Mini Banana Muffins (Grain Free)

February 12, 2016
Mini Banana Muffins (Grain Free)

These “better for you” banana muffins are easy to make and instead of being full of white flour, they use ground flax seed*, which is rich in ALA omega 3s.  They are high in protein due to the eggs and nut butter, and have way less sugar than most muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of nut butter (I used cashew butter – found at Trader Joes)
  • 2 and 1/2 ripe bananas
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (add a little more if using unsalted nut butter)
  • 1 cup ground flax
  • 1 TBS. virgin coconut oil (soft or melted – plus more to grease muffin tin – if not using muffin papers)

Optional additions (fold these in later after mixing together the above):

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts work great, so do pecans)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix together the ingredients in a blender, food processor, or using a mixer.
  3. Gently fold in your chocolate chips and/or nuts – or you can just press them into the top after pouring the batter to the muffin tin.
  4. Grease mini muffin tin, or line with muffin papers.
  5. Fill batter almost to the top. Top with additional mini chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 17 minutes.

Omega 3 fats are delicate.  Make sure to buy cold pressed ground flax and store it in your refrigerator to prevent oxidation. 

Note – if you are used to super sweet muffins – these might not taste sweet enough at first – but once you get used to eating less sugar – these will taste plenty sweet enough!  It takes time to adjust your taste buds to enjoying less sweet foods.

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Chicken Pot Pie

January 17, 2016
Chicken Pot Pie

My kids love comfort food like chicken pot pie, and after seeing a friend post a delicious looking recipe online – I decided that I was going to try to make a grain-free version (you could also make this totally dairy free too)!

To me, food should not only taste delicious – but it should be good for us too.  It is possible for food to be both delicious and nutritious!  It just sometimes take a little tinkering.  I love to take traditional recipes and UPGRADE them to make them better for our health & metabolism.  This recipe has been upgraded by adding a whole head of cauliflower (additional vitamins, minerals and fiber).  Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, which is shown to support a healthy liver, and potentially can be helpful in the prevention of cancer.  This has also been upgraded by taking out the usual white flour in the crust – and replacing it with a grain and gluten free version.  And since many people do not tolerate dairy nowadays – this can also be made 100% dairy free too.  Eating foods that we are intolerant to can lead to weight gain, inflammation (pain), and a long list of chronic symptoms.

I looked online for some recipes, and found this one from The Paleo Mom.  I loved her idea of using a cauliflower sauce – I have used cauliflower for alfredo sauces, and I add cauliflower to many of my recipes to thicken them and add nutrition – in my mind, cauliflower is an essential ingredient in the dairy free chef’s kitchen!!   I made a few adjustments to her recipe along the way, so here is my version of Chicken Pot Pie:

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (low sodium free range if using boxed)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg yolk (optional – reserve the egg white for glazing crust)
  • 2 teaspoons grass fed butter (or ghee) – omit or use coconut oil if wanting 100% dairy free
  • Himalayan salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)

Sauce Directions:

  1. Put the cauliflower florets, garlic, salt, and stock in a saucepan on the stove, bring to a boil – then reduce to simmer and cook for about 15 mins (until cauliflower is fork-tender), add in the butter (or ghee), let melt.
  2. Allow to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. Put it all into a blender and blend until smooth.  Taste – add more salt if needed.
  4. Temper the egg yolk (add a spoonful of the cauliflower sauce to it, stir, do it again 2-3 more times, and then add the yolk to the broth in the blender – blend again to combine).
  5. Set aside.

Filling Ingredients:

  • a whole roasted chicken – (pull meat off the bone and shred or chop – makes about 3 cups)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 small rutabega
  • 1 small parsnip
  • 1 onion
  • Himalayan salt to taste (I sprinkle on as I add each veggie into the pan – but you can season at the end if you prefer)
  • I also used Trader Joes 21 spice blend to taste
  • optional – 1/2 cup frozen petite peas (I forgot them – so we had them on the side)
  • 3 Tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil (I used a combination of ghee and coconut oil)

Crust Ingredients:  

  • Chebe* bread box mix (buy here)
  • 1/4 cup milk of your choice (can use almond, rice, raw dairy if tolerated, or you can also use water)Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.11.02 AM
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 2 eggs (plus 1 additional egg white for glazing)

*For some reason – I could not get the crust from The Paleo Mom’s recipe to work – I think it needs some butter or something to get it to come together.  So thankfully – I had a Chebe bread mix box handy – which is a grain free bread made with tapioca (they make great buns, breadsticks, and pizza crusts).  So I made that (follow directions on the box – I made mine without the cheese, you can use any kind of non-dairy milk you like, water, or raw dairy if you tolerate it).

