Simple Nutritious Breakfast

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Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast options. It allows for a lot of creativity (if you wish) or can be very simple. It is very easy to make at home or while traveling and packs a lot of nutrition for a good morning. Freshly squeezed juice goes great with it for an extra boost of energy and vitamins that will keep you going until lunch. If you choose non-organic produce for the juice, remember to peel the skins off.

Ingredients for oatmeal:

¾ cups of rolled oats (use gluten free oats if gluten is your enemy)

3 T chia seeds (great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids)

1 cup of warm water (you can add more if you want oatmeal less thick)

1-2 T of sweetener of choice (I like to use maple syrup)

fresh fruit of choice

a handful of nuts of choice (optional)

Directions:

In a bowl mix oats, chia seeds and water. Let stand for 3-5 minutes until water is absorbed. Mix in sweetener of choice and nuts. Decorate with fruit of choice. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients for red juice presented in the picture:

2 medium beets

6 medium carrots

2 apples

1 lemon

1-2 inches of ginger root

Directions:

Wash and cut all produce and squeeze in a juicer. You will get 16-20 ounces of juice. You can drink everything or refrigerate half of it in a closed container for later. It will stay fresh for 2 to 3 days.

Red Lentil Soup

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This is a favorite soup in my house so far. Kids love to eat it with noodles or rice, adults eat it as it is. It’s great for cold winter days, but we really like it any time of the year. Very easy and quick to make. Perfect for busy families looking for a simple nutritious meal. It freezes well too.

 

Ingredients for 6-8 servings:

2 T coconut oil

1 medium onion chopped

1 small fresh (or frozen and thawed) tomato chopped

2 medium carrots peeled and coarsely chopped

1 small zucchini coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh parsley coarsely chopped

1 cup dry red lentils

4 T tomato paste

6 cups of water

2 T cumin

salt and pepper to taste

lemon (optional)

 

Directions:

In a large pot heat coconut oil. Add onion, tomato and cumin. Cover and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and drain lentils. Add carrot, zucchini, parsley, lentils and water to the pot. Stir, bring to a boil and then cook covered for 25 minutes on low heat. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, noodles or rice. Enjoy.

Raspberry Lemon Mini Cheesecake

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This delicious desert is raw, vegan, and gluten free. It’s been tested on my family, kids, and friends and everyone loves it, even hard core meat eaters who have no desire to try being vegan. I like to make it in the morning so it is ready to enjoy later in the afternoon or evening. Remember to soak cashews overnight, so they are ready in the morning.

 

Ingredients for 12 mini cheesecakes:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup soft pitted dates
  • 5 cup soaked (at least four hours or overnight) and drained raw cashews
  • 5 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • juice from 1 big lemon
  • 9 tablespoons of maple syrup or agave syrup
  • zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

 

Directions:

In a food processor with an S blade process almonds and dates for about 1 minute until they are combined and stick together. Transfer to silicone cupcake molds and form a thin layer of crust. Put in the freezer to harden. Place remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. You may have to stop several times and scrape down the sides. If your blender is not very powerful you may add a little bit of water or plant milk to reach smooth consistency. But try not to add too much. Once ready pour the mixture over crust, smooth the tops with a spoon and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours. Take out of the freezer 15-30 minutes before serving and decorate with fresh berries. Enjoy!

Create your own smoothie

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Do you drink smoothies for breakfast? Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Do your kids like smoothies? Or maybe you would like to start making your own smoothies but you don’t really know what or how much of what to blend in order to make a palatable one.

I like to be creative with my smoothies so every day I drink something a little different. However, I always follow some simple rules that I am going to share with you. Just to make a full disclosure, the smoothies I create are not low calorie, or low sugar. But they are made with fresh and organic ingredients. Recently I like to experiment with super powders and adaptogens. For a post work out recipe I also like to add some protein powder. Moon Juice brand is my favorite, as it is made from organic and raw ingredients that are sourced responsibly. If you are new to making smoothies I suggest you use sweeter fruit and milder greens like spinach or lettuce. That’s what I make for my kids – more fruit, less greens, and no or minimal super powders. As your taste buds get used to real unprocessed food, you can lower sugar content and increase amount of greens you put in your smoothies. You are in full control of what you put into your blender.

When I make a big smoothie for myself, I usually use the NutriBullet . It is convenient as you can drink straight from the cup you use for blending. If I make a smoothie for my three kids I use a high speed blender.

Here is what goes into my smoothies. Amounts given are for one big smoothie.

  1. Three to four handfuls of fruit. I put two or three kinds of fruit, so for example I put one medium banana and two handfuls of blueberries; or one pear and a handful of frozen cherries.
  2. A handful of nuts or seeds for healthy fat and protein.
  3. 2 soft dates for sweetness. You can skip this if you watch your sugar.
  4. Super powders or protein powder. This is totally optional, but I like to add extra power to my smoothies. I choose two or three from super foods like spirulina, wheat grass powder, maca root powder, acai powder or any Moon Juice dusts.
  5. A handful or two of greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, or sprouts.
  6. About 8 oz. of liquid of choice. Either filtered water, coconut water, nut milk, or freshly squeezed juice.

Here is an example of what I blended the other day.

