I was excited to share this recipe with you guys, because I got really good feedback on the granola recipe I posted a week or so ago. This yogurt goes really well with the granola and it’s such a great intro to raw “cooking”. This yogurt is so easy to make it’s kind of a joke.
Since I have learned how to make this yogurt I have made a slue of different raw salad dressings, dips, pesto pizza sauce and even frozen yogurt (recipes still to come) using this yogurt as a base.
2 cups of young thai coconut meat OR 2 two cups of soaked raw almonds (soaked for 24 hours) OR one cup of each
One cup of coconut water (bit more or less depending on how thick you want it)
1/2 teaspoon probiotic blend powder or 2 probiotic capsules (open the capsules and just use the powder)
Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Note: if you don’t own a vitamix or blendtec blender then you may NOT want to use the almonds. I also peel my almonds after they have been soaked, but it’s not imperative.
Pour mixture into a container that has a lid, but don’t put the lid on just yet. Cover the yogurt with paper towel and let it sit out for 4-6 hours (depending on the temperature and humidity of your room) until the probiotics start to activate and make the yogurt tangy. On hot humid days 4 hours should be sufficient and cold days you will need the whole 6 hours. You can taste it at 4 hours and if it’s really tangy like yogurt and it has thickened, then it’s likely ready. Cover with a lid and put it in the fridge.
This delicious yogurt should be good for a few days in the fridge.
If you don’t like the bits of almond skin in there then you can drain the yogurt through a cheese cloth.
To make the next batch you do not need more probiotics, a spoonful of the previous yogurt will be enough to culture the new batch. When you do this you will not need to let it sit out for the whole 6 hours. 4 hours should be enough time.
If your yogurt starts to go pink then you have left it out for too long and you should start over. DO NOT EAT PINK YOGURT PLEASE!
Good luck with this recipe and keep me posted on how your yogurt turns out.
How about if I very cleverly package it with the word “Organic” on it? “Vegan”? “Gluten-Free”? “Reduces Appetite”? “No Sugar Added”? Oh oh, I know… “Fat-Free”!
We are all taught, from a young age, that heroin–no matter where you buy it, how much it costs, and how cleverly it is packaged–is garbage. When it comes to what we eat, we have a harder time distinguishing between what is healthy, and what is garbage.
As a general rule, if you would be extremely concerned if your dog got into it, and ate it, then you probably shouldn’t be feeding it to your kids either. It might also be a good idea for you to pass on it too. All jokes aside, thanks to brilliant marketing, it is getting harder and harder to know how to properly read a food label, and then accurately assess if it’s nutritious, or toxic.
For the most part, real food is not preserved in a package, which eliminates the space to write these tricky little labels, or a list of ingredients. Real foods (healthy foods), have a short shelf life; are one ingredient long; can’t be stored in a cardboard box in your pantry for months; and are unrefined, whole-foods. Thus, if you are reading a label, then that is a good sign, that it does not qualify as healthy.
That said, in this day, packaged foods are so popular for a reason. They are convenient, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even I have some packaged foods in my cupboard at this very moment. When I buy these foods, I read the labels, and do my best to determine which of the options, in my opinion, is less toxic to my body. Words like “natural” or “calories” have little to do with my decision. To me, it’s all about the quality and quantity of the actual ingredients. This post, which is #5 out of 5 Simple Ideas That Completely Changed the Way I Eat, is meant to help make reading these labels, a little less deceiving.
Each food in it’s natural unrefined state, contains in that food, all the nutrients needed to properly metabolize it. For example, raw sugar cane, before separated into two parts–refined white sugar and blackstrap molasses–can actually be considered healthy. Our body recognizes it; can metabolize it; and readily obtain nutrients from it. White sugar is devoid of it’s nutrients, so in order to digest it, it must steal from your body all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids required to metabolize it. Furthermore, refined sugar is robbed of it’s fibre. Fibre is good because it slows down the rate at which a food is digested. This is important because it reduces the likelihood that the sugar will be released rapidly into your bloodstream–causing a spike in blood sugar and insulin (the fat storing, stress hormone) release. My top three choices for added sweeteners are, dates (a whole food), maple syrup (often not raw) and honey (not vegan), simply because consuming these doesn’t mean my body has to be pillaged of it’s own nutrients in order to digest it.
