Sibo Specific Diet Blueberry Muffins (SCD legal, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut free)

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Sibo Specific Diet Blueberry Muffins

(dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, seed-free, vegetarian)

My first meal on my SIBO diet! I created these last night in hopes that I would be able to create a delicious, scd legal and low fodmap brekafast with the limited ingredients we are allowed on the protocol! And I succeeded! Hooray! Now, honey can be considered high fodmap depending on the amount and the type. I used clover honey at less than 2 tablespoons a serving, which is on the green chart of the Sibo Specific Diet chart, created by Dr. Siebecker, under the list of foods that are scd legal, and low fodmap. Some may not tolerate clover honey even in small amounts, so please use caution.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut flour,
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup local, clover honey (less than 2 T per muffin, therefore considered low fodmap on the SIBO chart)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (pure, all natural)
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, make sure to thaw and drain or muffins will be soggy!)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, honey, coconut oil and vanilla and blend well with a hand mixer
  3. Mix dry ingredients into wet, blending with a hand mixer or in a blender. If batter feels really thick, add a bit more coconut oil.
  4. Gently fold in blueberries
  5. Place batter into a creased muffin tin
  6. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes
  7. Cool and serve (cooling will allow muffins to “set”)

 

 

Cinnamon-Cardamom Latte (SCD, Sibo Specific, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

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So things have changed in my diet as of late, as I was diagnosed with SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I’ll spare readers the details, but if you have SIBO, Crohn’s. Ulcerative Colitas, Celiac, and other digestive and/or autoimmune disorders, you most likely know the difficulties in finding food that is allowed for your condition. After treatment for SIBO, part of the protocol includes a very specific list of foods one can and cannot eat. I have already been pretty limited due to celiac, and a vegan diet (a personal choice), but now the game has changed. Like, really changed. Despite my ethical opposition, I have come to terms with the fact I must bring some animal product back into my diet, just for the healing period, and HOPEFULLY can return to my vegan diet. I am very lucky I live in Portland where I can get ethical eggs from local backyards where they treat the hens as pets and after they are retired, will not become KFC, but instead will live their life on the pasture or inside with their human family. And honey, I can get that locally as well with people who produce it to HELP the bee population here in the North West, not hinder it. And with keeping these things in mind, and knowing I cannot help anyone or anything (animals or the earth), without first helping myself, I have come to terms with my temporary diet change. With that said, this diet is DIFFICULT! Despite the ethical implications, it is inconvenient, and bland, and time consuming by all accounts. So, being the foodie I am, of COURSE I have made it a goal to create yummy, healthy, easy to make food that is in line with my protocol: SCD legal (Specific Carb Diet, and Low Fodmap (low ferment probability). First thing up: A LATTE!!!!!! On this protocol, believe it or not, coffee is legal. Technically espresso is legal, too, but should be fairly weak (Uh, mine may or may not have been full strength today….). Anywhooooo, I have created a yummy, scd legal , low fodmap, gluten free and dairy free latte that is SO GOOD!!! I used local clover honey as it is the only sweetener that is legal on my doctor prescribed diet, but you can use coconut sugar and make it fully vegan!!! The cardamom and cinnamon really make it unique and well rounded. Ok, here is the recipe! Enjoy your (one of few on this protocol) indulgence!

  • Add full fat, thickener, additive, preservative free coconut milk to a meg. Fill it about 1/2 way up. Put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
  • Add desired amount of honey and return to microwave for another 25 second until fully melted. I used too much honey today, it was REALLY sweet (for those on the SIBO protocol, limit the honey!!).
  • Add a 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (I added 3/4 of a teaspoon but I LOVE cinnamon). Stir with a whisk to combine. Re-heat if it got clumpy or cold.
  • Add ground espresso to your machine and put mug under the espresso maker, turn on and make yourself a latte! Just remember that if you’re on SCD/low-fodmap, you kinda sorta really should go with half strength to weak. Today, I made it full strength and drank only half a cup. You could totally just make drip coffee, too and add the coconut milk mixture to that as your sugar/creamer!

Best of Portland VegFest 2015

So, anyone who was at Portland’s VegFest knows it was an amazing mecca of all things plant-based. It was almost overwhelming! Trying to get a sample of every wonderful veg-based food option was nearly impossible, and if you were someone who accomplished this, my hat is off to you. If I did that, I would have probably thrown up after eating so much food, especially the cache of sweet stuff like yummy treats from Petunia’s in Downtown Portland and a new one for me, decadent chocolate from Creo Chocolate in NE Portland, a sustainable and fair trade company that offers chocolate TOURS right here in PDX, guys. Schedule one NOW. It is SO good! Expensive, but well worth it. Especially for a nice holiday gift.

