Some people are content to see the world exactly as they view it through their eyes and call it a day, every day. Other people yearn for more: brighter colors, deeper feelings, cosmic connection. I’ve always been the latter, and even as a small child I did things to get “high,” like push on my eyeballs with my fingers because it made me see flashes of pretty colors. I have multiple memories of my mother scolding at me to stop that, it can hurt your eyes. It became a late-at-night (read: after 8 pm bedtime) pleasure, pretty much until I was old enough to smoke pot and moved on to that instead. My college years were spent seeing A LOT OF PRETTY COLORS on a regular basis, and in the many years since my UC Santa Cruz haze, aka since “growing up” (while remaining a rainbow haired tattooed girl in DIY torn up tank tops), I’ve transitioned to finding euphoria in everything from farmers markets to herbal tonics.
Just because tonic herbs are legal, doesn’t mean they can’t get you crazy blissed out. Beyond that, of course, are their myriad health benefits, which include everything from reversing gray hair (thank you, he shou wu!!) to helping your body better adapt to stress. The only real issue I ever had with herbal tonics is the fact that though they are best absorbed eaten as a food rather than taken as a pill, they tend to taste pretty nasty. Enter Longevity Power, purveyors of outrageously effective– and delightfully palatable– premium quality herbs.
When I first tried LP’s “Levity,” which is an extract of red asparagus root (not related to normal asparagus, the veggie), I seriously felt like I was back in Santa Cruz partying like the type of rock star I am way too old to make my body be these days. It tastes like caramel, and it feels like ecstasy. And it totally helps your body adapt to stress, to boot. Add to that their Epic Reishi, which has an espresso flavor and provides support for your immune system, liver, and nervous system, and what do you get? Well, if you’re a culinary creative, you get ICE CREAM. Killer joyful mocha ice cream that is crazy good for you, being made predominantly of avocado and sweet potato, and is both vegan AND paleo, in addition to low glycemic. It is also super easy to make, the most difficult aspect of it being the do-ahead roasted sweet potato, and no one will know it isn’t full of dairy, soy, or anything processed at all. Because ice cream, like everything else, deserves to make you feel really, really good inside.
Magic Mocha Chip Ice Cream
1 small roasted sweet potato (any color)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk or other thick milk
1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
2 tbls coconut nectar, or honey if not vegan
3 tbls Levity
1 1/2 tsp Epic Reishi
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
3/4 tsp salt
stevia to taste: I like Sweet Drops toffee and use 2 droppers full
Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth. If you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, add additional milk as needed.
This is awesome eaten straight from the blender as a pudding, especially if you add a couple tbls of coconut oil before blending. But if you want to persevere and take it a step further to the land of frozen summer happiness, just chill the mixture until cold (about 1/2 an hour in the fridge, presuming your roasted sweet potato was cooled off) and then process in an ice cream maker.
Add 1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips, or some of each, at the very end, and freeze until firm.
Serve with a sprinkle of extra reishi on top and subsequently confound your friends and loved ones when you give them some then let them in on the fact that the tastiest mocha ice cream they’ve ever had has not a drop of dairy, soy, or coffee in it. Whole foods and superfoods take the cake– hell, they take the whole dessert– every time.
I’m not generally much of an in-between kind of girl. My hair is black, or it’s white. (Or, currently, it’s black and magenta, which is, again, kind of serious looking, in a really fun and unserious way.) Either I’m working 20 days in a row, or I’m twiddling my thumbs for equally as long. I’m in love with and deeply attracted to extremes, in all facets of life. In line with my character, I vacillate between making the most ridiculously complex food ever, and the simplest. Lucky for you, dear reader, today I came up with a granola bar that is stupid easy and also AMAZINGLY tasty. Better yet, it’s gluten free, grain free, paleo, high protein, and vegan. These would be good with any nut or seed butter, but the chocolate Nuttzo adds a killer dessert-y flavor, plus a bunch of nutrients and omegas via flax seeds.
To make these awesome little guys, throw all of the below in a bowl, stir until combined, pour in a pan, and put in the fridge or freezer. Get back to it in an hour, cut into bars, and knock yourself the hell out never buying granola bars again.
1 cup nuts (I used raw almonds), whole or broken, doesn’t matter
1 cup coconut flakes (exchange for dried fruit if you don’t like coconut)
1 cup sprouted dried buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, fyi, and it’s now delightfully inexpensive sprouted and dried in the bulk section of health food stores)
3/4 cup chocolate Nuttzo
3/4 cup date puree (puree dates, or buy dates pureed)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup
3 scoops protein powder of choice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Like I said: mix together until it’s all gloppy and uniform, spread in a pan, and refrigerate. That’s it. If you have no patience, like me, put them in the freezer and they’ll be ready in a half hour. If you have patience, put them in the fridge and it’ll be more like an hour or two. Keep them in the fridge so they stay hard until eaten, or keep frozen if you plan on having one as a grab-n-go snack later in the day.
