Thoughtful Thursday Vegan Pumpkin Smoothie Recipe

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Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite treats for Thanksgiving but that only comes once a year. So to get into the spirit of Autumn sooner I love making pumpkin smoothies.

When you slowly sip this savory drink bursting with flavors of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg you can’t help but to sit back and take a moment to truly enjoy the season. This recipe is very easy to make and is super delicious! I always try to use organic ingredients when they’re available.

Pumpkin Smoothie

  • 1 C Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Can Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Small Ripe Banana
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Rolled Oats
  • 2 Organic Pitted Dates
  • 1.25 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping tsp Ginger
  • 1/8 heaping tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 C Ice
  • 1/2 Hass Avocado (optional) *

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Top with sprinkled cinnamon and enjoy! (Makes about 2 glasses)

* Note: If you prefer a thicker, creamier smoothie the avocados do the trick. They have a mild flavor and give you more of a milkshake consistency. But I would try it first without the avocado because you can always add it later, it should be thick enough without it 🎃 Another trick is to use 2 Tbsp Organic Chia seeds. Soak them overnight in water and add them to your smoothie mix and blend.

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Thoughtful Thursday Best-ever Beefless Stew

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With the cooler temps finally here in the South, I wanted to try a new vegan soup recipe. But I wanted something really hearty that would be filling and I found it. This is a recipe for “Best-ever Beefless Stew” with portobello mushrooms taking the place of beef. If you’re not a fan of portobellos, I’m sure you could use another type of mushroom that would taste just as good.

I gotta say this was one of the most delicious and satisfying stews I’ve ever had! A few things I would change to the recipe is to add a little salt and pepper to taste and it also calls for fresh parsley as a topping. But I wasn’t too crazy with flavor of the parsley with the stew. I would recommend giving it a try anyways and see for yourself, you may end up liking it.

This recipe was published in the latest Forks Over Knives, “100 Best Plant-Based Recipes,” 2021 and it can also be found on their website “Best-ever Beefless Stew.” It was really easy to make with everyday ingredients.

Forks Over Knives  100 Best Plant-Based Recipes  2021 image 0

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of this issue, it’s available on the Forks Over Knives Website.

Hope you’ll give this tasty recipe a try 😊

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“Health is the first form of Wealth. Invest in yours by eating whole, unprocessed foods.” ~ Dr. Axe

Thoughtful Thursday – Spaghetti Squash

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With autumn here, squash and pumpkins are in season! Spaghetti squash is one of my favorites this time of year. It’s a round/oval shaped yellow squash that can be light in color or a little more orange. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and is low in calories. It’s also a good source of Vitamin C, maganese and Vitamin B6.

1 Cup Cooked Spaghetti Squash contains about:

  • Calories: 42
  • Carbs: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Manganese: 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 8% of the RDI
  • Pantothenic acid: 6% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 6% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI

Instead of eating traditional spaghetti that’s loaded with carbs and can be fattening, try making some spaghetti squash. It’s fairly easy to make and quite delicious. Although I must warn you, that cutting the spaghetti squash can be a little hard so be careful and use a sharp knife.

Recipe:

  • Cut the ends off the spaghetti squash and cut in half lengthwise.
  • Remove the seeds with a spoon.
  • Fill a shallow pan with about 1/4″ inch of water.
  • Place the spaghetti squash in the water, cut side down.
  • Bake in oven at 400 ̊F for 45 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. 
  • Once it’s cool enough to handle, gently scrape the inside flesh with a fork lengthwise to separate the spaghetti like strands but be careful not to break the outer shell.
  • Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, if desired and serve with marinara sauce.

You can serve spaghetti squash in a variety of ways by adding different veggies, navy beans, chick peas or anything else that you like to eat. There are plenty of recipes online to get you started. So why not try something new and healthy too! You may be pleasantly surprised.

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“Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” ~Buddha

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Thoughtful Thursday Veggie Soup Recipe

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With the frigid cold months approaching, it’s always nice to sit down with a warm bowl of soup. I always go into soup mode during the fall and winter seasons. It’s pretty warm down here in the south, but thankfully the temps do cool off enough to enjoy delicious soups.

Soups are especially tasty when you’re feeling under the weather. There’s a certain magic to eating a warm bowl of soup. No matter how bad you feel, you always feel better after eating a bowl.

There are many types of soups. Some are served cool or flat out cold while others are served warm or very hot. The consistency also varies depending on what’s in your soup. Personally, I like a soup full of flavor and hearty enough to satisfy my appetite.

You can buy lots of soups in your grocery store. But that’s all processed food loaded with salt and a lot of other ingredients you can’t pronounce. Not to mention ingredients that shouldn’t be in your food in the first place. Making soup is fairly easy and most definitely worth the effort.

The internet is loaded with tons of recipes. I find vegan soups taste just as good or sometimes even better than non-vegan. Forks-Over-Knives has a ton of delicious soup recipes on their website. Whether you’re vegan or not, these recipes serve as good place to start with and then just add a few of your own ingredients.

