Raw Vegan Cheezecake

I’m in full summer beach bum mode and thoroughly enjoying our current heatwave.

The only negative thing about this weather is that it makes cooking feel like you’re actually in the oven yourself.

Luckily I’ve discovered raw vegan cheesecakes to help cool me down this summer in the most delicious, and healthful way. Here is a recipe for one of my faves:

Raw Vegan Cheezecake

CRUST

  • 1 cup packed pitted dates
  • 1 cup raw walnuts

FILLING

  • 1 1/2 cups soaked raw cashews
  • 1 large lemon (juiced)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)

FLAVOR ADD-INS

  • 2 Tbsp salted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Place crust in food processor, then place on bottom of a springform pan. Next process filling and spoon on top of crust. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Serve.

Mountain Adventures & Black Bean Brownies

Hiking season is here. And after a long trek up a mountainside there’s nothing better than something sweet and delicious to treat yourself with.

This recipe hits both categories and is also really healthy, made with black beans and sweetened with maple syrup.

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup black beans (equals one can)
  • 2 T raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Then add chips and  pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

Easy and delicious.

Intermittent Fasting Sleep Benefits

It’s my first week of intermittent fasting and I’ve noticed a few amazing things already. I am sleeping like a baby. Yes, a baby. I used to be a late night snacker. I loved being a late night snacker and most nights would have a peanut butter toast, a big handful of cashews, yogurt or potato chips, depending on my cravings, but then I almost always would have a restless sleep and then awake the next day exhausted. Have you ever eaten right before bed? It’s actually a very uncomfortable feeling. And I all of the work your system is putting into digesting food at night actually gives you an anxious sleep where you might not even go into REM, the restorative stage.

So, my number one exiting benefit of IF this week is sleep. I’m starting to wake up feeling pretty rested for the first time in a long time and it feels amazing.

The second benefit this week is that I’m actually paying more attention to my body and my digestion. It’s a bit shocking how little attention we pay to our bodies on a day to day basis. Especially during times like this were most of us have a baseline of higher anxiety and are prone to a little too much comfier eating.

Intermittent Fasting helps you really tune into your body and your digestion and allows you to nourish your self with our over eating or inducing I’m mindless comfort overeating. Personally, I really like the structure of feeding myself from 11am to 7pm and then just giving my body a break. IF is helping me stay healthy in unsettling times.

Blossoms & Bliss Balls

Every spring I chase cherry blossoms around the city, so if you aren’t a cherry blossom lover, stop reading now.

The insane beauty of the city exploding on petals ranged from soft pink to fuschia fills me with awe every year.

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Chasing all of these blossoms works up an appetite so here is a recipe for delicious little energy balls to take with you when you’re on the go. There’s a lot of high level nutrition packed into these little balls:

Cashew Bliss Balls

  • 1 cup cashews, ground in food processor
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 T raw cacao powder in half
  • Splash filtered water

Mix ingredients together, form into balls, chill, serve.

Intermittent Fasting

If you know me you know that I LOVE checking out new health fads and crazes. I recently tried food combing and my verdict was that it’s good for short term digestion issues or weight loss but almost impossible to keep up long term. Then I went totally sugar free. That was tough and didn’t make me feel as healthy as I had hoped so I’m back to using honey and maple syrup as well as treating myself to the odd dark chocolate bar.

Now I’ve decided to see what intermittent fasting is all about. I’ve been doing this few a few days and I swear I feel the effects already.

I’m doing 8/16 or 9/15 depending on the day, meaning that my window of eating every day is 8 or 9 hours and fasting is 15 or 16 hours. During the eating phase of the day you should have 3 balanced meals and try not to binge on unhealthy foods or you’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot.

Eating this way leaves 16 hours for your body to take a break from digesting and focus on regeneration and healing. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? Think of our hunter/gatherer ancestors ~ they weren’t bogged down with digestion all day long. They ate, went out to hunt and forage again and, if they were lucky, had another meal. If they weren’t lucky, they were naturally intermittent fasting. This way of eating is so natural for the human body and has a ton of health and anti~aging benefits that I’ll discuss in an upcoming post.

One word of caution though. If you’re active, only schedule activities during eating hours or you’ll be depleting yourself and breaking down muscle as well as fat, doing your body more harm than good.

I truly believe though that in our modern world where we are inundated with unhealthy food choices 24/7, intermittent fasting may be the path back to balance and health.

Happy Fasting.

Photos of a hike to Dog Mountain on Mount Seymour.

