Friday, 31 January 2014

Top Ten Reasons To Avoid Eating Oils

What a week! We just got back from Panama City a couple of days ago. Having decided to take the local buses and thus having a long but far more interesting journey there and back, I was exhausted and welcomed a day "off". Although a day off around here means working on a business plan, creating my february monthly goals and making my schedule for the next week...

It was truly an amazing 5 days and I am totally in love with Panama. I am thankful we get to go again for our next visa run! Although we will try to make it to a different part of the country to explore another volcano and perhaps the Caribbean side of the country...

I was trying to think of a worthy post for today's Top 10 post and I figured that since the whole oil-free deal is the most asked about, it would be perfect.

A specially made vegan meal just for us! Although it was delicious and a welcome change in this meat-centric country, this is what prompted this post. It was so oily!

We got to go on a jungle hike with a local farmer that has so much knowledge about plants, he was able to just pick them out easily when Ken fell off a rock an scraped his shin, it healed amazingly fast. He takes WWOOF'ers!

Most people are the most baffled by this single dietary choice. In the past many years, we've gotten so many mixed messages from the "diet" industry who keep changing their minds on who to vilify next. First the craze was all about low-fat, but this brought on a massive surge of low-fat products that were never fit for human consumption. The list of ingredients for a low fat version of pretty much anything has a list at least double the size, with many that you'll be hard-pressed to pronounce. So with this, people began to vilify the low fat "movement" because it was making people unhealthy.

This led to the new craze of the low-carb diet that is very popular to this day.

The trends are tending much more towards whole food diets, with people still being on the spectrums of low fat/high carb, to high fat/low carb. Having tried both, I have to say that I feel and perform at my best with the high carb option, as do many people around me.

Oils are a special case, while plant-based fats such as avocados provide healthy nutrients and essential fatty acid, oils are essentially pure fat.

So these are the 10 reasons why you should avoid oils:

10. "The fat you eat is the fat you wear."

Oils are pure 100% fat, they have a super high caloric density and it's hard to measure exactly how many calories from fat you are consuming with oils. Simple put, with (on average) 1900 calories per cup, you can eat a ton of it before feeling satisfied.

9. Oil is a processed food.

No matter what technique is used to extract oil, it is a simple shadow of the food it has come from. Often they use high temperature methods that damage the molecular structure of the product. Even cold-pressed methods give a product that is nothing like what nature has provided.

8.  It is not a whole food.

There is no fiber, very little vitamins and minerals. An olive is a whole food, it's oil is a fragment of it. It is stripped of the natural balance of chemicals that make it healthy.

7. It heightens the risk for Heart Disease

According to Dr McDougall "Serial angiograms of people’s heart arteries show that all three types of fat—saturated (animal) fat, monounsaturated (olive oil), and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and -6 oils)—were associated with significant increases in new atherosclerotic lesions over one year of study.9  Only by decreasing the entire fat intake, including poly- and monounsaturated-oils, did the lesions stop growing." (source). Dr Esselstyn has also provide scientific research supporting a low fat diet, with no oils. 

6. It comes out of your pores.

I always had oily skin. Then, I stopped eating oils. Poof! Many people who follow the McDougall or Raw till 4 lifestyle find that their skin clears up within weeks.

5. It slows you down.

Trying to beat that PR? Or working on that 5k? Oils and fats in general slow you down, they take longer to digest and aren't the most optimal fuel for exercise. Fuel up on clean whole fruit and see the difference. Even if these aren't your goals, you'll have more energy throughout the day to conquer your world.

4. It's cheaper

You can make all the same dishes, without having to buy that pesky expensive organic coconut/olive oil. Water saute veggies, add applesauce to baked goods and experiment with blended dressing using fruits, veggies and spices.

3. It will help you have a balanced, healthy weight.

'nough said.

2. The dishes are infinitely easier to clean.

I hate doing the dishes, but I love to cook. In comes oil free cooking where most of the time a good rinse does the trick!

