Smoothies have become my comfort food. They soothe my hunger pangs and the shaky nerves that can come with the big BACK TO SCHOOL day.

My older boy, D, started his first day of senior kindergarten today. We both stood in front of the school, he behind the gate and I in front of it with my younger boy, A. Both D and I struggled to put on a brave face and smile through the anxiety. I’m confident that once he walked into the building, the anxiety did start to thaw as he was reunited with his friends.

As for me, my distraction came from A, who happily skipped along on our way home to play and prepare dinner… And yes, prepare smoothies! Oh, how glad I am that my children love smoothies! Healthy nutrition is one of my top priorities as a parent, and working with kids’ particular palates, it’s not always simple to get that healthy and nutritious food into their bellies without a power struggle of some kind. Enter smoothies.

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Ayurveda is my healthy living guide, and it dictates that fruit should always be consumed separately. However, I love to use fruit as a natural sweetener in smoothies. In addition, I never, ever combine fruit with dairy (I rarely consume dairy, in fact) and any other animal protein. I feel it’s important to state these guidelines before venturing into today’s recipe. As a woman with a primary Vata dosha, too much fruit and improper food combinations can quickly give me an upset stomach. I try to adhere to these Ayurvedic guidelines with the food combinations in meals I prepare for myself and my family. Another extremely important tip is to use room-temperature ingredients. Ice-cold drinks can weaken agni, the digestive fire, interfering with healthy digestion.

Without further ado, here is what I used in my belly-friendly green smoothie today:

– about a cup of vanilla-flavoured unsweetened almond milk

– one ripe chopped banana

– one large ripe mango

– a bowl full of baby spinach

– a small bit of grated ginger (I freeze the ginger root to make it easier to grate), to taste

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Simply add all the ingredients into the blender in the order listed above, and blend to a smooth consistency.

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The result is delicious and kid-approved.

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Feel free to follow the above guidelines to custom-craft your own smoothie. For the liquid, in lieu of the almond milk, other good choices are organic soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, or even distilled water. I recommend using a ripe avocado, pear, or banana, in addition to another ripe fruit of your choice. As for the greens, baby spinach or kale are the traditional options with which most people are familiar. However, collard greens or even beet greens are also excellent. If you are not accustomed to the taste of greens in your smoothie, feel free to start with smaller handfuls of greens and gradually train your taste buds to (hopefully) enjoy them. The fruit is not enough to tempt your sweet tooth? Feel free to sweeten the smoothie with a few pitted dates or maple syrup until your taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness of the ripe fresh fruit.

In the mood for CHOCOLATE? We have the perfect chocolate banana protein smoothie for you, and we even have a vlog to guide you along!

All you need are a few simple ingredients:

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– almond milk (or your choice of milk)

– a ripe banana (we couldn’t get our hands on a ripe enough banana for the above video, so we apologize for any confusion)

– approx. 3/4 cup frozen berries (your choice)

– tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

– tbsp unsweetened nut butter

– a dash of cinnamon

– a few dates or a bit of maple syrup (completely optional)

Watch the video for additional information! Blend and enjoy!

Are you a parent whose children are heading back to school today? Feel free to share your tips on dealing with nerves/anxiety, as well as about healthy nutrition throughout the school year. Curious about other healthy living tips and recipes? Leave a comment and let us know what you would like to see next on this blog!

Wishing you a wonderful first week of September!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

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This time, here’s an original recipe that I invented intuitively in the kitchen. Toronto had another big snowfall just a couple of days ago, so although the spring season is almost on our doorsteps, winter feels that its visit is not over just yet. So, I continue to cook body-and-soul-warming soups and this one was perfect for the weather.

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Red Lentil and Quinoa Soup by Dharma Wanderlust

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa (cooked according to package instructions)

1 tsp ghee

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin seed

1/2 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp coriander, ground

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

2 bell peppers (I used yellow and red peppers)

1 cup of red lentils, rinsed well

3 cups of vegetable stock or water

2 tsp salt

1/2 lime, juiced

chopped cilantro and tahini (optional), for garnish

Directions:

1. Heat the ghee in a soup pot, then reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

2. Add the cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute.

3. Add the chopped peppers to the pot and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the lentils, stock or water and the salt, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.

5. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup well. Then, stir in the lime juice.

6. To serve, spoon 2-3 tbsp quinoa into a bowl and pour the soup over top. Stir in a tbsp of tahini into the soup and garnish with cilantro (optional).

Enjoy!

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We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you think.

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Katia (Dharma Wanderlust)

Following the holidays, our older son has started school and once again, I face the fun-but-somewhat-daunting challenge of coming up with exciting snacks to pack in his lunch bag. Like their parents, both our children have a sweet tooth. I always look for new, healthy recipes for treats. And so, I turned once again to Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good. I shared another recipe from the book in the past, for gluten-free sweet potato spice muffins.

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This time, I decided to try the Bummer Bars recipe from the book. And we were very impressed. This is a quick and simple recipe to which I will return over and over again.

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As with most other recipes, I encourage you to play and substitute the original ingredients to find your own favourite variation of the bars. That is exactly what I did. Here is the original recipe from the book, with my substitutions listed in brackets:

 

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Bummer Bars

Ingredients:

 

1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (I used rolled oats)

1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

A pinch of fine sea salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup good-quality maple syrup

2 tbsp brown rice syrup (I omitted this altogether)

1/2 cup chopped prunes or apricots (I used both prunes and apricots and also added raisins)

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts, but next time will omit the nuts in order to be able to pack the bars for my son to take to school, as per the school board’s policy)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a brownie pan with parchment paper. Note: I used a 8 X 11 inch pan. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour the mixture into the pan. Pack the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1/2 hour, or until the bars have firmed up and are golden brown. Let cool before removing from the pan.

You can lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into rectangles and serve right away, or store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

XO Katia (Dharma Wanderlust)

Whenever one of us is not in the workshop making jewellery, or running around with our children, we experiment with other types of creations. We are particular about healthy, nutrient-rich, delicious food. From time to time, we will share fabulous recipes we find (and customize in our kitchen) with you.

For Mother’s Day about a month ago, Pawel gifted to me Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good. I have been cooking, baking, and blending my way through the book and am very impressed with its contents.

Photo courtesy of eater.com

 

Over the past year, I have successfully implemented an elimination diet to heal inflammation and allergies that I had experienced for many years. This book features recipes that support the elimination diet and is an excellent resource for anyone interested in fine-tuning their menu, as well as for anyone simply interested in good, clean food and playing with new recipes.

The other day, I baked the sweet potato and five-spice muffins featured in the book, modifying the recipe slightly as I went along. These nutrient-rich muffins are gluten-free and are excellent with a bit (or a lot, if you’re a nut butter nut like me) of nut butter or coconut oil.

Ingredients (I added my personal notes in italics in brackets):

• 1 large sweet potato (I used two medium sweet potatoes)
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used melted coconut oil)
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 3/4 cup maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tbsp for brushing the muffins

(I used maple syrup and skipped the brushing step, as I barely had enough syrup to make 3/4 cup. In fact, I only had about a 1/4 cup of the syrup, so I used coconut sweetener, mixed with the almond milk and maple syrup, to make up the 3/4 cup of sweet liquid).

• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups gluten free flour (if the flour doesn’t include xanthan gum, add 1 tsp)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 ½ tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (I used 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of all spice, and 1/8 tsp of nutmeg)
• ½ tsp fine sea salt

Here is how they’re made, with instructions copied from the book. I added my personal notes in italics in brackets:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or a fork and bake in the oven until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with zero resistance), about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set the sweet potato aside until it’s completely cool.

Peel the sweet potato, discarding the skin, and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup or xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

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Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups. (I used a small amount of melted coconut oil to grease the muffin tin).Image

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, brushing the tops with the extra maple syrup during the last 5 minutes of baking. Let the muffins cool before serving. (The temperature of my oven is usually true to norm, but these muffins were ready after about 16 minutes).

Et Voila!

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Happy baking!

XO,

Katia

(Dharma Wanderlust)