Vegan, Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins
 

It’s finally strawberry season! After a long winter, I spend the spring in anticipation of the first time I’ll sink my teeth into a perfectly red ripe strawberry from the farmer’s market.

Strawberries are best when they are in season during the summer; when they are freshly picked from the farm; and when they are local. The best place to find yourself a juicy ripe berry is at your local farmer’s market or directly from the strawberry pickin’ patch. You’ll notice that the difference between a fresh summer strawberry and one purchased from the grocery store in the fall and winter months, is that the inside is bright pungent red, rather than pale pink and white. These beautiful berries are packed with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C, manganese, fiber and folate. They are immune boosting, mood regulating, and a wonderful source of antioxidants. Strawberries are known for their beauty boosting benefits and for their ability to promote skin vitality, improve eyesight health, regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, alleviate allergy symptoms and treat arthritis symptoms. Go get yourself some strawberries this summer!

BUT FIRST, A WORD OF CAUTION.

When you are shopping for strawberries at your local farmer’s market, be sure to ask them if they use any pesticides or insecticides to grow their berries, and determine whether they are organic or use organic growing practices. Why?  Sadly, strawberries are ranked the number one “dirtiest” produce on the EWG dirty dozen list. This means that conventionally grown strawberries are the most pesticide laden produce that we can consume. The most recent EWG research reports that 7.8 different pesticides were found on conventionally grown strawberry samples and the dirtiest berries had up to 23 different pesticides. Yuck! These pesticides and chemicals have been linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems. Think twice before buying conventional strawberries, and always buy these little goodies organic.

Once you are stocked up on organic strawberries, you might consider making some summer favorites, like strawberry rhubarb crisp or strawberry shortcake. Instead, try out these strawberry oat breakfast muffins! I made them last weekend for my family, and my husband and toddler gobbled them up.  They are a great sweet treat, on-the-go breakfast, or mid-morning snack. They are both vegan and gluten free. And they’re delicious.

And now, to make muffins.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oat flour

1/2 cup coconut flour 1/3 cup coconut sugar 1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup rolled oats

2 bananas

1/4 coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 lemon squeezed

2 tbsp ground flax

6 tbsp filtered water

1/2 cup strawberries, chopped 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F then lightly grease muffin tin with coconut oil or muffin wrappers.

2. In a bowl, combine the ground flax and water and set aside for about 10 minutes. In a separate small bowl, combine the almond milk and lemon and set aside for 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, salt and rolled oats. Whisk to combine.

4. In a blender, combine the bananas, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup.

5. Pour the wet ingredients from the blender into the bowl with the dry. Add the flax egg and the almond milk mixture to the bowl. Stir everything together with a spatula until well combined.

6. Fold in the strawberries and walnuts. Transfer the batter to muffins tins and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and enjoy! Stores well in glass containers for 4 days.

written for Pure Healthy Living

 
Barb Biagioli
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Superfood Chili
 

This chili is loaded with super foods, including turmeric and combines sweet potatoes with black beans, which is nearly genius - full of great flavors and packed with vitamins and nutrients to keep us healthy during the cold winter months. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

1 Medium Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced
1 Large Red Onion, Chopped
1 Celery Stick, Chopped
1 Purple Carrot, Chopped
5 Garlic Cloves, Diced
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Chili Powder
2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons Red Chili Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Ground Chipotle Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3 cups Vegetable Stock
1 can Crushed Tomatoes
2 cups cooked Black Beans (rinse and soak)
1/2 cup cooked Quinoa
1 Avocado
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

Instructions:

1.  Heat a large pot with olive oil over medium high heat.
2.  Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
3.  Add the sweet potato and cook for about 5 more minutes.
4.  Add the chili powder, garlic powder, red chili pepper, chipotle pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt. Stir to combine.
5. Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, black beans and quinoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir everything to combine.
6. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
7. Cook for 25-45 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft and the entire mixture is slightly thick like a chili.
8. Remove the pot from heat and season with sea salt as needed.
9. Garnish with avocado, scallions, and Greek yogurt before serving.

Store the leftover chili in glass containers and enjoy as lunch or dinner throughout the week. Makes for even better leftovers once the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

Note:

*While the recipe suggests the use of canned tomatoes, I prefer to avoid canned tomatoes because of the BPA lining. I like to use fresh, high quality tomatoes - boil them and reduce them to a sauce with an immersion blender. If you are using canned tomatoes, make sure they are BPA free.

