A Coffee Smoothie…yes!

warm capuccino-saidaonlineThere’s nothing like a good cup of coffee. That fragrant aroma wafting through the air, the warmth of your mug as you gently lift it up and breathe, pause, then take a sip. Ahhh…I love coffee. And lately I have been drinking a lot of it. Well a lot for me, comparatively to other people I really don’t drink much at all. I drink maybe a cup a day, and there are some days none at all, but for a girl who used to drink one cup of decaf maybe once a week, a full caffeinated brew every day is a lot!

It’s all those fantastic flavored coffees that have done me in, toasted coconut, cinnamon pastry. But they don’t come in decaf and it is the caffeine that sends me flying, high on energy and sometimes a little shaky, probably not so good for me. Yet when the german chocolate cake is calling…

IMG_4721Luckily there’s a smoothie for that 🙂 Yes a way to still get my coffee fix, cause really I think what I am looking for is the flavor, and make it a more healthy choice and experience. It consists of all kinds of good things, like flax seed, cacao, honey and almond milk, with that little splash of coffee to finish it off.

It is quite yummy and satisfying. In fact, I made it for a friend of mine a couple of years ago, an avid coffee drinker and an avid smoothie avoider, and he loved it! He now enjoys them regularly. I also shared it with my mother this past weekend who is very much a smoothie drinker and loves her coffee, so it wasn’t really a hard sell, but she loved it and immediately asked for the recipe.

The recipe is quite simple, combining all the ingredients in the blender, mix and ready to serve. It can easily be made ahead and drunk later in the day, or right away, as I am sure you will not be able to wait.

Chocolate Mocha Smoothie

3/4 c. unsweetend almond milk

2 tbsp. cacao powder

1-2 oz. coffee (you can use decaf if you prefer, or any flavored coffee that you feel goes well with chocolate)

1 tbsp. flax seed oil

1 tbsp. vegan protein powder

1 tsp. honey

optional: 2 ice cubes (this thickens up your smoothie if prefered)

Put all ingredients into a Vitamix blender. Mix until smooth. Enjoy!

It’s Green….eewww

IMG_4568Greens, greens, greens, one of the first things I hear when talking about diet is that we should eat more greens. There certainly is a variety to choose from like spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, dandelion, etc. all fall into this category. They are rich in fiber, vitamins (like vitamin C, K, E), minerals and have many disease fighting benefits.

But honestly, greens are not always that appetizing. Seriously, I can only eat so many salads, so many different ways and then my body is craving something else. A totally different texture and sweetness even. I don’t care how good for you they are, I get to a point when I cannot possible eat another leafy thing. (You’re with me aren’t you?) Salads can get boring even after you have come up with all different kinds of ways to spice them up! Whether it be nuts, dried fruit, salad dressing etc. You need a change!

So how do you get those oh so beneficial greens in on a daily basis? In fact vegetables in general sometimes I can find a challenge. They recommend 5 servings of veg a day and often I get to supper and may not have had even one.

What I have discovered is the magic of smoothies! They are a great way to get all kinds of things into your body in a quick, easy and yummy way. There are all kinds of great recipes and combinations out there that are absolutely delicious. And sometimes you may not even notice the ‘good stuff’ (like spinach) that’s in there because you can’t really taste it.

IMG_4309Every morning I make a delicious tasting green smoothie that includes a bunch of greens and some fruit to sweeten it up. That way first thing I am getting not only some vegetables, but some green vegetables right away! I make it religiously and even my kids love it and enjoy it as well, asking for some when I make it. (Score!) I miss it on the odd day that I do not make it, usually because I am out of some ingredient and haven’t gone to the store yet.

Now there are lots of variations on a green smoothie out there an honestly some of them are not very good. They look a gross colored green when mixed, they don’t taste that great, and though good for you I end up choking it down, trying not to bring it back up. Gross! Who wants to drink that! I don’t care how good it is for me.

IMG_4573I had tried one before that was cucumber, spinach, celery, parsley, lemon, banana and water. It was ok and I drank it, got the health benefits, but honestly it was not that tasty. And seriously if I am going to eat healthy then I want it to taste good to. I am not a believer in healthy having it taste like cardboard, or having to choke it down. Food is supposed to taste good, we are supposed to enjoy our food. It is one of pleasures of being on this planet and being human, food! So I did this first version for a while and then gave up, it just didn’t provide the taste I was looking for. So good for me or not, I ditched it. (Though for someone else this may be totally the kind of taste and smoothie you are looking for! To each his own right?)