Then there is also the “5 ingredients or less” rule. The rule is…don’t buy anything that contains more than five ingredients. Again, 5 ingredients or less doesn’t classify it as healthy, but I do think it’s a good idea to avoid most products that have more than 5 ingredients in it. Greater number of ingredients can mean more processing, and greater toxic load. Especially, if it sounds like one or more of those said ingredients were made in a laboratory.
One of these things just doesn’t belong here. Can you guess what it is?
A-is for Apple
B-is for Brazil Nut
C-is for Calcium Caseinate
And what about here?
Let’s start giving ourselves more credit… Identifying healthy, is this easy. Go with your gut, not a fancy label. While it’s true, when buying produce organic is often a better choice, that doesn’t apply to everything. Don’t be a sucker for marketing, fancy brown paper bags, and expensive price tags. A creative campaign never trumps the extraordinary intelligence of Mother Nature.
For a nutritionist, the word “superfood” is kind of a double edge sword. I, for one, am excited about this new trend, and encourage people to eat superfoods. I can only hope my new term “superfood me” one day grows to be as well known as “supersize me”. On the flip side, I fear that following this trend, without educating oneself, can actually lead to nutritional deficiency, allergies and binge eating. Yet, I understand that not everyone has the time or ability to learn about, and stay up to date with all the nutritional information out there… the truth is, they really don’t have to go that far to be healthy. There’s a trick to knowing if a food is a superfood, and you’re in luck because I’m about to share it with you. Now you don’t have to be a nutritionist, doctor, scientist, or journalist to be the first to know if something you are eating qualifies as a superfood. The most important thing to remember is that there is no one food coming to save you, no one nutrient that holds the key to a long, healthy life. When it comes to making the right food choices, the key ingredient is the spice of life- variety.
Superfood: A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
That’s it! Any nutrient-rich food qualifies as a superfood. So what is a really good indication if a food is nutrient-rich?
No, not like smarties 🙂
Live, whole-foods, vibrant in color are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, and fibre, all of which are especially beneficial to your health. Each color is unique in the essential nutrients it contains (for example, orange foods indicate a presence of beta-carotene. In your body, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A–an essential nutrient for your eyesight and a powerful antioxidant) for this reason, to help avoid nutritional deficiencies and to ensure a wholesome, balanced diet, it is important to incorporate an abundance of all colors of the rainbow. When preparing each meal, one of my main goals is to decorate my plate with a prism of colours; greens, blue, yellow, red, orange, purple and so on. The more chromatic your plate, the more superfoods it contains and the more bountiful in essential nutrients. Of course, not every plate needs to contain all the colours, but as a general rule, I like to aim to consume all these colors in the span of a day.
Interior designers would agree with me that decorating is not limited to color. Additionally, adding an array of textures as you design your plate (ex. crunchy or chewy) plays a critical role in helping you feel satiated, invariably reducing food cravings after your meal. You often see an example of this in restaurants, when you order a salad, you may notice it is garnished with nuts, seeds or dried fruits.
Have fun with your meals, it’s not about labelling foods as “good” or “bad” and it’s not about counting calories. Fruits and vegetables are vibrant in color, high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. If your plate is mainly white, beige or brown, then it’s likely lacking a medley of nutrients. Mix it up!
Decorate your plate is part 2 of 5 simple ideas that changed the way I eat. Adding colour and texture to your diet is so elementary even a child could do it. In fact it’s an exciting, guilt-free way to introduce healthy eating habits to your children too.
