THE CHIA ‘CHEAT SHEET’

THE CHIA ‘CHEAT SHEET’ by Angela Stokes

I am sharing the below content directly from The Raw Reform website. The following is not original content but I don’t think I could have said it better myself!

What is Chia Seed?
Vegan Chai Chia PuddingChia seed is an ancient superfood that is currently experiencing a glorious renaissance 😉 It is a member of the sage family (Salvia Hispanica). The little black and white seeds were once a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, along with the Native Americans of the southwest.

“Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as mega-energy food, especially for their running messengers, who would carry a small pouch of it with them. Chia has been called ‘Indian Running Food’ and gives an incredibly ‘sustaining’ surge of energy.

Why would you want to eat Chia?
Chia seeds are said to have:

  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain,
  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that
    helps transfer calcium into your bones,
  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas,
  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids…
  • They are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fibre. 

Like flax, chia is highly ‘hydrophilic’ – the seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. They can hold 9-12 times their weight in water and they absorb it very rapidly – in under 10 minutes.Antioxidants
One advantage of chia is that because it has such a high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for much longer, whereas flax, for example, may turn rancid. Chia seeds can easily be stored dry for 4-5 years without deterioration in flavour, odour or nutritional value. You can substitute chia in any recipe that calls for flax.

Mild Taste
The taste of chia is very mild and pleasant. That means you can easily combine it with other foods without changing the taste dramatically. People add chia to their sauces, bread batters, puddings, smoothies and more. The flavour is retained, plus masses more nutrition is added 😉

The ‘Dieter’s Dream Food’
Chia has been called a dieter’s dream food because when added to foods, it bulks them up, displacing calories and fat without diluting the flavour. Thus, someone can eat a typical serving, yet only consume about half the calories they might have eaten, because the food has been bulked up with chia. PLUS, the eater gets a bellyful of nutrient-rich superfood goodness, which hydrates and sustains them – magic 😉

What are some other benefits of eating Chia? 

  • Provides energy
  • Boosts strength
  • Bolsters endurance
  • Levels blood sugar
  • Induces weight loss
  • Aids intestinal regularity

Sugar AbsorptionVegan Chai Chia Pudding
Chia slows the impact of sugars on the system, if eaten together. Chia gel creates a physical barrierbetween carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. That means the energy from the food is released steadily, resulting in more endurance. This is clearly of great benefit to diabetics in particular. It also means that I can combine chia with super-sweet tastes like apple juice and not get super-spiked 😉

Absorb and Retain Water
Due to the exceptional water-absorption quality of chia, it can help you prolong hydration and retainelectrolytes, especially during exertion.

Easy to Digest
Whole, water-soaked chia seeds are easily digested and absorbed. Their tiny dinosaur-egg-like shells break down quickly. They feel light in the body, yet energising. Their nutrients can be quickly assimilatedinto the body.Intestinal Broom
Chia seeds bulk up, then work like an incredible digestive broom, sweeping through your intestinal tract, helping to dislodge and eliminate old accumulated waste in the intestines. Many people find their stools also become more regular once they eat chia.

Inexpensive
Chia is a very reasonably priced, concentrated food. Our 1lb bags cost $8. 1/3 cup of dry chia seeds (2 ounces) makes about 17 ounces of chia gel. This costs about $1. Depending on how much gel you use, those 17oz will likely last, on average, about four days. That is about 25cents a day. 

Versatile
Chia can be used in so many kinds of recipes – savoury, sweet – it works with anything. You might want to try them in salad dressings, cookie mixtures, smoothies, crackers, ice creams, juices and so on.

Gluten-Free
Chia seed protein contains no gluten. This makes it ideal for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or simply wanting to find a replacement for gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats.

Which medical conditions can Chia help relieve or support?
Chia is reported to be beneficial for a vast range of issues, for example:

  • weight loss/balance
  • thyroid conditions
  • hypo-glycaemia
  • diabetes
  • IBS
  • celiac disease
  • acid reflux
  • lowering cholesterol

In the traditional cultures that consumed chia, like the Aztecs, chia was also regarded as a medicine. It was used in myriad ways – from cleaning the eyes to helping heal wounds, topically, to relieving joint pain and so on. It was considered extremely valuable for healing.

Regeneration
Chia aids rapid development of tissue, due to its incredible nutrient profile and easy assimilation. It can be very beneficial for those healing from injuries, people like bodybuilders who are always re-forming tissues and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How do you use Chia?Vegan Chai Chia Pudding
The most common way to eat chia is to first soak the seeds. They can very rapidly absorb a large amount of liquid – between 9-12 times their volume, in under 10 minutes.

