Organic Matcha Green Tea

Over time, I’ve become quite the coffee lover (or dare I say, addict?) but there is a part of me that wants to be a tea addict, mainly for the health benefits…and because it doesn’t stain your teeth. ūüôā So, when I was given the opportunity to review Kiss Me Organics’ Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, I was excited¬†to give it a try.

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Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder is 100% organic, tested for purity, and contains more than 137 times the antioxidants in regular brewed tea. Yes, 137x! ¬†This¬†Matcha powder¬†is only available on Amazon and comes with a recipe guide that they give all first time customers. ¬†You wouldn’t believe all of the recipes they came up with that can use the Matcha Green Tea Powder…everything from smoothies to salmon. No joke.

I decided to try a smoothie first (recipe below).  I have to admit, my first attempt tasted a little too strong for me and it was hard to get past the green tea taste.  I decreased the amount of powder in the next one and that helped a lot!  I paired it with eggs for some protein for breakfast and it was really refreshing!

The next recipe I decided to try was a green tea latte¬†(recipe below). You know how I love my lattes. ūüôā Some of the recipes I’ve found call for boiled water and frothed milk but I took the easy (ahem, lazy) way out and just heated up the liquids in the microwave. ¬†It was still delicious! ¬†It gave me the energy I needed, without the crazy-caffeine feeling. Don’t get be wrong, I’m not saying I’m giving up my coffee, but it’s nice to know there is a good alternative out there!

Some of the other benefits include:

  • Increased Metabolism
  • Increased Focus
  • Improved Skin Health
  • and hellloooo Antioxidants!

You can read more about the benefits of Matcha here.

I love that it comes in powder form, so you can literally add it to almost any recipe for the antioxidant benefits.  The free recipe guide was a great added bonus because it has a ton of recipes I would never think of that include this Matcha Green Tea Powder.  Also, each serving size is only about 1/2-1 tsp (depending on the recipe) so this bag will last me a while!

A big thanks to Kiss Me Organics for the opportunity to try their product! ¬†Now head¬†on over to¬†Amazon¬†to get your own matcha powder! ūüôā

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

DSC02036Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 heaping handful spinach
  • 1/2-1 tsp Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions

Blend and enjoy!

Matcha Green Tea Coconut Latte

DSC02153Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2-1 tsp Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
  • 3/4 cup hot coconut milk
  • honey or sweetener (optional)

Directions

Heat water on the stove or in the microwave.  Whisk green tea powder with water then add milk and heat again, add sweetener.

Homemade LaraBars

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend! ¬†I know I for one really enjoyed an extra day of R&R. ūüôā

When I did the Whole30 I was introduced to LaraBars. ¬†Although “bars” are really supposed to be used sparingly during the Whole30, they were great to have on hand when I was in a bind because they are made of all natural and whole ingredients; no preservatives or ingredients that are impossible to pronnounce.

Since trying more of a paleo-esque lifestyle and especially after the Whole30, I’ve really learned to appreciate “whole” foods and how they affect my body in a positive way. ¬†That means I look at foods that I used to consider staples a bit differently; one of which is protein bars. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a protein bar and/or whey protein, I have just learned that my body doesn’t react the same way to those ingredients as it did before.

I used to avoid snacks like LaraBars like the plague. So you’re saying there isn’t any protein in this? Thanks, but no thanks. ¬†Now, I appreciate food with the least amount of ingredients as possible and since my meals consist of a little more “umph” of the right things (namely more good fats), I don’t have to default to processed protein-packed items like I used to. ¬†That being said, I am on the search for a protein powder with little ingredients because I miss my protein shakes! ūüôā

Since LaraBars can get a little expensive I decided to search for a homemade recipe I could easily make at home.  I mean, how hard can it be if all of the ingredients are natural, whole foods that essentially you can find at any grocery store, right? Right!

I found the best base recipe here and have already made many different combinations, depending on what ingredients I have on hand.

