Make This Tonight: Cauliflower “Rice”

I’ve been seeing “rice” made out of cauliflower here and there on social media sites recently and have been itching to try it for myself because it sounds like a great way to switch out a grain in one of my meals and substitute it with even more veggies…my favorite!

Being grain-free, cauli-rice is a great alternative to rice for those living a paleo lifestyle, or for anyone who wants a low-calorie, lower-carb alternative to rice. Plus, the dish is super quick and easy to make, with no cooking required! Using raw cauliflower also yields you all of the wonderful benefits of raw foods!

But what’s so great about cauliflower, anyway?
This white wonder veg is full of boastful body benefits, including:20131119-105906.jpg

  • loads of fiber, which helps to fill you up, stabilize your blood sugar, decrease your blood cholesterol levels, and keep your digestive tract moving along smoothly.
  • vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that aids in your immunity, tissue repair, collagen formation, and iron absorption (cauliflower is also high in iron, so it’s a complete package!). Vitamin C has also been reported to be a “fat-burner” (1).
  • vitamin K, which helps in bone development and blood coagulation
  • potassium, a key body electrolyte and heart health promotor
  • isothiocyanate, a sulfur-based compound that supports the body against disease (3).
  • magnesium, a mineral that is known to play in so many of the numerous enzymatic reactions completed by the body on a daily basis

(that’s just the tip of the nutrition iceberg)

Below is my simple raw cauliflower rice recipe! You can certainly make it with just cauliflower, but I decided to take it up a notch and add::

  • onions –> known for their antibacterial properties, onions are also a blood purifier and thinner, helping to clean the blood and prevent blood clots. Onions also have a stockpile of the antioxidant quercetin, which helps destroy free radicals (2).
  • parsley –> a potent detoxifier, digestive aid, and diuretic! Plus, this tiny herb is packed with the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E as well as iron and folate (both very important for female and reproductive health) (2).

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Raw Savory Cauli-Rice

  • 1 head organic cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 small cooking onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (feel free to play with the amount of herbs and spices. I usually use herbs and spices to taste, and I tend to like them strong)
  1. put all ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender and pulse until it reaches a “rice-like” consistency.
    * this works great as a side dish or as a base for a curry, a saucy entree recipe, or a stirfry!
    *no salt and no oil required!
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my Raw Savory Cauli-Rice, pictured here surrounded by a bunch of sauteed, curry-spiced veggies and some baked turnip “chips”

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Resources:
1. Sadia. “Top  10 Health Benefits of Cauliflower.” StyleCraze.com. 5 Sept 2013. http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/top-10-health-benefits-of-cauliflower/
2. Snyder, Kimberly. Beauty Detox Foods. Harlequin. 2013.
3. Stanton, Meredith. “Cauliflower: A Royal Health Boost.” WebMd. 2006. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/cauliflower-health-boost

A How-To: Making the Perfect Green Smoothie

“A green smoothie a day keeps the doctor away!” 🙂20131018-195453.jpg

Whenever the topic of green smoothies comes up in conversation (okay, I tend to bring them up a lot..hey, I’m a fan!), I say that they are downright life-changing.

I started slurping “green monsters” back in May, and since then, I have made them into a daily habit, drinking at least one a day. Prior to taking the plunge into green goodness, I had seem them around on the internet, especially from my health coach colleagues and always wondered: Can that really taste good? How does it NOT taste like grass?!

Let me tell you, once you get the combination of ingredients right, they taste simply decadent. I swear.

Add their great taste to the fact that these gems are jam-packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and yield tremendous health benefits, and I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll be making a green smoothie into a daily habit too!

So, what makes green smoothies so great anyway? Well, they are:

  • like liquid nutrition for your cells – because the cell walls of the greens are broken down by the action of the blender, the nutrients are more easily digested and assimilated into the body
  • fiber-rich, unlike juices where all the fiber/pulp is removed. Fiber helps keep your system “moving along,” keeps you fuller longer, stabilizes blood sugar spikes, and helps bind cholesterol and remove it from the body
  • an immune boost! With so many antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from the veggies, fruit, and “extras” you can add (see examples below), a green smoothie like a gigantic multivitamin for your body.
  • a great “pick me up”: due to all the nutrients you’re consuming and the easily-digestible nature of green drinks (did you know that the act of digestion takes up the majority of our energy throughout the day?!), you’ll get a burst of energy that lasts.
  • they make you more VIBRANT from the inside out: you skin, your hair, your digestive system, and your mood..all due to that lovely liquid gold (or should I say green?)
  • a great alternative to salads, which for me, can get dull. So many leafy greens go into my smoothies that they contain more than my typical salad!
  • super detoxifying and cleansing for the body: our bodies build up a lot of toxins on a daily basis, even when we’re eating well (see my post on toxicity), but the healthy punch of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll in green smoothies helps to neutralize and get rid of that built up gunk that’s just bogging down your health, your weight loss, and your mood.
  • incredibly versatile, as you’ll see below, so you can mix up and switch up ingredients to your taste (I even have a great one for chocolate lovers!)
  • perfect for on-the-go! Just stick it in a travel cup, a mason jar with a lid, or whatever you have on hand, and take it with you. You can even make them ahead of time (but stick it in the freezer to save the optimum nutritional quality) and just grab it as you head out the door in the morning. Super portable!

Now, let’s talk about how to make the perfect green smoothie..

BLEND IT UP, BABY!

