2.0

Thank you so much to my friend Alison who loaned me her copy of Kimberly Snyder’s book “The Beauty Detox Foods“. I read it cover to cover in one day and I learned so much wonderful new information from this amazingly knowledgeable woman. Kimberly is a Clinical Nutritionist, chef to countless Hollywood stars, an author, a respected media expert and a stunningly beautiful woman (in only a slightly annoying way ; )

In the book, she shares her own struggles with weight and diet issues, recurring skin problems and health concerns prior to uncovering a healthier way of life- which came about as a result of her global travels spanning over 50 countries in 3 years. What she discovered was that by really immersing herself in the native foods and practices of places like Japan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Mongolia, ” my hair became shiny and thick, my skin became radiant and in all the years since then, I’ve never once had to back to dieting. Not once.” This led to her pursuing a career as a nutritionist, a devoted following of A-list celebrities and 2 best-selling books.

kimberly snyder 1

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about how certain foods contribute to your overall health, well-being and beauty. It is also an interesting guide on how our digestive system works and how vital this process is in maintaining vibrant health and a radiant outer glow. For instance, did you know that you shouldn’t drink water with meals? I didn’t! According to Kimberly “drink water at least half an hour before your meals or an hour following meals. During mealtimes, drink as little as possible. Too much liquid with meals dilutes your digestive juices and can slow digestion considerably.”

The basic principles of the Beauty Detox can be summed up by 3 guidelines:

1. Eat more veggies and fewer animal products.

2. Drink the Glowing Green Smoothie (or juice) every day.

3. Give up dairy.

Source: The Beauty Detox Foods

That may sound challenging (or downright freaky if you are a cheese lover) but Kimberly offers up a wealth of information, suggestions and recipes in the book that make her program seem totally achievable. I had so many “aha” moments while reading this book and I scribbled so many notes in my journal that I decided to go ahead and buy my own copy so that I could reread it, make the recipes and mark it up the pages without worrying about ruining my friend’s book. I also ordered her other book “The Beauty Detox Solution” and I’ve subscribed to her online newsletter to get all of her latest tips and tricks.

The one must-do requirement for her beauty detox is to drink her Glowing Green Smoothie every day. I have been making it all week and I have to say that it is very filling and quite tasty. I also realized that I can pack WAY more greens into my smoothie than I’ve done in the past and still make it drinkable (mind you – the kids really don’t like the cilantro so I had to drink that batch all on my own.) I also like her method for making this smoothie in stages to blend down the greens first and make more room for additional ingredients. Give her recipe a try and see if it takes your energy level, your health and your beauty to the next level!

Glowing Green Smoothiecourtesy of The Beauty Detox Foods- Kimberly Snyder
Yield: about 60 ounces

ggs 1

2 cups water
7 cups chopped spinach
6 cups romaine lettuce (about 1 small head)
2 stalks celery
1 apple, cored
1 pear, cored
1 banana
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
ice cubes (optional – I have been adding some frozen fruit instead to make the smoothie nice and cold)

Add water, spinach and romaine to the blender. Mix until smooth. Next add the herbs (if using), celery, apple and pear. Blend again. Add the banana and lemon juice and blend. Finish with the ice (or frozen fruit) and blend until very smooth.
Enjoy!

ggs 2

*Note from Kimberly: I encourage you to mix and match your greens and fruit. Vary this recipe with kale, chard, arugula, etc. Just avoid melons, as they are a specific type of fruit that digests better on their own.

Why I Love My Vitamix and a Starter Green Smoothie Recipe

I took a vegan cooking class a few years ago and in the course of preparing the food, the instructor was extolling the virtues of her high-powered blender called a Vitamix. I clearly remember thinking at the time that anyone who would spend $600 on a blender was certifiably nuts and I would never make such a foolish purchase.

vitamix 1

Fast forward to today and I seriously can’t imagine my life without my beloved Vitamix blender. I use this thing at least twice every single day and often three and four times. I make smoothies, lattes, sauces, hummus, batter, soup, ice cream, salad dressings  and more. Heck – I even travel with it when I can (yes my family was actually vitamixing green smoothies in our hotel room at Darien Lake this past summer! Hey – we needed something to balance out the Dippin’ Dots and kettle corn ; )

vitamix green smoothie

It is so much a part of my everyday life and so vital to my plant-based diet that I would seriously break down and cry if I had to go without it. This little baby pulverizes greens so that a kale and banana smoothie is green, chunk free and delicious. It can blend nuts to liquid in seconds, turn garlic cloves to smooth mush and break down a whole apple – core and all- in under 30 seconds. I’ve even heard it can crack through avocado pits but I haven’t personally put this to the test.

And as if this wasn’t enough – I am now even more in love because after an accidental tumble off of our counter and a resultant crack in the pitcher base – the lovely folks at Vitamix graciously sent me a brand new carafe for free!

So am I telling you that you simply must buy one? Well kind of. Trust me I get it – this is a big purchase.  And for a blender?! Seems nuts eh? But it can and will change your life if you embrace the power of this mighty little machine. And FYI – Vitamix has a travelling road show at Costco locations in Canada year-round so if you are lucky enough to catch them while they are in your local store you can get $100 off of the regular price.

If you decide to take the plunge and purchase a Vitamix or if you own one but you haven’t dusted it off for a while, here is a basic recipe for a Green Smoothie that we make a variation of in our house every single morning. I rotate the greens, fruits and veggies but I always like to start my day with this nutrient-packed beverage and I insist that the kids down them too….even if we are about to ride the Viper at Darien Lake. Happy blending!

Basic Green Smoothie

vitamix green smoothie 3

4-6 cups of packed spinach
1/2 of a cucumber
1 ripe banana
1/4 of a medium pineapple
3-4 cups of frozen strawberries
Enough water to cover

Blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Enjoy!