Beach Yoga & Choco Energy Balls

Throwing it back this Thursday to last summer’s beach yoga. Practicing barefoot in the mud during low tide took me right back to happily playing in the mud when I was a child.

And what is summer all about if not keeping your inner child happy?

Another thing that keeps my inner child happy is chocolate. Here’s a grown-up, healthy and vegan chocolate snack that will make your inner child smile and do your body good:

Choco Energy Balls

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

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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.

Waterfalls and Berries

A hike up a mountain is one of my favourite things to do. Especially if there is a waterfall involved.

As I get a bit older though, I realize that how I fuel my body before, during and after a hike becomes more and more important.

I’ve found the hydrating qualities of fruit and veggies to be the perfect fuel for an active body, especially during the hot summer months.

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One of my favourite pre~hike recipes is my berry smoothie bowl. This powerhouse recipe has hydrating, antioxidant and fibre filled berries (did you know that raspberries have the most fibre of any fruit?) and creamy coconut milk to provide the kind of fat that will do your body good.

Add a couple of dates for iron and healthy sugars to fuel my body as I trek up that mountain and I’ve got a body loving bowl of goodness.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1cup strawberries
  • I banana
  • 2 dates

Blend together, top with fresh raspberries and unsweetened coconut and you have a beautiful, nourishing smoothie bowl.

Sunday Smoothie

This luscious smoothie is full of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes to nourish and energize.

Serves 2 smoothie-loving people.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 4 romaine leaves
  • 1 orange
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 scoop Vega greens plus protein powder
DIRECTIONS
  1. Toss everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass (so you can see the beautiful shade of green) and enjoy!

Farm Fresh Greens

One of the basic philosophies of the raw food movement is that since humans evolved from primates, our most natural and health giving diet consists mainly of fruit. I love that philosophy…in theory.

Fruit is sweet and luscious and so delicious that I wholeheartedly embraced this way of eating  for the past few months. I embraced it until I noticed that I began severely lacking in energy and I kept getting sick (three times this winter compared to my usual one), and my skin wasn’t looking better, as all the raw food lessons, books and articles said it would. In fact it was looking a little worse. And I was craving protein. Even as I was studying my “Peak Performance” lesson which stated that protein was over-rated, I was severely craving protein. Something had to give. And so it did.

One day the image of a succulent, savoury piece of salmon wouldn’t leave my mind. No matter what I did or how I tried to lead my thoughts down another path, a path filled with raw carrots and bananas and mangoes, I couldn’t stop thinking about salmon. So, after much deliberation, I did what I had to do. I had to admit that the 80 -100% raw vegan life is not for me. Then I went out a bought the biggest wild salmon steak I could find. I jogged home with it, ripped my coat off, raced to the kitchen and covered my fish in lemon and capers and a thin layer of mayo. Then I proceeded to slow cook it at 180 degrees. The aroma was heavenly.

I really loved eating all of the recipes filled with sweet tropical fruit, honey and maple syrup but clearly I was consuming a bit more sugar, even if it was natural sugar, than my body could handle. So, as much as I like the ‘gorilla food’ theory there is also a theory that you should be eating food that is natural to your environment. So, if you’re living in the Yukon it would not be natural for you to be chowing down on kiwis and pineapple and if you’re living in Vancouver, eating wild salmon and greens and fruit that is indigenous to your environment would be the healthiest fare. Makes sense to me.

So, after a visit to the local farmer’s market, where I found the freshest greens and spouts I’ve tasted in a while, I have a farm fresh salad to share with you.  Enjoy.

Farm Fresh Greens

  • 1 cup fresh organic spinach or greens of your choice
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 1/4 cup various sprouts
  • sprinkle of Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
  • Dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mixed herbs and fresh apple (all ingredients to taste, blended together)

Nothing beats the taste of home.

MSG Free

I’ve been learning a lot about MSG lately and none of it is good. Did you know that MSG is an excito-toxin that does a bunch of terrible things to our bodies? First, it contributes to ADD, mood disorders and the “dumbing down” of our society by causing neurons in our brain to fire too quickly. It also exacerbates Alzheimer’s disease when eaten in excess (and, since it’s in everything, it’s very easy to unknowingly eat in excess). And, as an explanation of why North Americans are getting bigger and bigger as time goes on, it suppresses the mechanism in our brain that tells us when we’ve had enough food. Oh, and to top it all off, this cheap little flavour enhancer is addictive too. Clearly big food corporations aren’t interested in our health and well-being – only their profits – by adding MSG to literally every processed item in our food supply.