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the onion, and dice all the other vegetables (except peas) – the vegetables should all be roughly about the same sized dice – I like mine fairly small.
  3. In a very large sauce pan – warm up the ghee or coconut oil (I used a combination of the two)
  4. Add the chopped onion to the pan, cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes (until translucent).Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.12.33 AM
  5. Add in the diced rutabaga and parsnips, sprinkle lightly with salt, cook about 5-7 minutes
  6. Add in the carrots, celery, sprinkle lightly with salt, also add in your Trader Joes 21 Spice blend, cook another 5 minutes
  7. If using, add in the peas, cook about 1-2 minutes more.
  8. All veggies should be fork tender – but still al dente.  Taste to make sure you have enough salt and seasonings. Adjust.
  9. Pour in the sauce, add in the chicken and cook a couple minutes more – and then pour into greased glass cookware (I greased two 9X9 square pyrex dishes with coconut oil).  This can all be done up to 12 ours in advance – store in refrigerator before cooking.  Allow to warm on counter for about 20 mins before cooking if you did it ahead of time.
  10. Make your Chebe bread according to package directions (I left out the cheese – it is not needed).
  11. Roll it out as thin as possible on parchment, cut it into strips.
  12. Lay the crust strips on top, in a criss cross fashion, lightly brush the crust with the egg whites (this makes them more golden brown), and then put into a 375 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes (the filling should be bubbling, and the crust golden brown)

Serve & enjoy!  Save extra in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Buckwheat Crepes

January 6, 2016
Sara's Buckwheat Crepes

Can crepes change your life? These crepes are so easy, delicious, and versatile. So yes – I think these crepes just might! 

I can whip them up in a few minutes, and then I have some on hand to use as a wrap, they make a nice after school snack for the kids, and are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Commonly thought of as a grass/grain, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed which is related to rhubarb, and is gluten free.

The nutritional benefits of buckwheat include: manganese, magnesium, copper, B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamin, choline, D-chiro inositol, which can support healthy blood sugar, and bioflavinoids which supports healthy blood vessels.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 eggs (organic, free range)
  • 1 cup milk (your choice – almond, coconut, raw cow or goats milk)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. butter (melted)

Directions:

  1. Mix together the wet ingredients and salt, then stir in the flour, and then add the melted butter.
  2. Warm up your crepe pan on medium-high heat.
  3. Then drop the pan temperature to just above medium, and using a 1/3 cup measuring cup – Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 6.22.38 PMscoop up the batter and pour it into the pan. Immediately – start to swirl the batter around the pan to coat the pan and get the crepe to reach the edges and be as thin as possible.
  4. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Flip over and cook another 2 minutes more (approx.)  If adding warm toppings, add them right after flipping the first side over. Fold over and serve!

 

Topping ideas:

  • Smoked salmon with goat cheese  herbs
  • Ham, cheese, spinach and mustard
  • Banana slices with almond butter or NuttZo.
  • Butter and cinnamon with a sprinkle of coconut sugar.
  • Spinach, thinly sliced zucchini, sauteed mushrooms and onions, and pesto sauce.
  • Chicken, sauteed spinach and a garlic sauce.

 

This recipe is one of the many recipes in The Metabolism Summit Cookbook – one of the free gifts you get when you purchase The Metabolism Summit package!!  Join me Feb 1-8th for this free event.  Register here!!

MET16_banner_attend_600x150

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Grain Free Pumpkin Mini Muffins

October 29, 2015
Pumpkin Muffins - Sara Vance

I love the Fall – the leaves are changing, there is a bit of a chill in the air, and we get to pull out the sweaters. But perhaps one of my favorite things about the Fall – is pumpkin!

