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Sexytown Maca and Chia Chocolate Pudding

What’s this Maca stuff?  Maca powder comes from the maca root.  Maca root comes from high in the Puruvian Andes.  It has a long history of medicinal use and you’ll soon find out why.  This herb is off the hook:

  1. Vitamins and Energy:  Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids.  The high B vitamin profile means that maca energizes.  Plant based athletes are all about it.
  2. Sexual Function:  It balances hormones in both men and women, increases LIBIDO and endurance (oh Heeeyyyyyyy), and has be shown to support healthy fertility.
  3. Woman’s Mood:  Because of the hormone balancing, maca alleviates menstrual symptoms and cramps as well as helping with menopause symptoms.
  4. Skin:  It is also used to clear up acne.  I mean, this makes total sense as it is a hormone balancer!

So, Maca is good for you. How the heck do you use it?  Well, today I’m going to share a pudding recipe with you but you can also add it to smoothies, oatmeal, homemade energy bars, sky is the limit my dears.

Sexytown Maca and Chia Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

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1 1/4  cup non-dairy milk (I used homemade almond)

4 dates

1 1/2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder

1 tsp maca powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup chia seeds

Instructions

Blend the almond milk and dates in high speed blender under completely smooth

Place all ingredients in a mason jar and put a lid on it

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shake it up–best done dancing

Place in the refrigerator of at least an hour

Cover with berries of your choosing


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Mocha Protein Power

Love Coffee?  I do!  I’m quite thankful I’ve gotten my stomach back for a little morning joe.  The thought of it made me sick during my first trimester.  Coffee is often not encouraged during pregnancy and some believe it causes miscarriages.  While I think that high levels of caffeine are not healthy at any time in life, the research seems to suggest that a couple cups of coffee each day during pregnancy does not increase your risk of miscarriage nor have negative effects on development.  In her book, Expecting Better, Emily Oster points out that women who are more nauseated during the first trimester, often drink less coffee (because they feel like crap).  Women who experience nausea in the early phases of pregnancy are less likely to miscarry.  Her conclusion is that its the nausea factor, not the coffee factor that makes a difference.  At any rate, I’m comfortable with two cups a day.  I try to stick with organic and I use homemade almond milk to sweeten it up a bit. Keeps me happy and sane.

This morning I whipped up this coffee/vega protein combo that is just to die for.  Actually, I wouldn’t die for it…but it is REALLY yummy and has added nutrition!   Get yo’ Mocha on, folks.

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Ingredients

I cup brewed hot coffee

1 cup Almond Milk (I used homemade pumpkin spice-bomb)

1 TBLS Almond butter

1/2 serving Vega One Mocha Protein Powder

Dash of cinnomin

Instructions

Blend it up

Top with Cinnamon

Drink it up.


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Avocado Pesto

Who doesn’t love pesto sauce?  I’m yet to encounter someone who doesn’t.  My pestos often involve seeds and nuts but this go-around, I tried something new.  Avo pesto hit the spot and requires little to no added oil since the avo is so creamy and wonderful.

We tossed this with quinoa-brown rice pasta, sautéed greens, cherry tomatoes, and tofu.  It was divine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup mixed dark leafy greens (I used spinach and kale, stems removed)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • process in food processor until smooth
  • mix with favorite pasta, grain, or spread it on a pizza base.

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IBS, Anxiety, Depression and Gut Health

In third grade I complained of a tummy ache pretty much every day.  I missed quite a bit of school and went to the doctor often.  My diagnoses?  Irritable Bowel Syndrome and stress (as if they aren’t one in the same).  And by the way, what does a 9 year old from a loving, stable family have to be stressed about?  Could it be that IBS was causing me to be stressed?

Through most of my childhood I dealt with this mysterious IBS that caused gas, diahreah and a whole lot of embarrassment. My anxiety worsened as I entered my teens and depression crept into my life, along with a slew of disordered eating habits.

By my early 20’s, I was a proper mess.  The depression and anxiety were out of control. Panic attacks, days of sleeping, cycles of binging and purging, cutting, suicidal thoughts.  The counseling and drugs helped, a little…sometimes…and I have no doubt that my care providers had my best interests in mind.

As I started transforming my diet to a whole foods plant based diet and I began running longer and longer distances, many of the symptoms began to ease.  Each long run and green smoothie seemed to bring me a step closer to whole.  Now, at 31, I can honestly say I am healthier, more vibrant and full of life than I was at 21.

