Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pie

chocolate lemon pixabaySeveral years ago, I learned that I was borderline diabetic and I also started having episodes of severe hypoglycemia. Really miserable stuff when that hits. So I had to learn to eat differently and tame my love for sugar and refined carbs. The first step I took was simply cutting back the sugar in recipes, sometimes significantly, but usually by about 1/3-1/2. Usually, the recipes were sweet enough, even with this adjustment.

Over time, I also learned to make things using more natural alternatives, such as honey, stevia, and xylitol. Honey still has to be used in limited quantities, as it is a sugar. However, it does have some health benefits and I find it tastes better than sugar. Honestly, I also limit how much xylitol I use, simply because it still feels very refined to me. Stevia is much more natural, made from a ground herb. I prefer the taste of NOW Better Stevia Glycerite drops.

I also learned to use organic sugar, for the times when I need real sugar in a recipe. It is less refined and has fewer chemical agents in it from processing. While it’s still sugar, I feel it is healthier because of this. It also has a fuller flavor, so I can use less of it.

This is a wonderfully rich and delicious recipe that also happens to be really healthy!

Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pie

Ingredients:2 avocados, pitted

2 avocados, pitted

1/3 to 1/2 half cup milk of choice (I love the way coconut milk tastes in this)

1/2 cup cacao powder (cocoa powder is fine and carob would probably work, though I haven’t tried it)

2-3 Tablespoons organic sugar or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Optional: low-fat graham cracker pie shell

Instructions:

Put everything in a food processor or a blender and blend on high speed for a minute of so, until well blended. Scrape the side  and reprocess, if needed, to mix everything well. Chill for about 10 minutes. Pour into pie shell, or for a grain free, lower carb, no crust pie, pour directly into a glass pie pan and chill for 30 minutes to set.

You can drizzle a chocolate sauce topping on this for garnish/decoration if you like.

Chocolate sauce:

1/4 cup coconut oil (do not substitute with another oil!)

1/4 cup honey

2-3 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder

Heat in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often until oil is melted and ingredients are well mixed. Stir in drizzles of milk of choice until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Cleansing and Immunity Boosting Tea

0208151057This tea is great for boosting your vitamin C levels, supporting your immune function and supporting the cleansing  and detoxifying ability of the kidneys and liver. It is helpful for anyone who is undergoing a stress on their immune system, be it a cold or cancer. It can also help to support your body as you detoxify from medications you may need to take for an illness. As a wonderful bonus, it tastes wonderful, even without any sweetener, and it looks and smells heavenly.

I don’t get really technical about the measurements when I make this, so adjust this as you feel you need to for taste. The ingredients can be found in the bulk section of most natural foods stores or you can find them online at places such as Mountain Rose Herbs and others.

Sweet Cleansing and Immunity Boosting Tea

about a Tablespoon of Pau d’arco bark (large pinch)–immunity support/balance

2-3 whole cloves (NOT powder)–cleansing

about a Tablespoon dried Hibiscus flowers–immune support, cleansing

about 2 teaspoons dandelion root–cleansing, especially kidneys

about 2 teaspoons burdock root–cleansing, especially liver

Bring 32 ounces of water to a boil as you gather your herbs, roots and flowers together in a wire mesh strainer placed over a small to medium bowl. Once the water has reached a boil, pour it over the herbs in the strainer and allow to sit and steep for about 15-20 minutes. Place a small piece of cheesecloth over the top of a pitcher or a Mason jar. Pour the steeped tea through the cheesecloth into the Mason jar or pitcher. I usually brew 32 ounces more water and make a second batch using the same herbs, and then I toss them in the garbage. Refrigerate. Drink 1-3 cups a day over the next 24-48 hours.

Beating Back the Winter Blahs

winter wonderland121413This time of year, when the sun isn’t out as much and it is often gray and rainy/snowy, many people have more trouble with feeling very sad, low on energy, even depressed. This can  happen when our bodies and brains don’t cope well with the lower levels of light. Our brains produce a chemical that responds to darkness and light called melatonin. This chemical helps our body know when it’s time to shut down for the day and go to sleep. Normally, at the end of the day, when it begins to get dark, our body begins to release serotonin, which triggers the production of more melatonin and we get sleepy. In the mornings, when our brains register that there is sunlight again, the levels of  serotonin and melatonin drop and we become more alert and wake up, ready to start our day. These chemicals rely on the nutrients we bring into our bodies to be made properly and in sufficient amounts and they rely on sunlight (and other cues) to trigger their release. We can help our bodies and brains by adjusting how we cope with life during the Fall and Winter months, especially if we have difficulty with seasonal depression, sometimes called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

