“Fall-ing” Back into Routines & Avocado Vegan Milkshake Recipe

While I was away in South Korea, I didn’t have frequent access to the internet/computer so I didn’t really have a chance to announce the winner to my book giveaway. Congratulations to my reader Safu79 for winning the book! 🙂

Even though September has arrived and a new school year and season has begun, which is always a busy month for me as I adjust back to regular and new routines, trying to achieve work-life balance again, I plan to slowly catch up with what all my blogger friends have been up to, and will be posting some more summer adventures or discoveries in Vancouver and Korea whenever I have time. I have so many things to tell you about!!

Without further ado, I would love to tell you about this new drink I discovered and fell in love with…

When I returned from Vancouver, my friend Faith and I met up at her favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Every time she has a meal there, she also orders the avocado milkshake. I was curious as to how it tasted since I love avocados so I ordered one to try that night. To my delight, it had a very creamy rich taste and it wasn’t as sweet as I thought. Therefore, I felt it was healthier than most milkshakes.

Before I left for Korea, I recreated my own healthy version using almond milk and pure maple syrup as the natural sweetener. Today I followed the same recipe with only one more addition which was the banana, and it tastes absolutely divine! This milkshake is reserved for days when you feel like having something totally decadent but at the same time you want something healthy too. 🙂

Below you’ll find my Vietnamese-inspired dairy-free naturally sweetened Avocado Milkshake recipe. Enjoy and savour every single sip! 🙂

Happy Fall & September!

XO,

Violet

Avocado Milkshake

 

Makes: 1 milkshake

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 1-2 minutes

Total Time: about 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe medium avocado

1 ripe banana, chopped

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs for topping

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs on top, and enjoy drinking with a straw! 🙂

 

Special Note:

I also added 1 tablespoon of Macro Greens. It is a greens product that is abundant in antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotic cultures.  It is also gluten-free, raw, organic and vegan. I have it almost every day. I find it boosts my energy level and helps with keeping my immune system stronger.

If you would like to learn more about it, this is the one I use: http://www.iherb.com/macrolife-naturals-macro-greens-nutrient-rich-super-food-10-oz-283-5-g/7385

 

 

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Life has been very crazy busy lately.  For example, within one week (last week), I witnessed 3 beautiful weddings, new beginnings for 3 amazing couples, and experienced the passing of a loved one.  Such is the circle of life, and the joys and sorrows that is all part of living.  The only thing we can do is enjoy and appreciate every moment, including the ups and downs of life, and just go with the flow; and cherish memories.

Today I finally have a chance to really sit back, and reflect upon what happened the past week, also take comfort and joy in baking on this rainy day. 🙂

Fortunately my father still has an appetite and a sweet tooth, despite his disease.  I know he secretly craves his Tim Hortons’ muffins but he is no longer allowed to eat “outside” or processed food, so homemade food is the way to go.

Using only natural ingredients such as pumpkins, bananas and raisins, I dedicate this Fall-inspired gluten-free and dairy-free muffin recipe to him.  He really liked eating these muffins that I made especially for him!

I hope you enjoy making and eating these yummy, light and moist muffins with your loved ones! 🙂

 

PumpkinRaisinMuffins

 

Makes: 24

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-To make it sugar-free, you can choose not to add in the maple syrup.  I added it, because my father does have a sweet tooth, and I think maple syrup is a healthy natural sweetener.  See: health and nutritional benefits of eating maple syrup: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=115

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups Gluten-Free Oat Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour)

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegan buttery spread, melted

4-5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 cup raisins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Slowly add raisins into batter.
  6. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let the muffins cool completely, or eat one while still warm. 🙂

 

 

Quinoa for Breakfast!

Quinoa Breakfast

I first tasted quinoa when I was travelling throughout Peru in 2011 and learned that it was a staple to the Peruvian diet.  While I was in Peru, I really enjoyed quinoa in a variety of culinary ways, from hearty soups to delicious desserts.  In fact, my favourite memory of eating quinoa was having it as a scrumptious strawberry quinoa pudding for dessert after dinner on top of a mountain, as we settle in for the night, eagerly awaiting to see Machu Picchu at sunrise the next day. 🙂

Fast forward 2 years later, quinoa seems to be the new health buzz word in North America.  Everywhere I go, it is on restaurants’ menus and in grocery stores.  It is even included in all the health books and magazines I’m hungrily reading to learn more about healthy food and diet.

To sum it up: Quinoa is a seed (many people assume it is a grain, but it isn’t!!) that comes in white, red or black.  It is a superfood because it is a good source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E.  It is also gluten-free!  Therefore, it is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten sensitivity or celiacs.

