10/12/17

Dirty Rice With Cauliflower | SCD + Paleo

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Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from white rice, chicken liver, green bell pepper, celery, onion and a blend of aromatic spices. I decided to turn this classic southern Louisiana dish into a quick, healthy meal that consists mostly of staples found in the home. This recipe is so simple and can be altered to add in different veggies, chicken, sausage and even chicken liver if you prefer. Omit the bone broth to make a simple vegan dish packed with nutrients. The options are endless but full of flavor!

While we recently added organic rice into our diet, in moderation of course, this dish calls for riced cauliflower, which will always be a staple in our house. This super food totes a long list of healthy benefits and is rich in phytochemicals. Eating cauliflower provides your body with remarkable amounts of nutrients; vitamin C, vitamin k, beta-carotene and the list goes on. These nutrients help support healthy digestion, fight inflammation and promote detoxification.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower:
- Reduces Cancer Risk.
- Fights Inflammation.
- Provides High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals (especially important Vitamin C and Vitamin K)
- Improves Digestion and Detoxification.
- Aids in Weight Loss.
- Helps Balance Hormones.
- Preserves Eye Health.

The next time you're in the grocery store make sure to stock up on cauliflower! This cruciferous vegetable can be eaten raw, made into rice, roasted, steamed and used as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

Dirty Rice with Cauliflower
yield: 6 servings
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Optional

INGREDIENTS:

1 head of cauliflower, pulsed in a food processor
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup diced yellow pepper
1/4 cup chopped shitake mushroom
1/4 cup chopped kale
1 cup bone broth
2 or 3 Tbs. coconut oil
2 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs Creole Spice
OR
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor with S blade attached and pulse until florets are finely ground and resemble cous cous.
2. In a large saute pan, add 1 Tbs. coconut oil and cook the cauliflower rice over medium-high heat until very lightly browned. Set aside in a large bowl for later.
3. Using the same pan, saute the onion, carrots and celery until translucent and fragrant. Add more coconut oil as needed.
4. Add the broccoli, pepper, mushroom and creole seasonings (if making your own creole seasoning, prep this ahead of time) and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring so the spices don't burn.
5. Pour in about 1/2 cup bone broth. I start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed.
6. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add cauliflower rice and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley and serve.

Tips & Suggestions:
- Prepare your creole seasoning ahead of time.
- Swap the bone broth for vegetable broth to make this dish vegan.
- Add chicken or sausage for an extra boost of protein.

*Feedback is greatly appreciated! Sometimes I get caught up cooking and I forget to write down the recipe, I try my best to remember every step but sometimes I just forget! For this dish I had half of the recipe written down and then...nothing. I'll make adjustments as needed.

10/6/17

The Benefits of Tea Tree + Maple Holistics

Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
Jim Rohn

The idea of a healthy lifestyle goes far beyond what we eat and drink. Our health is impacted by the world around us; the air we breath, the dirt we touch, the clothes we wear and the products we use on our bodies. Our skin is the largest organ of our entire body, so it's imperative we treat it with care and use quality products that are free from harsh chemicals, dyes and preservatives. Did you know that nearly 20% of personal-care products contain at least one chemical linked to cancer? Yet beauty products are loosely regulated by the FDA. Think about it, you use lotions, creams, soaps and oils daily. When you put these products on you skin they are absorbed into your system and make their way to the bloodstream and inside your body. When you think about it this way you realize just how delicate our skin is and, since it is the largest organ, we should treat it with care.

For years our family has been using tea tree oil for its powerful antiseptic properties and its ability to treat wounds. But did you know that tea tree totes several other beneficial properties? Maple Holistics Natural Tea Tree Oil Shampoo can moisturize hair and scalp, can promote healthy hair growth and can soothe irritated scalp and skin. Their tea tree oil shampoo can even help prevent and fight lice, which makes it ideal for kids. And, it is cruelty-free, parabens-free, GMO-free, and gluten free; making it an ideal product to use. My daughter and I both had the chance to sample this shampoo and our hair was left feeling soft and shiny. I've been on the search for a natural shampoo for her long blonde locks and finally found one that cleanses well yet leaves her hair silky. This is the ideal shampoo for me since I'm always looking for something to promote hair growth and keep my long bob strong and thick.

Benefits of Tea Tree
- It contains natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- Soothes dry skin and scalp.
- Promotes hair growth.
- Helps to unclog hair follicles and nourish your roots.
- Tea tree oil works great on any hair type.

