Hot Lemon Water

I have been trying to solidify the habit of drinking hot lemon water in the mornings, for quite some time, like for 2 years. I would start up, and remember to do it for a day or two, but inevitably, I would forget and then it was over. The reason I wanted to make this a daily habit was because I’ve heard its  praises sung for such a long time from so many different sources. Having warm lemon water in the morning helps flush out toxins and aids digestion(warm liquids will help keep you regular; it loosens up stuff…and this is a much healthier choice than coffee) . Lemons are also a high alkaline food; having alkaline blood (rather than acidic) (ph balance) makes it harder for cancers and other diseases to flourish. Lemons also: strengthen liver, help cure common cold, reduce inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid, are good for your skin, maintain health of eyes, help replenish body salts (especially after a hard work out).

A couple of months ago I decided to start the hot lemon water habit in the mornings again, but this time I came with a plan on when and how I was going to incorporate this into my morning routine and I’m happy to say that I’m still going strong! In the morning, after I read scriptures/meditate and exercise, I then drink my hot lemon water, and while I’m drinking it, I make up my green smoothie which I drink throughout the morning as I’m running kids to school and getting ready.

So, give this a try! Begin each day with a hot/warm cup of lemon water. Oh and a word of caution: lemons can be hard on our enamel, so brush your teeth shortly after you finish your lemon water, which you should be doing in the morning anyway ;).

This is my quick and easy way to make lemon water:

  1. Fill my mug with cool water

2. dump cool water into my small saucepan and turn stove on high (I don’t like to just pour water in because I usually pour too much which makes it take longer to heat up). I like this saucepan with the pour spout…makes pouring less messy for me.

3. Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half, stick your lemon juicer on top of your mug, and squeeze the juice out

4. This is usually the perfect amount of time for my water to heat up to a hot but not boiling temperature. Pour water into mug with lemon juice. Drink immediately.

Hot Lemon Water

1/2 lemon
water

Fill a mug with cool water. Dump cool water into  small saucepan and turn stove on high (I don’t like to just pour water in because I usually pour too much which makes it take longer to heat up). Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half, stick your lemon juicer on top of your mug, and squeeze the juice out. This is usually the perfect amount of time for my water to heat up to a hot, but not boiling, temperature. Pour water into mug with lemon juice. Drink immediately.

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Moroccan Lentil Soup

This was a recipe Scott’s dad shared with me (“shared” meaning, he made sure we had the ingredients when he was over, texted me the recipe, and then said he really liked this soup; I took the hint and made it for dinner while he was visiting.). We loved it! I love all the spices! If you’re still having some cold days, like we are, this lentil soup is warming, healthy, and delicious.

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THE RECIPE:

Moroccan Lentil Soup

6 c vegetable broth
2 c onions, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika (smoked, if available)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1, 28oz can, crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/3 c chopped parsley
1/3 c chopped cilantro
juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable broth in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and saute, adding additional broth as necessary to keep the vegetables from burning. Saute until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices. Saute the vegetables with the seasonings for 1 minute to allow the flavors to bloom. Add the remaining vegetable broth, tomatoes, and lentils and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked. Add the parsley, cilantro and lemon juice and stir to combine. Season with the salt and pepper. If you would like to thicken the soup, use an immersion blender and pulse a few times inside the pot.

 

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Maca Date Shake

This is a great shake for anyone, but especially athletes as it contains dates (many runners and bikers eat dates on their long runs), and Maca Powder which is considered a Superfood because it not only has a positive effect on hormones, but also increases energy levels and stamina. Health benefits aside, I love this shake! It’s almost like having a milk shake. It’s important to enjoy the foods we eat. I love when the shakes about done, but there are some tiny bits and pieces of the dates that have sunk to the bottom. They’re sweet and chewy.

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And a word of advice on the dates. I buy mine at Costco in the produce section, as that’s where I find them for the best price, and unless used within a week or so, should be stored in the fridge, but I will take out the 4 I need for this recipe the morning of, put them in a baggie and let them sit out for a couple of hours until I’m ready to make my shake, because my blender has an easier time blending them up when they’re at room temperature. And I have a high power blender.

