Berry Blaster Smoothie

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July is coming to an end and yet there is still so much glorious summer to be lived! Smoothies are so popular for a plethora of reasons, especially during the summertime. Click here to read an earlier post I’d written about the benefits of smoothies. Like the saying goes, You are what you eat, smoothies help keep your body in check because they, too, are light and refreshing.

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Sometimes I wake up and I just want to eat a bagel – living in Queens, it’s very easy to find delicious ones. However, if I wake up and go for a run, a swim, or get myself over to the gym, a bagel afterwards is the furthest thing from my mind. A smoothie. A cold pressed juice. Fruit. Those are the things my body craves post-workout. So it’s one big cycle you see? And I’m not talking about doing this to look good in a bikini, because that’s not what’s important. It’s about feeling your best, because that’s when your natural beauty shines through and your radiance emanates outwards. So if you find some time for yourself, get out and go for a walk, a bike, a hike, a run. Because exercising helps nourish the body, the mind, and the soul ❤

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries, pitted
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping tsp acai powder

Steps:

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Top with your favorite fruits, seeds, or other fun option. Enjoy!

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Mood Booster Monday Smoothie

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This smoothie hits the spot right after a workout. It helps to hydrate and refuel the body because it’s loaded with potassium, magnesium, manganese, fiber, protein, folate, vitamins B, C, K, and antioxidants to name a few. Have this in the morning for a healthy start and a positive day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ripened bananas (optional: frozen)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • optional: 1 tsp spirulina or other protein powder

Steps:

  1. Add everything to the blender and mix. : )

Thick & Creamy Olive Hummus

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It’s difficult not to love hummus, and being the versatile dish that it is, there is usually at least one kind of hummus that tickles your fancy. I like them all – spicy, zesty, tangy, black bean-y, you name it and I’ll eat it. Being naturally dairy-free, it’s a perfect dish to bring to a party because many people, regardless of dietary preferences, can and will eat hummus. It’s high in protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, making it a triple threat. It takes about five minutes to make and can be used as a salad dressing, sandwich or wrap spread, and of course, a dip. Hummus makes itself very tough not to adore.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (aka ground up sesame seeds, found in just about every supermarket)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 2 packed Tbsp green olives, about 14 small ones (stuffed or not stuffed; they’re both good), plus one for topping, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Steps:

  1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend away! Serve with vegetables, pita bread, and love hehe.

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Walnut Berry Ooey-Gooey Delicious Cakes with a side of Homemade Blueberry Jam

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I had intended for this recipe to be banana nut muffins. They could still constitute as such, but when I think of a good muffin, I think of an exaggerated, size-of-your-head kinda muffin with a huge muffin top (ha ha muffin top). After these were made, I went to the gym with Becky. I figured since these little dudes are jam packed with goodness, she’d want one after her workout. She loved them, and I asked her if she thought people would think they’re too moist inside and if I should make them more muffin-y. Her answer: “No, not if you call them ooey-gooey delicious cakes.” So there you have it, walnut berry ooey-gooey delicious cakes.

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These mini-cakes are loaded with energy-boosting ingredients. Bananas work wonders for pre- and post-workout sessions (as well as hangovers). These yellow goddess fruits help sustain blood sugar levels for those strenuous workouts and have tons of potassium which help those sore or dehydrated muscles regain strength. Need more reasons? Check out this website on 25 powerful reasons to eat bananas.

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The walnuts and almond meal contribute high amounts of omega-3 fats and antioxidants, just to name a couple, which benefit a smorgasbord of health-related issues such as weight gain and heart health. Eating the skins of walnuts is important because it contains about 90 percent of its antioxidants. I’ve already gone off on a tangent about chia seeds in earlier posts, but these little pearls are loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, fiber, protein, and healthy fats (among others). Eating just one of these small cakes filled me for a couple of hours and assisted me during my morning run.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (found in most super markets)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 chia egg (1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 1/4 cup water – let sit for 10 minutes to thicken)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups mixed berries (I used frozen)
  • coconut oil for greasing
  • optional – extra oats and walnuts for topping

