If You’ve Gotta Have the Bubbles…

With 2017 having just begun, a number of us are reflecting on how this year will really be the best yet.  In general, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I appreciate that many people like a date to mark the beginning of significant life change.  That date provides motivation and it has a personal meaning.  (Although it wasn’t planned, I even remember the date that I decided to pursue plant-based living over FIVE years ago, which I’ll be writing about next week.  Stay tuned!)

I published my first post to this blog on New Year’s Day 2015, so I truly understand the symbolism of a new year’s seemingly clean slate.  Although raising my two little ones has had more of an impact than I would like on how often I’m able to publish new posts, I’m keeping at it in my own time.  THANK YOU for sticking with me!  🙂

As 2016 dwindled down, I had a lot of people reaching out to me for guidance in diving into a plant-based diet or just eating more healthily in general.  Today’s post is inspired by one such inquiry. We are making over the beloved bubbly beverage soda!

Several months ago, a Facebook friend of mine was looking for a smarter alternative to soda, the one unhealthy item she just couldn’t seem to kick.  She isn’t the first person I’ve chatted with that can’t get enough of the bubbles; when she was getting married, my sister Petra—a longtime Coke lover—registered for a soda stream just to carbonate water in an effort to drink less cola.  I’ve also witnessed a number of friends throughout the years make the switch to diet sodas to hold on to the carbonation without the calories.

I’ve never been in to soda myself, but I definitely see the draw.  It isn’t so much the flavor or the sugar; it’s the bubbles.  They are tingly and refreshing and a welcome alternative to flat beverages like coffee, tea, and water.  I totally get it.  I can’t bear, however, watching people I care about continue to consume high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and dyes, and manmade sweeteners when I know that there is a better way to get that bubbly fix.

When I did consume soda (or pop, as we call it in Michigan) growing up, it was almost always Sprite.  The lemon-lime flavor is light and crisp and seems a perfect match for the bubbles.  So today, I’m making my own version of Sprite.

For starters, I’m using juice from a real lemon and a real lime.  As a result, my soda will be a bit cloudier than commercially produced versions, but I’m alright with that in the name of health.  Although highly dependent on the size of the fruit, the juice from one lemon contains roughly 15-20 calories and 50% of your daily recommended vitamin C and the juice from one lime contains roughly 10-15 calories and 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C.  Adding a couple of teaspoons of this freshly squeezed citrus juice to my soda is adding a negligible amount of calories and a noteworthy amount of vitamin C.  Yes!

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Secondly, I’m using an all-natural, plant-derived sweetener that is lower in calories than cane sugar.  You know that I don’t count calories (when you eat as healthily as I do, you certainly don’t have to), but knowing the facts is important when you’re trying to lose weight or tone up, so that’s why I’m sharing this information with you.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol naturally occurring in the fibers of certain fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and cauliflower.  It contains 10 calories per teaspoon and does not have a significant impact on blood sugar levels.  So, we score again!  (If blood sugar, diabetes, or other issues related to sweeteners is of concern regarding your health and diet, make sure to do your own research on this or any product, of course!)

8 ounces of my lemon-lime soda contains roughly 30-35 calories and no artificial flavors or dyes.  8 ounces of Sprite contains 96 calories and the following ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, and sodium benzoate.  (Check it out on Coca Cola’s website if you need to see for yourself!)  I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of club soda, fresh juice, and xylitol better.

Have a soda stream?  Carbonate your own water and save yourself the sodium often found in club soda.  You could also get through the soda preparation more quickly by simply mixing your sweetener and water and dropping in one of my water infusers, which you’d already have on hand in your freezer.  Sweet!

And one final note, after many trials and tastes tests, I developed a soda formula that hits just enough of the sweet spot for me.  If you’re coming off of a serious soda addiction, you may need to start with a tad more xylitol until your taste buds adjust. 🙂 Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  SODA

  • 8 ounces carbonated water –> I’m using club soda.
  • 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed fruit juice –> I’m using 1.5 tsps lemon and 1.5 tsps lime.
  • 2.5 teaspoons natural, plant-derived sweetener –> I’m using xylitol.
  • OPTIONAL: pure extracts, spices, or herbs* to taste –> I’m not using any today.