Another food I could have stuffed my veg face with ALL day long was Miyoko’s Creamery nut-based cheeses. My absolute favorite was the black ash. It had the actual TANG of cheese, y’all! For really reals. I cannot find it in stores, so maybe Miyoko will make me her Black Ash Ambassador so I can herald the news all over PDX and we can have it in all the stores at our disposal! Hey, a girl can dream. (But seriously, Miyoko, I’d be down). I didn’t get to try too much of their stuff but the black ash and the chive (which I have had before and can get at New Seasons, Whole Foods and Natural Grocers). So, hopefully I can get new varieties to sample and review soon!

One of my usual favorites Heidi Ho was there with their nut and seed based cheeses. And man, they didn’t disappoint with their Ne Chevre and their Black Lava cheese. However, their mac and cheese did not do it for me this go around. Granted, I use the spicy sauce all the time on nachos and chili fries, I use it full strength. They mixed it with almond milk and it thinned it out waaaaay too much. So, if you had the mac and did not LOVE it, try the sauce at home with no added milk, and you will change your mind, I promise. I love Heidi Ho, and definitely can vouch for all of their stuff (my fav is the nut based goat cheese. So good on a grilled cheese!).

My favorite vendors at VegFest based on knowledge, kindness, and accessibility to a variety of samples wold have to be Health Warrior Chia Bars and Mountain Mel’s Teas. Health Warrior was awesome to interact with! The ambassadors that were speaking on the product were well informed and enthusiastic. There are so many options for bars! They have their protein bars in myriad flavors (dark chocolate coconut sea salt was my favorite!) that taste decadent but are actually healthy, and also have 10 grams of protein a bar! Also, they offer snack sized Chia Bars filled with heart-healthy omega 3 oils! The coffee flavor was amazing, and just enough of a snack to give me a pick me up, without all of the unnecessary sugar of most bars. They only put 5 grams in a snack bar, so I don’t feel like it’s negating the nutrients by eating one. The manager on site, Allyse was great and offered to let me try all of the flavors and I am so glad I did because now I am addicted to the coffee flavor and can recommend this snack to friends, particularly ones who are on the hunt for a low sugar, vegan and gluten-free bar!

Mountain Mel’s is one of my new favorite teas in Portland thanks to VegFest. We have a lot of tea companies here, but just ONE has a certified herbalist at the helm, and that makes for a much more well-rounded and healthy tea! Yes, taste matters of course, but when you combine that with herbs that ACTUALLY help you heal? Double whammy. My favorite tea is the Diges-Tea. It has the usual herbs people might find in a digestive tea like peppermint and chamomile, but this is where Mel takes it up a notch: she adds calendula and plantain to help mend the gut lining! Score! Especially for people with gut issues such as celiac, chrone’s, IBS, and SIBO. This lady knows here stuff. Go out and find her tea immediately!

There were also so many of my favorite veg restaurants serving up food as well such as Portabello Vegan Trattoria. There was vegan sushi from Los Angeles, and also Sage was there, my favorite vegan spot from when I lived in LA!

So, clearly this review of VegFest is food-centric. I could talk about all of the wonderful speakers and films (They were AMAZING AND INFORMATIVE) that were presented that I mentioned in my VegFest preview post, but for most people, reviews on food is what is paramount, right?! Well, I hope this info was helpful and that you go out and try all the aforementioned foods here in Portland ASAP! We are so lucky to live in a place where amazing vegan options are not only accessible, but also extremely abundant! The planet and animals thank you, vendors of Portland VegFest!! It was a great fest that has grown so much in recent years, and I’m so excited to see what we have in store next year!

 

 

 

 

Portland VegFest 2015 is Happening Next Weekend!!

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Plant-based eaters of Portland: Put down that green juice and nooch-covered mac and cheese. Stop everything and get out your calendar and a pen. You’re gonna wanna write ALL of this down! Because this weekend NorthWest VEG presents an event we have all been anxiously awaiting: Portland VegFest!!! It runs from 10:00am-5pm on Saturday the 13th, and Sunday the 14th. So many hours of food samples, nutrition tips, fitness advice, film screenings, and much more for like, the cost of two soy lattes (word on the street is you can get 2 for 1 admission here: http://portland.altperks.com/product/8213641/good-for-two-admissions-32-dollars-value-at-portland-vegfest). Meat lovers, listen up! I know the word VEG don’t necessarily seem like your bag, but I am telling you IT IS! You eat vegetables, right? You’d like to be healthy and fit, no? And I’m sure helping out animals and the environment with your food choices isn’t something you’re opposed to, right? Then, like I said, this event is for you TOO!!! This is a perfect way to immerse yourself in information (‘cuz that never hurt anyone, am I right?), get ideas on ways to include more plant-based food in your diet (hello, Meatless Mondays), and get ideas on how to test the vegan or vegetarian waters. And I’m pretty sure that free samples of chips, chai, and kombucha are enough to get any Portlander’s attention, vegan or not!

