Healthy Memorial Day BBQ: An oxymoron? Not With THESE Recipes!

BBQ season & picnic plans are upon us!

Don’t let your detox and weight loss goals go down the drain just because you’re going to a few parties – plan and bring delicious, easy food to share and enjoy!

Hearty Healthy Salads for Picnics!

Chickpea Lemon Spinach Salad

 

3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup finely chopped parsley or baby spinach

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

 

Directions:

Couldn’t be easier! Combine all ingredients in a big mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving so the flavors marry together. Serve cold or at room temperature!

 

Want more detox friendly recipes for the summer holidays and picnics on your schedule?

Check out my Patriotic Plant Protein Patties (AKA Veggie Burgers) here: 

 

And for even more awesome, healthy, DELICIOUS recipes, get my books:

The Great American Detox Diet, Vegan Cooking For Dummies and Living Vegan For Dummies!

 

Happy Holidays!

Alex

 

Shredded Sweet Sprouts! Brussels Sprouts for the whole family

A simple side dish of Brussels Sprouts makes any meal healthier – but what if your kid won’t eat them?

Add a hint of sweetness with sautéed apples and a touch of maple syrup – they’ll be begging for more!

*A touch of maple syrup won’t degrade the overall healthy benefits of these powerful cancer-fighting sprouts, and 1 serving has 8-12 grams of fiber, which is more than many Americans get in a day! (You should aim for at least 30 grams a day, BTW)

Shredded & Sweet Brussels Sprouts Salad

Shredded & Sweet Brussels Sprouts Salad

Shredded & Sweet Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, dried and sliced into thin strips

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large tart apple, cubed and unpeeled

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons real maple syrup

1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt and sauté for 8 minutes.

2. When the sprouts begin to brighten and turn a nice light green, add the apple, garlic, red pepper flakes, and maple syrup. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Once everything is heated through, but not too soft or mushy, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans, and pepper.

Serves 2-4 people

Inspired by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe in Color Me Vegan

Healthy New Year's!

New Year’s resolutions for weight loss are mostly doomed to fail, but it’s not because “you did it wrong,” or “you’re just not strong enough, good enough, smart enough, worthy enough” to be skinnier. It’s not because you don’t have the will power – you’ve probably put in a lot of effort and money over the years to making January 1st a “new beginning.”

Here’s the real scoop: trying to lose weight in winter is the hardest, and most unnatural, time of year to reduce your calorie intake. This whole New Year’s Resolution for weight loss is arbitrary, media-hyped, and a losing-bet. The human body naturally tries to keep weight on in the winter as a survival technique. Confused? Keep reading and I’ll tell you more.

Your body goes through seasonal changes just like trees, plants, and hibernating animals. The human body uses calories to keep us warm and naturally holds onto fat to help us weather the freezing weather. Since calories = heat = winter survival, eating gives your body the fuel it needs to protect itself from cold winds, frigid temperatures, and walking your kid to and from school 20 minutes in sub-freezing temperatures twice a day.

Limiting your calorie intake in the winter flips an invisible switch that triggers your body’s natural survival mechanisms to store fuel like a squirrel hiding nuts.  The crazy part is, restricting your food intake starting January 1st can actually cause your body to create more fat storage.

So wait until springtime for a real cleansing and calorie restriction program. Honor your human nature and give your body the calories it needs to get through winter successfully – but this doesn’t mean you can throw all caution to the wind!

January is a great time to create a Resolution about food and health: Decide to transform your menus into natural, real meals filled with whole foods and seasonal ingredients. Get acquainted with whole grains, beans, seasonal veggies from your area, nuts, seeds, and sea vegetables. Create a new habit of including whole grains, beans, and steamed leafy greens at least twice a day. Use the seasonal produce available in your area to bring balance and energy to your body while you remove the junky, processed, and packaged foods this winter.

By changing the quality of your meals, rather than focusing on the quantity of calories and restricting yourself during this season, you can create a total body transformation that will give you the energy you need to make big changes to your weight in the spring when cleansing and reducing is more appropriate. The cool thing is this: when you start shifting your foods to be natural and high-quality, your weight will slowly start reducing on its own! But not in a forced, deprivation style. You’ll get balanced. Your energy will be better. You’ll sleep better and have an easier time kicking caffeine and sugar cravings.

If you want to make this shift with expert guidance, camaraderie, and support, you can sign up for 1 of 20 spots available in my upcoming Red Hot Hearts Tele-Series, which begins 2/15/11. The program provides recipes, meal planning, support, emotional guidance and fun!

