July 31, 2012

July Foodie Penpals Reveal Day!

Hello Everyone & Happy Tuesday! 
Welcome to my 3rd Foodie Penpals Reveal Day!
The Lean Green Bean
If you'd like to learn more or if you'd like to become a Foodie Penpal, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

This month I received a bag full of goodies from Erin, who promptly emailed me to tell me that she was my penpal :) I was super excited because this was Erin's first month participating in the program (I still remember the thrill of my first time!)
I let Erin know about my dietary restrictions (no dairy, meat, gluten, soy, or sugar) and my high raw vegan diet in advance. Erin said "It's going to be an adventure to come up with a package. I am excited to try shopping at a a health food store near my house that I have never been too before!" I just knew she’d find some good stuff to send me.
Take at look at what was inside my goodie bag:
Lots of delicious treats!!!
Erin sent me a cute little card and wrote a little something about each of the items she chose for me :)
First, a bag of Mum's Original Organic Culinary Coconut Cacao Nibs. Erin surely knows how much I loooooove coconut and this is a new product that I am  definitely in love with!!! The flavor was a delicious concoction of raw cacao and a perfect dusting of coconut sugar. I've been nibbling on them non-stop and adding them to a few of my favorite raw vegan recipes.
♥ Gluten-free, Vegan, Organic, Raw, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Kosher, non-GMO
I'd never heard of the Mum's Original brand before but it's always nice to find a brand that is 100% devoted to superfoods and organic living.
 "The Taste Tester" was in Cacao Coconut heaven when I presented him with these tasty treats for us to share:
I can't wait to find out if they carry Mum's Original at my favorite health food store.
There was even more chocolate-y goodness where that came from because Erin also sent me a Cocoa Cravings Square Snack, a delicious energy bar that fueled my body, was easily digestible, and was made with good wholesome ingredients like real cocoa, almond butter (YUM!) and honey.
"The Taste Tester" and I shared this snack and it was soooooo yummy!! Funny, we haven't seen these in the supermarket yet...trust me, we've looked :)
Next up came Quinoa North, a Canadian-grown quinoa that is pre-washed and only takes about 8 minutes to cook. Erin mentioned that this particular brand of quinoa is grown about 20 minutes away from where she lives.  I thought that was pretty cool!
So far, I made a Quinoa Cranberry Pecan Salad and it was simply divine!!
...and that's not all!!

Erin also sent me a few samples of her favorite tea: President's Choice Lemon Thriller herbal tea.  This is a wonderful caffeine-free herbal tea with lemongrass and citrus peel. I usually like to add add extra lemon and/or honey to my tea but this particular tea was perfect just the way it is.
I plan to make a nice refreshing iced tea with the samples I still have left. Mmm!!
Last, but certainly not least, Erin went far and beyond anything I ever expected and included something special for that special little someone in my life:
"The Taste Tester" was so surprised to see these really cool Spiderman stickers!!
It was the perfect thing for him because we'd just recently watched the new Spiderman movie in 3-D and he was still very much in a superhero mood :)

He gives Erin a thumbs up for thinking of him...
...and he wrote a special thank you note too :)
With lots and lots of love xoxo

From the both of us

July 25, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday #5

Fun, Food, & Fitness

I love Wednesday's! 
I love Fun! 
I love Food! 
I love Fitness!

Sending big hugs and warm fuzzies to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting this wonderful weekly blogging event.

Here's a look at what "The Taste Tester" and I did for fun this week:

Sunkisses and Sandcastles

It was a perfect sunny day to spend Wednesday afternoon doing yoga on Parliament Hill.

930 yogis and yoginis joined Amber Stratton, co-owner and teacher and her amazing team from Pure Yoga Ottawa for another incredible session.

"My Little Taste Tester" joined me once again this week and really impressed me with his determination to strike the perfect pose.

Ottawa photographer Bill Juillette snapped this photo of us.

I also found a few nice photos of us on my local Lululemon Athletica Facebook page. 

