Monday, April 7, 2014

Almond butter smoothie that tastes like heaven and 5 ways to reduce stress

(cc) The Fit Housewife
I'm so thankful that I found this almond butter smoothie recipe. It is like heaven in your mouth. Not that I know what heaven is like but if I could only imagine...this would be it. After an extremely stressful week both at work and personally, I found myself wanting comfort and this smoothie definitely did the trick. Suffice it to say that the work stress turned out to be good and the personal stress, well I can't go into detail but lets just say that after 3 1/2 years of litigation, my brother is a happy man~ and for my own personal health issue last week, the doctor says I'm 100% healthy, just need to chill out and not be so stressed. Well, isn't that just icing on the cake. You would think a yogini, meditating, eating healthy person like me would have a handle on this stress thing. Guess not. Guess my body can only take so much as well.

I scoured the Internet thinking I would find the holy grail of how to reduce stress only to come to the conclusion, I'm already doing the scientifically proven ways to reduce stress. So what gives? Turns out that even if you are doing all the right things, sometimes your body just needs to rest and you just need to give in to the fact that some days/weeks/months are more stressful. For a Type A like myself, it's hard for me to give in the fact that even though I'm taking care of myself, I still can only take so much. I will say that despite all the stress last week, I feel like I handled it better than I've handled stressful situations in the past. Here are the things I did to reduce my stress last week and I have to admit, they all helped, even if just a little bit:

  1. Meditate - simply slowing down your monkey mind can help you to be able to get through even the most difficult situations. 
  2. Do some yoga - even if you can't get to a gym, you can do a few poses in your living room/bedroom/hallway - wherever you have space
  3. Get a massage - I have found an amazing massage therapist that only charges $30 an hour and yes, she is amazing. She believes if you charge less, people will be able to come more often. She's right. I've already booked my next massage in a couple of weeks and then one in May. Yeah! 
  4. Chew gum - yep. Gum. The mere act of chewing releases more blood to the brain and helps you calm down. 
  5. Exercise - I could go on and on about this but I firmly believe in exercise. On Friday I was super tired but I forced myself to go the gym. An hour later, I felt like a new person. I had a brighter outlook on life, felt more invigorated and able to take on anything! 
  6. (Bonus) Eat well - I try to follow this but sometimes I don't do so well. The last few posts have focused on the theme that I am emotionally eating at times. I tend to crave sweets when I'm stressed and then get upset with myself for caving in. I just need to accept the fact that lately I haven't been as good with food as I should be and the consequences of that are I weigh a little bit more. The doc says I'm a great weight - even a little on the low end, so that's good but to make sure I don't get on the high end, I need to admit what I'm doing and then "gasp" do something about it (like eat less and not binge on sweets). I know I can do this and when I do, I feel a lot better. We all go through these cycles and guess what, we all have good and bad days/weeks/months. This last month has not been the best for me but I know I will recover and get back on track. Until then, I am confessing my faults in hope that will help me to get back to where I need to be. 
And now what you all have been waiting for...the amazing almond butter smoothie 

1 cup of Coconut Water
1 tbsp almond butter
2 dates, pitted
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
Vega Viva vanilla protein smoothie
1 tbsp Bob's Red Mill ground flax seed meal
1/3 tsp chia seeds

Mix everything together in a blender and enjoy! If you let the smoothie sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge it will not only get colder but also become thicker as the chia seeds start to soak up the liquids. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

A dessert recipe inspired by the farmer's market and the top 5 health benefits of blueberries

It's officially Spring! This weekend was the opening of the Grand Prairie Farmers Market and with this opening came the inspiration for this weeks recipe and blog. As my husband and I walked and talked to the farmers at the farmers market, I couldn't help but be inspired by those that worked the land in order for me to eat. It could not have been a more perfect weekend. Amazing weather, people and food. My only complaint...I had more recipes I wanted to make then I had time. Guess there is always tomorrow.
Grand Prairie Farmers Market, veggies from Canton, Texas (tomatoes grown hydroponically)
Wanting to continue with the theme of using whole foods, I found myself also wanting to experiment with a recent food purchase. I'm not sure if you are guilty of this but I'm a health food store shopaholic. I love going to the more grocery stores like Central Market, Whole Foods, Cox Farms Market and Sprouts and looking around to see what new foods I can use to experiment with.
Grand Prairie Farmers Market - Farmer from Canton, Texas
I have a bad habit of buying something, it's usually a must have at the time, bringing it home and then not really knowing what to do with it, putting it on a shelf and forgetting about it. This happened with a recent purchase of agar powder. I actually got this from Vitacost. It's my go to online health food store and since I was able to get this pretty cheap, I figured, I had to have it but then didn't know what I wanted to use it in. I finally was inspired today when I saw a recipe for using agar powder and blueberries to make an amazing spring dessert recipe.

Agar powder is a sea mineral that is used in place of gelatin. This is great for those of us that eat mostly vegan and want a little more nutrients than the processed gelatin. According to Fitday:
"Agar is a good source of calcium and iron, and is very high in fiber. It contains no sugar, no fat and no carbohydrates. It is known for its ability to aid in digestion andweight loss. It carries toxic waste out of the body. It is also used in some parts of the world to treat hemorrhoids. Other benefits associated with agar are its ability to reduce inflammation, calm the liver, and bring relief to the lungs. It is also considered a mild laxative and not recommended for those with weak digestion or loose stools".

So now you know why I wanted to use agar but what about blueberries? I've been on a blueberry kick lately. I think it has to do with the onset of spring and knowledge that summer is just around the corner. Blueberries are some of my favorite summer foods. Blueberries also are great for your body. 
  1. Blueberries are an antioxidant and reduce the signs of aging. 
  2. They are packed with vitamins C, E, riboflavin, niacin and foliate. 
  3. They help with weight loss because they may increase metabolism and since they are low on the glycemic index, they help you control your blood sugar levels which helps with cravings. 
  4. Blueberries are great for your brain. Research has shown that daily consumption can halt Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 
  5. One cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, 15% of the daily recommended dose. More fiber helps with digestion, fight cancer, lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss because you feel fuller longer. 
This recipe is based on Terry Walter's Blueberry Kanten recipe with a little twist to reduce the calories and make it a wee bit more healthy.
Blueberry Kanten with Tofu Cream
Serves 8
Kanten (recipe by Terry Walters)
3 cups apple juice
3 tablespoons agar powder
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
2 cups of frozen blueberries

In a large pot over medium-high, bring juice to boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in agar powder (or flakes), salt and apple cider vinegar. Continue stirring until powder has dissolved. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes and feels like the powder will never dissolve but be patient, it will. Remove from heat, add blueberries and transfer to a glass 9x13-inch casserole dish. Refrigerate until firm (about 45 minutes). Remove from fridge and puree with handheld blender until texture is similar to mousse. 

Tofu Cream (adapted from Terry Walters' recipe)
18 ounces extra firm silken tofu
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup almond butter (or cashew butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
15 or so liquid drops of stevia (more or less to taste)
2 tsp non-GMO cornstarch 
3 tbsp almond milk

Drain tofu, wrap in towels and press out excess water. Place in food processor and whip until smooth. Add apple juice, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, sea salt and stevia and process until smooth. 

Combine almond milk and cornstarch in a small pot. Over medium heat whisk continuously until thick (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat and add to tofu, process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for about one hour. Add on top of the Kanten and enjoy!