I am looking forward to hearing if any of you implement these ideas and how they work for you. I invite you to repost or share with friends if you feel they may benefit from any of these posts. I am learning as you are, so your feedback on the blog is really appreciated by me and by other readers. Feel free to comment directly on the blog 🙂
As a nutritionist, I do my best to practice what I preach and exercise all the tools I have learned in my studies. Of course, like everyone else, I have days where I eat things that I know I shouldn’t be eating, but for the most part I make my best effort to be as healthy as I can be. People often make comments about how “good” I am or they say things like “you have so much willpower, I could never do that.” The truth is I haven’t always been this way… In fact I started out on the opposite end of the spectrum… it was not an uncommon practice for me to eat ice-cream for breakfast. It took years of learning about nutrition, the body, and lifestyle choices to get this far and I still have a ways to go. I went from a junk-foodoholic, to what some people would describe as a health nut. Day to day it appeared as if nothing was changing, but as I look back everything is different. I would like to share 5 of the simplest ideas that largely changed the way I eat.
These 5 ideas will be spread out over 5 separate posts. If any of it resonates with you, then I encourage you to try each one as we go along. And of course your feedback is always appreciated.
#1. SAY NO TO CRACK
What incredibly addictive substance is hard, white, crystal like structure; rots your teeth; and according to Psychology Today, gets you hooked through invoking a feeling of euphoria triggered by dopamine, the pleasure-inducing chemical in our brain? Well if you guessed CRACK, you’d be wrong, cause I was talking about SUGAR.
I know what you are thinking, in my title it said “simple ideas” and we all know cutting sugar from your diet is as simple as shoving a pencil through your own eye.
Morning coffee with sugar and a low-fat muffin with extra sugar.
Healthy mid-day veggie snack, dipped in a sugary salad dressing.
Lunch: a cup of liquid sugar (Pop or juice) to wash down two slices of bread (baked with sugar) stuffed with some kind of luncheon meat containing sugar.
Dinner: something sprinkled, dipped, coated or marinated in sugar, with a side of something else sprinkled, dipped, coated or marinated in sugar… and don’t forget your pop.
Dessert: I think it’s safe to assume there is going to be some sugar.
There are a ton of variables that lead to the craving of sugar, but one of the most common and maybe easiest to manage is low-blood sugar. When your blood sugar gets low, your brain sends some very powerful and impossible to resist signals for you to quickly eat something. So, we do exactly that.. we tend to choose from the above meals, or something likened to them. This is too much of a good thing, your blood doesn’t need all that much. In fact, your blood only needs a very small amount at a time, even a tablespoon of extra sugar in your bloodstream can cause you to go into a diabetic coma. After eating a sugary meal, we now have excessive, toxic amount of sugar in our blood stream. Once your body senses this extremely dangerous level of sugar in the blood, what happens next is–insulin (also known as the fat storing hormone…super awesome for us ladies! NOT!) comes to the rescue and saves you from what you just ate. Our bodies are really freaking cool this way. They respond very quickly in this emergency state, buuuuuut, there’s always a but…Insulin rushes in and takes the toxic dose of sugar from your blood and stores it, mainly in the abdominal region, as you guessed it.. BELLY FAT! What’s even more exciting is, when all that insulin is released, it can take with it from your blood, ALL the sugar you just ate. Hey look, that takes you right back to where we started–low blood sugar again! Don’t worry, it wasn’t a complete loss, you did gain all that super sexy abdominal fat. By now the low blood sugar has got your brain sending those oh so familiar signals, inducing cravings that seem near impossible to refrain… Good thing you packed that sugary mid-day snack.
If you start your day with a huge hit of crack, chances are you’ll be hitting that crack-pipe all the live long day.
The sugar train works much the same.
Try a half-cup of fresh fruit (ex. grapefruit) or berries before you eat any meals of the day. This will help bring your blood sugar to a safe level, which may reduce cravings and can quite possibly help you make better food choices for the duration of your day.
Unrefined, whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, are high in fibre, which slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream. Processed or refined foods (white sugar, sweeteners, white breads, pastas, packaged foods etc) are striped of their fibre, causing rapid spikes to your body glucose level, invariably leading to insulin release.
It is very important to refrain from baked goods, and heavy starchy or refined carbs, especially at breakfast. Sure, you’re more likely to burn off these early-morning calories, but you’re also now highly likely to ride the sugar-coaster all day.
Vegetables all always a safe bet.
Physical exercise is an excellent way to help balance blood sugar levels, this is why we tend to have less food cravings when we are physically active.
