Going Vegetarian (almost Vegan!)

So we have come up with the idea to go vegetarian (almost vegan) for one month to find out two things:

1. How this will change our bodies and how we feel.

2. Challenge ourselves to come up with new recipes and stick to a meal plan.

Obviously this will take some planning and persistence. We have given ourselves one day a week where we can venture beyond the restrictions (if we feel the need). Otherwise here is our restriction list:

Eliminiate: Meats (beef, pork, chicken, game etc.); Seafood (fish and shellfish) and some Dairy (cheese, milk, cream)

Limit: some Dairy (yogurt) and Eggs

Focus: Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Legumes and Grains

We are both excited to try this out and I’m looking forward to writing about this to all of you! We have a BBQ with friends on February 17th so we have agreed we will start this experiment on February 18th.

***Please share with us some of your favourite vegetarian/vegan dishes!!***

I will update at the end of every week with examples of recipes we used 🙂

So stay tuned!

Your,
Natural Groove Gal

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Make Ahead Snack – Granola Bars

I initially wanted to make granola but stumbled upon this recipe this morning. Copy-cat Nature Valley Oat & Honey Bars!

This is a super simple recipe and only 5 ingredients…

Ingredients

• 2 1/2 cups of Quick or Rolled Oats

• 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

• 1/8 tsp Salt

• 1/4 cup Coconut Oil

• 1/3 cup Honey

• splash Vanilla (optional)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line 8-inch square pan with cooking parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on 2 sides.

2. Place 2 cups of the oats in large bowl. Add remaining 1/2 cup oats to blender or food processor; pulse into a rough flour. Add oat flour to bowl of oats. Add baking soda and salt to bowl of oats; stir.

3. In a saucepan heat coconut oil until just melted. Stir in honey (and vanilla). Add to bowl of oats. Stir well to coat oats completely. Spread mixture evenly in pan; press down firmly and evenly.

4. Bake for 20 minutes. Oats should be golden and smell of honey. Cool on rack 10 minutes.

5. Remove from pan using parchment overhangs. Cut into 8 rectangles while still warm. Cool completely before wrapping. The bars will firm and crisp up as they cool.

That’s it! Super simple right? Thanks to Betty Crocker for this recipe. I modified it a bit – cutting out the white sugar. You can also throw in some additions such as nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, dried fruit… the list goes on!

Two batches of these covers us for about one week. 16 bars at a fraction of the price of the originals 🙂

Enjoy!

Your,

Natural Groove Gal

Roasted Parsnip and White Bean Soup

New Year starting off with a fantastic winter soup recipe to keep you warm during this extra cold and snowy January!

I decided I would make my own vegetable broth for this soup. A nice slow process to go with my “slow down and relax” theme of 2018…not everything should be rushed all the time. I am using cooking as a way to help myself do that.

Super simple process here. Chop up your standard veggies for broth (onion, carrots and celery aka ‘mirepoix’). And I mean chop coarsely no need to be fancy here. Leave those onion skins on too. More flavour and goodness. I threw in some peppercorns, fennel and fresh parsley but it’s not necessary.

Add water until veggies are well covered. Bring to a boil and then turn down super low and let simmer overnight, uncovered! Yes I said overnight, uncovered. You want the liquid to reduce leaving the flavours.

Et voila! This is after 12 hours. Time to strain.

After scooping out the large pieces I fine strained the spices out. This broth turned out darker than I thought but still a great veggie broth. I had enough for this recipe plus 3 more litres that went into the freezer for future use.

And now for the main attraction:

Roasted Garlic, Parsnip and White Bean Soup

Ingredients:

• 4-6 large cloves Garlic, skin intact, left whole

• 1lb Parsnips (about 4-5), cut into 1-inch pieces

• 1 Onion, cut into rough pieces

• 2 tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling

• 1 tbsp dried whole or fresh Rosemary

• Sea Salt and Ground pepper, to taste

• 1 can (approx 15oz or more) White Beans, drained and rinsed OR 2 cups cooked white beans

• 6 cups no salt added Vegetable Broth

• 1.5 tbsp lemon juice (about ½ – 1 lemon)

• Pumpkin seeds, to serve

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss garlic, parsnips, onion, oil, rosemary, salt (to taste), and pepper. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until garlic and parsnips are tender and turning golden.

2. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skins into a large pot along with roasted vegetables, beans, broth, and lemon juice and purée with an immersion blender. Alternatively add all ingredients into a blender (this may need to be done in 2 batches) and purée until smooth, adding more water or broth if too thick (depends on dryness of parsnips).

3. If you used a blender, transfer blended soup to a large pot. Heat over medium, stirring frequently so bottom doesn’t scorch. Season with additional salt, if desired. Serve hot with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and drizzle of olive oil.

Thank you to Yummy Beat for this wonderful recipe! We served it with warm bread and cheese. Certainly warmed us up for movie night on the couch 🙂

Your,

Natural Groove Gal

Goddess Bowl #1

Buddah bowl…Power bowl…Awesome bowl…

Whatever you want to call it, it’s a bowl with so many possibilities- flavour and nutrition wise!