I’d be glad to have you!

I hope you have a blessed year full of fun, adventure, healthy vibes, and laughs!

Be well,

Alex

This Sweet Potato Pie Just Makes Me Want To Cry

Baking is fun – and sometimes frustrating. Putting hours into a recipe can be completely rewarding, or result in a complete pastry-nightmarish disaster. I took a chance this Thanksgiving and went online looking for pie inspiration. I wanted something new, something bold, something delicious, yet kinda healthy.

I found a crazy-sounding recipe on veganbaking.net, and decided to give it a whirl, with my own touches and tweaks. The crust recipe is inspired by a famous Cook’s Illustrated vodka pie crust recipe: so this is an inspiration from an inspiration.

ALEX’S VEGAN VODKA PIE CRUST

Yield: 2 crusts

EQUIPMENT:

2 pie plates

parchment paper

rolling pin

INGREDIENTS

2 cups white spelt flour

1/2 cup whole spelt flour

2 tablespoons sucanat unrefined cane sugar (pulverize in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder to make very fine)

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cold trans-fat free Earth Balance vegan margarine (I like the soy-free version)

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup cold vodka

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. *HINT: I used a metal bowl and kept it in the fridge for an hour before using it so it would be really cold. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the margarine and shortening into the flour until mixture resembles coarse sand. Don’t over mix, or you’ll start developing the gluten in the flour, which will make the crust gummy, or you’ll melt the margarine. We don’t want to melt the margarine, we’re going to little pockets of fat to make a flaky texture.

2. Drizzle half of the chilled water and vodka over the mixture then gently toss using a fork. Drizzle the other half in and toss again. Now use the open palm of your hand to press down the dough to compress it. Break up the dough with your fingers and compress it again. HINT: If you think the dough is getting too warm because of your hands or the heat of the kitchen, stick the entire bowl in the fridge so it won’t tip over for a few minutes to chill out. Cut the dough in half inside the bowl with a spatula.

3. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, compress it to a 4 inch disc and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. This dough can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months for later use. If you’re working in extremely hot weather conditions, don’t be afraid to put things in the freezer for a few minutes while you’re working. To get a flaky crust, you need cold dough with cold pockets of fat going into a hot oven. This way the moisture from the fat puffs into flaky nooks and crannies in the crust.

4. Cut two pieces of parchment paper at least 12 inches long. Unwrap one of the dough disks, place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and cover it with the other sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out from the center until it goes out to the edges of the parchment paper. You can gently remove one piece of parchment and dust with a pinch of flour, then flip over and begin rolling again. Hold your pie plate just above the rolled out crust to make sure the dough is about 1 inch larger in diameter than the pie plate. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and carefully flip the dough over into a pie plate. Now remove the other piece of parchment paper and gently press the dough into the pie plate. If you make a little tear, don’t worry – this crust can be patched and repaired by lightly wetting each part to be joined with water or plant-milk then grafting on an extra piece of dough.

5. Now go around the perimeter and tuck and fold the outer edge under the crust so that it’s clean with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the dough with your fingers or press the edges down with the end of a fork to shape. Save any larger pieces that were hanging over to cut into heart, leaf, or other shapes. (see picture of finished pie)

6. Refrigerate the pie plate with the crust for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.

7. Remove the pie from the refrigerator, poke the bottom of the pie crust with a fork about 10 times to create steam holes, and gently press a large pice of foil onto the pie crust. Fill with 3 cups of uncooked beans or pie weights.

8. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and set it on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and pie weights. Rotate the pie 180 degrees and bake it for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust is golden.

Allow the pre-baked pie crust to cool completely before filling with the sweet potato mixture below.

HINT: To create the little hearts as seen in the picture of my pies, cut out heart shapes from extra dough and bake on a cookie sheet while pre-baking the crusts. Set aside until the filled pies are baked, then gently press into the top of the sweet potato.

SWEET POTATO PIE FILLING

EQUIPMENT:

Food processor or blender

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups mashed, cooked, peeled sweet potato (HINT: I like to bake my sweet ‘taters in foil for dinner the night before, and bake a few extras for pie the next day)

3/4 cup coconut butter (cashew butter could also work, but I haven’t tried it)

2/3 cup sucanat

1/4 cup agave syrup

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Combine sweet potato puree, softened* coconut butter, sucanat, agave, arrowroot, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with a standard s-blade. Process until smooth and creamy. HINT: you can also combine ingredients in a good blender, although you might need to blend in batches.

