Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's so great about Juicing?

Benefits of Juicing:

Juicing is a great way to make sure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet, without adding a lot of bulk. Because juicing removes all or most of the fibers from the fruits and veggies, it makes it easier to consume large amounts of the nutrients without feeling really full. For example, take 1 large carrot. You could eat it raw, steamed or how ever you'd like. Diced, it is about a cup of solid veg. But if you were to juice it, you may come out with about 1/4 cup of carrot juice. Making it easier to consume more, without feeling really full. Juicing also helps the body assimlate the nutrients better. Without having to break down the fibers from the fruit/veg, your body gets instant access to the nutrient filled juice. Some fasts, cleanses or detox diets recommend juicing as a way to give the digestive system a break. Your still ingesting nutrient dense calories but without all of the work.

It's also great for anyone who may not have time to properly eat nutrient rich meals, who might not have access to a fully functioning kitchen or someone who may not know how to cook (well). College students immediately come to mind. Just because you don't have access to a stove, have a decent sized fridge or know how to cook doesn't mean you are bound to eating take out every day. Juicing is the simple solution to maknig sure you are getting everything your body needs - no excuses.

Juices can be made and drank at anytime of the day. I like to have my juices early in the morning. It helps my body break from the overnight fasting without upsetting my stomach, since I'm one of those people who can't eat immediately after waking up. The fresh juices I make in the morning help me wake up, give me energy and also kick my day off right. I know if I begin the day eating well, the rest of the day will follow. Plus, if I decide to indulge in something else later, I feel less guilt knowing I've had 5-8 servings of fruits and veggies already. Sometimes I will make a juice during the afternoon to keep me going (mid-day itis). Juices are portable, so making a bit extra and keep it in your stainless steel water bottle, makes it easy to have an instant refreshing energizing drink on hand.

What to Juice:

Any fruit, veggie, root, herb, etc. What's great about juicing is that there is no right or wrong way. It is all about experimentation, creativity and enjoying whatever you make. You can use the whole fruit/veg too. No need to peel anything, just cut it into piece that will allow it to fit into the juicer and done. Easy prep! My favorite ingredients to use in my juices are ginger, kale, carrots, parsley, beets, watermelon and apple. I like to keep my juices on the low sugar side and veggie filled. 

I also want to stress using organic produce when juicing. Since you will be consuming large amount of fruit/veg, it is important to keep your pesticide exposure to a minimum. I tend to save pieces of my produce that I wouldn't use in my cooking (peels, ends, stems, etc.) and juice those. No need to waste the extra stuff - it's still nutrient packed! Those parlsey stems, carrot peels or celery leaves you always throw away are a small dose of extra goodness you could be adding to your next juice. It's a great way to maximize your dollar when you are spending a bit extra on organic produce. 

How to use Juices:

Juices are very versatile! You could be a purist and drink it as is or use those juices in baking, cooking, etc. I personally love to juice fresh pineapple and use it in marinades or cooking rice in. You could also make a nice sangria or use the juice to sweeten your iced tea. Substituting juice for water in certain recipes can really make the dish come to life. 

Juicing for Beginners - juice fruits and veggie you enjoy eating. I recommend starting out with more of a fruit based juice and gradually adding more vegetables over time. Since some vegetables can be bitter, adding a small bit at a time can let you know how much you can handle. Great starter fruits/veg are: spinach, apple, carrot, oranges, watermelon, cucumber, and pineapple. 

Extra tips:

  • When you are cleaning out your juicer, use the pulp leftover for compost or adding to a stock pot when you are making veggie/chicken stock. And when you are rinsing the inside of the juice with fresh water - the excess water coming out is a watered down version on what you just juiced. Collect that water and use it to water your plants. It's so much better than those chemical plant foods you find at the store.
  • I don't recommend juicing frozen fruits/veg. I find frozen produce doesn't juice efficiently - so stick with fresh.

I use a Hurom Juicer, which I HIGHLY recommend. I've had a few other juicers in the past but they were more of a pain or didn't juice very efficiently. This is gives out the max amount of juice in the produce - making it easier to use less.  