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To make 12 bars, here’s the basic breakdown I follow:

  • 2 cups nuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup other dried fruit (I always look for unsweetened and unsulfured. ¬†Trader Joe’s has a few good options.)
  • 1 tsp spice

One of my (and Matt’s) favorites was my take on LaraBar’s Cherry Pie flavor.

Ingredients:

(makes 12 bars)

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut (optional)

Directions:

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until combined and all ingredients are finely chopped. Then, either press dough evenly in small cake pan and cut into bars or form into balls then refrigerate.

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Enjoy the short week!

Dear Plantains, Where Have You Been All My Life?

It’s official. ¬†I am obsessed with plantains and I have no idea why it took me so long to come to this conclusion. ¬†A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Plantain Chips. ¬†I didn’t think it could get much better….but then came the tortillas….and then the crackers. ¬†I’m not going to pretend like I’m some genius who created these recipes out of thin air. ¬†My (recent Paleo convert) mom told me about the tortilla recipe she found a few weeks ago and raved about them. ¬† She also tried making pizza crust with them, which you better believe I will be doing sooner rather than later. ¬†So of course, I had to share these little gems of recipes with you all!

The original recipe for the tortillas can be found¬†here, at Fresh Tart. ¬†The only difference is I used extra virgin olive oil instead of avocado oil because that’s what I had on hand.

DSC02028I definitely didn’t make mine thin enough but it ended up more like pita bread, which was amazing. ¬†Matt couldn’t get over them!

Ingredients:

(Makes 12 tortillas)

  • 4 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Blend everything together in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency. ¬†Spoon onto baking sheet (I covered mine in parchment paper) and spread until about 1/4in thick, or thicker if you want “pita bread”. ūüôā ¬†Bake for 10 minutes, switch racks and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.

I mixed shredded chicken with avocado to eat with the tortillas and it was really good!

IMG_20140326_185244And because there was a link on the page for Plantain Crackers, I of course had to take a gander.  Since I was in Betty Crocker mode already and my food processor was already a mess (does anyone else despise cleaning that thing?!) I decided to give them a whirl in the same night.

DSC02027I actually think I like these better than the Plantain Chips!  They really feel and taste like crackers and are much easier to make.

I found the original recipe here, at The Paleo Mom.  Again, only difference is I subbed the coconut oil for extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency.  Spread on a small baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.  Cut into squares with a pizza cutter and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy. According to the original recipe, sometimes hers took up to 80 minutes to bake.

 

Happy Friday!

Ladder Workout and Whole30 Snack

Sometimes when I go to the gym, all I want to do is put my brain on auto-pilot and get in and get out. ¬†A good workout doesn’t always have to be multiple rounds of multiple reps and…wait am I on round 3 or round 4? Was this exercise supposed to be 30 seconds or 1 minute? ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, intense workout but sometimes it’s nice to put together a short and sweet plan and get ‘er done.

Here’s a ladder workout that requires little to no equipment. ¬†This can easily be done at home, just use a (sturdy!) chair for the box jumps and warm up by doing high knees, running your stairs, “fake” jump roping, etc.

Bodyweight Ladder WorkoutThe Easter egg theme was totally unintentional. ¬†I think it’s my subconscious talking? #comeonspring

I know I’m making this the most random post ever, but I also wanted to share a fun appetizer recipe that is Whole30/Paleo approved! During the Whole30 challenge, Matt and I made it a point not to go out for dinner/drinks because…well, what’s the point? ¬†If anything, the challenge certainly saved us a lot of money! ¬†We did end up spontaneously having a few friends over one night and I was determined to whip up a few snacks that I could eat AND my guests would enjoy….also so I wasn’t a huge hostess-fail. These bacon wrapped dates are good any time, anywhere. Challenge or no challenge. ¬†I mean, who doesn’t love bacon?

DSC02020Bacon Wrapped Dates

Cook bacon in a skillet until halfway done, then wrap around a date (pitted!) and secure with a toothpick. Bake at 350 until bacon is cooked through.  Frying the bacon before baking makes it a little crispier in the end.  I also only used about a half a piece of bacon per date, but it really depends on the ratio you prefer.

 

That’s all for today! ¬†Make it a great one!