It was when I was in Hawaii a couple of years ago that I discovered my recent combination for a green smoothie. Spinach, mint, papaya and more this smoothie not only looked a lovely vibrant green it tasted absolutely delicious! I was sold. I wrote down the ingredients and came home to create my own. I played a little bit with the amounts, got it how I wanted and now everyday I enjoy this yummy, sweet, nice looking green delicious smoothie. I even have both my mother and sister (and sometimes even my Dad and that’s saying something because my Dad is not really a smoothie guy) enjoying this smoothie everyday. Once I shared it with them and they tasted it, they were hooked as well.

Now of course, I am going to share it with you, and I hope you love it! If you’re not a sweet kind of person it may not work for you but give it a go and see. Kids for sure will love it and it is such a fabulous easy way to get in those vegetables and fruits that we may not be getting in daily. Smoothies in general  have endless possibilities…. but that is another post.

Green Smoothie

1 c. spinachIMG_4567

3-4 stems of parsley

1 sprig of mint

*1/2 c. papaya

1/2 c. pineapple

1/2 c. mango

1/2 -3/4 c. apple juice

Put all ingredients in Vitamix blender. Start on low moving up to high. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Enjoy!

*I usually use orange or yellow papaya as I like it better and find it sweeter; but you can also use red papaya

**vary the amounts of fruit to make it sweeter or less sweet to taste

Makes one glass of yummy green smoothie

 

Ginger Tea

IMG_4420Years ago when I was seeing an acupuncturist, she gave me a recipe for ginger tea. At the time I was experiencing some nausea and she said that ginger tea was a great remedy. Little did I know just how beneficial ginger tea was! Not only does it combat nausea and vomiting, it has a meerad of other health benefits that are fantastic!

Ginger itself is high in vitamin C, magnesium and many other minerals. Which makes it great for battling colds and flu. I was surprised that ginger would have such a high vitamin C content myself, maybe because it is brown, who knows, but it’s definitely beneficial!

Other benefits include reduced inflammation, menstrual discomfort, and stress. Increases blood circulation, fertility, improves digestion and strengthens immunity. It also is a really yummy tea that is great to enjoy on a cold winter day. The flavors and smells are delightful, and for me, I like a drink that has an extra little kick, as it can get quite spicy the longer it sits. During the fall and winter months, I often have a cup of ginger tea on the go.

The tea itself is easy to make. Simply boil 4 cups of water in a medium size pot. Peel and slice a 2-3 inch piece of ginger. Once the water is boiling put the ginger pieces in the pot, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. That’s it! It’ll keep in the fridge for a good week and once you run out it is easy to make some more!

honeyMy kids find it a bit spicy, as it does have a bit of a kick, and the longer it sits the more spicy it gets. But I enjoy it with a teaspoon of honey (also with many health benefits) to sweeten it up. It also is a great tea to use when making a hot tottie, (honey, cinnamon, rum and tea), tastes really good.

Quick, simple, easy and probably something you have in your house on a fairly regular basis.

Ginger Tea

4 c. water

2-3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Peel and slice ginger, when water comes to a boil place ginger pieces in pot and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 cups

5 Minutes for Mom

Chloe, Luke and Matthew

Being a Mom has many duties, demands and challenges, but it also brings us many benefits, rewards and love. My heart just melts when the kids are playing and all of a sudden I turn around and Luke is standing there, he looks at me and says “Mommy I want to give you a hug”, he does and then he resumes playing.

Becoming a parent is job that we sign up for for life, once we are in we can’t decide to quit and look for another, take a vacation or check out. We are there forever, no matter what. But no matter what, we as Moms (parents) need to take care of ourselves so that we can be the best we can for our families. If we are not happy then the family isn’t happy.

I agree sometimes it can be challenging to even find 5 minutes for ourselves, but I have found that with a little creativity, it is easy to do and those little 5 minute breaks, help make the day easy, happy and flowing.

