Raw Vegan Cacao Date Balls

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-1-13-04-pmWhether you’re vegan, gluten-free, fully raw or just aiming to pack your diet with nutrient rich superfoods, you will surely love this healthy treat! I wanted to make this recipe more minimal and simple, so I used only Dates, Cacao, Coconut Oil and Coconut Shreds. The recipe could even be made without the coconut shreds, but they are a nice touch for the outside layer of the balls.Many people like to add almonds or cashews to the mix. Of course you can add more ingredients and experiment to your heart’s desire!

Recipe:

5-7  Dates

1 1/2 Tbsp. Cacao Powder

1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp Coconut shreds

*Make sure to purchase Cacao powder rather than “Cocoa”. The brands that I like to use are Natierra or Navitas Naturals.

  1. Make sure to get pitted dates, or take the pits out yourself if you prefer.
  2. Place all of these ingredients into your food processor and blend.
  3. Blend until it becomes  smooth & dough like.
  4. Take it out and roll into balls (any size you like!)
  5. You can roll them in the extra coconut shreds, or roll them in cacao for the outside coating.

Enjoy!

Depending on how decadent you want them to be, you can experiment with the Cacao to Date ratio. In the ratio I listed above,  they came out tasting like a gourmet dessert. If you always loved licking the brownie batter as a kid, then you might like to add more cacao!  If you want them to taste more like a snack, you can add less cacao and more dates. Regardless of the amount you use, it recommended to consume no more than 40 grams or four teaspoons in a day.

The benefits of cacao are abundant. Containing the “bliss molecule” anandamide, cacao is a safe way to increase bliss and euphoria in your daily life! In fact, the name of the cacao tree is Theobroma, which comes from the greek roots Theo (God) and Broma (food) or “Food of the Gods”.

In a 1 oz. (28 gram) serving Cacao contains:

  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Iron- 10% Daily Value
  • Calcium- 4% Daily Value
  • Fiber- 10g, 40% Daily Value
  • Protein- 8g, 16% Daily Value

For some more detailed information on the benefits of cacao, you can visit Daily Superfood Love!

benefits_of_cacao_infographic_daily_superfood_love

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hydrate, cleanse and debloat: simple flavored water

We all know drinking lots of water throughout the day is important for so many reasons – to hydrate, flush out toxins, regulate digestion, for heathy skin… the list goes on.

However, sometimes sipping plain old H2O can get a little boring. By using these simple ingredients you can add loads of flavor without additional sugars and calories of store bought flavored water. My favorite combination is cucumber, lemon, ginger and mint.  Not only do these ingredients add delicious flavor- they offer so many health benefits.images-1

Lemon- lemon is a powerful cleanser and also helps to alkalize your body. Lemon also contains Vitamin C, which will help boost immunity.

Ginger – ginger contains many anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps aid in digestion, settle your stomach, and helps with flushing out toxins.

Mint – mint is a natural stimulant, which helps soothe the digestive tract. It also stimulates the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and convert it into energy. Therefore, it is helping you convert the food you consume to energy rather than storing it as fat. As a natural stimulant, mint is known to naturally combat fatigue and help to recharge your batteries.

Cucumber- cucumber has many detoxifying, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also adds a refreshing taste and leaves you feeling refreshed and hydrated.

Thinly slice 1/2 a the cucumber, ginger (as much as you desire) and a lemon or two. Add in a few sprigs of mint and add all ingredients to a pitcher of water and let sit overnight. Sip throughout the day.

hearty and healthy banana bread

What’s better on a cold winter day (or any day really) than a delicious, comforting piece of banana bread? Since it is one of my all time favorite treats and I have been craving it a lot this winter, I have been been making healthier versions by using whole wheat flour, a touch of maple syrup, adding ground flax seeds and walnuts for extra omega 3s. Feel free to add some dark chocolate or cacao nibs for extra flavor and health benefits such as antioxidants, lowering blood sugar and boosting moods.