You. Guys. I am so excited to be at this event. Can you tell? Ok, well let me stop gushing for a moment and give you all the pertinent info on this year’s VegFest! There is so much to do, see, and eat this year you may want to create a schedule so you can do as much as humanly possible! Also, this is a great event to take friends to that are “curious” about a vegan diet or lifestyle. The best way to open up people’s minds and hearts is with amazing food, intelligent advice, and thought provoking films. VegFest has all of that and more.

Ok, let’s talk FOOD!!! Let’s just say I like kombucha A LOT. And I am super pumped that Healthy Ade is going to be at the fest dishing the goods on their small batch kombucha (they have unique flavors like BEET! And it’s AWESOME!), as well as local tea purveyor, Townshend’s with their stellar Brew Dr. Kombucha! Continuing on the drink front, Blue Lotus Chai will be there and I don’t know about you, but during these cold, rainy months here in the Northwest, you could hook me up to a hot chai IV drip and I would be good to go. And speaking of treats, have you ever had Cocomel’s Coconut Milk Caramels? Well, you need to, STAT! And as soon as you’ve digested that caramel-y goodness make room for some Missionary Chocolate (OMG the Lavender Dark Chocolate is unbelievable). Now, to finish off your tour de sweets, check out Petunia’s Pies and Pastries. Pretty sure I’m using them to bake my cake for my upcoming wedding and I am heartily looking forward to fooling all my omnivore family members with their amazing vegan and gluten-free baked goods.

If you have the room, keep going because there are so many plant-filled samples to be had! If sweets aren’t ringing your bell, check out Beanfield’s chips, or maybe Better Bean for some outrageous beans! And. Wait for it. Vtopia Cheese is going to be at the fest. Oh. My Goodness. If you’re like me, I am less than thrilled with most vegan cheeses, I mean, I appreciate the effort but, most of the time, I’d rather just go without it. That was before Vtopia opened up. They have a fantastic nut cheeses created the same way REAL cheese is made. They don’t make it with weird stuff, just nut milk and cultures! Hallelujah! Side note: if you have a chance after or before the fest, check out their shop in Goose Hollow. Holy moly, their Paninis!! Are you drooling? I just ate but I’m seriously considering jumping in the car with my red flannel pajamas on and heading to Vtopia for some melty, cheesy goodness.

Now that you’ve filled your bellies, it’s time to check out some awesome speakers and films! One word guys: Cowspiracy! If you haven’t seen this now is your chance! It’s also a great film to share with your friends who are interested in exploring a diet with less or no meat. Also, there will be a ton of phenomenal speakers discussing topics that concern us all. Dr. Paulette Chandler will be at the fest Saturday discussing the role of nutrition in cancer development and survival at 2pm and 3:30pm. Laura Sadowski will be there Saturday as well discussing the art of gluten-free baking, something that interests many of us who eat a plant-based diet, but also have either a gluten intolerance or celiac. She is speaking at 5pm. Another speaker to make note of is Sid Garza-Hillman who will be discussing how to raise healthy and happy vegan children at 12:30pm on Sunday. There will also be a few more films playing at the fest, Q & A from experts, much more food samples, beauty and fashion exhibitors (my FAVORITE, 100% Pure will be there), lots and lots of great panel discussion, talks by prominent figures in the health and wellness community, and so much more!

What else is at the fest? Yoga? Check. Vegan cheese alternative discussions? Check. Vegan athlete panel? Check and check. Discussions about what to cook when you’re transitioning to a plant-based diet? Yes, sir. Even if you dream of opening a vegan food cart here in the food cart capital of the world, yes even you will have your questions answered! Hooray! Also, another side note: Miyoko Schinner will be in the house BOTH days. Most vegans don’t need me to explain who she is but for those of you who don’t know I will leave you with this: Miyoko is a vegan cheese creating goddess and it is in your best interest to attend this years VegFest and hear her speak. You won’t be disappointed!

Well, veggie lovers, I could go on and on but that would be like describing an entire book from cover to cover and then telling you to read it. You have to EXPERIENCE it yourself!!!! It’s going to be a blast, and I am so stoked to see all the animal lovers here in PDX this weekend! Don’t forget to visit their website https://nwveg.org/vegfest for more info and to snag tickets before they sell out. Also, hit up their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/PortlandVegFest to get up to the minute info. And if you’re the twittering sort, post your favorite moments at the fest and make all your friends who didn’t cough up the $8 bucks majorly jealous on their Twitter page https://twitter.com/NorthwestVEG. Again, it’s totally affordable (skip the two donuts you were gonna buy from Back to Eden for ONE day and use that green to attend Veg Fest. Trust me, they won’t get offended ‘cuz they know you’ll be back on Monday). Take care, Portland and see you next weekend November 13th-14th at Portland VegFest!!

