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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Delicious, Easy Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of my favorite drinks -- it goes great with everything!  We've been buying it from Trader Joe's lately as it's the cheapest place we can find it at $1.29 a quart, but still, that's expensive when you go thru a quart in a day or two for morning smoothies!

Did you know you can make almond milk right in your own home??  Rich and creamy, it's easy to make and super nourishing.  Cut down on the cost and take control of what is put into your almond milk by trying this recipe at home!  While almond milk is a good alternative beverage for those on the Maximized Nutrition meal plan, a dairy-free kick or even a raw diet, I think it's just plain delicious and you should give it a try  no matter your dietary preference!  I usually drink it by the glassful, but it's also great in tea and smoothies or even for baking or cooking.

Making almond milk is super quick but just a little messy.  You will definitely get your hands wet as you squeeze and strain it thru the cheesecloth.  That extra effort is SO worth it! My absolute favorite way to enjoy this rich, gluten-free almond milk is in iced chai tea with a sprinkle of stevia.

Almond Milk
Makes about 6 servings

2 cups almonds
4 cups water
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Soak almonds and vanilla bean in enough water to cover overnight
  2. Discard soaking water and rinse almonds in a deep bowl of water, repeat until water is clear
  3. Place soaked almonds, vanilla bean and 4 cups of water in a blender or food processor
  4. Blend on highest speed for about 90 seconds or until completely smooth
  5. Strain milk through cheesecloth lined strainer, discarding solids
  6. Serve and enjoy, or bottle in a glass container and store in fridge up to 10 days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quick Marinara Sauce

Here is a tasty, super quick marinara sauce!  No need to have it cook on the stove top all day.  This recipe tastes great in minutes -- even make it without heating at all for a raw topping to your zucchini "spaghetti noodles"!

2-4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 c sundried tomatoes
1/2 tsp liquid stevia
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you're up for it)
2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp ground oregano

Blend all ingredients except for olive oil in food processor or blender until chunky.  Add to saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until heated thru.  Remove from heat and add olive oil - mix well.  Pour over cooked rice noodles, whole wheat noodles or spiraled green zucchini for a great gluten-free alternative.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Organic Double Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

So this recipe is not my own.  In fact Dave and I haven't been able to test it yet, but I wanted to post it anyway.  This is a recipe for organic, raw cheesecake -- double chocolate cherry cheesecake at that!  Couldn't pass up posting it any longer for you all to try!  It is from Kristen's Raw blog that I peruse now and again.  We'll probably be trying out her recipe next weekend when we (finally) have some down time.  This looks like such an easy fix, and huge bonus -- gluten free!!  Can't pass that up!  If you try it, let me know what you think and I can create more varieties of cheesecake in the raw.  :)
Organic Double Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
 Yield one 9-inch cake

1 ¾ raw almonds
½ cup raw cacao nibs (find them at Whole Foods or your local co-op, a natural chocolate!)
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt (organic sea salt will also work)
¾ teaspoon cherry extract
1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
¾ cup organic raisins

3 cups cashews, soaked 1-2 hours, drained
1/3 cup raw agave
6 dates, pitted
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons cherry extract
1 cup coconut oil
¾ cup raw chocolate powder

1 bag frozen organic berries (cherries would be optimal but any will do!)
¼ cup raw agave
dash fresh lemon juice
pinch cinnamon

Crust directions: Grind the nuts, cacao nibs and salt in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, until coarsely ground. Add the cherry extract and chocolate powder and pulse to thoroughly combine. Add the raisins and process until the mixture sticks together when gently pressed between your fingers. Press into the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch round spring form pan. Place in the freezer while you make the filling.

Filling directions: Using a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, process the cashews, agave, dates, lemon juice, and water until it’s creamy. This could take 3-5 minutes. You might need to stop and scrape down the sides a couple of times. Add the cherry extract, coconut oil, and cocoa powder and process until creamy. Pour the filling into the spring form pan and freeze the cheesecake so it sets. Let thaw for up to an hour or more before eating.

Coulis directions: Blend all of the ingredients together. and drizzle over each plated slice.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Asian Beef & Noodle Soup

Who out there gets a thrill from taking a not so healthy recipe, swapping ingredients and giving it your own spin to make it into a beautiful, flavorful Maximized recipe??  Well, when I'm not inventing my own dishes, that is what I do and love it, especially when we need a quick fix for dinner after a long day of work!