Tools you need:

  • a blender (I’m even using my great-grandmother’s ancient blender, so believe me when I say you do not need a Vitamix to make smoothies)
  • measuring cups and spoons; hands work just fine for measuring greens and fruit too
  • a glass
  • a rubber spatula (to scrape the blender sides, if necessary)
  • a straw for sipping, if that’s how you like to roll

The goods:

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  1. Step 1: Greens and Liquid
    2-3 cups/handfuls of organic greens (switch them up periodically so you get a wide variety of nutrients)
    1 cup “milk”: almond, coconut, hemp, rice, etc. Coconut water works here too!
    other veggies: cucumber, celery, etc.
    herbs: parsley, cilantro
  2. Step 2: Blend (blending the mylk and greens first will decrease chunkiness, especially if you have sub-par blender)
  3. Step 3: Everything Else
    fruit: 1/2-1 frozen banana, 3/4 cup frozen mango or pineapple (these fruits really help cut through the “green” taste)
    protein: 1 scoop protein powder of choice (I like Perfect Fit because it’s raw, organic, non-GMO, vegan, and sprouted brown rice protein…and it tastes amazing!); 1-2 tbsp. soaked nuts or seeds (I like chia or ground flax)
    Extras:
    – 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, peaches, grapes etc.
    – 1/2 avocado (for an extra creamy texture and good fats)
    – 1 tbsp coconut oil or unsweetened coconut flakes (for healthy fats and staying power)
    – dried fruit, such as: gogi berries or cherries
    – superfood powders like: raw cacao, maca root, spirulina
    – pumpkin puree
    – spices, such as: cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, ginger
    – ice 
  4. Step 4: Blend
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  5. Step 5: Pour, “chew,” and enjoy!
    * It’s important to sip, not chug, your green drink, for best digestion. Also, try to “chew” your smoothie because digestion begins with the activation of saliva in the mouth.
    *If the smoothie isn’t cold enough for your liking, just throw it in the freezer for a few minutes as you clean up the blender!

Here’s a recipe card of one of my favorite green smoothies ever. I especially love it post-workout since it has a great amount of protein (15g) for optimal muscle recovery. Save the image on your computer or print it out if you’d like!

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A Top-10 Ode to Raw Foods

To be quite frank, I haven’t turned on the stove in over a week (besides to heat up water for
my morning elixir – warm water, lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, and cayenne). The reasoning is two-fold:
(1) I’ve been busy training for a marathon and recovering from a running injury, as well as getting a new fall program going (so excited about this..look below for the first details!)
(2) raw foods are just too tasty to pass up for me right now, especially with all the fresh produce this time of year (don’t get me started on how sad I will be when winter comes!).20130906-081325.jpg

Besides their YUM-factor, adding some/more raw foods to your diet can do so much to help improve anyone’s health and daily life!

So without further ado, here is my Top-10 Raw Food Love Fest List:

  1. Raw foods can help you lose weight (and prevent obesity): raw foods, especially fruits and vegetables have a very high water content (often more than 90%), making you feel fuller faster. They’re also typically high in fiber (think fruits, veggies, raw nuts and seeds), which also fill you up and help balance your blood sugar! Another bonus to your waistline? Raw foods are often low in calories!20130906-081430.jpg
  2. Improved digestion: raw foods come with all their natural enzymes intact (they’re killed off once a food’s temperature reaches 118F), and these enzymes help your body digest food more efficiently and effectively. Although we have our own digestive enzymes to digest food, it is believed that we possess a limited number of them; so, as we age, our storage becomes diminished. If we aren’t digesting our food well enough, we aren’t getting nearly as many nutrients from the food we’re eating, and all the leftover undigested waste, which can lead to health problems, builds up faster.
  3. More energy: The majority of our body’s energy each day is spent on digestion, so the more efficient ours is, the more extra energy we’ll have to keep us moving onto bigger and better things!
  4. Mega doses of antioxidants and other phytonutrients: just as enzymes are killed off in cooking, many of the healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are lost when we cook – just look in the pot of your boiled or steamed veggies –> that colored water is full of nutritious goodness leached from your food.
  5. Decreased exposure to harmful chemical by-products of cooking: certain foods, especially meats and fried foods, produce toxic chemicals when cooked at high temperatures; these chemicals include Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Acrylamide, and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs); they have been linked to various cancers and other diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimers, and diabetes. Raw foods do not produce these by-products, or do so at very low amounts (ie. AGEs) (1).
  6. Lessens the toxic load: eating more raw foods (and whole plant foods in general) leaves less room in your stomach to consume refined, processed, preservative-filled junk. It’s “crowding out” 101.20130906-081655.jpg
  7. Better immunity: a greater amount of nutrients + a decrease in toxins = a more equipped, ready-to-act immune system. You’re giving it what it needs (phytonutrients, vitamins, antioxidants) while taking away things it would need to fight off (the junk). Raw vegan diets have been shown to directly help symptoms in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia (1).
  8. Lower heart disease risk: Naturally lower sodium and trans fat levels in raw foods help slash your risk of cardiovascular issues, including hypertension and atherosclerosis.
  9. Supports natural detoxification processes: the phytochemicals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and non-clogging nature of so many raw foods boosts your body’s natural detox activities, leaving you feeling lighter, fresher, younger, and prettier!
  10. (and last but not least) Raw meals are usually quick and easy to prepare! This is especially true if you want to keep things generally simple and spend a little time once or twice a week washing and cutting fruits and vegetables to use in your meals.

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And to provide some proof that eating more raw foods doesn’t mean just chomping on celery sticks and eating boring salads…

1-Minute No-Guilt OMG “Ice Cream”20130906-081110.jpg

ingredients:

  • 1/4-1/3 cup water, or homemade non-dairy milk
  • 1 frozen sliced banana
  • 1 cup fruit of choice (peach is my favorite right now)

set the timer, and go:

  • dump everything in blender
  • blend for 45s -1min (get your spoon ready!)
  • pour into your favorite bowl, and enjoy!


Resources:
1. Davis, Brenda. “Raw Food Diets: Separating Fact from Fiction.” Presented at Institute for Integrative Nutrition.