Archive for the ‘Eat’ Category

A Healthy Valentine’s Day Cookie

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I have a family who like treats, especially cookies. No wait, make that ‘love’ treats, especially cookies. And given that we don’t eat wheat this can be good (or bad) depending on what your view point is on consuming treats….

We aren’t tempted to buy cookies given they typically made from wheat flour. That means the cookies we eat are usually ones we make. In my exploration for new recipes and the nutrition they provide, I’ve recently been experimenting with raw food treats.  They can be healthier and just as tasty.  Thanks to Ani Phyo’s book, I’ve gotten some good ideas. Here is one that I came up with for a Valentine’s Day treat. 

Choosing the right ingredients:
I really try to use ingredients that are not just empty calories, but provide some nutrition too. These cookies contain carob, coconut and dates.

Carob: I have a daughter who loves chocolate.  That same daughter, who, like me, is very sensitive to theobromine in chocolate (a chemical that has a similar effect as caffeine). Neither of us can eat anything made from chocolate in the evening or we’ll pay the price and will be rewarded with a sleepless night.  That’s where carob comes to the rescue. It tastes similar to chocolate when it is mixed in with other ingredients and it doesn’t have the negative impact on our sleep. 

Carob Chips

Carob Chips

So what is carob?
Carob is a legume that comes from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). This evergreen tree is native to the Mediterranean. The tree bears fruit; the carob pods. These long bean-like pods are cooked for a short time or roasted and then ground into carob powder or made into carob chips The roasting enhances the chocolate-like flavor.  Note that given the roasting; carob powder or chips are not technically ‘raw’.

Carob provides some good nutrition. It contains as much Vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries; as much niacin as lima beans, lentils, or peas; and more Vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus, and beets. It also contains Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It contains approximately 8 percent protein and is a good source of fiber. Compared to chocolate, carob is three times richer in calcium, has one third less calories and seventeen times less fat. Carob is also nondairy; making it a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant.

I buy unsweetened carob chips from Wholefoods Market.

Unsweetened Coconut

Unsweetened Coconut

Coconut: Look for the unsweetened dried grated or shredded coconut meat (I like Bob’s Red Mill flaked coconut). Dried coconut can keep at room temperature for several months if sealed in plastic bags. Coconut is a source of fat (one of few non-animal sources of saturated fatty acids), dietary fiber and as well as vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts the immune system.

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates

Dates:  Dates are harvested from the date palm tree. They have a wrinkled skin and are a dark reddish brown color. Dates contain a seed that needs to be removed. The inside of this fruit is fleshy and sticky. Dates are mostly eaten fresh or dried. I buy the medjool dates (from Trader Joes) which are typically larger and moister.  Dates are a good source of dietary fiber, low in calories, high in potassium, calcium and magnesium, loaded with a variety of B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and low sodium. Dates are a good energy boosting food with the naturally occurring sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose). Given these naturally occurring sugars, dates are naturally sweet so there is no need to add any extra sweetener when using them in recipes.

2 cups of medjool dates (seed removed).
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
¾ cup of raw cashew nuts
¾ cup of unsweetened coconut
¾ cup of oats
¾ cup carob chips.
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)

1. In a food processer; process the cashew nuts, coconut and oats until they are quite fine.  Pour these into a bowl and set aside.

2. Next process the dates and peanut butter into a paste.  Break up the date paste a little with your fingers (this is a sticky mess).

3. Add the processed dry ingredients, carob chips and cinnamon. Process until all the ingredients are well mixed. If the mixture is too dry; add some more date paste, or too wet; add some more dry ingredients to get the right consistency. The right consistency is when you pinch the ingredients together they will hold together and not fall apart.
4. Using your hands form small patties or I use a mini muffin pan to help form the cookies. 

'chocolate' chip cookies

'chocolate' chip cookies

And that is it. So simple. And my 6 year will eat them. I store them in the fridge for up to a week. They don’t typically last that long though….