Golden Glow Smoothie

There is nothing better than a walk through the pumpkin patch at the end of October.

And after picking the perfect pumpkin I can’t wait to get home to start making muffins, pies and smoothies.

This smoothie is one of my fall faves. It’s sugar free and full of skin beautifying antioxidants, turmeric and collagen.

Here’s the recipe:

Golden Glow Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp lakanto monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 scoop unsweetened whey protein powder
  • 1 scoop vital proteins collagen
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy this sweet smoothie that will make your skin glow.

Sugar Detox Challenges

I’m on sugar free day 7, feeling amazing and power walking around Vancouver’s beautiful seawall.

The first few days were rough, feeling low energy, foggy thinking and wanting to go home to sleep for most of the day. It truly felt like a typical detox from an addictive substance. Day 4 was better. And now I’m feeling really good and really energized. I’m also spending my spare time researching the effects of sugar on the human body. Did you know that the average North American eats 20 tsp of added sugar per day? 20 teaspoons!! Think about how much that is for a moment. And that’s not fruit sugar.

That’s cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other refined, processed sugars. 20 teaspoons of sugar is not going to do your body good. That amount will mess with your blood sugar, your hormones and your mood. How can people be eating so much? Try checking the labels of pretty much any packaged food and you’ll find sugar lurking there in some form. Soups, salad dressing, condiments, drinks. There it is. So, before you know it, you’re consuming several teaspoons without even knowing it. I’ve definitely been scrutinizing labels the last week and it’s been an eye~opener.

Step one on a sugar~free journey: Read Labels

Food Combining

 I’ve recently tried food combining. I’ve been struggling with pesky digestive issues lately, and by lately I mean the past few years. So I decided to see if this method of eating would help my bloated belly feel better.

Spoiler alert! It did.

What is food combining? It is the belief that protein and starches digest at different rates and, if eaten together, cause a sludgy build up of undigested food in the gut. This build up can lead to an unhealthy gut, bad bacteria, disease and allergies.

There are a few major rules around food combining and here they are:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, especially melons.
  • Don’t combine starches and protein.
  • Don’t combine starches with acidic food.
  • Try not to combine too many different types of protein.
  • Only consume dairy products on an empty stomach.

The last rule is to wait at least three hours ~ preferably four ~ between eating starch and protein.

This may sound like a lot of rules but food combining is relatively easy, and delicious, once you get used to it. And if you’re suffering from gut issues and their symptoms, it’s so worth putting the extra thought into your meal plans.

It can be as easy as eating that burger wrapped in lettuce “paleo style” or having your pasta dish with vegetable only tomato sauces.

The benefits of food combing is so worth the extra effort. Here are a few:

  • Kick ass digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Glowing skin
  • In cases of overweight – weight loss

Who doesn’t want at least a few of these benefits?

Watermelon Smoothies

When I feel like practicing yoga in a place where I can sink into the lush green beauty of nature; a place filled with towering trees, pretty pink lily pads, ribbiting frogs, still herons focused on catching a fish for their lunch and ducks gliding through the forest of lilies, I stroll through Stanley Park’s tree lined trails to a little hidden oasis called Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake is a stunning and serene setting to meditate and practice yoga.

Bird chirps fill the air, frogs ribit happily from their watery home and the calm, peaceful lake is bursting with fuchsia lily pads.

I can easily spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of the lake, meditating and practicing poses.

And after a few hours of practice, peace and meditation, I head home to replenish and rehydrate with a sweetly simple watermelon smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 T fresh mint
  • Big squeeze of lime

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend thoroughly and enjoy the hydrating and antioxidant ingredients that will do your body good.

Sup Yoga & My Fitness Journey

Here are a few photos of the first couple of time I tried sup yoga.

And these pics also document the beginning of a very happy obsession.

After taking an unintended fitness break for about a year, this class rejuvenated my love for keeping my body fit, healthy and happy. The full body workout of the class feels amazing and core muscles definitely get an intense workout as you try to stay stable on the board during yoga poses.

Sup yoga also sparked a love of regular stand-up paddle boarding (and a summer of sore but happy muscles) and rekindled my 18 year on again, off again love affair with yoga.

My activities this summer have inspired me to finally get my personal trainer certification this fall and I couldn’t be more exited (and scared). I know that studying fitness will take me further along my own fitness journey and I am excited to learn how to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at an optimal level, especially as we age.

I’ve changed the blog name to “Fit Life with Laurel” and future posts will focus on fun ways to get your body moving and delicious, clean food with the occasional scrumptious cheat meal thrown in.

New direction in life?