Mocha Protein Shake

Mocha Protein ShakeThis is the perfect drink to have before or after a challenging workout. It’s packed with protein, some carbs, other good-for-you-stuff (details below), and it tastes like an iced mocha coffee! Post-workout, get this into your system within 30-60 minutes after exercise to feed those hungry muscles. Sipping this shake before your workout helps fight fatigue and powers your muscles up for action…but do so an hour before to allow time for digestion.

Why this shake’s ingredients work for your workout:

  • Protein powder – Weight-lifting and vigorous exercise tear down the fibers of our muscles (we build muscle when the body repairs those fibers). Our bodies need protein to use for the repair process. There are tons of protein powders out there but many are full of weird, unnatural ingredients. Thanks to Gary Collins, I discovered Jay Robb protein powder and was really impressed with the “clean” and simple ingredients.
  • Banana – Provides the quick carbs you need after a workout to help repair your muscles. This is the best time to consume a moderate amount of natural sugars because your body will use it instead of store it. (Yep, there IS an ideal time to eat that piece of dark chocolate…)
  • Coffee – When we expend energy…we get tired! Unless your workout is at the end of the day, or you’ve penciled in some nap time, you’ve still got stuff to do! Coffee not only wakes you back up but studies show caffeine also helps reduce muscle soreness.
  • Coconut oil – After a tough workout, our muscles need extra nutrients. Coconut oil acts as a transport system, getting valuable nutrients from the food we eat afterward into our muscles by helping us secrete insulin. While working out helps our health in the long run, it can actually break down our immune system in the short-term. Plus, gyms are notoriously germy! The antiviral, antibacterial properties of the lauric acid in coconut oil give our immune systems the extra boost in protection it needs. For more explanation of why coconut oil is so good for you, check out this article by Dr. Mercola in The Huffington Post.
  • Maca powder – The magical maca root has a myriad of helpful benefits. The ones that pertain to post-workout are: Speeds up recovery; increases energy endurance and stamina; helps circulation. Want to know more? Take a look at this great article I found.
  • Raw cacao powder – This isn’t your commercial powdered chocolate! Raw cacao powder is powered up with antioxidants. It also contains magnesium, which helps relax muscles and promotes a feeling of calmness.
  • Cinnamon – This flavorful spice reduces inflammation in the body. Another plus is its sweet taste with no real sugar.
  • Sea salt – We know that sweating depletes our electrolytes, but don’t reach for the Gatorade or other “sports drinks” that add artificial colors, flavors, and sugars. Sea salt is just as effective in replacing electrolytes, without all the nasty stuff our bodies aren’t meant to ingest. Not all salt is created equal, nor is salt something we need to avoid. Read Debunking the Salt Myth for the real (salt) scoop.

For about 250 calories (based on 120-calorie protein powder), you’re got a nutrient-packed meal that will prepare you for or replenish your body after tough workouts. Have a fit summer!

Recipe for Mocha Protein Shake

Makes about 20 ounces

  • Coconut milk1 cup coffee or mixture with other liquid – I like ¾ cup coffee with ¼ cup almond or coconut milk (Get the unsweetened, no sugar variety, like pictured example)
  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • ½ medium banana (whole banana if long or strenuous workout)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional) – Melt the oil first before measuring if it’s solid
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt (one-eighth teaspoon) – Examples of quality salt are Himalayan Crystal Salt and Real Salt
  • ice

Add ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Green Dream Juice and Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients for Green Dream Juice

These two recipes are smooth, mild, and cooling…perfect for easy drinking on a hot day.

Recipe for Green Dream Juice

makes approximately 40 ouncesGreen Dream Juice

  • 2 large organic apples, cored and cut to fit in juicer – I recommend Golden Delicious or Fuji
  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 limes, peeled
  • 1 inch fresh ginger – No need to peel
  • 4 leaves green kale with stalks – Red kale won’t change the taste of the juice, but it will definitely change the color!

Recipe for Green Dream Smoothie

makes approximately 20 ouncesGreen Dream Smoothie

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1 lime, peel cut away
  • 1 large organic apples, cored and cut – I recommend Golden Delicious or Fuji
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, peeled or 1 teaspoon ginger juice 
  • 1 green kale leaf with stalk
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Add ingredients in order listed in a powerful blender, like Vita-Mix, and blend until smooth. Add a small amount of liquid (coconut water, almond milk, etc.) if needed to help the blending process.

