Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

NOTE: I was not paid for endorsing the superfood powders mentioned, neither company has any idea who I am. I have just used this type of product for years and find it invaluable. However, the links I include below to purchase the powders are affiliate links, so I get a portion of the sales if you do buy from those links. Thank you!

As I was rushing out the door to my yoga teacher training retreat for 5 days, I wanted to share this recipe with you all and with my husband, who needs the recipe somewhere safe to use for the kids when I’m away! I have been making this smoothie for the past month or so as a sneaky way to get my kids to start the day with superfoods like kale, spinach, spirulina, chia, and wheatgrass. Let’s face it, they would reject a green smoothie first thing in the morning. So this is a sneaky superfood chocolate smoothie. You can add nut butter as indicated below to make it a peanut butter chocolate flavor, or leave it out and have more pure chocolate.

My secret ingredient is a chocolate superfood powder. You have to get one that does not taste terrible. And you would think that would be easy, but it’s not. I have tried dozens of kinds and my favorites are Amazing Grass and Garden of Life Raw chocolate superfood powders. Both have a protein shake version, but that’s not what I am using here. Neither superfood powder has any sugar in them and both can be found locally at your Sprouts or Whole Foods or Natural Grocer or online at Thrive Market (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), Vitacost (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), or Amazon (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life). If you need discount codes for Thrive or Vitacost, please contact me via my Facebook Page and I can send them to you!

The most unusual thing that I do with this smoothie is add oatmeal. I started doing this when my daughter began refusing pretty much anything I offered for breakfast. If you are grain-free or doing this in addition to other things eaten at breakfast and it is too filling, you can leave out the oatmeal. But it is very important that you blend the oatmeal and chia seeds into a fine powder in the blender first, before adding other ingredients. If you blend everything together, the smoothie with be thick and lumpy. I’ve forgotten that step before and my kids wouldn’t eat it. See photos below.

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie (kid approved) | Living Consciously Blog

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

Step 1

1/2 cup oats (buy gluten-free oats here)

1 tsp. chia seeds (buy here)

STOP HERE AND BLEND INTO A POWDER.
It will look something like this:

Superfood Smoothie Oatmeal Chia Seeds | Living Consciously Blog

Step 2

1 cup frozen bananas (if using room temperature bananas, definitely add the optional ice, below)

2 scoops chocolate superfood powder (see above paragraph for where to buy)

3/4 cup chocolate hazelnut milk (buy here or at Whole Foods)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp peanut butter, nut butter, or PB2 – optional (buy PB2 here)

1/2 cup ice – optional, will make your smoothie thicker

 

Put the rest of the ingredients from Step 2 into your blender and blend everything on high until smooth and thinned out enough to pour and drink easily. In my Vitamix this takes almost a minute on high.

If you let it sit too long, the chia seeds will absorb the moisture and the smoothie will become a “thickie”! Serve to your children or yourself immediately!

 

You might also like:

How to Juice with a Vitamix
My Green Smoothie Guidelines
Saving Money on Organic & GMO-Free Groceries

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a Bread Machine

We’ve had great success reducing my son’s food intolerances through naturopathy, but he is still a little sensitive to both wheat and dairy. For some reason, his body CAN process white flour much more easily than whole wheat, although I’ll always go with the gluten-free version of things, if I can. Recently, I read this article about why non-organic flour might cause more inflammation than conventionally produced wheat flour. I am not sure if those two are linked in his case, but they could be.

I make all our own bread, for the most part. I rarely buy bread. For my husband and I and my daughter, I typically make a variation of my fluffy wheat bread. But for my son, I alter the recipe a little and make low gluten bread in my bread machine to address his gluten intolerance, which is different than an allergy. At first, I was frustrated by how flat and dense the bread typically came out. Then, after a conversation with my mom about the chemistry of gluten free cooking, I revised it a little to include vanilla extract. Perfect! Now I get fluffy bread nearly every time!

The trick with this bread is actually allowing the yeast to grow a little in the machine before baking. This is a big “no-no” with bread machines, typically, but in this recipe it works! I promise!

