Lemon Raspberry Swirl Bars (Vegan & GF)

IMG_1611 (1)Lemon bars were my favorite. That is until I decided to take it up a notch and add my favorite chia raspberry jam to the equation!

These bars are the perfect balance between creamy and tangy, and make for a great afternoon snack or after dinner dessert. Or, you could just eat them for breakfast if you can’t wait!

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Bars:

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INGREDIENTS:

CRUST

  • 1/3 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups dessicated unsweetened coconut

FILLING

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1-2  cups full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (for color)

METHOD

  1. Make your chia seed jam
  2. Soak your cashews in water for 3-4 hours.
  3. In a food processor, chop the crust ingredients until it makes a dough like consistency
  4. In a 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, press the crust into the bottom in an even layer. Make sure to pack the crust tightly or it will fall apart and that would be tragic.
  5. In a food processor or blender add drained cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, coconut milk, turmeric, maple syrup, and lemon zest. Blend until nice and creamy. Add more coconut milk as needed. Make sure there are no cashew chunks left.
  6. Pour the lemon mixture onto the crust.
  7. With a spoon, place around 9 evenly spaced dollops of jam on the mixture.
  8. Swirl the mixture with a butter knife.IMG_1987
  9. Place the bars  in the freezer for at least one hour.
  10. Cut into bars.
  11. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Enjoy!

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

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Berry season is here! That means organic berries are now affordable, and no longer require you to take out a second mortgage! Ha!

My favorite sweet treat to make during berry season are my almond thumbprint cookies.  They are seriously so good, y’all-a definite crowd pleaser.

This is the jam that I use for the cookies, and I found out that it is quite good on its own as well! I always make extra when making my almond thumbprints, as I use it for porridge topping, gluten-free toast spread, on top of my coconut yogurt, or just to eat by the spoonful. Hey don’t judge! I know I don’t- whatever you decide to do with your jam is your business!

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • honey or maple syrup, to sweeten if desired
  • 1-2 tablespoons filtered water, if needed

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you need more liquid for the ingredients to fully combine, add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
  2. Place in a glass jar in the refrigerator to allow the chia seeds to expand, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Enjoy!

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Mini-Thin Mint Pies

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I was a girl scout growing up (any Girl Scouts in the house holla!) and I used to peddle cookies every year like all the others. These days, I wouldn’t dare eat those things as they contain harmful ingredients such as food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and emulsifiers.

My favorite cookie was by far the Thin Mint (best frozen, am I right?!). That’s why I’ve created these Mini-Thin Mint Pies, which are melt in your mouth good.

And better yet, they are full of healthy fats to support your hormones.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup cacao
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of your preferred nut butter of choice. Make sure it’s creamy and unsweetened.
  • 7 drops of peppermint oil
  • Pinch of sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. Take all of the crust ingredients and put them in a food processor and pulse until it starts sticking together.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with and then pack the crust into them nice and tight. Make sure to pack it hard because if you don’t the crust will fall apart and that would be tragic.
  3.  Put the cupcake tin in the freezer.
  4.  Now for the thin mint filling. If you live in a place with a cold climate melt the coconut oil first in a saucepan over low heat (If you live in a climate where your coconut oil is liquid then skip this step). I like to use a double broiler so the chocolate mixture does not come in direct contact with the heat. If you do not have one, just put the mixture in a bowl and set on top of the saucepan. Use what ya got, right?
  5. As soon as the coconut oil has melted mix in the maple syrup.
  6. Now mix in the nut butter.
  7. Next, turn off the heat and immediately mix in the cacao until smooth, then add your vanilla, and peppermint oil.
  8. After that is all smooth and blended, sprinkle in your sea salt.
  9. Next, take your cupcake tray out of the freezer and pour the chocolate mixture into each one to 3/4 full.
  10. Place in the freezer and let harden for an hour.
  11. Transfer to the fridge if you live in a cold climate, or keep in the freezer if you live in a hot climate.

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

No- Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Clusters

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These peanut butter chocolate clusters rock my world. They’re just so good, and way too easy to make. Chances are you have all the ingredients (there are only seven) sitting in your pantry already.  So next time you have a sweet tooth, instead of buying some store bought junk, try these instead!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Clusters:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural, no sugar added peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons cacao
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • pinch of salt
  • baking paper

Method:

  1. Take your PB, maple syrup and coconut oil and put in saucepan over low heat. Stir until nice and smooth.
  2. Add your vanilla and cacao to the mixture.
  3. Take off heat and add the oats and salt.
  4. Scoop mixture with a spoon and place onto a tray lined with baking paper in round balls (they look like little blobs but when they cool off they actually look really pretty!)
  5. Let harden in the freezer for a few hours and then enjoy!
  6. Best if stored in the fridge afterwards.

