Packing In the Protein… Vegan Style

organic vegan protein powder

Let me just start by saying that normally, I don’t do protein powders, whether they’re organic, vegetarian, or vegan. However, there’s always a time when I know I need more than just my normal smoothie routine.

On those particular days, which have become more often then not, where I’m exercising a little bit more and know that the rest of my day might not pack the protein punch that my body craves, I reach for SunWarrior Vegan Protein in combination with all the other smoothie staples that will keep me fuller, longer.

organic vegan protein powderWhy this particular brand in particular? Well, beyond the very cool name (which as a yoga teacher I am particularly drawn to), SunWarrior is everything that I would want in an organic vegan protein powder. It’s soy free, gluten free, dairy free, with no sugar added, and completely vegan. They’re motto of “transforming the planet one warrior at a time,” is pretty spiffy as well.

I tend to be a minimalist, which is why I chose the the natural flavored powder, which when combined with your favorite fruits and veggies, you won’t taste… at all. How many protein powders have you encountered that has that in their repertoire? (Not many!)

organic vegan protein powderThe “Classic Plus” organic and vegan protein powder uses the strength of whole-grain brown rice, pea, chia, quinoa, and amaranth protein – all ingredients that you’ve packed in to your smoothie before, but this time it’s just in one scoop! This American made product that’s created in Utah, has definitely upped my health game.

Head to their website to download your very own Smoothie E-Book that has 52 recipes to get you through the year. Or, try out one of my smoothies on my blog and just add a blast of protein with one scoop of SunWarrior. But since they’ve got me kind of hooked, here’s another smoothie bowl recipe that will have you going bananas!

sunwarrior smoothie recipeKiss the Sun Warrior Smoothie Bowl

1 Scoop SunWarrior Protein
1 Banana
1/2 cup Organic Kefir, Unflavored
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup granola

Mix all ingredients together except for granola. Top your bowl with your favorite crunchy granola or cereal and you’ve got yourself a warrior’s breakfast or power snack!

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A Flavourful Fall Soup

A few weeks ago I went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cave in Avon, NJ. It’s a Paleo restaurant featuring fresh, organic, and high quality ingredients that makes every dish a standout. Owner and head cook Doug Stehle creates dishes such as grilled “Tuna Salad Tacos” and one of my personal favorites, “The Bison, the Duck, and the Egg” burger.

On this particular day, he decided to delight our tastebuds with fall flavors, creating his Thai Pumpkin Soup. We ordered a bowl and practically licked it clean. Ever since that day, I’ve been craving that soup, trying to figure out how I could recreate such a flavorful and healthy dish at home.

The Soup That Will Make You Happy!
The Soup That Will Make You Happy!

Well kids… I figured it out! And since I love my readers, I’m sharing it with you.

Mind you, I didn’t use pumpkin (I was too lazy to go get one at the store) and used butternut squash instead. But feel free to substitute fresh pumpkin in! I know I’m going to this week.

As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was a hit. I even told my husband before he slurped a big spoonful, “You may want to divorce me, just so you can date me, propose to me, and marry me again.” Fair warning, you may receive an increased amount of attention. So don your “Kiss the Cook” apron and get cooking!

Knock Your Socks Off Fall Soup 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch of fresh garlic, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley, thai basil, or cilantro

First, get yourself a large dutch oven on the stove around medium heat. Add in the coconut oil and onions. Cook the onions until translucent, then add the butternut squash, carrots, curry powder, chili flakes, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to get all of the spices blooming in the coconut oil and hugging the butternut squash, onions, and carrots. Cook for around 5-7 minutes. You want to get them semi soft, but the may point is to get as much flavour in them as possible at this moment.

Next up, add the coconut milk and water. You can also throw in a few sprigs of parsley. Let the mixture simmer for about one hour then transfer to a blender until smooth and creamy. Pour back into the pot and keep on simmer until ready to serve. You can serve with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper and salt, and even a drizzle of chipolte olive oil.

This soup is so good, you’ll want to be sure to make leftovers. So feel free to double up on the recipe. I served it with a warm wild rice noodle and kale salad with soy sauce.

Until next time, Bee Well and Eat Well!

Melissa

Recipe: Almond Milk

57147-almond-silver-bowl-medium-originalI enjoy milk. As a kid, I would drink at least a few glasses a day. There’s something about the creaminess of it that just makes me feel all warm inside. Even in the summer, when it’s hot and muggy, sometimes I just want a creamy, cold drink. The wisdom of Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old Indian holistic healing science, suggests that tasting something sweet like milk can activate the soothing pleasure responses in the brain. During a hot summer day, there may be bonus cooling and hydration properties that dampen your pitta (your dosha made of fire and water that may rise during the hot summer months, causing you to be come imbalanced which leads to agitation, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, and digestive problems.)

However, I know that it’s not the best thing for me (but in moderation it is of course). Now, when I still want the creaminess of cow’s milk (or fresh goat’s milk when I can get my hands on it), but I don’t feel like having it go bad in the fridge (a gallon in two weeks is way too much milk for me), I turn to other forms of milk. Yes, there are the hundreds of brands in the stores (soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.) but when I read those labels I notice ingredients that I really just don’t want to be putting into my body, including carrageenan and some preservatives that I just can’t pronounce.

