Friday, September 23, 2011

Mushroom, Potato and Leek Soup

This is one of my favorite soups! My sister-in-law from whole food mommies made it and I fell in love. I just altered the recipe slightly so that it would be vegan. If you have never cooked with leeks before, they are from the onion family and add a very nice flavor. The original recipe calls for cream that I left out but if you want a creamier texture you can use a cashew cream sauce instead. 

Mushroom, Potato, and Leek Soup
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
3 Leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 Large Carrots, sliced
6 cups of Vegetable Broth
1 lb Mushrooms 
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup Almond Milk or Soy Milk
1/4 cup Flour
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Dill
Pepper to taste

In a large pot sauté the leeks and carrots in
1 tbsp of the Earth Balance for about 5 minutes
Pour in the broth and seasonings. Add the potatoes and cook
until soft, about 30 minutes

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms
 in the remaining butter and add to the soup

In a separate bowl slowly add the flour to the milk and mix well. Add to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Banana and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I am always looking for treats that I can have that have very little to no sugar in them because me and sugar DO NOT get along. It just so happens that these cookies are VERY low in sugar (the only sugar in them is the dark chocolate) and they do not have any eggs or gluten (depending on your oats) in them! Oh and they are very good! Enjoy...

Banana and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

3 bananas
1/2 cup almond butter
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups oats (i used old-fashioned)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350ºC
Bake for 12-14 minutes

All the goods you need
Mash the bananas together with the almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla

In a separate bowl combine the oats, coconut, cinnamon, baking powder and salt
I took a bar of 70% dark chocolate and just chopped it up

Take the wet and dry ingredients along with the chocolate and mix all together

Place spoonfuls of batter on a cookie sheet, grease it or use a 'silpat'

Voila! They were very yummy and I didn't feel guilty giving them to my kids!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Milk Substitute for Babies

I had an excellent question this week following my blog on The Truth Behind Milk, a friend was wondering what she could give her one year old instead of the homo milk that her doctor recommended. First off I want to commend this mom for going with her mommy instincts instead of discrediting all the evidence and just listening to her doctor. Many people put too much trust in their doctors for advice and recommendations. Doctors get VERY little nutritional teaching in their years of study and therefore it is up to you to do the research and go with what YOU feel is best.
I am going to focus on babies that are one year and older and the substitutes that you can use if you choose not to give cow's milk to your child. There are actually quite a few milks out there that you can use such as: Nut milks, Rice milk and Soy milk. I personally recommend using almond milk.  
It is lower in calories and fat than regular cow's milk, and is high in vitamins, such as vitamin E. Like cow's milk and fortified soy milk, almond milk boasts an impressive dose of bone-building calcium.
Like conventional dairy products, almond milk is nutrient-fortified, and a good source of several important fat-soluble vitamins. One cup of plain almond milk meets 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, 25 percent for vitamin D and 50 for vitamin E, making it high in many nutrients compared to the amount of calories it provides per serving. Vitamins A and E act as antioxidants, enhancing immunity and protecting the body's cells and tissues from damage. In addition, vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight and supports normal growth and development. Vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, and enhances immunity.
Almond milk is rich in calcium, providing the same amount per cup as cow's milk and soy milk. One cup offers approximately 300 mg, meeting 30 percent of the DV for this major mineral. Calcium plays many roles in the human body. Along with vitamin D, phosphorus and magnesium, calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. 
(Read more:

A great thing about almond milk is it is just as easy to make as it is to buy and I have yet to find a recipe that I can't replace cow's milk with almond milk! 

Almond Milk Recipe
1 cup almonds soaked* for at least 6 hours beforehand if possible
2 cups water
1/2 tbsp raw sesame seeds (very high in calcium)
optional ingredients: vanilla, agave, cinnamon, maple syrup 

 Soak your almonds for 6-8 hours if you can

 Place the almonds and the water in your blender and blend for about a minute

 You could use it as is but if you prefer a smooth texture, you will want to put it through a 

Here I am using a coffee filter 

 You can just leave it to drain or you can use a wooden spoon or spatula
 to push the milk through the filter 

 You will be left with almond pulp that you can use to make almond flour, pie crusts, cookies, etc.

 Voila! This almond milk will stay good in the fridge for 3 days

 My girls LOVE almond milk!

