Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Smoothies: Happy Blending!

With kids going back to school and halloween costumes already popping up on the shelves, it may seem like it's already Fall.  But Summer lasts until late September and so does the heat that comes with it.  Fortunately, the heat makes Summer the perfect season for one of my favorite foods: Smoothies.

Smoothies are a fabulous choice because they are healthy, delicious, versatile, and nearly fool proof.  When you think you've got nothing on hand to eat, just some fresh or frozen fruit and a blender and you have a yummy vitamin packed meal.

I know it can be appealing to find one smoothie recipe and stick to it everyday, but try mixing up your routine.  By eating a varied diet you provide your body with a broad range of vitamins and minerals.  Plus mixing and matching flavors is fun and keeps your meals interesting.

I prefer creamier smoothies so my basic recipe starts with a cup of nut/seed milk and a frozen banana.  From there I add in whatever other ingredients call out to me that day.  If you prefer a less creamy smoothie, use juice or coconut water as your liquid base.

Having trouble thinking of ideas other than fruit for smoothies? Here are some ideas for new ingredients to spice up your smoothie:

Veggies: A handful of fresh kale, spinach, or other greens, frozen broccoli or peas, shredded carrots or beets

Herbs: I love adding a heaping handful of basil or mint to brighten up my blended beauties.

Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cayenne, ginger, turmeric (Try this Turmeric & Fig Shake)

Nuts: Just about any nut goes well and adds some richness.  I especially like using cashews or brazil nuts (major selenium boost!).  Soak and rinse your nuts first.  They will blend more easily and become more digestible.

Superfoods: Cacao nibs, goji berries, maca powder, spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass powder or juice, chlorophyll, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, protein powder, bee pollen

Some of my favorite combinations are Mint and Cacao, Berries and Basil, and Cherry Brazil Nut.  What are your favorite smoothie flavor combinations?

The Naked Fig

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Healthy Challenge

The last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind.  I went to the beach, threw my first ever Naked Fig dinner party, and took on a new nutrition consulting client.  I'm feeling a bit scattered and in need of some stillness and me time.  Don't get me wrong.  The things that are keeping me busy are wonderful things.  I am truly grateful for the opportunities that keep finding me!  It's amazing how that happens when you follow your heart.  But I need to balance it out with time to relax and soak it all in.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that when life gets busy, making healthy choices can be a bit harder.  Healthy routines get sacrificed when time is limited.  I promise myself I'll make it to yoga later or I'll cook all those vegetables tomorrow.  That is why its important to have little ways to make it easier to make healthy choices.  That is where my challenge comes in.  The beauty of this challenge is that it is so easy that you can do it whether you've got a packed schedule or nothing at all to do.

Here it is:

Every time you're at the grocery store, find a produce item you have either never tried or haven't had in years and buy it.  Just pick one item.  I have a tendency to go to the store and get the same fruits and vegetables every time.  But eating a variety of produce provides a more nourishing diet and supplies you with different vitamins.

  I find that when I do this, I get really excited about trying new things and I maintain the mindset of wellness without effort.  And you'll be surprised how many different fruits and vegetables are on the shelves that you haven't noticed when you weren't looking.  In the last month I have had cherimoya (also known as a custard apple), star fruit, persimmons, and pepino melons.  Doing this challenge I realized that I hadn't bought plantains in ages and came up with this delicious recipe for a grain-free plantain porridge.  Or maybe try a fresh herb you rarely think to buy!  This is a great way to get kids excited about eating healthy.  So my challenge for you is simply to try new produce.  It is fun and easy and can really help to maintain healthy habits when life gets hectic.

With joy and gratitude,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday-Funday... with, Pumpkin Everything Muffins!

  Happy Sunday Fellow Optimist!

  Finally, a sunny Sunday here in Atlanta! I know we are sure to be doing some grilling later out by the pool- but for now... it's ALL about the, Sunday Muffin!

  We (kids and I) decided to make a healthy version of an Everything Muffin... We had pumpkin and various nuts and seeds... so it seemed like an obvious choice. Although, it was requested by little Kayla for there to be NO coconut, so, we left that out ;) I will only cook something that takes two bowls or less on a Sunday- so, we had to be super efficient!

 This is what we came up with...


(into one large bowl)  #1

~3 cups whole grain pastry flour
~1 TB baking powder
~1 TB cinnamon (ground)
~pinch of cardamom
~1 tsp of freshly ground nutmeg
~1 pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
~1 cup coconut sugar- or, organic evaporated cane juice

(into one medium bowl)  #2

~3 farm fresh eggs
~1/2 cup melted coconut oil
~2 tsp of organic vanilla
~1 1/2 cup organic pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

 (making it EVERYTHING)

~1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
~1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
~1/2 cup raw chopped walnuts
~1/2 cup raisins (I prefer the golden kind)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with paper liners

using a whisk, thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients in bowl #1.

using the same whisk, whisk together all the wet ingredients in bowl #2. Make a well in the center of bowl #1, pour all wet ingredients from bowl #2 right in. Now, switch to using a wooden spoon and gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry.

add the sunflower seeds, chocolate, walnuts, and raisins into bowl #1. Gently, but EVENLY, completely incorporate all ingredients. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop batter evenly into waiting lined muffin cups.

Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pans. Continue baking until muffins feel 'springy' to the touch and are golden brown on top. Cool for 5 minutes in to pan, then turn muffins out on a wire tray to cool completely.

Ahhh... Sunday... Now, to the POOL!

Love and Gratitude,


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coffee, Caffeine, and Energy

I should start this post out with a disclaimer.  I absolutely love coffee.  I started drinking coffee pretty young and instantly knew it was for me.  I love the ritual of it, the smell, and the taste.  Any city I go to, I immediately find the best coffee shops because they have always been my happy place.

For a long time I justified my love of coffee with studies that show that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer's or that coffee is an antioxidant rich food.  But eventually I had to admit to myself that I was ignoring the negative effects of coffee.  I was very dependent on it.  If I did not have coffee I would have low energy and severe headaches.  When other people would come to me for advice about their health I would suggest that they back away from caffeine even though I was downing a whole pot.  Finally I decided I had to practice what I preach.  I decided that I would try having a cup of hot water with lemon first thing in the morning and then I could have my coffee.  What happened next completely surprised me.  After having lemon water, I really didn't want the coffee.

Because I love coffee I decided that if I wanted, I could have one cup per day and only in the morning.  The changes in my life were bigger than I ever expected.  I used to think that I simply needed more sleep than other people.  I was wrong.  I went from sleeping until 11:00 to waking up naturally at 7:00.  I also no longer crash when I came home from work.  I have the energy to go to evening yoga or cook a nice dinner even after a long day.

If you think you might need to lower your caffeine intake, I recommend you try hot water with lemon or herbal teas.  I personally like hibiscus tea the best and it is packed with Vitamin C.  Plus it is a beautiful pinkish red.  Caffeine can be really hard on your digestive system, so if you are suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms you may benefit from limiting your coffee.  George Metaljan of Worlds Healthiest Foods also makes a convincing point about coffee:

"One of the most problematic aspects of coffee, however, is its ability to make a person feel awake, alert, and ready to go - even when that person's body is exhausted, drowsy, and in need of rest and sleep. The caffeine in coffee provides a false feeling of vitality - the exact opposite of the world's healthiest foods. These foods provide real vitality - complete with conventional nutrients, phytonutrients, and the wisdom of the earth that produced them."

Good luck,

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Step Away

  It is said, that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a first step.  Today I was able to take my true first step in my infinite journey.  For the first time in my adult life, I had the opportunity to get a complete lab work up at the doctor's office.  I had been wanting for a some time to get to the core of what was stopping me from achieving my goals--such as losing weight, feeling tired, irregular cycles, etc.  I knew that my eating habits played a large part of what was holding me back; and I've made strides to change my diet and purge my body of the junk and processed foods of this country's "typical" intake.  But, I knew there had to be more to it.  I knew that in order to be truly effective and to see real, long-term changes, I had to have all the answers.

  So, last week I went to see my doctor and told them of my concerns.  I was completely honest.  Honesty is the only way real change can be ensured to come about.  You have to be willing to shed the lies you tell yourself, the doctors and others in order to seriously help yourself.  I had my blood drawn and tests run to evaluate everything from my cholesterol to hormones to sugar levels and all the important stuff in-between.  Today, I got those results back.  Overall, things turned out well.  I can't say if having made changed my diet some time back made a difference in the numbers, because I didn't have an initial baseline before making changes.  However, I'm scheduled three months out to do a re-draw.  I'll be making more changes to my diet and of course exercises before the re-draw, so it will be interesting to see what greater changes take place between now and then.

  I'm moving forward. I'm starting my journey.  My path is clearer now and I'm looking forward to my stroll and where it leads me.  I have my 5k approaching in just a couple of weeks and I consider the completion of that 5k part of this journey.  As I said last time, I will continue to keep you all in the loop of my progress.  My ups and downs make me real and human. It means I'm living, not just existing. I hope those of you reading my posts feel the same way about yourselves.

 Much Love,


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Power of Chia and The Easiest Jam Recipe Ever

 Chia seeds have been making their way into health food stores over the last few years, but odds are you're more familiar with chia pets.  Either way, we are talking about the same seeds.  Those tiny black seeds that sprout and create "hair" for your chia pet can do wonders for your health.

 Chia seeds were once a staple food of the Aztecs and Mayans and are still commonly consumed in Mexico in the form of a drink called Chia Fresca. I've been told that Aztec warriors used to use chia seeds for rations because such a small amount of chia sustained energy and provided lots of nourishment.

 Like flax seeds, chia seeds are rich in Omega-3s.  But unlike flax, Chia does not have to be ground first in order to digest.  Chia is full of antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber and has a long shelf-life so you don't have to worry about freshness.