I have always wanted to try a juice-fast, but haven’t for various reasons. So when I had to have my wisdom teeth removed only 10 days before I was headed for my travels–talk about life giving you lemons–I decided to take my lemons and make juice. This is a summary of my experience.
BEFORE THE FAST
Health Concerns: I am fairly healthy, but I have had constant trouble with inflammatory conditions. Much of which were abated after I went gluten-free in 2011, but I have had two inflammatory conditions that continued to affect me.
Addictions or vices: As a nutritionist these are hard to admit. Caffeine, sugar, chocolate and ice cream 🙁
Typical diet: About 90% raw food diet. Maybe two or three servings of animal protein a week. Depending on the week, one cheat day with sugary treats, chocolate and ice cream and usually all in one sitting… don’t judge me.
Weight: Not 100% sure, I failed to weigh myself because weight loss wasn’t the goal, but I’m usually pretty bang on about my estimated weight when I look in the mirror (I have weighed myself A LOT in my past obviously) and if I had to guess I would say I was probably around 116-118lbs.
Medications: I was on no prescription medication prior to the juice fast. However, due to my wisdom teeth surgery I had to take antibiotics, ibuprofen and extra strength tylenol.
Supplements: I continued use of my probiotics through out the fast.
Not much happened today, I pretty much slept for the majority of it.
This was another uneventful day…you don’t work up much of an appetite just laying in bed and watching movies. I think traveling to the freezer to get an ice pack for my face was about the extend of my physical activity that day.
Here’s where I started to feel hungry and where cravings began to reveal themselves–predominantly the craving for a crunchy texture. There were random moments when I would impulsively reach for food with little thought, simply habitual, I almost had to remind myself that I was fasting. I’ve heard many times in the past that the third day is usually the hardest day to get through, but if I had to rate it’s difficulty from 1-10, I would say it was about a 6. I was quite pleased that I made it through this day with little trouble.
I came to realize that it had been 3 days since I experienced any inflammatory symptoms, but couldn’t definitively say if the juice fast contributed to that in anyway, because after all I was taking post surgery anti-inflammatories.
4 days without my morning dose of caffeine and I didn’t miss it at all, nor did I experience any difficulty starting my day without it. I had an abundance of energy on day 4, and an even greater abundance of food cravings…life sure has a cheeky little way of packaging experiences. I craved all sorts of things this day, random flashes where I could phantom smell, and even taste an array of aromas, textures, flavours of foods– Warm, buttery, salty popcorn was the strongest craving that day. I considered eating, but instead I continually reminded myself that it was probably withdrawal and if I just powered through it, then it wouldn’t be long before the cravings would subside. For me day 4 was the suckiest.
Day 5 was a breeze, until I took a nap late in the afternoon, woke-up, got my period and decided that meant I deserved ice cream and chocolate. FAIL! I must say I quickly grew to be grateful for this defeat, because this is when learned that one of these two foods or maybe even both were the source of my inflammatory conditions. 10 minutes hadn’t even passed before I started having trouble. I am certain this wasn’t psychosomatic because at this point I was more likely to be looking for reasons to keep eating my ice cream than looking for reasons to have to put it down.
Brushed myself off and continued the fast. Exercise isn’t really recommended when cleansing, but I had been so sedentary that week my body just needed a run. I had the best workout of my life that day. I felt strong, energetic and healthy. I drank 4 quarts of juice that day. I needed larger quantities to feel full, but was completely satiated by the juice alone. I loved this day.
I was no longer taking the ibuprofen or extra strength tylenol. The only medication I was taking at this stage was the antibiotic.
Another awesome day, felt great and no cravings. I did experience some symptoms of detox that day (use your imagination) but nothing crazy.
Still no sign of inflammation problems, which up until my fast, had been perpetual.
Felt so good that I wondered why I didn’t jump on the juice-fast bandwagon long ago.
Wished I had weighed myself at the start, because I definitely lost some weight and was disappointed I wouldn’t have accurate numbers for my blog.
Loved juicing so much at this point that I was trying to sort out a way to pick it up again–and maybe for much longer– once I travelled to Australia and settled in. This was also my last night with my friends before my trip. We got together that night and my juice-fast experience came to a close as I sipped on a glass of wine.