Vanilla Almond milk: Add 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 2-4 dates 
Chocolate Almond milk: To the recipe for vanilla almond milk, add 2 tbsp raw cacao nibs or unsweetened cocoa powder
Cinnamon milk: To the recipe for vanilla almond milk, add 1 tsp cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg

The following recipe came from and is great for everyone but especially the little ones

Almond Milk Smoothie

1 cup Almond Milk
1 Half frozen banana
3 frozen strawberries (or any other frozen fruit)
Handful of raw spinach
1 tsp. flax seed
1 Vitamin D capsule (opened and emptied into smoothie)
.5 ml DHA oil (I use Dr. Fuhrman's brand for all my supplements)

Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  This shouldn't be too thick- more like a flavored chilled drink.  Pour into sippy cup and let your kids go to town.

*The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds
  • Enzyme inhibitors get neutralized.
  • The amount of vitamins your body can absorb increases.
  • Gluten breaks down so digestion is much easier.
  • Phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of vital minerals, is reduced.(

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blueberry Deception

A few weeks ago I did a post on the importance of reading labels and what ingredients to avoid. Here is a video I found about how blueberries are faked in cereals, muffins and other foods and you can tell by reading the labels. Click here for the video

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marathon Mama- Guest Blogger

Estelle was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post for her regarding nutrition and exercise. While I am not a nutritionist, I am an athlete who has competed in a variety of sports since the age of seven. After twenty years of reading, tweaking, and finding my own groove, I am happy to share my knowledge with you today (and everyday over at Marathon Mama!) Estelle passed on a question that had been posed to her, and I hope that whoever asked it is reading – however it is information we can all use to improve our athletic achievements.
Does drinking amino acids during a workout really make a big difference? The short answer, No. In fact, drinking amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein) may be detrimental to your training if ingesting on the run as blood would be diverted from hard working muscles to the stomach to digest them. The best drink to have on hand during your workout is clear: water. Water will hydrate your muscles, help lactic acid to flush out of the muscles, and keep your focus clear.
If you are embarking on a rigorous training schedule, you are right to be considering the basics of refueling and how to utilize carbohydrates to your advantage. If you are training for longer than one hour, you need to be taking in more than just water (WATER IS ESSENTIAL whether you are going for a half hour walk or a three hour run. Drink up!) There are several supplements on the market to assist you in your carbohydrate refueling, varying from liquids, gels, powders, jelly beans (seriously), jujubes (again, I’m serious) and I’m sure others. You do not however need to go a commercial refueling route. Try dried and pitted dates, raisins, or apricots (put in a baggie before popping them in your pocket, or pinning them to your bra strap.) The important thing in refueling is to TRY IT OUT and find what works for YOUR body. Everybody is different, and what works for one person, may make another person sick to their stomach – literally.
Base guidelines for carbohydrate refueling are 30-60g per hour, 30g being for those on the smaller side, and 60g for the larger bunch. Admittedly, I do not follow such requirements. I simply experiment until my body and mental clarity are at top performance. You may also find it sufficient to have a snack 1 to 2 hours before heading out the door instead of carting food with you if your workout will be over before the 90 minute mark. Again, experiment – see what works for you!
Oh and if I drink amino acids during my workout do I still need to drink an isolated whey shake after?
Since we’ve already debunked the amino acid consumption during your workout, let’s talk about the post workout window. After you have ceased strenuous exercise, your body has an optimal refueling window of 15-60 minutes. This means that the foods you consume during this time are more readily utilized in the rebuilding of tissue you just spent so much energy and effort breaking down – pretty straight forward right? But what should you put in your body? What are your broken down muscle fibers screaming for? Tradition and many “Got Milk?” ads would have you reaching for chocolate milk. This is something I used to do with great pleasure - until it hit my stomach and I remembered why I don’t like cow’s milk – and a natural extension of that is whey protein. ‘Isolated Whey Protein’, often found in a powdered form and with an average protein content of 27-33g, is very popular for a variety of reasons. In its isolate form, whey protein is low fat with 90+% of its weight being protein. However, there is no human research linked to whey protein supplements, despite their popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts. High protein consumption is not something that has been proven to have any positive effects on your health, or training, so I would save your stomach (and wallet) the pain of digesting this, and stick to something more natural. My nutritional philosophy is simple – stick to the basics. This means, consume foods in their natural, or close to it, form for optimal nutrition. Think about all the processes involved in creating isolated whey proteins. Do you think there is a plant growing plastic tubs of animal by-products? Once I asked myself some revealing questions, I couldn’t deny the fact that I had bought into the hype, and glossed over the fact. While I have used the isolate powder supplements in the past I no longer do; here is my recommendation for you – and what I have found works even better! Drink a green smoothie. Yes, GREEN.
Sweet Almond Smoothie
1 cup non-dairy milk*
1 handful spinach
1 banana
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp milled flaxseed
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
½-1 cup ice cubes
Blend all ingredients in a high powers blender and enjoy! Add more milk is desired, or more spinach if you like – this is a flexible recipe, and delicious in every variation I’ve tried so far!
*even if you enjoy cow’s milk, after a workout is NOT the time to consume it as it is not easily digestible
Whether you are embarking on a marathon training plan, or gearing up for your first 5k, good luck! Training is a fun and rewarding way to bench mark your fitness goals, get you outdoors, and keep you focused on health and well-being. And don’t be shy – if you have questions, I’d love to help you find your answers!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Truth Behind Milk