Thank you Lululemon Athletica for facilitating this magical event!

Thank you Amber Stratton and your wonderful team at Pure Yoga Ottawa for leading us through this weeks sunny session ☼

Here's a look at what I ate:

Breakfast: Simply Raw's Sun-Filled Smoothie-freshly pressed orange juice grapefruit juice, water, banana, sunflower sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, kale, spinach, parsley, and chia seeds + E3 Live

Mid-morning: 2 TBSP Bee Pollen (not pictured) and homemade Maple Cinnamon Sprouted Buckwheat cereal topped with fresh Blueberries.

Late Lunch + Leftovers for Dinner: "The Taste Tester" and I ate at The Green Door Restaurant, "Ottawa's oldest and best-known vegetarian restaurant".

I love this little restaurant because of its "pay-by-weight", cafeteria and buffet style of eating. Plus, everything on the menu is organic and vegetarian with many gluten-free/dairy-free options.

On my plate I had: Green Bean & Dill Salad, Marinated Beet Salad, Avocado Salad, Mung Bean Noodles, Vegan Sushi, Organic Kalamata Olives, Marinated Bell Peppers, Cauliflower Salad, Zucchini Salad, and Marinated Cherry Tomatoes. 

I also had a slice of raw vegan pie but I forgot to write down the name of it. It was heavenly! I was tempted to buy a second slice to bring home with me but I didn't.
Evening Snacks included a delicious Ginger Cinnamon Buckwheat snack and some Pink Salt Sacha Inchi seeds.
Happy WIAW! That's all, folks!

xo Maria

July 24, 2012

5 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite tasty chocolate treats. It's a simple, healthy dessert that fits perfectly into my world of raw foods.  My taste buds love this sweet treat...and so will you!
It's a special avocado dessert that stores exceptionally well in the fridge for about a week. I was a little skeptical at first because I thought the avocados would turn brown or start to taste funny but with the perfect amount of sweetness and just enough cacao powder to change the color, it turned out magnificent!
Put everything into a food processor or blender. 
Voila! You've got the perfect chocolate mousse!

For a scrumptious treat, try layering chocolate mousse and fresh fruit into a parfait glass. Spectacular!

July 18, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday #4

Welcome to another edition of What I Ate Wednesday. If you'd like to join this weekly program or  to learn more about it, please visit Jenn's blog @ Peas and Crayons for more information.

"My Little Taste Tester" is on summer holidays so he joined me this week for his very first Parliament Hill Yoga class.  He was amazing! 

I could easily see how naturally he developed his own self-awareness by observing his body and his thoughts during our session. Whether balancing gracefully in tree pose, or falling out of it after just a few seconds, it didn't matter.

I could tell he felt magnificent in his incredible little body.

This was his first experience doing yoga with me, which made my heart sing!

1059 yogis and yoginis attended Yoga with Nigel Walker - the biggest class yet!
I was so grateful that I was able to share this experience with my son.

Thank you Nigel! You are amazing!

Here's what I ate:

I started the day off with a fantastic Liver Flush Drink: extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly squeezed OJ grapefruit juice, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper. I actually love this drink! It really helps the liver work wonders. Try it, I dare you!!
Prior to my yoga session, I snacked on a new raw superfood bar that I found on the shelf at my favorite health food store: Cherry Pecan raw - more superfood paleo bar.

Packed full of raw ingredients like Organic Soaked Cashews, Organic Soaked Almonds, Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, Organic Sprouted Buckwheat, Organic Black Cherries, Organic Pecans, Organic Golden Flax Seed, Chia Seeds, Organic Dates, Raw Agave Nectar, Organic Sea Vegetables (Spirulia, Chlorella, Blue Green Algae E3 Live), Organic Vanilla, and Extra Virgin Raw Organic Coconut Oil.

I've tried so many different kinds of bars over the years. This was by far the best bar I've ever had!
After yoga, I ate some Quinoa Tabouleh Salad that I made the night before. It tasted so much better after sitting in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavors to combine together like magic!