 You may be wondering, if chia is so healthy, why am I just now hearing about it?  Chia actually has an interesting history.  When the Spanish came to Latin America, they banned the Aztec and Mayan people from farming chia as they believed it was too closely associated with their non-Christian religions.  This led to chia nearly disappearing as a food source.  Now that scientists are discovering all of the health benefits, chia is making a major comeback.

 One neat thing about chia seeds is that they gel when mixed with liquid.  This makes them wonderful for making raw puddings, jams, and for thickening recipes without adding flour, dairy, cornstarch, or gelatin.  Try sprinkling chia seeds on fruit or yogurt or in smoothies to start out.  Or if you are interested in going a step further with chia, try this recipe for blueberry chia jam or check out this recipe on my blog for a Pudding Parfait.

 I chose blueberries for this recipe because they are delicious and in season, but it will work with most fruits.  I've made it with peaches and blackberries and they were delicious, but blueberry is my favorite. When berries are no longer in season you can still make this with frozen fruit.  This is a great recipe for using up any fruit that is starting to get overripe.

Raw Blueberry Jam


2/3 cup blueberries 
1 heaping tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp raw honey or other sweetener (Optional. I only use sweeteners if the blueberries are really tart)

Put ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix into a puree.  At first the mixture will be runny (but still delicious), but after an hour or so it will be gelatinous like jam.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  

Eat this jam on toast with raw nut butter or add it into oatmeal.  Or just eat it straight out of the jar! It's good for you!

With joy and gratitude,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

5k Flush Out, I'm an upcoming 5k.  Ideally, I'd love to run it as I did my initial 5k, over three years ago.  However, my food choices lately, although so much better than they ever used to be, haven't been that great of late.  As I'm mentioned before, we're all human. And humans are far from perfect.  Now, I can either beat myself up for making crappy food choices knowing that I should be buckled down and focused on getting my butt conditioned for the race (which, by the way, is on Aug 3rd), OR...I can own up to my bad choices and, as I plan to do moving forward--as in tomorrow--is to refocus and start healing my body from recent abuses.

  On my agenda? For starters, I've got to flush my system of the processed junk I freely chose to put into my body.  Sugar, gluten, bad fats...plain old junk.  Now, I'm not a doctor or licensed nutritionist of the holistic or commercial kind.  Everyone has a system that is all their own, and I'm not prescribing anything for anyone. I just need to make that clear...but, I'm starting off with drinking one, 32 oz serving of apple cider vinegar water a day.  The apple cider vinegar is a great tool to start flushing the digestive system; and the water is just stellar for the body all the way around. I also plan on ramping up my veggies and my fruits, and eliminating meat/poultry and seafood.  For some time now, I've been predominantly vegetarian, borderline vegan, so eliminating the animal products isn't going to be that difficult for me.

  I have about three weeks left before the race.  I'm looking forward to seeing what my food changes have done for my performance and more-so for my overall health and well-being.  I'll be sure to keep everyone up to date on my progress or my mis-steps!  

  Much Love,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Foods to Beat Summer Workout Soreness

 Does your summer workout have you sore? If the answer is, yes- then that is great! It means your workout, is working! When you workout, you are trying to break down your muscles to build them back up even stronger. This is what makes our thighs tighter and our butts a little higher! When we get sore from workouts we are feeling the build up of lactic acid our muscles produce and oxidative stress on our cells. A little inflammation! With that said, working out is only the first step in getting a tighter tush. You will not get the results you want from spending hours in the gym if you aren't eating to fuel great results. Your muscles have to repair and recover before you get tighter- and before you can break them down again in the gym! So, here a few few foods to help calm down those sore muscles and help you stay on your fitness quest!

 1. Tart Cherry Juice- Tart Cherry Juice has tons of antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. The antioxidant properties in cherry juice help knock out free radicals produced from your muscles while working out. This natural source of anti inflammatory works similar to a non steroid anti inflammation drug, like Advil! You can try taking, 1 oz of tart cherry juice, daily as a supplement to help with your workouts and recovery. Tart cherry juice also has an added benefit to working out of helping to reset your bodies natural levels of melatonin to promote more restful sleep. A very important step in weight training! Muscles repair and grow when we sleep.

 2. Blueberries- These little power houses are also great at fighting off all kinds of free radicals and reducing oxidative stress! Very important for maintaining cellular health and aiding in recovery. I recommend eating a handful or adding a cup to a smoothie daily.

 3. Ginger- Ginger is super rich in the inflammation fighting compound, gingerol. Ginger is known for helping with pain (even joint pain/arthritis)  and helping to fight inflammation! I eat fresh ginger every day. If you can't get fresh ginger, the next best thing is dried. If you use dried, you only need half as much. The gingerol does through a process when being dehydrated which increases the intensity about twice as much and changes it to shogaols. You can eat the ginger, put it in tea, throw some on your smoothies, or even bathe in it!