Pumpkin is a member of the winter squash family – an excellent source of fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system. The deep orange color of the pumpkin flesh tells us that it is a rich source of beta carotene (vitamin A) – which is important for healthy eyes, and boosts the immune system too (important this time of year).

Growing up, it just never quite feel like Fall until my mom made a batch of her pumpkin bread. Moist, delicious, pumkin-y and fragrant with spices. But her recipe was made with white flour, lots of sugar, and vegetable oil (the recipe actually calls for ‘salad oil’). So I decided to reinvent her pumpkin bread into these delicious grain free anti-inflammatory pumpkin mini muffins – with healthy coconut oil replacing the ‘salad oil’, ground flax and coconut flour in place of the white flour, and waaaay less sugar. Plus, these are also nut free for my friends that can’t have nuts.

The plethora of spices in these muffins fill the kitchen with the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves while they bake.

Mini Pumpkin Flax Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) – plus extra for greasing muffin tin
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar (or a combination of coconut sugar and stevia if you like)
  • 2 Tablespoons water or milk (non-dairy or raw)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of ground flax meal
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree (use the rest for this amazing Pumpkin Cacao Chip smoothie)
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon high quality salt (like Himalayan)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Lightly grease mini-muffin pan with some coconut oil (or you can line with muffin papers)
  • Mix together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder till well combined, then add in and mix together the rest of the ingredients – folding in the raisins or chocolate chips last (or sometimes – I just press them into the tops of the muffins before putting them into the oven to bake).
  • Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and put into the preheated oven.
  • Bake for about 15 mins.
  • Remove and allow to cool.

Makes about 24 mini muffins.

Serve & enjoy!  These are extra yummy with a little grass fed butter on them. 

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-eating-pumpkin-puree-4645.html

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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The Healthiest Probiotic Soda – Ever!

September 28, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 1.15.17 PM
Categories: Recipes, Uncategorized
Do your kids love sweet & fizzy soft drinks? Mind do!
But we try to really limit sodas – because  most are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (approx. 10 tsp. per can, more than 1 day’s recommended limit)!!  Drinking sodas can lead to weight gain, lowered immune system, cavities, mood swings, and overtime if consumed regularly – can even strain the liver and raise the risk of many different diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke – just to name a few.
But what if I told you there was actually a healthy soda that contained probiotics?  Probiotics are healthy bacteria that boost the digestion, mood and the immune system!

It is called Kefir Water – and my kids are obsessed!!

 And although you need sugar to make kefir – the end product (kefir water) does not have a lot of sugar left in it – because the sugar is “the food” for the kefir grains.  As far as fermented foods – water kefir is pretty easy to make.  I used to make kombucha, and it was a much more involved process – and took longer to ferment.  Kefir water is also extremely inexpensive- because you get to re-use the kefir grains over and over.  And it is fizzy and delicious!
But just know, making kefir water might not be for everyone – I make a new batch and bottle the old one every 48 hours (which takes about 15 minutes or so each time).  If you forget and let your kefir ferment too long, it can weaken your kefir grains.
Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.20.04 AM

What you will need:

Optional – a hydrometer. Fermented drinks like kefir water and kombucha can contain a very small amount of alcohol – generally about the same amount as found in very ripe fruit.  Because kefir water is not fermented very long, it is a negligible amount.   But if you are giving it to your kids and want to be sure – get a hydrometer – which will tell you the exact amount of alcohol it contains.

Directions:

Once you get your water kefir grains, you will first need to rehydrate/activate them.

