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I know that I already posted a bunch of  avocado smoothies, but this one is more like a dessert. Well, and I love avocado. I think, avocado makes a fie milk substitute for any smoothie, as long as you put a small cup of water for every small avocado added.  Oh,and this new smoothie is  absolutely gorgeous. I adapted it from here.
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. raw cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups cold almond milk
  • 2-3 tbsp. agave syrup
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 banana
  • One handful crushed ice.

Spoon out the avocado pulp and place in a blender with the 1 tbsp. of the agave syrup and a banana. Add 1 cup of cold almond milk, 1/2 of the ice and blend again. Don’t wash the blender yet. Divide the green mixture between 2 tall glasses. Blend the remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk with 2 tbsp. of agave syrup and 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder. Add the remaining ice. Top each serving of the green smoothie with 1/2 the chocolate mixture  (to form a separate layer.)

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Even after making the zucchini casserole yesterday, we were left with extra zuchinis. Here’s what I threw in the blender today:

1 zucchini

7 ice cubes

1 banana

1 cup orange juice

1/2 avocado

It turned really yummy and the yield was 2-3 servings.

Next time, I will try this interesting smoothie.

What else can I do with zucchinis?

 

As I was continuing my exploration of Asheville’s healthy food scene, I visited Greenlife supermarket. A supermarket with a special section, devoted to prepared raw food items can definitely be considered healthy, don’t you think? I bought a container of raw carrot ginger soup at Greenlife. The soup proved to be so unbelievable, that I had to spend two hours browsing the web for just the perfect recipe, which matched it and another hour trying to perfect the recipe even further. If you like spicy food, this Carrot Ginger Soup would taste completely out of this world to you! I don’t even like cold soups, but this one totally got me. Perhaps, because of all the warming spices in it, I didn’t even crave for it to be warm. If you do, serve it in  a warm bowl. You can also drink this soup as a smoothie, if you are into salty and spicy drinks.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh carrot juice
1 small ripe avocado
1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
1tbsp.  fresh ginger, minced or juice an inch of ginger with the carrots.

1/2 tsp. cilantro, minced

Puree all ingredients in a high speed blender until completely smooth.  The sweetness of the carrots will determine how much agave nectar you need to use, if at all.

I found a really interesting raw cake recipe online, but it calls for jicama, which I do not have. Going to the supermarket with three babies is not very appealing. Also, I am really stuck on trying out this weird cake recipe and therefore am not interested in cooking anything else that’s new… So, my good friend Nina came to the rescue! She made this awesome cold soup yesterday (inspired by cooks.com.) She used some herbs from her garden as a garnish. I think, this soup would be a perfect appetizer on a hot summer night. I also believe its temperature and texture to be very child-friendly, but that we will know tomorrow, when my kid tries it. 🙂

 

Ingredients:

3 tomatoes (quartered)
1/2 cucumber
1/2 pepper
1/2 onion
Garlic clove
3 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Green herbs ( chives, basil, rosemary, cilantro -whatever you have is fine)

Place items in blender and pulse. Chill. Pour in individual cups and top with greens.

Today, my friends and I were discussing avocados. Specifically, avocado smoothies. The best part about putting avocado in a smoothie is the smooth texture it provides and the light flavor it gives out, making it possible to mix avocado with stronger-flavored foods. I believe, avocado can be substituted even for ice cream in any milk shake recipe! It can also be substituted for frozen yogurt or regular yogurt, because of its texture.

Avocado is a powerhouse of healthy nutrients. It is exceptionally high in  soluble fiber, which has the ability to bind to fat and excess cholesterol. One cup of avocado has about 23% of FDA’s RDV for folate, a nutrient important for heart health and for healthy pregnancy. Avocado also contains “oleic acid”, a monounsaturated fatty acid, which may help lower cholesterol. Avocado is a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help protect against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. Avocado is also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein. Addiitonally, it contains measurable amounts of other carotenoids and significant quantities of vitamin E.

Avocado Banana Strawberry Smoothie

2 servings:

Half a ripe avocado
1 frozen banana
5 strawberries
Splash of nut milk

Blend everything on high.

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

1 avocado
2 bananas
1 cup orange juice
1 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup ice

Blend everything until smooth.

Avocado Colada

serves 2-3

1 avocado
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
stevia to taste
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp shredded coconut
2 ice cubes

Blend everything until smooth.


Avocado Cashew Smoothie

serves 2:

1 medium avocado

1 handful raw cashews

1/2 teaspoon stevia

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup water

6 ice cubes

Blend everything until smooth.

Chocolate Avocado Banana Smoothie

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 banana

1 avocado

1 tablespoon of raw cacao or carob

10 ice cubes

Stevia to taste

Blend everything until smooth.

 

Avocado Coffee Smoothie

Serves 2

1/2 cup brewed coffee, chilled

1/2 cup ice cubes

1 banana

1 avocado

Stevia to taste

Blend everything until smooth.

 

Today, I was making some butternut squash puree for my babies ( they have tried broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, apple, cucumber, banana, avocado, quinoa, buckwheat and butternut squash so far.) Then, I realized I had way too much leftover squash. In a case like this, I usually make a soup, but today I was craving something cold, so I made a smoothie instead. A pretty great one, I might add.