*To soften coconut butter, which can be solid at room temperature, place the entire jar in a bowl with enough hot water to come up to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Allow to soften for 20 minutes.

3. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie crusts and bake for 45 minutes.

Thanksgiving Morning: (Gluten-Free) Sweet Potato Waffles

Start Thanksgiving morning off right with these delicious seasonal waffles – and look for the gluten-free option below!

1 1/2 cup whole wheat or whole spelt flour*

1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour*

1/3 cup Sucanat sugar (unrefined cane sugar)

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt (I like pink Himalayan salt)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 cups soymilk

1 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating your waffle iron. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F. You can keep cooked waffles warm by placing them on a greased cookie sheet or on an oven proof plate, covered with foil until ready to serve.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  4. In another mixing bowl combine soy milk, mashed sweet potato, oil, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth and combined.
  5. Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour and stir until combined and no lumps remain.
  6. Lightly oil the waffle iron and pour in the batter. Cook according to waffle iron directions until done.
  7. Serve with Earth Balance and pure maple syrup.

*For Gluten Free Waffles:

Replace the wheat or spelt flour with

2 1/2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix and

1 teaspoon xanthan gum!

Continue through the recipe exactly as written and they work out fine~

Alex's Healthy Holiday Gift Guide & Natural Living Catalogue

Welcome to my first ever Healthy Holiday Gift Guide & Natural Living Catalogue! Just click on the image at your right to get started!

This is a collection of my favorite products and services for a joyous, healthy life. These offerings are what I consider to be the best in their category.

Gift giving can take on hectic overtones as the year draws to a close. My hope is that this catalogue will guide you towards goods and services that offer long-lasting benefits to your loved ones, or even yourself. My aim was to provide excellent values and unique gift ideas for those who enjoy giving meaningful presents. (Have a cook in the family? Look for the perfect kitchen gifts here!)

I also love to promote companies that focus their energies on creating something great rather than hyping something expendable and disposable.

This gift guide gives one pick for the best product, care provider, or service in a category, rather than the “top 20 pain relief products” or “101 holiday gift ideas!”

My intention is to save you money and time while offering outstanding methods to feel better and ways to create a rich life without creating more for you to do.

These recommendations are based on my experience and my searches for the best in life. There are no advertisements in this catalogue, and I don’t charge for any part of this. (But feel free to share with your friends and family!)

So why am I doing this? Because I love sharing products and resources that I know might help someone feel better or satisfy their craving to try something new.

All my best wishes for you and your families~

Alexandra

Click here to start looking at Alex’s Healthy Holiday Gift Guide & Natural Living Catalogue

Thanksgiving Morning: (Gluten-Free) Sweet Potato Waffles

Gluten-Free Vegan Sweet Potato Waffles

Gluten-Free Vegan Sweet Potato Waffles

Start Thanksgiving morning off right with these delicious seasonal waffles – and look for the gluten-free option below!

 

1 1/2 cup whole wheat or whole spelt flour*

1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour*

1/3 cup Sucanat sugar (unrefined cane sugar)

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt (I like pink Himalayan salt)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 cups soymilk

1 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating your waffle iron. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F. You can keep cooked waffles warm by placing them on a greased cookie sheet or on an oven proof plate, covered with foil until ready to serve.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  4. In another mixing bowl combine soy milk, mashed sweet potato, oil, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth and combined.
  5. Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour and stir until combined and no lumps remain.
  6. Lightly oil the waffle iron and pour in the batter. Cook according to waffle iron directions until done.
  7. Serve with Earth Balance and pure maple syrup.

*For Gluten Free Waffles:

Replace the wheat or spelt flour with

2 1/2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix and

1 teaspoon xanthan gum!

Continue through the recipe exactly as written and they work out fine~

I'm Bringing Back My Women's Winter Wellness & Weight Loss Program!

Women’s Winter Weight Loss & Wellness – 1 Spot Remaining!

Register by Friday, November 12th

I’m bringing back this program due to popular demand!

We’re entering the eating-overload season that always comes before cold and flu season…they’re the same season for a reason!

-        We let ourselves ‘be bad’ starting with the Halloween candy…

-        Then we beat ourselves up for indulging…

-        Which leads to more treats and goodies, cocktails and late-night treats…

-        Then we experience an entire season of weight-gain, illness, and harsh feelings

It’s tempting to wait for New Year’s to “eat better” and make resolutions that don’t become true habits.