The original recipe calls for either 2 cups of raw green peas or seven two-week-old eggs. I don't eat eggs so I used green peas.  Just the thought of having eggs and quinoa sounds kinda crazy! I had a few Kalamata Olives on the side. I looooooove kalamata olives but I don't buy them very often so this was a treat.  "My Little Taste Tester" loves them too!

Late in the afternoon, I ate a yummy Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Strawberry popsicle. I've been on a popsicle-making spree lately and this was the perfect treat to eat on a hot summer day. Delicious and sooooo refreshing!!

For dinner, I had Hemp Sun Burgers on Sunflower Bread. Both of these recipes are from organic chef and author Ani Phyo. The burger was packed full of flavor and the sunflower bread was perfect! I even dehydrated the leftover pieces of bread until they were very crispy and used them to dip in hummus the following day.

That's my adventure with fun, food, and fitness this week.

Sending out a big thank you to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for creating What I Ate Wednesday and to Lululemon Athletica and Nigel Walker for another incredible yoga session on Parliament Hill. 

...and always have fun!!

July 11, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday #3

Although I missed out on a few editions of What I Ate Wednesday, I'd like to try to continue posting about what I eat during the week.

I am so grateful to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting this weekly event. If you'd like to learn more about What I Ate Wednesday, or if you'd like to see what other bloggers are eating, please visit Jenn's blog.

Pre-Breakfast: Lemon water every morning without fail. I may also add a dash of cayenne pepper (helps with elimination and is an excellent liver tonic). Other mornings, I like a shot of E3Live (followed with water). Both are a great way to start the day!

Breakfast: I've been eating homemade G"raw"nola with fresh Almond Mylk. I like to top it off with half a banana and a bunch of blueberries. 

Workout Snacks: Fruit Smoothie and/or fruit juice or a Green Smoothie or Green Juice or an apple and a handful of almonds.  I also love Vega Whole Food Vibrancy Bars.  

Lately, I've been doing alot of fast-paced walking. "My Little Taste Tester" likes to ride his bike while I speed walk and try and catch him.  He's usually stuck waiting for me though because he's faster than fast and quicker than quick!



Powering through my Vinyasa Flow class

Lunch: On days when I have yoga practice in the late morning or afternoon, I'll take along a mixed green salad or guacamole or a collard green wrap and eat sometime after class.

Dinner: I love eating large mixed green salads with sprouts and nut pâté or lightly steamed vegetables (sweet potato or broccoli). It may not seem like much but it is...and it's soooo satisfying!

Evening Snack: I've been munching on slices of Raw Cherry Cheezecake all week☺I also made a nice chocolate sauce for the perfect topping. Cherries and chocolate...these are two of my favorite things this week!!

My final thoughts? Take time to learn about nutrition and Practice healthy lifestyle choices too.  You deserve it!!

July 4, 2012

Garlicky Kale Chips with Nutritional Yeast

These kale chips are crunchy, cheesy, and one of the most addictive healthy snacks that you can eat. Plus, they're so easy to make! 


1 Bunch of Curly Green Kale (about 8 cups, firmly packed)
1 cup raw Cashews, soaked 2-4 hours (soaking optional)
1/8 cup water, to reach desired consistency
3 TBSP Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast, to taste
1 Whole Garlic Bulb (8-10 cloves), chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 TBSP Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup (optional, I usually omit)
4 tsp Granulated Garlic (garlic powder)

1. Remove stems off of kale. Wash kale leaves and let the kale dry off, leaving just a bit of water. Rip apart the kale leaves in pieces (not too big and not too small) and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Place all ingredients, except granulated garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth, thick, and creamy, like hummus. Add more water, if necessary.
3. Take handfuls of the mixture and massage it into the kale, evenly coated, making sure there are no clumps.
4. Toss with granulated garlic, evenly.
5. Lay flat on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Dehydrate at 115 degrees until the leaves leaves curl up.