Butternut squash is rich in Vitamins A and C; and minerals, such as potassium and manganese. It is also rich in fiber. Butternut squash is  good for blood sugar regulation and prevention of type 2 diabetes. The  B-vitamin like compound d-chiro-inositol-a has been connected to blood sugar stabilization by multiple studies.  Blood sugar regulation is also associated with other B-complex vitamins, and squash provides a good amount of five B-complex vitamins, such as B1, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, and folate.

 


   Butternut Squash Smoothie

 

 

Ingredients:

for 2 cups:

  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup milk or almond milk ( soy works, too)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. of agave or a few drops of stevia or one date
  • 4 ice cubes
Put the squash in a pot, cover with water, so there is about 1 inch of water over the squash. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the squash gets soft (test with a fork.) Cool the squash in the refrigerator ( or freezer, if in a hurry.) Blend the squash with all other ingredients.

 

This smoothie tastes like a rich , creamy dessert: it’s sweet and yummy. Even though it’s high in calories, it is also rich in protein, potassium, B-vitamins, fiber, calcium and iron. Next time your kid asks you for ice cream, give him/her this  smoothie instead. If they are asking for chocolate flavor, add 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder to the mix.

Almond Banana Smoothie

2 heaping tbsp of smooth almond butter

2 bananas

2 large strawberries ( or 1 tsp. of lemon juice – you need some sour flavor)

1/2 cup of almond milk

5-6 ice cubes

optional: 1 tbsp. of agave syrup

Blend everything on high until smooth.

“All of this healthy food tastes like crap,”  – I hear this statement  everyday from my well-meaning, refined food-loving friends. Non-vegetarians say that vegetables have no taste and those who love sweets, claim that fruits are not sweet enough for them. Since most of us are trying to be healthier and eat healthier foods, I want to address this common issue of health versus taste. After thinking about the problem, I came up with four solutions.

   Four ways to make healthy foods taste good:

1. Do not make your healthy foods bland.

Grains, beans and vegetables can be prepared in a multitude of ways. There is way more to vegetarianism than a lonely skinny girl munching on a celery stick, while all of her friends are enjoying a lovely meal of steak and potatoes. To make simple, unrefined foods taste good, experiment with textures and spices. The same vegetable can taste completely different with curry than it does with garlic and basil. Sprinkling nuts or seeds on top of a baked sweet potato, not only adds protein, it also adds crunch.  Having sweet, sour, bitter and spicy flavors all on the same plate tastes unbelievable! Roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale with lemon juice on top and baked spicy tofu is an example of such plate, if you have no idea what  am I talking about. There is a lot more to vegetables, than a salad and there is a lot more salads, than chopped up cucumbers and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce. See my blog for recipe ideas or come up with your own.

2. Bland today doesn’t mean “always bland.”

If you are used to processed artificial junk food, natural foods probably do seem somewhat tasteless to you. The flavors of fried meats and candy bars are simply a lot more intense than any veggie casserole on the planet. If you repeatedly bombard your taste buds with refined, concentrated flavors, they simply would not be able to detect the more subtle tastes of healthier foods.

This is a very common problem,but it has a solution.  You can retrain your taste buds, as they are accustomed to like what you feed them. Back when I used to do nutritional counseling, I would ask my clients who claimed they hated vegetables and every other healthy foods, to refrain form consuming processed junk for two weeks. Since the flavor of meat is very aggressive for the taste buds, it’s better to eat a palm-sized portion of simply prepared meat with no rich sauces no more than three times a week. Do not eat dairy, aside from the occasional yogurt, if you really have to have dairy. To summarize, for two weeks, do not eat anything that comes in a box and cut down your meat and dairy intake. Then see how much better you are able to detect the flavors of the grains, the legumes and the vegetables.

Our taste buds are under constant attack of sugar and refined foods. If you have pop tarts or a bowl of sugary cereal in the morning, you will hardly be able to taste any healthier dishes that come for lunch. The same is true for the kids, by the way. Do not give your kids artificial processed junk foods, heavy meats and dairy and you’d be amazed to see their new love for vegetables. I will write more about this next week.

3. Get your blender out

To get yourself and your family accustomed to simpler and more natural flavors, try smoothies. While the fruity classics are great, try adding some kale to your typical strawberry-banana combo. Or, toss in some spinach and parsley or a bit of celery. Perhaps, a  piece of squash to go with your mango shake? Be creative in getting those health foods into your system.

4. Eat more healthy foods

Whether by blending and juicing or by eating natural foods, the more of them you consume, the more of them you will want to consume. Healthy foods make us feel better immediately, as the body responds with renewed energy, better appearance and better mood. Anybody would like to retain this feeling, so you keep reaching for healthier foods.