*Can you imagine how delicious a sprig of fresh mint would be?!  Yum!

Combine all ingredients and stir until sweetener is dissolved.

Pour over ice.  If you make extra, be sure to stir before serving and keep in mind that like any soda, it may become flatter over time.

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Potato Salad with Fennel, Lemon, and Dill

This square meal is a game-changer!  When I first developed my potato salad formula, I knew it was good, but it wasn’t until I whipped up today’s version that I really fell in love.  Something about the combination of raw fennel, lemon, and dill just says summer.

That taste/feeling of summer is fresh, with bright, light flavors.  In a dish like potato salad that is dense and creamy, this balance is so important, especially when you’re lugging a heavy bowl of the stuff to a hot backyard barbecue.  In addition, if you’ve tried making my potato salad before, you know that unlike its mayo-based distant relatives, mine won’t get all funky after sitting in an outdoor buffet for a couple hours.  Woo!

What’s more, when it comes to my food, the approval of my family and friends means a lot.  I don’t need it per se, but it certainly reaffirms why I take the time try new recipes and write about what I’m eating:  I really have an opportunity to educate others about healthy eating…and share with the world that despite what you may have heard, vegan food is ABSOLUTELY delicious and satisfying.

I write all of this because my brother-in-law, who may as well have started fan club for mayo lovers, put his stamp of approval on today’s recipe.  This is HUGE!

The star in today’s potato salad is fresh fennel.  I love to eat the bulb—the most commonly consumed part of fennel—in a number of ways, but this recipe utilizes only the stalks and fronds (you could use the bulb instead/as well).  I keep it simple with thin slices and mix right in.  Fennel—which looks like a standard vegetable but is actually an herb—is loaded with fiber and potassium, but is notable primarily for its digestive benefits.  Fennel can relieve bloating and gas, as well as stimulate appetite and digestion.  I once visited a vegan restaurant where fennel seeds were served after our meal for this very purpose.

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The last item I want to mention is that I don’t use processed, mock mayonnaise products to substitute for the real deal (I also don’t used processed “cheeses” and “meats” either); I find plant-based whole foods that can be transformed without preservatives, chemical additives, or excess salt to satisfy the craving for animal-based counterparts.  This requires more time in the kitchen, but it is often less expensive, and more importantly, I like to know what I’m eating.  🙂

You.  Will.  Love.  This.  Recipe.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: POTATO SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds potatoes –> I’m using russets.
  • 2 cups diced raw vegetables –> I’m using the stalks and fronds of one medium-sized bulb of fennel and approximately ¼ cup of sliced green onion.
  • A double batch of my creamy salad dressing (see below)
  • ¼ cup crunch (raw seeds, nuts, etc.) (optional) –> I’m not using any since the raw fennel is quite crunch itself.

For the dressing (NOTE: Formula already doubled below.):

  • ½ cup seed or nut butter –> I’m using cashew cream (soak raw cashews overnight and blend with just enough water to form a thick cream).
  • 5 tbsps acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, or a combination) –> I’m 1 ½ tbsps of whole grain mustard, plus the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
  • Thinning liquid as needed (ideas:homemade veggie stock, water, or more acid) –> I’m not using any.
  • Up to 4 tbsps raw garlic and/or fresh/dried herbs and/or spices (optional) –> I’m using ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and 1 tsp dried dill.
  • 1-2 tsps sweetener (optional) –> I’m not using any.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using ½ tsp salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Thoroughly wash your potatoes so that you can keep the skin on. Chop into bite size pieces and steam, boil, or roast (I’m roasting). While your potatoes are cooking, make your dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for the flavors to come together.

When your potatoes are done cooking, drain (if necessary) and place in a glass bowl to chill in the fridge, at least to room temperature. While the potatoes are cooling, chop your veggies and crunch element, if using.  After the potatoes have cooled sufficiently, pour your dressing on top and stir gently to combine. Enjoy for several days (if you have any leftovers!).