Cheers to Juicing!

- Laurie

Friday, July 6, 2012

Toasted Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

It's Friday - finally!! I'm so excited for the weekend... catching up on sleep, trashy tv, and some cooking. Good Times! I'm excited to announce that I am participating in my first Blog Hop sponsored by ABpetite. Blog hopping is basically a chance to check out other blogs and expose your blog to their readers as well. So check out her site if you are interested in participating the next go around. Some of the other bloggers in the blog hop are: Real Food Runner, Ape's Eats, Skinny & Delicious and Bargain Bites. Please check out their sites, show some love and subscribe if you'd like!

 Now about those brownies....

I have this one recipe for black bean brownies that always turns out great but I wanted something with a little less fat and sugar. My original recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of pure maple syrup. So I went in search of a "better" recipe. I found this one on the Whole Foods website and it sounded like my kind brownie - fudgie. Another great thing is that these are gluten-free! Awesome! I adapted the recipe by reducing the sugar and add my own mix-ins. I love Nutella, but it is really sweet. The flavors of hazelnuts and chocolate together is on of my favorite combos. These are really something else... and I'm totally digging it! The texture is perfect and I'm so glad I made these.

I used a dark chocolate (70%) that I found at Whole Foods sold by the chunk. It's great, not too sweet and flavored with a little vanilla. Great find! I also purchased the hazelnuts from the bulk section, so no need to purchase large quantities of those ingredients. Just buy what you need. I ended up only needing to bake mine for 30 minutes, so check them to make sure you don't over cook! 

Toasted Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate 
Black Bean Brownies

Cook Time: <35 minutes
Prep Time: < 10 minutes
Serves: 16 small squares


  • 1/4 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or 1- 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2oz dark chocolate, cut in chunks/pieces
  • 1.5oz hazelnuts, toasted and chopped finely
  • powder sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish with a little coconut oil. Set aside. 

In a small pan, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat on a dry pan. This should take maybe 5 minutes, just keep swirling the pan to prevent burning. Remove from heat and chop finely. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, eggs, butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and brown sugar. Using a food processor, puree the mixture until it is completely smooth (about 5 minutes). 

Then stir in the dark chocolate pieces and toasted hazelnuts. 

Pour the brownie batter into the grease baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set.

Allow the brownies to cool before cutting. 

Nutrition Info per Brownie Square:
Calories: 125 ; Fat: 8g ; Carbohydrate: 10g ; Fiber: 2.5g ; Sugar: 4g ; Protein: 4g 

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Addictive Blog Award & Awesome Blogger Award

2 Awards in 1 day... I'm flying high!

I'm fairly new to the blogging world and began as a way to share my recipes and food experiments, but as the blog matures more I am hoping to add more resources that I can use for my clients as well. It started off as a goal to cook/bake at least once week (about 4 years or so ago) and now I practically cook or bake everything I eat! I wanted to stop eating heavily processed foods as my main source of nourishment, and incorporate more whole foods. I'm using this blog as a vehicle to express, experiment and share my experiences.

Thank you so much to Emma @ Food, Fork and Good and Ashlee @ ABpetite for this awesome award! Emma posts some amazing recipes, like her recent Spiced Apple Pie Rolls - oh my! Ashlee's blog features a lot of diet friendly foods that makes eating better super tasty and easy! Check out their blogs for the latest and greatest. 

Rules for this award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share a bit about why you started blogging
  • Copy and Paste the award on your blog
  • Nominate up to 10 people you think are addicted enough to deserve this award
My nominees for this award are (not including the 2 lovely bloggers who shared with me):

Now on to the next award: 

Thanks to Ashlee @ ABpetite for another great award. I think this one really is meant for me - I saw the word awesome WAY too much!