 4. Apple Cider Vinegar- I know you knew this one would be on here! Where do I begin... Only use ORGANIC RAW apple cider vinegar- or you won't get any of the fabulous benefits. I use Braggs. Make sure you are buying one with the 'mother' floating around in the jar (that crazy slimy stuff) and be sure to shake before use. The mother in the ACV is made up of strand like enzymes connected like protein molecules and bacteria. These little miracles are what heals you, you've got to have the enzymes! the ACV gives you  good dose of potassium and magnesium, which low levels are both linked to muscle fatigue and cramping. ACV also helps break down lactic acid and flush your liver- while promoting the healing! It also helps alkalize your system (important if you drink coffee) and boosts your immune system- great for warding off those pesky gym germs ;) You want to be sure to dilute the vinegar before consuming since it is acidic to avoid damage to your tooth enamel or throat. I drink 2 tablespoons daily in 32 oz of water- through a straw! Then I brush my teeth :) I can't say enough good stuff about ACV, but it takes some getting used to. Start slow by adding a few teaspoons to your water and work your way up. If you are on any medications for your heart, water pills, or diabetes you will want to check with your doctor first for possible interactions. You can also use about 2 cups of ACV into a hot bath to help draw lactic acid out of your muscles through your skin.

 5. Water- This is so important in the recovery of any type of healing and maintaining optimal health. If you are dehydrated, your cells can't function properly and you are going to have some problems... On an average day, you should be drinking at least half of your body weight, in ounces, of water. If you drink anything caffeinated, then add that same amount in water to your original total to make up from the dehydrating effects of the caffeine. It is so important to stay hydrated and also for flushing out toxins. If you ever feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Every time you use the potty, it should be almost clear- if not, go drink a glass of water! You absolutely need to stay properly hydrated when exercising to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes. Not to mention, if you don't drink enough water- your body will naturally hold on to it.Water is the most important tool for detoxifying by flushing out free radicals and lactic acid. So, drink up!

 There are so many more ways I can tell you to eat for training recovery- these are just a few to get started! Everyone is biologically different and will have their own specific nutritional needs- especially if you are serious about your fitness training. It is very important to remember, that what we do outside of the gym is almost more important than what we do inside. You have to create the environment for good health starting with what you put inside your body- you can never 'work off' the effects of eating a poor diet. Even if it doesn't show on the outside (which it normally does), you can never, ever escape the consequences poor nutrition has on the inside of your body. We lead hectic lives, we need to eat and train for it!

 Love and Gratitude,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Positive Mind Equals Positive Results

 Just like everyone else, I have my good days and my bad.  Keeping a positive mindset isn't always isn't easy.  But, I have found it's important to genuinely look in the mirror--every morning--and say at least one positive thing about yourself.  It can be anything from the bright smile you posses to the talent you have for keeping a balanced bank account--ANYTHING.  We are all beautiful on the inside, no matter what we look like on the outside.  However, as cheesy as a daily self-affirmation sounds, by giving yourself that positive reinforcement internally, you begin to feel like your goals are obtainable and you are truly worth meeting and exceeding the goals you set. 

 I stare into my mirror and finding that positive something about myself starts my day with a smile.  I walk into my kitchen and I'm geared up to take the time to make a healthy, filling, delicious breakfast to get my day going.  Not only does that healthy, nutrient-filled breakfast fill me up until lunchtime, but it gives me the energy to do my job and a clear mind to keep myself one step ahead of the challenges of that day.

 You are ultimately in control of your success and happiness.  I'm in control of mine.  If it's weight you need/want to lose, the only obstacle that stands in your way is you.  If it's making changes to your eating habits or the amount of exercise you incorporate into your life, again, you are the only thing keeping it from happening.  Choose to make each day fulfilling and meaningful.  It all starts with a positive attitude!

 Much love,

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Delivery Me From Temptation

  All my life, I've been surrounded by food.  Food was never simply used as fuel or sustenance, but as a reward, comfort, band-aide…and yes, even as punishment (usually self-inflicted).  I love food; almost all foods.  I was never considered a picky eater by any means.  Broccoli? Yes, please.  Salad? Bring on the “rabbit food”!!  Steak?  A perfect medium-rare is the way to go.  Chocolate cake?  The only thing missing is a tall glass of milk.  You get my point.   My problem has always been that I liked too much of all of it.  It most certainly didn't help that I loved all the convenient processed food to go with all the natural stuff. 

  However, it wasn't until I met a former classmate, who had become a Vegan for almost 10 years prior to us meeting,  that my mind started to open up to what I was really doing to my body!  So, I started to read.  I read about the effects different food can have on the mind and body.  I started to understand how the foods I ate and drank daily, or on the regular affected me.  I started to make small changes and have noticed the difference.  The human body is completely amazing.  It’s a well-oiled machine that given the right care and maintenance, it will run smoothly and efficiently.  

  Unfortunately, we, as humans, get in the way of our best health more often than not, and pollute our systems with excess and potential poisons simply for self-gratification. 

