Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Raspberry Orange Smoothie

Alter Ego Fitness Experience - Raspberry Smoothie

For Christmas, Santa brought us a Blendtec blender and we’ve been having a lot of fun trying out different uses.  It’s fabulous!  We used to have an old (about 20 years old) Osterizer.  So, this fancy, new and far more powerful machine is certainly a change.

We’ve done some blending of various things (flax seeds to make flour/powder and almonds to make almond butter) but, so far, we’ve mostly used it for making great tasting vegetable and fruit smoothies.  For healthy veggie smoothies, you just through in the chunks (and I do mean chunks) of veggies, select the right setting, push the button and walk away.It speeds up and slows down, then shuts off by itself.  The finished smoothie is just that – smooth!  No lumps, no chunky pulp, no small pieces of spinach to get stuck in your teeth.  Even the hemp hearts, that we’ve sometimes added for some protein content, are completely blended.

Here’s a fruit smoothie that’s fast becoming one of our favourites.

Raspberry-Orange Smoothie
1 cup non-fat or low-fat soy milk (or almond milk)
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1 medium banana
½ cup of orange juice

It’s quick and easy.  Simply add everything to the blender, cover and blend until smooth.
It’s SO good, and good for you!  It will alleviate your “sweet” craving and can also be used as a pre-workout snack/meal.  For more of a “full-meal deal”, as mentioned above, we’ve occasionally added in some hemp hearts for protein.

We’re real keen to try out more stuff, so please leave us a comment and/or share YOUR favourite blender recipe.

Recipe: Yam Crackers

This recipe is from the “Blissful Raw Food Recipes” cookbook from the Cafe Bliss in Victoria.
They wanted to create something similar to a corn chip but were discouraged from using corn due to the poor quality of product and the lack of year-round availability.  Organic yams, on the other hand, are easy to find year round and, because yams are sweet, delicious and starchy, they make a beautiful orange cracker.

We made these for our recent “Love Yourself” event and they were definitely a hit!  Everyone loved them and asked for the recipe.  Tastes good + good for you = win / win!
So, here’s the recipe.

7 cups         Chopped/cubed raw yam
1                 Medium onion, chopped
2 cups         Raw sunflower seeds, soaked
1 cup           Almond pulp (see below)
1 cup           Ground flax seeds (see below)
2 tbsp          Olive oil
2 tbsp          Lime juice
2 tsp            Sea salt
1 tsp            Ground cumin
2 tsp            Mexican chili powder (see comment below)

Place yam, onion, olive oil, lime juice and spices in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add soaked sunflower seeds and continue to process until smooth.  Depending on the size of food processor, this may have to be done in batches.  (I had to do 2 batches).

I wasn’t sure what “Mexican chili powder” was so I used “normal” chili powder and I also cut a half a jalapeno pepper into very small pieces and added that with the spices in the food processor.  Actually, you can use any kind of spice in this recipe.  If you want more heat, add a whole jalapeno pepper or curry.  For a smoky flavour, add smoked paprika to your recipe.  The possibilities are endless.  Experiment until you find your favourite flavour.

Place the above mixture in a mixing bowl and stir in almond pulp  and ground flax seed until well combined.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop some of the dough onto a dehydrator tray and spread mix to edges.  Spread thinly so that the crackers get good and crisp.  Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Score the sheets of spread mix to form individual crackers in desired size.  Place trays in dehydrator (NOTE:  If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use your oven – simply set the temperature to the lowest setting).  Using a dehydrator set the temperature at 115 degrees for 12 hours.  Flip the crackers and dehydrate for another 12 – 24 hours.  If doing this recipe in the oven at your lowest temperature (my oven’s lowest is 170 degrees) the crackers may get crisp much sooner.  So, check them after 8 to 10 hours when in the oven. The longer you can wait, the crunchier the cracker should be.
Allow the dried mixture to cool and then break, along the scored lines, into crackers.  Place the cooled crackers in an airtight container and store at room temperature.  They should keep up to 1 month, but may lose some crunch after time.

Making Almond Mylk / Pulp
Place 4 cups of water, 1 cup of soaked RAW almonds, (almonds need to soak in water overnight), 2 pitted dates, a pinch of sea salt, and a dash of vanilla extract (or use vanilla powder) in a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Line mixing bowl with double layer of cheesecloth and pour in mix.  Gather edges of cheesecloth together and twist to gently squeeze until all the mylk is in the bowl and only pulp remains in the cheesecloth.  Store the mylk in the fridge, in an airtight glass container, and it will keep up to 2 days.  The pulp can keep for a week in the fridge but can also be kept in the freezer longer to use in other recipes.  The almond pulp is a “binder and filler” that will create thickness to your doughs.  After making this Almond Mylk, my husband even commented that it was tastier than the “store bought” Almond Milk.

Grinding Flax
Flax seeds are more nutritious when ground as they otherwise pass through our digestive systems whole, leaving the nutrients inside unavailable to us.  Ground flax is the equivalent to flour in raw food preparation.  It soaks up liquids and will easily thicken and bind any substance.
Most people use a coffee grinder for grinding flax. I have always found this frustrating as the ground flax sticks and clumps.  I use a hand held immersion blender (Cuisinart) and narrow, tall shaped bowl.  Be sure to cover the top (I use a towel). Only add 1 or 2 cups of flax seeds to the blender at a time.  Flax seeds increase in volume when ground.  For example, 3/4 cup of seeds will become 1 cup.