So, after reading all of this, I’ve decided to eliminate MSG from my diet and I’m discovering that it’s literally everywhere, hidden behind some very sneaky labeling in a lot of cases. It was even in my toothpaste, vitamins, vegan protein powder and “healthy” granola. Basically, if a food is processed and packaged, it’s got MSG in it. So I’ve realized that the only way to avoid this nasty little toxin is to make my own food for every meal.

I’ve been doing just that and it’s been a wonderful experience the past few days. Time consuming for sure, but the food I end up with is wholesome, yummy and, most importantly, real. It tastes like the food I ate as a child when we picked our own veggies out of the garden, added butter and salt and chowed down. No health-robbing chemicals needed.

I’m looking forward to sharing all of my healthiest and prettiest raw, MSG free recipes here as well as any changes I notice as I go along.

There’s nothing more important than nourishing our bodies with delicious, healthy food made with love. I’m excited to be on this journey and to share it with you.

Happy Valentines Day ❤

I Like it Raw

 

So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit again about how much our society dreads the aging process and I’m doing everything I can to avoid joining that club.

We stick needles full of purified botulism in our faces to get rid of our life lines/wrinkles. I know it’s purified but, hello, it’s still botulism. We get laser treatment, face lifts, mini lifts, tummy tucks, lipo and fillers, all to try to turn back the proverbial clock. But why? Why are we so afraid to show, accept and even celebrate our age?

Looking back at my life in my 20’s & 30’s, um, it really wasn’t that great. I struggled with depression and anxiety and had a shaky sense of self at best. I wouldn’t go back there for the world and don’t particularly want to look that age again either. What I do want, however, is to look like the best 52 year old I possibly can.

Maybe a big part of our collective fear of aging is the thought that we’re going to fall apart as we get older. Less energy, more weight gain, less muscle tone, dull complexion etc. So what would happen if we could take those fears out of the aging equation? What if we knew we could stay fit and healthy and glowing as we got a little older? Sound good? Yes. How to achieve that? An easy-peasy 80% raw food eating plan.

I can’t say enough good things about eating this way. Whenever I drift away from it I sleep less soundly, my skin breaks out in annoying red bumps, my little tummy roll expands, and my energy drains away. And then, when I hop back on the raw food wagon, I feel and look better almost immediately. There are so many health and beauty benefits of raw food. Here are a few, taken from Mind, Body, Green:

1. Going raw got me back in the kitchen.

Eating out or ordering in every night was the first habit I had to break. Raw food restaurants in Jakarta (where I now live) are nonexistent, and the closest menu item I could find that was suitable to eat at most places was a very unsatisfying garden salad (which just doesn’t cut it for an evening meal!).

So I started going grocery shopping again, began making green smoothies for breakfast, packing my own salad for lunch at my office, and then experimenting in the kitchen at night.

This habit alone was one of the best things I could have gained from my year on raw. Eating home cooked meals is not only better energetically, but it means consuming better ingredients. It saves heaps of money, too.

2. The raw food diet helped me discover food intolerances.

Following a raw food diet means the common allergens in food are completely avoided: eggs, soy, wheat (gluten), sugar and dairy. These get cut out completely. By not including those items in my diet anymore, I started to feel amazing.

3. Eating raw made me more intuitive.

I started to eat such a clean diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting out all the processed crap and the above-mentioned allergens, that something changed inside me spiritually. My clean body seemed to open the passage for my intuition to soar.

It’s like my mind was no longer hazy from drinking too much booze the night before, or my brain fogged up from eating gluten, that I could see things with clarity. I could tap into my intuitive side, and I started to notice the beauty in the world around me. I became more focused and started to see the world differently, noticing the small and beautiful things around me.

4. Going raw changed my taste buds.

I stopped craving coffee every morning, and no longer needed alcohol to end my night. Sugar cravings got replaced by more savory ones, and if I did crave sugar I’d feed myself a super indulgent yet still healthy raw dessert, which did not have the same negative effect as eating a whole roll of Mentos or Skittles, my former vices. I now miss it when I don’t have a green smoothie for a few days if I’m traveling, and junk foods don’t even factor into any of my decisions around food anymore.

5. Following a raw lifestyle meant cleaning my act up.

The raw food lifestyle changed all my former party girl ways. The thought of sitting in a smoky bar while drinking all night seemed absurd when everything else in my life was now so clean. I much preferred to stay at home experimenting in the kitchen on a new recipe, learning about raw foods and healthy living, and practicing yoga and meditation than going out partying on a Friday or Saturday night. I had found a new passion, and that really fueled me more than any of more former bad habits had.