1. Most oils on the market are rancid when you buy them.

They don't have as long of a shelf life as you may think. The heating processes used for some make the seed rancid before it's even processed. Raw oils are not meant to keep for long just like produce. Also, most of them become carcinogenic when heated again in your pan or oven.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Top Ten Game Day Eats

I used to be a huge sports fan. Hockey was my game, but really I'd watch most sports. Nowadays, I usually just use my friends interest in sports to make them awesome vegan food. I even hosted a Grey Cup party before coming to Costa Rica. I just wanted to make chilli cheese fries.

Big game days, like the Superbowl that's imminent, are serious foodie days. People have their staples, or go all gourmet and make feasts worthy of Kings.

I like going ALL out. Bring out the showstoppers people.

Especially when it means showing off your plant-based cooking skills in dishes that will have people taking back their "being vegan is difficult" comments while chowing down on your masterpieces.

While I do take out the foods that I may not always eat, I think that it is 100% possible to make a healthy, decadent spread for all to enjoy. Beats having that stomach ache later.

SO here is my top 10 game day recipes:

1. Buffalo Cauliflower

These babies can be fired up to any spice level you want. They are crunchy delicious bites that can also be made as saucy as you like. Personally, I like drowning them.

2. Chilli

No game day spread is complete without chilli, enough said.

3. Chilli Cheese Fries

While you're at it, might as well make a build your own chilli cheese fries bar. These are so good I could eat nothing else for a week.

4. Guacamole

Mix it up with some salsa for an explosion of flavor.
Another staple of the day, just whip up an extra large batch of the recipe from the Chilli Cheese Fries. Watch as it accomplishes it's inevitable disappearing act!

5. Black Bean Sliders

This recipe is easy to covert to bite-size patties. Serve em up with your favorite toppings.

6. Hummus

This one's not just for the herbivores, I was addicted to hummus way before I switched over to the plant-based ways. There are a million variations, try out roasted red pepper, sundried tomato, or black olive varieties. Apparently, this blog is lacking a recipe for this delicious dip. I will have to rememeber to remedy to that!

7. Hell-Fire Dip

Let's get that mouth burning just a bit more, shall we? This dip has got one hell of a kick, depending on what hot sauce and jerk sauce you use. You can easily tone it down if a fire breathing mouth isn't your thing.

8. Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps are the new burrito. Okay, nothing will ever replace the burrito. This one is easy to whip up and you can vary the fillings to whatever is in season. This is much better than a simple garden salad any day.

9. Melon Citrus Slushies

You've go have something delicious to accompany all those decadent dishes. This one is cool and refreshing, a greta compliment to all the rich food you'll be serving.

10. Black Bean Brownies

Make these bad boys into two-bite brownies by using a small muffin tray. Serve with some banana ice cream!


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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

What I eat Wedneday's Holy Bananas

With being a high raw high carb kinda gal, sometimes you end up with just way too many ripe bananas. This is one of those days.

So my day of eating kinda went like this, banana smoothie, banana smoothie, bananas... Then I just couldn't anymore and had rice for dinner. Total count? 30 naners. Gives kudos to the whole 30bananasaday crowd.

Not too many ictures this time around, since a banana smoothie is not that pretty and I ate the rice directly out of the pot. I simply cooked it with spices (curry powder, cayenne, nooch after it was done).

Bonus Doggy Picture!
So all in al a very simple day food-wise.

Now, to address the "but you're going to overdose on potassium!" deal. The amount of potassium that needs to be taken in one dose to bring on an overdose of the mineral is xxxxxmg. One banana contains about xx mg. Times that time 30 and you'll see that it's far from being near deadly.

I have been tinkering around with writing a banana recipe book. The fact is, most of us raw foodies around the world keep bananas as our staple because they are widely available year round, cheap and delicious, not to mention full of the good stuff: nutrients. But eating bananas as is can get a bit tedious. In come the gazillion ways they can be consumed! I think 101 recipes is a decent place to start! Keep an eye out for it in the next few months.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Meatless Monday's: Quick Black Bean Burgers

Sometimes, there just isn't the time or energy to make dinner, let alone a complex meal.

I find that somedays, if I didn't eat as simply as I do, I'd just be too lazy to make myself food. Or I just get so caught up with whatever it is that I'm doing that once I realize I have to eat, it's a gotta-eat-right-now-omg-starving kind of feeling. During the day, I scarf down some fruit, usually just whatever is ripest and easiest, which 90% of the time means bananas. Fruit is the fastest food around!