  I’m not perfect…I’m human.  Sometimes I choose not to listen to what my body says and I indulge.  I’m learning, on occasion, that indulging is OK.  Doing it every day only sets me back on my new goal to live a happy, quality life.

 Much Love!


Dairy Debate plus Nut or Seed Milk Recipe

 Whether or not to drink milk is a topic that tends to get people riled up.  For one reason or another the issue really stirs up people's emotions so I'm just gonna let you know what I eat and why.  Everyone is different so I'm not gonna make any recommendation for anyone else on dairy.

 At this point in my life, I'm not too passionate either way about dairy.  I think it's possible to be supremely healthy with or without dairy.  I don't have a strict label for the way I eat.  I try to not to define my diet because it is constantly evolving and I don't want to get locked into a dogmatic mindset of foods that are "allowed" or "forbidden."  That's simply not for me.  But a good rule of thumb I try to stick to is to choose whole foods.  And animal milk, in its true form, is a whole food.

Before you get carried away though, you should know that I'm picky about what dairy I'll eat.  Real milk is raw, unpasteurized, and non-homogenized.  It also comes from cows that are able to graze in grassy pastures.  Unfortunately, this milk is hard to find if you do not know a dairy farmer.  In fact, in the U.S. unpasteurized milk can only be sold as "pet food."

 The milk you find in stores often comes from cows living in cramped stalls, fed corn, soy and who-knows-what, and that are given hormones to keep them constantly able to produce milk.  Antibiotics are also given to these cows rather than allowing them to get healthy naturally before milking.  Yuck.  Some researchers will argue that the actual nutrient contents are the same no matter that the cows' lives are like or what they are fed.  While the macronutrients may be similar, a sick or stressed cow is not going to produce the same product as a happy healthy cow.  Experts also claim that the amount of antibiotics that are found in milk are negligible, but I don't want to drink ANY drugs in my milk.  For more info on the subject check out this New York Times article:

 Another concern with milk is the homogenization process.  The fats in milk naturally separate and form a creamy fat layer on top.  Homogenization is a process used to prevent separation to make the consistency of milk smooth and uniform by breaking down fat globules.  This can help improve shelf life, leaving you with less fresh milk.  Again, yuck.  For this reason only buy organic grass-fed non-homogenized whole milks.  It is harder to find but it tastes so much better and I feel more comfortable knowing what is in my milk.  Better yet, I'd choose some raw milk from a local farmer if I can find it.

 You may be thinking to yourself, why in the world would she choose whole milk when every doctor and nutritionist keeps saying choose low-fat dairy.  The simplest answer is that I believe choosing foods as close to their whole natural state as possible is best.  Whole milk is a whole food.  Skim and 2% are not.  I choose to trust nature's wisdom on this matter.  The vitamins in milk are fat soluble so when the milk is skimmed off, it is harder for your body to to digest and assimilate all of the nutritional goodness. Milk is fatty for a reason and I'd rather have the real thing and just drink less of it.

 For many people milk can be hard to digest.  It is one of the most common food sensitivities.  If this is true for you, it is best to avoid dairy.  Some people find that they are more able to digest goat's milk as it is more similar to human milk than cow's milk is.  Another bonus of goat's milk is that the fat molecules are smaller naturally so it is not typically homogenized.  I eat goat milk butter sometimes and it is so good!

 If you choose not to eat dairy, people will certainly ask you where you get your calcium.  Cows eat a vegan diet so where do they get their calcium from?  Grass!  Leafy greens are one of the best sources of calcium and they don't have the downsides of dairy.

 For replacing milk in your diet I would recommend nut or seed based "milks."There are many options available at grocery stores but I prefer to make my own.  Making your own "milks" is easy and keeps you in charge of the ingredients.  Read the labels on your nut, soy, or seed milks.  You may be surprised to see how many ingredients are in there.  I'd much rather have fresh raw nut/seed milks I make myself.

 My favorite milk alternative is hemp milk.  It is the easiest to make because hemp seeds do not require hours of soaking before blending.  I'm not great at planning ahead so this is a major plus.  Hemp is also a protein powerhouse which milks are not.

This recipe is a basic guideline for nut/seed milks but can be tweaked to your liking.  Experiment with different nuts, adding spices, or adding sweeteners.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom are especially nice.  Pistachio makes a great milk and has a slightly green color that I like.  Play around with it and have fun!

Basic Nut or Seed Milk

Supplies: Blender and nut bag, fine mesh strainer, or cheesecloth


1/2 cup nut or seeds (soaked for 4-8 hours)
1 1/2 cup water (Some people like more water.  I like it creamy so I recommend starting with this and adding more if you like.)
1 tbsp sweetener (This is optional-try honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia...)
1/2 tsp spice (This is also optional-try cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom)

Soaking will soften the nuts making them blend much more easily.  It can also make them easier to digest.  Nuts have an enzyme that keeps them from sprouting until they are watered.  When you soak nuts, this enzyme disappears and allows for better nutrient absorption.