If you really want to make yourself and your family healthier, there is really no way around eating more natural, unprocessed foods and less milk, meat and refined artificial junk; and it’s better to start sooner than later. As my husband puts it: “It’s not important what we don’t eat, it’s more important what we choose to eat.” You won’t notice the absence of rice crispies and Fruit loops if you are eating enough berries and pears. You won’t miss heavy meats with sauces if you are nutritionally balanced from eating grains, legumes and vegetables with perhaps, some lighter animal protein. Most importantly, you will feel great and love the taste of simple, natural foods.

Please, let me know if you have any other ideas of how to make healthy foods taste good.

Chia can be used in cooking and baking in a multitude of ways. One of the easiest and most accessible ways is making it into a gel first.

Chia Gel

Take 9 parts water to 1 part Chia seeds. You can also use more water for a less thick gel.

Pour slightly warm water  into a container with a tight-fitting lid.  Slowly pour Chia seeds into the water. Shake the container for 15 seconds. Let stand for a minute and shake again. Soon the mixture will turn into a gel. This gel will store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Chia gel is  slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, regulating and maintaining  healthy blood sugar levels in the body. Including this gel in your daily diet will help you eat less and still feel satisfied. The gel also helps with regularity, as it contains a lot of fiber. The gel works well in smoothies and in baking.

You can modify this recipe and grind the seeds, releasing their  essential fats for better assimilation.

The gel can be added to sauces, drinks, yogurt, salad dressings, cream cheese, jams, jellies, preserves, salsa, hot/cold cereals, yogurt, dips, puddings, soups, or other liquid or creamy foods. Add the gel, mix well and taste. The gel won’t affect the flavor of foods, but will increase its nutritional value. The texture gets smoother with the addition of Chia, while the flavor stays intact. In addition to adding up to 50% to 75% more volume to the foods used, Chia “removes” calories and fat because its gel is 90% water.

If you like to bake, you can use Chia gel as a fat replacer by substituting the oil in your breads with Chia gel. Top your favorite bread dough before baking with Chia gel (for toping on baked goods, breads, cookies, piecrust, etc., reduce the water ration to 8 parts water to 1 part Chia seed) for added shelf life.

Chia Gel can also replace up to half of the butter or oil in any recipe without altering the flavor or the cooking method.

Chia gel or chia seeds can also be added to smoothies or other liquid foods, without being made into the gel first.

Chia seeds can be eaten with almond milk, instead of a cereal.

Chia seeds can replace flax seeds in recipes.

Buy some Chia seed and experiment!

Chia seed is the old-new health food. Nutrient-packed and exceptionally beneficial to health, this tiny seed was used as a staple high-energy, protein-rich food by the Indians  and the Aztecs. Recently, it has been rediscovered and you can find it proudly displayed on a shelf of your local health food store. Why should you buy it?

 

 

Diet

Chia Seeds can help you feel full after eating less food.  The seed is able to absorb 12 times its weight in water. If you mix some Chia seeds with some water and come back after 30 minutes, you’ll notice the mixture becoming gel-like.  The same action happens  in your stomach. The fiber and the gelling  of the seed keeps you feeling fuller longer, therefore replacing the calories you’d normally eat with water.

Chia gel creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down in the stomach, therefore slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. This action stabilizes metabolic changes, reducing the highs and the lows of blood sugar.

Regularity

Chia is packed with soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber sweeps the intestine, keeping the waste products moving. Soluble fiber irrigates the bowels, making digestion easier. Fiber-rich diet also helps reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Cholesterol

Long chain triglycerides can remove cholesterol off of artery walls, but only when eaten in the right proportion. Chia seeds have these long chain triglycerides in the right proportion.

Protein

By weight, the chia seed is 23% complete protein. Chia’s  protein is easily digestible, which is beneficial for athletes, children, adolescents and pregnant and lactating women. The seed contains one and a half to two times the protein concentrations of  grains.

Richest vegetarian source for the essential omega-3 fatty acid

Chia seed is rich in the unsaturated linoleic fatty acid. Chia sees also contain beneficial long-chain triglycerides (LCT) in the right proportion that can help reduce cholesterol on arterial walls. Unsaturated fatty acids help transport oxygen by the blood stream to all cells, tissues, and organs, therefore keeping the body at its optimal condition. Unsaturated fatty acids also help lubricate cells and keep them together (with the help of cholesterol.) Additionally, unsaturated fatty acids are essential for optimal adrenal and thyroid functioning. They nourish the skin, the nerves and the mucous membranes.  The unsaturated fatty acids also cooperate with vitamin D to assist in the assimilation of phosphorus, to make calcium available to bodily tissues, and to turn carotene into vitamin A.

Calcium

The Chia seed is not only rich in calcium, but also in boron, which helps the body to absorb and utilize the calcium.
Nutrient Absorption

Chia seed can absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water.  The absorption of nutrients and body fluid regulation becomes easier with Chia.

Stomach

A lot of people with gastric issues and those who are not able to tolerate certain foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, have reported great success, after using Chia gel regularly.

Healing

The Aztecs used Chia gel to treat their wounds in order to avoid infections and promote haling.

Eye infections

Placing a seed or two in your eyes should clean your eyes  and help to clear up  infections.

Let me know if you know of more benefits of Chia. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to use Chia.

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