The Basic Gel
To make a basic chia gel, simply add 1/3 cup of seeds (2oz) to 2 cups of water. Stir the mixture well, to avoid clumping, then leave it in your fridge, in a sealed jar. This will yield around 17oz of chia gel. You can begin to eat the gel almost immediately if you like. Just 10 minutes is enough time for the gel to be formed. More of the nutrients will be easily accessible after a few hours however, so many people like to make up a batch like this and leave it in the fridge. It will stay good for about three weeks. Then you can just reach into the fridge and take out some of the ready-made gel whenever you need it. You might add it to smoothies, mix it with salad dressings, puddings or granola, or simply take it by the spoonful.

Beyond Water…
As mentioned above, chia will absorb anything – it doesn’t have to soak in water. We like soaking it in things like apple juice for example. That way, the intense sweetness of the apple juice is also offset by the chia and it tastes yummy ;). We also often blend fruits – for example bananas and persimmons, then stir the chia into that mixture. Again, the longer the seeds are left to soak, the more their nutrients will be readily available to you, yet you could easily eat a meal like this 10 minutes or less after preparing it.

Whole Seeds
You can also sprinkle the dry seeds onto salads or add them to granola mixes. You may also want to experiment with grinding them first in a coffee grinder, to make a ‘chia flour’ you can then add to smoothies, soups and so on.

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

First of all I need to apologize for being MIA recently! Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter are probably sick of me on the other hand!

I have been keeping up with social media and have been cooking up a storm but have not have two minutes to get on here and write up a blog post and edit pictures and type out the recipe to share with you all! I am so sorry for teasing you with yummy pictures on Facebook and Twitter and not getting around to posting the full recipes on here. I promise I am working on it and will get each and every delicious meal, snack and dessert to you very soon!

So naturally, despite having about ten recipes worth of photos to share with you guys from the last few weeks. I decided tonight I wanted to share this scrumptious belly warming pudding I made last night and have since consumed all of: dessert last night, breakfast this am (2 servings) and dessert tonight. It super duper healthy and just sweet enough to help with the ice cream cravings. *I am making an attempt over the next few days to drastically reduce my dairy intake and then going to  go dairy free completely for a week to see if it helps improve a few symptoms I have been experiencing lately. It is common for people to become dairy intolerant after going gluten free. As their intestines and guts begin to heal, the body becomes more sensitive to foods that it probably had issues with in the past but were secondary to which ever major intolerance first arose… for  me that was gluten. When this happens, many of your initial symptoms return and/or new ones arise and you have to work on eliminating each potential culprit to figure out which food is your trouble area. For me, I have a strong feeling it is dairy. But to be completely honest, while I want to feel better, I am really hoping I am wrong! I love me some coconut or almond or soy ice cream, but I will miss all the amazing flavors and options in the non-dairy free section!!*

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Vegan Chai Chia PuddingMy ideas for this recipe came from this recipe for tapioca pudding. I have been a little obsessed with Chai Tea lately… it has been the first thing I have had every morning the last week! I know it’s summer and 80 degrees out but when I wake up to my chilly condo after getting out of my nice warm cozy bed, tea just hits the spot! Especially Chai! I love the combination of vanilla and cardamon and cinnamon and ginger in one delicious warm cup of heaven! This recent obsession started when I found this amazing box of Good Earth Vanilla Chai Tea at Big Lots for super cheap!

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

This recipe combines the amazing superfood nutrition of Chia Seeds with the heavenly flavors of Chai and the soothing creaminess of pudding. It is so simple to make and can be chilled for several days and eaten cold or warm. Try adding fresh chopped berries or banana for an extra special twist! Be sure to sub the honey out if you want this to be vegan!

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories per serving: 123; Fiber 4.5 grams

Fat per serving: 5.7; Protein 3.9 grams

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

You can prep/make this multiple different ways. You can soak the chia seeds over night. You can chill the pudding overnight for a thicker texture. You can serve warm like oatmeal. And you can add any mix ins your heart desires. You can also leave the oats out if you wish, but I recommend adding more chia seeds at the end if you decide to do this since the oats absorb the extra liquid and help thicken the pudding.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Soak chia in cup of water till saturated and they have swelled to about ten times their original size. You can also soak these overnight the night before you make your pudding.
  2. Bring almond milk and chopped ginger to a boil and tie off the chai tea bag to the pot so it can begin brewing in the milk.
  3. Once boiling, reduce milk to a simmer and add cinnamon, vanilla and honey (or sweetener of choice!)
  4. NOTE: Honey is NOT vegan! Use agave, maple syrup or sweetener of choice for a completely vegan pudding!
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes until flavors are well combined. Add more spices at this point if you so desire.
  6. Remove from heat and stir milk tea mixture, the chia seed gel and your oats together.
  7. Eat warm or let chill over night for a thicker pudding consistency as the oats and chia seeds continue to absorb more liquid. Try adding strawberries or bananas chopped on top for an extra special twist!