Another great thing about this recipe is it’s fairly simple and quick to make and only requires one bowl, minimizing clean-up 🙂

banana2

Ingredients
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, butter or ghee
1/2 cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or coconut palm sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1.5 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or butter or line with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas and add the melted coconut oil or butter.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the maple syrup, beaten egg, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix in the ground flax seeds and flour. (Do not over mix)

Stir in any additional ingredients like chocolate chips and walnuts.

To make this recipe vegan, swap the egg for a flax egg (soak 1 TBS of ground flax in 3 TBS water for 15 mins) or your favorite egg replacer.

I have been making a lot of different variations off of the above recipe. Feel free to add any of your favorite dried fruits, nuts, seeds or even swap out the flour for gluten-free variety and add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Enjoy!

Renew Week Day 5 : Flaxseed

Today’s superfood : Flaxseeds

These tiny little seeds pack a large nutritional punch. First, they are a great source of fiber, helping to regulate digestion and aid in the detoxification process. One tablespoon of contains 8 grams of fiber. Flax is an excellent plant source of the essential fatty acid, Omega 3. Theses little seeds also contain high amounts of potassium for a healthy heart and muscles, as well as iron and zinc to boost your immunity. They contain trace minerals such as riboflavin and niacin, thiamin, and B vitamins (all which help to turn food into energy). They also contain phytonutrients called lignans, which provide many antioxidant benefits. These phytonutrients help to fight cancer, particularly colon and breast cancer.

Flaxseeds are often use for weight management, as they expand when ingested, helping you feel fuller longer. The soluble fiber found in flaxseed has been proven to lower cholesterol, which prevents plaque build-up that is known to cause heart attacks, stroke and high images-3blood pressure.

There are many ways you can incorporate flaxseeds into your diet. Try sprinkling them in yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, salads, and even in your favorite sandwich spread. They have a mild nutty flavor and are pretty subtle when added to more flavorful foods.
It is very important to grind your flaxseeds before using (you can buy them already ground but they oxidize and can become rancid rather quickly) They must be ground in order to gain all of the benefits – when consumed whole they pass right through and are not absorbed. If you do purchase them already ground, which can be more convenient, be sure to keep them properly sealed and refrigerated.

I hope you enjoyed all of the amazing superfoods we incorporated during Renew Week and are feeling healthier, happier and rejuvenated in the New Year. I suggest to use at least two of these superfoods in your daily diet each day. I guarantee you will start to feel a difference in your energy levels, mental clarity, and overall health in no time.

Renew Week Superfood : Chia Seeds

I am so glad you are joining us for Vincera Institute’s Renew Week at the Galley Cafe.

I am excited to be incorporating and sharing with you some of my favorite superfood smoothie additions this week as well as sending you all of the wonderful health benefits they have to offer. We will be highlighting a different superfood each day.

Starting off the week will be the tiny but powerful Chia Seed.

Chia seeds are loaded with Omega 3s which are essential for optimal health, specifically in healthy brain functioning and muscle building (they are one of the rare seeds that have the perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6). Chia seeds also help to slow digestion, preventing your blood sugar from spiking. Their stabilizing effect on blood sugar may also fights insulin resistance –  which can be associated with excess belly fat.

These tiny seeds also contain a high dose of fiber (1 oz serving contains 11 grams), aiding digestion and helping to keep you fuller longer. They pack in a healthy dose of protein, calcium, phosphorous and manganese. Chia seeds are considered to be hydrophilic, meaning they absorb large amounts of water quickly (10x their weight!).  They greatly enhance hydration, as well as promote electrolyte balance.  Their hydrophilic properties also aid in the natural cleansing process. As they expand and bulk in our systems, they help to flush out extra toxins as they are being digested and eliminated from our bodies.
Chia-Seeds
As you can see, it is obvious why these little seeds are considered one of my favorite superfoods. Even if I do not add them to my morning smoothies, I add a teaspoon to a glass of water and sip throughout the day. You can actually see the hydrophilic properties take action, as they plump up and form a gel like coating.

