Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie is absolutely delicious, and really, really good for you.  Raw, canned pumpkin is hard to come by for the socially responsible shopper (the most commonly carried brand is Libby’s, which is owned by Kraft Foods, one of the biggest companies to avoid) but many stores now carry a beautiful brand of organic pumpkin sure to delight both your taste buds and your morals!  Just be sure to look in the Natural Foods section of the grocery store- it should be there.

Pumpkin is high in fiber and beta carotene, and the spices add a nice digestive and circulatory kick.  Coconut milk gives you a dose of important healthy fats, and yogurt adds protein and probiotics.

 1 can organic pumpkin

1 6-oz container organic vanilla yogurt (regular, or Greek for double protein)

¼ cup coconut milk (adjust this according to thicken the smoothie to your liking- and             according to what type of yogurt you use)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg, or to taste

OPTIONAL: amber agave syrup or brown sugar, to sweeten to taste

Blend everything up in a blender and serve!  You can add ice if you like, but it will water down the flavors.  I drink mine from a chilled glass and it’s the perfect way to start a holiday morning!

A Word About Sourcing

A friend asked me recently about my sources for this blog.  Since I’m not in college anymore, I’m rebelling against citing every source of my writings in MLA format with footnotes, thank you very much, but I do think that it’s very important for my readers to see where I am getting my information from.  Though my writing style might be somewhat anecdotal, I am striving to relay information that is important not only to me, but should be to you also, and I want to use the most reliable sources to do so.  There are several categories of media that I pull from, but the following is a thorough list that I will update as new sources come about.

COOKBOOKS:

Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Jim Donovan’s Outstanding in the Field

The Organic Seasonal Cookbook

Five Ingredient Vegetarian

Raw Food, Real World

The Sneaky Chef

Sundays at the Moosewood

 

WEBSITES:

Modern Alternative Kitchen

The Road Not Processed

Kombuchakamp

Designsponge.com

Betterworldshopper.org

Various company websites (when companies are featured)

REFERENCE BOOKS:

The Better World Shopper Handbook

Taking Charge of your Fertility

Sufficient

New Choices in Natural Healing

Healing Diets

 

ANECDOTAL BOOKS:

Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The Gradual Vegetarian

Diet for a Small Planet

 

MAGAZINES:

Yoga Journal

Natural Health

Real Simple

Whole Living

Vegetarian Times

Mother Earth News

 As I said, I am not 100% concerned with footnoting everything that I say here.  Much of it comes from my own experience and conversations. However, I want you to be as informed as possible, and I will do my best to link everything I can to articles and sources that you may find helpful to do research yourself!  Happy reading!

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Nutritional Yeast

This week’s feature food is not exactly a food, but might be more accurately described as a seasoning.  Nutritional- or, sometimes referred to as ‘brewer’s’- yeast is a staple for most vegetarian and vegan kitchens, and is about to become one of yours, too.

I was first introduced to this gem by a veg friend who used it on popcorn and in stir-fry.  She told me that she used it to boost her protein and B-vitamin levels.  She was right, too- not only is nutritional yeast very high in protein, but it contains amazing amounts of B-vitamins, particularly the sought-after B12.  It also contains a healthy dose of fiber- and, let’s be honest, we can all use a little more fiber in our diet!  Boasting all of these wonderful benefits, I had to give it a shot.

I bought a small bag of the off-yellow flakes from the bulk section at Whole Foods to give it a whirl, and soon found myself putting it on everything.  Seriously, this stuff is delicious.  I don’t know what it is about the taste, but I think that a sprinkle of nutritional yeast makes everything taste like heaven.  My favorite use for the seasoning is on my eggs in the morning, with a little sprinkle of grey rock salt and fresh pepper.  I have even been known to take a tiny Tupperware container of it with me when I travel or visit friends for a day or so.  I have a serious love affair!  Here are some other ideas for your new best friend:

Sprinkle on popcorn or pizza

Mix into green juice, smoothies, or a tomato juice drink

Fold into flour and breadcrumbs for a tasty breading

Toss whole grain noodles with olive oil and yeast

Stir into gravies and sauces

Puree with nuts and a little water to make a raw, vegan ‘cheese’

Sprinkle some on brown rice

Season eggs in the morning

The possibilities are endless, really.  Send me your creations!  You can buy nutritional yeast at your local health food store- if you’re lucky, maybe you can get the shaker container that Red Star and Bragg’s make!  Yum!

