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Chia Seed Ice-Cream (Sugar Free and Vegan)

My favorite commercial right now is the Geico one where ex-NFL player Ickey Woods is waiting in line to buy cold cuts, and gets ridiculou...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunny Day Run - Playlist




I love those first warm runs of spring.  I (almost) never want them to end!  Something about the gentle breeze and warm sunshine makes it my favorite time of year to run.  I decided to share my favorite playlist that I save just for these days.  For whatever reason, each of these songs scream sunshine to me.  Now don't judge, some of these are old school!  But nonetheless they are invigorating and fun to run to.  Share your favorite songs! 

1.   Good Feeling - Flo Rida
2.   Something More - Sugarland
3.   Bluer Skies - Kellie Coffey
4.   Can't Touch It - Rickie-Lee
5.   Beer in Mexico - Kenny Chesney
6.   Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
7.   Paris (Ooh La La) - Grace Potter
8.   Mine - Taylor Swift
9.   Tik Tok - Ke$ha
10.  Best Days of Your Life - Kellie Pickler
11.  Hold On - Wilson Phillips
12.  Invisible Touch - Genesis
13.  In a Little While - Uncle Kracker
14.  I Keep Looking - Sara Evans
15.  Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
16.  4th of July - Shooter Jennings
17.  Give Me Everything - Pitbull
 

Chocolate-Cherry Post-Workout Recovery Shake




What you eat immediately following your workout is such an important part of your fitness routine.  Your muscles are primed and ready for the right fuel to repair the (good!) damage that exercise causes. 

Research has shown that chocolate milk may be one of the best things you can have right after your workout.  That's because the ratio of carbs to protein is ideal for muscle recovery.  People who drink chocolate milk after working out have lower levels of creatine kinase, which is present when there is muscle damage.  These days I try to avoid dairy, so I did a little research and found that it's not so much the milk, but the blend of carbs and protein which makes it more effective than simple carbohydrate drinks.  For that reason, I made this shake with almond milk, but feel free to use dairy or coconut milk.  I like the added benefit of magnesium in the almond milk, which also helps with tight muscles. 

The other ingredient that is so perfect for after a workout is tart cherries.  Studies have shown, and I can attest , that drinking tart cherry juice results in much less pain and muscle soreness after a tough workout.  I was actually a bit shocked at how effective it was for me.  So it was only fitting to combine the best of both worlds with the chocolate milk and cherries, to make the ideal recovery shake. 

Since I used almond milk in place of dairy milk, I pumped up the protein with a scoop of protein powder and kale.  Kale is a great source of vegan protein. 

If you're curious about why you should limit or avoid dairy, check out The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, and Thomas M. Campbell II.  Here's one of the reasons I try to avoid dairy (from the book):

"Casein in milk is a carcinogen and there's a direct relation between the amount of animal protein you eat and likelihood of getting cancer."  Also, "You can simply turn on or off cancer by eating more than 12% animal protein"

You can buy the book here:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1932100660/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=31697403636&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=19516223412747380&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_3la7mjf8yj_b

I also consider it bloating and aging to your skin, so for that reason, this shake is made with almond or coconut milk. 

Ingredients~
1-2 kale leaves
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 cup frozen organic dark tart cherries
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp honey
1-2 cups unsweetened almond milk, depending how thin you like it

*2 leaves of kale gives this smoothie a grassy taste, so start with 1 if you're new to vegetable smoothies, otherwise substitute baby spinach leaves

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Drink within a half hour after your workout. 











Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cake Pop Display Tip!




My kids and I love cake pops.  I really love it when Starbucks make them and I buy them, but for as much as we eat them around here, it makes more sense to make them homemade.  Plus, it's fun for the kids.  The worst part about making cake pops at home?  Trying to stand them upright until the candy melt is set.  I've tried displaying them upside down, but they stick to the wax paper and lose all of the candy coating on the bottom.  So then I tried poking holes in a cardboard box, which is time consuming, not my idea of fun, and still flimsy.  They ended up falling into each other.

 Enter the best cake pop stand - the Boon "Grass Countertop Drying Rack."  My Mother gave me this when I was pregnant with my third baby-it's for keeping all of the bottle parts upright while drying.  We love it and it's always on the counter next to the sink.  As I was making cake pops last week, this caught my eye and I thought, "finally, I found the perfect thing!"  It worked perfectly and ended up being a cute way to display them for my son's birthday party as well. 