This particular recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker Soups and Stews e-Cookbook thanks to my mom sending me the link for it a couple months ago.  (Thanks mom!!)  Remember that beef stock I made a while ago, well we still had some reserved in the freezer, so I thawed it out right on the stove top minutes before pulling this soup together.  Delicious!  You will love the deep flavor of this Asian inspired beef soup!

Asian Beef & Noodle Soup
Makes 6 Servings

3 oz uncooked rice noodles (omit if on Advanced Plan)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil, organic
1 1/2 lb boneless top sirloin steak, grass fed, cut into bite size strips
4 tsp minced garlic
7 oz organic shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
6 cups organic, salt free beef broth (homemade is best)
2 cups finely sliced bok choy, organic
1 cup organic carrots, julienned like match sticks (omit if you are on Advanced Plan)
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely diced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 medium green onions, organic, sliced

1.)  Soak rice noodles in bowl of boiling hot water for 10-15 minutes until softened. Cut noodles into thirds, cover and set aside.

2.)  Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil and 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Saute beef strips, mushrooms and garlic about 5-6 minutes until beef is no longer pink.

3.)  Stir in remaining ingredients except onion and noodles.  Heat to boiling then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover; cook 14-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is tender.

4.)  Stir in noodles and heat thru 2-3 minutes until noodles are hot.  Right before serving, sprinkle with sliced green onion.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rich and Chocolaty Stevia Hot Chocolate

Dave and I constructed this recipe over the weekend for our Patient Appreciation Day today at Revolution Wellness Center.  I highly recommend trying this with almond milk first.  We have made it with boiling water all day at the office and don't get me wrong, it tastes great, but the texture is missing something.  The added creaminess from almond milk will give it that little extra boost it needs.

3 tbsp pure cocoa powder (unsweetened to ensure gluten free)
1/2 tsp powdered stevia or 1/4 tsp liquid stevia
4 cups of water, rice milk or almond milk
2 tbsp raw honey (optional, to stay ADVANCED use only stevia)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the cocoa and stevia extract together in a glass bowl or pitcher.  Boil water or rice/almond milk and add about 1/2 cup to the dry ingredients to make a paste.  Gradually thin the paste with the rest of the heated water/milk.  Add the honey or agave nectar and vanilla and stir until completely dissolved.

TIP:  To richen the cocoa, you may add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.   Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A No Reservations Valentine's Day Dinner

What is celebrating THE romantic holiday of the year like for you?  Does spending the night in sound about as romantic as vacuuming and folding the laundry?  For us, Valentine's Day dinner is an adventure into new territory.  For the past 4 years (I think) we have stayed in and cooked up a menu that is brand new to both of us.  While I recently started planning our menu for next weekend, I wanted to throw together a Valentine's menu for those of you who want to stay on track with eating foods that HEAL but still have the romantic and lavish experience of eating out.

Beyond the menu, of course remember to set the mood.  Ambiance is everything when trying to make a romantic night at home.  Start looking for great decorations now.  First look around your home and take an inventory of what you already have that you could move around to set the mood, or maybe you can use something that usually serves one purpose for another (like using your accent pillows as seats for the floor to cozy up together while you eat).  Candles are an easy way to create soft, romantic lighting.  [TIP:  Soy candles are the healthiest as they don't emit toxic chemicals or carcinogens into the air as they burn.]  Check your local Dollar Store for cheap candles, especially if you'll only be using them for this one night.  I've also found candles and other cute decorations in the $1 section at Target.  Definitely check there first for Valentine's themed decor!  Here's another idea.  If you like to do the cooking, have your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend do the mood setting.  You can surprise each other that way!  Don't let the other see what you have been working on until they finish the room and you're ready to serve the meal.  It means even more to see how far your significant other went out of their way to do something for you.

Now to the menu:

First Course - Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese
Approx. 40 mins prep and cook time

2 organic red beets
3 Tbsp coconut oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 handfuls of Arugula
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash, peel and quarter the beets.  In medium bowl, combine beets, coconut oil (may need to melt it down to liquid), garlic cloves, salt and pepper.  Transfer to baking dish.  roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender.  Removed from oven and let cool about 15 minutes before serving.