But then, on those days days, when dinner comes around and I'm not in the mood for a monster truck size salad, something quick and easy is on my mind.

In comes the black bean burger.

You can even freeze them, which means even less preparation time come dinner.

Just as a side note, the buns I used are not of the gluten-free variety. I haven't found a store bought (or what I would love is a local bakery) that makes vegan gluten free buns that tastes great, or even just have a non-crumbly texture. If anyone has any suggestions, I am more than open to trying any! Anywho, I used the ezekiel organic flour-free sprouted buns, that I find are the only wheat I can digest just fine.

Quick Black Bean Burgers


-1 can, or equivalent homecooked, black beans
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Pre-heat oven to 400F

In a medium bowl, mash the beans until about half are still in bits and pieces, add in the oats and all the seasonings and mix well. 

Form into 4 patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake on each side for about 5-7 minutes, until the outside is almost crispy, but not browned.

Using your burger bun of choice, or a lettuce leaf, load on your favorite toppings. I added lettuce, avocado, hot sauce, organic ketchup, mustard and some low fat vegan mayo. Tomatoes would have made it perfect, but I didn't have any at the time.


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Saturday, 18 January 2014

Top 10 Ways to Eat Avocado.

Sooo top 10 Friday turned into top 10 Saturday. Can't say that I am the best at keeping a strict schedule, I'm a bit more of a go with the flow of the day type person. Nevertheless, I am quite set on doing this 3 posts a week deal.

To start off the Top 10 series, I think that the delicious avocado is in need of a little spotlight treatment. Other than the occasional coconut/coconut milk, it's basically the only fat source in my diet. Unless I can find some durian, which I could go for just about now...

Anyways, like I said, avocado is a frequent addition to my meals. I have one about every other day or at the least every few days. While I could simply eat it with a spoon and be content, it's versatility has me making all kinds of things with it. Let's go from simplest to complex:

1. Topping:

Avocado makes a great topping to just about anything: grain bowls or a simple bowl of rice and braggs, sushi, pasta, refried beans, chilli, soups, salads, on top of salsa, quinoa, pizza, the list goes on!

2. As a sauce:

My favorite of all sauces made with avocado is this one which is a recipe for a mac and cheese that is so easy and delicious you''l thank me after the first bite.

I think that using avo as a base for any sauce that needs to be creamy works great. It also usually brings down your prep time because you don't have to cook it, simply blend and pour over the hot vessel that shall be receiving the goodness. My ideas include alfredo sauce, carbonara, hollandaise, vodka, sun-dried tomato or roasted red pepper sauce...

3. Dip.

Everyone knows the amazing food category that is guacamole, any gathering is incomplete without the fast-vanishing dish. I have a recipe for a basic one here. But what about a nacho dip? This one is super simple, mash avocado with nooch, hot sauce and a little braggs or salt. Maybe a little cumin or chili powder to fancy it up a bit.

It's also an essential layer to a Mexican dip. To prvent your avo dip from browning, add in some lime or lemon juice. It also always kicks up the flavor. You can always do what my partner does as well, simply cut and pit the avo, spray with a little lime and dip veggies directly in!

Guac mixed in with a bit of salsa, deeeelicious.

4. Mayo Substitute

In any way that you would use mayonnaise, an equal portion of well mashed avocado will do the trick. Try this one with a little Frank's hot sauce, instant spicy "mayo"!

5. As a vessel

That little dip in the avo is a perfectly nature give vessel to fill with delicious toppings such as fresh pico de gallo, roasted tomatoes and red onions, coleslaw, hearts of palm...

6. As a base for desserts

Making icing just got healthier, instead of using shortening, replace it with avocado. While a vanilla icing will come out green, it's easily camouflaged in chocolate or with a little beet juice for color. But hey, green icing looks amazing and will be a great conversation piece.

7. In a salad dressing

Craving ranch or ceaser dressing? Don't want oils or want to soak those nuts/seeds? Look no further! Avocado is a great base for any smooth creamy dressing recipe you want. Try using a whisk to mash and get to the creamiest consistency.

