Mint Cocoa Green Smoothie

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Last spring, my neighbor planted mint in our shared vegetable bed. If you’ve ever tended a garden or had experience growing mint, you know that by the next season, the only thing you will find growing in that plot of dirt (and any plot of dirt in a 30 ft. radius) are very enthusiastic/ invasive mint shoots. This has been my introduction to spring. Lots of mint. So, the crisp, green herb has been making an appearance in several recipes I’ve been experimenting with recently. In addition to being added to water for a refreshing kick and sprinkled in generous amounts on fruit salad.

This smoothie is my play on the Thin Mint cookie. It’s packed full of green veggies, uses a good amount of those mint leaves and has the added fiber and antioxidants of raw cocoa. Injoy!

 

1 ½ cups water (coconut water also makes a great base)

1 scoop whey or pea protein (I like the Wow brand. Unsweetened or Vanilla)

1 frozen banana

1 cup raw spinach

½ cup raw kale

1 cup fresh mint leaves

10 raw almonds

2 Tbls. raw cocoa nibs

1 Tbls. chia seeds

2 dates

Blend all ingredients in bender until smooth. Add additional water for desired consistency. Injoy!

*If your kale is especially bitter, add an extra date or a small amount of honey to balance out a bit of sweetness. It should be tasty and appealing but not overly sugary.

 

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Bacon Wrapped Zucchini

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This is my favorite new, incredibly versatile recipe. It makes a great side dish for a fresh salad dinner or lunch, is wonderful with eggs for breakfast and is a tasty snack all on it’s own, too! The seasoning is a delicious blend. I often experiment with adding turmeric, curry powder and cumin as well. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

3 medium zucchinis

8 pieces of bacon

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp of oil

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Cut the bacon in half, widthwise and place the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil.

3. Bake for 10 minutes. Don’t make too crispy, as it will be hard to wrap around zucchini

4. Meanwhile, peel the skin of the zucchini (optional) and trim the ends.

5. Cut the zucchini into pieces that are 1” thick and 11⁄2” long (it should yield 16 pieces of zucchini).

6. Add the zucchini to a large bowl with the garlic powder, chili powder, and oil.

Stir to coat.

7. Remove the bacon from the oven and drain the renderings.

8. Wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of zucchini and secure with a tooth- pick.

9. Place each piece of zucchini on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the zucchini is tender. Flip the zucchini halfway through so the bacon cooks evenly.

10. For crispier bacon, broil it for the last 3-5 minutes of baking (keep an eye on it).

 

Breakfast Chicken Sausage

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While shopping for breakfast protein recently, I discovered that my beloved turkey bacon brand had begun to include carrageenan in their ingredient list. This is bad news. Carrageenan is an additive with no nutritional value that is derived from raw seaweed and is widely used as a thickening agent in milk alternatives (boxed soy, almond, rice milk etc.), ice cream and yogurt. One of the main reasons I started making my own Almond Milk.

Carrageenan is known to cause inflammation to the digestive system, and in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. In addition, when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes. More bad news for our country’s already soaring diabetes rates. Best to stay away from Carrageenan.

Alas, a delicious homemade breakfast sausage recipe, nutritious and free of pesky preservatives! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1. 1 lb ground chicken

2. 2 tsp fennel seed

3. 2 tsp dried rosemary

4. 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

5. 1 ½ tsp dried sage

6. ½ tsp salt

7. ¼ tsp black pepper

 

Instructions:

1. Grind the fennel seed and the rosemary in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to break down the spices (recommended).

2. Combine all of the spices together.

3. Incorporate the spice mixture into the chicken.

4. (Optional) Fry 1-2 tsp of the meat in a skillet to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

5. Form into 10 equal patties.

6. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat and brown the patties for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through.

7. Serve with your favorite vegetable.

 

Superfood Spotlight: Chia Seeds

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Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may be familiar with the name as an ancient staple for the Aztec and Mayan diets, or much more likely, as a popular novelty item, the Chia Pet.

Chia seeds have long been known to have an abundance of essential nutrients. Here is a break down:

1. They are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. Fiber is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function.

2. Chia seeds’ lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids

3. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer.

4. Chia seeds have one of the highest levels of antioxidants in a whole food.

5. Chia is a wonderful source for calcium.  Three tablespoons contains 307 milligrams of calcium.

6. Chia seed is easily digested and does not need to be ground.

7. Chia seeds are often recommended for diabetics because the balance of soluble and insoluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose.

I also love Chia seeds because they make a great substitute for egg in vegan cooking or baking. Just add 1 Tablespoon of Chia seeds to 3 Tablespoons of water. In about 20 minutes, it will turn into a gel equivalent to one egg. Also, because it’s nutritional profile and stability, Chia seeds will store up to two years in a dry place. Use in baking, add to smoothies, or try this great pudding. Injoy!