2.)  After beet mixture has cooled, place Arugula on plates, top with beet mixture, and finish with a sprinkle of goat cheese to each plate.  A little extra salt and pepper and drizzle of olive oil may be desired.  Serve immediately.

Main Course - Chicken Cacciatore
Approx. 30 minutes prep/cook time

1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 free range chicken breasts, skinless (you can use bone in or boneless, your choice)
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz sliced white mushrooms (any mushrooms will do really, whatever is in your budget, organic is best!)
3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tsp dried rosemary
1  15oz can diced organic tomatoes  (be sure the lining of the can is BPA-Free or else get a glass jar of tomatoes)
2 Tbsp organic tomato paste
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

[TIP:  To clean your mushrooms, use a damp rag or paper towel and wipe the tops.  Do not rinse under water as the mushrooms will absorb the water and cause a spongy/chewy texture instead of the meaty texture you want.]

1.)  Over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil in a medium stainless steal skillet.  Rinse and dry chicken then brown lightly on both sides in the skillet, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

2.)  In same skillet, saute onion until tender and translucent.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute til aromatic.  Add mushrooms and cook, stiring often, until they release their liquid and soften up.  Should take about 6 minutes.  Add 2 Tbsp of parsley, the rosemary, tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar.  As you stir in the vinegar, scrap the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown bits into the sauce -- this will add a ton of flavor to the dish!

3.)  Return the chicken to the pan.  When sauce bubbles, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn chicken, stir sauce, then cook until chicken is cooked thru, about 5 more minutes depending on thickness of chicken.

4.)  Season dish with salt and pepper as needed.  Plate and top with parsley for garnish.  Serve.

Dessert  -  Chocolate Mousse
Make this the night ahead to save time on V-day, 15 minutes to prepare then chill time

2 ripe avocados
30-40 drops pure liquid stevia OR 1 Tbsp Stevita spoonable stevia
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder or raw carob powder
3/4 cup unsweetened almond or rice milk (additional to thin out to your preference)
1/3 cup organic full-fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp brandy or rum (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1.)  Blend all ingredients together and chill.  To spice up the romance, top with fresh organic berries or blend berries into a puree and dollop.  To take it a step further, simmer berries in a small sauce pan until they cook down into a glaze.  Add stevia to taste, but will be very enjoyable plain drizzled over the mousse.

Happy Valentine's Day every one!  Hope you enjoy this menu idea!  Please share any other great V-day recipes you've done in past years or are trying out this year!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Black Bean & Chicken Wraps

2  lbs skinless, boneless, hormone-free/organic chicken
2  Tbsp coconut oil
1  organic green bell pepper
1  organic red bell pepper
1  white onion
2  cloves garlic
1  tsp sea salt
1  tsp cumin
1  tsp chili powder
1  pkg organic whole wheat tortillas (these will be hard to find at a regular grocery store, so save yourself the trouble and just go to your local co-op or Whole Foods store.  Still no luck? Substitute with a lettuce wrap!  Yum!)
1  15oz can black beans

1.)  On a medium setting, heat coconut oil and a little water in a large skillet, add chicken breast.  Sprinkle with half of sea salt and garlic and cook until white throughout.

2.)  Remove chicken and let cool.  Using knife and fork, pull apart the chicken breast until shredded.  Slice bell peppers and onion into strips.

3.)  In same skillet, add enough water to cover the bottom.  Add sliced bell peppers and onion, remaining garlic and sea salt.  Cook for 10-15 minutes.  Add chicken.  Add cumin and chili powders.  Cook until veggies are tender.

4.)  Wrap fajita mixture inside wheat tortilla once veggies are soft.  Serve with cooked black beans.

Serves 4.

Zucchini Creole

We had a huge tub of sliced zucchini in the freezer since this past fall.  We stocked up at the farmers markets and grocery store sales.  I finally decided to use some of it, and this is a great way and QUICK!  I call it Zucchini Creole.  We'll also be trying a zucchini soup sometime soon to use up the rest.   Serves 8

1 1/2 to 2 pounds sliced zucchini
8  ounces sliced mushrooms
1  large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1  clove garlic, minced
2  teaspoons dried leaf basil, crumbled
1  tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon spoonable Stevia
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2  medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1.) Combine zucchini, mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, basil, coconut oil, sea salt, pepper, Stevia, and Worcestershire sauce in a large skillet; cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

2.) Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more, or until tender.  Serve immediately.

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