Important for cooler temperatures/climates: I made this recipe for the first time since it got cooler here in Texas (in the 60’s, woo hoo!) and the yeast did not work as it did during the summer. I ruined an entire loaf. The yeast should be frothy and bubbly after 10 minutes.
TIP: Warming the bread machine’s inner container in the oven for a few minutes before putting the warm water and yeast inside has helped a lot in the cooler months (or when the temperature inside the house is below 72 degrees).

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a bread machine | Living Consciously Blog

Low Gluten Bread

First:

1 cup of water, warmed (not hot)
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. yeast (regular, not fast-rising)

Second:

1 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract (affiliate link)
1/4 cup oil (safflower, non-GMO canola – affiliate links)
1 cup pre-mixed gluten free flour (affiliate link)
2 cups organic white flour
1/2 tbsp. salt

1. Add all items listed in the “First” list to the bread machine canister. Let sit for 10 minutes or longer. Yeast should bubble up like this:

Low Gluten Bread Yeast

2. Add vanilla and then oil (shown in picture, above).

3. Add the flours and then the salt.

4. I set my machine for the White Bread setting. It should come out nice and fluffy, like this!

Fresh Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in the Machine

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I get a portion of the sales if you buy using the links to Vitacost. I always label my affiliate links and relationships. I appreciate your support of my blog – thank you!

 


All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

Skin, digestion, and liver update

Confused button | Living Consciously Blog

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

Real Plans real food meal planning system: gluten-free dairy-free

Real Plans meal planning system | Living Consciously

NOTE: I received a 2 week preview of the Real Plans meal planning system so that I could try it out and let you know what I think. I was not compensated monetarily for the opportunity or asked to share my experience, I am doing so of my own accord and all opinions are my own. However, links within the post and images may be affiliate links (and are labeled as such), which means that if you purchase the plan, I will get a percentage of the sale to support my blogging efforts. Thank you in advance!

RealPlans.com meal planning system: Paleo, Vegetarian, and Traditional | Living Consciously

I finally made a pot roast!

This is a big deal for someone who spent 13 years of my adult life a vegetarian and has just now learned to cook meat. My husband remembers pot roast fondly from childhood and has wistfully mentioned it several times in our marriage. I am sad to say that there have been many failed pot roasts in my past.

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been on a Paleo-ish liver detox! The plan includes eating extremely cleanly and avoiding the following:

  • all grains (including rice, corn, quinoa, oats)
  • dairy
  • added sugar (such as refined sugar, coconut sugar, honey, molasses – I still have fruit that contains natural sugars, such as dates)

Unlike my 30 day macrobiotic cleanse, I have been able to eat meat, fish, and all fruits and vegetables. I was also instructed to add sugar-free hemp protein (affiliate link) and raw greens powder (affiliate link) into smoothies and shakes several times a day to keep me full and help my body flush out.

Since I have been using a Classic version of another meal planning system for the past 2 years, I was a little overwhelmed attempting to plan Paleo-ish meals for myself and my family. It was just in time that Emily and Antony offered to let me try their new Real Plans real food meal planning system (affiliate link). I chose the Paleo plan (affiliate link), which is gluten-free and dairy-free. To my husband’s delight, this week contained pot roast!

Emily of Holistic Squid (a holistic blog) and her husband Antony designed this system and come up with the recipes. Real food means that everything is made from scratch, no prepackaged or processed foods. But, it’s actually not difficult at all!

I was surprised at how few ingredients the recipe required. It seems like the other recipes I’d tried were so much more complicated! I bought the chuck roast at Whole Foods, it was actually on sale for 50% off and was organic grass-fed!

A cool feature of the planning system – you can adjust the recipe for different serving sizes:

Real Plans meal planning system allows you to adjust the recipe serving size | Living Consciously

I was also very happy with how the shopping list and recipes were optimized for mobile. Does anyone else cook recipes straight from their iPhone? No? Well, I do! So it was nice to have the recipe formatted without clutter for easy countertop reference.

Overall, this is a super simple meal planning system that adds a fresh dose of flexibility (meal size, weekly menu). I would highly recommend it. In addition to the Paleo version, they also have a Vegetarian Plan and a Traditional Plan. If you do join, tell Emily and Antony that I sent you! Here’s the link again: RealPlans.com (affiliate link).