What healed me?  What actually ailed me?  Let’s start with a discussion about IBS.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.

–Mayo Clinic

Unlike forms of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohons and Ulcerative Colitis, it does not cause permanent tissue damage.  Still, it can range from uncomfortable to painful and can seriously get in the way of life.

IBS can typically be controlled with diet and in some cases, medications are prescribed.  I was prescribed medication in college and a week later I was in shock on the bathroom floor.  I stopped taking the medication.

Interestingly, IBS is often associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. hm.

The Gut.

Research has shown that gut health is in many ways determined very early on in life. Sure, we can and should be doing things to promote gut health as adults, but the “good” bacteria that we need for proper digestion and immune function are established very early on.  Take for example what happens during child birth.  During pregnancy, women develop new bacteria in their vaginas (they already had tons) that will literally form the healthy micro-biome the child needs to have proper immune responses once in the world.  This is, one of the reasons, why it is so important that a baby be born vaginally if possible.  With C-sections on the rise, this has serious implications for the adult immune systems of babies being born in this way.  This is in no way meant to shame mothers who need medical intervention.  Thank GOD for life saving C-sections…but we really should be thinking about why the number of C-sections has risen so drastically.

Breast feeding is another way in which babies’ biomes are inoculated with the good bacteria they need to develop their immune systems.  These bacteria strains will stay with them their entire lives! If possible, mothers should be encouraged to breast feed their infants for at least the first year! The World Health Organization recommends until at least 2 years of age and then as long as its mutually enjoyed by mama and baby.  Extended breast feeding still provides incredible immune support to toddlers (so if your 3 or 4 year old still loves their mama milk, rock on). There is plenty of literature on the benefits of breast feeding so I’ll spare you, but yes, breast feeding is critical in the development of these bacteria.

Overuse of anti-biotics is another component that effects children from a very young age.  There is evidence that the micro-biomes of babies who are given antibiotics NEVER fully recover. Never. Holy Crap.  We are so fortunate that Leif has been healthy.  We’ve been able to “ride” out a few mini-ear infections with the use of garlic and muilen oils and monitoring. Phew.

I was born vaginally (with no pain meds- go Mom) and I was breast fed for the first year of my life (Thanks, Mom!) but I did suffer from chronic ear infections and was given antibiotics to treat them–sometimes you’ve gotta.  Could this be part of my IBS story?  Maybe.

Diet and environment also have a significant role on the health of our micro-biome.  We actually contain more bacteria than our actual “self” cells!  WOWZA!  And bugs gotta eat too.  When we feed the “good” bacteria with plant based whole foods, they thrive (and so do we)!  When we starve them and feed the “bad” bacteria, the bad bacteria thrives and the good guys struggle to maintain balance.

We are exposed to tons of chemicals each day that we either inhale, digest through food or absorb via out skin.  These chemicals also play a role. Over use of anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers kills the bad guys along with the good!  Sure, there are times when some anti-bac is important.  You better believe I used it while traveling in India.  I weighed the risk of contracting bad bacteria that could be potentially fatal to the risk of killing some good bacteria and decided to carry hand sanitizer.  Risk management.  But when we over use it and teach our children to over sanitize, we rob our guts of the bacteria they need to keep us functioning.  So let your babes play in the dirt and for the love of bacteria, don’t scrub them with antibacterial soap after!

So What’s This Got to do with Depression and Anxiety?

95% of our neurotransmitters are made in our gut. That’s right–MOST of the natural chemicals we need for mental health are produced in the gut.

If the gut ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  

Here I was, an anxious child from a stable loving family (no real reason to be anxious at that age) having intestinal distress, missing school often and ultimately developing an eating disorder (which further wreaked havoc on my gut) and clinical depression that would be treated with loads of medication.  As my eating became more and more disordered, my IBS, depression and anxiety also worsened exponentially.

Not one single doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, or dietician that I saw throughout this ordeal ever once mentioned gut health to me. Can I just say, “What the fuck?”  What the fuck. There, I said it. When I began my journey toward plant based eating, I didn’t do it to cure my IBS, depression or disordered eating.  I did it because I was obsessed with food and always looking for something to control. Also, it just made sense to me–from a personal health, environmental health, and ethical point of view.  It just so happened that each step I took toward a more whole foods plant based diet, I started to feel better–physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.

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Quite honestly, the whole gut, IBS, mental health connection didn’t click for me until more recently as I’ve been learning more and more about gut health and I can’t help but look back at my own journey and see how changing my diet healed me on so many levels.

