I woke up the other morning thinking about these….. I have never made them before, but something in me let me know I had to make them that evening.  I have been working on trying to grasp ideas and great opportunities in those tiny slivers of time when they present themselves, so this was the perfect chance to practice that.  And, I needed another weeknight dinner idea up my sleeve that was simple and quick.  

Once the boys were dropped off at school, I set about scribbling notes on how I envisioned these tacos and what I needed to prepare and present them at dinner a little later.  I knew I wanted them to be easy and simple but also look gourmet.  So, the recipe card in my head called for beef brisket from Whole Foods.  Not sure why since I never buy beef brisket, but I didn’t question it….I just went and bought it.  I also don’t buy white flour tortillas, but I knew it would be a treat for my boys and I have to admit they photograph much better than spelt tortillas.  And, what I was envisioning was going to be worthy of a photograph.  On those average days though, when I am not pulled by some amazing force of inspiration, I buy spelt or brown rice tortillas.  Just so you know!
Later in the day armed with all of the ingredients I knew I needed to make this little dream a reality, I began pulling it all together.  Remember, my main goal was to keep this meal super quick and easy.   And, guess what?  The preparation involved grilling the tortillas, washing greens and chopping veggies.  That’s it.  For the filling in these tacos along with the brisket, I used romaine, green cabbage, purple cabbage and cilantro  (Read:  huge cancer fighters and heart helpers).  These guys were going to be über tasty and also full of photochemicals and micronutrients.  Chopped red onion, avocado and red and yellow tomatoes,  ie. more big guns to keep us healthy…..a little fig and red onion chutney for an interesting twist and a squeeze of lime juice.  
Not sure how to rate this almost too good to be true dinner experiment, I waited to see what the guys thought after a few bites.   Well, they perked up, they asked for seconds and thirds and the kiddos did not even notice the crunchy cabbage.  I was fine with them adding shredded cheese and sour cream because it isn’t always easy to cook one meal and make everyone happy without a little room for creativity.  I was just excited I could pack a lot of nutrients into a beautiful meal that took minimal effort to prepare and that everyone liked.  And, it was really fun to grab hold of an idea when it popped into my thoughts, know it was there for a reason and be rewarded so generously when I did not get in the way of myself and just allow it to come to fruition!  Here’s to effortless and nutritious weeknights.  xxo!

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This is how I start my day.  Pure, simple + clean.  More than anything else I could have for breakfast, a combination of fresh fruit fuels me perfectly whether it is for a super tough spin class, a run in the park or shooting for my blog.  It is pure energy that is available to the body almost immediately.  And, it doesn’t interfere with your level of activity since it isn’t sitting in your stomach taking too long to digest as anything dairy, meat or processed would.  I love that.  You feel it.  There is an alertness, a lightness, a strength that you feel when you fuel your body with food fresh from nature that you don’t feel from anything else.  

My only other alternative would be a green drink made with a combination of veggies and fruit.  But, what I love about this are the varied colors, textures and flavors.  It makes me happy on another level other than feeling good from the inside.  If I am running a little behind schedule, it is so easy to take along.  So, if you are feeling a little sluggish in the morning,  having a hard time making yourself embrace breakfast, or trying to drop a couple of stubborn pounds, try this.  You will feel it and that feeling will strengthen future efforts to eat clean, pure and simple, which will bring you even closer to a healthier, happier you!  xxo!

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This is my absolute favorite, most perfectly perfect lunch I can imagine.  I have it almost every day because it makes me feel better than anything else.  The salad is sometimes left over from dinner the previous night, but if it isn’t, I just toss together any greens and veggies I have on hand.   Then, I’ll add something creamy, crunchy and savory.  Avocado, toasted nuts or seeds and whatever interesting cheese I can find……done.  This is one thing I don’t overthink…….thank goodness, since I tend to overthink most things.   This little lunch salad is always a surprise and never boring because it is never the same!  Important point concerning food……keep things interesting.  It will lessen the desire to overeat considerably.  You want to hit all of those receptors that affect satiety and this lunch does it.
Pair a fun salad with a slice of toasted sprouted bread, avocado, slices of an heirloom tomato and a little coarse salt….it’s a match made in culinary heaven, for me at least!  If you are someone who needs more protein, add it.  Add whatever fuels you.   And, an herbal tea is just enough to accompany this meal…..you’ll be getting your energy from nutrients.  Much smarter than trying to find energy from a sugary or fake-sugary caffeinated drink.  The idea is to have something for lunch that will satisfy your senses and your stomach.  We want to refuel and also feel a fresh store of energy being released, heightened alertness and sharpened focus.  This is what lunch is supposed to do.  It shouldn’t drag you down or make you sleepy.  Lunch, in short, should perk you up….leave you happy, centered and ready for anything the afternoon has in store.  Miss lunch or feed your body something not so nourishing and you will feel it.  The smallest stressful event will feel overwhelming.  I know, that was me yesterday.  And, knowing what today held……..this is how I chose to empower myself.  xxo!