To read more about Maple Holistics and check out all the products they have to offer head on over to their site!
Maple Holistics | Website | Facebook | Instagram

This post is in partnership with Maple Holistics.

10/4/17

Cuyahoga Valley National Park + Hiking Tips For Kids

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Frank Lloyd Wright

Secluded trails tucked away between rocky gorges, massive boulders perfectly placed in the middle of the vast woods, tree-covered hills, the overgrowth of brush and fresh water quickly flowing over rock and pebbles. Who would have thought this rustic landscape is situated right in the heart of Ohio. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron and just a short drive away from Canton, serves the Metropolitan area well. In just a short distance, you can escape from the bustling urban life of downtown and find a natural retreat hidden away just off the highway. These grounds welcome hikers, families, runners, bikers, bird-watchers, photographers and nature lovers.

When To Go
Hiking in Ohio is a year round adventure! Now is the perfect time of year to hike in Ohio. In a couple more weeks the leaves will be in their prime and you will be surrounded by bold hues of gold, orange, red, yellow and rust. Cuyahoga Valley is just as fascinating in the winter. The waterfalls and rivers transform into a winter wonderland and become a captivating sight created by ice. Don't forget that cross-country skiing (an activity we picked up a couple years ago), snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking in the winter months are extremely enjoyable. And of course spring offers a fresh perspective on nature as we begin to see new growth. Spring is the time for foraging and seeking out the treasures provided by the season; morel mushrooms, ramps, fiddlehead ferns.

Tips For Hiking With Children
- Dress in layers and don't forget it's Ohio- check the weather because it's always unpredictable!
- Bring plenty of water and a snack. We always pack Larabars and meat sticks.
- Bring sunscreen and insect repellent. We use essential oils or this natural bug spray.
- Wear long pants or high hiking socks with shorts to keep ticks away from your skin.
- It seems obvious, but make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- Consider a shorter trail that is kid friendly.
- Bring a notebook and pen to encourage your child to take notes and draw pictures.
- When you get home research what you saw.

9/27/17

Paleo Cacao Powder Zucchini Brownies

Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto


I can't just tease you with the previous post about the health benefits of raw organic cacao and then not share a recipe, now can I? Zucchini always seems to be plentiful in the month of September and it usually makes its way into every meal these days. Our freezer is loaded with zucchini bread, zucchini waffles and even just frozen zucchini that will eventually make its way into a dish. But there is something about pairing zucchini and chocolate together that appeals to most palettes. This green courgette is a summer squash that is very subtle in taste, hence why it works so well in desserts or sweet treats. But don't be fooled by the mild flavor, zucchini is packed with vitamins and minerals. It contains manganese, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. It also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein. Not to mention that the vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and calcium in zucchini assure optimal health. So don't hold back on your summer squash!

Cacao Powder Zucchini Brownies
yield: 12-16 brownies, depending on how they are cut
Paleo, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-free

INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
4 Tbs ghee or butter, melted
1/3 c honey
½ cup cacao powder
1 ½ cups almond flour
2 Tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp Himalayan salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a square 9 x 9 inch pan OR a brownie pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment. If using a brownie pan just grease and skip the parchment.
2. Using a mixer, mix the eggs until well combined. Add the honey, melted butter, cacoa powder, flours, baking soda and salt. Mix together and then add the vanilla, making sure not to over stir the batter.
3. Fold in the zucchini.
4. Transfer the batter to your baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
6. Enjoy with a glass of almond milk!

*We recently discovered Malk products and are thrilled to have an almond milk that doesn't contain starches, gums and preservatives. This is a great substitute to homemade almond milk. These opinions are my own. This post was not sponsored or in partnership with Malk.

9/18/17

Cacao vs. Cocoa + Healthy Benefits of Cacao

Healthy Benefits of Cacao
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

Mr. Schulz, I completely agree with you; a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt...or does it? Unfortunately, chocolate is NOT compliant with the SCD diet. However, we decided to try raw cacao powder about a year and a half into the diet since we were in full remission and exhibiting no active symptoms of Crohn's disease. While diving into my research on chocolate I learned some fascinating information about this dark indulgence that so many of us love. In order to understand how and why chocolate (cacao) is beneficial to our health, it's important to understand the measures of how it is made and processed.