8. In baking recipes

This is a new one to me, you can apparently use avocado in denser baking recipes, like pancakes and breads. Replace the fats with avo and have some interesting looking baked goods!

9. In a gazpacho 

Raw soups are absolutely delicious, while they aren't all gazpachos, they are easy to make and only require a blender. If you have a high speed blender you can also warm up your raw soups a bit to make it all that more comforting of a cold day. The only recommendation I have here is to reserve the avocado until the soup is basically done so that it doesn't get too blended or cook since it can develop a somewhat bitter taste.

10. In risotto. 

Move over cheeze, I;ve got a new one for this creamy rice dish. Stir in some diced avocado to take it to the next level. Great vegetable pairings would be asparagus, zucchini and spinach, making this a very nutritious meal!


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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What I eat Wednesday's and Homemade Coconut Milk!

Welcome to the first What I eat Wednesday.

The purpose of this series is just to give a bit of a glimpse of what this blog is really all about. Lifestyle encompasses more than just the recipes I post, and along with the food I eat I'll talk about other subjects like fitness, meditation, self-love, gratitude and other lovely things that have proven to lead to better health and vitality.

I would also love some guest bloggers for What I eat Wednesday's, so if you feel up to it, send me a message or comment below.

I will also pop in a recipe now and again. Today it's something fairly simple: How to make fresh as can be Coconut Milk.

But first, let's start with breakfast!

The first meal of the day consisted of a beautifully ripe pineapple before the day's exercise (sprints and squats). It was really sweet and I'm guessing much higher in calories than any of the pineapple I've eaten in Canada. This is the biggest issue with fruit that's picked unripe and shipped, it just has no flavor, never ripens properly and cause digestion issues. I couldn't eat a full one because my mouth burned after 1/2. Now I eat to my heart's content!

Meal numero dos was a simple banana smoothie, I'd say about 10-12 medium ones. Just pulse blended in the blender with some pure water to the right smoothness and enjoyed throughfully.

I had another pineapple in the afternoon, I swear I could live on them!

Dinner was no doubt the most complex meal of the day. Rice with yams, red peppers, onion, nappa cabbage and a raw curry sauce made with homemade coconut milk.  The sauce is so simple, just one coconut worth of milk, 2 tomatoes, some curry powder and lime juice. If you use salt, add some in. I've been on a no-salt kick since January 1st and it's still taking some adjustment.

How to make Coconut Milk!

It's as easy as buying a coconut, I usually like using young thai coconuts, but whatever you have access to will work perfectly. Here, they have these yellow or green coconuts which are sometimes sweet, sometimes not so much. Anywho, cut open your coconut. There is a range of techniques and tools to do this, I've become pretty good at just using a knife. I suggest looking at a few youtube videos to see what works best for you. It's really worth learning!

Pour the water into your blender carafe. Now the trickier part, to get the meat out you can try a few things. The easiest way that may not get all the flesh is to just use a spoon from the opening you made to get the water out. Another way, which I always get my partner to do for me, is to smash the coconut on some hard surface (usually cement) to crack it open.

Once you've got the meat out, put it into the carafe with the water. Blend it until smooth. If you are going to cook with it, you don't need to add anything but if you want a sweeter milk, add in some soaked dates or coconut sugar along with 1/2 tsp of vanilla.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Meatless Monday's: Cheezy Miso Quinoa Bowl

Ah Monday's, such an under-appreciated day!

I totally get why, for most it's the day that you get to go back to the daily grind. Which is why I totally support the Meatless Monday initiative. It's a great way to start off the week on the right foot. Filling yourself up with some quality nutrient dense food will help make this day better.

Also, I need to start learning to post earlier.

I'm still trying to get the hang of this scheduling thing that I told myself I would keep up with as a New Year's goal. I don't call them resolutions anymore, since I make a pretty decent list of things that I want to accomplish in the next year. They aren't all year long commitments, but I make my health and fitness goals every year. Like this year I want to run a half marathon and do a sprint triathlon among a few other things. There's also things like wanting to publish an e-book, a 30 day meditation and yoga challenge and coming here to Costa Rica. 2014 is going to be busy! Just like I like it!