Notes

You can prep/make this multiple different ways. You can soak the chia seeds over night. You can chill the pudding overnight for a thicker texture. You can serve warm like oatmeal. And you can add any mix ins your heart desires. You can also leave the oats out if you wish, but I recommend adding more chia seeds at the end if you decide to do this since the oats absorb the extra liquid and help thicken the pudding.

http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/06/03/vegan-chai-chia-pudding/

Vegan Chai Chia Pudding

I’m a little proud of this recipe! It is seriously delicious and super nutritious thanks to the Chia Seeds! Even my boyfriend who, isn’t Gluten Free or Dairy Free or Vegetarian, gave i his tamp of approval! He had never had chia before and doesn’t love almond milk so I take that as a pretty big ringing endorsement!

Reader Response:

  • I would love feedback on how many of my readers are gluten free! Are you diagnosed Celiac or gluten intolerant?
  • If you are gluten free, did other intolerance develop over time as you began to heal?
  • What were your symptoms? TIA
  • And last but not least, what is your favorite way to use chia?

Real Scoop Sundae: Shakedown on Shakeology

If you missed part 1 of my Shakeology review last Sunday, be sure to check it out now!

shakeology vs other foods

In my pre-review last week I filled you all know in on my past exposure to Shakeology, as well as my opinion of most other protein powders on the market. This week I anxiously awaited the arrival of my Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla Shakeology samples from an awesome Beachbody coach that was willing to part ways with a few of hers. Thank you Juli! Thursday I received an awesome little package in the mail with my samples (how freaking adorable is the bow!?) and a super sweet note. I was so excited to wake up Friday morning to get my shake on!

Get your own taste sampler!

Shakeology Samples Shakeology Samples

And then this happened…

Shakeology Spill

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that instead of crying over spilt milk I slurped it up! That’s right. I drank half of my first Shakeology shake straight off my desk. As Juli said… “it’s liquid gold!” I couldn’t waste a drop especially after tasting it and knowing how delicious it was! I used my Magic Bullet to mix up a delicious concoction of Vanilla Shakeology, banana, strawberries, blueberries and unsweetened almond milk! Before adding all this deliciousness to the blender I tried about 1/6 of the mix in about 2oz of water and blended them together to make it thick and creamy. It wasn’t half bad! Personally, I preferred it spruced up with fruits and almond milk but would definitely drink it with just water or almond milk in a pinch!
NOTE: Someday I will own a Vitamix but until then my Magic Bullet does the trick! I use it for everything!

Magic Bullet Vitamix

Things I look for in a smoothie or shake are thickness (needs to at least stick to the spoon… best way to achieve this is frozen fruits), creaminess (I prefer some sort of milk in mine versus juice or water), nutritional value (I try to have lots of protein in my first meal of the day… and I do prefer to keep it under 400 calories so I can have room for two more meals and snacks throughout my day) and of course flavor (I actually love the taste of health foods… adding spinach, flax, chia and other supplements are part of my daily routine. As my boyfriend would say… “earthy flavors” lol). This shake hit all four qualifications for a good shake right on the head!

Vanilla ShakeologyI was able to easily get a spoonful of this shake without worrying about it dripping on the way to my mouth but was thin enough to drink through a straw. I used unsweetened almond milk and frozen bananas to add the perfect level of creaminess. This shake contained 1 serving of Vanilla Shakeology, 3/4 a frozen banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup fresh blueberries and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. The nutritional value is as follows: 318 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams fiber, 388 grams potassium ANDD most importantly 18 grams protein! I don’t know too many vegetarian breakfast foods out there that can make that kind of nutrition into such a low calorie meal! (I know eggs and bacon and many other meats can get you that much protein but guess what… they are also loaded with cholesterol!)

shakeologyAnimated-white wide

Chocolate ShakeologyMy second and third Shakeology were made with the Chocolate flavor. OMG! They have a slogan: “Hate eating veggies? Acts like a salad, tastes like a dessert!” Well it is true! I really thought I would like the Vanilla best, but I was way wrong. The chocolate was the perfect combo of milk and dark chocolate when I tried it with just water. Creamy like the vanilla but not to sweet or too tart and tasted like a chocolate milk shake! I mentioned above that I like my smoothies to be thick enough to eat with a spoon, but thin enough to drink with a straw. The picture to the left is an attempt to capture that in my chocolate, banana, strawberry smoothie this morning. Not sure if you can tell, but the spoon had to be tipped a fair amount before it would spill. And I had no problem slurping every last drop with a straw.

