Cheezy & Creamy Avocado Sauce with Veggie Noodles

I love a good pasta, I mean who doesn’t right?! I love every type of noodle: fettucine, angel hair, macaroni, gnocchi and every type of sauce: marinara, alfredo, pesto to name just a few. In my quest to alkalize my diet I had to find a place for pasta and sauce, or at least a delicious and satisfying alternative. Months ago a friend shared a recipe with me from Hungry Girl which uses avocados in an alfredo sauce recipe. The avocados offer a creaminess to the alfredo sauce along with healthy fats and nutrients. Using avocados as my base I’ve created a delicious, raw sauce which tastes divine especially served with veggie noodles. The sauce is incredibly easy to make which makes this entire recipe a breeze to whip up in a pinch. The basic sauce includes avocado, almond milk, raw cashews, nutritional yeast (although not a raw ingredient it adds an extra cheesiness) garlic, salt, and pepper. DSC04120DSC04122

Turn on the blender and voila – sauce is ready to pour!

The blender will actually warm up the sauce a bit, but for those not too focused on a raw sauce can nuke it in the microwave for 15 seconds or in a saucepan at a very low heat. Pour the sauce over broccoli slaw & julienned carrots and stir.

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Cheezy & Creamy Avocado Sauce

1/2 avocado

1/4 – 1/2 c. almond milk (unsweetened)

1 – 2 T nutritional yeast (more if you’d like to add some cheesiness)

1/8 c raw cashews

1 T minced garlic (I LOVE garlic so feel free to use less if you aren’t as in love with it as me)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

Blend the ingredients – add more cashews if you’d like to thicken it or add almond milk to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. ENJOY! DSC04118

Do you have a favorite pasta sauce or recipe? If you do I’d love for you to share it with me!

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Creamy, Green, Alkalizing Smoothie

I have my boyfriend to thank for the obsession of craving a smoothie everyday. He introduced me to the power of the magic bullet and taught me the tricks of the trade including the ability to mask spinach in a berry banana smoothie. I’ve slowly begun to upgrade his original recipe to include more and more greens, in an attempt to create a highly alkalizing smoothie.

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This is a delicious and filling mid-morning snack and gives me a chance to load up on vitamins and minerals in one fell swoop. This powerhouse smoothie gives me a lot of energy and keeps me full on those days when I need to have a late or lite lunch. Here’s the recipe for my favorite green smoothie adapted from Kris Carr’s Green Guru Smoothie. I love the Amazing Grass Green SuperFoods Berry Powder and I add a scoop in my recipe. It has wonderful greens such as spirulina, wheatgrass, alfalfa, and organic chlorella (which benefits were shown on Dr. Oz). Not to mention it has a lot of antioxidant ingredients like goji berries and maca.

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Creamy, Green, Alkalizing Smoothie

1 banana

1 grapefruit

1/2 avocado

1 kiwi

1 bunch of kale

2 – 3 handfuls of mixed greens (I usually have romaine and spinach in my blend)

1 -2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 – 2 cups filtered water

1 scoop Amazing Grass Green SuperFood Berry Powder (I love all the nutritious benefits of this powder and the added flavor is a particularly great bonus)

This recipe makes 2 large servings, it will keep for a day or two in the fridge so you can have one serving the day you make it and the final serving the next day!

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Observe the creamy green smoothie!

I adjust my liquids based on my desired smoothie thickness. What about you? Do you have a smoothie recipe you are in love with and would prefer not to go without? I’d love for you to share your recipes or experiments with me!

Berry Baklava Granola

The flavor in this granola was a happy accident as are many things in this life I love.

My friend, Michelle, and I decided to embark on a quest to make some delicious granola the other night and were inspired by the Cherry Almond Paleo Granola from the fantastic blog Cook Eat Paleo. We rounded up our ingredients and got to work. I am a lover of nuts and seeds and especially a unique variety so as she chopped one set of nuts I just kept adding more. We ended up with a great variety of almonds, macadamia nuts (which amazing help benefits can be read about here), pecans, pumpkin seeds,  and sunflower seeds. We also had a nice variety of dried berries including cherries, blueberries, cranberries and goji berries (which are another super fruit you can read about here). We included a mixture of finely shredded coconut and coconut chips. The chips are larger and add a nice texture to the granola while the shredded coconut coated the berries which gave it an interesting flavor. In all honesty we just both had two different types of coconut and decided why the heck not use both. It was a great idea.

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Now comes the sauce, the delicious and surprising sauce which somehow managed a sweet, buttery flavor that was completely unexpected! It started with some agave nectar, vanilla flavoring and coconut oil I added in a hefty amount more vanilla (my bottle was so close to being empty I decided I might as well just use the whole thing right?!) and then a dash of cinnamon which turned into a hyphen instead. Hehe, okay so this joke may not be funny to anyone, but me, but when I googled to see “what is more than a dash” in order to get the right descriptor for the amount of cinnamon I put in the answer was “a hyphen” so I’m just going with it. Hey, it’s kind of late tonight and I’m in that kind of a silly, everything makes me giggle, kind of mood. DSC04140

I also added some sea salt which is more coarse than fine. While doing a little taste testing of the sauce before pouring it over the granola mix we came to a consensus. It tasted like… something. Something delicious and sweet and we just couldn’t put our taste bud on it. And then Michelle decided it tasted like baklava and she was right (we had four women in the kitchen who can attest to this). Something about the melding of creamy coconut oil and the hint of caramel in the agave nectar with the tang in the salt and cinnamon spice just became the perfect baklava storm. We poured it over the granola and proceeded to share the remnants in the bowl among the us all. DSC04141

It’s a simple treat, just a little chopping, some stirring and voila – you have some amazing nutrient rich granola to partake in.

