Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe - a perfect holistic treat for your honey!

As a holistic nutritionist, I often get asked "what do I eat?"  I admit, I have my cheat days, but it's all about finding balance.  I track what I eat, I'm  mindful when I eat, and I'm cautious about avoiding sugar.  But we all gotta live a little!

I've started to develop or try healthy alternatives to some conventional dessert treats.  While I'm not a cheese cake lover, I do love chocolate.  I also love avocado.  I've found a great dessert that combines both loves, and doesn't make me feel guilty for eating it once in awhile.  Aside from the health benefits from eating avocado (huge win!), don't all things taste better when made with love?

Here's to a healthy alternative to conventional store-bought chocolate mousse! It's a perfect Valentine's treat to make for your honey (or someone special). 

Try it out and let me know your thoughts. 


Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe
Directions:
1 avocado (organic if possible)
1/4 cup of raw cacao powder (raw chocolate)
1/4 cup of unsweetend apple sauce
1/4 cup of PURE maple syrup


- cut avocado in half, remove pit, scoop out insides and put into blender
- add in 1/4 cup of raw cacao (raw chocolate)
- add 1/4 cup of unsweetend organic apple sauce
- add 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (NOT table syrup, pure maple syrup, from a Maple tree)
- 1 tea spoon of pure vanilla extract

Blend it up, start on low.
Blend it so everything is mixed together.  Less than a few minutes.
Enjoy!

Top it off with blueberries or raspberries!

Soup that hits the spot! Paleo-friendly Mushroom Soup

As a holistic nutritionist, I try to avoid buying soups from cans and packages as much as possible. One of the reasons I tend to make my own soups is because many store-bought conventional soups are packed with additives such as sodium, MSG, colouring agents and preservatives.  I prefer making my own soups that are gluten-free, soy-free and made with fresh ingredients.  

Home made soups are super easy to make and taste way better than store bought soups.  Making a big batch of soup, and storing the leftovers in the freezer is perfect for those bone chilling cold days - which is pretty much January to March. 

Soups up!  Give this soup a try and let me know your thoughts. 


Paleo-Friendly Mushroom Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped with damp paper towel and chopped
8 oz assorted wild mushrooms or skiitake mushrooms, chopped
6 tbsp grass-fed organic butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups organic chicken stock or bone broth
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the remaining butter, garlic, and all the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes.
2. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat. If you are using an immersion blender, blend the soup right in the pot until desired consistency. If using a blender or food processor, let the soup cool a bit and blend in batches, being very careful of the hot liquid.
4. Return to heat if necessary and season with salt and pepper. 

Serve and enjoy!

*Nutritional tip - Mushrooms are known for their immune-boosting properties.  They help reduce inflammation and help prevent DNA damage.  PLUS the are filled with iron, Vitamin B and D and selenium.  Shiitake mushrooms contain estrogen inhibitors (blockers) that may also help lower the risk of breast cancer. 

*Photo courtesy of: tumblr

Easy Peasy Raw Vegan Pasta

If you're anything like me, you want to eat healthy and strive to make dishes that not only taste great, but support your health.  Most of the recipes I make are easy to make, low-glycemic, have high nutritional value and contain many cleansing properties. 

Coming from a traditional Italian family, I initially struggled with making the transition to living a gluten-free lifestyle because I didn't know what foods to eat and what foods would be satiating. As a holistic nutritionist, I've learned and experimented in the kitchen with various vegan and vegetarian recipes.  I've served this Easy Peasy Vegan Pasta to my Italian friends and family, who by the way, are carbo-vores (addicted to high-glycemic carbohydrates like heavy white pastas and pizzas) and they loved it!  I've helped them replace highly inflammatory foods, such as traditional pasta with cheese and a side of bread, with raw vegan pastas. 

Based on my personal health issues and battling with IBS, I aimed to remove grains and carbohydrates that contain gluten in my diet, as I am intolerant to gluten. I also find that these carbohydrates either slow down or inhibit the body's natural detoxifying process. 

I've also found what works best for my family, friends and clients is to experiment with different foods. I encourage you to do the same.  In an effort to keep healthy eating and thought patterns as part of your lifestyle, don't just eliminate a food you like, try to replace it with a healthier option.  Think about what you are going to eat and then ask yourself whether the food choice will cleanse your body or clog/inflame your body.

Incorporating raw vegan and vegetarian meals every day, or even a few times a week, can keep you in healthy frame of mind. Making better choices in the kitchen and reaching for healthy alternatives will help nourish, alkalize and heal your body. 

Remember, eating vegan recipes doesn't have to be boring! 