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THE RECIPE:

Maca Date Shake
serves 1

1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c dates (about 4 medjool dates, at room temperature)
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maca powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c ice

Place in high power blender, milk first, and blend until smooth.

*Maca Powder: of the cruciferous family (like broccoli), and is considered a Super Food. Grown in the mountains of South America, Maca has a positive effect on hormone balance, energy levels, and is a health booster.

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Broccoli Cheddar Rolls

These broccoli cheddar rolls were inspired from a Lionhouse Pantry cook book. I made these Cheddar Broccoli rolls to go with our traditional ‘breakfast for dinner’ a couple of Sundays ago and it was AMAZING! Okay, Scott and I thought they were amazing, but the kids mostly wouldn’t even touch them because they had green broccoli sticking out of the top. But that was okay with us because Scott and I devoured them, and happily ate the leftovers the next two days. The leftovers were also fabulous, I just warmed them up for about 10 seconds in my microwave and then ate in on the side of a salad or whatever else I was having.

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The dough for this bread is the same whole wheat bread dough I use for our cinnamon rolls. You can grab that recipe here. As a side note, I doubled that recipe when I made these so that I could also make a batch of cinnamon rolls :).

I forgot to take a picture of the dough rolled up, but here’s an older one I took that works just as well. I just want you to see a few things here: I roll out a rectangle onto my floured counter, and then I take my floss (I keep an unscented floss in my kitchen for this very reason) and mark where I’m going to cut, and then I go back with my floss, get it under the dough, and then I use the floss to come up and around the dough and cut it. They make beautiful cuts and they don’t smoosh the dough at all.

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Our son, Chef Charles here, loves to help me in the kitchen which I love! Cooking is so fun when we do it with those we love.

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You could cover it with saran wrap and stick it in the fridge, or leave it out on your counter, if you’re not going to bake it for a little while. They should be great to bake the next morning if you wanted to make it as an overnight roll, and you’d follow the same instructions on the ‘cinnamon roll’ recipe post for that.

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Slather them with melted butter,

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And then bake them for 10ish minutes until some of the edges are light golden, and they’re done!

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Broccoli Cheddar Rolls
*makes about 20 rolls

1 recipe dough for my whole wheat cinnamon rolls
1 c chopped broccoli (or 1, 10 0z frozen bag chopped broccoli thawed and drained)
1 c grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c dried minced onions
1 egg
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. After dough has completed rising, turn out onto a floured surface. Roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 21 inches by 16 inches.  Mix broccoli, cheddar cheese, onions, egg, salt, Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Spread broccoli mixture over dough. Tightly roll up the dough, jelly roll style. Cut dough into 20 slices. Place slices in cavities of a muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray, or on a greased baking sheet. Brush with melted butter.  Place in preheated oven and  cook 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 20 rolls.

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Powdered Peanut Butter & Banana Protein Shake

For those of you who follow me on instagram(elisa_realfoodsmom), you’ll recognize this recipe from a post I did last week.

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I found this powdered peanut butter on sale at Sprouts and picked it up when I saw there were only three ingredients and no refined sugar (peanuts, salt and coconut sugar, which is unrefined).

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Since then we’ve made multiple batches of peanut butter and banana protein shakes! You could also sub the powdered stuff for all natural peanut butter, 1:1 ratio (if you’re watching calories though, the powdered is the way to go).

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THE RECIPE:

Powdered Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Shake
*Makes about 14 oz

10oz unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp powdered peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like sunwarrior vegan mix)
1/2 frozen banana
4 ice cubes

Blend until smooth. Makes about 14 oz!

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Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

If you like egg salads and avocados, you’re going to love this! This is a great way to use hard boiled eggs, which is something we often have on hand. This recipe serves one because I usually make this just for myself for lunch, but feel free to double or triple the recipe if you’re having lunch with a friend (or if you just want more :))

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Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
*makes 1 open-face sandwich

1 hard boiled egg
1/4 medium avocado
1 Tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste
1 slice whole grain bread
6-10 baby spinach leaves

Mash avocado in a small mixing bowl. Peel and chop the egg and add to the avocado. Add the yogurt, green onions, salt and pepper and stir together. Toast bread, add a layer of baby spinach and then top with the avocado egg salad. Eat immediately. Makes 1 sandwich.