 
Stay Sniffle Free This Allergy Season: 5 Foods That Fight Allergies
 

Our beloved spring has finally arrived! Spring is an opportunity to cleanse the mind and body from toxins, stress, and winter baggage. And with it, comes sunshine, greener pastures and garden blooms. This warmer weather season is known for being a time of renewal and rebirth – a time to detoxify and do a little spring cleaning. It also brings sneezing, sniffles, runny noses and watery eyes – those well-known symptoms of the spring and summer allergy season. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

With flowers in full bloom and the pollen forecast reaching new heights, you’re probably looking for a way to fight those springtime sniffles. Over the counter medications just can’t seem to get the job done and they come with a whole stash of undesirable side effects. Skip the sneezing and kick your allergies to the curb this season with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. You can fight your allergies with an arsenal of these potent plant foods straight from your kitchen. 

1. Pineapples

Bromelain is an enzyme that is found in the core of pineapples and known for its ability to reduce inflammation, especially in the sinuses. Its anti-inflammatory properties are great for boosting the immune system and calming overactive airways. Add some pineapple to your morning smoothie or place atop your favorite acai bowl. 

 2. Berries + Broccoli

Quercetin is considered one of the most abundant antioxidants available to us through a variety of plant foods, helping to fight free radical damage, prevent inflammation and promote longevity. Known as a flavonoid that is found in high concentration in both berries and broccoli, quercetin is an anti-histamine hero. It’s anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agents are superb in their ability to manage a number of inflammatory health problems. Add kale, broccoli, and berries to your snack routine, burritos or buddha bowls.

3. Bell Peppers

Vitamin C boosts the immune system and lowers histamine levels. Known as a natural anti-histamine, it’s a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that treats and reduce allergy symptoms. Citrus fruits, kiwi, and red bell pepper are all rich in Vitamin C.  

4. Kimchi

Prioritize the quantity and quality of the probiotics you feed to your microbiome. Promoting that “good-for-the-gut” bacteria will improve the function of your immune system and reduce the response to allergens. Add in fermented foods like kimchi to boost the healthy bacteria in your gut while benefiting from the vitamins, fiber and antioxidants sourced from bok choy, cabbage, garlic and ginger included in each jar.

5. Collard Greens

Carotenoids include a powerhouse of protective antioxidants and anti-histamines. They fight inflammation and improve immune system activity. Carotenoid containing foods include carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, spinach, kale, sweet potato and collard greens. Try your hand at these fresh and filling collard green spring rolls.

Including a combination of bromelain, quercetin, vitamin C, carotenoids and probiotics in your daily diet is a powerhouse prescription for reducing your allergy symptoms and improving your health. Leading up to allergy season, increase your intake of these plant foods, decrease your consumption of inflammatory animal products, and consider how your lifestyle choices may be impacting your gut health and reactionary response to the spring season’s sunny skies and pollen powder.

You can use food to fight your allergies with a plant powered approach to your plate. By choosing whole foods and prioritizing high quality plant foods, you can support your body’s natural detoxification process, reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune system.

 To truly see the benefits in your health, start by rotating these allergy fighting foods before the season and reap the rewards of reduced symptoms for the season.

written for Pure Healthy Living

 
5 Foods To Boost Your Fertility Health
 

Misinformed dietary and lifestyle choices can play a major role in fertility health, contributing to infertility and conception difficulty. There are a variety of factors that contribute to our reproductive health, making it exponentially more difficult to know how to prepare your body and mind for pregnancy when the time is right. 

Whether you are considering pregnancy or actively trying to get pregnant, you can prepare your body for conception in the months leading up to pregnancy, by choosing nutrient dense whole foods. Proper nourishment prior to conception and pregnancy has a long-term effect on your health and that of your baby’s, ultimately impacting your child’s developmental health and susceptibility to disease; and influencing their appetite, intelligence, temperament and more. 

The research speaks for itself. Did you know that women who eat less fruit and more fast food take longer to get pregnant and are less likely to conceive? On the other hand, recent studies have shown that women who had the highest intake of plant foods via vegetables and healthy fats during the preconception period, were found to have a 66% lower risk of infertility related to ovulatory health.

In the Harvard Nurses Study, results revealed that women who consumed the most animal protein, had a 30% greater risk of ovulatory infertility, further increased to 40% when consuming red meat; even higher at 50% when consuming a single serving of poultry per day. Replacing animal-based protein with protein from plant foods may reduce the risk of infertility and promote a healthy pregnancy. 

The good news? With the proper health and nutrition tools, you can learn how to support the conception of a healthy baby. 

Making changes to your diet can increase your chances of a healthy egg, healthy sperm and healthy pregnancy. To ensure optimal nutritional wellness, pre-pregnancy and beyond, you can avoid harmful foods and practices, while also building healthy habits that promote health and well-being for you and baby. Give these tips a try to boost your fertile health:

ORGANIC FOODS

Women who eat high amounts of non-organic fruits and vegetables have a higher rate of infertility. Consuming pesticides and neurotoxins from conventional produce has a negative impact on our health. If you are currently consuming most or all of your produce, non-organic, start by exploring the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to make your transition reasonable and budget friendly. 