WIAW #12: Whole30 – Week 1

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Matt and I have been talking about doing the Whole30 challenge for a few months. ¬†Now that the holidays and a few weddings have come and gone, we decided it’s now or never. ¬†My friend Kate and her husband have done the Whole30 twice now, and I remember thinking they were crazy the first time they did this.

What? No wine? No sugar of any kind? #cray

Since then, I’ve been making an effort to incorporate more unprocessed and whole foods into our diet and making paleo meals at times, so the thought of cutting back just a little more didn’t seem so daunting. ¬†We don’t even realize the negative effects that certain foods have on our bodies, sometimes because we are just used to it, so I am interested to see how I feel after 100% cutting out these foods and pressing that “reset” button. ¬†Like they say on their website, it’s only 30 days. ¬†Yes, it might feel like torture at times, but it will be over in 4 weeks and your body will thank you for it!

So what is the Whole30?

The Basics:¬†It’s kind of like Paleo on crack. ¬†Paleo is the “hunter-gatherer” diet…although I don’t like to call it a diet, more like a lifestyle. ¬†Meat/Seafood/Poultry (natural/grass fed is preferable), vegetables, healthy fats (EVOO, avocado, coconut oil, etc.), fruit, and nuts in moderation are all a-ok. ¬†No grains, no legumes (aka beans, peanuts), no dairy, no processed foods, no refined vegetable oils, etc. ¬†And for the Whole30, also NO SUGAR. ¬†This is essentially a sugar detox. ¬†That means no honey, no maple syrup, no Stevia, nothing, nada, zip. I didn’t think it would be all that hard but seriously, you would be surprised how many things contain sugar, and food that you would even expect (bacon?). ¬†Luckily, they provide you with a¬†shopping list¬†that outlines Best/Better/Good options to help you make your way through the grocery store.

I spent most of the day last Sunday stocking up on Whole30 “approved” food and prepped most of our sides and snacks for the week.

Snack Meal Prep:¬†Hard-boiled eggs, apples, almond butter (no other ingredients except almonds and maybe sea salt), raw/dry roasted nuts, dried¬†fruit (unsweetened/unsulfured – Trader Joe’s has a few good options and Costco had dried bananas only sweetened with fruit juice, which is ok by Whole30 standards), LaraBars in moderation

Breakfast Meal Prep: Roasted sweet potatoes/turnips/rudabega/butternut squash

Sides Meal Prep: Cauliflower rice, roasted veggies, veggies for salads, fruit

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I found this timeline on the Whole30 website and I have to say, it’s pretty spot on so far! ¬†It actually made me feel better about the way we were reacting to this challenge.

Day 1: Piece of cake. ¬†We’ve got this. ¬†Eat our normal meals and cut back on the snacking, or only snack on “approved” food.

Day 2: ¬†Panic. ¬†Well, almost. ¬†When I realized that we were going to run out of the food that I had spent alll that time prepping in t-minus 1 day, the thought of having to prep even more meals in the middle of the work week was certainly not ideal, and not to mention exhausting. ¬†Matt and I both felt pretty tired, but it wasn’t from lack of sleep. ¬†It all made sense after reading the timeline. ¬†Maybe our Sunday all-day bender was the culprit.

DSC01989(Not Pictured: Burgers, fries and lots ‘o soda)

I also found this waiting for me when I got to work….

IMG_20140218_091602If there was a Whole30 hell, I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like. ¬†It’s not like if it were a normal day I’d eat a dozen of these things, but not even one little bite?? (or three)

Day 4: ¬†Near breakdown. ¬†I was doing ok except for the lack of my usual snack options at night, which was making me very cranky. Matt on the other hand, not so much. ¬†Unlike me, he can’t eat the same meals on repeat day after day. ¬†After day 2 of eggs for dinner, he looked at me and said “why don’t we just order something?”. ¬†You have no idea how tempting that was. ¬†But we resisted and powered through. ūüôā

DSC01990Example Week 1 dinner: Salmon (with smoked paprika- yum!), roasted asparagus and cauliflower rice.