241 calories: 10 g fat, 30 g carbs, 7 g protein

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Acai Protein Shake

My macro counting didn’t last very long, and actually, I don’t think I ever hit the protein amount they suggested :). I recently read some research about how too much animal protein in our diet (including dairy, whey etc), spikes the insulin, which reminded me of T. Colin Campbell’s research from his book The China Study, also talking about how we should only be consuming smaller amounts of animal protein to prevent sickness and disease…I should pick that book up again as it’s been too many years. I highly recommend it. Anyhow, I am still counting calories because I love food so much, even whole healthy foods, that I tend to eat more than my body needs, so I’m trying to reign that in a little :). For now I’m trying to eat like the French people(“French kids eat everything” is another great read), with 3 meals a day and one snack. Counting calories helps me to stay within those boundaries. I don’t feel like I’m super hungry all the time because I’m not, I’m getting a good amount of food and of the right kinds of foods, a lot of plants, but I don’t ever really feel stuffed either, which is also good because being stuffed is not good for our stomach.  I have  four more weeks to go with my calorie counting goal, and then I’m hoping I will have established some good healthy habits that I will  continue to keep.

I’ve been finding that my late afternoon snack is often times some sort of a vegan protein shake or some veggies, fruit and hummus.  I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different protein shake recipes and this Acai and chia shake is a good one that’s full of so many nutrients, including omega 3 fats from the chia seeds.

Start by pouring your almond milk into your blender, add the chia seeds and then let it sit for a few minutes (they will swell and get ‘jelly’) while you pull out your remaining ingredients. Add everything else and blend until smooth. You can use a few stevia drops to sweeten or a little stevia powder.

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THE RECIPE

Acai Protein Shake
*makes 20 oz

2 c unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 scoop Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder (or another vanilla, but I love this vegan mix)
1/2 Acai Smoothie packet (could sub another smoothie packet like pitaya)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 drops liquid stevia

Pour milk into blender and add chia seeds. Allow to soak for a few minutes and in the meantime get out the remaining ingredients. Add the protein powder, acai, cinnamon and stevia and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

253 calories; 10 g fat, 20 g carbs, 21 g protein

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Spirulina Power Green Smoothie

I’ve been playing around with my green smoothie recipe, wanting to use both chia seeds and spirulina powder as they have so many health benefits. The tricky part is coming up with a recipe that tastes good when spirulina powder is added. But after playing around a bit, I found one that is delicious and my kids think so too! This recipe makes about 24 oz which means it makes just enough for me for breakfast :).

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THE RECIPE:

Spirulina Power Green Smoothie
*makes 24 oz

10 oz cool water
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp spirulina powder
4 c power green mix (spinach, kale and chard)
5 baby carrots
1/2 lemon, peel cut off
1/2 apple, cored
1 frozen banana
1/2 c frozen blueberries

Pour water into high power blender and add chia seeds. Allow the chia seeds to soak for a few minutes, and in the meantime gather and prep your other ingredients. Add spirulina, greens and carrots and blend until combined, about 10 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on medium power, until smooth (I take my blendtec through two full cycles of blending to get it to the smooth consistency I like). Drink immediately.

*chia seeds get thick and gel-like when they sit in liquid, so if you don’t drink this all right away, store it in a jar in the fridge and before drinking, give it a shake.