*OR for non-raw option, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

What Is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is an amazing ingredient that is a complete protein and has all 18 essential amino acids that our body needs.

According to the Bob's Red Mill website, Nutritional yeast is grown on enriched purified cane and beet molasses under carefully controlled conditions. T6635, with the addition of vitamin B12, is an ideal vegetarian support formula and has an appealing cheese flavor. 

-Nutritional Yeast is inactive so it's not the same as the type of yeast you bake with.
-It has a flaky/powdery texture that resembles fish food flakes.
-Be careful not to confuse it with Brewer's Yeast, which is a by-product of the beer making process.
-Nutritional yeast has a nutty, buttery and cheesy flavor that adds a special tang to snacks. -When added to a liquid base, it becomes a salty, creamy texture. That's why so many vegan and vegetarians substitute nutritional yeast for many of their dishes!
-It can be sprinkled over popcorn or salads, added to juice, cereal, smoothies, gravies, soups or casseroles, or used to make sandwich spreads.

Nutritional Yeast contains:
Low Amount of Sodium and Fat, and ZERO cholesterol

How To Eat Nutritional Yeast Flakes

There are many ways to incorporate nutritional yeast into your meals. My favorite way to eat it is in kale chips. It may look strange, and sound even weirder, but is surprisingly delicious. Do not confuse it with Brewer's Yeast, which contains the same nutrients with a more bitter taste.

Ways nutritional yeast can be used:

-Use it to make kale chips. I posted a recipe for the best kale chips EVER!
-Sprinkle it on popcorn. It's definitely a more healthy substitution to butter and salt!
-When you roast vegetables, sprinkle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
-Add it to salad dressings.
-Substitute for cheese in salads and baked potato.
-Add it to soup or pasta for a creamier consistency.

Note: When preparing any food where you are going to use this yeast, add it at the end, so that the vitamins are not broken down from the food.  

Have you ever had kale chips?
What is your favorite flavor?
Have you ever used Nutritional yeast?

July 1, 2012

"I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts...

 ...There They are All Standing In A Row...

"The coconut (cocos nucifera) is regarded as the jewel of the tropics. It is undoubtedly the most economically important palm (often called the tree of life) and is also one of the ten most important tree crops. The coconut contributes significantly to the economies of many countries and is of prime importance to the daily lives of millions of people."
Where did the "coconut" get its name or why is it called "coconut"?
The word "coconut" did not appear until after the Portuguese explorers in the 15th century came after Columbus. When these explorers found this fruit growing on Indian Ocean islands, they described the coconut shell as a coco, or "grinning face" of a monkey because of its 3 dark holes at its base which look like a pop-eyed merry face. From then on, it was referred to as the "coconut".
Although its name was recorded in Sanskrit in the early beginnings of history, the coconut was unknown to the western world until the 6th century, when it was imported into Egypt from the Indian Ocean--and still made little impression, though Marco Polo recognized it as "Pharoah's nut" when he ran across it in India on his travels. In the Middle Ages, coconuts were so rare and so cherished that their shells were polished and mounted in gold. By the 19th century, however, new transportation routes made them common in European markets--and throwing objects ("coconut shies") at local side shows.  (source:

"Coconuts are the fruit of the palm trees. And as we have bread and wine, oil and vinegar, so they get all these things from the said trees.. With two of these palm trees, a whole family of ten can sustain itself.the coconut trees last for a hundred years"
- from Antonio Pigafetta's journal, a nobleman from Venice who boarded one of Magellan's 5 ship

I have a special place in my heart for young Thai coconuts. Of all the things on this Earth to eat, young Thai coconuts are one of my absolute favorite things. Coconuts can be used to make up both the liquid and base portion of your green smoothie. Combining coconut with another base tropical fruit such as mango or banana will make a smoothie thicker and richer.

...Big Ones, Small Ones, Some As Big As Your Head...

