Zucchini Noodles with Chili

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This quick and easy lunch is packed with raw ingredients and will totally satisfy you until your next meal! And that’s because its filled with super foods and is bursting with a variety of Asian flavors such as the chili, ginger & sesame dressing, lime, and minced cilantro which really hit a home run blended all together. You don’t need some expensive or fancy spiralizer either. I have a Veggetti and it gets the job done quick for less money. The Veggetti fits right into your hand and has a thin and thick side so you can choose what size noodles you want. But you don’t even need that to make yummy raw zoodles. You can also just use a julienne peeler or a food processor. Hope you enjoy! 😀

Ingredients

  • 1 large organic zucchini
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons Ginger & Sesame salad dressing (I used  Bragg’s but you can make your own if you choose)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce (I love Huy Fong Foods brand)
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • a few sliced red onions
  • 1/2 lime, for the juice
  • dash of Himalayan pink salt
  • For more flavor, add chopped Daiya cheese, optional (I used the Jalapeno Havarti block style)

Simply spiralize the zucchini into a bowl and then season with salt, dressing, chili, lime, and cilantro. Add the remaining ingredients and top with cubed cheese if you like or just go fully raw!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Just An Apple A Day? Why Whole Foods Are Best

apples

“Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” ~1866 Welsh folk proverb

We are all familiar with this well known saying about an apple a day but do we know why? We know apples are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and carbohydrates. Some other benefits with eating apples are vitamins K, B6, boron, pectin, and natural sugar for energy. But are these the only reasons? No. These nutrients are actually just the surface of an “iceberg” of elements contained in apples, and for that matter, elements in all fruits and vegetables.

Apples and other fruits and vegetables contain thousands of phyto-chemicals whose names are almost nowhere to be found in books or would even be familiar to us. But these natural components all work together interdependently, like a huge team of doctors each with a unique function to build our health. That’s a lot of doctors! What nutrition researchers have been doing for far too long is looking at single components in food. What they should be doing is focusing on how these phytonutrients interact as a “whole.” Analyzing nutrients in an isolated sense will not only leave “holes” in discovering their full potential, they will likely produce an incomplete effect on the body and our health.

For the most part, this “standard” of research in isolating nutrients has been part of the problem in the field of nutrition. As a result of these studies, self interested food companies have been successful at selling us processed and packaged food and supplements marketed with a good source of (pick one!) nutrients such as vitamin A, C, calcium or fiber. In the end, we’ve become obsessed with these “parts”for the sake of convenience. Much to our loss, extracting or manipulating nutritional components as an attempt to “improve” what we eat would be like removing the door from a house. What can our body do with just a door?? Protection from disease requires the whole house!

Enriching our food with isolated “plant fragments” may be helpful to a certain point, but it doesn’t provide us with optimal nutrition for preventing disease. The bottom line, is we will never get ALL of the nutrients, phytochemicals, and their interactions with each other from any vitamin bottle as we would from real food. So long as research scientists continue to work in this way of evaluating single pieces of the puzzle instead of gaining knowledge with the “bigger picture,” medical schools, hospitals, and government agencies will continue to downgrade the whole foods concept as the true path to health.

As a matter of fact, identifying this whole foods “whole house” concept isn’t an unrealized theory either. We already have information on how we can multiply the nutritional value slide_249911_1504867_freefrom our food through a strategy known as food synergy. Instead of thinking of food in terms of 1+1 equals 2, research has already shown us that combining certain whole foods such as tomatoes and avocado, apples and grapes, spinach and lemon, oatmeal and orange juice, turmeric and black pepper, broccoli and tomatoes, can actually equal to far more nutrition than we thought we could get. What’s been discovered about food synergy is just the tip of the iceburg. Researchers need to continue focusing on finding these food relationships in order to fully unleash the amazing power of our food.

