No Sugar Added & Nut Free Cacao Spread (aka “Chocolate Butter”)

There was a “crêpe day” at my son’s elementary school, and it was suggested that we bring a topping for it.  I thought about sending some bananas, but I ended up packing a jar of homemade “Cacao Spread” – aka “Chocolate Butter”.  Boy, was it ever a hit!  I received lovely comments from the kids and moms – it REALLY made me happy.  And I got to thinking, why am I SO happy?

Cacao Spread

I think it was because I felt connected, and shared my passion in a way that they could actually experience.  I love to find alternative nutritious foods to replace those toxic chemical loaded foods.  I rarely tell my family and clients to stop eating certain food without any substitute.

I make meals and snacks to keep my family healthy and happy, mentally and physically.  I want to avoid feeding toxins, but provide nutrients.  A simple principle, but it can be challenging if you think making a healthy food is complicated and/or expensive.  I used to think so too, but once you get the hang of it, it is not true.

It is easy enough to do, and saves you $.  You just need to plan and prepare in advance, and this will become part of your routine after a few weeks of trying it, and you have it for your life.

And the most important thing for many people is to shift their minds from “it’s too much for me” to “it’s worth it, it will be easier and more fun”.

Anyway, due to a high demand of how I make it, I decided to post a recipe below.  If you have any questions, let me know!
Happy healthy eating<3

Cacao Spread

Recipe:
Fills up about one and a half of 4 oz Mason Jar

Ingredients:
Ideally all in organic, but hey, start with what you can do! 🙂
You do not need to be precise on this recipe, I sometimes use 3/4 cup dates for a rich-thick spread, and 1.5  cup of them for smoother!  

-1 cup coconut milk (full fat one), warmed
-½ cup unsweetened cacao powder
-1 cup pitted medjool dates (soaked over night), drained.  If you are in rush, soaked in hot water for 10-20 min and drained.)
-½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

-¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Directions:
Put them all in a high speed blender for a few minutes.
Pour it into mason jars.

Variations:
-goes well with fresh fruits like a banana and/or strawberries
-make a great “hot chocolate” just with your choice of milk
-on plain rice cakes, pancakes, toast
-simply eat it as it is!

Enjoy!
xoxo

Orange juice and Fragrance

“When you strip the juice of oxygen, you also strip it of flavour-providing chemicals, natural chemicals to the orange juice, so the juice companies then hire flavour and fragrance companies — the same ones that make high-end perfumes and colognes — to manufacture flavour packs to put back into the juice to make it taste fresh”

Here is the whole article and this is why we try our best only to drink home-made orange juice!  If your home-made oj is too sour, hint of honey (great for boosting immunity) will make a good difference!

Image is taken from Amber Anderson.

Fresh Garlic Tips

I love buying fresh garlic, but I am not a big fan of dealing with peeling part.  And then, I found some useful tips below!

1) To peel garlic, pour hot water over cloves or put in microwave 5 seconds, then pull skins off with a paring knife.

2) The longer you cook garlic, the milder it becomes.  Do not burn.
Burned garlic will have a bitter taste.

3) Store garlic bulbs in a cool, dry, well ventilated place.
Do not refrigerate or store in a plastic bag.

4) Buy garlic that is plump and firm with papery outer sheath intact.
Avoid garlic that is soft, spongy, moldy or shriveled.


Referred by Christopher Ranch.

A power of well-boiled-water

I have talked about the importance of drinking room temperature water (with freshly squeezed lemon!) everywhere, but there is one thing I had not told anyone yet, until now.

“A power of well-boiled-water”

Very simple but it has lots of benefits as mentioned below.
-increase the ability of digestion, absorption, and metabolism
-helps to detoxify your body
-aids constipation
-reduces gassy feeling in your stomach*
-clears your skin*
-offers better sleep at night*
*If boiled up until the 1/4 of orignal amount of the water, see directions below 

Here is the direction to make the magic boiled water.
1) Boil the tap water in a clean big pot.
2) Boil it until the water is half of the original amount (should take for about 10 min).
3) If you have some more time, boil it till the water is 1/4 of original amount (should take            extra 5 min or so).
4) Pour them into the thermos or your favourite insulated tumbler(s).

How to drink:
-First thing in the morning (after rinsing your mouth)
-With meals and snacks, try to drink slow.
-About 1L/day.
-Once you can taste the sweetness from the water, it is a very good sign that
you are getting all those benefits from the water!

This information was shared while I was studying a bit of Ayurveda over 10 years ago.  I hadn’t practiced it for a while up until a few months ago.  One incident made me cut down on beloved Americano and I have been drinking this boiled water everyday.  My skin is looking better, I am feeling cleaner, and I do taste the sweetness from the water now.
Oh, also, I am less hungry and I have less desire to eat those junkies out there, so I am sure this magic water works for weight loss if that is one of your health goals!

SUGAR

Now that the summer has arrived, I started seeing lots of people drinking cold beverages such as juice and pops.  They are refreshing for those hot days, but have you thought about how much sugar you are intaking?