Help Me! Anxiety

One of the most debilitating health issues that I have struggles with (and, sometimes, still do struggle with) is anxiety. It reached a head after Matt and I had been married for about a year, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I had always been the type of person that didn’t get stressed out, let things roll off my back, and was all-around easygoing. Suddenly, my heart would race if Matt wasn’t getting over to an exit lane quickly enough, or if I couldn’t find my dog, or for really any reason at all. I wasn’t myself and I didn’t know how to handle it.

One quick doctors appointment later (with a primary care that I had never met before, I might add) I had a lovely little pill to take that would solve my problems- at least, that’s what I was told. In the three months I took the medication, I only had negative side effects and never felt that my anxiety was alleviated. To make matters worse, I stopped taking the pills cold turkey, which made things much worse before they got better (apparently, my doctor should’ve told me not to do that, but that never happened). I became very aware that I had only done my body harm, and that I wasn’t going to get better (or at least manageable) without some life change.

One of the biggest things that I did (and most effective) was to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars. I was so, so addicted to coffee, and I love dessert like no other, so this was very difficult for me. However, caffeine and sugar both put the nervous system under stress, which allows anxiety to thrive. Instead of coffee in the mornings, I drank some anti-anxiety tea. You can make your own; any of these herbs work well (starred ones taste better than others):

Valerian

Kava

Lavender*

Chamomile*

Dandelion (young leaves, older taste bitter)

Lemon Balm*

Oats*

St. John’s Wort

Vervain

Many of these are available in blends or solo bags from Yogi teas or Traditional Medicinals, both of which are becoming readily available in local supermarkets. Make sure that you read up on how to prepare certain herbs- some must be boiled (like Valerian) while others are steeped like normal tea!

A hidden gem in the natural health world is a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm. Magnesium has an almost immediate calming effect, and this supplement (a powdered drink mix, much like Crystal Light) delivers deliciously. I loved having some before work, or before bed, or really anytime I needed a bit of a calming boost. Most health stores will carry it, and I have even seen it at a supermarket here and there. Very well worth it.

In addition to cutting out certain foods and adding in others, I strived to avoid processed foods and instead add whole foods into my diet- a change that now has become lifestyle for me. Our bodies readily receive the nourishment they need via whole foods, instead of having to drudge through processed foods for the sub-par nutrition available there! Keeping our bodies whole helps us function as we should.

Another key part of my recovery was the addition of exercise into my daily routine. I fell in love with yoga (thanks to the lovely Debra Corso), started rock climbing, and generally tried to stay as active as I could. Not only did this take my mind off of stressors in my life, but the exercise helped my body to function properly, which allowed me to handle situations with grace and ease that was hard to come by beforehand. These days, I practice a bit of yoga in my home, and run 3-5 times a week.

The most important part of my battle with anxiety has been conversations with people that care about me, love the Lord, and help me to focus on what is important. Christian counselors are invaluable if you are struggling with anxiety- the time that I spent speaking with trusted people about my struggle, the more I realized that focus on Christ and his Kingdom was necessary and missing from my life. Regaining vision for my life and praying through panicky situations helped me tremendously.

Please understand that I write these things from my experience and studies, not from a professional standpoint. My experience with anti-anxiety medication may vary drastically from someone else’s, nor can each persons case be treated the same. These are simply changes that helped me, and I pray that they help someone else, too.

Peace be with you,

Karli

THE FEED GIFT GUIDE!

You guys, it’s the Christmas season! Did you know? Oh…

Shopping with responsible consumerism in mind is downright terrifying, especially with Black Friday and every commercial ever and family wish lists breathing down your throat. Well, I hope to lend you a helping hand with a lovely Responsible Gift Guide!

FOR HER:

Etsy– this is a no brainer! Girls love jewelry, and no matter what her style, you can find something beautiful on Etsy. The great thing about Etsy is that it connects you directly to artisans- there isn’t any greed-crazed corporate middle man to deal with, just you and the creator. Now, in terms of materials or ingredient sourcing, you’ll have to investigate each shop to make sure that they fit your responsibility standards.