Tip: it’s best to use chia “gel” when adding to a smoothie. Just place 1/4 cup in 1/2 cup water and soak overnight.

Aloe : skin saver or delicious and healthy beverage?

The cool, jelly like substance that comes in a transparent bottle and is usually an electric green color or a frigid blue. Give the bottle a nice squeeze and the gel oozes out with an odd squishy noise following it. It’s our dear old friend aloe that only shows its face in the summer hot months. Sticky, cold and leaves you stuck in scarecrow position for a few minutes to let it sit in and dry off, then you try to sit down and realize it’s less painful just to stay in that position because Mr. Golden Sun did a number to your skin earlier today. But, I’m not here to remind you to put your sunscreen on or to bring back painful memories of a family member rubbing aloe on your bright red back, I’m talking about drinking it. NOT the topical kind!!! Have you ever considered drinking the juice from an aloe vera plant?  Is it good? Is it healthy for us? Let’s dive on in.

ganoderma-aloe-vera-juvebrew
Benefits:
Detox: aloe works as a natural detox. Aloe contains different trace elements, vitamins and minerals that help the body flush out.

Digestion: Aloe has the power to increase protein absorption and regulates the bowel. Aloe helps reduce yeast and bacteria by moving it along the digestive system and aloe soothes heartburn.

The Immunity Booster: Full of antioxidants! Sending those free radicals away with a dose of aloe.

Anti-inflammation: Aloe Contains 12 different substances that reduces and prevents inflammation. The kind of inflammation that aloe can help with are swollenness, stiff or painful joints.

Healthy Skin: We all know aloe helps are skin on a topical level, but consuming the drinkable kind of aloe can repair out caloe-vera-juiceollagen and elastin from the inside. Aloe also helps sooth minor skin irritations, scrapes, cute and burns.

Energy: Because aloe works our digestive system, this can go hand in hand with energy. Aloe regulates the system which prevents you from feeling sluggish.

Vitamins: Aloe includes Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, niacin and folic acid. In addition chromium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, iron and calcium. Maybe it would have been easier for me to list what aloe doesn’t contain!

Amino Acid: Aloe contains amino acids which aid the process of building protein.
Smile: Aloe helps your gums and mouth hygiene. It helps with mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.

Cardiovascular Health: Aloe boost the ability to diffuse red blood cells in return aids the oxygen transportation. It improves the oxidation process, circulation and lowers cholesterol.

As you can see, the benefits of consuming Aloe Vera Juice are abundant. There are brands at local health food stores and Whole Foods that are ready to drink. Others are concentrated and can be diluted in water or juice. I love adding either kids to my smoothies as well for added benefits.

Let’s get one thing straight, we are drinking only the consumable kind of aloe, NOT the topical kind. Drink up and enjoy, let us know your thoughts on the taste, results or experience you have with drinking aloe vera juice.

Tea : Powerful Health Benefits + Recipes for Energy, Stress-relief and Detox

Next to our number one hydration buddy, water, tea is the runner up on the most consumed beverage in the world. I love this statistic! Whether you like it for the taste, the endless health benefits, the comforting warmth or just the sophistication of having a cup of tea, there are plenty of health benefits as to why we should up our tea consumption. Eastern medicine has looked towards teas and herbs for centuries, and there are proven studies to show just how powerful these plants can be in health and longevity. The 5 most common teas are black, white, green, herbal and oolong. Each tea has its own special powers  – all benefitting our body in different and powerful ways.

Tea_in_different_grade_of_fermentation

Below we give a brief summary of the main benefits of the different popular types.

Looking and feeling younger is something that we all aspire  – white tea can give us a lift here. The properties of white tea can help inhibit the wrinkle process with its power of strengthening elastin and collagen. Goodbye crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles!

Black tea is shown to lower our blood pressure, decreasing out risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Green tea is our saving grace with its ability to increase the body’s ability to burn fat. Also, with weight loss, green tea is shown to increase our metabolisms, therefore making it easier to burn off calories faster. The antioxidants in green tea help our immune system put those free radicals to rest – fighting off cancer and other harmful disease. Green tea can also strengthen our bones.

