Almond Carrot Smoothie (Inspired by Green Sage Cafe in Asheville, NC)

Almond carrot smoothie

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Mike and I were just in Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend.  We had heard so many good things about this city that we had to go check it out for ourselves.  I had seen pictures of the mountains in Asheville and I didn’t realize it was between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  And, of course, we had to check out the food scene – there were soooo many great restaurant options, coffee shops, and specialty food stores!

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest while we were there.  I didn’t mind the cooler temperatures, but the fog and the low-lying clouds made the mountain views pretty much impossible to see.  But I knew they were there, so I just used my imagination and as I looked out toward the mountains, I would just bring up images of the pictures I had seen.  Close enough, right?

The food, at least did not disappoint!  When traveling, I like to make sure I know what the healthier restaurant options and food sources are.  It’s really important in staying healthy while I travel.  One of the places I found on line before our trip was The Green Sage Cafe in downtown Asheville.  I just about teared up when I looked over their menu!  They had so many tasty sounding options – like their Pura Vida Bowl for breakfast.  It had black beans, brown rice sunny side eggs, sautéed kale, grilled sweet potatoes, avocado and cilantro salsa.  And, all of the ingredients were organic!  They had gluten-free pancakes, gluten-free biscuit and toast options, along with a ton of other gluten-free and vegan options.

I knew I probably didn’t need to have a smoothie for breakfast along with the Pura Vida Bowl, but I couldn’t pass up tasting the Almond Brothers smoothie.  It sounded like a weird combination, and my curiosity led me to order it.  It had carrots, unsweetened almond milk, bananas, almond butter and spices, according to the menu.  It was amazing!  Mike ended up ordering it again the next morning.

So I thought I would try to duplicate it when we got home.  I had all the ingredients, but then there was the vague “spices” listed in the ingredients list.  I wasn’t quite sure what that was all about, but I tried to figure out what would go good with the carrots, almond butter, and bananas, and I came up with the idea to try cinnamon and nutmeg.

We arrived back home late Saturday night and on Sunday, I decided to try to make it.  My first try was actually pretty good.  It didn’t taste exactly like they made it, but it was still really good in it’s own way.  They didn’t say that they put any kind of sweetener in it, and it would probably be fine without it, especially if you’re used to not having much sugar or sweetener… but I thought I would add a little sweetness with some maple syrup, and that actually worked out really well.

So, anyway, here’s the recipe I ended up with, as I tried to recreate this awesome drink:

1 banana

2 carrots

1 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use Silk brand because it has no carageenan)

1 Tbsp. grade B maple syrup

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

ice

Put all the ingredients into the blender and mix until smooth.  If you like a thicker smoothie, add more ice.  A thinner one, add less ice and/or more almond milk.

Try it for yourself, and experiment with the spice blend. If you find a different blend that works for you, let me know.  I’d love to give it a try!

Setting Goals – Why So Many People Fail

Setting goals

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

In trying to help people lead a healthier life, I’ve noticed there are people who will do whatever it takes to be in peak health… and then there are those that aren’t willing to make the changes needed to even marginally improve their health.  Actually, many people I talk with aren’t even willing to make a fraction of the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to move closer to peak health.

Why is it that they say they want to be healthier (lose weight, cut out gluten, decrease the sugar intake, exercise more frequently), yet they fall short of accomplishing their goals?

Over the last couple of months I’ve given this a lot of thought and here are two of the top reasons I’ve found for this discrepancy.

The first reason is lack of clarity of their goals.  As with any area of your life, when you’re setting your goals or intentions, the more clarity you create, the more likely you are to see your intentions become a reality.

One of my favorite quotes (and I have many of them) is the proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.”

I have definitely seen evidence of this first hand, and on many occasions.  There are certain areas of my life that I am crystal clear about – I tolerate nothing but what is moving me toward that vision.  Then there are areas (multiple) of my life where I have an “idea” of what i’d like to accomplish, but no specifics – just a sea of possibilities and generalities.