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I must admit, I have been slow to hop on the chia pudding bandwagon, but now I am on….for good!   I really didn’t feel like I was missing out because I add chia to every green drink I make and walking past all of those chia seeds settled in the bottom of Kombucha bottles everytime I walked into the grocery didn’t make me want to embrace them as the starring role in a recipe, so I was content where I was with chia.  How limiting of me!  Then one day, my trainer who is a super serious cyclist, and I were talking about what foods would be ideal to eat before a really long ride….ninety miles or more for him…..something that will help protect against dehydration, provide long lasting energy and digest quickly without distraction.  Besides fresh fruit, chia was the first thing that came to mind.  When I think of chia, my first thought is how they were used by the Mayan and Aztec warriors for energy and endurance when they went to battle and how the Tarahumara barefoot runners in Mexico used chia to sustain their typical 50-100 mile runs.  A true superfood!  The proof is there……in history.  
After that conversation, I could not get chia pudding out of my head. I really felt like it was a great option to pre-hydrate and energize for long training rides.  Everything in it is pure and straight from nature so digesting it shouldn’t interfere with exertion.  But, I would do a test run, just to make sure!  If all is well on that front, this pudding tastes like just another sinful treat but it is anything but that.  The chia provides a rich source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, minerals and plant based omega-3’s.  The dates contain twenty-three different amino acids, significant amounts of iron and many other minerals and vitamins.  Cashews boost the mood and nourish the brain and skin.  And, the coconut manna, which is simply pureed coconut is dizzying in it’s health promoting properties from it’s vast amount of antioxidants and medium-chain fatty acids.  After some research, a little testing and adding a little of this and a little of that and a lot of tasting, I discovered something new to my palate that was cool, creamy, delicious and healthy.  If you are someone who can stomach only fruit before a grueling spin class, road race or any other serious training, try this cashew chia pudding after as a post-recovery treat to refuel and help to rehydrate.  And, for those just wanting a taste of pure bliss without any guilt feelings……..this is for you too!  xxo!

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Lately, I have been using sprouted spelt flour in every recipe that calls for whole wheat flour and so far, no one has noticed.  I didn’t think I could pull it off in every recipe, especially the chocolate chip cookies recipe….but much to my surprise, I did.  It didn’t occur to me that spelt flour really is a 1:1 ratio to whole wheat flour.  That’s as far as the similarities go because spelt flour scores much higher marks than it’s more widely recognized counterpart.  It has more protein and fiber than wheat and has a lot less gluten which makes it easier to digest.  And, since the spelt flour is sprouted, it has way more nourishing enzymes than any unsprouted flour.   

Everyone goes through times in their routine where things get a bit boring.  That’s how these little muffins arrived on the scene at our house.  Just when I thought I had several healthy breakfast ideas on rotation that both of my boys liked, all of a sudden they decided they didn’t like any of it.  Just like that….it was like hitting a brick wall.  I had nothing up my sleeve that was totally new and original and nothing to work with.  They said they don’t like eggs……scrambled, boiled, poached…..this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book…..they no longer like pancakes or fruit or smoothies.  The only thing they would consider was a box of Lucky Charms.  Ha!  Sorry kiddos!   
I started going through some of my favorite cookbooks searching for ideas and came upon a recipe for banana muffins.  I made a few healthy changes and crossed my fingers as I placed them in the hot oven.   Once they were finished and cooled a touch, they disappeared….just like that.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t even have a chance to test one out!  Over the last few days, I have made a few batches.  Super simple and quick.  You might need a quick trip to the market for a couple of things like unrefined coconut oil and sprouted spelt flour, but these ingredients will last a little while.  

Since this recipe calls for four really ripe bananas, I usually always buy extra so I can make these anytime.  While you are mashing the bananas, let the chia seeds soak in a small amount of water for about ten minutes before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.  Because they are hydrophilic, they can absorb ten to twelve times their weight in water, so allowing them to soak before adding them to the rest of your ingredients will ensure they don’t pull liquid from the recipe.

I added chia to the recipe because the seeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and soluble fiber.  They are also known for their ability to increase stamina and energy.  Just what my kiddos needed for breakfast before sports camp!  Look for the recipe on my recipes page!  xxo!