  1. Warm 4 cups of water, pour into a large heat safe glass measuring cup.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of sugar (I use organic cane sugar).  Allow the sugar to dissolve in the water.
  3. Let the water cool to room temperature and then put the sugar water into your glass jar, add another 4 cups of water and  the kefir grains.
  4. Cover with a coffee filter, or a paper towel folded up a couple times, secured with a rubber band.
  5. Allow to sit for about 3-5 days the first time to activate them.  Now they are activated and ready to bottle and flavor.  And the kefir grains can be strained and a new batch can be made.  After they are activated, you will only want to let the kefir grains ferment 48 hours each time at most.
  6. I pour the kefir water into a large 8 cup measuring cup, through a fine mesh strain to remove the kefir grains.
  7. Go back to step #1 to make a new batch of kefir water. This time, allowing it to sit on counter for just 48 hours. kefir grains
  8. Put the funnel on top of the flip top bottles, and pour the strained kefir water from the large measuring cup – spreading out evenly between the two bottles.  Add 3/4 cup – 1 cup of your favorite juice (we like fresh squeezed orange, passionfruit juice, or ginger lemon the best).  Reseal the bottles. Allow to sit on the counter another 48 hours – this is considered “the second ferment”and is when the kefir will get fizzy.  Note – the first couple batches you make may not get very fizzy.  But just you wait!!  After that – they can get very fizzy – almost too fizzy!!  So be careful when opening them – I have opened one and had a small geyser in my kitchen before.  I have also had a bottle crack and break by letting a second ferment go too long (this was from kombucha though).  So – you might want to keep them in a tray or cooler or something.  You can “burp” your bottles every 24 hours during your second ferment to make sure too much pressure does not build up.  This just means you open them to release the pressure, and close them again.  After 48 hours of the second ferment – you will want to store the finished kefir water in the refrigerator.  This will halt the fermentation and prevent more pressure from building.
  9. Serve & Enjoy!

Issues?

Here are some troubleshooting tips from Cultures from Health.  I had to use these this Summer when I was making kefir water in really hot conditions, and my kefir grains got a little smelly.  I ended up just tossing mine, and getting new ones – but they have lots of helpful tips if you need them.

Check out this video about making Water Kefir:

Here is a video about flavoring your water kefir:

Let me know in the comments below if you make kefir water, and what your favorite flavors are!!  Are you trying to make it for the first time?  Was this post helpful?
Good luck!!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Mini Meatloaves (Gluten & Grain free) w/ Homemade Ketchup

May 26, 2015
Mini Meatloaves

 AKA “Meat muffins”

I love it when I come up with a recipe that is healthy, and passes the kid taste test – this recipe hit it out of the ballpark on both accounts!  Even my quinoa-hating daughter loved them – I only told her about the quinoa after she had decided that she loved them!  My kids like to call them “meat muffins” because they are made in muffin tins – which makes them even more fun!

I have already made this recipe twice, and my kids regularly ask for it – so I plan to make it again this week.  The leftovers make a great (hearty) after school snack, or a quick meal – but in my house, they don’t last for long!

Yield: 12 individual meat loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 pounds (approx.) ground grass fed beef*
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped (or grated)
  • 1 medium zucchini (organic)*, finely grated (yields about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery, very finely diced
  • 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 tsp of gluten free Worcestershire sauce (this is optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. of dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (for sautéing the onions), plus more for greasing the muffin tin

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.47 AM

Sauce (Ketchup):

  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of dijon mustard (or more if you like)
  • 1/2  tsp. Himalayan salt
  • pinch of ground cloves, pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of coconut palm sugar (or a few drops of stevia for a sugar free option – or honey, raw agave, or another natural sweetener.)  I found this to be the perfect sweetness, but add another teaspoon if you prefer.

Put the sugar into the vinegar and stir until it dissolves. Then add all the ingredients together, stir to combine – taste & adjust.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a muffin tin with avocado oil
  3. Cook the quinoa & let cool (this can be done a day ahead – just make sure to make enough to yield 3/4 cup cooked – I always make a little extra to save in the refrigerator to throw into a salad).
  4. Grate the zucchini (using fine grater) and squeeze out all the excess moisture with a couple of paper towels (I squeezed it over the sink).
  5. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, and very finely chop the celery and parsley.
  6. Heat a pan on medium, add in 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (or coconut oil). Add the onions and sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until soft & translucent.  Add in the garlic and celery and cook about 2-3 mins more.  Take onion mixture off heat, and let cool.
  7. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk them to break up yolks, and then add in all the other ingredients except beef (and the avocado oil, which is for sautéing).  Mix to combine.  Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.38 AM
  8. And finally – add in the grass fed beef – gently combining. (I find that it works best when I mix the beef in by hand).
  9. Scoop the meatloaf mixture into oiled muffin tins.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.26 AM
  10. Put into the pre-heated 375 degree oven and cook for 20 minutes. (I like to put a sheet pan underneath in case of any drippings).
  11. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Take muffin tin out of oven, spread a teaspoon of sauce on top of each meatloaf, return to 425 degree oven and cook another 10 minutes.
  12. Take out of oven, let rest 5 minutes, and then serve with additional sauce on the side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.04.57 AM

This recipe is great with steamed broccoli with some grass fed butter and mashed potatoes.   Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days (they won’t last that long)!