Here’s an example of a bowl we made the other day…

Ingredients:

• Carrots, shredded
• Homemade Kimchi
• Avocado
• Salsa
• Mixed Greens
• Green Onions
• Salmon with crispy skin!!
• Olive Oil and a squeeze of Lime
• Salt and Pepper

So this specific bowl is:

*Nut and Seed free

*Gluten free

*Dairy free

*If you’re missing that “crunch” factor you can add your favourite whole grain crackers or corn chips work too!*

Here’s a list of what I enjoy putting into my goddess bowls:

Grains
• Rice
• Quinoa
• Cous Cous
• Soba Noodles
• Buckwheat Noodles
• Barley

Protein
• Beans/Lentils
• Legumes
• Chicken
• Seafood
• Tofu
• Egg
And if you’re not worried about being nut or dairy free…
• Cheese
• Nuts/Seeds

Vegetables
• Tomato
• Cucumber
• Carrots
• Broccoli
• Green Beans
• Peppers
• Brussel Sprouts
• Zucchini
• Corn
• Kale
• Spinach
• Seaweed
• Leafy Greens
• Cabbage/Coleslaw
• Kimchi
• Red Onion
• Avocado
• Raisins or other dried fruit

Sauces
• Hummus
• Nut Butters
• Salsa
• Guacamole
• Dressings and Dips

Herbs/Spices
• Ginger
• Lemons/Limes
• Chives/Green Onions
• Sriracha (or your favourite hot sauce)
• Olive oil or Coconut oil

So there you go! What do you like to put into your bowls?

Your,
Natural Groove Gal

Matcha Goodness

My new favourite “iced coffee”

Yes there caffeine in matcha. 

**When adding matcha to a latte or smoothie (or anything)….be sure to keep it to no more than 1 tsp per 16oz. or it may be too much**

I added 2-3 tsp one time (I absolutely love the flavour) and man I was flying! Concentration out the door. So watch out with this stuff – a little goes a long way!

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp Matcha powder
1 cup Dark chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup Coconut milk
1 cup Ice

Add to blender and blend away 🙂

Benefits:

• loads of antioxidants, and I mean loads, which results in detoxifying the body aiding with cancer/disease prevention, weight loss, gut health and cardiovascular strength

• energy booster with calm concentration (*again DO NOT go over board with it)

• and fibre!

I’ve also started adding matcha to my morning fruit smoothies. A perfect booster that keeps me going at work!

What are your favourite matcha creations??

Your,

Natural Groove Gal 

Morning Step #3: Protein 

The final step in my breakfast routine is protein. 

After a detoxing elixir and nutritious smoothie, the digestive system is awake and cleansed, a great time to consume protein for the body to digest and eventually provide energy into the day. 

**Make sure to wait at least 20 minutes after your smoothie (or fruit) before you eat protein. A lot of gases can be produced in the stomach while digesting fruits (especially whole vs. blended) – you will notice a lot more burping when you start off with fruit – So you don’t want to consume more foods immediately or else you’ll run into some serious indigestion!! **

Here are a couple of options I look forward to putting in my belly…

1) Hard-boiled Eggs with Cheese and a little Tobasco, and half an Avocado

Benefits:

Eggs – protein, vitamin B12 and Dan

Avocado – fibre, foliate, vitamin E, iron, zinc and all 18 essential amino acids to produce proteins which is readily absorbed because of the fibre content 🙂

Both are a great source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3s and 6s.

2) Granola with Vanilla Yogurt, Nut Butter and a sprinkle of Hemp Hearts

Benefits:

Yogurt – calcium, vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium 

Granola – fibre, numerous vitamins and minerals 

Nut Butter – fibre and omega 3s and 6s

Hemp Hearts – fibre, omega 3s and 6s, iron and calcium

Try to stay away from meat options. They are harder on your digestive system and you’re looking for efficiency in the mornings!  Save those for a later meal.

Either of these should have you feeling full all the way until the lunch hour and prevent those snacking temptations on unhealthy/convenient foods!

If I’m in a huge hurry, a big spoonful of nut butter usually does the trick!

So there it is. The end of my morning routine/breakfast. Please feel free to share your morning breakfast choices or an alternative protein option 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Your, 
Natural Groove Gal 

Water – Drink it up!

If it’s one thing anyone can do for their health it’s 

drink 

more 

water. 

You’ve heard this many times before. This is not news (or at least it shouldn’t be!)

One of my beliefs for change is baby steps. It won’t come easy and you have to stick to it….so start off easy! Drinking more water daily is one of the easiest changes you can make.

Here are some facts on water (These are my guidelines for water consumption, but get active and do your own research!):

– You need about 12 glasses of water a day. One glass is 8oz

– However, you consume about 4 cups of water through digesting your food. You now need 8 glasses of water (sound familiar?)

– Pop actually dehydrates the body which means your body steals water already in your body in order to digest the sugar (called “hyperosomotic load”)

– Coffee and caffinated teas are diuretics 

– Water in the morning and water before every meal (about 1 hour before)

– Never drink during or right after meals, it dilutes the bile and acids used for digestion (this goes for ALL drinks, but a few sips here and there won’t hurt, just don’t chug anything!)

– Drink water at room temperature or hotter. Cold or ice cold adds stress to your system and becomes less beneficial

– If you are thristy, drink more!

Benefits

Improves:

– circulation (therefore decreasing cramping and headaches)
– skin condition
– digestion
– hair health
– release of toxins
– weight loss
– alertness (decreasing fatigue)

Mix it up!

Great ingredients to mix with your water in the morning: 
– lemon juice
– ginger
– tumeric
– cayenne
– honey
– bitters
– cinnamon

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated?

Urine – it should be almost clear; a very very light yellow – if it’s darker than that or even begins reaching a dark yellow orange colour you seriously need some water STAT. 

Skin – dry skin is huge indicator – it also means you are lacking essentials fats – omega 3s for example

That’s it for today. Drink lots and prosper!

Your,
Natrual Groove Gal