Easy Peasy Raw Vegan Pasta

*Serves 3-4

*Vegetarian

*Gluten-free

*Dairy-free

*Soy-free

*Prep-time = 10 minutes

Ingredients

6 ounces coconut water

2 cups raw cashews

1 large garlic clove

1/8 of a large avocado

1 teaspoon red chili paste (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional) 

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil 

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt 

3-4 medium zucchinis

*Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast (optional)


Directions:

1. Wash zucchinis and chop off the ends. Spiralize using the C-blade (the one that makes spaghetti-sized noodles).

2. In a high-speed blender, combine all other ingredients and blend on high until the sauce becomes very smooth. It should be quite thick.

3. Toss zucchini noodles with olive oil, red chili pepper paste, cayenne pepper and salt in a large bowl until thoroughly coated.

4. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast (optional) in replace of Parmesan cheese.

5. Serve and enjoy.

*Nutritional tip: Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and folic acid.  It's also high in a trace mineral called manganese, which helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and protein.  Manganese also catalyzes the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.  

*Why go Raw? Raw foods are full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  

Note - This recipe was modified based on the recipe found on Fitchen

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Clean Eating - Cucumber Avocado Soup

During the winter months I love eating soup.  I find soups are quick and easy to make, especially when coming home from a work, on a long, cold, Canadian winter day.

I gravitate towards soups that are packed with greens and/or seasonal veggies,as these soups really warm my soul.  You know the feeling, when you are sipping away, and feeling the warmth of the soup, warm and nourish your insides? That's the feeling I get when I eat this soup.. .it's such a great feeling! 

 As a holistic nutritionist, I encourage my clients to eat soups that are packed with nutrients and are easy to make.  I also encourage them, regardless of what they are eating, that they should be mindful and connected to what they eat.  Although soup is a liquid, we should be mindful of eating it, as we would food.  Taking the time to savour the taste, and let it warm our bodies, spoonful by spoonful.   

In this soup, I've incorporated avocado instead of milk, as I am lactose intolerant. I find adding avocado to a soup or dessert instead of milk adds a delicious, dairy-free creaminess texture. On top of my love for avocado, you can eat this soup as a meal.  It's a great vegetarian and gluten-free soup, that works perfectly for a Meatless Monday meal!
  
Give this recipe a shot! Let me know your thoughts. 

Clean Eating  - Cucumber  Avocado Soup
Serves 4
*Vegetarian
*Gluten-free
*Dairy-free
*Nut-free

Ingredients
1  avocado (organic), peeled and pitted
2  cups of cucumbers (organic), peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup of water
4 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon of  extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
2. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. 
3. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. 
4. Add 2 cups of cucumber slices, water, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring ingredients to a simmer. 
5. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. 
6. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) 
7. Pour into a serving bowl.  
8. Garnish with chopped cucumber and parsley. (optional)
9. Serve the soup warm or refrigerate and serve it chilled.  If served cold, garnish with a slice or two of avocado

*Serves 4. 

*Recipe modified from: eatingwell.com 

*Nutritional tip: Avocados are one of my favourite super foods.  They are loaded with good fats, encourage healthy brain function, help balance hormones and improve energy. They are rich in Magnesium, fiber and Vitamin B6, and are full of mood-boosting ingredients.  I love using avocados because of their creamy texture in soups, smoothies, spreads or even desserts.

Cucumbers are also one of my favourite vegetables. Nothing beats, organic, fresh from the farm cucumbers.  Cucumbers are packed with water and are a great source for detoxification. They are anti-inflammatory and are a great source of Vitamin K. 

Counting Sheep? Here's how to fix it

Feeling miserable, upset and frustrated because you can't get some shut eye? Have you lost track as to how many sheep you've counted over the week?  I know many people turn to an over-the-counter sleep aid or even medication to help fall asleep.  During stressful events in my life, especially when studying for exams in university, I also turned to over-the-counter sleep aids. Upon waking I found I had severe brain fog (similar to what happens when I eat gluten) and was slow to start my day.

When it comes to lack of sleep and insomnia, one of the biggest issues we overlook is determining what the root of the problem is. While an over-the-counter sleep aid is a band-aid solution, dealing with insomnia or sleeplessness (the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep) can be what's ailing you, and can be a culprit to weight gain.

Sleep is necessary for hormone balancing, cellular rejuvenation, stress management and brain health.  Ideally, health and wellness practitioners suggest getting seven to nine hours of sleep.  Anything less will interrupt your sleep cycle and imbalance your hormones.  Lack of sleep can also inhibit your body's efficiency to rest, repair and eliminate wastes. 
 
As a holistic nutritionist, I strive to treat the problem not the symptom.  I recommend my clients re-set their sleep patterns.  If you feel you are experiencing sleepless nights, assess how you are feeling.  Increased levels of  pain, anxiety, stimulants and your bedroom environment can be major culprits. Stress (high levels of the hormone cortisol), depression, hypoglycemia and sleep apnea (interrupted breathing) can also lead to insomnia.