Homemade Almond Milk Instead, I make my own almond milk and you should too. It’s super easy and really affordable! And unlike all the store bought brands, you can control exactly what goes into it including your favorite flavors. Almonds provide healthy saturated fat and are ranked the highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin than all of the other tree nuts. Eating just 1.5 ounces of almonds may reduce the risk of heart disease due to their high levels of magnesium which not only reduces bad cholesterol while preserving good cholesterol, but it also helps you regulate blood sugar.

Try out my recipe for almond milk below and I doubt you’ll ever go back. It’s the perfect way to start your day!

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup almonds (soaked in distilled water overnight)
5 cups water
3-4 pitted dates (for natural sweetness)
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cardamon

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. You can also strain the milk with a fine mesh sieve for an even smoother finish.

The best part about this recipe is that you can customize it to your liking. If you like it sweeter, add more dates, honey, or even some maple syrup. I also like heating it up for my own steamed almond milk latte – sans the coffee.

What’s your favorite beverage during the hot summer months?

Show Me the Chocolate Smoothie

Everywhere I turn lately, I feel like I’m being bombarded by sweets, especially chocolate. My little piece of dark chocolate just wasn’t satisfying my craving for something super rich, decadent, and most importantly – filled with chocolate!

Since being healthy is all about finding balance within your life and not depriving yourself, I made myself a super delicious “chocolate milk shake” that’s loaded with good for you foods! I promise you, drinking this shake will make you feel naughty even though you’re being a perfect angel!

Healthy Chocolate SmoothieShow Me the Chocolate Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3/4 cup water (may need more depending on desired consistency)
1 frozen banana (cut up in chunks)
2-4 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder (you can add more or less depending on how chocolately you want this!)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Omega 3,6,9 with EPA and DHA

Put all ingredients in a blender and voila! You’ve got yourself a chocolate ‘milk shake’ without the milk! Made this way it’s vegan and gluten-free. If you’re feeling spunky, feel free to add peanut butter, top it with some fresh berries, toasted peanuts, or even add some Greek yogurt to make it even more decadent (not for you vegans!) I usually add a 1/2 of an avocado in this to make it even richer, but I’m saving my avocado for some black bean fudge brownies later… oh yes.

beanCelebrating Chocolate

Since we’re about to celebrate the “Day of Love” with chocolate, I wanted to share just how healthy chocolate is for your body – always in moderation of course!

Chocolate comes from the seeds of cocoa trees. Surprisingly, the majority of cocoa trees are harvested in the Ivory Coast even though it was in South America where the cocoa plant gained notoriety by the Spanish. History shows that in Costa Rica Mayan traders drank cacao as early as 400 BC and in the Aztec culture cacao was considered sacred. (I can see why!)

Flash forward to today where chocolate is almost everywhere. However, it’s not the pure chocolate that Mayan traders and Aztecs were consuming. If you’re eating candy bars, you’re eating mainly sugar. For example, a single Twix bar has 20 grams of sugar (the recommended daily intake is 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men – which is still A LOT!) By eating these processed varieties of “chocolate” you’re not getting its full benefits! The sugar from these candy bars mainly come from added sugar whereas if you buy a 70% cocoa or higher chocolate bar, you’ll be getting the natural sugar found in the cocoa butter. Yes, it’s still sugar, BUT you’ll be getting the added benefits of this amazing treat.

What Cacao Can Do For You!

darkchocolate1Did you know that raw cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world? More than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries? These powerful antioxidants keep you looking young. Chocolate also helps lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and lowers your risk for heart disease (see chocolate is the way to a happy heart!)  Due to its fiber rich content, dark chocolate actually fills you up and may even quiet coughs with its powerful ingredient, theobromine. If that’s not enough, chocolate improves blood flow, helping you see  and think better. And finally, what may be the best reason of all to have a nibble on some dark chocolate – it makes you happy!

So the next time you’re in the mood for some chocolate, go for a small portion of raw cacao or a dark chocolate bar (70% or higher) and enjoy a gift from nature.

Happy Heart Day!

‘Bee’ Well,

Melissa

A ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

quinoa stew

Are you sick of soups yet? Well, I’m not! There’s nothing I love more than a hot bowl of soup on a cold night to warm you up. This soup is creamy, spicy, and healthy. Yes, creamy AND healthy! It’s a combination that you may not believe, but it’s true. Instead of using cream, I just blend it all together which makes it super rich with absolutely no guilt. So you can fill up with that second serving with no worries about fitting into your jeans tomorrow morning.

Because this soup is so creamy, I like to pair it with a crunchy side dish – roasted brussel sprouts with a fresno pepper and a drizzle of honey before serving. Here are some other ideas for other types of side dishes starring brussel sprouts. It’s the perfect pairing that packs an additional punch!