-Get as much light as possible and self regulate your light exposure. Open your blinds first thing every morning and close them in the evening. Go outside for a few minutes each day. Use Blues Buster bulb in the room your work in or use a full spectrum UV lamp for a few minutes each day. Don’t be afraid to turn on the lights in your home during the day! Spend the money! This is your health we are talking about!
-Take warm sea salt or Epsom salt baths frequently, even daily. They are very detoxifying and they just feel good. Add Lavender essential oil, if you like.
-Stay on a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day. This helps the melatonin in your brain become level and balanced and stay that way.
-Eat healthy. Low sugar, low starch. Lots of vegetables, especially those that are in season. Make sure to include plenty of foods that are rich easily accessible omega-3 fatty acids, as these support brain function and overall health. These are things like salmon, sardines, or eggs. Foods high in tryptophan, such as cottage cheese, avocados, bananas, walnuts and turkey are also good as they support the production of serotonin and melatonin. Make occasional DARK chocolate your now and then sugar treat, as it fights depression.
-Use Rescue Remedy to help lift your spirits and ease extra pains. It is homeopathic and non habit forming. It will help balance your entire system, not just relieve your symptoms. It can be taken as often as every 15-30 minutes on very difficult days.
-Get at least 5-10 minutes of exercise every day. Do something you enjoy! Dance or play with the kids or the dog/cat, whatever you like. No need to make it a chore, simply move your lovely body in some way and stretch it, shake it, feel it, enjoy it!
-Keep flowers in your home. Even one or two flowers in a vase helps. They add a wonderful energy, not to mention how beautiful they look and smell. I’ve found that my local grocery store sells small bouquets for $3-$5. Totally worth it.  Flowers and plants boost spirits. You’re worth it.
-Reiki or other energy work can help keep your energy moving or relieve energy blockages. If you know you have this problem each year, consider making a regular appointment each month during the Fall and Winter months to help support your well being. If you are having difficulties or begin to, a Reiki session can help restore calm and peace of mind, body and spirit.

-Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are experiencing a sadness that doesn’t lift. Counseling or medication may be helpful in getting your system back on track and helping you feel better again.

Here’s a couple recipes to help support you when your energy is low, but you have cravings. They are healthy, easy and satisfying.

Quick Green Smoothie

1 cup of milk of choice

4 Tablespoons yogurt

2 leaves any type green (kale, collard, mustard, turnip–your favorite)

handful raspberries, handful blueberries

teaspoon raw honey

teaspoon spirulina

1 inch peeled fresh ginger

Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and run for about a minute on high, until smooth.

Cacao (Dark Chocolate) Sauce

All measurements are estimates–adjust for amount and consistency you wish to make

1/4 cup coconut oil (butter can be substituted)

2-3 Tablespoons raw cacao powder (much higher health benefits than cocoa powder)

2-3 Tablespoons raw honey

dash of sea salt or Himalayan salt

Heat in small saucepan over low heat while stirring. Once coconut oil is melted and all is stirred together, add a small drizzle of milk at a time until you have the consistency you would like for a sauce. A splash of vanilla is nice to add. You can also stir in shredded coconut or walnuts. If you leave out the milk and spread this over a sheet of  parchment paper on a cookie sheet  and then refrigerate it for several hours, it makes a nice candy.

If I can help support you with a Reiki session, feel free to contact me at  www.facebook.com/HolisticSpirituality.

Be well and Blessings,
Angie

Homemade Pizza with Seasoned Crust (gluten free, vegan option)

I LOVE pizza! And I used to be really intimidated by the thought of making my own pizza atpizza home. Even if I thought of doing it at home, I would by a pre-made crust or a crust mix and I always bought a pre-made sauce. I enjoyed the results when I made a pizza at home, even doing it with pre-packaged mixes and sauces, but I still had that feeling of disconnection and intimidation. I usually just ordered a pizza or bought frozen. All that had to change when I had to go gluten free several years ago for health reasons. It was either go without pizza (NOT!) or learn how to do it at home inexpensively (which means without the gluten free pre-packaged mixes!) I am glad I learned how to get past my fears, because, like most things I have discovered in the kitchen, once I looked beneath the mystery, it was not hard to do at all! I only had to trust myself! Here is a pizza sauce and crust I have developed since then. I love how easy they are and how there is room for flexibility.