Oolong tea is fragrant with a fruity hint that includes multiple benefits to our bodies. Oolong tea can help reduce heart disease, inflammatory issues and aids with high cholesterol levels. Many Eastern practices use this for weight loss as well.

Herbal teas have endless amounts of health properties and medicinal purposes.  Depending on what you need (stress relief, sleeping aid, energy booster) specific herbs blends in can be your cure-all in a cup. From detoxing, energy boosting, nausea reducing, skin healing, constipation, even helping mother with lactation and women with menstrual cycles, different herbal teas and blends can work wonders. Do some research on what you are looking for and go to your local loose leaf supplier for the cure  (instead of your pharmacy!) Make sure to contact your physician or an experienced herbalist when consuming large amounts or different herbals teas/blends (especially when pregnant).

Also, make sure you aren’t overdoing teas that contain caffeine (green, black, white and red). Caffeine is good in moderation but can also cause added anxiety, sleep disturbances and dehydration. Feel free to sip on most herbal teas all day though!

Now let’s get specific. What do we need? What does our body crave? Check out these 3 tea recipes: one for detox, energy and last but not least a stress reliever tea!

Ginger Turmeric Detox Tea Recipe
Ingredients:
• 2 inch knob of ginger
• 2-3 inch piece of turmeric root or substitute 2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1-2 dashes of cayenne (or you could juice 1/2 a habanero or jalapeño pepper)
o Circulatory stimulant: increases pulse of lymphatic and digestive rhythms
• 4 lemons (3 for juicing and 1 for slicing as a garnish)
• 3 droppers vanilla stevia
• 2 quarts waterginger_tea

1. In a juicer, juice your ginger root, turmeric, and 3 lemons
2. In a large pitcher add your juice to about 2 quarts of water, a couple droppers of vanilla stevia to taste, a couple dashes of cayenne and your thinly cut lemon slices.
3.  Mix well with a wooden spoon and adjust flavors to taste.
4. Let sit for about 10 mins before serving to let the flavors blend. Will last about 5 days in the fridge.

Heath Benefits

Ginger:
Colon Cancer Prevention
Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Cold and Flu Prevention Treatment
Turmeric:
Natural Antiseptic and Antibacterial agent
Natural liver detoxifier
Assists in healing of damaged skin
Cayenne
Anti-Cold and Flu Agent
Anti-fungal Properties
Digestive Aid

Give Me Energy Tea
Ingredients:
• A clean glass bottle or container
• 1 kaffir lime leaf
• Organic yerba mate – about 3 tablespoons per cup of water
• A few slices of fresh ginger
• Water

1)Combine all ingredients, stick’em in the bottle.
2)Let it sit overnight.
3) Bottle up and enjoy!
Yerba mate is full of antioxidants, aids digestion, and has a natural caffeherbal_lavender_flower_tea_1ine

Stress Relief Tea
Ingredients:
• 1 Tbsp St John’s Wort (suggestion)
• 1 Tbsp Oatstraw
• 1/3 c Chamomile
• 1 Tbsp Lavender
• 2 Tbsp Lemon Balm
• 2 tsp Catnip
• 1 Tbsp Orange or lemon rind.

1. Heat 2 quarts water until almost boiling.
2. Add the St. John’s wort and oatstraw and steep for 6 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the herbs and steep for an additional 3-4 minutes.
4. Strain herbs and sweeten with honey if desired.

I love purchasing loose tea in bulk- it cuts down on price and more importantly – wasteful packaging materials. If you do prefer buying packaged bags that are conveniently prepared, make sure the tea is organic. Many commercial tea bags can contain harmful toxins and chemicals that will end up counter acting the health benefits from the teas. My two favorite brands for herbal and medicinal teas are organic Alvita and Traditional Medicinals.

