Friday, January 21, 2011

Cashew Cream - This is the recipe you want!

Why is the title of this post "this is the recipe you want"?

The title is in reference to a few special people.  But trust me - this is the recipe that YOU want too!
1.  This is for my dad who said, "You've got to blog about this!"  When I didn't blog about it in a timely manner he emailed to ask for it.  It is that good!
2.  This is for my sweet friend, Libbie (the middlest sister), whose son fell in love with it.
3.  This is for my close friend and fitness partner, Leah, who like me is trying to eat the most nutrient-rich foods possible.

This is a great fruit topping that can be used with all fruits.  I especially like it with berries.  My dad loved when I served it with grilled pineapple.  

Cashew Cream by A Little Spinach

1 cup raw cashews
3-4 Medjool dates (depending on how sweet you want the topping)
1 T. frozen orange juice concentrate
approximately 1/4 cup almond milk
a few drops of vanilla extract

1.  Soak the cashews in water for one hour.  Drain and rinse.
2.  If you are using soft dates, you may skip this step.  If your dates feel harder, soak for 10-30 min in water to soften.
3.  Put cashews, dates, frozen orange juice, and vanilla in food processor.
4.  Blend ingredients.
5.  Add liquid to desired consistency.  About a fourth of a cup is perfect.

Be sure to use RAW cashews.

Soak cashews for one hour.  Drain and rinse.

Medjool dates taste like caramel.  YUM.

Be sure to remove the pit in the middle.

Soak only if needed.

ready to blend


the finished Cashew Cream

THAT'S IT!  Now tell me it's not simple.  It is so easy!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I am often asked about good snack options
Here are a few ideas.
There are MANY more things that could be added.  

Fruit - a perfect snack!

apple and nut butter
fresh fruit
fruit kabobs
dried fruit

veggie kabobs
veggies and dip

veggies and hummus
tortilla with hummus and veggies
pita chips and hummus

cottage cheese
crackers and cheese
string cheese
yogurt (yummy with granola and fruit!)

granola bars
healthy homemade muffins or cookies
oatmeal bars
bowl of nutritious cereal

hard boiled eggs
sliced meat with crackers
tuna – chicken – or egg salad on crackers

homemade trail mix
rice cakes with nut butter

smoothies - of course!
smoothie popsicles
quesadilla – tortilla, beans, cheese, salsa
meal replacement bars  

One more tip...
I often make up large batches of staples such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, cut veggies, etc.  So if hunger strikes I can grab half of a sweet potato, a little quinoa, and some veggies.  I like mini-meals for snacks too!
Of course, I am a huge fan of filling my hunger with smoothies!

What are your favorite snacks?  Do tell!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Elimination Diet - first two weeks

As you probably know, right after Christmas I started a 28-day elimination diet.  I wish it wasn't called a "diet".  I am really not a fan of the "D" word. 

An elimination diet is quite different the the diets you may be familiar with.  The goal of this diet (let's call it a plan) is eliminating all possible food sensitivities and allergies and slowly adding them back to see how they affect you - all while nourishing your body with tons of nutritious foods. 

I embarked on this journey for two reasons. 
1.  I really am curious to see if anything presents itself as a sensitivity - primarily dairy and gluten. 
2.  I hadn't been eating well over the holidays and I feel SO much better when I'm eating well.  This was like pressing the reset button for me with food.

I have completed the first two weeks, otherwise known as Phase One and Phase Two.  Phase One is the most restrictive and throughout the phases, foods are being added back slowly.  Tomorrow will mark the start of Phase Three for me.

The elimination diet begins with two days of a green smoothie fast - all of the green smoothies you want for two days.  I used ingredients such as:  spinach, mangoes, blueberries, raspberries, kale, flaxseed, hempseed, rice protein, and more.  I did not feel hungry during the first two days because I was diligent about making tons of smoothies.  The hardest thing for me was that I did miss the act of eating.  I wanted to eat even though I wasn't hungry. 

my first two days

Phase One begins on Day Three.  With that comes an approved list of foods from which to eat.  Believe it or not, Day 3 was the hardest for me.  Once I began eating, I wanted to eat EVERYTHING.  Eating from the approved list only was very difficult for me. 