DSC01994Example Week 1 lunch: Shredded chicken, roasted broccoli and avocado.

One idea I was borderline terrified of was drinking coffee without Stevia. ¬†I have to say, it really isn’t bad! I’ve been using my usual coffee but with canned coconut milk instead of almond milk and Stevia, and I think I’ll keep doing that even after the 30 days are up.

DSC01993Now it’s Day 10 and I think we are finally getting into our groove. ¬†I did a better job of meal planning and prepping this weekend so I think we are pretty set for the week with Whole30 approved (and delicious!) meals. ¬†I’m excited to share some of them with you!

Overall, I think we are going to really see the benefits of completing this challenge. ¬†I think the hardest part for me is all of the things that I “can’t” eat. ¬†I’ve always been a big proponent of everything in moderation and I’m not usually one to deprive myself of anything. So avoiding the yummy snacks and treats like the plague has been hard for me. ¬†Having said that, I think this challenge will show me how much willpower I really have! ¬†Once we got through the first week and over that initial hurdle of the “detox phase”, both Matt and I feel pretty good and have seen a change in our bodies for the better.

Today, I thought I would share the recipe for Plantain Chips, one of my new favorite (and simple!) snacks.

DSC02002Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains *
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper

* If your grocery store has them, they will be next to the bananas.  They look like bananas but are larger and more green.

Directions:

Cut off the ends of the plantains and slice it longways 3 times, then carefully peel off the skin.  The skin is pretty tough, so you might have to use a knife to help get it started.  Unlike bananas, the less ripe the better.  The more ripe they get, the sweeter they get.

DSC01999Now, you can either slice the plantains with a knife, or if you have a food processor that’s what I used and it made it much easier to slice the chips thin and evenly.

Toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out the chips evenly on a baking sheet that is sprayed with olive oil.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until they start to brown.  Be careful because they will go from almost done to over done quickly!

DSC02003It’s best if these are eaten within a day or two of baking because they can become chewy and I would suggest storing them in a glass container like a Pyrex dish, which might keep them crisp longer.

These are good plain and I really like them dipped in Wholly Guacamole. ¬†Post Whole30, these will be great with hummus. ūüôā ¬†A great substitute for store bought chips!

More Whole30 recipes coming soon!

As always, checkout Peas and Crayons for more WIAW goodness!

Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats

I’m not sure if you would really call these recipes Valentine’s Day themed, per se, but they involve strawberries, strawberries are pink and VDay is all about pink….so Valentine’s treats it is. ūüėČ

The first is a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Smoothie. ¬†Who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries?! And if I can blend them up and drink them out of a straw for breakfast, I’m all for that situation.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 c frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (you can eliminate this if you use chocolate protein powder)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • handful of spinach

Directions:

Blend and enjoy!

DSC01969The next treat is a new one for me. ¬†Davida over at The Healthy Maven is hosting a linkup for health-ified Valentine’s Day baked goods. As soon as I heard the idea, I knew I had to participate. ¬†#1 I L.O.V.E. baked goods in all shapes and sizes. #2 I also love taking those baked goods and making them in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I need to eat it while simultaneously running on the treadmill. ¬†I stumbled across a recipe for strawberry/chocolate paleo bread from You Fresh Naturals¬†on Instagram and knew I had to try it. I made a couple of adjustments of my own to create Strawberry Chocolate Pecan Paleo Bread!

Strawberry Paleo BreadYes, I’m aware it looks like a dog treat. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, plus I’m not good at taking fancy food blogger pics like Davida. ūüôā ¬†It was delicious and even Matt was impressed! ¬†Wife-win. I haven’t made paleo bread before, but I’ll definitely be trying this concept again!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp canned coconut milk
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch baking soda
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips (for true paleo, use a brand like Enjoy Life)

Directions:

Place all ingredients except strawberries, pecans and chocolate chips in food processor.  Blend until combined.  Fold in remaining ingredients and pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Sending virtual hugs to everyone on this Valentine’s Day! ¬†Have a great weekend!