*A note about quality – I always make sure to go for grass fed beef – to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other additives – plus grass fed beef is higher in omega 3s and 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef – which studies have found helps to burn fat (read this article to learn more).  I also always choose organic for zucchini – because conventional zucchini is highly likely to be GMO, which I avoid because there is evidence that GMOs could be harming our gut health and even increase our risk of cancer.  And finally – I always look for organic pastured or free range eggs – which also have a higher amount of omega 3s and no antibiotics or hormones.

 

 

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Pineapple Mint & Coconut Smoothie

May 4, 2015
Pineapple Mint Refresher

I had a big bunch of mint and a fresh pineapple, and some coconut in the freezer – so this morning I whipped up this pineapple mint smoothie – it was absolutely delicious and refreshing, it made me feel like I was in the tropics!!  Pineapple, mint, coconut and chia seeds all support healthy hydration and digestion. I think this will be a new staple for Summer/Spring for me, and I hope for you too.  This recipe is dairy-free, vegan and gluten free. 

Pineapple Mint Coconut Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of coconut water
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple* chunks
  • 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen coconut flesh (find inner eco frozen coconut in freezer section – use 1 packet, or you can sub 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, or 1 Tablespoon of coconut manna).
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (or combination of fresh mint and baby spinach)
  • 1-2 big pinches of high quality salt – like pink Himalayan
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Ice as desired to thicken/chill.

Put the coconut water and chia seeds into the blender – allow to soak.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend to combine.  Add in a handful (or whatever amount desired) of ice cubes and blend.  Serve immediately!

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Pineapple: One of America’s top two favorite tropical fruits – second only to the banana – pineapples are in peak season from March through June. One cup of pineapple also provides a full day’s supply of vitamin C, is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of fiber and a number of other nutrients including vitamin B6 and copper. Pineapple is also rich in bromelain, which is an enzyme that can be helpful to digestion and provides anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mint: A wonderful herb for digestion, mint also has antiseptic qualities and can be used as a mouth refreshener. Steep mint leaves to make a tea that is calming to the digestion. Fresh mint is a wonderful addition to iced tea as well. And the oil of the peppermint leaves has a number of uses ranging from digestion to relaxation.
  • Coconut – the flesh of a coconut provides a wide array of nutrients – from vitamins and minerals to healthy fats – which help to stabilize blood sugar, increase satiety, and supports the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. The fat in coconut is high in medium chain fatty acids, which is more easily converted to energy. Coconuts are also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which helps to cleanse and detox. Coconuts are rich in electrolytes – which makes them a useful tool for hydration.
  • Chia seeds: One of the reasons I became a Nutritionist – I could not believe how much just adding this one seed to my diet could change my energy, digestion, hydration, and more.  Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies because they boost the fiber, protein, healthy fat, and omega 3 content of the smoothie.  Chia fiber is unique in that it soaks up about 10 times it’s weight in water, creating a gel.  Chia gel helps the body to hold onto hydration, slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, and helps to keep you fuller/satisfied longer. If you have sensitive digestion – start with less chia seeds – and make sure they are well hydrated before eating them. Read Pre-hydrate with Chia to learn more about this amazing seed.

*Note: If you are prone to getting canker sores from pineapple, you might want to substitute mango for the pineapple in the smoothie recipe.

Save your pineapple core in the refrigerator or freezer – I am posting a recipe tomorrow that will make use of the core!

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=102

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-mint.html

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Raisin “Bran” Muffins (gluten & grain free)

January 22, 2015
Bran-muffins

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)

Ingredients:

  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (could use a combination of coconut sugar and stevia if you like)
  • 2 Tablespoons water or non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of ground flax meal
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon high quality salt (like Himalayan)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (you could add 2/3 cup if you like more raisins)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the coconut oil.
  3. Lightly grease mini-muffin pan with some coconut oil (or line with muffin papers)
  4. Mix together the eggs and coconut sugar till well combined, then add in and mix together the rest of the ingredients – folding in the raisins last.
  5. Put into prepared muffin tin and put into the preheated oven.
  6. Bake for about 15 mins.
  7. Remove and allow to cool.
  8. Serve & enjoy!  These are extra yummy with a little grass fed butter on them, or a little organic raspberry jam. 