Snack Attack

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
I love snacks. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. My choices in what I snack on have changed over the years depending on whether I’m are trying to shed a few lbs, eat healthier, or prevent the mid-afternoon bonk during a workout. Here are a few snack ideas. My snacks are always vegetarian, wheat free, and typically low in grains.


My motto has been “don’t deprive yourself”. If there is a particular snack (or dessert of that matter) that you absolutely love, but may not be the most healthy of choices; don’t try to go without. Have it on certain days; just not every day. During the race season we try to do desserts only on weekends. I say ‘try’. My weekend sometimes starts Friday and ends Monday….

Another option is to ‘water’ down the snack. Add something healthy to it. For example if you like chocolate, then make some trail mix with the chocolate.

Watch the portion size. Set out a single helping of any given snack, rather than keep dipping your hand into the big bag of trail mix or chips.

Here are some snacks I turn to:

-Trail mix
-Raw Bars (homemade or Lara bars)
-Fruit / nut butter
-Veggies / Dip
-Rice crackers
-Cottage Cheese


Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

Plain Kefir (probiotics)
Almond Milk or water to get the right consistency
Frozen Mango or berries
½ ripe banana (as a sweetener and also potassium)
Big handful of greens (Kale, spinach, beet greens, chard, etc.)
Flax seed oil (or ground up flax seeds)
Chia Seeds
Hemp or brown rice protein powder or scoop of almond butter


Trail Mix

Trail Mix

raw cashews, almonds and peanuts (Trader Joes)
unsweetened coconut flakes (Wholefoods)
raw sunflower seeds (Trader Joes)
Jumbo raisins or apricots or cranberries (Trader Joes)
Carob (Wholefoods)

BARS – recipe can be found here.
2 cup of raw nuts (almonds / cashews / peanuts / walnuts / pecans)
1 cup of (unsweetened) coconut
1 -1 ½ cup of Medjool dates (with pits removed!)
1 cup of dried apricots
½ -1cup of dried berries (cherries, cranberries or goji berries)
½-1 cup of seeds (sesame / sunflower / pumpkin)

Optional ingredients for flavor variations: Lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint extract, Organic cocoa powder, ginger, or carob.





Apple and peanut butter
Pear and almond butter (I really like Trader Joes Raw Crunchy Almond Butter).


Yogurt and Berries

Yogurt and Berries

Plain Greek yogurt with maple syrup or berries
Plain Greek yogurt with granola.

Raw veggies such as carrots, snow peas, sugar peas, zucchini, and celery with a bean dip.
Celery with cream cheese or peanut butter.

Rice crackers with cheese and tomatoes
Rice Crackers with bean dip (hummus or lentil)


Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Chips with salsa
Chips with black bean dip.

Salsa Recipe:
2 cups Roma tomatoes
½ Cup red Onion, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Chopped green onions
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Options: 1 serrano chili pepper (stems, ribs and seeds removed), finely diced, corn, peach, mango or black beans.

Bring the chopped tomatoes and onions to a quick boil. As soon at the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat. Depending on the consistency you like, you may want to strain away some of the liquid. Mix in the other ingredients. Serve as is, or blend.

Black Bean Dip Recipe:
2 cups of cooked black beans.
1/2 cup prepared salsa, hot or mild
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Use a potato masher to mix all the ingredients together, or use a hand blender.



Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Organic Cottage Cheese (I like Nancy’s) with fruit.


CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. Part 3

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

A little over due;  here is my final update on our 21 day clean diet. We made it to day 19.75.  Not quite the full 21 days.

Clean by Alejandro Junger

Clean by Alejandro Junger

In summary:

– The breakfast smoothies were great.

– The snacks of Larabars (I started to make my own), apple/pear with almond butter, and homemade lentil humus with veggies were all great.

– The bigger main meal lunches were great.

– The evening raw pureed soups were not so great. I normally love soups. Half way through this diet, I was getting pretty bored of the soups.  I didn’t like having one big bowl of the same flavor and nothing to chew. I wanted to sink my teeth into something. It got to the point that we were not enjoying the evening soup at all. It was making us pretty cranky.  So we called it quits at day 19.75.