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Garden Update II

I’ve written a few times now about how maintaining your own garden can save you tons of money on fresh produce and also allow you to control how your produce is grown (i.e. organic). Our backyard garden has seen its ups and downs as Travis and I continue to learn about making it work in arid Arizona, but most of our plants are going strong. My last update included tomatoes galore and wonderberries!

Winter in Arizona means success for entirely different crops. It’s citrus season here. We recently planted a baby lemon tree which we didn’t expect to produce for several years. Here at only a couple of feet tall, we already have one lemon. Woo!

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Another impressive plant in our garden that has been thriving in both summer and winter is this awkward basil tree. We bought a standard basil plant from Trader Joe’s two years ago and planted what was left of it after nearly picking it clean. There is something about where we decided to plant it in our backyard that is apparently the perfect year-round climate and moisture level for basil. We harvest from this plant rain or shine, cold or hot.

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As you know, we also have a potted herb garden in the front of our house. Some of our herbs have not survived winter, but a few are still green, including this bright parsley plant. Up until recently, I was also regularly harvesting various types of mint leaves for holiday desserts (check out my peppermint cookies and mint chocolate chip brownies, both made with real fresh mint leaves).

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Next, we have a lemongrass plant that just won’t quit. Like the small basil tree, we planted lemongrass years ago and it is nearly the size of a shrub now. We’ve harvested leaves to flavor food and make tea, but I’m thinking I may need to venture into the natural soap and candle worlds. Anyone have tips for DIY bath, body, and home fragrance products?!

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Finally, I’m excited to show you our purple potato plants (excuse the slight blur…I was taking pictures with two-year-old Nolan running around the yard!). The potatoes themselves are, of course, growing underground, but what you see on the surface indicates the progress beneath. Travis says that once flowers appear on these plants and then they die off, that it’s time to dig up the potatoes – I can’t wait. Let me add that growing potatoes couldn’t be easier. Have an old-looking potato with spuds blossoming? Bury it in the backyard and you’re well on your way to more potatoes.

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One of the easiest ways to be healthier (and save money!) is to DIY. Happy gardening!

Clean Drinking Matters, Too

This week, I’m down another pound and a half! I don’t have a progress shot for you because while every little bit matters when you’re trying to lose weight, not all losses are enough for a visible difference. Regardless, I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a short amount of time. I sense that I’m just about to plateau, so I’ll need to step up my game now that I’m feeling worlds better. More on that next week…

For Week Three post-baby, I’m focusing on clean drinking (check out my clean eating tips from last week). What you drink is just as important as what you eat on the journey to improved fitness. Today, I’m sharing with you what I drink on a regular or semi-regular basis. It’s a short list compared to what I don’t drink, but in a nutshell, I stay away from juice (except for occasional freshly pressed), soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy milk, and coffee (coffee only because I don’t like it).

I try to consume beverages that are simple, as natural as possible, and packed with nutrients. Here’s my “do” list:

WATER AND WATER WITH LEMON: I’m not a scientist or nutritionist, but I’d venture a guess that water is the most beneficial liquid that you can put in your body. Living in the desert of Arizona, it’s especially important I am well-hydrated at all times. I don’t leave my house without taking water, even if I’m just running a short errand. While I don’t buy bottled water for environmental reasons, I do filter my water to remove the metallic, chemical-like taste in Arizona tap water. I don’t miss Michigan winters, but boy do I miss drinking delicious water straight from the tap!

Not only do I not leave my house without water, I don’t go to bed without a glass on my bedside table. If I wake up in the middle of the night—which is occurring quite a bit lately with a newborn—I drink water. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is drink water. Drinking cold water, in particular, right when you get up is a great way to get your metabolism revving.

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When I have lemons on hand, I also add lemon to my water and/or tea. Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and lemon in warm water (thus adding it to tea) has even more health benefits. In Arizona’s heat, I am only drinking my tea hot a couple of months out of the year, so most of the time, I am consuming lemon juice cold. You could simply cut a slice and squeeze it into your beverage of choice, or try making my drink infusers. They are quick, easy, and packed with flavor, and because they are frozen, you won’t have to worry about pre-squeezed juice spoilage.