One of my favorite soups is made in my Vitamix Blender which has a program setting for hot soup. If you don’t have a setting for hot soup on your blender you can still make this soup using your blender and then warm it on the stove for a few minutes.

Creamy Veggie Soup Recipe

  • 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 Stalk Celery, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 Large Pieces of Fresh Broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds
  • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Red Miso
  • 1/8 tsp Organic Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 1 Cup Water

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. If your blender doesn’t have the soup feature, then warm the soup in a small pot on the stove for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl.

Extras

  • 1/2 Hass Avocado, sliced
  • Fresh Organic Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Slice of Ezekiel Bread

Top your soup with sliced avocado and cilantro. Serve with a slice of bread and enjoy!

Try creating your own variations with this soup, like adding some cooked black beans outside of the blender for texture. There’s lots of options, be creative and add what you love to eat.

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“In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.” ~Deepak Chopra

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Thoughtful Thursday Homegrown Alfalfa Sprouts

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Alfalfa sprouts are mild flavored and very nutritious to eat. Studies have shown they are a high anti-oxidant, anti-aging food source. These little sprouts can help fight cancer, lower cholesterol and diabetes, prevent osteoporosis and more.

I used to buy fresh living alfalfa sprouts at my local grocery store but sadly they stopped carrying them. So I decided the freshest and safest way to get them was to grow them myself. I’ve tried several sprouting trays and they don’t always produce the best results.

Getting frustrated, I decided to go back to basics and try using a large, wide mouth mason jar with a sprouting lid. This is working beautifully and is very easy. I only need 1 Tbsp of seeds and in about 4 days, I have fresh organic alfalfa sprouts that are delicious and crisp. The sprouts can be stored in the fridge for about 4-6 days.

Alfalfa Sprouts taste great on salads, sandwiches, in smoothies and anything else you can think of. Below are instructions to grow your own spouts and links to Amazon.com for the supplies.

Instructions to Grow your own Sprouts:

  1. Fill a wide mouth mason jar with 2 cups of cool, fresh water and add 1 Tbsp of High Mowing Organic Alfalfa Seeds (I’ve had good results with this brand, the seeds are sourced in the United States). Cap the jar with a sprouting lid and soak the seeds for 8 hours. Then drain and rinse the seeds keeping the lid on. Store the jar upside down, in a bowl, at an angle so water can continue to drain.
  2. Rinse and drain the seeds with the lid on once in the morning and once at night. And again store the jar upside down, in a bowl, at an angle.
  3. Repeat step 2, everyday for about 4 days until your sprouts are ready.
  4. On the last day, depending on the light in your kitchen, you may want to move the grown sprouts to a window where they can get indirect sunlight to make them a little more green. You only need to keep them there for a few hours and then store them in fridge until you’re ready to eat them (also, I rinse the seeds before eating to remove the hulls).

I hope this inspires you in some way!

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Below are links to Amazon.com for the supplies:

High Mowing Organic Alfalfa Seeds

High Mowing Seed Sprouting Jar Lid

Wide Mouth Mason Jar

“Those who think they have not time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Unknown

Thoughtful Thursday – ALT Sandwich

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One of my favorite sandwiches used to be the BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato). But now that I’ve gone vegan, those sandwiches are off the menu. Years ago I tried avocados. I wasn’t too crazy about them because they have a bit of a bland flavor but that can be a good thing.

The other day I wanted to make a really good sandwich and thought I’d try an ALT, avocado, lettuce and tomato. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted and satisfied my hunger. It was even easier to make than a BLT because I didn’t have to cook the bacon. Plus I felt great after eating it.

I simply used 2 slices of Ezekiel bread, lightly toasted and spread with vegan mayonnaise. Then I added the avocado slices, lettuce, tomato and a little Himalayan sea salt. Voila! I had a delicious, healthy, satisfying sandwich!

Thanks for stopping by and hope you give this a try!

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“Health is not about the weight you lose, but about the life you gain.” ~Dr. Josh Axe

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Thoughtful Thursday – Vegan Chocolate Smoothie

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Ok, I confess I’m a chocoholic. But who doesn’t like chocolate? I mean it’s just awesome! There are so many varieties of chocolate out there like white, milk, dark and all flavors in between.

Besides tasting so delicious, studies have shown that dark chocolate, at least 75% or more has some pretty good health benefits too like reducing stress and food cravings, fighting fatigue, improving blood circulation and so much more. It’s even considered nutritious and contains nearly the full RDA of copper and manganese, plus it contains descent amounts of magnesium, iron, fiber, zinc, selenium and potassium.

The 75% dark chocolate has the least amount of sugar as compared to white or milk chocolate. So it won’t contribute to weight gain as long as you don’t over do it. What I have noticed personally is that the more sugar that’s in the chocolate, the more I’ll want to eat it. I find that with the darker chocolate I only need 1 square to satisfy chocolate craving and I’m good to go.