Do I still get gas cramps?  Yes. Especially when I’m relying more on processed foods than I should be or when I eat out or at someone’s home and they cook with an ingredient (even vegan) that my system doesn’t like.  Do I still feel sad sometimes?  Of course!  There have even been times since becoming a vegan that I’ve wanted some pharmacital or recreational help to ease my anxiety or sadness.  But it is no longer something that rules me!  Bulimia no longer has power over me.

What years of gas, bloating, and depression taught me.

  1. Our health care system needs to focus more on health and less on superficial treatments.
  2. We can’t rely on others to save us.  Ultimately, only we can heal ourselves–sometimes we might need a bit of help from the “professionals” but we have to do the work.
  3. Our bodies want us to be whole.  In most cases, our bodies are seeking homeostasis–when we give them the nourishment they need, they respond kindly.

 

 

 


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie

I’m getting a little crazy with the vitamix.   And by crazy I mean trying out new smoothie recipes.  This one is totally out of my “comfort zone”  but it is DELICIOUS.

For the last month and a half, I’ve also been experimenting with a new protein powder (Don’t worry, I still LOVE my Vega) called Shakeology.  Shakeology is a Beach Body product.  In November, I signed on as a coach  because I am impressed by their wide variety of workouts as well as their vegan Shakeology products (not too impressed with their non-vegan ones but I’m sure that doesn’t come as much of a surprise).  I personally have been doing the Piyo workouts and for the past month, the 21 Day Fix workouts.  I really like them.  In conjunction with running, they are doing the job of keeping me strong during my pregnancy.  I can hardly wait to use the Beach Body workouts after Baby comes to get back in shape.  I also love them because it gives me something to offer my Sweet Beets Clients.  Seriously, they are legit and have something for everyone.

Okay– on to this smoothie recipe.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie

In the blender, blend the heck out of:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Vegan Chocolate Shakeology or Chocolate Vega
  • 1 large handful mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup cooked steal cut oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used homemade)
  • 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon raw cocoa nibs stirred in after blending.

 


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Tempeh Salad Wrap with Orange-Miso and Hummus

I have emerged from the first trimester nausea and food aversions and am excitedly able to stomach things such as green leafy salads again!  Hurray! I mean, I still crave heartier, breadier things but at least I’m also getting my veggies in!  It is a step in the right direction, for sure.

So much has happened in the last month.  Business has launched. Website went up today.  Momentum is building.  So much to celebrate!  But this is for another post.  Today, I simply would like to share this most scrumptious wrap I had for lunch.

Tempeh Salad Wrap with Orange-Miso Dressing and Hummus

Serves 2 normal people or 1 pregnant runner (hey–I only ate one tortilla)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups mixed greens (I used kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, red cabbage)
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • 8 kalamata olives
  • 1/2 block tempeh copped
  • ¼ cup hummus
  • 2 sprouted wraps

Instructions:

  1. Toast tempeh over medium heat (no oil needed)
  2. Chop all the veggies and mix in bowl
  3. Toss in tempeh and 2-3 Tablespoons of dressing
  4. Spread hummus on tortillas
  5. Place salad mix on tortillas and WRAP IT UP!
  6. You might have leftover salad, put that ish on the side and eat your heart out.

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon mild miso paste
  • Splash apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 whole tangerines
  • Water to the consistency of your liking (add a little at a time)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Blend all ingredients in blender.
  2. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 


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Oattie Spelt Protein Pancakes

We’ve been into the Sunday morning pancake thing.  I try to make extra so as to have easy breakfasts for Leif for the next few days.  I often make these up the night before and then just add the liquid in the morning.  Makes for a quick pre-hike breakfast!

Ingredients:

2 cups oat flour

2 cups spelt flour

1 cup rolled oats

4 Tablespoons chia seeds

2 Tablespoons baking powder

2 scoops Vega Protein powder or vegan protein powder of your choice

2 tsp pumpkin spice mix

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup squash (I used butternut)

4 cups water or almond milk or mix of both!

 

Instructions:

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl

Mix in Squash, water and vanilla and stir well

pour pancakes over med-high skillet and flip when the batter begins to bubble.

Cook second side.

Top with nut butter, bananas, black strap molasses, berries, seeds, what ever the heck you like to top your pancakes with (well, maybe skip the powder sugar or fake syrups…)

Power Up!

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If these pancakes can get a pregnant lady with a 30 pound child on her back up a mountain, they can do anything!  Dream big, kids!