Event Info:

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Exhibit Hall and Speaker Rooms: 10am-6pm
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Exhibit Hall: 10am-5pm, Speaker Rooms: 10am-6pm

Oregon Convention Center – Exhibit Hall A
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232

Admission:

  • The cost of the event is $8.
  • Students and Seniors 62+ are $5 with ID, one per person.
  • Children 12 and under are free.
  • Tickets available at the event.
  • Advance tickets available through TicketsWest. Use code “2015PDXVF” to received $1 discount.

Click here to download a $1 off coupon

Vegan Gnocchi A La Vodka Cream with Mushrooms and Shallots (gluten- free)

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So, I bought some gnocchi. This was a treat since I can’t have gluten and it is very hard to find gf gnocchi! It’s been calling me from the cabinet with its siren song for a week now, and tonight I gave in. Now, I was tired from work and could have easily resorted to my old standby sauce: Roasted tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic thrown in a blender with herbs and olive oil. It would have been fab, but I make that probably once a weak and frankly, my taste buds wanted a curve ball. I was thinking of sauces that I LOVE but never have ‘cuz they have dairy. VODKA CREAM SAUCE. YESSSSSS. But, vegan? You better believe it. With the rich, cashew cream sauce in place of standard heavy cream, and lovely sautéed mushrooms and shallots, not only is this dish vegan and makes cows happy, but it is healthy and makes you forget all about the C word. Cream, guys, The C word is cream. I’ll just say that my man was in heaven after tonight’s meal. I’m telling you, make this as soon as humanly possible and indulge in glory of non-dairy vodka cream sauce. Mmmmmmm. Here’s the low down!

Vegan Gnocchi A La Vodka with Mushrooms and Shallots

 

Ingredients (serves 2-4, depending on your level of hangry at the time)

  • 2 lbs organic and/or heirloom tomatoes
  • 6 medium sized crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided, plus additional to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole, unpeeled
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2-2/3 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (I like Silk brand)
  • 1 package of gluten-free/vegan gnocchi (Found at your local health food store such as Whole Foods, or Sprouts)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place the garlic on the baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 min, or until the tomato skins have “popped” and are starting to brown in spots.
  3. Let the tomatoes cool 10 minutes, while cooling heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add half of the diced shallots, chopped mushrooms, and half of the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine sauté on med-low heat.
  4. Add tomatoes with juices to a blender. Squeeze garlic pulp, if using, into the blender and add ½ teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, set aside.
  5. Add 1 tbsp oil into the skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining shallots and saute until tender, about 3 minutes..
  6. Remove from heat, whisk in tomato puree, the rest of the red pepper flakes, and vodka. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. While the sauce simmers, grind the cashews in a spice grinder until powdered. Add the cashew flour, ¾ cup cashew milk beverage, and ½ teaspoon salt to your blender, and whiz until smooth and creamy. If it’s not thick enough for your taste, add some more cashew pieces and blend thoroughly until creamy.
  8. Cook gnocchi according to package directions.
  9. Whisk the cashew cream into the tomato sauce, and continue to simmer for a few minutes, or until thickened. Add more cashew milk beverage if the sauce thickens too much. Taste test, and sprinkle in more salt, to taste (and a pinch of black pepper).
  10. Stir gnocchi into sauce and enjoy! Top with chopped parsley or basil, if desired.

*Note: if the tomatoes taste to acidic add a pinch of coconut sugar to balance it out J

10 DIY Recipes for Healthier Household Cleaners

10 DIY Recipes for Healthier Household Cleansers

Ever sit down and think about all the harsh, toxic chemicals your putting onto/into you body when you use typical cleaning solutions? They are chalk full of nasty stuff and if you really knew what was in there, you’d run screaming for the hills. Well, to save you from a meltdown, I’ve curated a list of DIY ways to easily create 10 your own clean, green, and safe cleaning products that works as well, if not better then the store-bought chemical concoctions! Safe for everyone to be around, even those with compromised immune systems, or small children! Happy cleaning!

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Scrubbing Tile Cleaner

Put some baking soda in a grated cheese container (the kind you find at pizza parlors) and sprinkle it on bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers before scrubbing. For tough stains, make a paste of baking soda and a little water. Smear it on the spot, let it sit for half an hour, and sponge off. Add 10 drops of orange essential oil.

Laundry Bleach

Instead of bleach, try adding ½ cup of borax or 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to whites, or 1 cup of white vinegar to darks (to prevent fading). Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil.

Fabric Softener

Try 1 cup of baking soda for clothes. For towels, add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Fabric softeners can make towels less absorbent, but vinegar deodorizes and softens them without compromising absorbency. Add about 20 drops of chamomile or lavender essential oil.

Scouring Pad

Scrub stainless-steel pots and pans with baking soda. It won’t scratch and will give everything a shine. Nasty gunk at the bottom of a pot? Make a paste of baking soda and water, cover the gunk, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pretty up your stainless-steel sink with the stuff while you wait.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Pour 16 ounces of vinegar into the bowl at night; scrub away grime in the morning.