Coconut Nutrition and Health Benefits

Young coconuts will provide you with minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and vitamin C. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is considered nature’s sports drink due to it’s hydrating qualities. People in the tropics have relied on coconuts for medicinal uses in treating conditions such as diabetes, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and digestive disorders. Natural health experts say that coconuts help boost energy levels, supports the immune system and helps purify and rejuvenate the body. In fact, coconuts are used as an emergency IV in third-world countries (read more here).

How To Select Young Coconuts

The best places to find young coconuts are at Asian and Latino markets as well as health food stores. They can be hard to find at many mainstream grocery stores unless you live in a tropical area. I've recently noticed them at my neighborhood Loblaws Superstore and at Farm Boy too.

Try to select coconuts that are heavy for their size. Watch out for blue or purple mold on the outer, white husk. Avoid coconuts that have deep crevices, cracks or dried spots on the husk. Young coconuts should be kept in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator. Discard the coconut if the water is sour or has a bad taste to it. Fresh coconuts will have sterile water that is safe to drink as it is filtered in the coconut palm.

Mature coconuts (the brown, hairy kind) that you find readily available at most grocery stores are not suitable for making smoothies with. The meat is too hard and the coconut juice inside is not plentiful or as flavorful. Young coconuts have a much higher nutrient value than mature coconuts. They generally contain about 16 ounces of slightly sweet, coconut-flavored water that tastes amazing. Coconut water and meat blend very well in a smoothie.

Coconuts can vary in flavor and consistency depending on the region where they are grown, the age of the coconut at harvest, as well as the variety of coconut palm it came from. Some coconuts have lots of water and very thin, gel-like meat while others will have slightly less water and more crunchy, coconut meat. Some coconuts will have a sweeter taste than others. While they might all look the same from the outside, it is difficult to predict the quality of the coconut unless you know exactly how old it is and where it came from.

Young coconuts should be eaten right way since the water quickly looses nutritional value and begins to ferment when exposed to air after opening.

How To Open A Young Thai Coconut:
Here's a great video featuring Joanne Gero,one of the top Health & Nutrition Educators of our time!
...Give Them A Twist, A Flick Of The Wrist...

This is one of my favorite Coconut Smoothie Recipes, courtesy of Raw Yoga Mom:
1 1/2 cups Coconut Meat
1 cup Coconut Water
huge handful Cilantro
3 huge handfuls Spinach
1 tsp Vanilla Powder or Vanilla Bean
1 dropper Vanilla Stevia (omit or use other preferred sweetener)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
dash of Sea Salt

Homemade Coconut Oil Body Butter Recipe

The Secret to Moisturizing with Coconut Oil

I love using coconut oil as a moisturizer. It's pure, natural and inexpensive. I always have a jar of coconut oil in my cupboard so I decided to learn how to make it from scratch.
The result was a light and fluffy moisturizer that far exceeded my expectations. With a jar of this on hand, I doubt I will be tempted to buy expensive lotions ever again.

Want to try it out? Here's how:
Homemade Coconut Oil Body Butter Recipe
I love that this recipe only requires one ingredient. Anything else is optional. It also only takes a few minutes, and you'll have enough body butter to last for a month or two.
What you need:
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (optional)
  • a few drops of your favorite essential oils for fragrance (optional)
What to do:
1. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. (You do not have to melt the coconut oil first.)
2. Mix on high speed with a wire whisk for 6-7 minutes or until whipped into a light, airy consistency.
3. Spoon the whipped coconut oil body butter into a glass jar and cover tightly. Store at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your house is so warm it melts the oil.
Tip: An electric hand mixer will work, but I bet a KitchenAid stand mixer will do an even better job. A blender or food processor will also work.
Note: Your coconut oil should stay relatively soft, even at colder temperatures. I noticed mine beaded into a froth of tiny coconut oil pearls that melt right into my skin.
...That's What The Showman Said."

Have you made coconut oil body butter? Do you have your own body care recipes to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!