Light Gives Heat– amazing organization that partners with women in Uganda to create beautiful, handmade jewelry items, while teaching them life skills and providing counseling. Many of the women have been affected by or lost family members to the LRA forces. In addition to jewelry, the company also has many other lovely accessories, such as bags, tees, and scarves. Inventory is updated frequently and new styles come out all the time. I own several of their pieces and they are lovely! I’m loving this banana tree jewelry stand.

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Conscious Box– Full disclosure, I already know that I am getting one of these for Christmas, and I absolutely cannot wait! This is a package subscription program, and every month you are sent a box of goodies from socially responsible companies. They even have a vegan option!

Julep– Nail polish that is free of nasty chemicals, yet it affordable and on-trend. Similar to Conscious Box, they also have a monthly subscription program. Try the promo code “penny” to get your first box for, well, a penny!

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Roozt– This is a great outlet site for organizations and conscious brands to get their names and products out to consumers- and for consumers to score them for less. You can search based on “humanitarian gifts”, “eco-friendly gifts”, and more! Anything from body products to jewelry to belts to tees.

Everlane– this site operates on a new business model where they work directly with manufacturers to bring you high quality product for a lot less money. I’m not terribly sure about their sourcing, but I own a few of their tops and the quality is truly unmatched. Plus, you get rewards for referring friends!

LUSH– yes, everyone knows I love LUSH. If you’ve been my friend or read this blog for more than five seconds, you know. But do you know about their gifts? They really are spectacular. Gifts are themed and products are picked and wrapped- it’s all beautiful, colorful, and smells amazing. The recipient of a LUSH gift will be the happiest at the party, no doubt. It’s basically all I ask for for Christmas.

FOR HIM:

Dudes are intrinsically harder to shop for. Maybe its because I’m not a dude that I think this, but I really believe it’s true. However, there are some things that guys in general enjoy, and so I will try to play to those. If all else fails, check out Society6 or Roozt and find something fun there.

Patagonia– This clothing company is amazing. One of Better World Shoppers, highest rated companies for sustainability and responsible practices, they make high quality clothing, especially for outdoorsmen, that every guy on your list will love.

Society6– This is a super-cool site for artists. They upload their artwork, you pick the printing medium (canvas, card, iPhone case, etc). Really efficient way to find great artists and own some of their work for less.

REI– this is the place for a gift card. REI is every adventurers dream- if you can do it outdoors, they will have it. Another very highly ranked BWS company.

Coffee from a responsible company. Locally, we love Furnace Hills Coffee Company, a direct trade group that employs adults with disabilities, roasts here in town, and works directly with farmers worldwide. More readily available is Equal Exchange, which also makes the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

Hello Somebody watches are a great find for the fashion-forward man in your life. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and sometimes with interchangeable faces. Their organization focuses on providing care to children through food, hydration, education, and freedom.

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Falling Whistles is an organization that focuses on advocating for peace in the Congo. Their product is one for a particular man of fashion- a large whistle on a chain necklace cannot be rocked by just anyon. They are also great for girls, too, but work really well as a masculine piece for a male that wears things like this.

THE GIVING GIFTS

Some of my favorite gifts that I have given, or received, are what I like to call ‘giving gifts’. These are gifts that someone else receives on behalf of your loved one- someone that needs it more. They are meaningful beyond just your relationship, and they help build the Kingdom with our generosity.

FH Catalog– Food for the Hungry is one of the most effective Christian holistic development agencies in the world. Their Gift Catalog allows you to bless a global family with something they need- be it a cow, chicken, mosquito net, or job training.

The Hunger Strike– When you buy a Mobilization Kit, you receive a tee, necklace, and more- and 48 meals are sent to famine-stricken areas of East and West Africa, as well as funding missionary programs and anti-poverty advocacy events.

Cure International– This organization works with children worldwide suffering from Hydrocephalus- something that two of my siblings are affected by as well. Your purchase helps to fund a lifesaving surgery for one of these children.

Save the Storks– This is a great small-scale pro-life organization run by our friends, Joe and Ann Baker. They work directly with Crisis Pregnancy Centers to equip them with sonogram buses to operate outside of abortion clinics, as well as providing counseling resources, support groups, and even alternative employment for abortion clinic workers. Their clothing is beautiful and makes a great ‘giving gift’.