Anywho, this bowl is one of the things that I just love to eat whenever I'm in the mood for some comfort food. The sauce has been a recipe of mine, that's been changed up a bit, from my very early vegan days when I was craving cheezy things often. Now, having said that, it doesn't exactly taste like cheese by any means,but has a very similar flavor profile that I find definitely hits the spot. It's also great as a Mac n' Cheeze sauce, over potatoes, broccoli...

Cheezy Miso Quinoa Bowl
- 2-4 cups quinoa
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced.

- 2-3 cup almond milk
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp miso (or to taste)
- ¼ cup gluten free flour
- 2/3 cup salsa
- 2 tbsp turmeric

Cook the quinoa and the sweet potatoes in the same pot, about 20 minutes.

While the quinoa/s-p’s are cooking, sauté the onion with a bit of water until translucent, then add the rest of the veggies with ¼ cup of water and cover to steam.

In another pot, combine the nooch, turmeric and flour until well incorporated, then whisk in the almond milk and miso. Heat on a medium-high heat, whisking frequently until it has thickened up. Now add the salsa.

Assemble your bowl! Quinoa, sweet potato, then veggies and as much sauce as you prefer! I basically drown my bowl in sauce, but then again I am a sauce addict!


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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Holy Moly Low-Fat Chili Cheese fries

Sometimes I spend hours of my time just thinking about how to make favorite foods into healthy alternatives. Not even just my favorites, but everyones. It's a question I love asking people. I think I might be obsessed...

My partner and I had a guilty pleasure restaurant in Toronto that made epic vegan Chili Cheese Fries. I was hooked. But they we're so full of fat and processed foods that I felt terrible after eating them. I wanted all the taste and satisfaction without the unhealthies.

So, as I have been known to do, I brainstormed up a healthy delicious way to make these something I could have for dinner whenever the craving came on.

The trick here was making everything from scratch with quality ingredients that taste amazing on their own, and even better when combined.  The techniques themselves are simple and easy to accomplish.

I think that this would be an epic dish to serve at the Super-bowl, or any party really. Or dinner. I actually made these for the first time at a Grey Cup party that I hosted. I wasn't exactly doing it for the game. I was much more motivated by great company and being able to whip up a bunch of food to share with everyone.

As a small side note, There is the suggestion of using Daiya, which is vegan cheese. It is on the processed side of things, but I think that it's a great product to use to introduce the vegan lifestyle. You can also make a simple cheeze sauce with nutritional yeast to get that cheezy flavor. I'll be posting an easy one soon!

Holy Moly Chili Cheese Fries


- 1 batch Oven Fries (below)
- 1 recipe Guacamole (below)
- 1/2 recipe sour cream
- Nutritional Yeast or Daiya or Cheeze sauce of choice
- Green Onions, chopped.
- Hot sauce of choice

Assemble into a bowl as follows: Fries, Cheeze or nooch, chili, guac, sour cream and green onions. Hot sauce to top it off if desired!

To keep it low fat, only use about a tablespoon of guac and sour cream per bowl.

Dig in!

Oven Fries:

- 10 medium potatoes, cut into fries or wedges
- Hot water
- Seasoning of choice

Soak your potatoes in hot water for at least 3 hours, if you don't have that much time, soak them for 20-25 minutes in water that has been boiled.

Pre heat oven to 415F

On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, spread out the potatoes in one even layer and season to taste (I used a salt-free cajun spice mix).

Cook fries for 20 mins, flip and cook another 10-15 until cooked through. If you want them to have a bit of a crisp broil on high for a few minutes but make sure you watch them carefully! I almost burnt a batch once or twice by getting distracted by other things.


- 2 medium or 1 large avocado
- 2 tbsp minced red onion
- 1 small tomato, diced.
- 1 lime, juice of.
- Cumin, pepper, cayenne.

Mash avo, mix in the rest in, Voila!

Sour Cream:

- Meat of 2 young thai coconuts
- 1/2 cup pre soaked sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp or so lemon juice
- Water to get it all going.

-Blend, Blend, Blend... Blend more. Until smooth as, take a bit between your fingers to ensure it's totally smooth.


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