As I’m now gluten-free and also trying to cut down on my meat consumption, quinoa is another great alternative I can turn to for protein, and substitute for rice or pasta.  I am by no means an expert in cooking quinoa, and have been reading books and websites to learn how to cook it well, and getting some more recipe ideas.

Anyways, I got really excited when I was chatting with my vegetarian friend Mythili and she mentioned she eats quinoa for breakfast!  I thought what a wonderful way to start off the day with energy and happiness!!

I will now share with you a recipe Mythili passed on to me, and I tweaked it a bit with whatever I found in my kitchen, and as you know, I like to experiment with some of the ingredients in recipes.  After all, creativity in the kitchen is so much fun!! 😀

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Turmeric- has health and beauty properties, mostly anti-inflammatory effects and helps increase blood circulation thus contributing to healthier and radiant looking skin!

Milk- you can replace the unsweetened almond milk with any other type of non-dairy milk you like!  For example, Mythili used rice milk for this recipe.

-Spice- instead of turmeric, you can replace it with cinnamon if you prefer a more flavourful tang, as turmeric is slightly bitter to taste

-Fruit toppings- you can put any fruits you like on top!  Mythili put blueberries in hers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 banana, sliced

handful of sliced strawberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix the quinoa, almond milk, water and ground turmeric into a pan at medium heat.
  2. Mix contents once in a while.
  3. Add sliced banana into the pan.  When the quinoa is cooked, take the pan off the stove.
  4. Plate the food and add a handful of strawberries.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Resources I used on learning about and how to cook quinoa:

The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness by Adam Hart, page 111

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-63344

http://lowfatveganchef.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly-every-time/

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_cook_quinoa

http://www.queenofquinoa.me/get-to-know-quinoa/

A Sweet Green Smoothie Combo!

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy


As mentioned earlier in a post, I have now decided to challenge myself to drink one green smoothie a day!  I have started this for about a week now, and usually drink one for breakfast, but sometimes it’s for snack.  It is very fun to experiment with different combinations of dark leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, and I’m loving most of the green smoothies I made so far!!

Here’s one green smoothie combo that I would love to share with you since it’s simply and naturally so sweet and good! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 smoothie

Preparation Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

2 cups  spring mix

1 chopped banana

1 cup chopped papaya

2 tablespoons chia seeds (makes the smoothie filling as it has protein, and provides 4.4 g of protein)

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs

6-8 blueberries

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs and blueberries) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and blueberries on top, and enjoy!

 

I hope you will enjoy drinking it as much as I do! 🙂

 

Love, Violet

Green Smoothie Made Easy!

Recently,  a few people were asking me how to make a good healthy green smoothie, and I honestly don’t have the “expert” answer, since I just began exploring, making and drinking green smoothies.

My friend Cindy from London, UK, just shared with me this awesome “how to customize your own green smoothie” poster which her friend pinned on Pinterest from another source (Eva Ramsey).  I got very excited upon seeing it and can’t wait to share with all of you right now!!  Here’s a guideline on how to make your own yummy green smoothie, and I know I will substitute the liquid part with almond milk (unsweetened) instead, as I love almond milk a lot!

I want to say thank you to Cindy, her friend Jen & Eva Ramsey for sharing and/or posting this cool green smoothie easy steps poster!

Happy Green Smoothie Making & Drinking! 🙂

Love, Violet 

Green Smoothie Menu

Grateful for Green Smoothie

I'm beginning to love drinking a green smoothie for breakfast!  I like to top it with a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs.  Yum!! :)

I’m beginning to love drinking a green smoothie for breakfast! I like to top it with a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs. Yum!! 🙂

In my search to find satisfying and healthy gluten-free breakfast, I came upon Kimberly Snyder’s book The Beauty Detox Solution- Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted, and began reading it avidly.  I got inspired by her “Glowing Green Smoothie” (see her blog for recipe: http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/ggs/).  She claims that drinking a green smoothie or drink daily is the most powerful way to increase our mineral and enzyme consumption, which are critical to our health and beauty.  She says “green-based drinks are the real super foods- not exotic, expensive or hard-to-find fruits or plants from foreign countries.” (Chapter 4: Beauty Minerals and Enzymes)  Furthermore, dark, leafy greens are packed with many nutrients that are good for our bodies, and they’re better than any other food groups.  Basically, having vegetables, especially the greens (e.g. kale, spinach, celery etc.) and fruits will nourish us completely.  According to Health Canada, we should have at least 7-8 servings (if you’re female, and for males: 8-10 servings) of both fruits and vegetables per day (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/fruit/need-besoin-eng.php), which translates roughly into 2-3 servings of fruits and 7-8 servings of vegetables (I confirmed this information with my naturopathic doctor).   Therefore, having a nutritious and fiber filled green smoothie is such a great way to consume our vegetables and fruits early on in the day.