 

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So, this isn’t the lowest calorie treat…..but, it is real.   And, really, really yummy.Making every effort to feed my family real, whole food is always at the forefront of my mind when I am considering what to prepare for a meal or snack.  Now that it is getting a little steamier in New Orleans, my boys are begging for ice cream.  It makes me cringe to purchase a container of ice cream and notice all of the ingredients that make up a seemingly innocent treat and then offer it to my children.   I really don’t want to buy an ice cream maker.  And, I’m not into gadgets….the fewer the better of any kitchen appliances or tools.
Just as I was feeling a little lost and wanting to feed their little ice cream desires but in a healthy and simple way,  I awoke very early one morning and had some time to myself.  I made a latte and grabbed my favorite magazine, Bon Appetit.   I love moments like these!  All of a sudden I happened upon a beautiful shot of homemade semifreddo and my eyes were immediately drawn to the words “no machine required”.  I felt like the author was speaking directly to me!  Later that day, I set about gathering the ingredients to see if I could recreate what I saw in the magazine.  It was a huge success.  Not only was it perfectly delicious, but it was made from pure, simple ingredients.  And, since it isn’t made with lowfat or fake anything, it only takes a small serving to satisfy even the most serious sweet tooth.  Your mind and body knows when something is missing and will likely continue craving just that, whether it is texture, fat or sweetness until satisfied.   So, take the time to feed your body fresh, whole foods….you will feel calm, peaceful, satisfied and able to get on with your day without grumblings in your stomach getting in the way.  xxo!

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How fun to make these poffertjes inspired pancakes and then see how many can be stacked on top of one another before they all come crashing down!  And, not only are they cute, they are super nutrient-dense and crazy yum.  My boys’ favorite breakfast ever is from The Netherlands, called Poffertjes, which are these darling puffy little pancake-like pillows dusted with powdered sugar.  I’m sure there isn’t anything health-promoting in them though…..just like the standard American pancake!  I try to make sure whatever goes into my kiddo’s mouths will benefit their bodies in some way.  So, to keep the fun in breakfast and tie-in those feel good feelings my boys associate with their trips to The Netherlands I took my favorite buckwheat pancake recipe and made a few changes since my youngest insisted he didn’t like pancakes anymore.  He said poffertjes don’t taste like banana.  True!  Impressed he picked up on that.  I have been adding a mashed banana and honey to the mix for sweetness.  My little buckwheat pancakes have been an easy way to squeeze in tons of good things into my kids diet without a fuss, so it was really important to me to figure out how to get the youngest back into loving these pancakes.   I took the mashed banana out, added in really high quality mini chocolate chips and coconut syrup which isn’t syrupy at all or coconutty, but packed with tons of health boosting compounds.  So with the hint of banana out, the honey flavor mellowed and the overall sweetness amped up a touch with some melted chocolate throughout, these were a huge success while still retaining the nourishing qualities that are so important to me!  I haven’t figured out the measurements, but as soon as I do, I’ll post the recipe in the recipes section for all to enjoy!  xxo!

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The first time I heard about bone broth was during one of my lectures at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  I must admit it sounded a little freaky, but I was intrigued and the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to learn.  At the time, there wasn’t much information on bone broth, and the information there was, was not that easy to find.

Amazingly, in the past few months, it seems every time I pick up a magazine I notice little articles on bone broth, and how all of a sudden, chefs are selling their carefully concocted cups of liquid gold as fast as they can make them.   Wow, just like that.  The tipping point……..well, sort of!
For the past two years anytime I mentioned bone broth, people would look at me like I was a little “out there”,  then when I would ask the meat guys at any grocery store for chicken feet they would literally laugh a little and have that same look.  Yes, chicken feet, it sounds so weird, but they really are a necessary ingredient for a gelatin-rich broth (read: disease-preventive, cancer fighter, healer of skin, digestive and autoimmune disorders, cartilage builder, all-over body strengther and rejuvenator).  Now, the mention of chicken feet isn’t so bad is it?!  If I can clean and prep chicken feet for a bone broth, anyone can and it is a must have in a true bone broth because the feet contain and will release the greatest amount of cartilage and gelatin compared to other chicken parts.  The gelatin is what holds the collagen, glycine, glucosamine and many other nutrients that are life changing in helping the body repair and rebuild itself on so many different levels.  It is the difference between a stock that has cooked a few hours compared to one that has simmered for 24-48 hours.  The  extended time and the addition of cartilage-rich bones is what extracts the powerful healing componets with the gelatin.  The benefits are staggering both in their numbers and properties.  For example, we know the body’s ability to repair connective tissue diminishes with age and ill health.  Bone broth’s rich dissolves of collagen, cartilage, glycine and more gives the body what it needs to heal and rebuild itself.  It helps keep our arteries strong and supple, it nourishes the eyes, heals the gut which heals the mind, it feeds the epidermis and dermis and underlying connective tissue layers to give our skin a youthful plumpness and it soothes the wounded skin of acne and other skin disorders, it works to keep our bones flexible and it strengthens the immune system, just to name a few.  I have not learned of another food source which such vast and powerful healing properties.  Amazing that so much vitality can come from such simplicity. 
I love that bone broth is a traditional, slow food, that has been used as far back as the 12th century for it’s nourishment.  I have never loved learning about history until I saw how it relates to food and it’s medicinal role in early civilizations.  Foods from the Earth have been used for their rejuvenating qualities for thousands of years.  We can learn so much valuable information from traditional cultures and apply their findings to our modern way of living in a way that truly nourishes our body, mind and soul. I’ll post the recipe later today in the recipes section! xxo!