I placed a sheet of wax paper over it while I was making them.  After dipping the cake pops, I poked them through the wax paper to dry them.  That way you don't have to clean it if any of the pops drip.  Once all of the cake pops are set up, remove them and the wax paper, and place them back on the "grass" to serve.  Looks like we won't be donating this along with all of our other baby gear:)

Where to buy:
Target (of course) OR:
http://www.booninc.com/products/Grass




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Creamy Corn Tacos with Garlic Black Beans and Sriracha Cashew Cream




 If you need a new idea for Meatless Monday, here it is.  My husband asked for tacos the other night, he probably meant the standard ground beef and cheese version, but I had my own ideas.  I love to watch meat eaters taste a meatless version of their favorite dish and be pleasantly surprised.  Because when you only have vegetables and beans to work with, you have to step it up in the flavor department.  The result, at least in my opinion, is that the dish has more flavor than the original.  And apparently it's my husband's opinion, as he declared these "fantastic."

*These can easily be made vegan by simply omitting the feta cheese.
*If you are not vegan and do not have access to raw cashews, use a little cream cheese in place of the cashews when you blend the corn. 
*If you like extra crunchy tacos, use hard shell corn tacos.  Just heat in the oven and stuff with the finished ingredients. 





INGREDIENTS:
Soft corn tortillas
feta cheese
cilantro
green onion
shredded cabbage or baby spinach leaves (optional)

Creamy Corn Filling:
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in 1 cup of hot water)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
3 Tbsp. green chiles (Hatch canned chopped chiles)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
sriracha hot sauce

Garlic Black Beans:
3 cloves of garlic
1 15 oz. can black beans (rinsed and drained)
turmeric
juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup salsa

1.  Soak the cashews in the hot water for 20 minutes.  Add the frozen corn to a large sauté pan, cook over medium heat.  Add the green chiles, cook for about 5 minutes, until the corn is slightly dry and crispy.  Add the chili powder, salt, and cumin.  Rinse and drain the cashews and add to a Vitamix or food processor.  Add 1 cup of the cooked corn to the Vitamix, and 1/4 cup of water.  Blend until smooth.  If you're having a hard time getting it to blend, add a tablespoon (or more) of water.  Scrape back into the sauté pan with the remaining corn, and mix well.  Stir in 1 tablespoon sriracha and season generously to taste with salt and pepper.  (If serving these to kids, set aside 1/2 cup of corn mixture, and then add slightly less than a tablespoon of sriracha.)

2.  Finely chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle with salt.  Using the side of a large knife, smear the salt and garlic together until it forms a paste.  The salt helps break down the chunks of garlic and create the paste.  In another large sauté pan, heat a tiny bit of coconut oil and 1 tsp of water.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the beans, and cook over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Gently smash the beans down with a fork as you go.  (This keeps them from rolling out of the tacos.)  Mix in the salsa and lime juice, season with a tiny bit of salt and turmeric, scrape mixture into another bowl, and set aside.  Wipe out the sauté pan (you may need to wash it).

3.  Spray the clean pan with cooking spray.  Over medium heat, add 2 tortillas to pan.  After 30 seconds, flip them over and begin filling.  On half of the tortilla only, add 1 tablespoon each of the beans and the corn mixtures.  Top with a tiny bit of feta cheese, chopped green onion, cilantro, and shredded cabbage or baby spinach (if using).  Carefully fold the other half of the tortilla over, pressing down only slightly until it sticks.  Don't press it down too hard or the filling will squeeze out.  Place one hand on top of the taco, and using a spatula, flip towards the fold, not the open side.  Cook until crispy on both sides. 

Caramel-Vanilla Clean & Healthy Coffee Creamer


I loved the first coffee creamer recipe that I made so much that I decided it was time for another flavor.  I recently purchased some caramel extract from Amazon and tried it with a little vanilla and cinnamon.  I love the smooth, slightly sweet flavor, and it works well with the flavor of the vanilla almond milk.  The magnesium in almond milk is very calming to your body, and helps with stiff muscles.  The cinnamon is a wonderful way to start your day, as it stabilizes blood sugars.  Just like the first coffee creamer recipe http://www.sparklesweatandjuice.blogspot.com/2014/02/chocolate-coconut-clean-healthy-coffee.html, this is a cleaner way to enjoy some creamy sweetness in your coffee, as compared to store-bought coffee creamers that are made with  corn syrup, chemicals, and far too much sugar.  If you want to make this even lower in sugar, use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and substitute xylitol or stevia for some of the brown sugar. 

1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp caramel extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon

*If using unsweetened vanilla almond milk, add a packet of stevia

Blend all ingredients in a blender, and store in an airtight bottle in the fridge. 