1. Soak and rinse nuts.

2. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

3. Pour through a fine mesh strainer.  If you don't have one you can use cheesecloth.  You can also buy nut-milk bags but I find a mesh strainer works fine for me.

4. Drink immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

I apologize for the lengthy post but there are a lot of considerations when it comes to dairy milk and I wanted to address them all.  Your brain may be swimming in this deluge of information, so if I've overwhelmed you, just remember Michael Pollan's simple advice: "Eat food.  Mostly Plants.  Not too much." That advice never fails.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A New Food Optimist, But Always A Foodie

 I volunteered to be part of Food Optimist’s 28-day health reboot during the month of April, and it was an adventure I looked forward to, but also entered into with curiosity.  The curious part was learning to understand how a lemon or a pinch of cayenne or a handful of kale could make such a difference inside and out of the body.  I trusted Chef Natalie to guide me with her expertise and culinary training to create smoothies, salads and entrees that would not only taste good, but be beneficial to “rebooting” my whole body. 

 The first week and most of the second were very tiring.  My body, particularly my brain was hazy and sluggish.  I felt like I was living in a fog.  I was tired and a tad moody, but my focus was just trying to keep myself moving forward while detoxing!  By the time I came through the detox tunnel at the end of week two, I had this incredible burst of energy.  It was almost as if someone had turned on a bright light in a pitch-black room!  My brain—my thoughts—clear.  I had energy flowing through my body and I wanted to start moving.  And sleep?? Wow! I slept solid and well for the first time in I don’t know how long.  Although, I’ve always had a mostly clear complexion, my skin started to glow for the first time in a long time.  I had been trying to figure out how to treat a strange little breakout/inflammation I had on my right cheek.  Well, once I got into the cleanse I noticed that on top of the “glow” I was getting in my face, the inflammation I had was lessening.  By the end, it was completely gone! The toxins, the junk in which I had quit putting into my body, and had replaced with cleansing, nutritious whole foods, cured me of the ugliness I felt. 

 My overall experience with the reboot was positive and beneficial.  I had great guidance and a support group of several other women all participating. I think having this network of support during my initial journey to good health made all the difference in the world.  I plan on making a detox/cleanse part of my regular diet.  Being humans means being imperfect—in life and in making food choices.  By including a periodic detox/cleanse, I believe can continuously make a difference to your overall daily health.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another Optimistic Perspective

 Hello to all you Food Optimists! I'd like to introduce myself and let you all know a little bit about myself as I have the genuine delight of guest blogging for the food optimist. I am Chelsea Hunter of The Naked Fig, a site where I share my recipes and adventures in healthy cooking. I am currently studying to become certified in holistic nutrition and have transformed my own health by embracing whole natural foods and slow cooking.
Changing my relationship with food has taught me gratitude and patience, and helped me lose weight, manage depression, gallstones, and migraines.   

 If you ask me, the language of health and nutrition can be very negative: Don't eat this, restrict that, never mix those, use will power...You know what I'm talking about.  It can make the very idea of getting healthy feel like a futile uphill battle.  That is what I love about The Food Optimist.  It's all in the name.  Think positive and stay optimistic.  Instead of getting bogged down in the negatives, think of the wonderful changes that come from healthful balanced eating.  Being healthy doesn't have to mean deprivation.  In fact, to me, it means the opposite.  My diet is plentiful and varied.  I hope to inspire you to see that healthy eating is a practice of adding and expanding rather than cutting back.  The joy and pleasure of eating well is what I hope to bring as my vision of "food optimism", a reminder that healthy eating is simple, fun, and intuitive.  Our bodies are programmed to tell us what we need if we will only listen.  

You can look forward to a mix of raw and cooked healthy meals and desserts from The Naked Fig, and feel free to contact me with any questions.  I can't wait to get to know you all! 

Here is a little teaser of the kind of foods I make: A Raw Vanilla Rosewater Tart + Edible Flowers + Bee Pollen

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our Newest, Happy Foodie!

 As promised... Here is our first new foodie blogger, Marisa Prior! Not only is Marisa going to be sharing her fascinating story with us all... she is ALSO now one of our associate personal chefs here at Food Optimist! She has come a LONG way on her journey- is on her path to helping others! She is so excited to share her story and connect with you all :) Be sure to check for her post, every TUESDAY!! Make this a beautiful day!

 With love and gratitude,

Monday, July 1, 2013

Welcome To A New Day...A New View

 My name is Marisa, and I’ve become a true Food Optimist.  My journey truly began almost three months ago.  Although I had “dabbled” in eating healthy—or “healthier”—I hadn’t quite truly grasped what it meant to eat healthfully and FEEL healthy.  Recognizing and understanding what a “whole” food is compared to a “processed” food; eating “clean” opposed to commercially grown or partially processed foods.  I started my journey to become healthy over 10 years ago!  I was in my mid-twenties and morbidly obese.  I was desperate to lose the weight, join mainstream America and do “normal” tasks and activities like most other people.  I had done the all the research I could do that gave me options and information on weight loss.  Everything was a fad—short-term and unrealistic.  I had already tried most of them, and then I had heard about gastric bypass.  After I watched as many informative news reports on the topic, or read about the celebrities that had made that choice and succeeded, I knew that as drastic and permanent as the procedure was, it was my best option for long-term happiness and longevity.

