Açaí bowl

Açaí is a fruit, specifically a berry, that is grown primarily in Brazil. Ads for products that contain this popular berry claim that it can help with everything from cancer to weight loss. Before I continue, I will warn you to exercise extreme caution when it comes to those product claims. While açaí may offer health benefits, scams for supplements and other açaí products run rampant on the internet. As with most things, if it sounds too good to be true it is.

Super powers aside, açaí is delicious and good for you. To make smoothies and bowls quick and easy, frozen packets of açaí puree can be found in some supermarkets (I have found them at Nugget and Whole Foods markets).

This morning I re-created a bowl that I had in Hawaii last week and the result was fantastic. Roadside strawberry stands have begun to open where I live and the spring strawberries are, in my opinion, the best of the year! They are shiny, tender, and oh so sweet!

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I mixed my açaí puree with vanilla soy yogurt for extra protein. I think next time I might try reducing the amount of yogurt and adding 1/2 a frozen banana to the mix to keep it a bit thicker. Here is my recipe from today, feel free to tweak it as you wish!

Allison's Açaí Bowl
Serves 1

1 packet frozen açaí puree
1/2 - 1 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 cup granola (vanilla flavor is extra good)
1 sliced banana
4 sliced strawberries

1. Using a blender, combine the açaí and yogurt. Pour mixture into a bowl and top with granola and sliced bananas and strawberries.

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Some ideas for recipe tweaks:

  1. Reduce the yogurt to 1/4-1/2 cup and add 1/2 a frozen banana to the puree. Add a splash of apple juice, if necessary, to make blending easier but keep the mixture thick.
  2. Drizzle agave nectar or honey over the top of the berries and bananas if you like things a little sweeter.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of hemp seeds for extra protein and iron (either to the puree or sprinkled over the top).
  4. Use tropical fruit such as mango, pineapple, or papaya instead of banana and strawberries. Top with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.

A note on sustainability: Because açaí is grown in the Amazon rainforest, it is important to consider the environmental aspects of getting this berry from Brazil to your breakfast table. While it isn't possible for most of us to buy local açaí, we can do our best to support companies that practice sustainable farming. Take a look at the Sambazon website, here, for more information.

Aloha, acai, and hanging loose

Aloha! I hope that you're having a healthy, happy week! I just got home after spending a week in Hawaii and, since I'm still on Hawaiian time, I thought I'd post a quick hello.

I adore Hawaii- the water, the weather, the beaches, the tropical fruit, and "hanging loose". Despite the abundance of wonderful fruits, though, Waikiki is not the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly place that I've ever visited. It sometimes takes a bit of creativity (and accommodating restaurant employees) to build a vegetarian meal. Amazingly, though, our hotel was right across the street from a great little place called Ruffage Natural Foods. About 90% of their menu is vegetarian (much of it vegan) and I was very happy to be so close.

Also, I discovered the complete and total yumminess that is the acai bowl while I was in Hawaii! I am so looking forward to recreating that at home and I will share the recipe for my version soon!

Vacation always reminds me to slow down and have more fun. I usually come home with renewed focus on being gentle with myself and enjoying my family and friends in an unhurried way. It is almost the weekend; I hope you will take some time to nurture yourself, enjoy your connections, and just hang loose!

Three new discoveries

I have discovered and fallen in love with a few new products this month and want to share them with you!

Picture 1.png Massa Organics brown rice

This organic rice is fantastic (nutty, chewy, and delicious) and so is the family farm that grows it! Check out the strawbale house on the Massa Organics website.

Picture 2.png Ozery Bakery breakfast pitas

These pitas are pillowy breakfast goodness! Each one contains 5g protein, 3g fiber, 10% of the RDA for iron, and only 170 calories. Try them warm with a smear of non-dairy cream cheese and some strawberry jam or with cashew (or other nut or seed) butter. So, so good!