1 medium banana

2 handfuls of fresh or frozen blueberries

1 handful of cashews

2 soft dates

1 teaspoon of maca powder

1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder

2 handfuls of spinach

8 oz of home made nut milk

Let me know how your smoothie creations are coming up.

Happy blending.

Basic Nut Cheese

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For many people who consider going vegan, the hardest part is giving up cheese. No wonder, dairy cheese is addicting. Fortunately, nowadays there are more and more vegan cheeses popping up on the shelves of grocery stores. There are also several outstanding books on how to make vegan cheeses at home. The two I highly recommend are: Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner and This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt. These ladies have years of experience in making vegan cheeses and dishes and their recipes are truly outstanding.

But for all of you who never tried making your own cheese at home I have my staple recipe that I tried and tweaked over the last four years. You can use any kind of nuts for this recipe. Most popular would be cashews, almonds, or macadamia, but I also tried pine nuts and walnuts. Walnuts will not give that white color you see in the picture, but are still tasty. To make this cheese fully raw remember to use raw nuts. And as always use organic when possible, as it contains less chemicals and truly tastes better.

Ingredients:

2 cups soaked and drained nuts of choice (soak in water overnight, or at lest four hours for cashews and pine nuts; and at least 8 hours for almonds, walnuts, or macadamia)

2-3 capsules of vegan probiotic

1 cup of water

juice from 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon granulated onion

Directions:

Place soaked and drained nuts in a high speed blender. Add probiotic powder from capsules and water. Pulse blend until you have a uniform mass. You will have to scrape down the sides a few times. If you need to add extra water, do it one tablespoon at a time. You don’t want your cheese to be to watery. Blend on high some more until your cheese reaches creamy consistency with no small pieces visible.

Transfer your cheese to a glass bowl, cover with cloth and let it sit on the counter for about 24 hours. During this time the bacteria from probiotic will transform nuts into fermented “cheese”. After 24 hours put a strainer over an empty bowl. Place a cheese cloth on a strainer and transfer your cheese onto a cheesecloth. Wrap it around and on top of it put a stone or a medium jar filled with water. Place in the refrigerator for about 10 hours (may be longer if you forget). During that time any extra moisture will drain from your cheese. Final step is mixing in spices and lemon juice. Now you have a basic nut cheese that is similar in taste to cottage cheese or goat cheese. You can add any extra spices you want. My husband loves to add cayenne pepper, cumin and turmeric. I like to add fresh chives.

Store this cheese in a closed container in the fridge for up to three weeks. But it never lasts that long in our house.

Almond Milk

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There’s nothing like home made almond (or any nut) milk. Unlike store bought plant milks, it doesn’t contain any preservatives, thickeners, or additional “natural” flavors. It is as pure as you make it. Use organic ingredients to make it organic if you wish.

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds soaked in water overnight (8-10 hours),
then drained
2 big dates (if they are not soft, soak them in water
for 10-20 minutes)
3-4 cups of water (the less water you use, the more fat
concentration you will achieve)
pinch of salt (optional)

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend on “whole juice” setting or for about 40 seconds until everything is smooth. If you have a less powerful blender it make take a little longer (1-2 minutes). Put a mesh cheese bag or cloth over a bowl and drain your milk squeezing as much liquid as possible. You can save remaining pulp in the fridge or freezer to use in a variety of recipes. You can also dry it in a dehydrator and use as fat free almond flour. Or you can simply toss it out if you don’t plan to use it. Store your almond milk in a closed container for up to five days.

 

 

How I started running at 38.

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Six months ago I turned 38. And I had this crazy idea that I am going to run my first marathon before I turn 40. I had never run in my life if you don’t count running around like all children do and maybe one or two attempts at running in my mid twenties. All I remember from those attempts was terrible colic pain and fatigue. No pleasure at all. No gain with all the pain. And that was when I was young, single, healthy (or so I thought) and in control of my time. I just couldn’t imagine how I could possibly enjoy running. Needless to say I stopped after one or two weeks.

But after a decade things have changed. After adopting vegan diet four years ago I read about so many athletes who claim their performance has improved since they went plant-based. I thought maybe I should try it and see (just see) if I can enjoy running as a vegan. I called my friend, an experienced runner, and asked her about any advice. I remember she told me all about runner’s high and how once you get to that point it becomes part of your life. She also told me not to give up at the beginning. So I tried. I put my shoes on and went outside. My first run was actually about two minutes with 30 minutes of walking. But that was enough for my muscles to get sore (very sore) the next day. I had no idea that running involves almost all muscles in your body. It is not only legs, your torso gets a great workout too (I felt the soreness all around my upper and lower back). But I didn’t get discouraged. The soreness passed after a few days and I slowly increased the number of running minutes. With each run I felt better and stronger. Something I have never experienced before with running. I can tell you honestly that after this first week of soreness I have never experienced any running related pain.

In six months I went from zero to finishing 10K (6.2 miles) in 58 minutes. But what is most important, I truly enjoy every run, short or long, that I do. I run on weekends and I try to add one or two short stroller runs with my son during the week. I am a beginner runner, my experience is limited, and this is my journey. Next year I will write about my first marathon. In the meantime I will update you on my adventure.