Recipe: Chocolate Recovery Pudding

Here’s a recipe for a great tasting, and good for you, “pudding” that’s a good addition to your post-workout dietary plans.

¼ cup soaked almonds
2 bananas
1 cup of blueberries
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp roasted carob powder
2 tbsp chia seeds (I use black)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt

Place the soaked and rinsed almonds in a food processor or blender (or use a hand held mixer) and grind/blend until smooth.  The smoother the almonds the less gritty or lumpy is the ‘pudding’.

Add the rest of the ingredients in order as listed above and process after each addition.

Put in small bowls or glass containers (makes about 4 servings), cover them and place in the refrigerator.  Can be eaten in just 20 minutes!  All the flavours blend best if left for at least one hour.

I make enough to have some pudding for a few days.

This is a great ‘recovery’ pudding to eat after a tough workout or an endurance event/run that may last an hour or more.  You have the electrolytes, potassium, sodium, antioxidants, fibre, protein and carbs in a ratio that helps optimize your recovery.

It's best eaten within 20 minutes of your workout, but this is a tasty and very healthy ‘dessert’ too!

Nutrition Info – Soaking (Activating) Nuts and Seeds

There’s been quite a bit of talk (and some confusion) around an easy, ready to go snack idea – nuts and seeds.

Many clients groan when I tell them that after purchasing their RAW nuts and seeds, to fully utilize the nutrition they offer, you must soak them.  I stress RAW as “roasted” nuts and seeds aren’t as easy to digest and the benefits derived from soaking is null and void if they’ve already been roasted.
Soaking your nuts and seeds begins the process of sprouting, which “wakes” the seeds into a living state, making their nutrients more available to digest.  Some refer to this as “activating” the seeds, I like and use that term.

Some types of dried nuts and seeds, such as almonds, contain enzyme inhibitors which can be removed through the process of soaking.  And, if they soak long enough to begin sprouting, don’t worry.  The sprouts are also very easy to digest and, as well, they’re considered alkaline – optimal in keeping the body healthy.

Without soaking your nuts and seeds, your digestive system takes several hours to digest them.  The longer a food sits in your digestive system, the more chance you have of unbalancing the body and creating fermentation in your digestive tract.  This, in turn, creates too much yeast (candida).  As well, the body is spending far too much energy digesting your food.  So, as a result, you’ll feel less energized during the day, for your workouts or just to keep up with everything else going on.
When soaking, place the nuts and seeds in a glass jar or container with a lid.  The unsoaked seeds should take up no more than half the space in the container as they expand in size when wet.  Fill the container with at least double the ratio of water to seeds/nuts, leaving extra water.  If the soaking seeds/nuts swell above the water line, add more water to the container.

All nuts and seeds should be soaked at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours or longer.  After 8 hours they should be placed in the fridge where they can remain soaking for a number of days before being used.  Drain the soaked nuts and seeds by pouring them into a colander and rinsing them thoroughly with fresh water before drying or for use in a recipe.

If you like them crunchy, you can then dehydrate the activated nuts and seeds at a low temperature (115 degrees) for around 12 hours (depending on how crunchy you want them).  If you don’t have a dehydrator, use your oven at its lowest setting.  Roasting the nuts/seeds will give you the same flavour as buying them that way.  Except, now they’ve been “awakened” and soaked to rid them of the enzyme inhibitors.  To add variety, you can toss them with your favourite spice.

Activated nuts and seeds can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.  I try to plan to soak over the weekend and have them ready to consume all week long.  I’ll also put some of my soaked nuts and seeds in small serving size glass containers and freeze them for future use.

Recommended Soaking Times
Chia Seeds – soak at least 2 hours
Buckwheat groats and sesame seeds – soak at least 4 hours
Pumpkin, sunflower, cashews and flax seeds – soak at least 8 hours
ALL other nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) – soak at least 12 hours

Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe: Sports Drink (without the sugar)

This sports drink is, by far, the best you can drink when you’re overheated OR when you’re participating in a long workout or endurance event (i.e.  ½ marathon race or training that goes over 90 minutes).  It’s also good for you to consume this drink when the weather is warm and you’re sweating a lot or feel more fatigued than normal.

I’ve used this drink the day before my event/race/training as well as during and for the day after as well.

Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of ¼ lime
3 dates (fresh or soak dried for 4 hours) *
1 cup of water
1 cup of coconut water
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp coconut oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Strain if you don’t want the pulp.

* You can pre-soak the dates to rehydrate, but I usually make my batch ahead of time and therefore I pre-soak the dates in the mixture.  Then I blend it all together just before putting in my drink bottle.  Or, you can also cut down on the dates.  I usually use 2, and sometimes I don’t use the agave nectar.

If you’re not using this drink as an endurance drink you can also eliminate the conconut oil.
The glucose from the dates enters your blood stream quickly and the sugar from the coconut water enters slowly spreading the energy over a longer period making this a great drink while exercising too!

Feel free to add a small amount of sea salt too, ¼ teaspoon, if your workout had you perspiring more than usual or if it was hotter out then you’re used to.

And, it’s okay to store for a few days in the refrigerator too.