Remember that clarity trumps generalities every time!

Examples of weak goals in health would be:

I want to lose weight.

I want to have more energy.

I want to eat healthier.

Although all of these statements sound nice and make you feel like you’re moving in the right direction, they really aren’t setting you up for actually achieving them.  Why?

First of all, they are way too vague.

Let’s take the goal:  I want to lose weight.  Great, lose one pound and call it a day.  Oh, you wanted to lose more than that – why didn’t you say so?  Exactly how much weight did you want to lose?  Let’s say it’s 10 lbs.  Great – but you need to be even more specific.  Is that 10 lbs. over 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, or 10 years?  The time frame you chose is going to dramatically effect the strategy you will use to lose the weight.

If you decide you would like to lose 10 lbs. in 2 months, now you can break it down and see that means you need to lose 1.25 lbs. per week.  Now you have benchmarks and checkpoints to hold yourself accountable and to measure whether your strategy for achieving your goal is effective.  If, for example, by the third week, you’ve only lost 1 lb., you’ll want to re-evaluate your strategy and make some changes.

Let’s take the second goal:  I want to have more energy.  Why are you not likely to accomplish this goal?  Again, it’s too vague.  If you want more energy, drink a Red Bull.  Just kidding, of course, but you need to define exactly what “more energy” means to you so you know exactly what that would like like in  your life and you would know when you’ve achieved it.

How about saying instead, “I want to create a healthy routine and system of food and activity each day so I no longer experience a mid-morning and mid-afternoon energy slump (no need to reach for coffee, carbs or energy drinks).  I would like to start immediately so I have a system that works so within one week, I am no longer experiencing dips in my energy level.”

Much more specific, so much more achievable.

On to the second major reason people don’t achieve their goals:

People tend to do things for one of two reasons – to avoid pain or to gain pleasure (you’ll find most people will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure).  So you need to look at your reasons for wanting to accomplish your goals and intentions.

In order to set yourself up for success, you need a strong enough “why.”

If you don’t have a strong enough reason, when a challenge or temptation comes up or when everything becomes chaotic in your life, you’ll start allowing breakdowns in your strategy and you won’t reach your goal.  You need major leverage.

Let’s take the example of wanting more energy.  Even if you were more specific about exactly what more energy looked like to you, you still need a big enough “why.”  And telling yourself you want more energy throughout the day so you don’t have to rely on energy drinks may not be a big enough why.  You need to dig a little deeper.

Why do you really want more energy?

Is it so you can be more effective in your job or career which will help you make more money so you can save for the trip you’ve been wanting to take to Italy in the fall?

Or maybe it’s because you want to be fully present with your kids who are growing up so fast.  You want to be able to play with them and be creative and be disciplined with them to create a foundation for a great lifetime relationship with them, and when you are tired, you find yourself snapping at them or setting them in front of the TV or computer to “babysit” them because you can’t focus enough to have a conversation let alone play soccer or go for a bike ride.  Also, if you’re tired, that’s probably the first symptom to show up from an energy deficiency, which if left untreated, could lead to so meting more serious down the road (hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, silent inflammation, gluten sensitivity).  It will be much easier to deal with and correct now than it will be months or years from now when you have many more symptoms besides dips in your energy.

Would these be big enough whys for you?  If not, you need to dig deeper and find out why you really want to achieve your specific health goal (or any goal for that matter).

There are other reasons, of course, that people don’t reach their goals, but these are two of the top reasons I wanted to bring to your attention.  We’re coming up on the end of the year and about to enter into 2015, and this awareness will come in handy as you plan your life for the next week, the next month, the next year, and throughout the rest of your life.

Paleo Chef’s Bangin’ Liver and Me…

Liver recipe

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

I want to be healthy and on top of the new trends (some of which stick around, some of which are just a fun little experiment), but one of the things I’ve been dragging my feet on is organ meat.