The buckwheat gives these a Rice Krispie treat texture, so I wouldn’t omit that, but beyond that you can basically change out any ingredients here you want to keep flavors current. Add dried fruit, add more nuts, change the nuts, change the protein powder, add cocoa powder, do whatever you want because you’re not baking these so you’ve got nothing to worry about. What you see is what you’ll get when you make the batter, only it will firm up a bit once cold. If by some change you add too much stuff and the mixture isn’t spreadable, just add more nut butter until it is, and taste to make sure they’re still sweet and salty enough.
It can be nearly impossible to find sushi at a restaurant made with local, wild fish and organic produce from the farmers market. What to do when you’ve got the craving? Make it (or hire me to make it) yourself. =)
Since I mostly post sweet recipes, I wanted to share a very simple and versatile side dish I made this week: raw marinated mushrooms. I’m a big fan of dishes that improve, rather than get yucky, as the week goes on, and these ‘shrooms do exactly that. They continue to intensify in flavor, and get a bit softer but never get past a standard “cooked” texture. They’re quick and easy to make; the bulk of the work lies in chopping them, which if you wanted you could actually avoid. Keeping them whole would yield less flavor throughout, but a firmer texture. I happen to like the texture of cooked mushrooms, and really enjoyed how indistinguishable these were from their cooked counterparts. This was definitely a just-throw-stuff-in-a-bowl-to-taste recipe more so than a specific-amounts one, and I honestly doubt you could make them in a way that tastes bad! They are so yummy, there isn’t even any need to add salt.
Easy Raw Marinated Mushrooms:
2 lbs button and/or cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/4s or 1/8s depending on size
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
2 tbls dried dill
3 parts balsamic vinegar to each 1 part cold-pressed olive oil (use cider vinegar for a 100% raw dish)
lots of fresh cracked black pepper
Chop mushrooms and place in a big bowl. Add garlic and herbs, then pour vinegar about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach a point of saturation. Once the mushrooms won’t absorb any more vinegar, pour on a fraction as much olive oil. Doing it this way helps ensure the mushrooms absorbed vinegar, not oil, so all you need of oil is what you’ll be tasting, rather than them absorbing a bunch of extra oil.
These can be eaten as is, as a topping for a protein or grain, or added to a salad to act as both dressing and condiment. I made a snack of them on bell peppers with an oatmeal-based cheddar spread, which was a delicious mostly-raw lunch.
Health Note: I’m on week four of Dr. Terry Wahls’ “Minding Your Mitochondria” diet, and though it is far different than my standard way of eating, I’m noticing numerous physical benefits of it. Part of the diet is to eat three cups daily of sulphur rich veggies. Most vegetables that fall into that category are cruciferous, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. While those are very good for you, they’re hard on your thyroid (and mine is already ruined), and you should eat them cooked. This dish is a perfect way to get in your daily allotment of sulphur rich veggies while upping your raw foods intake. Mushrooms are also full of C and B Vitamins, making them an excellent immune booster.
My mother often jokes that she and my father don’t travel simply because they would need too many suitcases for all of my father’s supplements. Traveling while maintaining one’s health, and trying to be eco-friendly on top of that, is no small task. My recent trip to S.F. inspired me to compile a list of what I do to be as health and planet conscious as possible while away.
1. Avoid the x-ray machines at the airport. Natural news sites report that there is thousands of times more radiation in these machines than the TSA discloses, and conventional news acknowledges that the amount is at least a good bit higher than claimed. Why radiate yourself more than you already are by flying? Opt for a pat down instead… they usually aren’t too bad. Once, the guard spent WAY the hell too long prodding around my vagina, but beyond that, it’s been pretty painless.
And a clip from an article about this on Huffington Post:
“Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) sent a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology echoing the concern that radiation from the scanners could damage skin and underlying tissue, potentially leading to skin cancer. The White House Office responded that the technology had been tested extensively for safety, but the scientists noted numerous flaws in the response and are currently preparing a rebuttal. Because the radiation beam from the scanners concentrates on your skin, researchers believe the dose may be up to 20 times higher than is being estimated.”
2. Reduce your radiation exposure by flying as soon away from noon as possible, when radiation is at its highest. Never heard that you’re exposed to about 65 times the normal amount of radiation when flying? You can read the Science Daily News article about it, or google “radiation flying” for more info.
3. Protect yourself from both radiation and getting sick by taking anti-oxidants, specifically astaxanthin. Mercola discusses that here. Lots of foods have great anti-oxidative powers too!
4. Pack produce. Of all the food items you’re likely to have a difficult time finding on your trip, simple raw vegetables rank amongst the highest. Before leaving, pack your purse or extra bag with green veggies that keep well for days in a mini-fridge, such as baby (Persian) cucumbers and sugar snap peas. This way even if you end up eating worse/more processed food than planned, you can still supplement throughout the days by snacking on fresh, preferably organic, healthy snacks.