Steps:

  1. Make the chia egg and set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a high speed blender/food processor, combine all ingredients except walnuts and berries.
  4. Pour ingredients into a mixing bowl and add in walnuts, mixing gently. Then add in berries, mixing gently.
  5. Lightly coat a cupcake pan with coconut oil and fill mixture to the top.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes. Let cakes set for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool.
Chia egg after sitting for 10 minutes
Chia egg after sitting for 10 minutes

This jam is so very easy to make and is for anyone who likes eating jelly/jam, but doesn’t like corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup and other additives. It’s made with 3 simple ingredients and takes minutes to make.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries (or berries of your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

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Steps:

  1. In a medium pan, heat berries and syrup for 5 minutes on medium heat, continually mixing and crushing the berries with a fork.
  2. Turn the heat to low and add the chia seeds, continuing to mix for another 10 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes. How simple is that?

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Summertime Salad

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I’m not gonna lie – this salad took some time to prepare, but it was well worth it. It’s a great salad to make if you’re going to a bar-b-que; it has so much goodness and it just looks so damn pretty. Before this, I’ve never massaged kale before, but after reading up on it, I decided to try it for this recipe and it really did make a difference in taste and texture. For those of you who aren’t familiar with kale, it can be tough and bitter, but after rubbing it with olive oil, salt, and freshly squeezed orange juice, it was softer and sweeter. And better yet, those three ingredients used to treat the kale stood alone as the dressing since I was going for a light, refreshing, summery vibe. If you wish to add a heavier dressing, it won’t compromise the taste.

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Like I’ve said before, quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids, so adding it to this dressing for a protein was a no-brainer. There’s so much deliciousness going on in this salad, I’m just going to begin listing the ingredients/steps in case there’s a Sunday Funday bar-b-que on your agenda today!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 juicing orange (any acidic fruit would do)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 mango
  • 10 strawberries
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup walnuts

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Steps:

Quinoa

  1. For cooking quinoa, I use a 1:1.25 ratio of quinoa:water, so for every cup of uncooked quinoa, I use 1 1/4 cups of water. Other recipes call for double the amount of water, but through trial and error, I’ve found this to work best. Also, whenever cooking quinoa or rice, I always make extra for the week, so I used a 16 oz. bag which produced about 5 cups of quinoa. But if you’re just making it for this recipe, use 3/4 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water.
  2. Begin by soaking the quinoa for 15 minutes and then draining it. Add the quinoa and water to a pot on medium/high heat. Once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Afterwards, turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for five minutes. Then, uncover and gently fluff with a fork. Place it in the refrigerator to cool off.

Mushrooms & Asparagus 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. To clean mushrooms, rub a wet paper towel across the tops and pinch the stems off (some people use the stems; it’s your discretion). Place them in a baking dish with the stems facing up to absorb the juices. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a generous pinch of salt.
  3. Rinse the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces (discard the very bottoms of the stems). In a baking dish, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the asparagus along with a generous pinch of salt.
  4. Place both vegetable dishes in the oven for 15 minutes.

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Kale

  1. Cut the spine out of each kale leaf. (These are great for juicing.)
  2. Rinse, dry, and chop the kale.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, place the kale and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a little more than 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the juice of 1 orange. Use your clean hands and just rub/massage the leaves for about 2-3 minutes.

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Strawberries & Mango

  1. Rinse, destem, and slice the strawberries.
  2. Cut around the mango pit and dice the mango into large chunks. There are many ways to cut a mango, but this picture will help to show you my method.

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Walnuts

  1. Toast the walnuts in a pan on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring once.

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Finally, toss everything together! Leave a little of everything to the side to place atop the salad. Makes a great side dish or a light meal. If you do bring this to a party, let me know how it went!

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DIY Pantry Shelf

IMG_9844Since I’m a huge homebody (typical Cancer…), I very much need my home to be aesthetically pleasing. I love collecting furniture pieces that are unique – I especially love when items have that vintage-y feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping in places like Home Goods, but I often ask myself, “I can make that, am I really going to pay $150 for it?” Not likely.