Take a look at the photo below and a website that can give you some ideas for how much sugar is in a beverage.

Next time you are about to choose your drink, maybe go for a bottle of water?

Quick Tips for Healthier Summer

Now that we can finally feel the beginning of the summer in Victoria, BC, I thought I would share a very basic and quick tips for you to have a healthier summer!  Some of you might have seen this information during my seminar, but it is always nice to be reminded and I will go details on each topic later on in this blog.

1) Safe and easy body cleansing:
Room temperature water with freshly squeezed lemon (begin with a few drops) + honey or agave nectar (choose these low-glycemic natural sweeteners).
-You might experience a small headache due to the cleansing effect.  Don’t worry, the best remedy is to keep drinking lemon water to let the toxins flush out of your system.

 

2) Introducing healthier alternative foods:
a) Carbohydrates:

-Always choose “complex carbohydrates”, especially Whole GRAINS.
Whole WHEAT is usually made from white flour with SOME added bran to make the flour appear brown!  Also, watch out the words such as “refined, enriched, fortified, bleached, or white”.  They are NOT whole grains!

Good alternatives:
Brown Rice; high in fibre and vitamin B
-Spelt
; high in protein, fibre, and vitamin B
Amaranth; very high in fibre and iron.  No gluten.  Sweet and nutty flavor
Kamut; high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Rich and buttery flavor
Quinoa; highest protein content of all the grains, very high in calcium and iron, wheat free. Nutty flavor
Millet; Very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.  Easily digested (good for intestinal disorders) + ideal for managing blood sugar imbalances.
*If you search for those grains on Google Images, you can see how they look.

b) Protein:
-Smaller sources are better for digestion, hence; less burden for body

Good alternatives:
-Fish in general, eggs, plant based proteins such as legumes, beans, and soy products such as tofu, natto and edamame.


c) Fats:

-Make sure to intake “good fats (Omega 3;DNA & EPA, and Omega 6)”
– Essential fatty acids (EFAs); need to be taken from foods, especially Omega 3
-Stay away from saturated fats that clog arteries and cause weight gain

Good source for Omega 3:
-Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout
-Flax seed oil and vegetable oil
-Nuts, and seeds in general (unsalted, non-roasted/flavoured).
-Omega 3 fortified products (i.e., eggs)
-Fish oil

Good source for Omega 6:
-sun flower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, hemp oil and walnut oil
-fish oil

 

3) Hydrate!
Try to drink about 2 L (8 glasses) of water per day!  Remwber, if you drink a cup of coffee, you will need to drink 2 glasses of water to make up the water loss in your body!

Cow Milk

Here is an article about Cow Milk that some of you might find it interesting.
While I was growing up in Japan, I was always told that drinking milk (here indicates Cow Milk, we did not have any other alternative milks back then in Japan) makes you stronger and taller!  I remember drinking the cow milk from kindergarden to junior high as their part of school lunch and everybody had to drink it.  I am pretty certain that none had thought about an allergy from the cow milk.

Things sure have changed, and even at a local grocery store, we can easily find a soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk and maybe hemp milk.  Now, which milk are YOU drinking?

I once completely stopped drinking the cow milk for an experiment (and a holistic nutrition school I was attending did not support the cow milk much), and re-introduced it after a few months.  Nothing really changed my body or mind, so I went back to the cow milk and start alternating with other milks to enjoy individual benefits.

However, if you or someone you know are suffering from ear problems, sinus problems, stomach problems, headache or some unknown symptoms, including children’s attention disorders, it may not harm to cut out the cow milk for a while to see if anything changes.

Display matters!

I have been back to Japan for a work and leisure!  There are so many amazing things to talk about, but for today, I just wanted to show you a traditional Japanese breakfast (ok, not so much of the foods themselves, but focus on the display here!) and you notice there are various SMALL plates.

Before the North American breakfast style, such as bread and cereal, became popular in Japan, there used to be more people eating this way;
1 grain, 1 soup, 1 protein, 2 veggies and/or fruits.
The idea is so healthy and just remembering the concept, you will automatically know what’s missing in your breakfast (and for lunch & dinner as well!).
Having many small plates makes you feel like you have more to eat, though you might be consuming less fat % than North American style.  Also, seeing lots of colors helps you feel brighter and satisfy you physiologically, like you probably are feeling now! 🙂  Why not give it a try sometime?  It does not have to be miso-soup.  You can start with a left over soup and all the left overs for all the plates to begin with if you like, but put them in the individual plates and enjoy the display!  Let’s see how you feel after the meal!

Processed Food v.s. Whole Food

In my school days for Holistic Nutrition, all the teachers always focused on the importance on the digestive system.  So, we-now-practitioners, are trained to look at our clients’ digestive systems very closely and determine what is happening in there.  However, it often is very hard for our clients to understand the importance of taking a close look at their digestion, inlcuding eating less processed foods.
Now, thanks to my friend, Hiroyuki Ando, a very talented and experienced personal trainer in Japan, I have found an amazing video that shows how the processed food and whole food are digested differently.

Enjoy!