5. Be an eco-conscious hotel guest. Opt out of housekeeping at least every other day by keeping the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door for the day, because unless you’re a big family, three small, medium, and large towels each is probably enough for two days. You don’t change the hand towels in your bathroom at home every time you wash your hands, so there’s no reason to do so at a hotel; it’s not as if any less heat and water are consumed just because you’re not getting the bill. In most hotels nowadays, there is a card you can use to let housekeeping know whether or not you want fresh linens. Again, you’d never change your bedsheets daily, so unless you’re staying somewhere for weeks on end, opt to have the bed remade with the same linens each day you utilize housekeeping.
6. Buy water in one or 2.5 gallon containers, rather than tiny bottles, and keep them in your room. If you are walking around a lot and need small bottles, get a couple- or better yet, bring your own re-useable empties from home- and fill them up at your hotel daily. While plastic is still involved from the gallon jugs, it’s a LOT less, and every little bit helps. Alternately, if you are somewhere rural that actually has quality tap water, fill empty bottles straight from the sink.
7. Find the farmers. Farmers markets are everywhere now, and usually just by googling the term along with the city you’re staying in, you can get a guide for when local markets occur. You get a great outside morning or afternoon activity out of it, will find out what’s in season where you’re staying vs. your home, get to try new foods, and can restock your supply of healthy snacks to keep at the hotel.
8. Keep a morning routine. When you plan too many activities for every day, you’ll lose track entirely of your normal healthy habits. Start your day in a homey fashion in your room with a morning beverage (like organic tea you’ve brought from home) with enough time to remember to take your vitamins (you brought them with you, right?), drink plenty of water, work out if that’s part of your normal morning at home, and gather your thoughts. This is a photo from my hotel room in SF this past weekend- it was very easy to bring travel-sized stevia and a package of cococeps to drink each morning for a healthy start.
9. Allow occasional indulgences. Unless you’re off visiting a farm, temptations will abound. Do your best to eat as many quality, organic, whole foods based meals as possible, but allow yourself a meal here and there comprised of comfort foods. If you eat like crap the whole time, you’ll go home feeling sluggish, heavy, and off in the head, but if you eat mostly healthy and indulge for a meal or snack every couple days, you’ll return both satiated and proud. Help negate the fact that you’re likely to eat heavier food than at home no matter how cautious you are by walking wherever possible in the place you’re visiting.
10. Don’t waste any days hungover. If you know you’re going to be drinking, as is very normal when on vacation, pack a few supplements that will help your body combat the effects of alcohol. Specifically, bring milk thistle, charcoal, vitamin B, liquid oxygen with trace minerals (like Cell Power or Cell Food), and get some coconut water for your room. These supplements will drastically reduce your risk of feeling lousy the next day after an afternoon or evening of too much fun.
Everyone loves samples (or should, because they are free and fun), and when we visit my mom she always gives us a slew of them from a local store that includes a baggie-full with every special vitamin order. We came home this past trip with scads of samples, and as always I was excited to leaf through the little packets and discover new healthy goodness.
When I came across a green powder, I was skeptical; green powders tend to taste like poop. But I am always looking for a good tasting one, so I inspected it more closely, and it was awash in no-no’s. First, the brand name is “Food Science of Vermont.” “Science” is not generally something I want in my food, and using the state of Vermont to conjure images of nature does not do enough to negate the fact that you’ve put the word “science” in your brand of food. Next, I noticed that nowhere did it say the ingredients were organic, which is a definite must when dealing with concentrates. Who the hell wants to eat powdered pesticides? Apparently Food Scientists think you and I do, but on my end at least, they are wrong. Then, listed in the “other” ingredients was “natural apple flavor.” Natural flavors are not actually natural, since they are made in labs. Well, at least the “science” has come into play now. Lastly, and worst, the first damn ingredient of these “Superior Greens” is SOY LECITHIN. Not only does the lack of specification that it’s non-GMO mean that it is GMO, since most soy grown in America is, it’s not food, it’s not green, and it surely isn’t superior to much of anything. Soy lecithin is used commercially as an emulsifier, not a food/ingredient for nutritive value- yet here it is as the #1 component. That’s when I decided I would not be trying this product out after all, as besides my aversions to FrankenFood I am suffering from severe hormonal imbalance at the moment and the last thing I need is to throw a bunch of estrogen into the mix, which is one of soy’s many evils.
I did go ahead and taste this supposedly-superior not-really-green greens by dipping my finger into the packet, and it tasted like what I imagine Apple Jacks are like. I think I ate Apple Jacks once, in 3rd grade, at my best friend Jami’s house (they were her favorite cereal), and I was so used to health-food cereals that I didn’t care much for them, even though she had done a lot of leading up to the situation with talk about how pink they turn your milk. So yes, to the average consumer these might taste ok, though certainly not “delicious” as the package claims, unless you have a propensity for fake apple flavor.
Food Science of Vermont, I declare you guilty of putting out GMO crap under the guise of health food. I am reminded once again: if you want greens, you’re best served simply EATING them in fresh, natural form.
This is the standard packaging for this offensive product. It is also available as a box of individual packets, one of which was the sample I received.