Wouldn’t you rather lose weight and stay healthy this season without deprivation? If you’re ready to improve your mood, increase your energy, reduce your cravings and avoid the winter weight gain without deprivation and denial, I have great solutions for you in my Women’s Winter Wellness & Weight Loss Program!

Rather than throwing in the towel now, berating yourself all winter, and feeling lousy once January arrives, you can begin to feel good and stay healthy NOW.

Read what past clients have experienced in these programs with me…

* Julia, a Canadian journalist said “Losing weight had not been my primary goal but four months later, I’m down to the right weight for my height. I feel fitter and healthier than ever. The great thing is, I see food in a whole new way now. I think before I eat. I plan ahead. I read food labels, and I ask myself, ‘What’s this going to do for me?’ I have Alex to thank for that.”

* Kathleen, a 54 year old entrepreneur from Florida commented “Within a week, she identified the root-cause issue, made small changes to my diet, and I began feeling dramatically better. My intestinal distress stopped immediately, and over the first month, I lost 15 lbs, my energy level increased and the nausea and dizziness went away.”

Sign up for the 1 remaining spot in my Winter Wellness program here by 11/12…

The Women’s Winter Weight Loss & Wellness Program is my personalized coaching program that encompasses holistic food planning, lifestyle enrichment, fun food experiments, tools, tips, and teachings on how to avoid winter weight gain and get healthier through the cold and flu season.

Here’s how it works and what you’ll receive:

  • 12 weekly one-hour phone sessions over the next 3 months
  • Unlimited Email support  (guaranteed maximum 48 hour turnaround)
  • Personalized diet and meal plans specific to your needs
  • Motivational and emotional support
  • Recipes and food systems to alleviate conditions
  • Lifestyle skills and therapies for a lifetime of wellness
  • Includes copies of my books plus natural food products, tools, and goodies sent to your door!

My past clients have experienced great accomplishment and achieved high levels of health and wellness working with me in this program.

Come with me on this journey – let’s have some fun and feel better!

Pumpkin Muffins: Fall's Finger Lickin' Good Treats!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Muffins

Makes 12-15 muffins

**I baked an entire pumpkin for this recipe. It’s SO EASY to do the whole pumpkin at once. Don’t bother cutting it up, or chopping it into chunks. Just wash it and place it in a lined glass baking dish. If your pumpkin is big, it will take longer to cook. This pumpkin took 70 minutes to cook through at 400F.

Then I removed it from the oven, carefully cut it open (watch out for the steam!) and let it cool for about 10 minutes. I scooped out the seeds and scraped out the soft flesh into my food processor. It creamed up easily, and the seeds were SUPER EASY to clean for baking later! This was the best part – I’ve always gotten discouraged with cleaning pumpkin seeds in the past when scooped from a raw pumpkin. This way was very fast. The stringy flesh washed off of the seed really well.

Or just use canned pumpkin – your choice!

INGREDIENTS:

1 ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour (buy it online here)

1 cup rapadura or sucanat unrefined cane sugar

1/4 cup ground raw pumpkin seeds (grind until pulverized in a spice grinder)

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup pureed pumpkin or sweet potatoes (not pumpkin pie mix)

½ cup soy, almond, hemp, or rice milk

½ cup canola, coconut, or olive oil

1 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Lightly grease or line a 12-muffin tin with unbleached cupcake liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Lube Up Your Love Life, Naturally! Win Some Good Clean Love Goodies…

Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to try something new, dirty and clean in the boudoir. Exploring your sexual and sensual side is one of the best ways to feel good in your body now - a great night in the sheets is better then ice cream, right?

Sex toys and products are fun and spark the imagination wether your single, married or just playing the field. The only problem is that many of those products contain ingredients that should never be used in your most sensitive, sacred area. Call it your noni, vag, hoo-ha, or the old-school vulva, our female privates are porous places and shouldn’t be exposed to toxic ingredients like petrochemicals.

According to Good Clean Love’s founder Wendy Strgar “over 90% of the OTC [over the counter] lubes available are made with chemicals designed first for cars or oven cleaner.” Yikes! Don’t put that THERE!

Wendy is a sexual health expert and has been creating and promoting safer sex products from her base in Eugene, OR for years. As a special Valentine’s Day gift to my readers, Wendy has given 2 of her fabulous gift-sets to my blog readers! Leave your comment here about sexual health, exploration or what you plan on using these goodies for on Valentine’s, and you could win 1 of the 2 gift sets!

To see what the Cupid’s Travel Kit contains go here:  http://www.goodcleanlove.com/Cupids-Travel-Kit.html