Creamy Potato and Carrot Soup

Soup topped with sautéed garlic and shallots

I love fall.  The air turns crisp.  Pumpkins pop up in windows and on porches, some al naturale while others wear dramatic expressions.  Trees dress in the latest fashions of amber, chestnut, and garnet.  This soup is perfect for transitional weather…creamy and dreamy and warms you up without weighing you down.  Even if you live in a warm weather zone, you’ll feel autumn’s spirit.

I like to chew on something when I eat soup, so I made extra of the shallot mixture as a topping.  I see this soup as an appetizer or snack because it’s so light.  But you can also use this soup as a base, adding bits of veggies and protein to make it a more filling meal.

Recipe for Creamy Potato and Carrot Soup

1 lb carrots, cubed (about 2 ½ cups)

1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 ½ cups)

vegetable stock/chicken stock/filtered water, enough to cover carrots and potatoes in pot – I recommend using stock because it provides more flavor.  I used homemade stock and neglected to measure how much I used (again!).  You’ll probably need one of those 32 oz boxes, I recommend Pacific Natural Foods brand.

2-3 shallot sections, thinly sliced – Or can use onions, just make sure they’re very thinly sliced so they’ll cook faster

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped

1 Tablespoon butter (or olive oil)

2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary – If you use dried rosemary, only add ½ to ¾ of a teaspoon, at the same time you start sautéing the garlic and shallots

1 teaspoon sea salt

Pour cubed carrots and potatoes into a deep pot and cover with stock or water until veggies are just covered with liquid.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender.  Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Add garlic and shallots on low until fragrant, then add rosemary.  Saute until shallots are translucent.  Carefully transfer carrots and potatoes (with liquid) into a Vita-mix blender or large food processor (or do in segments).  Add salt and shallot mixture.  Blend until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary.  Add freshly cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.

Strawberry-Lime Sorbet

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When the temperatures get dangerously close to the triple digits, all I want are things that will cool me down.  Like this strawberry-lime sorbet.  I found the recipe in my Vita-Mix cookbook and decided it was the perfect time to try it out.  I made a few modifications, of course, to up the health quotient.  I added more lime, eliminated the sugar, and froze it because I couldn’t get it to the right consistency in the blender (Mr. Vita-Mix and I are still getting acquainted in the sorbet department).  A food processor would work here, although you might have to eliminate the ice.  If you have an ice cream maker, pour in the mixture after blending all the ingredients and continue according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I think I’ll be blending up some wicked strawberry-lime margaritas next!

Recipe for Strawberry-Lime Sorbet

1 cup filtered water

¼ cup natural sweetener (optional, especially if the strawberries are really sweet)

1 large lime (or 2 small limes), peeled

1 pound frozen strawberries – I hulled fresh ones and froze them

1 cup ice

Add all ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Pour mixture into a freezer safe container and freeze.  I used 3 smaller containers so they could firm up more quickly. When sorbet is firm (about an hour), use an ice cream scoop to scoop out sorbet into serving dishes.  At this time, you can transfer sorbet back into the containers and store in the freezer.  The sorbet will be pretty frozen, so let it sit out until it softens.

If anybody turns this into a daiquiri or margarita, let me know how it turns out!


Tangy Apple-Ginger Compote

This nutrient-loaded compote is versatile enough to show up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  The apple cider vinegar and ginger lends a spicy tang while the raw honey imparts a bit of sweetness to balance it out.  Five-spice powder, used in Chinese cuisine–a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and pepper–gives off an intoxicating fragrance while elevating the compote’s flavor.

This compote is a tasty, but less sweet, topping for pancakes, french toast, or oatmeal.  It’s a gently sweet condiment for pork or chicken.  Adding chilled leftovers to fresh salad greens adds a touch of sweetness and delightful texture.  This compote is an overachiever that doesn’t disappoint!

Recipe for Tangy Apple-Ginger Compote

2 organic apples – cored, peeled, and roughly chopped

1 inch piece ginger – peeled and minced

¼ cup organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 pinches sea salt

2 tablespoons raw honey

Add ingredients, except honey, in saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Stir, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook until apples are soft, about 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and add honey, stirring gently until dissolved.