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I have finally figured out the perfect tree-nut free granola bar that can be made plain or with the addition of dried fruit and nuts!  It has taken a number of failed batches of bars that were a bit too bitter, way too crumbly or just not appealing to my boys before I arrived at a combination of ingredients that tasted great, held together well and were embraced by my kids.  Yes, slam-dunk!  

One of my all-time favorite cookbooks is The Family Cooks by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt.  Not only do I love their recipes, but they share so much relevant information on the importance of time spent around the dinner table and how to make family meals doable.  I constantly refer to their books for reference and inspiration.  Their granola bar recipe uses egg whites….something I had not run across in any other recipe.  Maybe that is why my bars never stayed in a bar shape, but always ended up as granola if touched!  And, another ingredient their recipe called for which none others had is brown rice flour. Aha!  So with a few tweaks, I ended up with these perfect little bars.  I made my own chocolate sauce with cacao-so unbelievable amazing and simple-and drizzled that over these guys.  I knew a little chocolate is what would make my boys get excited over trying something new.  Knowing what my little guys like and dislike, I began my experiment…..I only used one kind of seed, coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, sprouted brown rice flour (I always choose sprouted if possible) and crispy brown rice cereal.  In the oven it all went and out it came with the most wonderful smell.  The boys couldn’t help but to come see what I was up to in the kitchen!  Love it!!  

To make these for family and friends who like dried fruit and varying textures, just add in any nuts, seeds or dried fruit they love.  I just check the total amounts of what is called for with the nuts and add in whatever I like, making sure to keep the total amount the same.  Here are version’s with pumpkin seeds, dried wild blueberries, goji berries and chocolate chips.  These are a bigger hit with adults I think because pumpkin seeds can be a touch bitter, and most kiddo’s are not fond of bitter.

Shown are three different versions, all basically the same, just changing the seeds and fruit.  Posting the recipe to the recipes page right now!  A yummy little treat to satisfy a sweet tooth and nourish the body all at the same time!  xxo!

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Mmmmm.  Matcha.  It seems almost too good to be true, the dizzying amount of health supporting elements available to our bodies in just one steaming cup.  I have been wanting to learn about matcha the last couple of months, because it seems everywhere I turn there is some little mention of it.  So, last week my sister and I ran across a matcha tea set our aunt had from when she lived in Japan.  I could not believe my eyes…..I had been wanting to learn about matcha and also see if I could find an authentic bamboo whisk from Japan.  And, here one was, in my hands…….just like that.  With this discovery of something that had been on my mind, I knew it was time to get to know this astounding antioxidant powerhouse.  Matcha is a special type of green tea leaf that has been mostly shade grown and then stone ground into a very fine powder.  What seperates these tea leaves from all others is their off the charts levels of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.  Definitely a health tonic!  Matcha’s antioxidant levels are far above pomegrantes, blueberries and spinach.  It also has the highest levels of any tea on the market of EGcg which is specific type of antioxidant known for it’s potent cancer fighting properties.   Because matcha contains an amino acid that increases production of serotonin and dopamine while increasing alpha waves in the brain, it gives us an alertness that isn’t jittery.  So, unlike other caffeine containing drinks, matcha will not stress your body by increasing your heart rate or blood pressure.  That’s not all……it also helps to boost metabolism, burn fat, strengthen immunity and lower cholesterol and blood sugar.  It is truly one of the Earth’s treasures that is a gift to our body.  xxo!

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