Start with the pizza sauce. I get this going an let it simmer while I start the pizza dough. Works out perfectly. The sauce can also be made up in big batches and then frozen in individual containers for later use, if you want to double or triple the recipe.

Pizza Sauce

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion or 1/2 medium onion, chopped (use the other half for pizza toppings!)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small stalk celery, diced

15 oz. can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar, honey or pure maple syrup (grade B works best)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

 

Melt butter or margarine with olive oil in pan. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent (about 3 minutes). Add all other ingredients, stir. Simmer on low heat for  at least  a half hour, up to one whole hour.  Remove bay leaf and it’s ready to use! 

While this is simmering, start the pizza dough. You can have it finished and on the pan ready to bake by the time the sauce is ready.

Seasoned Pizza Crust

3 c. flour (1 c. brown rice, 1 cup millet, 1 cup sorghum)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour or a gluten free blend containing xantan gum)

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoons sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons more

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon yeast

3/4 cup warm water, plus 3/4 cup more (@ 110 degrees, or what feels comfortable to the inside of your wrist)

1 egg (can substitute flax egg mixture–see below–or leave egg out for a thinner, drier crust)*

*Flax egg mixture to substitute for egg–1 Tablespoon flax meal mixed with 2 Tablespoons warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then use as you would an egg. Works in many recipes.

Pour 3/4 cup water in a small bowl and stir in 1 Tablespoon yeast. Let sit for a couple minutes, then add 1 Tablespoon sugar.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum (if using gluten free flour), basil, oregano and garlic powder. Mix well.

In a measuring cup, measure 3/4 cup warm water and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 egg. Beat with a fork until well blended. Add yeast, sugar and water mixture and stir. Then add to the flour mixture and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the bowl of dough on top of the stove where it will get some of the warmth of the oven (not where it will cover the oven’s heat exhaust!) and let it rise for about 10 minutes. This is a good time to get some toppings ready, shred cheese, prepare your pan, etc.

Grease two pizza pans or one large cookie sheet. When your dough is done rising, then sauce should be about done simmering, so turn that off. Dump the dough onto the cookie sheet and dust it and your hands with a little flour, then mash it evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake it without toppings for about 15-20 minutes until it begins to turn golden brown. Finish chopping toppings while it bakes. Sliced tomato, mushrooms, chopped onion, some fresh or frozen spinach, even broccoli is really good! Use your imagination!

When the crust comes out of the oven, put your sauce and toppings on, then bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Slice and enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini “Apple” Cobbler

zucchiniZucchini  “Apple” Cobbler

This is a delicious and easy dessert and a fantastic way to use up the abundance of zucchini that rolls in during the summer months!

Filling

6 cups or so of peeled, cubed zucchini (I used 1 large and 1 medium)

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup sugar or other replacement, such as honey

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8-1/4 cup raisins (I just threw in a good sized handful)

Topping

1 cup almond flour/meal (other flour would probably work fine)

@1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened butter or coconut oil

handful of chopped pecans or walnuts(optional)

1. Put cubed zucchini in saucepan with lemon juice and sugar. Stir. Slowly bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, add raisins & spices, cover pan and simmer for about 5 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a square baking dish.

3.Prepare the topping by mixing the flour, salt and cinnamon, then cut in the butter or coconut oil with then side of a spoon. When the filling is done simmering, pour in to greased dish and sprinkle pecans or walnuts on top, if using. Then sprinkle the topping over the nuts.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top and the zucchini is tender.

Taste just like apple crisp/cobbler! Top with ice cream or whipped cream or just enjoy it straight out of the oven!

 

Grain Free Chicken and Dumplings

cauliflowerGrain Free Chicken and Dumplings

Comfort foods are amazing. They can remind you of a special time in your childhood and just generally soothe and heal your body, mind and spirit. My husband and I are contending with a bit of a cold today and some chicken and dumplings, like my Mom used to make sounded just right. Only grain free.

Once a month I buy 2 chickens, as well as my eggs, from a local farm that I completely trust. They are family owned and they let the chickens live a free and happy chicken life, not a caged one. They provide amazingly kind shelters for their “ladies”, as they call them and treat them like fellow family members.  I get about 4 meals and 8 cups of chicken stock from each of the chickens. Nothing goes to waste and all of the bird is honored deeply.

This recipe uses shredded chicken picked from a previously roasted whole chicken, frozen and thawed for this meal as well as stock made by boiling the bones and skin from the chicken after all the meat was removed. You could also buy chicken thighs or breast, cook it and shred it and buy chicken stock, but it’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken, roast it (or crock pot it for several hours) and then pick it clean and freeze what you don’t eat in 1 or 2 cup portions for later meals.

