Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mint Chocolate Bark {raw}

Mint Chocolate Bark
½ c cacao
½ c coconut oil, melted
¼ c agave
½ t vanilla
½ t peppermint extract
⅛ t salt
¼ c goji berries
¼ c chopped almonds

Blend everything except for the berries in almonds until smooth. Spread mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the goji berries and almonds evenly across mixture, and place the pan in the freezer until it sets. After a few hours, you can remove the pan and cut your bark into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday {Green!} Overnight Oats

In an attempt to amplify my already high holiday spirits, I decided to turn my overnight oats green! By adding some Spirulina, a blue-green algae, I added a complete protein packed with all the essential amino acids and many other minerals.  One serving can contain the same amount of antioxidants as 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables.

½ c oats
¼ c goji berries
1 T chia seeds
1 T agave or honey, or a few drops of stevia
1 t vanilla extract
1 t spirulina powder
⅛ t sea salt
1½ c almond milk or water
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
optional: fruit such as bananas or berries

Mix all the ingredients together the night before and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When ready to eat, stir contents together and enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Mini Cheesecakes

It's the beginning of the holiday season!  I have lots of vacation time and fun events planned this year, so I couldn't be more excited for it to start!

So, of course, I had to make something with pumpkin in it. This is a very simple raw/paleo/vegan recipe.  The filling mix in this is so good that you could use it as a dessert dip!

Pumpkin Pecan Mini Cheesecakes
2 c pecans
½ c raisens
1 t vanilla
⅛ t sea salt

1 c cashews
1 c pumpkin puree
½ c almond milk
½ c melted coconut oil
¼ c agave
¼  t nutmeg
½ T vanilla extract
½ T cinnamon
¼  t nutmeg
⅛ t sea salt
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes. Optional: top with chopped pecans and coconut sugar.

To make the crust, chop pecans in a food processor. Combine remaining ingredients, and mix well until it becomes a sticky batter. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of a muffin tin lined with either plastic wrap or muffin liners.

To make the filling, blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Pour the pumpkin mix over the crust, and set in the freezer for at least an 1 hour to firm up.  

Keep them in a container in the freezer until you're ready to eat them up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Autoimmune Diseases Suck.

I know there are many people out there that can understand the pure frustration and overwhelming feelings that come from dealing with a cure-less disease (or two).  Autoimmune diseases can be associated with a range of symptoms including:
    -weight issues
    -itchy skin/rashes/hair loss
    -sore, weak or inflamed muscles/joints
    -digestive issues
    -mental fog, depression and sleep disturbances
    -general pain, fatigue, and feeling like crap

There are many days when I wake up that I hate my autoimmune diseases with a passion. They have affected my life so much in the last 6 years, and they still are. It drives me crazy that my body is at war with myself, and I feel selfish getting upset over issues that
1) I can't control no matter how hard I try and 
2) are not near as terrible or life threatening as what others deal with.  

Autoimmune diseases don't come with an exact cure, and once you have one disease, the chances of developing at least one more is very high. With both Alopecia and Hashimoto's, it has been an ongoing battle to figure out what triggers my symptoms to get better, why I'm suddenly feeling like crap, or why I'm experiencing a new symptom. Must. Stay. Positive.  Some days, when it's just incredibly hard to be positive and self confident, it's always good to take a step back sometimes and remember that I am still me whether or not I have hair or feel miserable. Being surrounded by positive friends and family is necessary for me and always helps. Controlling my disease doesn't always mean taking the right medicine, but should also involve taking control of my physical and mental health. 

If you are or know anyone dealing with Alopecia, I highly recommend this site:
Having a visible condition like this can be very isolating and emotionally challenging at times.  This a great website for anyone looking for support, treatments, or how-to's.

As for Hashimoto's, I highly recommend this blog:
Her basis for starting the blog was "I was so pissed off about losing my unborn baby needlessly to hypothyroidism that I set out on a mission to build awareness." It's wonderful to see someone trying to help others out and spread awareness, and her blog is full of other links and resources.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pistachio Apricot Bites

Last Valentine's Day, I worked hard to make myself  my boyfriend a variety of raw desserts.  I had intended on posting recipes for them, and totally forgot :/  So, I'm beginning a mini dessert series - first starting with the pistachio bites!