6. Eating raw foods taught me about diet and nutrition.

As I started to change my diet and lifestyle, I began fielding questions from curious friends and colleagues. So I started writing a blog to share recipes and other aspects of my experience.

This led me to begin learning even more about food, nutrition and health. My thirst for this new knowledge was almost insatiable. Reading novels got replaced by reading nonfiction books on nutrition and diet, and I became obsessed with healthy, raw and vegan cookbooks as I devoured all the information I could get my hands on.

7. Going raw led me on a new career path.

I then discovered a new career I could have: health coaching. I never knew that this job even existed, but as soon as I found out about it, I just knew that I had to become one.

So I did my diploma, trained as a raw food chef and started teaching classes in my home. Then I started seeing clients and decided to take my career in a whole new direction.

These days I eat a mostly raw diet, but it’s actually a plant-based diet mixed in with raw and cooked food. But if it hadn’t been for raw foods I don’t think my overall well-being would be the way it is now, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this article. It really is amazing how things can change by making one decision. All it takes is the first step, and it can lead you to just about anywhere! – Simone Samuels

So, if you’re curious about the benefits raw, trying “raw until dinner” is a good way to check it out without throwing your system into complete shock. Most raw eating plans are vegan but mine is more of a raw paleo plan, including fish and a bit of organic meat and dairy. It’s important to follow whatever plan is best for you and to listen to your intuition regarding what nutrients your body needs.

Breakfast can be a green smoothie, a bowl of fruit and/or raw nut butter for breakfast, a huge salad, raw sashimi, a raw veggie salad and/or a chilled soup (gazpacho, cucumber) for lunch. Warning: you will eat a lot of fruit and veggies on this plan, so definitely stock up. Then, eat whatever you like at dinner.  That’s really all it takes to see awesome health benefits. And I pretty much guarantee as time goes by you will see your dinners naturally and effortlessly get cleaner and healthier as your tastebuds change.

Throw a little fun exercise into the mix and, voila, you have the best, most kick-ass anti-aging plan ever! No botox or lipo necessary.

Coco Bliss Balls

Okay, Since I’m in love with raw food again, I thought I’d re-post one of my most popular raw-licious recipes. If you try these sweet bliss balls be prepared to become a little obsessed with them.

Oh, and they’re so good for you too with anti-aging cacao powder, hormone-balancing maca and yummy cinnamon to balance your blood sugar. Check them out!

COCO-BLISS BALLS

Ingredients:

1.5 tsp raw maca powder (optional)

1 tbsp organic ground cinnamon

1 tbsp raw organic cacao powder

1/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips

8-10 soft medjool dates, pits removed

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into a high power food processor and blend until small pebbles form. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Makes approximately 10 cookie balls.

And, in case you’re curious about the health benefits of this recipes, below I have a little info on two of the key super food, anti-oxidant ingredients:

MACA: This plant is known as the Peruvian “ginseng” even though it’s not ginseng at all. However, it is known to increase energy, stamina, libido and reduce stress. It is an adaptogen, meaning, it’s important to take over a longer period of time to notice the effects. Maca is also very nourishing to the pituitary and hypothalmus glands, making it great for helping to balance male and female hormones.

Raw Cacao: The purest form of chocolate on planet earth. This food’s effect on mood and libido is due to it’s natural chemicals including anandamide and PEA which are known to make you feel more “blissful” and “loving”. Additionally, it stimulates feel good hormones such as endorphins and may increase serotonin since it’s a source of tryptophan. Raw cacao is also an excellent source of antioxidants and, last but not least, it’s also bit of a libido-booster.

And, with these two loving, blissful and libido boosting ingredients, Coco Bliss Balls may be the perfect dessert to serve next time you have a romantic date on the agenda…

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Glowing Green Smoothie

So, I’ve been dipping into the chip bowl again (Miss Vickie’s Original, I can’t resist you!) and now I’m feeling the need to get my system back in balance, fast. Nothing does it better or quicker than a few big, juicy, green smoothies. The perfect yin to my Miss Vickie’s yang.

green smoothie

The recipe for this emerald green tonic is an ultra-healthy blend of green veggies, fruit and a couple of superfood extras to detoxify, energize and alkalinize your fabulous body.

Green Goddess Tonic

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup organic dark greens 1 cup cucumber
  • 4 stalks celery
  • pinch of parsley
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • dash of turmeric (anti-cancer & anti-aging)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Blend. Pour. Savour.