I have been in Australia for four days, have been eating solid foods and picking up fresh, raw juice whenever I pass a juice bar. I bought a Breville juicer today, it’s not as fancy as my Greenstar cold-press juicer back home, but for only $90 I was pleased with how it worked. I think it will be a while yet before I attempt to go strictly on juice alone. I’d like to feel more settled in my new environment before I take on a challenge of that caliber, but it’s certainly on the list. For now, I am just juicing A LOT and I still feel pretty damn good.
Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Two years ago the universe sent a series of events my way, that were the catalyst’s that catapulted me in a completely new life’s direction and environment. Over night there was a drastic change in the habitat that I had been surviving in for the preceding 6 years. I remember my mind flooding with reasons why I may not have had the ability to lead this new life, endless list of reasons as to why Icould potentially fail. Unfortunately failure was not an option. I simply wasn’t going to crumble and die! I had no plan and so I prayed, “Please God or universe or divine power, please tell me what to do, just tell me the next step I should take. I am not asking for anything except–guidance. Amen” Once I opened my eyes the word ‘FAITH’ appear in front of me, barely visible, suspended in mid-air. “Ok, That’s something…I suppose.” I thought to myself, “Not only am I completely lost, but now I am seeing things too… this should be good.” I grabbed a sharpie-pen and I wrote the word out on my left hand, in the same bold, capital, block-letters, just as they appeared in the vision.
What was I supposed to do with this word? Faith in what? As the kid growing up who used to take apart all the electronic things in our house just to see how they worked and where it all started, I had a little trouble just simply having faith. None-the-less, I was certainly going to give it a try, I mean, these were letters suspended in space–that almost never happens, unless of course you are baked. No more than a day later, I spotted this word, etched in a little, silver, pendant in the jewelry case at Winners of all places. Obviously I was going to buy it, I mean who wouldn’t? Suspended letters in space have now magically appeared before me in real matter. You could say I wore it religiously. On days when I would feel lost–catching the necklace in my reflection as I passed a mirror–always gave me a tiny dose of strength. The constant reminder of the word “FAITH” gave me the ability to not only keep looking forward, but to also walk away from my past and let go of it, with a little bit of grace.
The thing about Faith is– it works better when you know what you have faith in. At the time, I simply had faith in the idea that in the end it was going to be alright and if it wasn’t alright yet then it must not have been the end. I had trouble with completely accepting the idea of having faith in GOD alone.
When I was growing up my stepfather–who you could say was very religious–introduced my sister and me to Christianity. At the time, learning, understanding and accepting everything he taught us, was something I needed to adapt to, in order to survive in my environment. My step-father, bless his heart, was our perceived life-line in that time and space. He provided for my family, in addition, my mom found some security in his intelligence, drive and social-status and consequently, so did I. He also believed in the idea of “spare the rod, spoil the child” and I wasn’t a huge fan of the rod, so the few questions I had about that faith, I kept to myself, burried them deep in the depths of my mind and I was certainly not going allow those thoughts to grow. Doing this was imperative to my survival–not that I connected all this at the time. I believed whole-hearted that all the scripture in Bible should be taken literally and when myself or any other human-being did not live accordingly, then they would without a doubt be sent into a eternal, fiery-pit, of doom and darkness, for the rest of eternity. Not a heavy idea to put on a child heart at all! I can’t imagine why I grew up to be so scared of the world. The stories and imagery made just enough sense to me that I could convince all the cells in my body that they were true. Survival of the fittest thoughts. Confidence in these perceived facts and this trust in something outside of me, molded much of who I was in grade school. I even went so far as to tell one of my closest friends in the 9th grade, that she was going to hell for choosing to have an abortion, and I thought this was a good idea because I was saving her soul. Clearly, I was a good person for telling her these things.
Like all things in life, changes occurred and in my late teens, ignoring those little questions I had about organized religion, no longer suited me. Moreover, my new habitat had the right conditions that allowed those questions, thoughts or seeds in my mind to grow. As they grew, the more I adapted to the idea that my beliefs just weren’t working for me anymore. I grew to describe myself as “spiritual, but not religious” this was another beneficial adaptation to my thoughts, because it allowed me to connect to my next life-line.