Shakeology-Vs-Real-World

So I know lots of you are wondering about the value of this product. Yes, it is more expensive than most other protein powders on the market. But check out this comparison chart of Shakeology versus other breakfast and lunch options. Turns out the regular price is cheaper than almost every other option in this comparison… and if you get the club or coach price… it is WAY cheaper! Saving even a dollar a day adds up! Ask me how to get a discounted price!!

Shakeology NutritionPossibly more important than anything (to me at least!) is the nutritional value of these shakes. I took a picture of the Vanilla sample package to share the ingredients with you, which can also be found on their website. These shakes pack an amazing punch into each and every scoop of the product! Each scoop contains a blend of: protein, antioxidant superfoods, adaptogen herbs, pre- and probiotics, a fiber & enzyme blend and last, but not least, phytonutrient super-greens!

I know that sounds like a lot of big words but here are a few you might know: high nutrient fruits & veggies, flax, chia, quinoa, green tea, ginkgo biloba and antioxidants… ALL IN ONE GLASS!!

Shakeology Has It All!

And don’t forget that you are in charge! You can not only choose your Shakeology flavor (they even have VEGAN!), you can also mix it up everyday with your own add ins. So far I haven’t ventured too far from my standards but I did test out adding greens, I added spinach, to see if the mix covered the flavor. As you may or may not know, spinach is a pretty mild green, but the chocolate completely masked the flavor! Which is great to know if you have picky eaters at home, especially little ones that need the extra nutrition and are hesitant to eat the greens on their plates. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra nutrients in a delicious “dessert”.

Green Chocolate Shakeology Green Chocolate Shakeology

So are you ready to reduce your cravings for processed, nutrient deficient foods and stave off hunger? Shakeology will help satisfy your appetite! Do you want to protect your body from damaging free radicals? The essential Amino Acids found in Shakeology can improve your immunity and assist in reducing inflammation. Could you benefit from a product that can aid in repairing your stressed, worn tissues with the Antioxidants and Phytonutrients? Shakeology can help with that too!

And with all those benefits… wanna know the best part for a crazy saver like me?!

shakeology guarantee

Here is the BeachBody Guarantee, right from the website:

Enjoy healthy nutrition RISK FREE for 30 days with our Bottom-of-the-Bag Guarantee

  • If you don’t feel healthier, more energized, and simply amazing, you won’t pay. You can return Shakeology for any reason and get your money back (less s&h)—even if the bag is empty!
  • To return, simply make a short call to our friendly Customer Service team, rated “A” by the better Business Bureau®.

So on that note… what is there to lose? Other than those extra pounds… I mean if you have them 😉Shakedown on Shakeology

Real Scoop Sundae: Do You Shakeology?

Shakeology

If you told me you haven’t heard of Shakeology I don’t know if I would believe you.  It feels like every morning my Facebook news feed is full of status updates about my friends starting their day with their daily Shakeology.  My Instagram is full of photos of their delicious looking smoothies and my Twitter even has recipes using this apparently amazing powder.  I am actually kinda surprised with myself that this product has been around for 5 years now and I have yet to try it. I admit I have been intrigued for a while but have done absolutely no research on it… until now!

After hearing all the rav reviews on social media outlets from what I would consider fairly good sources (I may or may not be friends with lots of health nuts and fitness gurus and people that actually give a crap abut their bodies. Just sayin!) I decided I should probably check it out for myself. I am anxiously awaiting a few samples of Shakeology (in multiple flavors I believe!) to try and report back with next week in my Real Scoop Sundae review.

Until then I wanted to share a little bit about the product that I found from my research, as well as some pretty amazing statistics about how much people love Shakeology from the companies latest customer survey of over 3,000 daily users! In my opinion that is a pretty large number of people to survey to get this many positive reviews. There must be something to this product beyond what may or may not seem like a gimmick to you.

I can’t lie. In general, I am very skeptical of anything claiming to have SO many positive impacts on your body with just a few small changes. Meal substitutes and protein powders and even vitamin supplements are often times full of a bunch of junk! They tend to be high in calories, additives, chemicals and sometimes even full of sugar! CRAZY RIGHT?!
I swear to you that I was at the grocery store the other day and saw a protein powder advertising body buildingesc muscle results… ONE SERVING HAD 570 CALORIES! I think my jaw hit the floor. That was just for the powder. I was so in shock I couldn’t even read the ingredients and nutrition facts but I am wishing I had now just so I could tell you about them!

Anyways, back to the point of this PRE-review post. Below is the “evidence” Shakeology provided on their blog about what they claim to “truly be the Healthiest Meal of the Day®”.