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UNSWEETENED, UNFLAVORED PLANT MILK: It’s not often that I pour myself a glass of say, almond milk, but I love the taste of it enough to drink it all on its own when I’m not adding it to a smoothie or other dish. I love almond milk, but also drink oat, hemp, and cashew. Coconut milk is growing on me and I’m open to trying just about any kind; I’ve seen rice, sunflower, grain, and hazelnut milks, too. The key with buying processed plant milk is to find a brand that is organic, unsweetened, and unflavored. The upside to the processed variety—not often that those words are together in one of my sentences—is that they are often fortified with calcium, containing even more than dairy milk.

The downside, of course, is the processed part. Making your own plant milk is not terribly difficult, but it is somewhat costly. The amount of almonds, for instance, that it takes to make a half gallon of almond milk will likely cost you substantially more than purchasing it premade. There is also texture to consider. Having purchased a Vitamix a few months back, Travis and I are ready to attempt plant milk again, and recently acquired a plant milk bag (a sheer bag with tiny holes for straining) to help us with the job. We have made pumpkin milk in the past (from the seeds), but haven’t experimented with other types yet. I’ll let you know how it goes…

In short, plant milks contain an abundance of nutrients without the cholesterol found in animal milk, and are often lower in calories (if you’re counting) than the other kind, too.

GREEN TEA: You have probably heard that drinking green tea is great for boosting your metabolism and burning fat. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and has been a trusty health tonic in Asia for thousands of years. I was just getting into green tea when I visited my sister and her husband in Tokyo a couple of summers back, and after that, I was hooked. Green tea—and not that canned stuff with all the sugar in it—is available everywhere, hot or iced, and seriously tasted great every time I had it. There may not be any bad tea in Japan. 🙂

After drinking water upon first waking up, I start my day with green tea—typically before I even eat—and drink up to four cups a day. I am lucky to be a morning person and function extremely well without caffeine, so the nominal amount in green tea (when compared to coffee) does not play a role in my decision to drink it; the aforementioned health benefits and the taste make it my tea of choice. Now that I’m no longer preggo, I can go back to making it a regular part of my day.  (This one contains acai berry!)

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BEER AND WINE: Yup, I drink alcohol…not every day, and not a lot, but I do drink it. I love to have a couple beers while watching football or a glass of wine to wind down at the end of a long day. If alcohol consumption is smart and not excessive, there’s no reason why you can’t treat yourself and still lose or maintain weight.

Travis and I try to purchase craft and/or craft and local whenever possible. Quality and taste are important to me if I’m going to splurge on something that I don’t need. Growing up in Michigan—one of the country’s top craft beer destinations—and coming from a family that owns a gourmet food store specializing in some of the rarest and most sought after craft beers makes one a beer snob. Yea, I’m a beer snob…and so is Travis…

…so much so that we often make our own beer and wine just so that we can control the quality and flavor. There are tons of craft beers out there that we love, but when I offer you DIY as a wellness tip, I live up to it in nearly every aspect of what I consume, alcohol included. Turns out that brewing beer and fermenting wine yourself is not as difficult as one might imagine. While I don’t stress about beer and wine being vegan if I purchase it in the store (thankfully, most of it, naturally, is), if I make it myself, I can ensure that there were no animal parts involved in flavoring or stabilizing the product.

Cheers to good health…and enjoying it!

Plant-Based Entertaining for Everyone

I have many times had friends or family over for dinner and prepared an entirely vegan meal with great success. This was only my second time, however, throwing a large party with an extensive plant-based menu that needed to please guests all of all ages and diets. In attendance, I had several vegetarians, one gluten-free eater, and a whole bunch of standard omnivores.

I tried first, to think of foods that it seems everyone likes to eat: fruit, chips, and sweets. Then I thought about how I could make all of those items vegan (and some gluten-free, too), but tasty enough that my guests would never know it…or at least never miss the animal product varieties.