*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)!!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Zucchini Pizza Crust

January 6, 2015
zucchini-crust

This crust is gluten free and delicious – and easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small organic zucchini (or one and a half large ones), grated
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds (I like to use ground ones for this, but either works)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea)
  • 1 TBS. Coconut oil (melted) – you will need a little more for the pizza stone
  • 1 tsp. good quality salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove – pressed, or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs – such as basil, oregano

Directions to Make the Pizza Dough:

  1. Put your pizza stone or pan into the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Crack eggs into bowl, and whisk them. Add in the chia seeds, let soak for a few mins.
  3. Now grate the zucchini.
  4. Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients in with the eggs, and stir to combine.
  5. Take pre-heated pizza stone out of the oven.  Coat area with coconut oil.  Spoon the dough evenly onto the stone. You can make 3 small individual pizza crusts, or one large one.
  6. Put the pizza stone into the lower third of the oven to bake for about 8 minutes.
  7. Move it up to the bottom of the upper third of the oven (not too close to the top). Cook for another 5-8 mins.
  8. It should be fairly firm and cooked through. If you put a spatula under it, it should not be soggy or bend too much.
  9. Now it is ready to add your toppings.
  10. Preheat the pizza stone in a 425 degree oven.  Add your toppings to the crusts and place them on the pre-heated stone and return it to the oven, bake until toppings melt, about 8-10 minutes.

Suggested toppings: carmelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced red peppers, slices green or black olives, and shredded goat or sheeps milk cheese.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte (dairy free)

November 18, 2014
latte

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).

Ingredients:

Serves 12-14 people

  • 10 Medjol dates, soaked & pitted (or 1/3 cup of maple syrup or another natural sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Approx. 1 Tablespoon of the soaking liquid from dates
  • 1/8 tsp of high quality salt (brings out the sweetness and flavors)
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish/stirring)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 cups non-dairy milk of your choice  (I like to use a combination of 1 can of full fat coconut milk, plus 3-4 cups of homemade cashew cream/milk* – but feel free to use boxed almond mix, coconut milk – or another combination, or if you tolerate dairy – you could use cow’s milk). 
  • 8 cups strong-brewed coffee (choose swiss water processed decaf if serving late at night – so your guests aren’t cursing you at 2:00am when they are wide awake).

*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.

Directions:

  1. Soak the dates for 2 hours to overnight. (Skip this step if just using maple syrup).  Remove them from the water, and remove the pits.
  2. Now make the pumpkin date paste.  Put the soaked pitted dates in food processor or blender with the 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 Tablespoon of the soaking liquid, 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice and 1/8 tsp. salt. Process (drizzle in more of the water the dates soaked in as needed) until it forms a very smooth paste – the processor should run about 4 minutes. (This date paste also can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days and added to your non-dairy milk as needed). The date paste should be very smooth (see photo). If you do not want to make the date paste – you could replace the dates /paste with 1/3 of a cup of maple syrup.
  3. Add the non-dairy milk(s) of your choice into the blender with the date paste, blend to combine well.  Store in a glass container in fridge for up to 4 days if not using the crock pot (I recommend making a half recipe if you are not serving a crowd).
  4. For a big group, put the coffee, cinnamon sticks, and pumpkin creamer mixture into a crock pot, stir well and put the temperature on high for 30 mins, and then reduce to low or warm for up to 4 hours. Sir occasionally. Or you can put in a heavy bottom pot on the stove and keep it on a very low simmer.
  5. If you have a milk frother – like this one  – put some extra coconut milk, cashew milk, or non-dairy creamer (like So Delicious coconut or almond creamer) into a glass jar for frothing, and spoon out froth to top each cup.  You can also leave some cinnamon sticks out for decoration/stirring.  And sprinkle a little cinnamon (or cinnamon with a little organic sugar or coconut sugar on top to decorate).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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