Phase One Food List
Do you eat a lot of these foods now?  Have you heard of most of these foods?
brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, teff, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, berries (except strawberries), cherries, grapes, figs (dried and fresh), mango, kale, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens, bok choy, cabbage, parsley, cilantro, sprouts (all types), brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, parsnips, winter squash (all types), yams and sweet potatoes, avocados, onions, garlic, and ginger, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seed butters, pine nuts, mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils, wakame seaweed, kombu seaweed, nori seaweed, dulse flakes, fresh herbs, coconut milk, coconut oil and olive oil, kudzu, arrowroot (be sure its GF), guar gum (in small amounts), agave nectar and maple syrup

Once I got past the first three days, this has been a piece of cake!  I keep getting asked how it's going for me.  Truthfully, I tend to forget that I'm on some type of plan because eating from these foods has become second nature to me.  

This was my lunch today.  How could one complain about eating yummy food like this?

sunflower seed burger, sweet potato, sprouts, avocado

Actually, that's not all that I had for lunch.  
We can't forget to include the yummy spinach smoothie!  
I wake up craving green smoothies now in the way that I used to crave coffee.  
I am continuing to have at least two a day.

I need to tell you all something about this elimination diet plan so far.  

The changes I've seen in only two weeks are beyond belief.
*  My skin better than ever.  I wake up every single morning excited to look in the mirror because my complexion is better every morning than it was the day before.  I have a vibrancy to my face that is phenomenal. 
*  My nails are growing like crazy too.  I keep needing to file my nails because they are growing hard and strong and long and not breaking off like normal. 
*  My energy level has changed too.  Before I would have more extreme highs and lows (thank you, coffee, I'm sure) and the best way that I can describe how I feel right now is a peaceful evenness. 

I didn't begin this journey for beauty reasons, but I'm thrilled by them.  It just goes to show that the outside reflects the inside.  If only eating this way would magically shave my legs for me too!

One more perk:  Although we don't have the kids on this plan with us (yes, US... Baard is doing it too!) they are eating so much better by default.  Thankfully for the most part, they also really enjoy the food we're eating. 
As far as my two goals: 
Pressing the reset button:  I feel so amazing that I want to continue eating like this.
Food sensitivities:  I'm just not there yet.  That will become more evident over the next few weeks.

The ONLY downside (in addition to missing coffee) is that most people don't eat like this.  It's a little hard socially.  So if you are a friend that is reading this and we're going to see one another soon, just let me bring food to share, okay?

If you're interested in learning more, please visit the Whole Life Nutrition elimination page.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dear, Coconut Quinoa Pilaf. I love you.

I just love quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah")!  So give me a new yummy quinoa recipe to try, and I'm thrilled.  Surprisingly, many people I've talked to have never tried quinoa. 

If you haven't tried it before, allow me the opportunity to rave about it a bit.

What is there to love about quinoa?
high in protein
good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron
tastes great!  light and fluffy texture

A few things you should know about quinoa:
It's a great alternative to couscous
It's prepared much like rice.
You must pre-rinse the quinoa!  It will taste bitter otherwise.
It can be used in sweet, spicy, or savory dishes.  Very versatile!

Coconut Quinoa Pilaf from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

Serves 4

2 cups quinoa
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced small
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1.  Rinse the dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under warm water.

2.  Place rinsed quinoa into a medium saucepan with the coconut milk, water, green onions, red pepper, garlic, sea salt, and chili flakes.  Cover and bring to a boil, then turn heat to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

3.  Remove pot from heat and let pilaf cool in pot for about 10 minutes.  Then add chopped cilantro and gently fluff with a fork.  Serve hot.

People often ask me what my favorite cookbook is.  This IS my favorite cookbook -without a doubt.  The Cinnamon Spiced Granola recipe I posted is also from this book. 

I'm on Day 8 of a 28-day elimination diet also from this book and their website.  I had intended to write more about my journey with food but we've been very busy here lately.  Check in soon for an update on my program.  What I can quickly share with you is that it is going really well.  I look forward to sharing more with you soon!
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