Honestly, if I had known then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have chosen the gastric bypass procedure.  BUT, I made my choice, and yes, I lost a substantial amount of weight with little to no medical repercussions, and that’s a blessing.  However, what the surgery doesn’t do for you is educate you about WHY certain foods are better for you than others, and what benefits come from eating whole, natural foods opposed to eating commercialized food and other processed products.  Again, I lost weight and that weight loss made a big difference in where I could go, the activities I could participate in, and yes, my energy levels naturally increased, but looking back, I never had that “burst” of, or “zest” for life.  Fast forward to today…

I met Chef Natalie, the ultimate Food Optimist in April.  She was looking for “guinea pigs” to test out some recipes she was working on, all compiled with benefits working together.  I volunteered for the experiment and was A-MAZED at how I felt after purging the “food” I had been consuming from my body and actually feeding it nature’s bounty.  I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.  Sure, I felt like crap the first week, week and a half of eating differently, but, seriously, it was like a fog had lifted in my head; I had energy I didn’t know how to expend it was so new to me…and sleep?!?!...OH! The incredibly solid night’s sleep!! Chef Natalie turned my world upside—in a good way—and if turning my world back to what it was before she came along meant losing all the life I gained, then upside down I shall remain!!

So, now I invite you to follow me, my journey…JOIN my journey if you’d like.  Take the path less traveled and become a Food Optimist too.  You’ll be happy you did.  What do you have to lose other than negativity, lethargy, depression, frustration and maybe even some weight!? Sounds horrible, huh?

Change is here!!!

 Happy Monday Morning, Foodies!

 It has been quite a while since my last Foodie post here on, Eating out of the Box. I have spent the last couple of years cooking away and continuing learning  about what I am MOST passionate about- keeping you all healthy! When I say healthy, I don't just mean 'not sick'... I mean, HEALTHY! Healthy is keeping your body, mind, and spirit in such a state you don't have any place for sickness, disease, or negativity to grow... Now, there is A LOT behind this! By no means is this to be taken lightly... There is no magic pill or quick fix anywhere in your future. Good health is a LIFESTYLE. A lifestyle means how you choose to live your life and how you conduct yourself on a daily basis... Everyday. Eating clean nutrient dense foods, getting plenty of rest, being aware of yourself and those who surround you, being aware of stress factors in your life, living in a toxin free environment, and helping to make our world a cleaner and greener place... It's all of these things.

 It is my hope that you will find our Foodie website helpful and supportive on your journey. I have enlisted some really fabulous people who are all so passionate about helping you all reach your goals on every level. We hope that this can become a resource for information and support- wherever you are at in your journey. Please comment, question, and provide feedback along the way! Remember, we are here to help!

 I will be introducing our new bloggers and support team over the next couple of weeks. If there is anything you are wanting to see, or dying to know... ASK! We are here for you.

 Make it a beautiful day- much love and gratitude...

 Chef Natalie

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rockin' Hard Candy!

Food Optimist has been had at work creating some Rockin' Hard Candy! We love our new candy line and can't wait to experiment even more- with so many fabulous things to come I don't even know where to begin! We have our first four flavors down... Lemonade, Blackberry, Hot Cinnamon, and Sassafras! For those of you that don't know what Sassafras is it's like if a licorice stick and a root beer had a baby then it would be called... Sassafras! Definitely reminiscent of an old time Root beer!Can't wait! More to come!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The heart of my soul...

So many times in life we forget or neglect those most precious and influential to us... The people that can influence us just by being present in our lives. There are times when we can take advantage of a moment in time and remember what is most important, family. I had a special opportunity this weekend to celebrate one of the greatest people in my life, my grandmother, Wilma. She is known to many, family and friends, as Granny... She reserves a special place in many hearts big and small just by being who she is. A hardworking and hard loving classic Southern Soul. In fact, the heart of my soul... Granny has been a constant presence in my life no matter where I've been in my own head throughout all my years of growing into who I am today. The influence she has had over what kind of person I am and who I will become she will never know. She has influenced who I am and how a raise my children... She has even influenced my career. She showed me at a very young age how food brings people together to celebrate family. Happy 80Th birthday Granny! We all love you!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A new Breakfast Recipe!