As I’m going gluten-free, I decided to give the green smoothie a try.  Although I am nowhere near in drinking one per day, I do drink it 2-3 times a week for my breakfast.  Perhaps, in the summer, I will challenge myself to drink Kimberly Snyder’s “Glowing Green Smoothie” every single day and see if it is true about becoming even more energized, more beautiful with radiant skin and leaner.  She claims these are all the positive health effects one will have in drinking it daily.  Keep you all posted on this!

Here’s a recipe that I tried with whatever ingredients I could find in my kitchen, primarily with the intention of making a “green” smoothie, and the result was quite refreshing.  It wasn’t as sweet as I usually prefer, but I was surprised I liked the taste and the energy boost I got from it!  I love how adding the fruits balances the taste of the greens.  So,  I am grateful for discovering the power of green smoothies for my breakfast! 🙂

VIOLET’S  GREEN SMOOTHIE   

Makes: 1 smoothie

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups of baby spinach

2 stalks of chopped celery (excellent source of calcium, vitamin C, fibre,  potassium, folic acid, fiber, vitamins B1, B2 & B6)

1 chopped nectarine

2 tablespoons chia seeds (makes the smoothie filling as it has protein, and provides 4.4 g of protein)

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and enjoy!

I’m discovering there are so many possibilities in making a “green smoothie” that it’s deliciously fun!!  I keep Kimberly Snyder’s mix and match rule in mind when creating a green smoothie:  “Your favourite fruits are your favourite go-to jeans and your leafy greens are your many different cute tops.  The jeans (fruits) are really the support for the fabulous, eye-catching tops (leafy greens) which are the most important part of the outfit.” 😀

What ingredients do you put in your green smoothie? 

Thanks & Love, Violet

*If you want to know the nutritional values and health benefits for the following ingredients, please see these links:

Baby Spinach: http://www.livestrong.com/article/258415-what-is-the-nutritional-value-of-baby-spinach/

Celery: http://www.foods-healing-power.com/celery-health-benefits.html

Nectarine: http://www.livestrong.com/article/408098-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-nectarines/

Cacao Nibs: http://www.livestrong.com/article/462015-benefits-of-cocoa-nibs/

Up for a Sugar-free Cookie Challenge!!

At the special request of  my mother and grandmother, who are both diabetic, but still have a thing for cookies, I decided to rise to the challenge of baking some real “sugar-free” cookies for them.

They gave me specific criteria of what they want in their sugar-free cookies.  They wanted the cookies to be sugar-free, healthy (as in loaded with fiber, which they want to aid in digestion), and have almonds.

Well, it was very fun to experiment in the kitchen and to come up with the perfect sugar-free almond cookie just for them!

I would like to share the following recipe with you.  These cookies are great for those who are diabetic or health conscious (especially those who do not prefer sweets or sugar too much).  I have it on good authority that they are delicious when paired with a cup of steaming coffee or tea!  My mother brought them to work, and her coworkers liked them so much that they asked me for the recipe.

I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I did, and find joy in feeding them to the people you love!

VIOLET’S ALMOND & AVOCADO SUGAR-FREE COOKIES

Oatmeal Avocado Almond Sugar Free Cookies Photo

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Special Notes: Avocado is used in replacement of butter.  It’s a healthier option as it’s naturally creamy and rich already.  Also, to give that extra almond flavour, almond meal/flour, unsweetened almond milk, and almond extract are used in addition to the chopped almonds.  When the cookies are done, they should have a “cakey” or “biscuity” texture.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup almond meal/flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Half an avocado or 1 small avocado

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Mash the avocado or put it into a blender if you want it to be creamy.
  4. Blend avocado with almond milk, egg whites and almond extract in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. Stir in the oat mixture until just moistened.
  6. Finally, stir in the almonds.
  7. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it to about 1 cm thick; don’t let the sides crack.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Let the cookies cool completely.
  10.  Bon appétit!!

Special Information on Almonds:  Almonds is another superfood, and it is not only tasty but nutritious as well!  There are many health benefits to eating almonds on a daily basis.  To name a few, they…

-protect against diabetes

-build strong bones and teeth

-reduce heart disease/attack risk

-provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss

-provide good brain function

-help prevent gallstones

-provide a good source of protein

-give energy

If you’re interested in reading more about almonds, here are the websites I visited:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefits-of-almonds-king-of-nuts.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-almonds-daily-5007.html

What do you think of these cookies?  Would love to hear from you!

Thanks & Love, Violet