I'd like to share the love with: 

Congrats to everyone!! You all deserve it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Patriotic Berry Galette

Happy 4th of July everyone!! Sorry for posting so late in the day - but I just finished making this, as I wanted to serve it warmed. I purchased some refrigerator pie crust and hoping to experiment a bit with it. The only time I've used refrigerator pie dough was for hand pies or turnovers. So I started with the most basic, rustic use for pie dough... a Galette. It is practically a  free-formed pie. I got a basic idea of what to do from the Simple Recipes' site. I'm so pleased with how it came out! It is one of the prettiest desserts I've ever made - and it wasn't difficult at all. The flavors were spot on. Not too sweet or tart, just lovely. 

I used the Immaculate Baking Co. pie dough, and I figured out why my dough fell apart - I didn't let it sit at room temp for 20 minutes before trying to unroll it. So next time, that shouldn't happen. I didn't add a lot of sugar, because I prefer to taste the fruit and keep the flavor simple, but if you prefer a sweet fruit taste, I would add an extra 1.2 tbsp of raw cane sugar when tossing the berries.

A couple things to note: once the galette cooled some, it did leak a bit of berry juice. It didn't effect the taste or consistency of the dough. Also when transferring the Galette from the baking sheet to a plate, be very careful. Mine began to crack but with patients and a bit of help, it was transferred in 1 piece.

Patriotic Berry Galette

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: < 5-10 minutes
Serves: 8


  • 1 pint of organic blueberries, 
  • 1/2 lb of organic strawberries, sliced
  • 1.5 tbsp raw sugar cane
  • 1 tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 9in refrigerated pie dough
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl add the blueberries, strawberries, sugar, flour, lemon zest, nutmeg, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside.

Roll the dough out on the parchment lined baking sheet - or if you are like me... you'll have to roll it out yourself. All I did was gather the dough into a ball and on a floured surface, rolled it out to about 9-10inches in diameter. I wasn't able to make it completely round, but I'm not picky. When you go to transfer the dough to the parchment on the baking dish, use the rolling pin to help you - it will keep it from falling apart or stretching.

Then once the dough is on the baking sheet, pour the berry mixture in the middle, leaving an inch or 2 around the outside of the dough (so your can form the crust).

Grab one corner of the dough and pinch, and continue all the way around until it is completely done. 

Using a pastry brush or your fingers, brush the dough with the egg white. You do not have to use all of the egg white, just enough to cover the exposed dough.

Sprinkle the top with the coconut and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. 

Once the Galette is golden brown, remove from the oven and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutritional Info per Serving:
Calories: 175 ; Fat: 7g ; Carbohydrate: 24g ; Fiber: 2g ; Sugar: 9.5g ; Protein: 2g 

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tropical Green Smoothie

Simple green smoothie that isn't bitter and has a nice tropical twist! It can be a difficult to fit enough fruits and veggies into your diet on a daily basis. Drinking a smoothie can be a great way to make sure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. My biggest complaint about smoothies are that they are usually all fruit or heavily fruit based. Now there isn't anything wrong with fruit, but too much sugar can be a problem for some. Adding a bit of veg to this smoothie helps balance the fruit/veg ratio and still tastes awesome! 

The reason I juiced the kale, spinach and pineapple is I wanted to remove some of the tough fibers that they have. I wanted to go straight to the source of the vitamins and minerals - the juice. By pureeing the the other ingredients with the juice, it helps give it body, bulk and some fiber. The coconut oil helps the absorption process and, for me, makes me more satisfied. If you find you would like this to be more sweeter, add a bit more fruit. 

Tropical Green Smoothie

Cook Time: 0
Prep Time: < 5 minutes
Serves: 1 

  • 4 organic kales leaves & stems
  • 1 cup organic spinach, packed
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple

  • 1/2 ripe medium mango, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 ripe medium peach, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Using a Juicer - juice the kale, spinach and pineapple. Pour the juice into a blender. 

In the blender add the mango, peach and ice cubes to the green juice. Puree well to remove all of the chunks

Serve the smoothie in a nice glass and enjoy paradise. 