Shakeology Benefits Survey

Here’s the proof:*

  • 93% feel healthier since drinking Shakeology
  • 72% say Shakeology helped them lose weight
  • 86% report increased energy levels
  • 81% feel it helped them reduce their cravings for junk food
  • 81% say Shakeology keeps them full until their next meal
  • 82% report improved digestion**

*Based on a survey of 2,769 Shakeology users who drank Shakeology 5 or more times per week and exercised 3 times per week.

**Based on a survey of 874 Shakeology users with digestion concerns who drank Shakeology 5 or more times per week and exercised 3 times per week.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

“And there’s more good news where that came from. A lot more, actually.The new survey also shows that most Shakeology drinkers experience improved regularity and digestion, feel more alert and focused throughout the day, have fewer mood swings, and even have healthier looking skin, hair, and nails.”

SUPERFOOD FOR THOUGHT

“The benefits go on and on and on. So if you aren’t drinking Shakeology every single day, now you have 15 fantastic reasons why you should… In other words, this is one shake with some serious street cred. So if you’re looking for an incredibly healthy and delicious shake, look no further than Shakeology. Real Shakeology customers have spoken. We hope you listened. And are swayed to start drinking—Shakeology that is.”

So that is what the people over at Shakeology have to say based on the responses they received users that consumed the product 5+ time a week (as you saw in the notes above). In my opinion, other people opinions truly count. I am an online shopper that regularly spends hours reading customers reviews. I am almost always hesitant to purchase a product with negative or limited reviews. Thankfully searches upon searches turn up positive reviews of this product!

What’s in Shakeology and What Does it Help With?

“Shakeology is so incredibly healthy, there’s no other single food item out there that can supply you with all the nutrients, vitamins, proteins, and minerals in the amounts you need the way one delicious shake can. … It can help support a healthy intestinal tract, aid in digestion, promote regularity, increase the absorption of nutrients and shed toxins built up from years of eating processed foods.”

So until next week I will leave you with this fairly basic PRE-review post to wet your feet into the world of Shakeology in case you have been under a rock for 5 years! Check out more about the product here AND pretty please leave me a comment letting me know any and all experience you have with this product! I would love to incorporate your feedback in my official Real Scoop Sundae review next week. Give it all to me baby! The good, the bad and the ugly (if there is any!) A review is only a good review if it is honest and fair!

save money shakeology

Last, but definitely not least, Shakeology claims you can actually SAVE MONEY with their product! Now that is something I am interested to learn more about! I will definitely be putting in my two-cents (haha get it!? ok bad joke) next week!

“A World of Superfood Nutrition In Every Glass of Shakeology®”

PS. HAPPY EASTER!! You thought I forgot huh?! 😉

Caramelized Roasted Spaghetti Squash (GF, DF, Vegan!)

Caramelized Roasted Spaghetti Squash (GF, DF, Vegan!)Spring is in the air! Time to lighten up the traditional pasta dishes and start planning for bikini season! Woohoo! I can’t wait to get back in the sun and feel the sand between my toes. This bipolar weather we have been having is driving me crazy! I end up wasting the nice days inside and poorly planning errands and activities for the cold rainy days. Happens every time!

At least the dreary weather is a good excuse to spend my night making a delicious “bikini worthy” meal! Have you tried spaghetti squash? If not you need to go to the farmers market or grocery store right now. No, really! Right now! Get in your car and go get a spaghetti squash. They are one of the most versatile vegetables you can imagine!
Spaghetti SquashSpaghetti squash can be baked, boiled, steamed, or even microwaved! It is the perfect substitute for pasta but without a whopping 390 calories and 78 grams of carbohydrates in ONE CUP!!!!! Spaghetti squash has a measly 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates per cup and is loaded with nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. Even the seeds are edible and can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds (keep reading to get to how scrumptious these look roasted)!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash SeedsIf you are familiar with this amazing vegetable then you know it’s mild flavor is perfect for almost any flavor combination. Spaghetti squash makes an excellent side dish or a fun substitute in pasta recipes. You can find hundreds of recipes online  for Italian style dishes such as spaghetti squash with pesto or marinara, shrimp scampi, lasagna, and primavera, in which you pretty much simply replace the pasta with the squash. There are also more adventurous dishes such as Pad Thai, pizza crust, quiche, casserole and frittata. The best part is you can cut out almost 90% of the calories in any of these dishes with this simple substitution aka this will be your waistlines new best friend!
Roasted Spaghetti SquashMany recipes call for you to cut the squash in half before cooking, but due to my fear of large knives and cutting my fingers off I always roast it whole instead. In my opinion the flavor is exactly the same (I have tried it the other way when I have a willing large knife handler around) so I vote to save your fingers and stick the whole thing in the oven at 350 for 45-60 minutes depending on the size. If you don’t cut it in half though it is very important to stab the skin with a fork or knife all over so it doesn’t explode 😉 You can see my squashes battle wounds in the picture above!
Roasted Spaghetti SquashIf you decide to take the plunge and cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds (set aside for roasting), spray each side with cooking oil or brush with coconut oil and place face down in a baking dish with 1/2 cup of water. This method should only take about 30 minutes.
Roasted Spaghetti SquashIf you opt for the finger safe version, simply poke the squash as mentioned above and place in a baking dish in the oven. This way will take closer to 60 minutes but make sure to check at about 30 minutes to see how it is doing. I usually flip it over at this point (it cooks faster on the side touching the dish… see above photo). The squash is done when the flesh is tender and the skin can easily be poked through with a fork.
Roasted Spaghetti SquashWhen you remove it from the oven, let it cool enough that you can easily handle it (about 10 minutes). If your squash is still whole, cut it in half length wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (set aside for roasting). Which ever way you chose to cook your squash, you should now have two roasted halves with the seeds scooped out. Now comes the fun part! You get to make noodles! All you need is a fork! Simply hold one half in your non-dominant hand and use a fork with your other hand to rake the squash flesh. The noodles form like magic!