Quick and Easy Lunch: Black Bean, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad

Happy Monday, Foodies!

A lot has happened in the past three weeks- tour ended, Matt and 
I moved back into our old apartment (joy!), and life has been all around busy.  SO busy, in fact, that I missed my one year anniversary of writing this blog!  I guess I need to have grace with myself since it was on our moving day, but alas, it has come and gone.

Thinking about how I felt starting this blog a year ago really makes me want to put more time and effort into my learning and take it more seriously.  I don’t want to make any promises, but my goal is to seriously step it up for this second year! I am excited about the journey I am on, and that you’re here to read along with me 🙂 

With that said, here’s a yummy, nourishing recipe for your lunch this week! Enjoy!

One of my new favorite go-to lunch (or even dinner) recipes comes from Heidi Swanson’s newest cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.  It is incredibly quick, full of flavor, and nutritious- not to mention very filling!  The quantities below make enough for at least 2-3 servings- I make a large portion and eat it throughout the week.  The flavors get better as it ages, too! 

 2 15-oz cans of organic black beans

1 jar olive oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes-chopped into small pieces, liquid reserved

1 6-oz package of feta cheese (flavored, if you prefer- black pepper is nice here)

¼ cup of slivered almonds, toasted (optional)

 Rinse the beans thoroughly in a colander- this really effects the recipe.  Not only are canned beans packed in liquid that changes the color/flavor of the dish, but the cans themselves contain BPA, and we don’t like that!  Giving the beans a good rinse (until they stop ‘bubbling’ on water contact) gets rid of most of the liquid and, therefore, chemicals that we don’t want to ingest.

 Once rinsed and patted dry, combine the beans with the tomatoes and their oil, coating the beans so that everything looks uniform and sort of ‘glistens’.  Fold in the feta and almonds, and you’re done! you can add some salt and pepper or even a splash of lemon juice if it suits you.

 I eat this raw with a spoon, but I think it would be lovely wrapped in a whole-grain pita for a little bit more substance.  You could even heat it up!  Enjoy!

Chilly Day Surprise Fudgies

Happy first day of November! Where has 2012 gone? I’m in the tour catering lounge in Wisconsin as we wind down the Music With A Mission tour, and it’s quite chilly here. This is one of my new favorite recipes, one that will warm you from the inside with healthy secret ingredients- black beans, quinoa, and cayenne!

Now, I can tell that you’re already apprehensive of this recipe. I know, it sounds like Mexican food. Don’t write it off yet! This was the first thing I made when I got home from tour in October and I’ve gotta say, I was very pleased. Creamy, dense, and rich, your guests will have no idea what they’re eating- and you won’t feel bad about having seconds. Or thirds 🙂

I’ve altered it a bit to suit my style, but the original recipe is from a lovely blog called The Road Not Processed, which is full of all types of fun recipes if you’re looking to get into whole foods or just for something unique. The author was correct- it isn’t good to call these “cookies”- that isn’t quite true to the dessert. She calls them “oblongs” but I think I’ve nailed it- so, in our house, we call them “Fudgies”. They’ve got a nice Mexican hot chocolate feel, so get bold with those spices!

Ingredients

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed in a strainer
1/2 cup raw honey (or maple syrup for y’all vegans)
1/2 cup all natural nut butter- peanut, almond, cashew, etc
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional but recommend)
2 “flax eggs” or just use 2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional but recommended)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drain and RINSE the black beans in a strainer. Not only is this imperative for the cookie to taste like chocolate and not like bean, but you don’t want to be eating all of that BPA and nasty chemical juice from the can! Yuck.

Place black beans in food processor blender and blend until no whole pieces are left- the smoother, the better the consistency of the cookie. If using a food processor, transfer to blender or stand mixer. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips and flax egg/ eggs and blend well.

Line a baking sheet or two with foil and non-stick cooking spray.

Drop batter into balls onto the cookie sheet, spread them evenly! They hold their shape pretty well so pack them together if necessary.

Start getting excited.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes. A bit longer if they’re super thick, but take note: they solidify once cooled.

Take out of oven, cool for a few minutes if transferring to a cookie rack. While cooling, dust with a bit of cinnamon, and if you chose to include it, cayenne!

Be brave and enjoy,
Karli