 Pistachio Apricot Bites
2 c pistachios, preferably raw
1 c dried apricots, chopped
2 T agave
2 T lemon juice
⅛ t sea salt 
Process the pistachios in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process the mixture until it becomes a sticky consistency. Spoon out about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. I store mine in a container in the freezer until ready to eat, or they can be kept in the refrigerator.

Optional: Process a 1/2 c of pistachios or cashews with a pinch of sea salt and roll the bites around in the mixture until they are completely coated. It's my favorite to make them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vanilla & Strawberry Almond Milks

I go through a lot of almond milk every week, and a way I save money is by buying raw almonds in bulk and making it myself. In 2007, the USDA passed a law that allowed pasteurized, steamed, irradiated, or chemically treated almonds to still be labeled as "raw" in order to stop salmonella contamination. For example, the "raw almonds" you find in Trader Joe's have actually been steam pasteurized before packaging. So, if you are concerned about what kind of raw almonds you are buying, try to stick to organic or Italian labeled raw almonds (found in bulk at Whole Foods).

When I began to make my first batches of almond milk, I used lots of cheesecloth to strain it, and I ended up making a huge mess all over my kitchen. I decided to make my own mesh nut milk bag instead. If you're not very smooth with using cheesecloth, too, there are many websites that can help you purchase your own nut milk/sprouting bag.

Vanilla Almond “Milk”
1 c almonds, raw & soaked in water for at least 8 hours and rinsed
4 c water
1 T agave, or sweetener of your choice - dates, honey, stevia
1 T  vanilla
¼ tsp sea salt
Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg

Blend the almonds with the water at high speed for at least one minute. Strain with a mesh bag or cheesecloth into a large container. Gently squeeze out any remaining milk from the almond pulp. Rinse out blender and lid, and gently blend remaining ingredients with the strained almond milk. Store in a container/jar with a lid, and it will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  
Sometimes, homemade almond milk will separate in it's container, so it will need to be shaken before used. You can add 1 T soy/sunflower lecithin if a thicker and more consistent milk is wanted.  Also, the almond pulp can be frozen or dehydrated to make almond flour for other recipes!
vanilla almond milk with cinnamon

Strawberry Almond "Milk"
1 c almonds, preferably raw & soaked in water for at least 8 hours and rinsed
4 c water
1½ c strawberries
¼ tsp sea salt

Blend the almonds with the water at high speed for at least one minute. Strain with a mesh bag or cheesecloth into a large container. Gently squeeze out any remaining milk from the almond pulp. Rinse out blender and lid, and blend the strawberries and salt with the strained almond milk. Strain again to remove strawberry seeds. Store in a container/jar with a lid, and it will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

I love adding this milk to my overnight oats!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Orange-Balsamic Dressing

It's been awhile since I've even looked at this blog... 

My life has dramatically changed within the last 8 months.  Sadly, I didn't have the time or motivation to work on this, but I was working on many challenging yet positive personal changes.  Even through changing states and jobs, a rough breakup, hair growth and hair loss, and recurring Hashimoto Thyroiditis attacks -  I can actually say that I came out ahead!  I finally found a physician that seems to actually care about my complicated autoimmune issues, and he's trying out some new medications. I'm closer to old friends and family, and I get to see my mom and best friend at least once a month.  My new job is motivating, my boss is understanding and positive, and I still have room to learn and advance. I finally gave in to one of my good friends of 10 years (jk), and we began dating.  I couldn't ask for someone who could care or understand me more than he does.  Indianapolis is treating me well, and I'm still exploring new things about the city and local arts/music/farmer's markets.

As for my diet, it has been all over the place due to the craziness of life, but I'm slowly getting back on track and incorporating these foods back into my diet. I have to keep reminding myself how much better I felt when eating a cleaner diet to help keep me motivated.  Hopefully,  getting back into this groove will calm my thyroid down and bring the hair back. Luckily, I've found 3 amazing farmer's markets very close to where I live, and I'm not far from good quality grocery stores.
I am typically known as the girl that brings a salad everyday for lunch, so being able to make my own dressings is a necessity and money saver.  This dressing goes extremely well with one of my favorite salad combinations of mixed greens, strawberries, walnuts, and basil (fresh from my patio garden). 

Creamy Orange Balsamic Dressing
1 orange - zested, peeled & seeds removed
½ c balsamic
¼ c olive oil
1 T dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
¾ c cashews, soaked for 2 hours and rinse
sea salt/pepper to taste
makes approximately 2 cups

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. The dressing will thicken up after being chilled. If the dressing becomes too thick, water can mixed in to thin it out.