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xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is essential to the human body, and chances are even if you are a meat eater, you have a deficiency. I recommend that all my clients take a B12 supplement regardless if they are vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore.

Vegans or vegetarians are playing a losing game if they decide to exclude a B12 supplement from their diet. While I’m a fan of getting nutrients from our foods, sometimes it just isn’t possible.

B12 can protect against dementia, increase immune function, maintain nerves, and regenerate cells. It’s necessary for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA and prevent cancer. It’s hard to get enough B12 from our diet, and if you are vegan or vegetarian it’s even more difficult.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is no joke. It can cause extreme fatigue that can disrupt your daily life, and make it hard to function. Tasks that seem easy can appear daunting when suffering from fatigue.

Skipping on the B12 is just not worth it.

Vitamin B12 helps support adrenal function, helps calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for key metabolic processes. Signs of deficiency “include fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores, nausea, poor appetite and diarrhea”. [Source: Dr. Weil]

Symptoms may present themselves slowly and may not be recognized for some time, and just because you don’t notice them doesn’t mean you are not deficient. That is why it’s better to be safe than sorry, and take a B12 supplement before any symptoms surface.

There are many forms of B12 on the market, but the best form is the activated version called Methylcobalamin. This is the most natural form as it needs no converting, and is in its ready to use form. You should always take a B12 combined with Methlyfolate, because taking B12 without folate can cause brain and nerve damage.

It is especially crucial to take these vitamins in their active, methylated form, as many people today have the gene mutation MTHFR, which prevents the body from converting folic acid into an active form the body can use.

Methyl B12 and Methyl Folate Guide:

Dose: 800 mcg Folate, and 500 mcg B12

Forms: Capsule or lozenge

Time taken: Daily with food

Brand: Metagenics Intrinsi B12/Folate

xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Going Vegan

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Everyone seems to be going vegan these days after the release of the documentary “What the Health”. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this film, however, I think we can all agree that eating fewer animal products is never a bad idea.

If you have recently decided to adopt a vegan diet, make sure you don’t fall victim to these three mistakes.

1. Assume you’ll get enough protein without any effort.

It is possible to get enough protein on a vegan diet, and if anyone else tells you otherwise then they are misinformed. However, it doesn’t just happen automatically. There is no such thing as a vegan fairy godmother that sprinkles protein fairy dust on you every night. Getting enough protein on a vegan diet requires effort and planning, but it does get easier with time.

At first, you might have to keep a journal documenting all the protein you eat, but after being vegan for a season or two, you’ll be able to eye things and know what you need to eat and in what quantity for your protein needs.

So, how much protein do you need?

Well, it all boils down to the individual. How frequently do you work out? Are you male or female? How much do you weigh? Are you under stress or are you pregnant? These are some of the factors that contribute to determining how much protein you need. A simple 0.45 grams of protein per pound like the USDA recommends may not be enough.

According to women’s hormone expert, Dr. Sara Gottfried, you should eat an average of 0.75-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass(1). If you are an athlete, or under extreme stress, or lactating, or pregnant, you should eat on the higher end. If you lead a more sedentary life, or work out less than 3 times a week, aim for the lower end.

I agree with the amounts listed by Dr. Gottfried, but with one exception: if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, 0.4-0.5 grams per pound of lean body mass should be sufficient for your needs (per Dave Asprey)(2).

Another term which all aspiring vegans should become familiar with is complete protein.

complete protein refers to the building blocks of protein, called amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids that form a protein, and nine that the body can’t make on its own. These are known as essential amino acids. They are essential because we need to eat them, as our bodies are incapable of producing them. For a food to be deemed a complete protein, it must contain all the nine essential amino acids in close to equal amounts.

So while meat and eggs are indeed complete proteins, nuts and beans aren’t. But hold the phone! This doesn’t mean you can’t get all of your essential amino acids on a plant based diet! We don’t need every essential amino acid in every bite of food, we just need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. Also, there are some plant based complete proteins – my favorites include buckwheat and quinoa.

So with a combination of different plant based foods each day, it’s relatively easy to get all of the essential amino acids your body needs. You just need to put in the time and effort.