You can stop at this step and enjoy the noodles as is, or…

you can try this delicious recipe to make a warm, yummy, low calorie dinner for two!

Roasted GarlicI used some of my favorite flavors to turn this dish into caramelized roasted heaven! For starters, when you put the squash in the oven, add a whole head of garlic wrapped in tin foil.
Roasted Spaghetti SquashRemove squash from oven and let cool.  Spray a baking pan with cooking oil and place the squash seeds with a little sea salt in the still hot oven (check and flip often, should take 7-10 minutes). You don’t need to worry about cleaning them although you can if you choose. The noodle flesh on them will crisp up and be delicious I promise!

Onion and GarlicCaramelized Garlic and Onions

Chop one small red onion and begin caramelizing it in a large skillet with 1 tsp coconut oil. While that is heating up, chop 4oz white mushrooms and add to almost translucent onions.

Caramelized Garlic, Onions and Fresh MushroomsCaramelized Garlic, Onions and Mushrooms

While the mushrooms and onions continue caramelizing over low-medium heat, unwrap the garlic from the tin foil and break apart into cloves. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the skillet and place in a small bowl.
Caramelized Garlic, Onions and MushroomsWhen cool, rake the squash into noodles and place in a large bowl. Save the shell of the squash for a fun way to serve this dish! Squeeze each garlic clove gently from bottom to top (the roasted clove should easily pop out of the skin). Place the cloves in with the squash and stir together. They don’t need to be perfectly mixed… the flavor will combine in the next step!
Caramelized Roasted Spaghetti SquashAdd the squash and garlic mixture into the hot skillet you used for the onions and mushrooms and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir every few minutes, allowing the noodles to lightly brown and caramelize. This step with infuse the garlic flavor into the noodles!
Roasted Spaghetti SquashChop one tomato (I used Roma but any kind will work) into large chunks. Remove the seeds from the oven. Remove squash from the skillet and place back into a large bowl. Then the magic happens… fold in the onions and mushrooms and split into two equal portions. Place each portion back into the squash shell halves and top with fresh tomato and roasted spaghetti squash seeds!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Dinner is served!!!

Caramelized Roasted Spaghetti Squash (GF, DF, Vegan!)