I really didn’t feel any different on this diet at all. My energy level was about the same. Although by the third week I was pretty hungry.  I lost about 5 pounds in total. John a little more than that. He found that he had serious low energy (even though I was doubling up on the recipe portions). He did sleep better and had really vivid dreams (something the book did talk about). 

Back to Normal:
The transition back to eating our “normal” food wasn’t as gradual as I hoped. I had every intention to just phase certain foods back into our diet. That didn’t happen.  I was so craving certain foods, in particular cheese and yogurt. 

I’m glad we did this. I’d do it again,  or at least a slightly different iteration.  There were some useful things that I got out of the experience:

  1. How hard it is to make changes to the way we eat. We are creatures of habit.
  2. How time consuming it can be to learn how to follow new recipes, use new foods, or new food preparation techniques. It took a lot of planning and thinking ahead.
  3. Once you make the commitment to make the changes and learn how to shop and prepare foods, it becomes easier after that first initial week.  

Some clean diet habits I hope we can continue:

  1. Less grains.  I plan to keep up the green smoothies for breakfast. On the days I know I’m going to workout; I add a scoop of rice protein powder and glob of almond butter to the smoothie.  Eat leftovers for lunch rather than have a sandwich.
  2. Healthy homemade snacks. I really enjoyed the homemade Larabars and the homemade Lentil humus.
  3. Bigger lunch portions, and smaller dinner portions.
  4. Drinking more lemon water
  5. Eat Fruit to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings.

Raw Bar Recipe

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

My neighbor lent me her food processor.  I’m having fun experimenting with it. I especially like the slicer, shredder, grater tool. I grated up more carrots and zucchini than I know what to do with.  I hope she doesn’t want it back anytime soon….Anyway, in a search for ways to use this gadget, I thought about making some raw “Larabars”. I love Larabars. I love that they are all natural, raw and made from very few ingredients.  Here is what I came up with. With the food processor they are so quick and easy to make.



Raw Bar Recipe:

2 cup of nuts (almonds / cashews / peanuts / walnuts / pecans)
1 cup of (unsweetened) coconut
1 -1 ½ cup of Medjool dates (with pits removed!)
1 cup of dried apricots
½ -1cup of dried berries (cherries, cranberries or goji berries)
½-1 cup of seeds (sesame / sunflower / pumpkin)

Optional ingredients for flavor variations: Lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint extract, Organic cocoa powder, ginger, carob.

 Proportions do matter! Too much of the dry ingredients and the bars easily crumble.

Chopped Nuts

Chopped Nuts

  1. Process the nuts, seeds and coconut together. Add to a bowl.

    Medjool Dates

    Medjool Dates

  2. Process dates and dried fruit until pureed.
  3. Add the pureed fruit to the nuts/seeds and mix well. It should be a sticky mess.
  4. Line a casserole dish with plastic wrap and press the mixture into a casserole dish, and place in the refrigerator.  After a couple of hours, I cut the bars up, put them into snack baggies to store back in the refrigerator. They should keep for a week (if they don’t get eaten before then).

CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. Part 2

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

We are at day 12 of the 21 days of the detox. So how have the first 12 days been?

I started this program sick. I had the start of a sinus infection that got worse over the first 6 days. This meant that I wasn’t exercising at all, I had super low energy, and very little appetite. So I don’t think my initial evaluation of the detox program is valid. Instead I’ll talk about John’s (my husband’s) experience. It’s more interesting.

No Coffee

No Coffee

 He had a couple of days suffering from caffeine withdrawal. That was to be expected. He likes his morning chemicals. Then he had some classic (according to the Clean book) symptoms that are best described as flu-like symptoms: chills, body aches, and low energy. This lasted for about 3 days. Then each day he has felt better. John has continued to ride his bike to work, and race his bike on Tuesday nights. The first Tuesday night race while on the detox program was during the 3 days of flu-like symptoms. It wasn’t pretty. This week however, was much better.