2. Load up on sugar, because hey-it’s vegan, right?

Let’s get the facts straight. When you eat sugar (and this includes any food with a high glucose level like honey, agave nectar, bread, fruit, etc) your insulin levels will automatically spike. So if you are eating too much sugar, this will lead to higher blood glucose levels, which can eventually lead to diabetes.

I don’t care what you heard on “What the Health”. Chicken does not cause diabetes – carbohydrates and sugar does. This does not mean I’m saying go out and eat chicken. You can be an EcoVegan by abstaining from animal products and eating a low glycemic diet at the same time.

The closest truth to the claim that meat causes diabetes is that processed meats will throw off the omega 6 to omega 3 balance in your body, which can increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. (3)

But guess what?

Eating lots of crappy vegetable oil (which is vegan…) and processed fake meats does the same thing!

You can’t just say ALL of something is bad. It’s not that easy.

3. Judge Others

In “Grist for the Mill”, Ram Dass says that we are all on different levels and stages in this life. We can’t expect others to be at the same stage as we are. So if you are vegan (and this goes for the vegetarians out there, too) in this life, that’s awesome. Consider yourself one lucky human being to have found this path in this lifetime, and give yourself a pat on the back for being just a little bit more enlightened….

That is unless you start judging and preaching to everyone who eats meat or animal products.

You might not like their choice, and I get it, it can be super frustrating! But it’s none of your business.However, if someone asks you about why you’re vegan, then let it rain!! Get on your soapbox because it’s an excellent opportunity to share with others why you’ve chosen this path.

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Sources:

    • https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-protein-affects-your-hormones
  • https://blog.bulletproof.com/how-to-find-your-ideal-protein-intake/?

Berry-licious Smoothie Bowl

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If you’re looking for something chock full of antioxidants and healthy fats for breakfast (and I really hope you are!) then this berry-licious smoothie bowl is just for you!

This smoothie gives you all the healthy fats , fiber, and antioxidants you need for happy, healthy hormones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • 2 tbs ground flax seeds
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of pink himalayan salt
  • 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder (I use Vega Sport Vanilla)
  • 1 tbs of your favorite nut butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • handful of goji berries
  • handful of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats

Method:

Blend and top with goji berries, oats, and walnuts, or whatever topping you fancy!

Enjoy!

xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl

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This chocolate cherry smoothie bowl makes for the perfect nourishing breakfast, as it’s full of antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein to fuel your brain and hormones throughout your day!

CHOCOLATE CHERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL 🍒🍒🍒

Ingredients:
•1 1/2 cup non dairy unsweetened milk ( please not soy!)
• 1/2 cup frozen cherries
•1/2 avocado
•1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vega Sport Vanilla)
•1 tbs raw cacao powder
• 1 tbs chia seeds or flax seeds
• pinch of sea salt
•pinch of cinnamon
•optional- 1 scoop Bulletproof collagen protein powder

Method:

Blend about 60 seconds and pour in bowl. Top with your favorite things. I topped mine with goji berries, Bob’s Redmill organic rolled oats, walnuts, and Lily’s sugar-free chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

xxxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

 

 

The Fudgiest Grain-free Brownies

FullSizeRender (38)I’ve made many brownies in my life. I used to make them from the box growing up, but these days, I’m a bit more aware of what I eat. The frankeningredients in those Betty Crocker or Duncan brownies are pretty freaking scary.

My favorite type of brownie is one that is super fudgey.

You know what I’m talking about.

But over the past few years, I’ve experimented with different gluten-free recipes and haven’t quite found what I was searching for. Some were to dry, some too sweet, and others good but not the BEST. SO I’ve started adapting the recipes and experimenting with new ingredients.

Well, the work paid off (and in all honesty, taste testing wasn’t too bad of a job) as I’ve finally found it.

The fudgiest most decadent brownie yet.

Even better, it has absolutely no grains , so it is gluten-free. And it’s pretty low glycemic as far as brownies go. Plus, I use raw cacao, so it’s full of antioxidants and fiber.

And can you guess the secret ingredient? If you guessed buckwheat, then you are right!

