A few years ago, I used to be a wheat-loving gal. I pretty much sustained myself on it – most mornings I would have a high fiber cereal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole wheat for lunch, pretzels for a snack, and quite often pasta for dinner.
After years of trying to figure out what was causing my laundry list of health complaints (joint & muscle aches, foggy brain, thyroid issues, fatigue, general puffiness, etc), I finally found significant relief by giving up gluten and wheat, and increasing my intake of inflammation-lowering omega 3s. Although the transition was not easy initially (what change is easy??)…now, I can’t imagine eating that way anymore! Instead of cereal I usually start my day with a superfood smoothie with energy and mood-boosting chia seeds, I have salads or soups instead of sandwiches, and zucchini pasta in place of regular pasta.
But I will admit, there are a few things that I do miss…and I know this might sound like a weird thing to be longing for, but I used to love me a good raisin bran muffin! And for some odd reason, this morning, I had a hankering for one!
When I realized that I had a bag of ground flax in the fridge, some organic eggs, virgin coconut oil and coconut palm sugar – I decided to see if I could whip something up that resembled my beloved bran muffin. And guess what? They turned out great*, I’d say better than regular bran muffins!! And best of all – because these are made with flax – they are inflammation-lowering and high in brain and mood boosting omega 3s!
Raisin “Bran” Muffins – made with flax (free of wheat, gluten & grains)
*Boy, do I love it when my kitchen experiments come out great the first time (because let me tell you – I have had more than my share of missteps – especially when it comes to baked goods)!!
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, whose book The Perfect Metabolism Plan (Red Wheel/Conari Press) will be hitting book shelves Spring of 2015. You can download her Cooking with Superfoods eBooklet now for free. A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, Sara used to be a sugar junkie too. She offers consultations, corporate nutrition, monthly cooking classes, and affordable online programs.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
This crust is gluten free and delicious – and easy to make!
Directions to Make the Pizza Dough:
Suggested toppings: carmelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced red peppers, slices green or black olives, and shredded goat or sheeps milk cheese.
I love pumpkin. In fact, I always say it doesn’t really feel like Fall until I get a taste of pumpkin. Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE pumpkin? Pumpkin is part of the winter squash family, which are rich in immune-boosting beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. And are also an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber – which most of us are not getting nearly enough of. Want to learn more about the myriad of health benefits of winter squash? – visit WH Foods.
So considering all that – a pumpkin spice latte should be good for us, right?
Not so fast…since there is usually no actual pumpkin in most pumpkin spice lattes, plus there is also over 50 grams of sugar (that is 12 teaspoons - double what an average woman should get all day long)! And that is not the whole story – the Food Babe recently revealed in this article – that in addition – the Starbucks version is made with a caramel coloring that could be harmful to our health, uses genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors, and preservatives and sulfites. Yikes!
Now that we got the bad news out of the way…ready for the good news? It is pretty easy to make your own pumpkin spice latte at home! You just need some coffee, pumpkin puree, natural sweetener, and your favorite non-dairy milk!
You can make a small batch of this for yourself, or the full batch to feed a crowd. And to make this even easier? Make it ahead and put it into a crock pot for a Thanksgiving treat your guests will love – a bonus – your house will smell terrific.
Not a fan of coffee? Not to worry – this is delicious as a chai tea pumpkin latte too (I love to make decaf chai lattes for dessert in the evening)! Just brew (decaf or regular) chai tea, and top with the pumpkin creamer (and optionally foamed non-dairy milk and cinnamon).
Serves 12-14 people
*To make cashew milk – soak raw cashews for about 1 hour to overnight, drain, and put the cashews into a blender with filtered water. For a richer more cream-like texture – start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust from there. For milk, it usually is a 1:2 ratio cashews to water, add more if you want it thinner. Add a pinch or two of salt, taste & adjust. Blend on high for a few minutes until very smooth. You can strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth if desired.
My son loves soup. You name it, he loves it. Chicken noodle, clam chowder, beef stew, lobster bisque, miso, lemon artichoke chicken, and even cream of broccoli soup. Sometimes we stop at Whole Foods for a snack, and more often than not he has – you guessed it – soup! The other day we were stopping in for a cup of soup when I saw it – broccoli cashew soup! Wow – what a cool idea, a dairy free cream soup made with cashews. We had a little taster, and both loved it. The lightbulbs started going off – oh the things I could make with cashew cream – cream of broccoli, clam chowder, alfredo…. I couldn’t wait to put my chef hat on, and give it a go myself. In fact, we had had broccoli with dinner the night before, and as I always do – I made extra, so I had some steamed broccoli already in the fridge. I grabbed some cashews, chicken stock (I love this new chicken bone broth from Pacific foods), and we were off. This is the delicious result!
Creamy Broccoli Soup:
Store any extra soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I am a big fan of smoothies – so much so, that I have a smoothie for breakfast most days of the week. But sometimes, I just want to mix it up a little – and need a little something special. Let me tell you, this Pitaya Bowl does not disappoint!! And the best part – it is so easy to whip up!
Pitaya is another word for dragonfruit, which is the fruit of a cactus plant. A beautiful exotic fruit, dragonfruit can either be whiteish (pitaya blanca), or a deep dark fuchsia color (pitaya roja). The benefits come both from the seeds (rich in healthy fats), and the flesh of the fruit (of which the deep pink variety edges out the white as far as nutrition).