For John there is a calorie deficit. Even though I am making bigger portions than the recipes state, he is feeling hungry quite a bit of the time. As a result he has lost about 5-6 pounds so far. For me, when I was sick, I had no appetite so felt no hunger. However, this week as I start to ride again, I have started to feel hungrier. But not in a low energy-bonking way. I’ve lost about 3 pounds. I’m convinced it is all muscle from my weak legs after not exercising / riding for 16 days. That’s what happens to me. Muscle just drips off of me. Yesterday when I was out riding, I was going up a small hill, and I went to shift to an easier gear…and there wasn’t one. Ah, the road back to fitness.

The best way for me to describe how my stomach feels on this diet is that I never really feel full, and I never really feel hungry. You know when you want to go run and you need to wait a couple of hours after eating to let the food move through our stomach? Well that’s how I feel; I could go run at any time. My stomach is never full. It’s kind of a good feeling. For now.

Usually when I eat a bigger meal at lunch time I sink into a food coma mid-afternoon. But not so on this diet. I feel fine. That ready to go run or do anything fine.

The first week of the diet there was a learning curve. I felt like I was spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food. And I was. When you are following recipes that you are not familiar with, it takes time. It’s not as quick as whipping up a meal you’ve made countless times before. In the evenings I’d make Indie’s meal, I’d make our soup, then I’d make the breakfast smoothies, then the big meal for the next day’s lunch, and finally Indie’s lunch. Pheeew! Like I said a lot of kitchen time.

The breakfast smoothies have been great. We continue to do the energy smoothie recipe I included in the previous blog post. They are quite good. The lunch meals are great: I’ve been doing stir fry type veggies with black beans for me, and chicken for John, along with either wild rice, quinoa or buckwheat noodles (man, they are expensive!). And the evening soups…not so great. I miss chewing my evening meal. Pureed semi-raw soups are not cutting it for me. Especially when you have one big bowl of just the same flavor. I made one that was hard to finish. So the next night I made two different soups for some variety. I’m not making them 100% raw, maybe about 40-50% raw. The top 3 so far are: Butternut squash and apple, cauliflower and leek, and finally broccoli.

I am finding the Clean book to be not that well laid out or explained. Half way through the book, it starts to talk about an elimination diet. I think there are two diets: the clean diet and the elimination diet. The detox/21 day effort is the elimination diet, whereas the clean diet is more of something to adopt for every day. I think. There is an online community forum. This frustrated me. Lots of recipe ideas. Some though were for the clean diet and some for the elimination diet. I’d find a recipe, get all excited to try it, then realize it had some of the ingredients on the “do not eat” list. Still not sure which list agave is on now. I read online that it was switched from the “OK” list to the “do not eat” list. And then in the book there are some recipes that contain raw honey, but I thought honey was on the “do not eat” list….some mild confusion.

All-in-all, I’m enjoying the experience and challenge. It has definitely made me really appreciate how hard it is to make changes in the way you prepare food and the types of food you eat. Signing off for now. It’s lunch time. Quinoa and veggies.

CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. Part 1

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Yesterday, Sunday, we started a 21 day detox program called Clean. The program is designed to help the body get rid of toxins. It does this primarily by eliminating certain foods and including others.

Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate

Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate

I’ve never followed any particular diet regime before. When it comes to food I like to set my own guidelines and rules.  So this is a first for me. When I mentioned to friends what we’re doing, they asked “what symptoms are you trying to address?”  I’m really not approaching the diet that way. I don’t think I’m trying to address anything in particular. Then why am I doing this?  I’m curious. I’m fascinated with nutrition and have a deep curiosity, so why not.  Plus my husband, John, is game and wants to do it. So here we are.

The low down:
Cut out all foods that are potentially allergens as well as some foods that are highly acidic and mucus forming. On the exclude food list are: soy, dairy, corn, wheat, coffee, alcohol, OJ, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, peanuts, beef, pork, etc.  (By the way this is not a complete list, but it sums it up).  I’m good with all of this, other than dairy. I haven’t eaten soy, wheat, for a while, and don’t drink coffee, or alcohol.  However, I love cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc. It’s where a lot of my protein comes from. This will be the tough one for me.  