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The Fudgiest Grain-free Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup cocao powder, sifted if lumpy
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter (grass-fed please!)or coconut oil melted and cooled slightly (I’ve only made these with butter, but coconut oil would work for those who desire a dairy free recipe)
  • 1  cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I use Lily’s Sugar Free because they’re amazing)  + an additional 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line an 8″×8″ (20cmx20cm) pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.FullSizeRender (36)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter or coconut oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. Once combined, add the eggs one at a time, and stir just until combined.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir just until no streaks of dry flour remain. Do not overmix.
  5. Fold in 3/4 cup chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top.FullSizeRender (35)
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out wet. A toothpick inserted into the sides will come out with some moist crumbs on it, but not totally raw batter. The brownies will continue to bake as they sit in the pan. I’ve made these in an electric oven and a gas oven. I found the gas oven bakes them faster, so they only needed 14 minutes. In the electric they might need a few more. My advice is to take out at minute 14 and test, and put them back in for 2 more minutes if needed. These continue to cook quite a lot after taken outFullSizeRender (37)
  8. Let cool completely and then cover and store at room temperature for up to 4 days. If you refrigerate them they get a fudgier texture.
  9. Serve with coconut ice cream ( Nada Moo is pretty good!) if you wanna go all out 😉

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

 

“What The Health” and What It Means for Your Hormones

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By now you might have already seen the new vegan documentary, “What the Health” that is causing so much controversy.

I am LOVING how this documentary has created a movement in people across the world to go vegan, vegetarian, or to cut down their animal consumption.

I do, however, have a few BIG issues with some of the claims the documentary makes.

“What the Health” shells out a lot of propaganda. I was shocked to see how many times throughout it, they claim sugar is not a cause of inflammation or diabetes- instead, they say fat is to blame. That’s pretty insane and just a downright pernicious message to be spreading.

Here’s why:

1. You need healthy fats for healthy hormones.
The documentary claims that animal fat leads to cancer. And yes, a diet of processed meat and unclean sources of animal protein, as well as unhealthy sources of plant based fat can lead to cancer.

But healthy fats will not.

Healthy fats will produce healthy hormones, and keep your healthy LDL cholesterol levels high- which you want!

And yes, that’s right, I said “healthy LDL”.

Unlike unicorns, there is such a thing! LDL gets a bad rap by being dumped in the “bad” category by the American Heart Association (seriously why haters gotta hate?!), but actually, the big fluffy particles of LDL are good for you! It’s the small, rugged particles that cause heart disease.

Because guess what? All of your sex hormones are made from cholesterol, so if you are eating a low-fat diet, your hormones will be in trouble.

And I’m not saying all fat is good. Only the healthy, unoxidized ones.

 

Good news is you can be vegan and STILL get your healthy fats.

You can also be vegetarian, or an omnivore. So whatever food plan you choose to fit your lifestyle and beliefs, just make sure you include healthy fats.

2. Sugar leads to inflammation and insulin resistance, which DIRECTLY affects your hormones.

Okay, these producers are smoking crack. The claim that all fats and meat leads to diabetes is 100% FALSE.

Processed meats will throw off your omega 6 to omega 3 balance in your body, which can increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis.

But guess what? Eating lots of crappy vegetable oil (which is vegan!) and processed fake meats does the same thing!

You can’t just say ALL of something is bad, it’s not that easy.

I get it. They’re passionate. They are on a mission to get everyone to go vegan. And I respect their drive and mission. But to lie about sugar to persuade? That’s just playing dirty.

Let’s get the facts straight. When you eat sugar (and this includes any food with a high glucose level like honey, agave nectar, fruit, etc) your insulin levels will automatically rise. So if you are eating too much sugar, this will lead to higher blood glucose levels, which will eventually lead to diabetes.

If your blood sugar levels get too high, then your body will produce more of the hormone cortisol. And ladies, this is seriously bad news bears. When your body starts to make more cortisol, guess where it will get all the juice from to make that extra order?

It will steal from your other sex hormones like progesterone and estrogen. You see, cortisol will always take priority. It’s just the way our bodies are evolutionarily designed. Cortisol is designed to get us out of trouble when we are being chased by that saber tooth tiger. So your body will stop making progesterone and estrogen to make more cortisol.

And this is bad news if you are trying to conceive, wish to have healthy periods, combat PMS, keep your ideal weight, maintain high energy levels, etc.

So let’s get this clear. High quality fats do not affect your glucose levels in any way, shape or form. Sugar does.

So allow “What the Health” to motivate you! Just remember to include your healthy fats, and to keep your diet as low-glycemic as possible.

And if you are going vegan, please read my article about healthy and clean sources of plant-based protein.

xxxxx
Health Coach Jenna

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