Picture 3.png Stonyfield Organic O'Soy yogurt

I usually buy another brand of soy yogurt but decided to give this one a try because it is available in a six-pack of 4oz cups that are perfect for my kids. This is the creamiest and most non-soy tasting yogurt I've ever had. It is fantastic! One 4oz cup has 100 calories, 10% of the RDA for calcium, and 5 grams of protein. (Please note that this soy yogurt is NOT vegan as the live and active cultures are derived from milk.)

What are electrolytes?

As an (aspiring) athlete, I am frequently reminded to "replenish my electrolytes" after a long workout. So, what the heck are electrolytes and how do we replenish them?

Electrolytes are electrically charged salt ions that include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate in our bodies. These elements are necessary for our cells to regulate the electric charge between them and the flow of water across their membranes. Electrolytes affect and regulate the hydration of the body and are critical for nerve and muscle function. Without sufficient levels of key electrolytes, we may experience muscle weakness or cramping. Hormones within our bodies help to maintain electrolyte balance, however, when we exercise for more than 90 minutes or in hot weather we lose electrolytes when we sweat. It is important to replenish those lost electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, as soon as we finish our workout.

So, how do we do that? There are tons of "sports drinks" available for this purpose. I am pretty particular about what I am willing to put into my body, though, and many of those won't work for me because they contain artificial color or high fructose corn syrup (ick!). I prefer products that are more natural and have found two that are my favorites.

Clif Quench

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(image from clifbar.com)

I love this product! It tastes great (not too sweet) and it doesn't contain any weird ingredients. Highly recommended!


Coconut water

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(image from zico.com)

Coconut water is very simply the water from a young coconut and it is a great natural alternative to sports drinks. It isn't rich like coconut milk; it is more like juice and it contains more potassium than a banana! There are several brands available including Zico, which is my favorite. If you can't find it in your local market, Amazon carries packs of 12 for a reasonable price (in the GetNatured store here).

Ginger lime soup with soba noodles

If you over-indulged in chocolate bunnies over the weekend, this soup is a nice way to get back on track. It is light, healthy, and full of flavor. For extra protein, I serve it over soba noodles.

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Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and contain 8 grams of protein per serving.

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Ginger Lime Soup
Serves 4-6
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 yams, peel and cubed
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 green onions, chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
juice of 3 limes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add yams and shiitake mushrooms. Stir fry until tender but not mushy.
  2. Add green onions, ginger, and garlic and cool for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, water, soy sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a bowl then lower the temperature and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add spinach, cilantro, and sesame oil. Serve soup over cooked soba noodles.
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Six seeds to add to your world

Seeds are small but incredibly nutritious! Adding them to your daily diet is a great way to add protein and various vitamins and minerals. You can add seeds to your cereal (hot or cold), salads, smoothies, granola or trail mix, pancakes, and baked goods. Here are my favorites:

Chia - Very rich in omega-3 fatty acids (even more than flaxseeds) and an excellent source of fiber. Try adding them to yogurt or make "chia fresca".

Flaxseeds - Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Be sure to grind them before eating them.

Hemp - Excellent source of iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Pumpkin - Just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides ~25-30% of the RDA for iron! They are also rich in manganese, magnesium, and several other vitamins and minerals. Eating pumpkin seeds (and other iron-rich foods) with foods containing vitamin C will greatly increase your iron absorption.

Sesame - Sesame seeds aren't just for buns (hamburger that is)! They contain a ton of calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and iron. Try them in hummus or stir fried veggies.

Sunflower - Loaded with vitamins E and B1, manganese, magnesium, copper, folic acid, and more.

Many of these are available in the bulk food section of your grocery store (or online). Look for raw seeds rather than dry roasted or otherwise cooked versions and keep them in the refrigerator. The oils in nuts and seeds are delicate and will begin to smell a bit like paint if they have gone rancid.

You will get the most nutritional value from consuming raw nuts and seeds. However, if you wish to toast them, please use a temperature that is 300°F or less to preserve the value of their delicate oils.