Drain Cleaner
Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, then slowly add ½ cup of vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes, then flush with hot water.

Window, Mirror, and Glass Cleaner

Equal parts water and vinegar make windows and other glass gleam. In fact, if you rub a little on your specs, the whole world will get brighter. Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil.

Spray Kitchen Cleaner

Fill a metal spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide, then use to disinfect countertops, appliances, and even wood cutting boards. It’ll give your entire kitchen a clean, fresh smell. For even more anti-germ power, fill a second metal bottle with vinegar (either white or apple cider) and apply after the peroxide. Word to the wise: Don’t mix both liquids in the same bottle, and don’t use vinegar on granite or marble. Add 15 drops of lemon essential oil.

Oven Cleaner

Fill a heatproof deep pan with water, put it on the oven rack, and warm until the steam softens baked-on grease. After the oven cools, use a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda, and vinegar as a scrub.

Wood Polish/Cleaner

Take ⅓ cup water and add ½ tablespoon liquid Castile/ soap, 8 drops orange essential oil, 4 drops cedarwood essential oil, 4 drops lemon essential oil and ¼ teaspoon of olive oil and add to a spray bottle with fine mister.

Disclaimer: Test all products on a small surface before using on a large surface. Also, if possible use class jars and spray bottles to hold the cleansers as plastic will degrade the essential oils. Happy cleaning!!

Caribbean Tofu Curry (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

indexYou know those days when you are a few days shy of going out of town and you need to use all the produce in your fridge? Well, today was one of those days. I had tofu that needed to be used along with veggies! I also had some coconut milk that was about to expire, so I whipped up this curry. It’s pretty warm here in PDX but this curry isn’t too spicy and with the coconut flakes and milk, it has just the right amount of Caribbean flare to make it a great late summer dish. Enjoy!

Caribbean Tofu Curry

For the tofu:

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut

For the dish­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ green bell pepper, half red bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 red potatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Jamaican curry powder (turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, allspice, salt)
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cups water plus 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro

Preparation

To make the tofu:

  1. Cut the tofu into cubes and place them in a bowl. Toss them with the arrowroot powder, coconut shreds, garlic powder, dried thyme, kosher salt, black pepper, and ground allspice.
  2. In a deep skillet or saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer. You may have to cook the tofu in batches depending on the size of your pan. Allow the tofu to cook until it browns, about 6 minutes, before flipping.
  4. Flip the tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the cubes to a bowl and set aside.

To make the dish:

  1. In the same skillet or saucepan, heat 2 Tbs. coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute the onion, garlic and peppers until the onions are softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and mix in the curry powder, dried thyme, ground allspice, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. Toss to coat the veggies with the spices and let the potatoes cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add water and coconut milk, there should be enough to just cover the vegetables.
  6. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender and the mixture has thickened.
  7. Mix in tofu and garnish with cilantro

Mango Tofu Cabbage Wraps with Tropical Chili Sauce (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

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The temperature here in Portland last week got up to 97! And that, friends, had me wracking my brain to create a fresh, summery, fulfilling meal that didn’t involve my oven! Mango came to mind, as did lime. So, I ran to my local grocery store, picked up some bright, clean veggies and fruit, and created these yummy wraps! And besides being super healthy, they are vegan, gluten-free, and EASY to make!!! YESSSSSS.

Mango Tofu Cabbage Wraps with Tropical Chili Sauce

(makes about 10 wraps)

Ingredients:

½ of a cube of extra firm organic tofu chopped into tiny cubes

3 tablespoons organic/non-gmo cornstarch

1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid amino acids or GF tamari

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons sunflower oil (peanut will work, or grapeseed. Any high heat oil)

1 small red bell pepper, diced

1 small jalapeno, seeded

1 carrot, grated

2 handfuls of cilantro, chopped

¼ cup chopped kale

1 small head of cabbage

2 tablespoons of minced green onions

½ large mango or a whole small mango, diced

juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon of sriracha

2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce

juice of one lime

splash of rice vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons diced pineapple

Directions:

In a bowl, mixed cubed tofu with tamari, and all the spices. Once combined, coat in cornstarch.

Add the oil to skillet and once hot, add coated tofu. We’re trying to get a nice, crispy coating on the tofu so keep stirring until all of the tofu is a cooked to a golden brown and there’s a crunch factor.

While that is cooking, combine all of the veggies in a bowl and add a bit of limejuice, stir to combine.

Peel off about 10 firm cabbage leaves and place them on a large plate. Add the tofu, and the veggie mixture to plate. This dish is a make your own wrap sort of situation .

As for sauce, combine the all of the third set of ingredients (sriracha down) and pulse in a food processor or blender until smooth. Top the individual wraps with crushed peanuts if desired. Enjoy!!