It’s easy to incorporate these into your day (and many of them you can do with the kids so not only do you take care of you, you can do it easily while also engaging the kids)

 

  1. Breathe – yes we breathe all the time but how often do we stop and take a really deep breath, one that fills the lungs. Deep breathing does wonders for our body and brings us back to a relaxed state. Stop, breathe in for the count of 4 and then release for the count of 4, do this 3 times and you’ll find yourself in a very peaceful state. Even better add a drop of energizing essential oil like peppermint or wild orange in your hands and cup them over your nose breathing in deeply. Doing this will instantly provide you with a natural pick me up.
  2. Dance – moving our body is key to keeping things flowing. Dancing uses your entire body, put on your favorite music and dance away! You can easily do this with the kids but be warned they’ll probably want another song when the first one is done 🙂
  3. Go outside – fresh air does wonders for us. Whether you go for a quick walk, are gardening (getting your hands in the dirt), or you stand out in the backyard for 5 minutes, the fresh air is a great way to regenerate and de-stress. Take a deep breath while you’re out there or do a grounding activity imagining you’re a tree with large roots going deep into the ground (this one especially is fun to do with the kids as they love to imagine and be creative)5 minutes for mom
  4. Chat with a friend -just expressing ourselves or touching base with another person can brighten our day. A listening ear always helps or just makes us feel better.
  5. Smile -this is so simple but makes such a difference in how you feel. You use more energy when you frown, and if you smile the people around you will smile too. It’s contagious!

Of course it is important to also schedule some longer periods of time for ourselves, without the kids, such as going for a massage, bubble bath, coffee, hike or date with a friend; as we need these too to keep our spirits happy, to regenerate and de-stress and be the best we can be for everyone.

The Art of Gratitude

Many of us spent this past weekend celebrating Thanksgiving. Spending time with family and friends sharing a savory meal of turkey, veggies and pie. It is a time when many of us recognize and acknowledge the blessings in our lives and give thanks.

It’s great. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. But it makes me wonder, if it feels so good and makes us happy, why do so many of us wait until the holidays to express our gratitude? Wonderful things happen everyday, in every moment that we should be grateful for.

Oprah Winfrey

Studies have shown that the more grateful you are for things in your life, the happier you are and the more good things will come to you. Leaders and prominent figures in the world are leading the way by talking about gratitude and it’s effects on their lives. Sixteen years ago, Oprah Winfrey started a gratitude journal, in which she writes down 5 things everyday that she is grateful for. She believes that this is one of the best things she has ever done in her life.

Being grateful is easy. If you appreciate and love what you have you will receive more. Even the simplest things, like someone holding the door open for you, or bringing you flowers, smiling. We often forget how some of the simplier things in life can bring us such joy and beauty. When we take note of them, they increase. We become more alive and receptive to the goodness that is in our lives and it keeps us living in the present moment.

I know there are many challenges in life and there are days when you wonder how you can be grateful for anything. On those days especially it is important to identify things that you are grateful for. If the kids have been screaming and you have been going crazy, then all of a sudden you have 5 minutes of silence and the kids playing happily, be grateful! Say thank you – you’ll get more!

Being grateful changes your state of being, brings a sense of peace, contentment and more overall happiness in your life. If you practice being grateful everyday, then everyday will be beautiful and wonderful, no matter if it seems like the world is falling down around you.

The key thing is to write down the things you are grateful for. Writing them down creates more power in your words; and your hands are a direct connection to your heart, so writing them down strengthens this connection. Creates more love and genuine appreciation.

I know you may be sitting there grumbling that this is all mumbo jumbo, so if you don’t believe it do an experiment. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3-5 things every day that you are grateful for. Do this for a week and notice what happens, notice how you feel, notice what has come to you. Then do it for another week and notice again. You may find that things not only are improving in your life but that your overall sense of well being has improved.

And it is easy to teach this to your kids. Most families are very diligent about teaching our children to say please and thank you, but if we can teach them to do a bit more then this will open them up to such beauty in their lives.

Yesterday when Luke and Chloe came home they noticed the snowsuit and snowpants that I had brought up. They had not seen these before so to them they were new. As soon as they saw them they were both saying, “Oh! thank you Mommy!” like they were the best things in the world. They immediately were trying them on, oohing and awing. It was a totally simple thing but they were showing gratitude. No one prompted them, no said they had too. They just did. I feel that if we can all nuture this in each of our children we will create a very different world.

With young children you can ask them at the end of each day before they go to bed what they are grateful for. With older children you can have them tell you but also write them down in their own journal. I believe that if we share what we are grateful for it increases, spreads out like the ripple effect. And doing it before bed is a wonderful time to do so because ending your day with things you are grateful for and make you feel good, happy; you are more likely to wake up in the morning feeling the same way. And isn’t that a great way to start your days? for you and the kids?

Gratitude is not a new thing and there are many ways to express it. But it is important that we do, everyday, not just on holidays or special occasions. It’s all part of creating what we want in our lives, focus on what is good and you will create more good. And I am guessing that we would all like more of the good things in our lives.