For now, its time we start thinking for ourselves and eat food in its original form as much as possible while ditching its manipulated and packaged profit selling version. An apple a day is a good start but on average, Americans only consume around 20 pounds of apples a year, around 1 apple a week. Nowhere near the ideal of everyday. But if we’re eating many other whole fruits and vegetables everyday, and in the right combinations, we will have enough “doctors” in the house!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

sources:
http://www.bspcn.com/2007/08/05/9-reasons-why-an-apple-a-day-really-keeps-the-doctor-away/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=15&tname=foodspice
Campbell, T. Colin. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2013
http://www.publichealthreviews.eu/upload/pdf_files/10/00_Jacobs.pdf

Purple Sweet Potato Pie with Raw Pecan Crust

purple pie cover

This pie was absolutely fabulous! It not only tasted great, its mostly raw so its super healthy! While I was making it, the taste and the aroma kept my toddler coming back for “tastes” so if your a mom, your kids will love it. We’re told to eat more fruits and vegetables to keep us healthy but if you want to live longer, we need to eat more purple foods. Their simply packed with antioxidants but most people don’t get enough of this color in their diet. According to a Nielson poll, over 2,400 people were asked which color from produce they eat in a typical day; 85 percent said green, 79 percent said yellow and orange, and only 18 percent said blue and purple!

So what could be smarter than sneaking in those purple foods into desserts and pies? Studies have shown purple foods contain properties such as anthocyanins that improve our memory and vision, slows aging, controls blood pressure, fights heart disease, and prevents cancer. According to the USDA, darker potatoes have more than 4x the antioxidants than other potatoes.

I’m a big fan of raw food but sometimes we can absorb more nutrients by cooking certain foods. But not all cooking methods are equal in retaining the most nutrients. A study has shown boiling sweet potatoes can help keep most of the antioxidant power than roasting, steaming, or baking. This is because boiling thins out the cell walls of potatoes and gelatinizes the starch, which enhances the bio-availability of nutrients. Another bonus in boiling is the glycemic index ends up about half that of baking or roasting giving us a lower spike in blood sugar!

The skin of sweet potatoes have almost 10x the antioxidant power as the inside flesh. When you bake sweet potatoes, the peel loses most of its nutritional power. Baking also reduces its vitamin A by a whopping 80% while boiling, substantially less. From a nutritional stand point, boiling is just better for cooking sweet potatoes. I didn’t use the skin for this recipe but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat them after peeling them off! 😉

If you want to retain ALL of the antioxidant power of purple foods, I recommend using them in juices and smoothies. I love juicing purple fruits and vegetables for their superior antioxidant and anti-aging benefits. Click here for a delicious and super anti-aging juice, Purple Roots of the Earth posted right here on Vegan Health and Yoga.

Ingredients for Purple Pie Filling

  • 2 large purple sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or raw honey if you prefer)
  • 2-3 packets stevia sweetener (I use Sweet Leaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice

Ingredients for Fully Raw Pecan Crust

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup soaked & chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder

Instructions

  1. Boil thickly cut purple sweet potatoes with the skin on for about 20 minutes. Leaving the skin on prevents them from getting too mushy for this recipe. After their cooked, allow them to cool.
  2. Peel off the skin. Using the skin in the recipe will give you lumps in your pie which is why I left them out but if you want to include them you can.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir in all the pie filling ingredients. Fluff up the batter with a hand mixer for about 3 minutes on high.

purple potato filling

4. Next, add all the pie crust ingredients into a high speed blender and pulse until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to push down the sides. Mixture should be sticky and minced.

Raw Pecan Crust

5. Spray olive oil onto a round pie pan to prevent the crust from sticking and breaking apart when serving. Empty the mixture into the pan and push down to form your crust.

raw crust ready

6. Now add the purple pie filling and smooth it out. You can top your pie with anything you like but I used extra pecans and coconut to compliment the ingredients in the pie.

purple pie

7. Refrigerate for a few hours to set. You can serve your pie warm by placing it in a 350 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes.