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Here’s what I served:

Chocolate peanut butter truffles: A play on my power ball formula, I used extra cocoa powder and rolled them in unsweetened shredded coconut. Guests said that they were delicious and rich: exactly what I was going for with a truffle!

Mini-fruit kabobs with cinnamon coconut whipped cream: As you know, I’ve been recently delighted to make and try coconut whipped cream in conjunction with my nice cream formula. I added ground cinnamon to this batch – yum!

Mini-chocolate chip cookies: A variation of my chip cookie formula, these were tasty, but a bit crumbly. I was surprised since I’ve made them many times before. Maybe my preggo brain forgot an ingredient?! Very possible. 🙂

Tahini dip: My creamy dressing formula kept extra thick for dipping. It was a crowd favorite.

Roasted fennel hummus: My hummus formula with fennel as the star vegetable was a gamble…and I won (or, I should say, my guests won)!

Lemon raspberry cashew mousse: Remember that failed attempt at vegan cheesecake turned mousse? I served these delightful little cups at my party and several people asked me for the recipe. I’d say they worked out ok after all.

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In addition to fresh fruit, I also served raw veggies, organic blue corn tortilla chips, and two different types of pretzels for dipping. I adorned the tables with small bowls of trail mix for extra munching and had beer and white sangria flowing. Guests seemed happy and full.

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As I mentioned when I threw Nolan’s second birthday party, I’m done serving food that I no longer regularly eat. I hate the idea of potential meat and dairy-based leftovers that threaten to throw me off the wagon (I don’t waste food, ya’ll). Stick to your guns in designing the menu for a party. Remember, guests don’t have to eat your food, but they would definitely be missing out if they didn’t!

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In case you were wondering, the party was a diaper party for Baby #2. Since it isn’t customary to throw a second shower, I wanted to have a more laidback celebration for our family’s final installment. Offering food, booze, and a good time in exchange for diapers was a win-win for all involved…and baby is stocked up for the first year or more of his/her life. Just an idea if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to celebrate a second baby or beyond. 🙂

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15-Minute Waffles

Breakfast for dinner, anyone?  Or, breakfast for breakfast, lunch, or snack?  Any time of day, you can make these waffles in fifteen minutes…or less!  You can also use this formula for pancakes, but those will take a little longer.  🙂

My first pregnancy, I wanted all things savory; this pregnancy, it’s all about the sweet.  Logically, I know that I can’t have dessert for dinner (at least not all the time…), so I’ve had to get my sweet fix in ways that are healthier and still, unfortunately, limited.  High blood sugar = problematic pregnancy.

Last night, I decided on waffles.  My formula includes no sweetener added to the batter itself and I top them with pure maple syrup.  This rich, gooey breakfast essential is packed with antioxidants, manganese, zinc, and calcium.  In addition, for the tree huggers out there (pun intended), harvesting maple syrup does not harm the tree or negatively impact its natural lifespan.  I love this brand of pure maple syrup, which is organic and GMO-free.

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Tonight’s waffles will be of the lemon poppy seed variety.  Poppy seeds are loaded with fiber and are good sources of calcium and copper.  They are easy to add to smoothies, salad dressings, and baked goods.  I often bake bread with poppy seeds and throw them into muffins and other breakfast items, too.

DSC_2179I’m also including rolled oats (see my granola formula) and cornmeal in my batter for a variation in texture.  Cornmeal is an excellent source of protein and fiber and also contains substantial quantities of iron, zinc, and niacin.  Too much cornmeal will leave your waffles/pancakes tasting gritty, but I always add a little to the batter.  I also dust the bottom of my pizza crust to add texture and prevent sticking.  And of course, I use it in making cornbread (another post, another day).

DSC_2178Who said a quick breakfast (or lunch, dinner, or snack!) can’t be delicious, flavorful, and special?  I eat more raw plants than anything else—the ultimate fast food—but like many people, believe that variety is the spice of life!  Believe it or not, I can make these waffles in less time than it takes me to peel and chop my favorite fruits and veggies for a salad.  They are a guilt-free, healthy alternative to my typical diet.

Additionally, this formula would be easy to double, triple, etc. for a big crowd.  If you have some helping hands in the kitchen, you could feed a crowd in no time.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  WAFFLES (OR PANCAKES)

Makes 5 large waffles

  • 1 cup flour  –>  I’m using whole wheat.
  • ½ cup textured grain (i.e. quinoa, oats, cornmeal, etc.)*  –>  I’m using ¼ cup rolled oats and ¼ cup cornmeal.
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened plant milk**  –>  I’m using almond.
  • 2 tbsps flax or chia seeds  –>  I’m using flax.
  • 2 tbsps oil  (just 1 tbsp for pancakes) –>  I’m using coconut.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 tbsps citrus juice  –>  I’m using the juice of 1 small lemon (approximately 2 tbsps).  This ingredient adds brightness, but won’t really add flavor unless you use the full amount and the zest.  I want to taste the lemon, so I’m using the juice and zest of the whole fruit.
  • EXTRAS (optional):  raw seeds, nuts, fruit***, etc.  –>  I’m using ½ tsp poppy seeds.

*Don’t want to alter the texture?  Just use extra flour.  🙂

**Since pancakes take longer to make, you will want to keep extra milk nearby to thin the batter as necessary throughout cooking.

***I find that putting fruit into the batter causes a lot of sticking in my waffle maker; I use fruit to top waffles instead, but would put it directly into the batter to make pancakes.

Preheat your waffle iron.  If you are zesting citrus, be sure not to go past the top layer.  The white pith underneath is bitter.

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Combine all ingredients with a whisk.

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Prepare waffles according to iron directions.  Place on a cooling rack to prevent sogginess on the bottom of the waffles if they won’t all be consumed immediately.

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Top with fresh fruit, raw nuts or seeds, maple syrup, etc.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge, but will likely lose their crispiness.

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Ice Cold Water, Tea, & Smoothie Infusers

Today’s post features an idea I took from my sister, Petra, author of lifestyle blog 100 Tacks.  She has admitted to me on several occasions that she just doesn’t drink enough water, sometimes even forgetting to stay hydrated in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  While she doesn’t “dislike” the taste of plain old water, she’d rather drink other varieties.  Petra bought a Soda Stream not to make soda, but to carbonate her water.  Sometimes she drinks mineral water.  Other times, she infuses her water with fruit or herbs.

Infusing water has become increasingly popular, especially for those like Petra.  She told me that she will freeze ice cube trays with lemon juice and pop them into ordinary water for a slow release of added flavor.  Today, I’ll be making ice cube infusers that include citrus juice and herbs, whole fruits, and veggies.  When the cube melts, you can eat the “prize” inside!  🙂

For these cubes, I use citrus juice that comes from fruit I would never consider eating whole.  For instance, while you could make these cubes with orange juice, I’d rather just eat an orange; I’m never, however, going to chow down on a lemon or lime, so their juice makes for great infuser cubes.  Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of these super foods:

LEMON:  Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, lemon juice can prevent/fight many diseases and ailments, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney stones, constipation, and indigestion.  Lemon juice also promotes healthy hair, teeth, and gums, can ease pain, fade scars, and more.  Although unrelated to nutrition per se, lemon juice is a popular all-natural household cleaning product if you’re trying to use fewer chemicals.

LIME:  Lime juice is also packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and like lemon juice, can assist with constipation and indigestion.  It can also relieve oral ulcers, congestion, nausea, and body odor, and rejuvenate hair.  It protects eyes, aids in weight loss, and is instrumental in preventing/fighting diseases such as scurvy and heart disease.

You can freeze lemon and lime juice—ideally with as much of their pulp as possible—alone, but I like to take the flavor profile up a notch by adding in yummy extras like fresh mint, cucumbers, or fruit.  As the cubes slowly melt, their flavors will release into your water or iced tea.