Sure, I’ve started throwing bones, gristle, and just about every other part of the animal into the pot to make bone broth, but the idea of eating organs still makes me go eech. And yes, I know that meat is muscle, but we’ve been conditioned all our lives to eat the drumstick and throw away the gizzard, so changing one’s mindset takes a bit of control and sometimes a strong stomach.

I finally took the plunge, and brought home some grass-fed beef liver. It was so cheap at my butcher’s I almost would have felt bad if I didn’t buy it. I figured hey, if I hate it, the dog will eat it. Win win.

I have never eaten liver before. My dad used to cook it up when we were kids, with a big pan of onions, and holy moly, did that ever stink up our house. Looking back I’m not sure what he was doing to make it smell like old feet, but there was no way a teenage me was going to stick some of that rank amorphous grey stuff into my mouth no matter how much he promised I’d like it.

Ten plus years later, I was ready to give it a go. After all, liver is a superfood, and organ meat in general is nutrient packed. Grass-fed organ meat is a diet powerhouse I had neglected too long.

Enter Paleo Chef’s Bangin’ Liver recipe. I already love her style and her sass, so, finally, I was ready to give liver a try, using her guidance.

I didn’t have the exact ingredients on hand, and I was too lazy to go to the store, so mine turned out to be an adulterated version of her dish, but it was still surprisingly tasty! I added tomatoes, and substituted lime for lemon juice. I used a jalapeño rather than a bell pepper, simply because I had one in the fridge, and I chickened out on using the full amount of the recommended spices, though I wish I had just gone ahead with it.

It turned out really good! It was just lightly sweet and spicy, and frankly, I wouldn’t have known the liver wasn’t a dense cut of steak if I hadn’t been the one cutting it and throwing it in the pan. Mind you I couldn’t look directly at it while eating it, but it tasted darn good, and I was happy to be getting all the nutrition, especially for the approximately three dollars I spent on the whole meal, including leftovers. I had always expected liver to be chewy, but this was perfectly tender and chewable.

Give it a try!

Do you eat organ meat regularly? Leave a comment below!

Nutrient-Packed Late Afternoon Snack Mix

Healthy snack mix

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Do you ever find yourself craving something crunchy?  I know I do – especially in the late afternoon.  Whether it’s merely a habit, something I’m lacking in my diet, or simply the need for something other than fruits and vegetables, occasionally as the late afternoon hours roll around, I find myself looking for something to munch on that gives me a little crunch (and not a carrot!).

Well, today, and the last few days for that matter, I found myself with such cravings.  So rather than reach for the gluten-free crackers with pasture butter, which is what I usually go for, I decided to get a little more creative and put something together that would not only satisfy my craving, but would also provide me with more nutrients.

When I was at the store the other day, I stocked up on a number of different organic nuts and other snacks that would make for a good homemade trail mix.  So I went to the nut and snack drawer and pulled all of them out and put together a quick and fun snack to hold everybody over until dinner.

I had quite a nice mix going: macadamia nuts, pecans, roasted pumpkin seeds, raw cashews, chopped dates, coconut flakes, and banana chips (almost all organic, of course).  But something was missing.  I was remembering my granola based trail mixes I used to make when I was a kid (granola, raisins, marshmallows, coconut and M&Ms), and then it hit me that I should add some chocolate.  Since M&Ms really aren’t in the picture anymore, I thought I would utilize some of the Bulletproof Executive’s new chocolate bars I just ordered.  They are actually quite good – don’t expect them to taste like a Hershey bar or anything (that would be gross), but they are good-quality chocolates.  And, they provided the missing link, for my snack mix.  I just chopped up one of the bars and added it in.

Anyway, here’s what I actually put into my Late Afternoon Nutrient Packed Snack Mix:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

6-8 soft dates, chopped

1 dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao)

Mix them all together and enjoy!

Look around in your pantry and refrigerator and see what you have that you could make a snack mix with.  Maybe you have some superfoods you could add in?  Maybe some goji berries?  Some chocolate-covered hemp seeds?  Hmm… I’m going to have to go back and add a few things, now that I’m thinking about it!