Natural Ways to Help Manage Anxiety

youareenough2Natural Ways to Help Manage Anxiety:

After a lifetime filled with anxiety, my symptoms hit an all-time high when I moved to Portland. Not because I don’t love this city, but because moving to a new city with no career in place, no friends, no family, and no sense of community or stability could make even the most easy-going person start to lose it. Things just continued to fall apart and those little voices in my head telling me I was a failure exponentially exacerbated the anxiety.

I decided that it had come to a point where seeking outside help could no longer be avoided. After a lot of research, it seemed finding a therapist that specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy was something that I needed to consider. And while I think in my situation this is the best thing I can do, I also whole-heartedly believe that herbs, oils, and other supplements have the power to transform one’s thought process and can help to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. While these “remedies” may not fully cure someone of their deep-rooted issues, there are things one can do on their own to help beat this awful thing called anxiety, the monster that can control our mind, spirit, relationships, and often even our body.

After copious amounts of research, I’ve narrowed down the best natural ways you can attempt to edge out anxiety, save for therapy. These are only suggestions, but they are based on research, experience, and major studies. With that said, I am not a licensed physician and any protocol you take on should be discussed with your doctor. It is quite the task to take on the beast that is anxiety and to seek help is one of the bravest things one can do. I hope that some of these suggestions can help you or your loved ones lead a more full, more balanced life.

Magnesium Citrate– Magnesium is an antidote to stress, the most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep. This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax. It is better absorbed when combined with calcium, and a b-complex supplement. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic are all great sources of magnesium.

GABA– GABA is technically an amino acid, though it’s not part of any protein either in the food you eat, or in your body. You can get small amounts from food, but most of it in synthesized in your body from glutamate – something you most likely have plenty of. Many of the medications and remedies for anxiety that are used today affect the levels of GABA and how it works in your brain. Benzodiazepines (medications such as valium and xanax) reduce anxiety through the way they interact with the GABA receptors. (On the other hand, coffee inhibits GABA, and so can make you more anxious or buzzed up.) Without proper amounts of GABA, nerve cells fire too often and too easily. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, seizure disorders, and numerous other conditions including addiction, headaches, Parkinson’s syndrome, and cognitive impairment are all related to low GABA activity. GABA hinders the transmission of nerve impulses from one neuron to another. It has a calming or quieting influence. There has been some debate as to whether or not GABA supplements can be absorbed fully as they supposedly do not cross the blood-brain barrier. And even if some of it does make it to the brain, it is in such small amounts, it really makes no difference. Well, the jury is still out on this. However, there have been many, many people who feel a real difference after taking a GABA supplement. Phenibu is a precursor to GABA, so a supplement containing this may help as well. I suggest people try GABA supplements out for themselves and decide what works for them.

L-theanine-a precursor to GABA, this amino acid stimulates production of GABA. L-theanine is a psychoactive substance, which means that it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly affect the central nervous system by interacting with the brain itself. Because they have access to the central nervous system, psychoactive substances such as L-theanine are believed to have the ability to affect mental abilities and states including your perception of the outer world, the speed at which you think, and the mood you are in. It is thought to have a stronger effect when combined with caffeine (the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance), which is also naturally found in green tea. L-theanine increases GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.

Passionflower– Within the medical community the jury is still out on exactly how passionflower works, though various studies have shown it to be effective in cases of anxiety. The components of plant-based medicines that affect the body are collectively called “flavonoids.” Passionflower contains many flavonoids. Some evidence suggests that the flavonoids “chrysin” and “benzoflavone” may be the primary flavonoids in passionflower that are responsible for decreasing anxiety. Chrysin and benzoflavone are believed to have the effect of increasing the amount of GABA in the brain, much in the same way that standard anti-anxiety meds known as “benzodiazepines” do. GABA limits the “excitability” or reactivity of the brain’s neurons. This results in the calming effect that gives passionflower its reputation as a mild sedative, but means that it can also disrupt mental and motor functions in higher quantities.

Yoga/Meditation– The effects of anxiety are magnified when the body is not exercised: tension in the muscles builds, breathing remains constricted most of the time, and the mind has no rest from the whirling thoughts and feelings that feed the anxiety. Yoga helps you to access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life. The American Yoga Association program to reduce stress in the body, breath, and mind does so by building coping skills with a small daily routine of exercise, breathing, and meditation. A few Yoga exercises practiced daily (especially if they are done just prior to meditation) help to regulate the breath and relax the body by gently releasing tension from the large muscle groups, flushing all parts of the body and brain with fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients, and increasing feelings of well-being. Yoga and meditation stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and aide in calming anxiety and stress, and that common flight-or flight feeling we have on a regular basis in the modern world. The controlled breathing techniques that accompany yoga and meditation aide in decreasing stress as well.

Cutting alcohol/sugar/excess carbs-These substances reduce GABA, dopamine, and serotonin levels in the body, and that is the LAST thing a person with anxiety or depression needs.

Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Holy basil, Licorice-These herbs are your best friends if you have any of the cyclical and life paralyzing health conditions that doctors are scratching their heads over like fibromyalgia, fatigue, anxiety, hormone imbalance, blood sugar swings, auto-immune conditions, etc. Many health seekers choose adaptogens instead of steroids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or other medications that may cause permanent health damage from side effects. They’d rather nourish their immune system than crash it. Adaptogens are life giving and they support the entire body. They are kind of like chameleons; they can change their action to fit the demands of an individual’s body. In general, they are immune modulating, energy boosting, inflammation quenchers, and adrenal gland fuel. The adrenals are the little walnut sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They are like the body’s spark plugs because they give us zip and keep us running. They are also key players in hormone balance, inflammatory response, thought and mood, and intestinal performance. Even though they are small, they have gigantic responsibilities. When in full gear, they give us the mo-jo to push beyond exhaustion or keep us in high alert when in danger. Because the modern day humans run around like crazy people and don’t take the time to rest and recover; everyone should consider supporting their adrenal glands.

Essential oils-oils of lemon balm, lavender, cedarwood, and frankincense, and other oils can help with calming, and grounding.

Vitamin B-12– Vitamin B12 plays a role in the development of anemia, nerve disorders, and cognitive deficits. Its status as one of the B vitamins that affects the brain and nerves the most has made it a popular choice of supplements for those trying to treat their anxiety with Vitamin B. B12 is also difficult to absorb in the elderly so it’s a popular supplement choice for those over 55. Deficiency can lead to mood problems, including depression and anxiety. It can affect nerve tissue and affect memory. There are also a few studies that indicate that low B12 levels are more common than previously believed and may have an effect on mental health even if they don’t reach the point of deficiency.

Omega 3’s– It’s well known that omega-3s from fish oil (EPA and DHA) are effective for alleviating depression, and one study looking at substance abusers with low fish consumption found that supplementing with fish oil for three months resulted in less anxiety and anger. Despite the fact that I think a vegan/vegetarian diet is the best for the planet as a whole, if you have anxiety, depression, or cognitive impairment,  I personally believe consuming oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, can be wonderful for brain health.Only chose wild caught fish that are not endangered. Farmed fish can be bad for the water supply, for the fish, and for you. Only supplement with fish oil if you know for sure that your levels of omega-3s are low. A good starting dose is 1,000 mg daily. Fatty acid tests are available from labs such as Meametrix; results will indicate whether you need to supplement with omega-3s, omega-6s or both, and will also indicate your levels of damaging trans fats. Many anxious people with pyroluria don’t need to supplement with omega-3s but do seem to need the omega-6 GLA, ideally in the form of primrose oil.

Vitamin D– Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in eggs and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel (and cod liver oil), but your body can also make its own vitamin D after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, though this is somewhat dependent on the season, if you have sunscreen on,  and your geographic location. It may improve seasonal anxiety and depression that worsen during the winter months. One study showed that vitamin D deficiency was associated with both anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia patients. Vitamin D is also important for immunity, bone health and heart health, and it helps protect against cancer. Recent research on vitamin D indicates that many people are deficient in this key vitamin. Personally, I don’t believe i slathering oneself with chemical sunscreen. You absorb harmful chemicals, and your body canot absorb the sunlight to create vitamin D. If you feel like you must use sunscreen, try zinc. Also, carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil, coconut oil, and shea butter all have  natural sunscreens that can help protect you from damaging rays without blocking out the sun completely, and without chemicals.

Kratom– Panic attacks are no laughing matter – that’s why many people are finding relief by taking kratom for anxiety. This ancient herbal remedy, used for thousands of years as a folk medicine in its native Southeast Asia, has been an invaluable asset in the fight against anxiety. Natural and non-chemical, it is an inexpensive and effective alternative that many people prefer to pharmaceutical drugs. If you are suffering from anxiety, consider using a botanical medicinal instead of running to the pharmacy.

Valerian– Although there has long been controversy over what makes valerian so effective as a relaxant, it is increasingly accepted that this herb does, in fact, work as the ancients once claimed it did. In addition to promoting sound sleep, valerian has a reputation for easing anxiety and relaxing tense muscles. It may also have a role to play in relieving digestive conditions, such as diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Valerian added to bath water in the form of a very strong herbal tea or as an essential oil is said to have a calming effect.

Zinc and Vitamin B6-These are essential for the production of your other brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.

Inositol- Inositol is a carbohydrate and vitamin substance that the body can produce in small amounts. It is found naturally in certain fruits, lecithin, brown rice, meats and whole grains, but the amounts present in food are typically not enough to produce anti-anxiety effects so a supplement may be needed. Inositol is necessary for proper formation of cells, transportation of fats and nerve transmission. The neurotransmitter serotonin may also be affected by use of Inositol. Serotonin levels are often low in depression and anxiety sufferers and many forms of medication for these conditions affect Serotonin receptors in the brain.

