Personally I need routine and especially a morning one. It helps me to feel grounded and stable – two things that are vital to my overall wellness. There is something quite special about creating space in the morning for you to experience just for yourself. Lacing up my sneakers and hitting the pavement first thing in the morning is (nearly) the daily norm for me. After completing my morning training session I feel alert and ready for the day. With the Dublin Marathon only four days away, I’m tapering on the training while loading up on tons of nutrients.
Want to know my secret weapon? Meet my latest obsession, the Açaí Smoothie! Açaí (pronounced “Ah-Sigh-EE”) is a Brazilian superfruit berry that grows on palm trees in Central and South America. It tastes like a mix between bitter chocolate and blueberries and it has the highest content of antioxidants in any fruit.
Often touted as a “superfood” by marketers, these berries have high levels of antioxidants that protect cells, reduce the effects of aging and may decrease the risk of some diseases (including heart disease and cancer). But beyond their antioxidant benefits, I enjoy açaí berries because of their rich and almost chocolatey flavor. The berries have a unique but delicious taste – and, they make for a great breakfast, dessert or post-workout snack.
Vegan, Raw & Gluten-free
Makes 1 large smoothie
- 2 tsp. Açaí powder
- 1 cup non-dairy milk, water or juice (I used water)
- 1 banana
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- 1 cup frozen berries (I used raspberries)
- sprinkle of hemp seeds (optional)
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
As the days seem to be getting colder, darker and gloomier – I just have to bake. I find it awfully therapeutic. The oven gets switched on, I toss together some ingredients while music plays in the background and I can dance my heart out. Guilty pleasure? Yes, definitely.
Peak season for fresh figs is June through October, but you can find good dried figs year-round. They’re perfect to keep in your drawer at work for snacking or to take along while traveling. Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. They’re high in potassium, calcium, iron and a good source of vitamin C and fiber. In fact, they’re a good natural laxative; those tiny seeds contain a substance called mucin, which apparently helps clean toxins and mucus out of the system.
I wanted to come up with a recipe using figs after reading one of my favorite raw-foods authors, Dr. Arnold Ehret, who called figs one of his top three “mucus-dissolving foods.” Dr. Ehret was writing about raw foods back in the 1920s; if you can get your hands on any of his books, I highly recommend them.
Delicious enough for dessert yet healthy enough to fuel your day… these bars are filled with healthy ingredients: flax and chia seeds, dates, warm spices, oats, banana, almond milk and plenty of figs. Lightly baked to intensify their candy-like sweetness.
These bars are delicious warm or enjoy them cold. Also handy as a grab-and-go breakfast or snack.
Vegan Oat Fig Bars
Makes 6 large bars or 12 smaller portions
- 12 dried figs
- 3-4 medjool dates, pitted
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raw coconut sugar
- 1 tsp. flax seed (I used milled flax seed, but whole will work too)
- 1 tsp. chia seed
- 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Grease a small bread pan with coconut oil.
- Place the figs and dates in a medium sized bowl and pour the hot water on top. Allow to soak while preparing the rest of the recipe.
- Place the oats, coconut sugar, flax seed, chia seed, cinnamon, baking powder and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the almond milk, banana and vanilla.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Set mixture aside.
- Now make the filling: drain the fig and date mixture and place in a food processor. Add the maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon. Process until thick and smooth, adding a splash of water if needed.
- Time to assemble – spread half of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Next, spread all of the fig filling over the oat base. Finally, cover the fig paste with the remaining oat mixture.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.
Even though it’s perfectly legit to enjoy a melon with nothing but a fork, it only takes a few extra steps for something even a little more special. You can serve this as an afternoon snack, or alongside a more elaborate meal.
You may be surprised at the sight of basil, show curious interest in the addition of olive oil but it will surely prompt an addiction to each salty, sweet, cool and crunchy bite. It’s as simple as a few ingredients and magically transcends the sum of its parts, as they say. With Autumn well upon us, this may be our last chance to enjoy a few last bites of summer.
Vegan, Raw & Gluten-free
- seedless watermelon, cubed
- cantaloupe, seeds removed and cubed
- cucumbers, cut into large chunks
- Several branches of fresh basil
- 1 Jalapeno–thinly sliced or diced small
- 2 limes, juiced
- olive oil
- pinch of sea salt and pepper
- Prep the ingredients, being careful to put each in its own container. Remove basil leaves from the stem, tear.
- For the chili vinaigrette, remove seeds from the pepper and rinse before slicing, dice the pepper and add to the lime juice. Let macerate for several minutes. Add a healthy splash of olive oil to the citrus and pepper mix. Add salt and pepper for taste.
- When ready to serve, build each salad individually with an equal portion of colorful melon and cucumber. Toss with two tablespoons of chili vinaigrette and a big pinch of fresh basil. Top each portion with a nice drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Yeah, I kind of had to make another dish with rhubarb. I may be obsessed. I was silly to doubt the power of a classic combination like rhubarb and strawberries. It really is a perfect balance of sweet and tart.
This simply delicious and easy recipe makes the perfect addition for breakfast or brunch on oatmeal, pancakes,waffles or toast. I can also say that the compote is great eaten by the spoonful, straight from the fridge or as an afternoon snack. I imagine it would also be delicious spooned onto a freshly baked dessert. Lovely.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey (or for vegans who don’t eat honey, any other liquid sweetener will work fine, adjust as needed as some sweeteners are more or less sweet than others)
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- In a medium sized sauce pan add all the ingredients except for the honey. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Turn down to a simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened. Stir frequently. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
- When the compote is done remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes before adding the honey or other sweetener and stir to combine. Taste for sweetness as it will depend on your rhubarb, the kind of sweetener you use and your own tastes.
- Let the compote cool slightly before pouring it into a mesh strainer over a bowl to drain some of the liquid. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
(Photo Credit: my sister, Jenny Norris – jjnorris.com)