Coconut Goji Chip Smoothie

Living outside of the city can have its setbacks when it comes to finding healthy, vegetarian fare. And until the juice bar craze set in, there were pretty much no local restaurants that I actually felt good about eating at. I guess there still aren't since we're talking about drinking here rather than eating, but I'll take what I can get. I think about this quite a bit, and often wonder why on Earth I'm still slumming in the suburbs. City living seems more my speed. It would be nice to step out of my comfort zone, explore a new territory, get out of the house a little more. But then how could I keep up this lazy, homebody facade I've seem to mastered in the past 28 years? And the mere thought of having to put on real pants everyday seems a little inhumane. I do love walking, but walking in 20 degree weather, or when it's snowing, or raining, or not sunny and 70? I wore a down jacket while vacuuming my more than comfortable 75 degree house yesterday. The struggle is real.

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite smoothies at a local juice bar, The Green Light. They opened up shop in the town next to mine about a year ago, and it's been really nice not to have to drive 30 minutes for a green juice. Besides having delicious skin and body loving superfoods and drinks, everyone working there is so nice and knowledgable about health and wellness. The owner and his partner are so passionate about this lifestyle, that I'm always learning something new when I stop in. I have them to thank for my love affair with wheatgrass. And although daily juice bar trips can really put a dent in your wallet, when you make your health a priority, it doesn't seem to hurt so much. You might stop spending money on things that don't have as big an impact on your well being...until you see a Target.

Coconut Goji Chip Smoothie
The addition of frozen watermelon adds such a great slushy 
texture to a smoothie, while really bulking it up for little calories and 
lots of skin loving vitamins and antioxidants. I stock up over the 
summer, and freeze it by the bagful. 

1 1/4 cups coconut water
1 banana, frozen
1 cup diced watermelon, frozen
1 tablespoon goji berry powder (or 2 tbsp whole berries)
2 tablespoons cacao nibs

Blend everything together, and enjoy! Top with additional goji berries, cacao nibs, and coconut flakes if you're feeling extra fancy. Sip, slurp, and dream of summertime. xx


Toasted Sesame Kale + Coconut Bowl with Sauteed Mushrooms + Scallions

Another post I did for Sakara Life!

I get a lot of recipe inspiration from various social media outlets. When I started blogging in 2008 other food blogs were my main source, but since then, the world of social media has exploded, and so has my supply of mouth-watering images of food. Pinterest and Instagram have been absolute game changers. Want to quickly kill two hours while simultaneously increase your appetite and give your do-it yourself-esteem a slap in the face? Visit either of these websites. Besides the fact that they make my inner Martha Stewart shrivel when I see pictures of gorgeous closets I'll never fill, beautiful homes I'll never own, furniture I'll never reupholster, and holiday decorations I'll never make, they are a really great spot for meal ideas. My sister and I always say that food is the one luxury we can afford. So I may not ever get to dine in the same kitchen as these people, but I can eat the same meal - probably better if I'm behind the knife (toot toot).

Heidi Swanson's recipe for kale salad with toasted coconut is all over the blogosphere, and is delicious just as written. But when reading some comments on the Sakara Life instagram account, someone had asked for ideas on cooking with mushrooms. I'd recently made Heidi's recipe, and knew that sauteed creminis would make a perfect addition. Not to mention her recipe makes four servings, and I always end up eating half of it, which amounts to a few hundred calories in oil consumption, and a couple hundred more in coconut flakes. And while all of those calories come from healthy fats, my skinny jeans just might have a problem with eating this bowl on the daily. I knew I had to come up with a version of this hearty favorite that would allow me to keep wearing my favorite closet essentials.

All of the flavors remain the same here, just in reduced quantities. I kept the volume of kale on the larger side, because c'mon, it's kale. The coconut flakes were reduced, but made up for with coconut oil to bring out more of the coconut flavor, and because coconut oil is pretty much God's gift to earth. Hair conditioner, frizz fighter, tooth whitener, makeup remover, night cream, deodorant, sunscreen - and that's just the beauty benefits. When consumed, coconut oil helps to rev up the enzymes in the body that break down fats, along with knocking out the free radicals in our bodies that speed up aging and disease. Seriously, the uses for this magic tree nut are endless. The sesame oil works perfectly with the sauteed mushrooms to make this dish really meaty and filling. And to keep with the Asian influence, I substituted liquid aminos for the soy sauce, making this meal a great source of protein.

Toasted Sesame Kale + Coconut Bowl
Looking for some breakfast inspiration? 
Top with a fried egg, and call it a game changer
Serves 1

lacinato kale (around 10 stalks) 
2 heaping tablespoons coconut flakes
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon liquid aminos, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
scallions, thinly sliced
cooked grain of your choice (farro, brown rice, quinoa)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss kale and coconut with 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon liquid aminos. Bake for 5 minutes, toss, and continue to bake for another 2 minutes.

Spoon kale and coconut mixture on top of cooked oat groats/farro/brown rice and toss with an additional 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon liquid aminos, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Top with sauteed mushrooms and sliced scallions.

Sauteed Mushrooms

6 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/4 tablespoon coconut oil

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until nicely browned. Do not salt.


Pomegranate-Mango Guacamole

There are various types of people who make up groups of friends, and I'm sure a lot of you are the foodie friends. That makes two of us. Whenever a party commences, I'm required to bring these two things: bean salad and guacamole (we're dip people). Of course I can add to my contributions, but if these items are not on the table, someone is going to bring it up. And it's not that I mind in the least bit either. These two dips guarantee my appetite will be taken care of amongst a sea of buffalo chicken and cream cheese. I tend to stick with variations of these and other Mexican-style dips, because I know they'll be crowd pleasers. "Vegan dip" can sometimes be met with wandering eyes. I've been holiday party hopping as of late, so I changed things up slightly to be a little more festive. Green avocados + red pomegranate seeds? Nailed it. And I know pomegranates can seem like a lot of work, but c'mon, they're like instant (not so instant) fancy food. I've been sprinkling these magenta jewels on just about everything, so I knew they'd be a great addition to a savory dip, not to mention meet my desire to add to the nutritional profile of anything I serve. This pomegranate-mango guacamole is skin-loving, superfood heaven. The entire pomegranate fruit (skin and all) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, from remedies for intestinal troubles, to blood building and cataracts. The arils inside contain free-radical fighting antioxidants and provide the body with a good dose of vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber - all of which are effective in reducing blood pressure and heart disease risk factors. Their antibacterial properties may even help with dental plaque! On top of all that, the avocado, perhaps the most delicious addition to any meal, has a nutritional profile to match. Recent research shows that lycopene and beta-carotene (two key carotenoid antioxidants) absorption increase tremendously when avocado is added to an otherwise avocado-free salad. It's also recommended to peel your avocados rather than squeezing out the buttery insides to get the most bang for your buck. The greatest concentration of antioxidants lie just underneath the skin. Besides the healthy fat that make up most of the calories in the fruit, avocados are excellent sources of fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, B5, B6, and potassium. All of these stats are sure to combat the entire bag of chips you're about to throw down, too. It's called balance.

Pomegranate-Mango Guacamole
Inspired by A Cup of Jo

4 ripe avocados
3/4 cup chopped mango (fresh or frozen, thawed)
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
himalayan pink salt (or sea salt), to taste

Add the onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt to a medium sized bowl. Mash as much as possible with the back of a fork or a potato masher (or use a mortar and pestle). Add in 3 of the avocados, and mash again, mixing everything together. Stir in the mango and pomegranate arils. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or lime juice if necessary. Chop the last avocado into chunks, and gently fold in. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, and enjoy!

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