Summer’s Bounty

Did you know some of our staple summer produce holds some of the most nutritious vitamins? Here they are right in front of us, in bulk, at our grocery stores and farm stands! They are as fresh as can be and less expensive compared to the colder months. Now that we have all of these fresh and nutritious options at our finger tips lets gobble them in before it’s too late! Some things to keep in mind when buying produce is to consider organic. We can understand that buying 100% organic can be expensive. The “Dirty Dozen List” is a list of fruits and vegetables that are at the top 12 pesticide infested fruits and vegetables, and therefore should be priority when choosing which foods to purchase organic.  Going organic for these 12 are definitely worth your pretty penny!

The Dirty Dozen

Apples Strawberries Grapes Celery Peaches

Spinach

Sweet bell peppers Nectarines Cucumbers Potatoes Cherry tomatoes

Hot peppers

If there is produce available that is organic and locally grown, that’s a double whammy! Buying local doesn’t only benefit you, but the people around you. Your produce will taste better if it is locally grown because it doesn’t have to go through being picked before being ripe and shipping. Local food also promotes energy conservation by decreasing our carbon foot print by traveling miles to grocery stores. Buying local helps local farmers and builds the community as a whole.

One of my favorite summer fruits are BLUEBERRIES. I could go through a carton all by myself, no shame. Blueberries are low in fat with only 80 calories per serving. They are also full of dietary fiber, which helps keep your body regular during digestion, keeps our heart healthy and keeps our cholesterol in check. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help with cardiovascular disease, cancer and other age related diseases. These small little blueberries carry a lot of Vitamin C on their shoulders; Vitamin C helps with collagen formation, maintains healthy gums and capillaries and boosts that immune system. Manganese can also be found in blueberries which aids with bone development and with converting proteins, carbs and fats into energy. Who would have thought blueberries came with such a punch?!

Nothing says summer like a juicy peach. Taking the first bite of a perfectly ripened peach is a force to be reckoned with. You are bound to get peach juice all over your cheeks and then it starts to drip down your hand and then it somehow ends up on your lap, but…it’s all worth it. When there is nothing but the pit left you could go in for another peach. Not only are they delicious this time of year, they benefit our bodies. Peaches contribute to our eye health because they have beta carotene in them which improves eye vision by increasing circulation of blood. Peaches can make our skin glow! They are packed with Vitamin C, which can help with dark circles and wrinkles. Hallelujah. Peaches are a rich source of antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants help with the immune system and fiber keeping our digestion regular.

watermelonA slice of watermelon is always a special treat during the summer because we all know winter watermelon and summer watermelon don’t even compare. Watermelon helps with cardiovascular and bone health because it improves blood flow and  it’s also rich in potassium which holds onto calcium in the body, therefore promotes healthy strong bones. Watermelon is known to reduce body fat with its partner citrulline that reduces the accumulation of fat in our fat cells. Along with the other fruits, watermelon contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support.

 These are just a few of summer’s special treats to us. Whenever you feel a sweet tooth craving come in, give in with fresh fruit! Looking for something a little more complex on your tastebuds? Check out some simple healthy recipes using our favorite summer treasures!

 

Blueberry Peach Cobbler 

Ingredients

  • 5 lb peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup organic cane  sugar or coconut sugar, divided
  • 3/8 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 3/4 oz plus 2 tbsp 100% whole wheat flour, divided (or brown rice flour for GF + 1/4 tsp xantham gum)peach
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup organic butter or EarthBalance soy-free vegan butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk (or dairy free with 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, toss peaches with lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and 2 tbsp flour.  Arrange peaches in a 9×13-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Place the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two, starting and ending with the flour.  Stir in the blueberries.  Pour the batter over the peaches and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar.
  4. Place pan on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly.

 

Watermelon Blueberry- Mint Popsicle 

Ingredients

  • 6 heaping cups diced seedless watermelon (or remove the seeds)
  • 3 tablespoons agave or honey
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. In a blender, puree watermelon along with sugar, lime juice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add mint and blend briefly to finely mince the mint and get it mixed in.
  3. Pour puree into popsicle molds. (You should be able to make at least 10, but it will depend on the size of your molds.)
  4. Freeze until hard.