I served this for Thanksgiving with some cranberry sauce and it was perfect! You can also use your preferred whipped cream or fruit sauce.
Hope you enjoy it! 😀

slice of lifeslice of pieslice2

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Resources:
Why You Should Eat More Purple Fruits and Vegetables
Is it Better to Bake, Boil, or Steam Sweet Potatoes?
The Power of Purple Foods-Dr. Oz
Americans Don’t Eat Healthy

 

Black Bean Walnut Brownies with Avocado Chocolate Frosting

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Would you believe these brownies have absolutely no sugar, no dairy, no eggs, no flour, no gluten, and not drenched in oil?! Its true! These plant based brownies are actually very healthy and full of fiber and heart healthy ingredients! Contrary to what most people believe about the vegan diet, this dessert proves there are infinite possibilities in being plant based.

Transitioning from the usual “boxed” desserts found at the store filled with processed ingredients doesn’t have to be hard and certainly not tasteless. Making brownies from scratch using plant based ingredients is so easy. Avocado frosting may not sound appealing at first but honestly, you won’t even taste it. This frosting is simply amazing and powers up these heart healthy brownies with an ultimate chocolate rich flavor! I used the pineapple to keep the mix moist and for added sweetness. The cranberries give another dimension of tart and sweet. Black pepper brings out the flavor of chocolate.

Ingredients for Brownies

  • 1 can organic black beans, drained and lightly rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pitted soaked dates
  • 1/3 cup carob chips (or vegan chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 heaping tablespoons carob powder (or cacao powder)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Ingredients for Frosting

  • 1 fully ripened medium avocado
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey if you prefer)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon carob powder (or cacao if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

Instructions for Brownies

  1. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Start by soaking the dates in water for about 10 minutes. Medjool dates are softer and would be ideal, otherwise drain the water and chop dates into little pieces for easier blending.
  2. In the mean time, drain and lightly rinse the beans but don’t soak them. Gently shake out the water from a filter bowl.
  3. In a high powered blender, add beans, pineapple, cranberries, dates, carob powder, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, baking powder, pepper and salt. Everything EXCEPT the carob chips and only 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Pulse blend until everything is fully incorporated. Push down ingredients sticking to the sides as needed. Mix should turn out sticky and heavily minced.
  4. Next, remove the blade and fold in the carob chips and the remaining walnuts.
  5. Spray some olive oil in a square glass baking dish to lightly cover the sides and bottom. Spread and press down the batter into the pan evenly. Spray the top with a light mist of olive oil to keep from getting too dry.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Sides should be toasty and slightly dark. A knife should come out mostly clean.

baked brownies

Instructions for Frosting

  1. Add and mix all ingredients for the avocado frosting into a mixing bowl with a fork.
  2. Then, with a hand mixer, blend all ingredients thoroughly for a minimum of 5 minutes. The hand mixer works to fluff up the frosting more generously than using your hand.

avocado chocolate frostingfrosted brownies

After the brownies have cooled, spread the frosting on top. The coconut oil in the frosting gives your brownies a beautiful sheen and keeps the frosting from becoming too runny. Serves a minimum of 9 people.

ready to eat

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Pumpkin Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Granola Cookies

If your looking for ideas on using that pumpkin, here is a great recipe for fall! These cookies have got it all, oatmeal, figs, almonds, coconut, and the best fall flavor of all, pumpkin! Their very healthy and packed with satisfying taste, fiber, loads of nutrients and is a great snack for taking on hikes for sustained energy! Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3-4 minced dried figs
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour or other gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup wide sliced coconut shreds
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup vegan carob chips (or if you prefer, cacao chips)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, smash and whisk bananas until as smooth as possible. Add and stir in stack of cookiespumpkin puree, baking powder, vanilla, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and brown rice flour until fully blended.
  2. Next, mix in rolled oats, coconut shreds, almonds, figs, and carob or chocolate chips.
  3. On a cookie sheet, drop and form cookies with about 2 tablespoons worth of batter for each cookie.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. Edges should be golden brown.

Makes about 14 cookies.

cookie batter

`baked batch

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer