Breakfast

PUMPKIN SPICE GRANOLA

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As summer ends and fall lands upon us, some of us are feeling the sting as we let go of the sun and sand and slow-setting sunlight. While summer certainly has its share of cool treats, October brings to light a few things that help me adjust to the shift in season: the bright colors of the leaves, cozy, hygge-friendly mornings with a soft throw and cup of cocoa, comfy sweaters and scarves. Most notably, Fall begins the flavor craze for…wait for it…pumpkin spice!

Ah, pumpkin spice. Your return is welcomed by so many! What better way to warm your soul and start your morning than the warm notes of cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice—the pillars behind what makes this treat a classic (yet healthy) comfort food. Not to mention a delicious incentive for inching yourself out of bed in the morning.  

Not only is pumpkin beautiful in its shape, color, and taste, it also packs valuable nutritional benefits that help protect our bodies during the cooler temperatures. According to Ayurveda, ripe pumpkins can reduce Pitta energy while also helping to balance Vata. Although pumpkin is somewhat cooling, this quality is reduced when it is cooked, especially with ghee (avoid unripe pumpkins, as they are hard to digest and can aggravate all three doshas). Traditionally, pumpkins are believed to sharpen the intellect and induce calm, and so they are used for various mental imbalances and to reduce stress and agitation.

Due to its rich anti-oxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, pumpkin helps to balance out the metal element of the Fall season and prevent illnesses (Weaknesses in the lungs and large intestine often arise this time of year as allergies, asthma and constipation)

Pumpkins are sweet and grounding, corresponding to the earth element; therefore, relieving dampness and supporting digestive, respiratory, and overall health. It also contains fiber (balances blood glucose levels) and the minerals magnesium and potassium, which help to balance blood pressure and relax muscles, protecting the circulatory system.

Pumpkin also contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Pumpkins are detoxifying, working to clean the bladder and surrounding organs.

So before another season sneaks up on us, let’s make the most of the calm before the cold. Now round up your best sweater and leggings and go get your pumpkin on 😊.

Without further ado, introducing the star of the show today: pumpkin spice granola.

 

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Ingredients:

3 cup oats
¾ cup your favorite dried fruits (ex. bananas, cherries, raisins, apricot)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup your favorite nuts and/or seeds (ex. almonds, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, flaxseeds)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup coconut oil
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients
  2. Combine wet ingredients
  3. Combine both dry + wet ingredients
  4. Bake at 350 for 15-20 mins
  5. Let cook before eating. Store in fridge for 7 days and sprinkle on yogurt, oats, or just eat it straight up!

Having trouble finding your way around the kitchen? Not sure what ingredients to use in order to make yourself the most nutritious food? Schedule a free conversation with me at www.natashawellness.com/appointment and let's chat about your health goals.

Resources: http://everydayayurveda.org 

CHA-CHA-CHA CHIA PUDDING

Who said pudding can’t be healthy? Especially when you add a power ingredient like chia—beyond healthy! From an Ayurvedic perspective, chia has several doshic benefits. It reduces vata—the air and space element, optimizes pitta—the fire element, and nourishes kapha—the water and earth elements. (Learn more about doshas next week on the blog @ https://www.natashawellness.com/blog/).

Chia seeds are also sattvic, or pure in nature, meaning that they foster clarity and tranquility of the mind, while also nurturing the body.  According to Ayurveda, the chia seed creates a natural warming effect within the body-mind aura, enhancing cognitive health, a balanced metabolism and even joy. What a superfood hero! This is just one example showing how our diet can affect the body and mind, one of the basic principles of Ayurveda.

Chia seeds support deep hydration and have high quality fiber, helping to improve and conserve our ojas (inner strength and vitality). Adding even more super power with their large amounts of Omega-3 oils, chia seeds help conquer inflammation and control blood sugar.

Don’t yet believe the benefits? The proof is in the pudding!

 

Protein Packed (Chia) Pudding

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1.5 cup carrageenan-free almond milk or homemade nut milk
1.5 cup pure coconut water (or just use double the milk if you have no coconut water)
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp flax seeds (I like to grind my own in a coffee grinder)
1-2 tsp good cinnamon
4 scoops collagen peptides (the BEST protein boost, but optional if you are a veg. you can also use the marine collagen)

 

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in quart sized mason jar, collagen last (or else it will congeal all your chia seeds).
2. Shake vigorously. then shake again after 5 minutes. Then shake again after another 5 minutes.
3. Stick it in the fridge overnight.
4. Divide into clear glasses or jars, top with berries, stewed apples, banana, coconut, and/or my favorite - paleo granola.
 

Resources:
Yoga Journal: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/doshas-decoded-learn-unique-mind-body-type#gid=ci02075699b0132620&pid=woman-doing-chandra-bhedana-moon-breath-pranayama-nadi-shodhana 
La Yoga: https://layoga.com/life-style/ayurveda/the-ayurvedic-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

NATASHA'S SIMPLE KITCHARI

What is Kitchari? Kitchari is here to help you grow spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Kitchari has been consumed for over 10,000 years in India. It's fed to babies, seniors, the sickly; and eaten by those who have no appetite, have returned from a long trip or are simply on a budget.

Kitchari is also used as a cleansing method where you actually get to EAT. Now that's my kinda cleanse. To do this cleanse you eat kitchari for each meal, 3 or 4 times a day, until you are full. Remember, full doesn't mean stuffed. Full means 1/3 food, 1/3 water and 1/3 space. Yes, veggies partially count as water. No deprivation, no starvation, just pure grounded goodness. If you can't stomach kitchari in the morning feel free to eat a simple bowl of oatmeal (with no toppings!) instead and resume eating kitchari for your other meals. I'll do a kitchari cleanse mono-diet a couple times a year; spring and fall or whenever I feel like I need a reset which most of the time means after the holidays, too! I promise if you do this cleanse you will feel grounded, balanced and deeply nourished.

Did you know that it is statistically proven that juice cleanses actually HARM our bodies. Why is this fad still around! I don't get it. Intense food deprivation cleanses okay for you but are not sustainable unless you are following all of the proper rules (enema's, relaxation, reflection, etc.). I personally don't go there, so kitchari is the perfect cleanse food cleanse for me and it's a great place to start for anybody. The mix of rice and dahl in kitchari contain 20 essential amino acids which create a perfect protein to sustain your body. You can also eat this as a main or side dish, even if you're not cleansing... it's that tasty.

If you're curious to find out more about kitchari sign up for a free call and we can chat. I'd be happy to guide you through my experience with cleansing and Ayurveda by providing you with helpful steps, tips, and insight. 

Image credit : The Chalkboard Mag

Natasha's Simple Kitchari Recipe

Prep time: 6-12 hours (includes soaking time)
Cook time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS
½ cup split mung beans (link at bottom of post)
¼ cup organic basmati rice (or quinoa if you have a kapha imbalance)
1 3x2 inch strip of kombu seaweed, cut into small pieces, or a few pieces of dried wakame
6-8 cups of filtered water
3-4 cups fresh, organic and seasonal veggies (use at least one green veggie such as spinach or kale and one orange or root vegetable such as carrot, sweet potato or squash)
1-2 Tbsp of CCF blend (made by grinding equal parts of cumin, coriander and fennel seed or by mixing the pre-ground spices)
⅛ tsp asafoetida/hing (not gluten-free, add extra ginger if you are gluten sensitive)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup loosely packed chopped, fresh organic cilantro
2-3 Tbsp ghee (Vegans can use coconut oil in the warmer months or sesame oil in the cooler months use less ghee if you have kapha imbalance, lots of accumulation, or excess weight).
½ - 1 tsp rock salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Soak the grain and split mung beans (I don’t really measure I just do a 2:1 ratio of beans to rice) overnight or between 6-12 hours.

2. Rinse the grain and mung beans until the water runs clear then put them in a big pot with the seaweed and water enough to cover by at least an inch or 2 (about 3 cups of water depending on your pot).

3. Boil until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Chop veggies and cilantro and grind spices (if using whole spices. You can also roast them before grinding to enhance the flavors) as the rice and beans cook.

4. Add the veggies (keep kale or quick-cooking veggies out for now), add 2 more cups of water and cover. Cook 3-5 minutes or so until the water boils veggies are starting to soften. Add more water and adjust temperature as needed.

5. Once veggies start to soften, add the minced ginger, and spices (cumin, coriander, fennel, asafoetida and turmeric).  When making a warming kitchari in the fall or winter I’ll add a little black pepper and a dash of cinnamon too, maybe some raisins.

6. Add the kale, spinach or other quick-cooking veggies and the fresh cilantro. Stir.

7. Add ghee or oil (or neither) and rock salt.

8. Turn off heat, and serve with microgreens/fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime or chutney.

Try this out and if you don't like these spices then go ahead and use your favorites. You can use italian spices, Mediterranean spices, whatever! Let your creativity flow. Share this recipe with a friend! It's always best to cleanse with an accountability partner.

If the list of ingredients stresses you out you can purchase a hand-dandy Kitchari kit here!

 

GF HONEY OAT BANANA MUFFINS

My favorite thing to do on weekends is watch Food Network's The Kitchen (seriously my favorite show EVER, check it out if you haven't yet) and bake delicious goodies.

My weekly meals consist of mostly plant-based foods with the occasional boiled egg or roasted fish so when Sunday comes around it's my mission to try out a new good-for-you cookie, muffin, or other sweet treat recipe. Being gluten-free used to limit my breakfast and dessert intake immensely - there were little to no options available at restaurants, coffee shops, even grocery stores. That was 8 years ago and now the world has finally caught up which for me is a blessing and a curse. Hear me out here. I am so happy that the Celiac and GF population can now enjoy foods that they used to miss out on. Our previous avoidance of certain restaurants has gone down, and so has the envious stare-into-your-friends-mouth-as-she-takes-a-bite-of-stuffed-french-toast-from-your-favorite-breakfast-spot move. Not very classy.

Honey Oat Banana Muffins (Gluten Free) Recipe on www.natashawellness.com

But, have you noticed that all the gluten-free replacements are like 10 times more unhealthy than the gluten-full versions? Gluten-free pizza typically has 90 more calories, 4 grams less protein and 8 more grams of fat than regular pizza. GF sweet treats typically have more sugar and/or butter to maintain the gooey dense texture we've come to expect in a cookie or muffin. And I thought being gluten-free was more healthy. Not fair.

Honey Oat Banana Muffins (Gluten Free) Recipe on www.natashawellness.com

That's why I decided to try my hand at creating homemade treats. I know what's going into the batter, and into my belly. It's a win-win! Oh, and another positive is that each batch typically contains about 12 servings. Since I'm only feeding myself and my partner, the rest of the treats will either last us for a few days, get shared amongst visiting friends, or get frozen for later. My love of dessert is mostly a textural thing rather than a sugar-bomb craving so I can create a muffin that uses a small amount of sweetener and be happy. All I really care about is TEXTURE. And these muffins sure have a decadent gluten-y texture. 

My sweet recipes use honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut sugar or mashed bananas for sweetness and coconut flour, almond flour, oats and chickpea flour for texture. Each sweetener and flour has it's own place and is just as satisfying as using the "regular" version. I also like to enhance my foods with nutrient dense superfoods like prunes, chia/flax/hemp seeds and nuts. Nutritious and delicious!

This weekend I made dense and delicious Honey Oat Banana Muffins. Packed with healthy fats, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, protein and anti-inflammatory nuts these babies will melt your all muffin-guilt away. Take a bite knowing you are feeding yourself real, wholesome food.

Try this recipe on your own and let me know what you think!

Honey Oat Banana Muffins (Gluten Free)

Honey Oat Banana Muffins (Gluten Free) Recipe on www.natashawellness.com

SIMPLE GREEN SMOOTHIE

Do you ever wake up and realize you indulged a little too much at dinner last night, and are not excited to stuff your face with a huge breakfast? Welp, this happened to me last night. We had a big dinner followed by a HUGE peanutbutter cup oatmeal cookie. As full as I was, I am not one to skip dessert especially if there's chocolate involved. So today I woke up drank a tall glass of warm water with lemon to flush out my system and once I got hungry decided it was most definitely a smoothie kind of day. I wasn't always a huge smoothie fan, I strayed away from the popular cold beverage since summertime because, hello! this is Boston and it's freezing out! That's when I learned that not all smoothies have to be cold. Huge lightbulb moment. If you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, or a mixture of the two, you get a pleasantly delicious drink that doesn't chill you to the core. Pro tip: make sure you take the extra few minutes to let your chia seeds soak. This makes them puff up and form a gel-like outer layer which makes them more bio-available to your body. Hydrated chia take longer to digest leaving you fuller longer, preventing blood sugar spikes and decreasing cholesterol. You can even soak them overnight - you can never soak chia for too long!

Morning Green Smoothie Recipe from www.natashawellness.com

 

Morning Green Smoothie Recipe for Two 

Total prep time: 7 minutes

Ingredients
2 handfuls of spinach and/or kale
1/2 cup of blueberries
1 kiwi
1/2 apple (save the rest for a snack, your dog, or tomorrows smoothie)
1-2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup water, coconut water, juice (I used Trader Joes Green Juice)
Top with a sprinkle of hemp seeds, granola, and/or blueberries

Directions:

1. Combine chia seeds and your choice of liquid in blender. Let chia seeds soak for 2-3 minutes while you gather the other ingredients.

2. Throw the rest of your fruits & greens in the blender and blend on high for 3-5 minutes. Kale and spinach are pretty fibrous so make sure you blend, blend, blend so you're not chewing your smoothie!

Morning Green Smoothie Recipe from www.natashawellness.com
Morning Green Smoothie Recipe from www.natashawellness.com