Photo credit: Fruits Benefit Health (visit to learn more about dragonfruit).
Pitaya Bowl Ingredients:
Note: this recipe is best with a Vitamix or another powerful blender that has a tamper tool that can be used to stir while blending. It should be thick – like the consistency of sorbet.
Some Suggested Toppings (the first 3 are in the pictured recipe):
Soak cashews in water for 10 mins (up to 6 hours), drain water. Put everything into Vitamix or blender (except ice). Blend to combine well, using tamper to stir. Add ice as desired to thicken, blend well, stirring. Spoon mixture into a bowl, add desired toppings and serve immediately.
One of the most interesting things about sweet potatoes, is that despite having “sweet” in their name, and tasting sweet, they are low glycemic. Low glycemic foods gradually raise your bloodsugar. Sweet potatoes spike your bloodsugar significantly less than a regular white potato!
They are a nearly perfect food with high fiber, rich in vitamins like beta carotene (which gives it’s flesh the rich orange color), and have been shown to aid in recovery for athletes. Read 15 Superfoods for Peak Performance to learn about how sweet potatoes and other foods are good for performance and recovery.
I actually prefer yams over sweet potatoes, because they are darker in color, which means richer in vitamins and nutrients (sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably and confused). So this recipe should really be called yam pie – but that does not sound as good.
Last night we had roasted sweet potatoes and I sprinkled on some cinnamon and swirled in some applesauce into them. It was so good – it tasted like a cross between apple and pumpkin pie. So today I decided to recreate that yumminess with a Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie smoothie!
Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie:
Whip this up before heading to the gym, because it is chock full of superfoods for peak performance!!
* Cinnamon is a wonderful spice for supporting healthy blood sugar levels. The more common form of cinnamon sold in the United States is cassia cinnamon. Cassia has coumarin, a compound that is toxic to the liver in high doses. Although less common in the U.S., Ceylon type of cinnamon is considered “true” cinnamon, and it does not contain coumarin. It might be a little more expensive, but I find Ceylon to be milder, a little sweeter, and more complex – definitely the best cinnamon choice!
Have you ever made homemade chocolate? It is pretty easy to do, and whenever you make something yourself, you can upgrade it with superfoods. That is what I have done with these delicious superfood chocolate & almond butter cups. Want to know the best part? These have coconut oil in them – which means they boost the metabolism and have an appetite suppressing quality. And if you include the maca powder, they also help to balance hormones, and boost energy & libido!
So enjoy these with zero guilt!
Superfood Nut Butter Cups
Almond Butter layer:
*You could pour the chocolate into molds and make chocolates without the almond butter.
These are not only delicious, but they have an appetite suppressing quality because of the healthy fats! So make a batch of these, and when you are craving sweets – give one of these a try – and notice if you feel less hungry and more satisfied afterwards. The healthy fat in these work their magic on your metabolism and appetite! It is rare for someone to eat more than a couple of these in one sitting – because they are so filling and satisfying!
I recommend taking a few teaspoons of coconut oil daily for the metabolism. These chocolate nut butter cups are a delicious way to get your coconut oil (plus raw cacao is a superfood too (read more), and so is maca (an adapatogen that helps to regulate hormones, improve energy and libido)!
This recipe is from Sara’s Perfect Metabolism eCourses/programs.
Usually if something sounds too good to be true – it is. Except in this case!!
This superfood version of chocolate mousse is dairy free and 100% guilt free!! It is also rich in fiber, omega 3s, magnesium, has no sugar and whips up in minutes! I know, hard to believe – but all true! It is a rich and creamy delicious chocolatty delight!! And unlike other chocolate mousses, this one will not spike your bloodsugar. It will fill you up, and keep your hunger hormones in control and keep you satisfied for hours!
* The ice cubes are primarily to chill the mousse, you can omit if you are making it and not eating it right away. Put into the refrigerator to chill.
Note – this recipe requires a Vitamix blender that has a “tamper” – the tool that helps to process thicker recipes, stirring ingredients and removing air pockets in the blender.
Put into a container in the refrigerator, or pour into a dish and enjoy. This can make 1 large serving, or two small ones.
This is a Perfect Metabolism program recipe!
Read Cuckoo for Coconut oil to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil.
To me, it is just not Fall until I get my first taste of pumpkin. But sometimes I just crave that pumpkin taste, and I don’t have the time to bake muffins or bread. And just say no to those pumpkin spice lattes – they have almost 50 grams of sugar!
Enter the Pumpkin Cacao Chip Superfood Smoothie!!
This delicious smoothie literally tastes like a pumpkin pie in a glass…but unlike pumpkin pie – you will not need to lay on the couch and unbutton the pants and take a nap after eating it, this smoothie has chia seeds to provide lasting energy, and improve focus, attention, and mood – it is one of the favorites from my Perfect Metabolism program.
Download Sara’s free Cooking with Superfoods eBook for some more delicious and nutritious recipes!
A bag of gluten-free granola can easily run you about 6 bucks nowadays. But you can make it at home for much less. When you make it yourself, you can also control what you put into it, and how sweet you want it. Plus, this is a fun one to get the kids involved in. Here is a yummy recipe for gluten free granola!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
*Add these items after baking.
© copyright 2015 Sara Vance