Grain Free Chicken and Dumplings

1 head cauliflower, cut in half

@ 2 cups shredded chicken (leftover from cooked whole bird)

4 cups chicken stock, split in half (made from bones and skin left from picked clean bird)

2 cups water

@ 2 cups chopped carrots

@ 1 cup chopped celery

@ 1 cup parsley or carrot tops (optional)

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

additional 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 egg

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot

 

1) Chop half of the cauliflower and add it to 2 cups of the stock and 2 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.

2) While that is cooking, chop the other half head of cauliflower and run through a food processor until it is very fine and grainy looking. Add a half inch or so of water to a pan and bring to a boil, then add the cauliflower grains to the water and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain through wire mesh strainer and rinse with cool water. When cool enough, place on a doubled over piece of cheesecloth or a thin dish cloth and squeeze while twisting to get all the liquid out. Set aside in a medium bowl.

3) Pour the cauliflower and stock into a blender and liquefy to make a smooth and thick cream like base. Pour back into the pot and add carrots, celery, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme the rest of the stock and the chicken and bring back to a simmer for about another 10-15 minutes while making the dumplings.

4) Add an egg, both flours (or arrowroot) and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the cauliflower grains you set aside in the medium bowl and stir well with a spoon. Then knead with your hands for a couple minutes until it feels nicely pliable and holds together well. Only takes about 2 minutes.

5) Check on the soup. If the carrots are tender and seasonings are as you like, then form the dough ball into about 9, 1/2 inch dumplings and drop then into the soup. Let them rise to the top on their own. Put the lid on the pot and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Serve.

Adapted from: http://paleoparents.com/2013/guest-post-popular-paleo-cauliflower-dumplings-with-creamy-chicken-soup/

Grain Free Zucchini Muffins

Grain free zucchini muffinsI’ve recently had to make some changes in the way I cook and eat. My body has been sending me signals for awhile that it was having major issues with grains–all grains, even gluten free ones. I already knew sugars were an issue for me, but I had been ignoring that and steadily increasing my intake of various sugars for some time. My body was letting me know it couldn’t handle much more. I had to get off of the sugars again and I had to find a way to stop eating grains. This was a bummer thing to realize just as my zucchini were coming into season and berries everywhere were ripening! I wanted to bake! However, I am not one to be deterred. I have been in this place before when I had to go gluten free, and I found entirely new ways of looking at food and cooking. I have been able to do that again and I am rocking the kitchen once more! I have been making grain free, sugar free or extremely low sugar (no processed sugar) pies, cobblers, breads and muffins.
I have also learned a few things about how grains are processed in our bodies and what can make that difficult for us. In learning that, I have found that with many grains, if I soak them I have no trouble eating them. This has led to me learning how to make oat porridge (delicious!) and sourdough (makes great pancakes!), which I will be making bread from in the next day or two. Soaking grains allows them to release the nutrients, which aren’t available without soaking, and also neutralizes toxins that are naturally present in the grains. Our ancestors always did this. Only in recent modern times did we stop. Notice how in recent times our autoimmune disease have increased as well as digestive disease and gluten/grain sensitivity and celiac? There may be a correlation as the immune system is largely in the digestive tract, extending to the brain and the bloodstream.
Now that I’ve given you somewhat sciencey lesson in grains and immune health, I would like to share a new recipe I have created for grain free zucchini muffins! I made these for breakfast this morning and they are awesome! Nice and fluffy; sort of an egg like fluffiness. If you want a bit more of a grain-like feel, you could add a scant 1/4 cup of almond meal/flour to the recipe and that should achieve that for you nicely without sacrificing the airiness of the muffins. I may try that next time, just to see what it’s like.

Grain Free Zucchini Muffins
1/2 coconut flour
scant 1/4 almond flour/meal (optional, for a more grain-like texture)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional, but good)
(*Note: You could 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in place of the previous 3 spices)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, preferably pastured
3 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup (grade B works best for cooking)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 small or medium zucchini, shredded (you need about 1 cup)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin pans with liners or by greasing well.

1) Shred the zucchini and squeeze the excess liquid out then set aside. 2) Mix the eggs, honey or syrup and applesauce in a medium bowl until well blended. 3) Add in the flour(s), the zucchini, salt, baking soda and spices, mix well. 4) If using nuts, stir those in now. 5) Fill prepared muffin cups about 2/3 full. 6) Bake 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.