Monday, March 17, 2014

Smoked Hummus


I like a good smoked anything.  Since I rarely eat meat though, most of my dishes don't have a smoky taste.  Which is why I decided to try a smoked hummus, since I eat hummus almost every day.  But I can't take the credit.  That goes to my baby, whose favorite activity is to stand at the fridge and pull out the condiments from the door.  So one day as I was starting to make yet another quick batch of ho-hum hummus and saw the bottle of liquid smoke on the floor, thanks to the baby, this happened.  And it was oh so delicious.  Of course it's good as a dip for chips or veggies, but I imagine it as the perfect complement slathered onto a gluten free wrap stuffed with grilled veggies.  Either way, it's a great change from plain old hummus. 

Ingredients:

-1 15oz. can of chickpeas
-1 clove garlic
-1/4 cup tahini
-juice of 1 lemon
-1 tsp bottled liquid smoke (start with 1/2 tsp and taste first, if you're unsure of the amount of smoke taste you like)
-2 Tbsp water
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp paprika

1.  Rinse and drain the chickpeas.  Add to a food processor.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. 



The Youthful Skin Smoothie!


You'll want to add this "green" smoothie to your beauty routine.  I've added a bunch of my favorite anti-aging fruits and vegetables, plus some boosters, all in one quick breakfast drink.  Over the years I've learned so much about the skin beautifying qualities of each fruit and vegetable - I truly believe you are what you eat, and that the first place it shows up is on your skin!  Here are a few of the great anti-aging benefits of the ingredients:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Peanut Butter Granola - with 3 variations

 

I've been making this recipe for years.  It takes just minutes, and you only need a few pantry staples.  I first found the recipe in Shape magazine (which originally came from the blog Peanut Butter Fingers - http://www.pbfingers.com/about-2/).  I sometimes switch it up with nuts, seeds, and mini chocolate chips.  The nuts and seeds make it even more filling thanks the the protein.  This is a much cleaner and lower in sugar granola than the ones you find at the store.  I also tried a caramel version recently.  I usually just put this in a jar and sneak handfuls of it throughout the day, to curb hunger and sweet cravings.  But it's delicious in a bowl with vanilla almond milk on top, either for breakfast or a late night snack.  If you can keep your family from polishing it off while it's still on the baking sheet, that is!


Ingredients~

Original Peanut Butter Granola:
4 Tbsp peanut butter
4 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups oats

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a glass bowl, microwave the peanut butter and honey together for 30 seconds, until peanut butter is melted enough to stir.  Stir together, and add the cinnamon and vanilla to combine.  Add oats, and using the back of a wooden spoon, stir and smash together until evenly coated. 

2.  Grease a foil lined baking sheet.  Spread the granola out evenly.  (I like to leave some larger clusters as they are easier to snack on.)

3.  Bake for 8- 10 minutes.  You want it slightly browned, but not burned.  It will crisp up as it cools.  Store in an airtight container. 

Nutty Chocolate Chip Granola:
Same as original recipe, but mix in:
2 Tbsp sliced or slivered almonds
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp Chia seeds
1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
mini chocolate chips

1.  Mix all ingredients well and bake as directed above in original recipe.
2.  Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips after you pull the pan out of the oven, let cool. 


Salted Caramel Granola:

4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp caramel extract (I use Watkin's, ordered from Amazon)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups oats
Pinch of sea salt

1.  Heat the peanut butter and honey in a microwave safe for bowl for 30 seconds, or until melted. 
2.  Stir together, then add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix well and add the oats.  Stir until combined.
3. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 8-10 minutes (same cooking directions as above).
4.  Sprinkle with an additional pinch of salt, if desired. 








Thursday, March 6, 2014

Raspberry-Chocolate Breakfast Tarts with Vegan Cream Filling




My kids and I really liked the first breakfast tarts I made, http://www.sparklesweatandjuice.blogspot.com/2014/01/breakfast-tarts-with-vegan-pumpkin.html, that I decided to try another version-this time with the raspberries my middle son loves so much.  I also switched up the crust, using almond flour instead of oats.  They were delicious!  A perfect choice for spring and summer breakfasts.  The crust with the almond flour is a little softer, so you may need to use a fork to eat them rather than holding them like a muffin - but preparing them is slightly faster than the oats version as you don't need to use a food processor (at least not for the crust).  Plus you get the added protein from the almond flour.  Either way, these are a healthy and filling breakfast or snack.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Blue Pineapple - Green Smoothie for Kids



I've had a few people ask me for recipes that their kids would like, to get them started with juicing/green smoothies.  My favorite tip to make green smoothies taste better is pineapple.  It's super sweet and really masks the bitter greens flavor.  Also, adding a vanilla flavored milk (either coconut or almond), makes it creamy and sweet.  You may want to try this with half the amount of greens first and slowly add more as they get used to the taste.  Using frozen pineapple is also helpful because the colder the smoothie, the less they seem to resist.  I added a few drops of blue food coloring to take away the "scary" green color and make it more fun.  (Fun straws don't hurt, either).  You could also call it "The Whale's Tail Smoothie", whatever helps!  However this drink is great for anyone just starting out with green smoothies, not just the kids!