As most of you know, I’m vegan so I’m always looking for vegan chocolates. They do make more of them now and they’re very tasty but a little more pricey than regular chocolate. With that being said I’m always on the hunt for new ways to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

I found a great smoothie recipe online that I tried. It was good but just wasn’t satisfying that rich chocolatey flavor I was looking for so I made changes and came up with this delicious Vegan Chocolate Smoothie that has a rich chocolate flavor and contains about 16 grams of protein:

  • 1 C Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any unsweet non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Gluten Free Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Cacao Nibs or 1.5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (see note below*)
  • 2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp No Salt or Sugar Added Almond Butter
  • 2 Tsp Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Organic Date (pitt removed)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Instant Espresso Coffee
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1 C Ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!

(*) Although I love cacao nibs and all the antioxidants they provide, I found that using Cocoa Powder gives the smoothie a richer and creamier flavor.

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

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“I’d give up chocolate, but I’m not a quitter.” ~Unknown

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Thoughtful Thursday

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Many Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has become the latest buzz with all of it’s health benefits. Growing up, it was a staple in our house. My mom would use it to make delicious foods and salads, color Easter eggs (my favorite thing to do, although I remember not liking the smell too much) and to clean just about anything. There really wasn’t anything that vinegar couldn’t do.

Apple Cider Vinegar is made from fermented ripe apples. Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, which is cloudy and has cobweb looking pieces in the bottle contain lots of gut friendly bacteria and is often referred to as “The Mother.” The unfiltered variety is considered to be the most nutritious.

Studies have shown that it can help with weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, improve heart health, improve skin health, detoxify the body, reduce dandruff, clean and disinfect fruits and vegetables, soothe sunburns and the list goes on.

Too much vinegar however can cause nausea, itching, sore throat, head aches, loss of tooth enamel to name a few. It can also adversely interact with medications.

I believe that moderation is the key to success with any health regime you start. But always check with your doctor/health practitioner before starting anything new to make sure it’s right for you.

“Nature itself, is the best physician.” ~Hippocrates

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Thoughtful Thursday

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Plant Based Diet

Five years ago, I was a pretty big meat eater. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I thought I ate healthy for the most part but as the years rolled by, things slowly started to go wrong. Looking around at everyone else, I thought this is how it’s supposed to be. This is what happens when you get older. But every now and then, I’d see an older person who was not the norm. They looked great, were in shape and had their wits about them. I thought Wow! They must have good genes because they weren’t like everyone else.

Then one day, my kids thought it’d be fun to gross me out by having me watch Food Inc. Great documentary by the way, but it definitely changes your perspective on food. After seeing it, I went even more organic than I already was with my diet and thought I was safe but more problems started showing up like joint pain, weight gain, the never ending cold/flu that would last for 2-3+ weeks when the season would come around, fatigue and head aches to name a few.

The cherry on the cake was when I developed sciatica. This was extremely painful. On a scale of 1 to 10, my pain was at 18. I was bed ridden for 2.5 months. I could barely walk, had to eat standing because I couldn’t sit down. I saw the chiropractor and physical therapist 3-4 times every week with little or no improvement.

I was getting desperate as the pain was unbearable and I’d search the internet on my phone in bed on how to alleviate sciatica. One of the things I found was that meat along with other certain foods, makes the body acidic and worsens the pain. So I decided to go cold turkey, no pun intended, and eat only plant based foods. I had very little appetite because of the excruciating pain and for over 2 months I lived on vegan shakes. Everyday I would have 1 plant based protein shake and 2 raw plant based shakes.

Then a funny thing started to happen. I began improving. The pain lessened and I lost weight! I lost a total of 25 pounds in that 2.5 month period with no exercise at all, just changing my diet. I felt so much better. Then just as I was getting back to my normal self, we were going to be hit by a hurricane which can be a little stressful and I resorted back to my old eating habits of meat, cheese, etc. It only took 2 days, and pain started to return. There was no way I was going back to that! I immediately started eating a vegan diet again and never looked back.

It’s been over 3 years now since I went vegan and all of my symptoms are pretty much gone. The weight stayed off, I rarely have headaches, the joint pain is gone, I have more energy and the fog lifted from my brain. Now when I get a cold, I get very mild symptoms and just feel a little off for about 2 -3 days instead of becoming really sick and feeling miserable for 2-3+ weeks like before.

Being vegan is not for everyone. We are so programmed from birth to eat the meat, dairy products and sugary processed foods that we think we can’t survive without them. But I’m living proof you can. Even if you only replace 1 meal a day with a vegan one, you’ll notice improvements in your body and how your feel. You can also replace dairy with plant based products that taste really good.

I think we all pretty much know how to eat more healthy but choose not to and that’s okay too. But I know for me, I didn’t want to spend the later years of my life in pain or with limited mobility and being stuck with constant doctor visits and lots of prescription medications. I want to enjoy life to the very end with strength, vigor and vitality!

If you want to give it a try but don’t know where to start, Forks Over Knives has a website with lots of information and recipes. They also publish a quarterly magazine full of delicious plant based recipes and success stories to inspire you which can be found in most grocery stores.

So ask yourself, what is it going to take for you to change your diet and eat more healthy?

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.” – Hippocrates

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