At the age of 22 I met someone… I found him truly fascinating, we shared many of the same ideas about the spiritual world and we had an incredible ability to teach each other things. This man, my perceived soul-mate; was my best friend; he was also educated; had confidence in his future direction; he came from a good family and he took care of me in many of the same ways my step-father did, so I married him. I loved him dearly, but a lot of the confidence that I had displayed during this time was a result of a sense of security we gave each other Together the two of us were a force to be reckoned with, we were a power couple to say the least. He was a doctor and taught me all about health and wellness, an area which I always had a keen interest in. He displayed so many traits that I perceived were missing or under-delevoped within me, and I am certain he felt exactly the same way. We both had a false sense of wholeness, and all we needed was each other to have the confidence to face the world
I now had an increased sense of confidence and I felt it was time for me to go back to school and learn about an area that interested me. Maintaining a healthy body was always high in my value list, so I first studied personal training. I had no intention of ever being a personal trainer, my occupations were being a wife and a make-up artist in the TV and film industry, I just wanted the knowledge of the mechanics of exercise for myself. While exercise is undoubtable a huge factor in maintaining a healthy body, it wasn’t long before I realized that I needed to learn more about nutrition (a study that fascinated me) if I wanted to achieve and or maintain my ideal physical form. After a considerable amount of debate in my mind about whether I could actually do it, I decided I was worth the investment and I enrolled in a program to become a nutritionist. I felt I would be able to do this because I had this amazing support system in my husband, who was intelligent and could help me through these two years.
It was near the end of my first semester where I first learned that there was an undeniable link between nutrition and mental well-being, and it was then for the first time ever, that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I went to my husband and shared my dreams to continue studying, eventually combining nutrition and counselling and help people heal themselves. His reaction was not one I had expected and only two days later I found out exactly why… For the previous three weeks he had been preparing to leave me… and he did just that.
“I don’t love you anymore.”
This was the event that lead me to need that faith necklace. I was desperate to find faith in something and even though I couldn’t describe what I had faith in, I continued to have it. Even though there were days when I didn’t even want to bother to wake up, I continually got up every morning at 4:30 am for my morning workouts, worked 16-hour days to save money for my tuition and continued my studies. I was a heartbroken, insecure singe female, armed with only faith in, who knows what, and a million fears…it was now time to face ALL of my fears. This included jumping off a bridge (of course attached to a bungee cord) With each fear I faced and with each passing day, my confidence in myself started to grow.
It was about 18 months after my separation where I met a girl randomly on the street who for no reason started telling me about her recent separation. I could feel her pain with every fibre of my being, this girl was me, only a year earlier. I explained the story of my faith necklace–as tears filled her eyes she said to me “My friends don’t understand what I am going through, I think you will be the one to help, I must have met you for a reason.” –I knew then that telling her the story of my faith necklace was not enough and what I really needed to do was give her the experience too… so I took off my necklace and I tied it around her neck. The two of us instantly burst into tears, it was without a doubt the right thing to do, but the moment I saw it suspended around her neck, I realized I had just given my external power-source away.
Days later I randomly found another pendant online–it really resonated with me at the time–the script read the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Over the quote was a picture of what appeared to be a mustard seed plant. I bought the pendant, but had no idea what a mustard seed plant represented. One day, out of sheer boredom I googled images of mustard seed plants and what I found blew me away. A collection of images with a plant and the word “FAITH”. I had no idea these two things could be linked. Turns out there is a scripture in the bible that reads “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Facing my fears; trying to live by “Be the change you wish to see in the world”; exercising the idea of having faith as small as a mustard seed were the perfect combination of nutrients my brain needed to product the thoughts that grew to new beliefs about myself. I finally granted myself the permission to conceive the idea that the only power-source I could eternally keep faith in (complete trust or confidence in someone or something) was ME.
From that moment on I vowed to myself that I would actively choose to stop believing in all the lies or fears that crippled me for so many years. From that point foreword only thoughts that were from a place of love for myself were allowed live and grow and flourish inside of my mind.