Now of course you have three choices at this point:

1 – Take a spoon and dig in (minor assembly was required).

2 – Spread evenly in a cake pan and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.

3 – Spread it onto your dehydrator sheets at dehydrate for 8-10 hours. (My fellow raw foodies will love this option I’m sure).

We chose to bake it and ended up with a delicious toasted and roasted granola filling the kitchen with scents of a berry baklava treat appropriate morning, noon or night!

I hope you take this recipe, make this recipe and then share what you thought, your edits and/or additions! J’aime (I love) exploring this granola recipe with friends and I hope you will too!

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Berry Baklava Granola

2 cups almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/8 cup dried cranberries

1/8 cup dried sour cherries

1/8 cup dried blueberries

1/8 cup dried goji berries

Sauce:

3-4 Tablespoons coconut oil

3 Tablespoons agave nectar

1-4 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon sea salt

Dash (-) and then Hyphen ( — )  of cinnamon

Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes stirring it every ten minutes.

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She’ll be waiting in Istanbul – Part One

If the love of your life invites you to join him for holiday in Istanbul there’s really only one answer… I’ll be waiting in Istanbul. My boyfriend had a recent amazing triumph and part of our celebration included an extended weekend in Istanbul, Turkey. P1010565

I have never considered myself a world traveler although in my heart I’ve always longed to be. I took my first plane trip ever to London when I was in college. Yes, my first flight was literally jumping over the sea. Perhaps that is one reason why the lyrics from the Avett Brothers song, Slight Figure of Speech means so much to me “a jet plane and a big idea, I jump over the sea”. After London I visited Senegal, West Africa and have also been to the Bahamas and late last year was able to visit Oxford, Belgium and north France. Yes, I know many will read that list and think I have traveled many places, but I find I have an insatiable hunger to explore. I especially love exposing myself to others’ cultures, mindsets and perspectives in the cities where I am traveling. I love engrossing myself in the amazing buildings and art, the warm people and the culinary fares wherever I am. Istanbul did NOT disappoint. P1010485P1010548P1010504P1010555

Istanbul is quite possibly the most amazing city I’ve ever visited. It had everything you might want in a city – amazing architecture, engaging history, simply lovely people and a dessert menu focused on an abundant amount of sweet, flaky pastry with nuts, not to mention a way of life where tea time and coffee time are a social art form. This last part bodes very well for me as I love nothing more than sitting with a hot drink in my hand in conversation with the one I love.

Even though I consider myself an amateur travel researcher because I love nothing more than spending months and months learning about a place before I arrive, I didn’t spend as much time researching Istanbul. I was fortunate enough to have a friend loan me the Lonely Planet’s travel book for Istanbul which I would HIGHLY recommend for anyone ready to travel to this enchanting city. I spent the last couple of days leading up to our flight devouring the book and getting that much more excited about our upcoming trip. We rarely left our hotel without it!

We were fortunate to find a great deal at the Turvan Hotel which turned out to be just perfect. It had an amazing breakfast buffet included in the price and was within walking distance of everywhere we wanted to go. It also had a Turkish bath and massage in the hotel which we weren’t able to fit into our schedule, but looked like it was worth making the reservation the next time around. The breakfasts had traditional Turkish options including fresh veggies, roasted eggs and veggies, hard-boiled eggs, bread and an assortment of homemade jams and even a homemade sweetened hazelnut spread which I spread on my bread every morning with relish.

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Our first full day in Istanbul we were able to see some many wonderful things. We started with a walk in the Topkapi Gardens were I saw the most beautiful tulips and flowers. P1010483According to one of the locals Holland actually got their tulips from Turkey, my disclaimer is I haven’t verified this, but after seeing the flowers, it is hard to doubt it.

We spent the remainder of the day in the midst of some of the most inspiring buildings I’ve ever been in.

The Hagia Sophia P1010490 & the Blue Mosque P1010534.

Both buildings were full of amazing art and tile work. I feel as if these pictures can’t do them justice so I suggest everyone buy a plane ticket and see them in person. P1010502 P1010503 P1010501 P1010528 P1010525 P1010532 P1010526

We really loved the Byzantine artwork on the walls in Hagia Sophia and the tile art in the Blue Mosque was breathtaking. Fun fact about Hagia Sophia: Sophia is the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for “wisdom” the full name being the “Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God” – thanks Wikipedia!

We had lunch at a restaurant near the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque which were built within a stone’s throw of one another. They didn’t have seating available in the main area of the restaurant and so we were lucky enough to get a seat on the balcony which was just big enough for one table and our two chairs. I took this shot of Patrick with the Blue Mosque in the background. P1010517

We dined on doner kebap and Turkish tea called cay – pronounced like chai, which we had at every meal, it’s a Turkish thing. P1010521   P1010522

I haven’t had lamb since I was in junior high and hadn’t had meat for a few years (unless you count my annual partaking of turkey on Thanksgiving, this girl loves food customs despite her healthy eating habits). The kebap was delicious on the warm pita bread. It was a perfect lunch with the perfect setting.

Another can’t miss place to visit in Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern. P1010510Originally the cistern was a courtyard facing the Hagia Sophia and there at one time were several hundred cisterns in Istanbul. This was where we had our pictures taken as sultan and hmmm, me? We never actually were told what I was… a sultan princess maybe. Sure, I’ll call myself a princess, I felt like one. We walked around the cistern and were able to locate the peacock column which has the hole which supposedly gives you good luck and health if you stick your finger in it. P1010514    The other column of interest in the cisterns are the heads of Medusa which are easy to find as you just need to follow the crowds. If you look closely you can see the snakes as her hair carved into the stone. I really loved these pieces. P1010515P1010516

Our dinner was served with a view, a view of Asia to be precise. We ate on the rooftop with a view of north Istanbul and Istanbul the Asian side. P1010541It was exciting to see and I loved the ambiance. We enjoyed the local Istanbul beer, Efes and had some delicious broccoli pizza, the crust was especially delicious. P1010538 P1010539   P1010542

We ended the evening with same amazing pecan baklava, cay and water pipe at a favorite café near our hotel. It became a favorite after we spent several hours sitting at the café the evening before, and were given some delicious homemade baklava. P1010547 It is hard to believe this entire post covered only one day of our adventures in Istanbul, especially considering what a relax pace we took. It was a productive day and left the rest of the trip for even more time for talking, reading, and drinking cay. I’ll post part two of our Istanbul adventure soon!

My attempt to find my glow

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates
I am a dabbler in all things new. I’ve always loved the idea of uniqueness being a way to identify who I am. I love my unique name, unique personality and will willfully choose opposite of others when ordering at a restaurant just so I have a unique dish. Yep, I’ll go that far. My drive for individuality usually has meant I will try anything and love constant change, which is pretty much true. So as I research and learn about new things especially when it comes to healthy living I’m always game for a new experiment and experience. Which brings me to my newest adventure: juicing.

Getting the glow with a spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, pear, grapefruit, ginger juice

Getting the glow with a spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, pear, grapefruit, ginger juice

I can’t really name a specific moment when I started thinking about adding juicing to my diet. I had been reading quite a few different health books and cookbooks which were focused on eating raw and a vegan diet. I’m a huge fan of the local library in Oklahoma City. The variety of health books has fascinated me and it led me to coming across the book by Kris Carr, “Crazy Sexy Diet”. I’m still exploring the book and her alkalizing ways, but have explored her recipes included in the book, specifically: Make Juice Not War Green Drink. The science behind an alkalizing diet and the desire I had to give have a good cleanse led me to start with something simple like having a green juice every morning.

My dear sweet friend had a juicer she wasn’t using at the moment and so I thought the best way to venture down this path (and most economical) was to borrow the appliance and see if I would use it before I made the investment. I found out that the juices would only last a few days in the fridge, but would maintain a majority of their health benefits and add some convenience to my routine if I froze them. I decided to make a month’s worth of daily green juices in one day. The grocery bill was quite a bit higher that week as I bought all of my supplies, but I reminded myself it was for an entire month’s of sweet life giving nectar and it made it easier to handle. Not to mention I wouldn’t be purchasing my normal breakfast ingredients since the juice was to be my breakfast instead, all in all the price point was not too much of a factor in this adventure.

Day of juicing  I had a large pitcher to mix my juices in as I went through the veggies and fruits and had a large amount of tubberware to hold the frozen juice. I basically followed the Make Juice Not War recipe which is linked earlier in the blog. I did add a little bit of my own ingredients because I had a few grapefruits around and decided to throw them in along with fresh ginger. Overall the juice was delicious and there was enough of a variety between all my juicing that they didn’t taste exactly the same.

After a month of daily juices I am completely hooked and have been able to successfully pull off two more days of weekly juicing since then. Juicing day is a sticky day and kind of time consuming, but all in all I really think it is worth it and can feel the glow. I had a big trip I was trying to get ready for so I did a few days of juicing for two meals of the day with a raw dinner and my loving boyfriend who I hadn’t seen in three months couldn’t stop complimenting me how good I looked when we were finally reunited. It was kind of a “je ne sais quoi” moment which literally is French for, “I don’t know what”. He was pretty much saying I don’t know what has changed about you, but I can see an improvement. He knew I got the glow 🙂

I’m getting ready to have another juice cleanse next week as I’ve just returned from some amazing travels to London and Istanbul and my body could use a digestive vacay. I’ll post more about those travels soon!

What about you? Has anyone ever tried a juicing cleanse or read any books on the subject. I’d love to hear some more advice, opinions or insight on the subject. Not to mention please share any juicing recipes you have!