The usual reaction I get when I tell someone that I don't drink milk is shock! Well by the end of this post I am hoping that you will be in shock and think again about consuming milk.
During a conversation a friend, asked me "Well if we are not supposed to drink milk, then why do cows make milk?" Ummm....for calfs! No other mammal drinks milk after infancy, and certainly not the milk of a different species. More than half of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and can’t digest cow's milk.
But if those reasons aren’t convincing enough, here is a list of problems that have been shown in scientific studies to be associated with eating milk and dairy: constipation, acne, asthma, and eczema. Cow's milk has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol. Even if you are drinking organic milk from a cow who was never injected with bovine growth hormone, the milk is still full of the hormones she produced naturally. And most cow's milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins, up to 52 powerful antibiotics, blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses.
But where do you get your Calcium? Well I get my calcium from the same place the cows do...from greens. The body absorbs the calcium differently from different foods and most efficiently from vegetables. Only about 32 percent of calcium in milk is absorbed, while 54 percent of the calcium in bok choy is absorbed.
The countries around the world that have the least incidence of osteoporosis and consume the least amount of dairy are the African and Asian countries. The four countries of the world whose population has the highest incidence of osteoporosis and also consume the greatest amount of dairy are the United States, Great Britain, Sweden and Finland. So if you want to cut out milk but still want to make sure you are getting the calcium you need, consume dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Especially good are collard greens, kale, almonds and sunflower seeds.
For those of you like me that thought I won't drink milk but I can't give up butter and cheese, here is a startling fact:
Each bite of hard cheese has TEN TIMES whatever was in that sip of milk... because it takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. Each bite of ice cream has 12 times ... and every swipe of butter has 21 times... Wow.



Loss of appetite, growth retardation.

Upper Gastrointestinal:

Canker sores (aphthous stomatitis), irritation of tongue, lips and mouth, tonsil enlargement, vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), Sandifer's syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, colic, stomach cramps, abdominal distention, intestinal obstruction, type-1 diabetes.

Lower Gastrointestinal:

Bloody stools, colitis, malabsorption, diarrhea, painful defecation, fecal soiling, infantile colic, chronic constipation, infantile food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis.


Nasal stuffiness, runny nose, otitis media (inner ear trouble), sinusitis, wheezing, asthma, and pulmonary infiltrates.

Bone and joint:

Rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Behçet’s disease, (possibly psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis).



Rashes, atopic dermatitis, eczema, seborrhea, hives (urticaria)

Nervous System   (Behavioral):

Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, autism, schizophrenia, irritability, restlessness, hyperactivity, headache, lethargy, fatigue, "allergic-tension fatigue syndrome," muscle pain, mental depression, enuresis (bed-wetting).


Abnormal blood clotting, iron deficiency anemia, low serum proteins, thrombocytopenia, and eosinophilia.


Nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis, anaphylactic shock and death, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or crib or cot death), injury to the arteries causing arteritis, and eventually, atherosclerosis.

I could go on but I hope that you found the information helpful. A documentary just came out called "Got The Facts On Milk?" looks very interesting and I can't wait to see it. Here is the trailer!