-Why a “power” green smoothie

  • chia seeds are considered a super food, high in omega-3 fat, which is something most people don’t get in their typical diet unless they’re regularly eating fish or taking fish oil, also a good source of protein and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals
  • spirulina powder is an algae, fresh water plant, and is also a super food. It is full of minerals and vitamins and is a good source of protein
  • lemons are alkaline and are a cleansing food, also high in vitamin c and antioxidants
  • bananas are high in potassium and are especially a great food to consume before or after exercising. Good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • blueberries are very high in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin c
  • spinach, kale and chard are high in fiber and they act as a broom in your body and sweep up and clear out heavy metals and toxins, also high in vitamin A and vitamin C

324 calories; 4 g fat, 70 g carbs, 10 g protein

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Almond Flax Protein Balls

We love protein bars and balls (I’ve posted recipes for both in the past), and I have a new one for you today which I’m super excited about because it is delicious! You guys, I hide these from my kids, they’re that good. I make them when they’re at school so they don’t even know, and then I put them in our fridge in the garage, behind something big :). I only make 16 at a time which will last me a couple of weeks, or at least a week! But with 5 kids snacking on them,  and begging for more, they wouldn’t last a day in our house. I suppose I could double the recipe….maybe someday I will, and then maybe I will share. Maybe.

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At the very end of this post I will have the macro numbers since my hubby and I are doing an 8 week macro counting challenge…which is hard but kinda fun, like playing a game, and since my husband and I are doing it together we can motivate one another. He’s raising his macros trying to gain a few pounds, and I’m doing the opposite. He’ll text me a couple of times a day with “i’m stuffed” or “I’m so full”, and I text back with some encouraging emoji like a thumbs up for “you got this!”, but inside i’m thinking, “I wish that were my problem, being too full.” Instead I’m mostly not ever full, but I’m not starving either. It’s all good and we only have 6 1/2 weeks to go! :). I’m hoping this whole process will teach me to be more aware of my foods and their caloric content and it’s a good reminder for me that I don’t need to be, nor should I be, snacking all throughout the day and that it’s okay to be hungry, probably good actually, because it means I’m allowing time for my food to digest fully, not overloading my system, and it makes me appreciate the flavor of foods more; everything tastes amazing these days!  Alright, enough of that, let’s get on with the recipe!

In a medium mixing bowl add almond butter, syrup, flax, protein powder and vanilla and stir together. Add almond flour and mix well.

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Place on an ungreased cookie sheet using a cookie scoop to measure. They can be very close together as they will not change in size. Cover with plastic and put in the fridge to chill for half hour or more. Feel free to then transfer them to a smaller tupperware container.

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You can store these in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

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Almond Flax Protein Balls- lightly adapted from Clean Simple Eats
*makes 16 balls; 1 ball is 1 serving

1/2 c almond butter
1/4 c pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp ground flax
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sunwarrior’s vegan vanilla powder)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c raw almonds, ground to almond flour in high power blender (or 1 c almond flour)

In a medium mixing bowl add almond butter, syrup, flax, protein powder and vanilla and stir together. Add almond flour and mix well. Place on a cookie sheet using a cookie scoop to measure. Cover with plastic and put in the fridge to chill for half hour or more. Transfer them to a smaller tupperware container.Store in the fridge or freezer.

111 calories;  7.8 g fat, 6.7 g carbs, 4.1 g protein

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Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Muffins are a nice grab-and-go food to throw in lunches, take on the road or have as an after school snack. And I LOVE when we find an awesome one that the whole family loves and it’s whole grain AND it doesn’t have any refined sugar, which is what you’re getting here! These peanut butter and banana muffins were a huge hit in our house. These muffins are fast(about 10 min of prep time, then 18 minutes to bake) and easy to whip up so give them a try!

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THE RECIPE:

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins lightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
*makes about 18 muffins

1 1/2 c mashed banana (3 large bananas)
1/3 c honey
1/4 c applesauce (or melted coconut oil)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c creamy natural peanut butter
1/3 c milk (almond, cows, they all work)
2 c whole white wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 18 silicone liners (or paper liners or just grease with spray/oil) in a muffin tin. In your Bosch (or with a handmixer and large mixing bowl), combine the bananas, honey, applesauce, egg, vanilla, peanut butter and milk and mix together on low speed. Add the flour, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix again and then using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into each muffin cup (about 2 Tbsp; filled about 3/4 full). Bake about 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a tupperware.

*These can be frozen either in a tupperware or ziploc bag. We pull one out of the freezer in the morning, stick it in a sandwich bag to bring with us, and it’s thawed by lunch.

 

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