COCOA vs. CACAO

All chocolate, including the various forms it comes in, starts at the same source: the Theobroma cacao tree. This tree, native to South America, produces seed pods which are then harvested and cracked open to remove the unprocessed, pure cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") beans. From here you end up with either cacao or cocoa powder. They both sound similar but are actually very different, especially when it comes to processing, cost and nutrition. Many of you chocolate lovers know, cocoa and cacao are available in several different forms including nibs, chips, butter, powder, and chocolate bars. All delicious, but are they all equally healthy?

The cacao beans are usually fermented and dried before processing any further. Raw cacao powder is typically made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. This process allows the enzymes to stay in the cacao and removes the fat, or the cacao butter. When manufacturers chop the cacao beans into small pieces you have cacao nibs, which are full of flavor, slightly bitter and crunchy. Because the processesing is minimal to none, you get all the nutrients and antioxidant power of cacao beans. Cacao butter is made from the fattiest part of the cacao bean. It is actually white in color and slightly resembles white chocolate. You can use it for baking (like I did in this recipe) and even as a moisturizer. Finally, when you take what is left of the cacao bean and grind it into a fine powder you have cacao powder, which can be used in baking, cooking, hot chocolate, smoothies and more.

Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is probably what you remember from your childhood. Cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted at high temperatures, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols. Flavanols are the beneficial phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) found naturally in cacao. Since cacao contains such a unique blend of flavanols it is often referred to as a superfood. A common practice in manufacturing cocoa is Dutch processing; the process where the cocoa is treated in an alkalizing chemical agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cacao." Since cacao is naturally acidic, the taste is sharp and very bold. Dutch processing reduces the bitterness, darkens the color and creates a mild flavor. However, it also eliminates the nutrients and antioxidants. "Natural cocoa powder" will taste more bitter and rich than Dutch-processed cocoa powder, but be cautious because most natural cocoa powder has added ingredients like sugar, preservatives, starches, emulsifiers and dairy. And the same goes for chocolate chips.

Are you confused yet?

In short, the high-heat processing of cacao beans to create cocoa powder and chocolate strips the original source of its nutrients. Therefore cacao, which is minimally processed, is actually higher in antioxidants and nutrients.

5 Healthy Benefits of Eating Raw Organic Cacao

1. A Magnesium Rich Food
Cacao beans are one of the best magnesium-rich foods around. Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, and cacao nibs contain 272 milligrams per 100 grams. Magnesium is the second most abundant element inside human cells. It is found in bones, teeth, red blood cells and serves as a building block for DNA and is an essential element required for proper functioning of the nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular systems. Magnesium also helps in the absorption of calcium.

"Theobroma Cacao" literally translates into "Food of the Gods." Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

2. Excellent Source of Antioxidants
If it is certified as "Organic Raw Cacao" then it is an excellent source of antioxidants, otherwise you are consuming cacao covered in toxins from the spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans. In addition to the toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, it may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.

Organic raw cacao contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries! In the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart raw cocoa powder is at the top of the antioxidant list. This scale was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.

3. Prevent Aging
Raw cacao has the same polyphenol antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in red wine) can protect your cells from premature destruction and make you feel younger and healthier! Cocoa is also rich in flavonols, potent plant chemicals that encourage blood vessels to relax, keeping them youthful, supple and pliable.

4. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Several studies show that raw cacao has been found to decrease blood pressure. These changes are attributed to the presence of the antioxidants in cocoa that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed. Which also helps in maintaining a healthy circulatory system.

5. Enhances the Mood
Studies have shown that cacao flavonols help to enhance mood, combat depression, and promote improved cognitive activities. Cacao contains the mood booster, anandamide, known as the "bliss molecule," which gives you a feeling of euphoria.

Now, before you dive into your organic raw cacao here are a couple reminders:

Having too much cacao at one time can overstimulate your central nervous system, your heart and even your brain. You can go from feeling hyper to drowsy and quickly crash after the rush.

Remember that cacao nibs are more potent than powder and a little bit can go a long way. It's all about moderation.

In the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine clearly states that "Dr. Haas advised not to use cocoa or chocolate and this still goes, it isn't just the sugar he was worried about." Cacao, cocoa and chocolate products are NOT compliant with the SCD diet. Over time, we have introduced cacao with success. If you decide to add something into your diet, monitor the symptoms, write in your food journal and consider getting labs taken.

Shopping list: Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Butter