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 5+ cups

Serving Size: 2.5 cups

Calories per serving: 164

Fat per serving: 3.4

Caramelized Roasted Spaghetti Squash (GF, DF, Vegan!)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 head fresh garlic
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 t Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil (any brand will work but this is my favorite)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Wrap head of garlic in tin foil.
  3. (Read above for options for roasting spaghetti squash whole or in halves. The rest of the instruction assume you went with the finger safe method like I did)
  4. Poke the squash with a fork or knife all over and place in a baking dish along with the garlic in the oven for about 60 minutes, depending on the size of your squash.
  5. Check at about 30 minutes and flip it over (it cooks faster on the side touching the dish... see above photo).
  6. Check squash around 60 minutes - It is done when the flesh is tender and the skin can easily be poked through with a fork.
  7. Remove squash and garlic from the oven and set aside to cool enough that you can easily handle it (about 10 minutes).
  8. Chop red onion and begin caramelizing in a large skillet with coconut oil over medium heat.
  9. Cut squash in half length wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
  10. Spray a baking pan with cooking oil and place the squash seeds with a little sea salt in the still hot oven for 7-10 minutes (check and flip often). You don't need to worry about cleaning them although you can if you choose. The noodle flesh on them will crisp up and be delicious I promise!
  11. Use a fork to rake the squash flesh into noodles and place in a large bowl. Save the shell of the squash for a fun way to serve this dish!
  12. Chop 4oz white mushrooms and add to almost translucent onions. Turn heat down to low-medium.
  13. Unwrap the garlic from the tin foil and break apart into cloves.
  14. Squeeze each garlic clove gently from bottom to top (the roasted clove should easily pop out of the skin). Place the cloves in with the squash and stir together. They don't need to be perfectly mixed... the flavor will combine in another step!
  15. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the skillet and place in a small bowl.
  16. Add the squash and garlic mixture into the hot skillet you used for the onions and mushrooms and turn the heat up to medium-high.
  17. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  18. Stir every few minutes, allowing the noodles to lightly brown and caramelize. This step with infuse the garlic flavor into the noodles!
  19. Chop tomato (I used Roma but any kind will work) into large chunks.
  20. Remove the seeds from the oven.
  21. Remove squash from the skillet and place back into a large bowl.
  22. Fold in the onions and mushrooms and split into two equal portions.
  23. Place each portion back into the squash shell halves and top with fresh tomato and roasted spaghetti squash seeds!
  24. Enjoy!!

Notes

This would also work as an excellent side dish to fish or maybe chicken (haven't had chicken in 12 years but hey I imagine it would work)!

http://www.andasideoficecream.com/2014/03/15/caramelized-roasted-spaghetti-squash-gf-df-vegan/

Reader Response:

  • What’s your favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash?
  • Have you ever tried any other noodle alternatives: zucchini? carrot?
  • How are you going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?!

Oil Pulling: Transform Your Health — Maybe?

Oil Pulling: Transform Your Health... Maybe?

I can’t scroll through my Facebook news feed without seeing an article about oil pulling. For months I have had friends emailing me links, texting me links or bringing it up over lunch. I have skimmed most of the articles and listened intently and intrigued as my friends described their experiences.

However, until today, I had never tried this “magic cure all” for myself. I admit, I was very skeptical… and a little grossed out by the thought of swishing anything in my mouth for 20 minutes, never mind oil!

First Thoughts:

I am totally sold! I swear my mouth has never felt so clean! It’s been 12 hours since I spent 10 minutes swishing and “pulling” coconut oil through my mouth and my teeth still feel smooth and fresh!

Pearly Whites!

While I can not personally attest (yet!) to the supposedly amazing benefits of oil pulling, it is hard to argue with thousands of years of Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of medicine that developed 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Oil pulling’s roots are found in this ancient Indian medicine, where it’s practitioners used oil pulling, chewing sticks and herbal tree leaves, to keep their mouths clean and healthy, according to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Today, advocates of the practice claim oil pulling can cure everything from gingivitis, hangovers, diabetes, acne and…. cancer??

According to numerous sources, benefits of oil pulling may include:

  • Helping to cleanse the mouth of harmful bacteria reducing the amount of fungal growth
  • Helping to reduce the germ count which is found in the mouth saliva and teeth plaque
  • Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth
  • Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
  • Helping to prevent bad breath
  • Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
  • Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
  • Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw

Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH, an associate professor of dental hygiene at Loma Linda University in Southern California, told The Huffington Post that:

“…while dental hygienists would never recommend oil pulling as a comprehensive dental hygiene regimen, it can be a good way to supplement recommended practices like tooth brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. … [Oil pulling] should not be used to treat oral disease such as gum disease or tooth decay,” Hurlbutt told The Huffington Post. “It’s more of a preventive rinse that could be used adjunctively with your regular mouthcare routine.”

Many believe that the benefits of oil pulling go far beyond the mouth:

  • Relief for migraines and headaches
  • Reducing arthritic inflammation
  • Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
  • Helping to reduce insomnia
  • Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
  • Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
  • Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
  • May help to reduce pain
  • Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision

Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence to back these claims up. Nonetheless, the internet is infiltrated with blogs, news articles, and tv spotlights featuring oil pulling. There are hundreds of testimonials online from people who experienced many of the benefits listed above as well as help with arthritis, asthma, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more. At least one study has shown oil pulling does significantly reduces the strep mutans bacteria in plaque and saliva that causes cavities.