To help get a good night's sleep, and have a relaxed and restful night, try incorporating these tips:

1. Exercise early into your day.  This helps give you an outlet to release tension and running thoughts that are going through your mind.  Plus it also releases endorphins, so you can mellow out your nerves and anxiety.  A great way to incorporate exercise into your day is trying an early morning Pilates or Yoga class.

2. Avoid coffee and stimulants.  Learn to wean yourself off of coffee, caffeinated beverages and sugar. These are big NO-NOs.  Change your habit of drinking warm coffee or tea in the morning by substituting it with warm water and lemon. You'll feel better and have a little mini cleanse every morning.  Now that's a win-win!

3. Don't drink and eat a big meal late a night.  Alcohol combined with a big meal late and night may initially make you feel bloated, stuffed like a turkey and sleepy. Plus it leads to indigestion or heart burn (even weight gain) and cause you to wake up at night.  

4. Reduce your exposure to electronics - including laptops and your cell phone before bed.  Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can lead to sleepless nights.  Instead, make it a habit to shut off all electronics and unwind at least an hour before bed.  

5. Add a few drops of organic lavender oil to your pillow before bed. 

6. Create a wind-down routine at night, so your body has a natural rhythm.

7. Try a few yoga poses in the evening. 

8. Meditate.  Close your eyes and sit in stillness for a few minutes before going to bed.

9. Do a brain dump.  Got so many thoughts, ideas and feelings going through your head? Write it all out on a piece of paper or notebook then go to bed.  Upon waking, look at the notebook.  

10. Try taking a Magnesium supplement at night. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and tranquilizer.  It relaxes skeletal muscles and smooth muscles of the blood vessels and GI tract. A recommended dosage per day ranges from 310 - 400 mg.    
Assess your diet and sleep patterns.  Do you usually eat your meals late at night? Do you frequently have coffee and or other stimulants mid to late day?  Do you wake up every night at the same time?  Track your patterns for a week or two.  You may be surprised at what culprits in your diet and lifestyle can be preventing you from getting some shut eye. 

Did these simple sleep strategies work for you?

Let me know your thoughts.

xoxo
Laura

*Photo courtesy of: tumblr

Go With Your Gut - 10 Tips to Keep Your Gut In Good Health

Restoring balance to your body takes time, but with a clean diet and proper supplementation, you can dramatically improve your digestive system.  It is important to remember that if we are unable to digest and absorb fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, poor health will definitely follow.  From an energetic standpoint, if we are unable to digest our food, our reality on the outside,then we are unable to digest our reality on the inside.

As a Digestive Health Coach and Holistic Nutritionist, I've met several women who struggle from IBS, Crohn's disease, constipation, excessive gas, heartburn and reflex.  While there is no quick fix for curing the gut, there are several holistic remedies that can help heal your gut.

Through yeas of struggling with IBS, I've found that changes to my lifestyle and food choices worked in synergy to help me heal.   

Below are my top 10 tips to help keep your gut in good health:

1. First thing in the morning, drink at least 8 oz of warm water with lemon juice in the morning.  This allows the liver to begin dumping toxins accumulated during the night and will help produce a bowel movement in the morning.

2. Eat breakfast 20-30 minutes after drinking lemon water.

3. Incorporate 1 tbsp of Omega 3, flax seed or borage oil in your morning smoothie or shake.  Oils help lubricate the colon, heart and joints.  They also help reduce inflammation in the body.

4. Take a probiotic!  Multiple strains of probiotics help restore proper micro-flora in the small intestine. 

5. Avoid eating raw foods, as they are hard for the body to breakdown, and can lead to excess gas and bloating.

6. Drink water at least 20 minutes before a meal, and again 1 hour after a meal.  I caution my clients to avoid drinking with their food, to prevent them from diluting digestive enzymes which are needed to breakdown food.

7. Avoid sugar and high glycemic foods as these foods are nutrient void, raise blood sugar and cause inflammation in the body.

8. Drink a minimum of 2-3 litres of water a day!  Add a few tablespoons of liquid chlorophyll, lemon or cucumber to your water. This will help alkalize yoru body, cleanse your body of toxins and reduce acidity in your body. 

9. Follow proper food combining rules.  A good rule of thumb is to remember that vegetables and salads should be eaten with meats, or vegetables and salads should be eaten with carbohydrates. 

10. Get a food allergy/food sensitivity test.  We are usually allergic to the foods we constantly crave.  In Energy Medicine, and in many spiritual healing modalities, food allergies are connected to fear, while food intolerances are connected to judgement or inadequacy.  Food allergies and food sensitives contribute to many diseases including high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.  Known as "silent inflammation," food allergies and food intolerances can damage your immune system. 

Eating clean, wholesome foods, managing stress, exercising and embodying a powerful mind-body connection will help lead you to a path of gut bliss. Be mindful of what you eat,  how you eat and take the time to chew your food.  Savor every bite - as you truly are what you eat.  Most importantly,  extend gratitude and kindness to yourself.  Be kind to your body and be kind to your gut.  

 xoxo