Nutritional Info for the entire recipe:
Calories: 220 ; Fat: 5g ; Carbohydrate: 45g ; Fiber: 5g ; Sugar: 24g ; Protein: 3.5g

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vegetarian Southwestern Black Bean Chili

I made a huge batch of black beans and was wondering how I was going to use them. I used my slow cooker to cook the beans during the day, while I ran my errands. Taking dried beans, soaking them and then allowing them to cook in water for 6-8 hours on low is a great money saver! Canned beans can have a canny taste and cost a lot more. For 1 can of organic black beans (about 2 cups) it is about $1.30 ish and 1lb of dried organic black beans is about $1.50 ish (which produces about 5-6 cups of cooked black beans). It only makes sense to get the dried ones. Since I had this large batch of beans on hand, I decided that I'm going to put some to use for my dinner. A simple vegetarian chili sounds like a good idea to me. I can use up the fresh corn, kale and tomatoes that I have on hand. Also it makes for great next day lunch. I'm not sure if this is an authentic chili, but it has the flavors of a chili and has a nice thick consistency. I served it over fresh white rice and a bit of hot sauce. 

If you want to omit the cayenne, that's fine. This chili isn't very spicy but it does have some warmth. As for the beans, you can use canned black beans if you'd like. Just make sure to rinse them well and drain any excess water. Also if you prefer a thinner chili, just add a bit more stock. Start with a 1/2 cup and work your way up if need be. 

Vegetarian Southwestern Black Bean Chili

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: < 10 minutes
Serves: 4 (1 cup) servings


  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced 
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups cooked organic black beans (or used canned black beans, drained)
  • 1 cup organic vegetable stock
  • 4 kale leaves, chopped and stems removed
  • 1 ear of organic sweet corn, kernels removed
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. 

Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, bay leaves, black beans and salt & pepper (to taste). Stir well. 

Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

While that is simmering, chop up the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Then shuck the corn and remove the kernels using a knife. Set aside.

Once the black beans have simmered for 20 minutes, add the kale, corn, cilantro and vinegar and stir in well. Cover again and allow it to simmer for 5 more minutes. 

Remove the bay leaves. Serve piping hot over rice (if you'd like).

Nutritional Info per Serving:
Calories: 205 ; Fat: 3g ; Carbohydrate: 40g ; Fiber: 9.5g ; Sugar: 9g ; Protein: 11g 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Roasted Garlic and Cilantro Rice

Rice is a staple grain in my house growing up. I ate rice at most meals, but it was usually plain long-grain white rice. Since eating rice so often can be boring, why not change things up a bit? Trying different varieties of rice is a great way to start. In this recipe, I chose to use jasmine rice, since it is so aromatic and went well with the main dish being served. I threw in a few cloves of roasted garlic and tossed with fresh cilantro at the end. Turned out wonderfully. Very fragrant, flavorful and not boring be any means! 

I mashed up the garlic cloves to almost a paste and throughout the cooking process, they melted like butter into the rice. There were speckles of garlic, but not huge bites - which I like. If you don't have jasmine rice on hand, any rice will do. The basic flavors will work well with any rice, just make sure to adjust the cooking time, depending on the type of rice. This recipe doubles easily, in case you want to make extra. I like to make double batches on occassion so I can use the leftover rice for lunches, rice patties or fried rice. If you will be using the remaining rice as leftovers - make sure to add about a tbsp or 2 of water to the rice when reheat to prevent it from being too dry.

Roasted Garlic and Cilantro Rice

Cook Time: < 15 minutes
Prep Time: < 5 minutes
Serves: 4 (1/2 cup) servings

  • 1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked and rinsed well
  • 2 cups organic low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 5 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed (to paste like consistency) 
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsps fresh cilantro, minced

Using a rice cooker:
add the rice, stock, garlic, oil and salt & pepper. Stir everything well. Turn on and allow to cook all the way through.

Cooking on the stove:
Heat a medium/large pot over high heat. Add the rice, stock, garlic, oil and salt & pepper. Stir everything well.

Allow it to come to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let the rice cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

With a fork, fluff the rice well and gradually add the cilantro as you are fluffing. 

Serve the rice piping hot :)  

Nutritional Info per 1/2 cup cooked serving
Calories: 190 ; Fat: 1.5g ; Carbohydrates: 38g ; Fiber: 1g ; Sugar: 1g ; Protein: 4g