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I also love the idea of dropping these into piping hot tea to get it to a more drinkable temperature more quickly…and with more flavor!  And smoothies need some icy element, right?  While I typically freeze fruit to avoid needing to use ice, these infusers would be an extra punch of flavor and nutrition in the blender, too.

A few tips:

  1. Buy/grow/obtain more citrus fruit than you think you’ll need.  I ended up juicing two lemons and seven limes to make just one ice cube tray’s worth of infusers.
  2. Check your juice for seeds or seed particles than may have fallen through the grates of the juicer.  The seeds are bitter.
  3. Don’t make too many of one infuser combination unless you’re 100% certain you’re going to like it; it would be a shame to waste the cubes!
  4. Play around with flavors that appeal to you, inspired by combinations you already know you like or think that you will like.  Consider fruit salads, cocktails, mocktails, and teas that you’ve tasted.

Hopefully, these flavor infusers will help you on your quest to drink more water.  I always have a glass around and don’t even leave the house without filling up a bottle.  Cheers!

FORMULA BASE:  WATER INFUSERS

Makes 1 ice cube tray of infusers

  • Approximately 1 ¼-½  cups freshly-squeezed citrus juice  à  I’m using lemon juice for some cubes and lime for the majority (I just happen to have more limes!).
  • 1 cup additives (i.e. fruits, veggies, herbs, etc.) (optional)  à  I’m using strawberries and blueberries in my lemon cubes and two different combinations in my lime cubes:  cucumber + mint and mint + blueberry.

Juice your citrus fruits and check for seeds or seed particles.  Place any additives that you’re using, if any, in the ice cube tray compartments.  Fill the compartments the rest of the way with juice.

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Freeze and enjoy in fresh water, iced tea, hot tea, or smoothies.

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Simple and Delicious Kale Crunch Salad

DSC_1604On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon to visit friends, I was surrounded by restaurants boasting the plant-based cuisine I love to eat. My friend, Danielle, told my husband, Travis, and I that kale was literally everywhere, including sitting on the pavement outside of her car one night! She said that nearly every restaurant offered a kale salad of some kind and that got me thinking about a kale salad recipe that I really enjoyed back in Arizona.

Another friend, Lissa, introduced me to a yummy kale salad recipe that she obtained from a colleague. The salad was simple, with the only vegetable being the kale itself. It was dressed in a mix of lemon juice and olive oil and topped with finely grated parmesan cheese. This recipe inspired my Green Salad Formula, which is a healthier, plant-based version of the greens.

When I make a green salad, I like for the only vegetable to be greens so that I’m consuming a large quantity of them. Kale, in particular, is high in fiber, iron, and calcium and packed with antioxidants. A true super food! This mix boasts a variety of organic baby kale leaves that are more palatable in a salad than their adult counterparts.

DSC_1581I add a little protein and crunch to my kale salad with the addition of raw sunflower seeds, almonds, and cashews. Cashews mimic the flavor of parmesan cheese, so I use them as a cholesterol-free substitute.

DSC_1585Finally, I make a lemon vinaigrette dressing for this salad that is fat free. The aforementioned kale with parmesan salad includes a dressing that is largely oil and in my opinion, too fattening when paired with cheese, or in this case, nuts. I add a hint of agave syrup to balance the tartness of the lemon juice and no oil whatsoever. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: GREEN SALAD

Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as a side

  • 4 cups fresh greens –> I’m using a mix of baby kale leaves.
  • ¼ cup raw seeds and chopped nuts –> I’m using 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, 1 tbsp almonds, and ¼ cup cashews
  • 2 tbsp dressing of choice –> I’m using a homemade lemon vinaigrette.
  • DRESSING:
    • Juice of ½ of a lemon
    • 1 tsp agave syrup
    • ¼ tsp onion powder
    • ¼ tsp garlic powder
    • One grind fresh black pepper
    • Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt

Mix the salad dressing with a small whisk and set aside.

DSC_1591Put the nuts through a nut grinder or chopper, or finely chop by hand.

DSC_1588Toss the kale in the lemon vinaigrette and top with the sunflower seeds and chopped nuts.

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