Ingredients~

1 cup pineapple (fresh of frozen)
1/2 cup blackberries
3 leaves of kale (any variety)
1/4 cup broccoli
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup cucumber
1-2 cups milk (dairy, coconut, or almond-depending on how creamy you want the drink to be)
blue food coloring

*optional- ice, if using all fresh ingredients

Place all ingredients in a blender, starting with the pineapple and cucumber.  Add 1 cup of milk, blend, and add more milk if desired.  Add a couple of drops of the blue food coloring, until the smoothie is the perfect shade of blue!






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Key Lime Pie Green Smoothie (with Napa Cabbage and Spinach)


 My Mother loves key lime pie, so I created this smoothie for her.  She belongs somewhere tropical with her toes in the sand.  I can't eat a piece of key lime pie without thinking of her.  This smoothie is a creamy, tart treat, secretly hiding the goodness of napa cabbage and spinach.  The avocado and banana both help to make it creamy like pie.  How could you have a bad day if you had this for breakfast?  You may be able to close your eyes and pretend you're on the beach, too!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lentil-Quinoa Cakes with Lemony Pesto


We just returned from a cruise -aka ship with a 2 hour feeding schedule.  Which means I need to get off the gluten and sugar and back on track.  Easier said than done, which is why this sounded perfect for dinner tonight.  It's clean and healthy, but still feels indulgent in the way anything with garlic and pesto does.  So I can trick myself into thinking vacation is one night longer.  Until I get upstairs and start in on the 10 loads of sandy laundry, that is.  Sigh.

This recipe is one that I adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen blog, which I believe was adapted from yet another blog.  Here is the link to that recipe:
http://www.sproutedkitchen.com/home/2011/12/29/lentil-meatballs-in-lemon-pesto.html

 I like the original, but found the meatless meatballs a little dense with just lentils, so I added quinoa, as well as a few other tweaks.  I like the idea of a crab cake style cake to make it more like a dinner.  This is perfect served over a bed of gluten free pasta to soak up the sauce.  But today I'm having it over sautéed kale to keep it light.  They also freeze beautifully, so make a double batch!

INGREDIENTS~
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcumbs, preferably Panko
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. tomato paste (optional)
For the Lemony Pesto:
  • 7 oz. prepared pesto
  • 1 lemon
*extra Parmesan shavings for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.  Add the quinoa and the lentils to a pot, along with 3 cups of broth.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat slightly, and continue cooking over a low boil for about 30 minutes.  After 20 minutes you may need to add more broth, up to a cup.  Make sure the mixture is pretty dry as you are going to shape them into patties.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the lentil-quinoa mixture, and all the rest of the ingredients (except for the pesto and lemon).  Mix well. 

3.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil, and brush evenly with olive oil.  Shape the mixture into hockey puck sized patties, or into meatball sized balls, squeezing them together as you go. 

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  While they are baking, stir the juice from 1 lemon into the pesto.  Thin it out until you reach the right consistency by adding more water, lemon juice, or olive oil.  Serve on a bed of pasta or greens, and drizzle desired amount of lemony pesto on top.  Top with Parmesan shavings.




Saturday, March 1, 2014

Best Boosters for your Green Smoothie!

Boosters are a great way to sneak in added nutrition to your green smoothies.  They are quick and easy, and by blending them you are able to hide their taste, I'm talking to you spirulina and maca!

1.  Flaxseeds and Chia seeds-  Both are a source of healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber.  Flax is full of manganese, vitamin B-1, and lignans.  Studies show it may help fight heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer.  Chia seeds deliver maximum nutrition for little calories.  Two benefits chia has over flax is that you don't have to grind them to be able to efficiently absorb the nutrients, and they are very shelf stable.  (I always freeze Flaxseeds, but Chia is fine in the pantry for a year, or longer).  Chia absorbs up to 12 times it's weight in water, which fills you up and keeps you full.  It is full of calcium, fiber, protein, as well as numerous antioxidants.  I also love Hemp seeds, which offer similar benefits, but I love them so much that I top my non-dairy yogurt  with them, to better enjoy the taste and texture.