I had an absolutely wonderful time this morning at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market... Beautiful weather, great vendors, and a sea of familiar smiling faces... One of the things I love at the market is meeting new foodies. Today I spent a little time chatting it up with Kevin Ouzts and his lovely wife from Spotted Trotter. He gifted me some fabulous Toulouse sausage with will some become a Sunday Cassoulet... Hmmmm... Just the anticipation makes me happy! Kevin also was cooking up some samples of a really nice rabbit sausage. Now, don't be scared... I know what your thinking... Rabbit??? Yes, rabbit... Having French roots myself I love eating them and will sing their praises from the rooftops if properly prepared. If you don't know how to prepare them then Kevin's sausage is a foolproof way to start. In fact, it had me thinking of a great breakfast idea. What do you say to a Rabbit Egg and Cheese Biscuit? Now hear me out! This sausage is fantastic! All it needs is a very petite Parmesan biscuit and a quail egg... I think you could even serve this at a party and people would eat it up and think it was a really fancy appetizer! Just a thought...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take Care

I have noticed that I am at as much risk as anyone else for being overworked and underfed... And, it will take it's toll on me. All it takes in this world is for us to get caught up in everything and everybody else and we forget what's most important. Ever hear the saying if you don't take care of yourself how can you care for anyone else? I believe that to be most true... I realized this as I got pretty sick this past week- and I wasn't the only one suffering. At home, being alone with my two boys, safe to say the wheels officially fell off the bus. It is hard to keep up with kids when your not feeling your best! They are fast and full of the energy I used to have! For my clients, my poor clients... I had to cancel my whole week. I couldn't very well cook anybodies food while sick- not that I had the energy mind you... So this got me thinking, taking a look at myself... How important is it for us to slow down and prioritize? What are your most important priorities? What's first? What's last? Why? Maybe, sleeping in shouldn't mean 6am instead of 4:30am...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Serenbe Farm CSA

Hurray! Today was the first Serenbe CSA( delivery of the season!We got kale, turnips,spinach, onion flower stalks, green garlic, mint, bok choi, and lettuce... So exciting to see old friends and meet new ones at Strong Box West (our new pick up location). The fresh mint smelled so good my oldest son mused it would make a great mustache! We had our bags and we packed our bounty then headed home to swoon over our loot. Then I realized... We still had a few things in the fridge from the weekend market- not complaining-that we should eat first. We already had some carrot soup and some yummy greens and mushrooms! To go with our greens we made some onion flower corn cakes... They were so good with the greens- I would venture to say a perfect match. Though we were somewhat disappointed in not being able to come home and cook all our new veggies at once, we learned an important lesson. We don't have to eat them all the first day- they are supposed to last the better part of a week. Left us thinking about the great dishes to come tomorrow... Maybe a Kale Salad?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nobody's Perfect!

As I start this blog, I would like to take the opportunity to say that nobody is perfect... Not even me! I love cooking and eating fabulous locally grown and raised foods but we all have that day when we're too tired to think. The whole point of this is to make everyone understand that anyone can do this. Anyone can prepare,cook,and eat good, local, clean food at home... You don't have to be a chef! I'm so very lucky that I get to be one, but when I'm at home, I'm really a Mom first. A busy Mom! So a lot of the food that's coming up on here isn't going to be fancy shmancy food... A nice Sunday dinner, yes. A fancy Wednesday night dinner, probably not.But, it all will be good food! It's not about perfection to eat good food, it's mostly about starting with clean food. We can work on your kitchen skills :) So if your starting at mediocre- good for you for starting!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taylorganic Spring Fling!

Every Spring and every Fall Taylorganic Farm has a party for all their CSA members and loyal customers. Today at the farm... families, couples, and chefs gathered to celebrate all good things that come from the Earth. We toured the farm, we laughed at the pigs, we splashed in the mud, we picked berries, then... we ate. We had Grilled Alaskan Salmon, salad, greens and mushrooms, rice, pasta salad, and a vast assortment of desserts. All the kids had a blast and everyone left happy with a full belly. Today was a good day.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture... Many smaller local farms form CSA Programs to benefit not only their farm but also the surrounding community. To join a CSA program you pay a flat fee upfront in the beginning of the season to receive a "box" of fresh harvested seasonal veggies, maybe fruit, every week. The farmer takes your money and buys everything that makes a farm go and grow then you get your food in return. This could be anything from seeds, labor, fixing a broken tractor, you name it... What you give up in choice you gain back in freshness, quality, and personal commitment to give you the best food available from a farmer you know and trust. When you join a CSA program your putting money directly back in to the farm, therefore into your community. Who can argue with that?? To find farmers in your area check out ...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TaylOrganic Farm Volunteer Day!

Today was a great day with Taylorganic Farms... Farmer Neil Taylor welcomed CSA members and several new faces to see the farm and get a real farming experience. Everyone got their hands dirty with transplanting tomatoes, weeding garlic beds, and checking out the pigs. Farm volunteer days are a chance to get back to nature- show your kids where their food comes from... Or where it should come from anyway... The kids loved running around and exploring, laughing at the pigs, and learning about keeping bee hives to pollinate the plants. Doesn't get much better than a beautiful,clear,newly spring day to get your mind thinking of warmer months and bounty to come. Everyone one left with the satisfaction that only real hands on labor can bring,the anticipation of the fruits of our labor, and of course, a bottle of Taylorganics own Blueberry Cider.