Skullcap– Skullcap is the anxiety remedy for people who experience anxiety along with restlessness, muscle tension, and jaw clenching. If you tend to toss and turn in bed, or if you feel like you can only relax when you’re out walking (but sitting still makes you want to jump out of your skin), or if you feel like “climbing the walls” when you’re stuck inside during a bout of anxiety, skullcap can help you to unwind not only your anxiety, but also the accompanying muscular tension and restlessness. Skullcap is effective in tea or tincture (a tincture is an herb extracted in alcohol) form, but if you can tolerate small amounts of alcohol I think 20-40 drops of the tincture (for a 150-pound person) is the most effective form.

Hops– Studies have found that hops is sedating (calming and sleep promoting), often with no unwanted side effects. Compounds in hops have various properties, including relieving aches and pains, and killing bacteria. Hops is used to help treat various health problems, such as sleeplessness and nervous problems.

Lemon Balm– A large amount of published data has emerged on the benefits of lemon balm for alleviating anxiety and mood disorders in humans. In the past five years alone, the powerful relaxing effects of lemon balm extracts have been documented by scientists around the world. These studies confirm what herbal practitioners have long known—that lemon balm in combination with other herbal agents is effective in addressing conditions related to stress and anxiety.

Magnolia Bark– This bark has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to address anxiety and nervous tension and to promote sleep. Some researchers believe that these effects are due to honokiol, a natural compound in the bark.

Ginkgo Biloba– In a study accepted by Journal of Psychiatric Research in May, 2006, and published online ahead of print, 107 patients with GAD, or a similar condition called adjustment disorder with anxious mood, received either a high dose of a gingko biloba extract called EGb 761®, a low dose of the same extract, or a placebo for four weeks. Result: the extract worked roughly as well as benzodiazepines, but was tolerated better, had fewer serious adverse effects and had no risk of dependence. Sounds like a win win to me.

Potassium– Potassium is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system. Sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, bananas, oranges, beets, potatoes, white beans, dates, and tomatoes. It’s easy to get from foods.

Noni-fruit– Exciting research shows that noni offers a safe, therapeutic alternative for anxiety support comparable to powerful anti-anxiety medications. Noni acts as a natural sedative and anti-anxiety super food that supports GABA production and activity in the brain.

5-hydroxytryptophan-5-HTP is short for its longer name: 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It is a natural compound that is produced by your body which acts as a precursor to the important “happiness” neurotransmitter called serotonin and the “sleep” hormone melatonin. There has been some research to suggest taking this on a daily basis may not be good for the heart long term. As with any supplement, check with your doctor.

Experience “awe”-When we experience awe, we are filled with positive emotion. We feel happier, and more fulfilled. We are also healthier and experience greater vitality. A new study published in the journal Emotion shows that positive emotions such as awe actually lower our inflammation and reduce the risk for heart disease, arthritis, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease. With awe we also tend to feel an interconnectedness and a sense of meaning in our lives, according to Dacher Keltner, one of the researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Roasted Poblano Chili (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

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This is one of my favorite recipes because all you have to do is prep a bit, and put it in your crock pot! Who doesn’t love a delicious, hearty, EASY meal? No one! It also happens to be incredibly filling and healthy, too! Naturally vegan and gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and soy free!  A very allergen-friendly dinner! If you like it spicy, I suggest adding the hot sauce. Do pay attention to your crock pot at the end stages and make sure not too much water has burned off. You want it think, but not burned. Adding the avocado at the end adds some delicious healthy fat to your well-rounded meal!

 

Roasted Poblano Chili (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 Anaheim chile
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 1 cup of water
  • 1 can of great northern beans, and 1 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed under cold water and drained
  • 5-6 dashes hot sauce
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, minced
  • Fresh lime, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds for garnish

 

Instructions

  1. First, roast your poblanos. Turn the oven on to the high broil setting. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the tops are blackened, then turn carefully with tongs and continue broiling until most sides are blistered and blackened. Remove blackened peppers from the oven and carefully tent a large piece of foil over the top. This helps the peppers to “sweat” and will make the skin easier to peel off when it’s time.
  2. While the poblanos are cooling, assemble the rest of the chili. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and green peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, cloves, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Add a cup or so of broth and stir to make sure all the bits of flavor are scraped up into the broth. Carefully pour into the slow cooker along with the remaining vegetable broth, beans, quinoa, and hot sauce if using.
  5. Carefully peel the skin off of the poblanos and remove the stem. Remove the seeds for a milder chili; keep them for a hotter chili. Finely dice and add to the Crock Pot. Stir gently to mix all of the ingredients together.
  6. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours, or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the quinoa is tender and the chili is relatively thick. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Scoop into bowls and squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, add cilantro and pumpkin seeds.