Just a note, when buying sweet potatoes, pay the extra money and buy organic. Sweet potatoes, actually all potatoes, absorb many of the harmful pesticides. Conventional potato farmers have even been quoted as saying they won’t eat the potatoes they grow to sell, only the ones in their separate garden. The Environmental Working Group designated the potato as one of their Dirty Dozen. They’ve found over 37 pesticides on sweet potatoes. If you want to learn more, visit my friend’s website. It’s worth it to spend the few extra dollars to safeguard you and your family’s health!

An Organic ‘Creamy’ and Spicy Sweet Potato SoupSweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red onion roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove smashed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 bunch scallions chopped for garnish

Heat a dutch oven and add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the onions and cook until translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once you can smell the spices, add the chopped sweet potatoes. Let the sweet potatoes brown a bit over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Then add enough water to come up to just below the top of the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Use an immersion blender until the soup is creamy. You can top with chopped scallions, a drizzle of maple syrup or even goat cheese.

Seriously, this soup is amazing. I amazed myself after marking it and couldn’t wait to share with all of you! oh and guess what, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free (as long as you don’t add the goat cheese!)

Until next time

‘Bee’ Well,

Melissa

MBeeWell

If you’re interested in learning more about how I can help you in the kitchen, with your health, or in your garden, contact me at info@mbeewell.com.

My Recent Love Affair With Vegan Cuisine

First things first: I’m not a vegan. I don’t consider myself really any type of eater except, an eater of all (ok you got me, most) things. I really will try anything once and look forward to new flavors and recipes showcasing various types of foods from all backgrounds and ethnicities.

For some reason, I’ve been craving vegan cuisine these past few months. This is not saying that I’ve become a vegan, because I have not. But, I’ve definitely increased my intake of vegan inspired menu items, whether I’m making it or I’m enjoying it at one of my favorite vegan restaurants.

Aren’t Vegans Hippies?

Vegan RecipeSo before I go any further, some of you may be asking, well what is a vegan? Veganism is a type of eating lifestyle where you don’t consume any animal byproducts or products. For example, vegans do not consume any dairy (milk, butter, ice cream, cheese), eggs, or meat. Some of you may have just read that and thought, well what in the world do they eat? A lot! Vegans eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, grains, and many interesting and flavorful additions to their diet including one of my favorites, nutritional yeast.

Ok, so what is an example of a vegan meal? Well, something that most people have had at least once in their lives (and if you haven’t, come over, I’ll make you one) is a salad, minus the cheese. If you’re a vegetarian or a lover of vegetables, I’m sure you can think of many dishes that you’ve recently had that fits the vegan lifestyle.

Meat Free Days

So, as I said before, I’m not a vegan, but I do think that it’s really important to eat a large amount of vegetables in your diet. Yes, there’s the whole “Meat Free Monday” gimmick, which is great, but I definitely would suggest that you try and eat “Meat Free” on many other days as well. There are easy substitutes that will trick your meat loving friend or family member so that they will feel satisfied. Need some inspiration? Check out my veggie burger recipe!

Vegan DietAnother question you may be asking is: why would I want to eat a vegan meal? Yes, we all love cheese, which is one of the reasons that I personally am not willing to commit 100% to the vegan lifestyle. If you just switch one or two of your meals during the week from a meat dish to a vegan dish, you’ll be eating a lot less meat and replacing all that meat with anti-oxidant rich vegetables. When you eat a vegan meal, you’re challenging yourself to eat an array of colors and the more colors you have on your plate, the more nutrients you’re getting! Another reason to cut down your meat intake is to do your part in saving the environment for future generations. Did you know that cattle are the biggest source of greenhouse gases? They account for ¾ of all emissions – if that doesn’t drop your meat habit I don’t know what will.

Now that I’ve given you the who, what and why – here are some things that I’ve become obsessed with over the last month. Hopefully they’ll inspire you just like they inspired me.

  1. The Vegan Cheat Sheet Book – I had the pleasure of meeting co-author Lisa The Vegan Cheat SheetMcComsey at an event a few months ago. She’s a marathon runner, writer, and now a vegan. This little handbook (it can literally fit in your purse) aims to help those people out who are confused about how to go vegan. It includes shopping information, recipes, and examples of what you can eat at major restaurant chains. It’s basically the “How to be Vegan 101 Book.” (You can find me guest blogging as the sometimes vegan girl.)
  2. The Blonde Vegan’s Instagram. If her pictures don’t make you drool, then I don’t think anything will.
  3. The new recipe book developed by ‘from seed to sprout.’ I love love love their kale salad with nutritional yeast (one of my favorites at their restaurant) and of course their macaroni and ‘cheese’ (hint they use butternut squash instead). I made macaroni and cheese with butternut squash many times before having this recipe in my possession, but upped the anti in my dish once I saw their secret ingredient.

Like I said, I’m not a vegan, but I love celebrating and tasting delicious food. My suggestion to you is, try it out! Even eating just one or two vegan dishes a week will not only ensure that you’re eating more vegetables (note that chips and salsa are vegan, but don’t qualify as a meal), but that you’re also helping the environment. Remember, it’s not about the label of your dish (vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, pescatarian), but how you feel after you eat it! Don’t get caught up trying to fit in a box – step out of it and just enjoy yourself!

Till next time, stay healthy and ‘Bee Well!’

Melissa