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

Anti-inflammatory foods are wonderful for supporting a healthy immune system and promoting fertility health. Foods that are high in antioxidants also lower inflammation in the body and increase blood flow to the uterus, such as dark leafy greens, berries and broccoli. 

FOLATE RICH FOODS

Eating foods that are rich in folate prior to pregnancy is a priority, as they may prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folate can be found in many plant foods including citrus fruits, beans and legumes, darky leafy greens and green vegetables. It is important to prioritize your consumption of these foods to protect your baby’s development.

HEALTHY FATS

Low fat diets can be detrimental to fertility. Healthy fats, like omega-3’s, help to regulate hormone levels, increase cervical mucus and promote ovulation. Avocados, walnuts, chia and flax seeds – these are the kinds of healthy fats that may boost the health of your egg, improve the bodies sensitivity to insulin, and combat inflammation. 

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES

 Choosing real whole grains and complex carbohydrates will improve your fertility. Do not shy away from real carbohydrates – there are “carbs” in fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes and grains – these are considered complex carbohydrates because of their fiber content. Fiber is crucial for fertility health because it flushes the body of excess estrogen and toxins, working as a broom to sweep the estrogen from the bowels and prevent it from accumulating in the body. Eating a variety of whole grains, vegetables, beans, legumes and fruits will regulate and stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you regular.

If you are planning for motherhood, diet and lifestyle changes can play a huge role in optimizing your fertility. Increased exposure to endocrine disruptors, inflammatory foods and stress have caused a decline in fertility health; but by increasing your intake of whole plant based foods, your body will use those nutrients to neutralize the effects of toxin overload and inflammation. 

Consuming a whole foods plant based diet full of organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds will give you the high intake of fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants to manage weight, improve health and boost fertility. Put more plants on your plate during preconception and reap the rewards of a healthy pregnancy.

 
Vegan Chipotle Cauliflower & Lentil Tacos
 

I love tacos! Truthfully, my whole family loves tacos including my toddler. Super versatile and easy to throw together on a whim, plant-based tacos don’t have to be complicated or boring. With the right seasonings and textures, you can make some pretty amazing vegan tacos. 

I’ll be honest, at first, I was a bit apprehensive to put cauliflower in my tacos, let alone lentils. But the combination of the two textures, makes the perfect tiny tacos that please both plant and meat eaters, alike. 

For this recipe, I used corn tortillas. They are a bit heartier in texture, compared to flour tortillas. Unlike many flour tortillas that are full of artificial ingredients and inflammatory oils, the ingredients in the corn tortillas are simple – organic corn, lime and water. You can often find them refrigerated or in the freezer section at your grocery store, a health food store or the farmer’s market depending on where you live. 

Compared to your average taco, these plant-based tacos are full of health boosting properties, including a plethora of vitamins and minerals. The lentils are rich in iron and folate, and an excellent source of protein. They cook up in about 15 minutes and make great leftovers for salad or buddha bowls, and of course, more tacos. Consider soaking your lentils prior to cooking to help ease with digestion. The cauliflower is a cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable known for its impressive health benefits. It is high in fiber, a great source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and will give you a boost of vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene while supporting healthy digestion and detoxification. 

To top off the tacos, I love to use fermented foods, like turmeric sauerkraut or kimchi. They give it an added crunch and health boost, populating your gut with healthy bacteria. For added flavor, I use a turmeric garlic sour cream, made with coconut yogurt and spices. The addition of the turmeric makes these tacos you can truly feel good about. Turmeric is the active ingredients in curcumin – known for its anti-inflammatory and medicinal health benefits. It is also considered an adaptogen – that helps to counteract the effects of everyday stress on the body. 

All in all, these tacos are a game changer – both for your palate and your health. Whether you’re celebrating taco Tuesday, cinco de mayo or a good old-fashioned Friday, these tacos surely have a place on your plate. 


Makes: 8 Tacos
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Roasted Cauliflower
1 large head cauliflower
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Lentils
1 1/2 cups french lentils, cooked
1/2 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
2 tbsp vegetable stock

Turmeric Garlic Sour Cream
1/2 cup coconut yogurt
1 garlic clove
1 lime, squeezed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
fresh black pepper
1 tbsp water


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Chop the cauliflower into florets and toss with all the spices a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes until they crisp.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the lentil filling. Saute the chopped onion and garlic with a bit of vegetable stock. Once fragrant and browning, add the cooked lentils and spices. Cook until the lentils absorb the stock and flavors, about 10 - 15 minutes.  

  3. Prepare the Turmeric Garlic sauce. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  

  4. Assemble the tacos - add the lentils, cauliflower and drizzle the turmeric sauce over top. 

  5. Other fun toppings: cilantro, avocado, kimchi, sauerkraut, red onion, red cabbage. Enjoy!

written for Pure Healthy Living