The basic meal plan is as follows:
-Smoothie or Juice for breakfast.
-Heavier lunch (millet, quinoa, brown rice, chicken, beans, lentils, veggies, greens, etc.)
-Liquid dinner (raw soup)
-Snacks: almonds, fruit with almond butter, Lara bars (I added this), and lentil humus with veggies



The rules are to only eat foods on the include list, to fast for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast and drink lots of lemon water and green tea.

The book reminds you to Chew your food and take your time eating. The process of breaking your food down starts in the mouth with chewing and mixing the food with saliva. I’ll need to practice chewing the liquids soups!

Besides cutting dairy out, the other tough part for me will be having a light dinner;  a liquid raw soup. I have a healthy appetite. I eat a lot and I struggle to fall asleep if I’m just a little bit hungry.  I think I’ll be maximizing the snacks over the next 21 days.

In preparation I’ve been perfecting an energy smoothie for breakfast for the last 2 weeks. Here is the recipe that is working for me.

Green Energy Smoothie

Green Energy Smoothie

1 cup of almond milk
1 cup of ice/water
extra water to get the drink to the desired consistency
¼ cup of almond butter
1 scoop of brown rice protein powder
1 tsp cardamom
1 cup of frozen mango
bunch of spinach
1 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp soaked chai seeds (soaking helps release enzymes).
Agave to sweeten




Food Preparation:
The Clean Program recommends that you soak  grains, seeds, nuts and beans before you eat them or cook them.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so hopefully this will help me get in the habit.  It requires a lot of planning and thinking ahead.  More so than usual. Right now I’ve got adzuki beans, lentils, wild rice, and sun flower seeds all soaking. 

Even though the meals are pretty simple, they are new to me so it’s going to take quite a bit of time to make them. I plan on making two helpings of the lunches to last for two days.  That way I’m only cooking every other day. 

The clean program also suggests taking supplements to help with the whole detox process. You can purchase a 21 day supply of supplements for $450 through the clean website. I decided not to do this. I did visit New Season and got some brown rice protein to add to the breakfast smoothies, and a Phyto-enzyme and a Probiotic supplement.

Plans for when we exercise:
Several times in the book it mentions you can follow this program while following a training program. It says to increase your calorie intake.  Some of the other things we’ll add will be to use an all natural electrolyte drink (Ultima) and Hammer Bars.  These bars are actually made from ingredients that are on the include food list. I’m pretty happy about that.

On-the-Bike Food and Drink

On-the-Bike Food and Drink









Beyond the Food:
During this detox phase we are going to do a few other little things as suggested by the book. One is to make sure we are using natural toiletries: toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soaps etc.  We pretty much do this already.  There are some pretty good options out there for finding reasonably priced natural ingredient toiletries. Wholefoods have their own “365” brand that is really affordable.  And if you don’t like it, Wholefoods has a great return policy.

To help with the elimination of all kinds of toxins the program also recommends the following:
-Daily Meditation
-Deep breathing
-Quality sleep
-Skin brushing
-Hot/cold showers

Stay tuned for “Part 2”. I’ll give an update in a week.

Bento Bowl

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

This is a one of our go-to meals when we’re short on time.  It’s even quicker to throw together if you have leftover rice or quinoa.  

Brown Rice or Quinoa
Black Beans
Tempeh / Chicken
Veggies (cabbage, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, snow peas, etc.)
Toppings: Cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and / or sweet chili sauce

Lightly Steam Veggies

Lightly Steam Veggies

Cook rice or quinoa as directed.
Lightly steam veggies.
Warm up the beans.
Put the rice or quinoa in a large bowl, layer the beans and veggies, and then top with your topping(s) of choice.

Trader Joes Sweet Chili Sauce

Trader Joes Sweet Chili Sauce