IMG_9838I have so many potions and powders for my recipes, so I wanted to make a shelf in my kitchen where everything could go, since my windowsill was no longer cutting it. Along with these ‘recipe staples’ were some balanced bella dishes I use for photographing my meals which I wanted to store separately from my everyday dishes.

Hurricane Sandy took a lot from many people, including our beloved boardwalk. This winter, however, the boardwalk began washing up on our shores here on Rockaway Beach. I had given Justin a visual of what I wanted my shelf to look like, so when he spotted boardwalk wood resting on the sand after a tumultuous year and a half journey, he picked it up and brought it home. Luckily for me, he’s a high school teacher with a wood shop in his building and was able to take the wood to work, let it dry out for weeks, and then begin playing with it. So I suppose this is more of a DIY by Justin project, because truthfully all I did was order the shelf racks from Etsy! But shh. My point is, you may not have a wood shop, but any kind of base will do – my next shelf project is going to be a bunch of twigs tied with twine, resting on shelf racks. It’s all about thinking outside the box 😉

Rockaway Beach, NY boardwalk (pre-Hurricane Sandy)
Rockaway Beach, NY boardwalk (pre-Hurricane Sandy) Photo: flickr.com

After some research, the types of wood used were ipe, Cumaru and greenheart. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous these planks were once they were restored to their original state. As you’ll see in these pictures, the wood was dried out, glued together, planed down, given a plate groove, coated twice, and hung on specialty shelf racks ordered from etsy.com. It was quite the process and I smile every time I walk passed it… ❤

Once dried, wood glue was applied to the planks and held together with clamps.
Once dried, wood glue was applied to the planks and held together with clamps.
This was the product once it was cleaned up using a wood planer.
This was the product once it was cleaned up using a wood planer.
The finished product with two coats of polyurethane. I'm 5'11", so it's a little easier to tell how long (and heavy!) this piece is.
The finished product with two coats of polyurethane. I’m 5’11”, so it’s a little easier to tell how long (and heavy!) this piece is.

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Peanut Butter Raisin Granola

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Ah yes! Granola. My versatile friend. Is it a breakfast? A dessert? A snack? A topping? A base? A name for people who are health conscious? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and sometimes, yes. I was playing around in my kitchen, eating a spoonful of peanut butter here, a couple of pickles there, and so I started taking out some things to make a meal instead of just eating anything and everything. I wanted something sweet, so I was just going to start blending up oats, almonds, and maple syrup. Okay, not really a meal, but something to keep me occupied since I just walked in the door from eating lunch – Caracas for my Rockaway Beach people…crazy good arepas! (And I really need to learn their secret sauce recipe because it’s outrageously good, but I digress…)

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Since I’ve been on a peanut butter kick lately, I added a delicious amount to my concoction. I used chunky, because that’s what I had, but you can use whichever you prefer. The only ingredients in my peanut butter were peanuts and salt, but salt is really not necessary. There’s no room in my cabinets for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are unfortunately found in many peanut butters, even those that claim to be “natural” – so be wary.

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Like most vegan recipes, this mixture could be eaten as is, without using the oven; however, I baked this because I wanted it crunchy and granola-y.

Ingredients (makes about 4 cups, cooked):

  • 1 cup oats (gluten free will make the entire recipe GF)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins

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Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a high speed blender/food processor, blend the oats and almonds until they form a flour. (Blend less if you’d like it chunkier.)
  3. Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl and add all other ingredients, mashing with a fork in order to evenly distribute the PB, syrup, and oil. I love these warmer months because my coconut oil stays in a liquid state, requiring less dishes since there’s no “melting” step.
  4. Place in a large pan so the mixture is in one shallow layer. I used two 9×9 inch pans.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. During cooling, about 10-15 minutes, let it sit without stirring it. This will create those beloved granola nuggets/globs. Enjoy 🙂

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