That being said, the logic behind oil pulling is that the oral health affects everything! An interview conducted with Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a periodontist in Beverly Hills and a certified nutritionist (with a Masters in oral biology) who teaches at UCLA’s dental school, found that:

Coconut Oil - Everything is Connected“When we improve oral health, we improve so many other things in the body… People with bad oral hygiene have higher incidence for cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and strokes, and a higher incidence for pneumonia. Men with periodontal disease have a greater risk of erectile dysfunction. Even with diabetes, improved oral health can help control problems in diabetic patients. Also, pregnant women with gum disease have lower birth-weight babies. Yes — everything is connected.”

So can we just brush better and get down and dirty with our floss… like the dentist always told us to do??

Yes and no. People tend to be lazy. How many times have you gone to the dentist and been told you have been totally missing one section of your teeth? How often do you actually floss… morning and night?! Do you clean your tongue? Do you swish regularly with an antiseptic mouth wash? If you are anything like me, your answer is probably no. So why not ensure your mouth is extra clean even when you forget the extras you know you are supposed to do and swish away with some oil while taking a shower or folding laundry or preparing breakfast. In twenty minutes you can have a mouth that is essentially scrubbed clean from the “soap like” action of the oil pulling. The results are worth it!

“When there is a healthier mouth, there is less inflammation in the body, and overall then everything can heal, the skin is better, you’re in a better mood, you have more energy, because gum disease — if you have all this infection in the mouth, your body is constantly trying to fight this bacteria to keep it from entering your body,” Moldovan said. “That is stressful for us. That chronic infection in the mouth, once it improves because we have better oral hygiene, we feel better and look better.”

Final Results:

Based on my personal experience and research, I plan to continue oil pulling as often as possible. I will probably continue to use Coconut Oil versus Sesame Oil (only use organic oils! preferably unrefined!) but only because of my flavor preference. Olive oil can also be used but for some reason this completely weirds me out. I already use coconut oil on everything and believe in its health benefits, so for me it makes the most sense. I also love that it is naturally anti-microbial so that even if all of the oil pulling hype turns out to be just that, at least I know my mouth will be clean!

I am excited to report back in a few weeks to let you know if my teeth are whiter, my breath is fresh and my mouth feels cleaner!

Wanna try oil pulling for your self?

Follow the five easy steps below and then comment to let me know what you thought!

How to Do Oil Pulling:

Simply take a tablespoon of whatever vegetable based oil you choose (Coconut, Sesame or olive) and swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Do not swallow it! Work it between your teeth and swish it against your cheeks similar to how you would with mouth wash. You can easily carry on your morning routine: shower, laundry, preparing breakfast, etc, as you do your daily oil pulling. Morning is generally considered the best time to do this, preferably before eating or drinking anything, to achieve maximum benefits.

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into the mouth. (I used 1/2 tablespoon of Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil for my first time)
  2. Swish for 20 minutes. “Apparently the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out.” – Wellnessmama
  3. Spit oil into the trash can. Don’t spit into the sink! And definitely DO NOT swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria and toxins that are now not in you mouth!
  4. Rinse well with warm water.
  5. Brush well. Preferably with a natural toothpaste or one with an added sensitivity compound.

Recommended Products to use for Oil Pulling

Spectrum Coconut Oil Spectrum Sesame Oil

Spectrum Coconut Oil Unrefined Spectrum Unrefined Sesame Oil

READER RESPONSE:

  • Are you a long time oil puller? First timer?
  • What oil did you use?
  • Did you see any immediate results?
  • What do you think about all the health claims for this practice?

Note: As always, you should talk to your doctor before trying new remedies or supplements.

NO MILK MONDAYS!

Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

You have probably all heard of Meatless Mondays… since I already have no meat in my diet, I decided to start a Monday tradition of my own: NO MILK MONDAYS! Imagine how amazing it would be if this went as viral as Meatless Mondays!?

This is how it will work:

  • Each week I will post some of my favorite:
    • dairy free alternative products and recipes
    • nutrition tips
    • ideas for going dairy free easily
    • and anything else you guys request!

I would love all of you to join in on the posts each week with ideas, questions, recipes, your experiences, favorite products and any advice you might have for people struggling to give up dairy.

Looking for a great reason to join in NO MILK MONDAYS?!

Check out these links:

While can not claim to be dairy free all the time, I do believe my health would benefit from removing it from my diet completely. I try to consume it in limited amounts (honestly ice cream and cottage cheese are my downfalls!) I know there are so many wonderful alternatives out there. My sister is a Paleo fanatic, as are so many of my friends, and I know so many people, both vegan and carnivore, that have removed dairy from their diets with amazing results. I am hoping that by starting these NO MILK MONDAYS I will also be able to cut more… or all, dairy out of my life.

COMMENT HERE or on Facebook to join the move towards dairy free!

Dairy Free Alternatives

SHARE this post on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook so we have all the people possible to help each other out!

%d bloggers like this: