Morning Power-Up Smoothie

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Do you blend? Personally, I love whipping up a cool green smoothie in my blender, and I do so every day for breakfast. It's the perfect go-to for me, I don't wake with an appetite so forcing down a meal isn't a pleasant way to start my day. 

Not all smoothies are healthy and not all smoothies are a good foundation upon which to start your day. You need a balance of nutrients, a decent number of calories, some protein, and lots of fiber. Don't go so heavy on the fruit that you wreak havoc on your blood sugar. It's called a "green" smoothie for a reason, you gotta get some greens in there, and the more the better.

You also want it to taste good, you shouldn't have to choke down your healthy smoothie. Start with fewer veggies and work up to a ratio of about 3 parts veggies to 1 part fruit. And no fair adding sweeteners like honey, agave or, God forbid, SUGAR! If you absolutely need your smoothie to be sweeter try adding a pitted Medjool date or a little drizzle of raw coconut nectar. 

My morning smoothie is chock-a-block full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein and fiber. It revs up my energy and keeps me full until lunch time. I vary the ingredients and rotate my greens and fruits to keep it interesting and to insure I'm "eating the rainbow".

My current favorite recipe is detailed below. Now, a little word of caution here. This recipe makes about 48 ounces of smoothie. I drink it all for breakfast. Most people would consider this amount to be suitable for two generous servings. If you're new to green smoothies, or to eating fresh veggies and fruit, you'll want to ease into it and have a smaller smoothie to begin with so you don't overload your digestion. You could cut the recipe in half, or you can make the whole thing and save a portion in an airtight container (like a lidded mason jar) for the next day. Just be sure to shake it up really well before drinking it on day two. 

This smoothie is power-loaded. No kidding. I typically don't focus on calories or grams of this and that. I trust that by eating a wide variety of fresh wholesome foods, and avoiding the processed junk, that I'm giving my body what it needs. But just for kicks, I worked up the stats on this one. Check it out: 

Vitamin K 3,000% RDA

Vitamin A 400%

Vitamin C 450%

Folate 100%

Iron 40%

Vitamin D 30%

Calcium 30%

Fiber 21 grams

Protein 10 grams

Calories 400

And that's not even including the optional green super foods powder! Geez, once you factor that in, and take into account the wide array of powerful phytonutrients in this baby, you've got 48 ounces of nutritional gold!

 

Morning Power-Up Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I like So Delicious brand)

3 cups baby spinach

2 cups parsley

1 green apple, cored (with the peel on!)

1/2 frozen banana, peeled

1/2 cup frozen berries and/or cherries and/or pomegranate (I use an Antioxidant Blend from Costco)

1/2 cup frozen mango

optional: green super foods powder of choice (use 1 tablespoon of Vitamineral Green)

Blend it all up in a high powered blender until perfectly smooth and dreamily delicious. Cheers!



Posted on October 31, 2014 .

A lesson learned the hard way

When I developed rheumatoid arthritis I changed pretty much my whole life to be able to control the disease without taking medications. I'm often asked what the toughest thing was to change or to give up.

While it can be quite challenging to follow the RA diet, I am a chef and passionate foodie after all, that's not the hardest part for me. Slowing down, spending time in silence, taking time for myself, this has been THE big challenge.

I'm type A+, a hardcore overachiever, and a ruthless perfectionist. I used to think these things were assets. They are not. I learned the hard way that our bodies and minds need rest and that we need to be gentle with ourselves. If we're not willing to slow down our bodies will eventually force the issue and break down. A cold. A sinus infection that never quite heals. Autoimmune disease. Or worse.

I see this pattern all the time with my private practice clients. Especially the women. Especially the moms. Go, go go. Push, push, push. Give, give, give. Won't slow down until they break down.  

I learned the lesson but it continues to be a challenge to put it into practice on a daily basis. I still find myself from time to time running myself ragged and pushing too hard. The past few weeks are a case in point. With the release of my cookbook on top of client work, my son starting high school, traveling for work, being a single mom, and a solo-preneur, I've been burning the candle at both ends. My body is getting angry. 

My remedies? Yoga, meditation, reading, listening to music, taking a walk, watching the birds at the feeders in my yard. Basically anything that disconnects me from my to-do list, my business projects, my type A monkey brain. Anything that I can do alone, in quiet, without much thinking.

Take a page from my book, my friends, slow down before you break down. You think you're invincible, but you're not. You think you can keep doing it all and not pay the price. You can't. No one is keeping score, I swear they're not, and there are no prizes for perfection. 


Posted on September 30, 2014 .

Rocking Roasted Veggies with Red Quinoa

This meal is like tasting Fall in a bowl. Seriously, can you even believe how gorgeous this is?

This dish goes together in a flash if you keep cooked quinoa on hand. I make a large batch about once a month and portion out a week's worth to keep in the fridge, put the rest in the freezer in week-sized containers. You'll be able to pull together healthy, well-balanced plant-based dinners in no time at all. 

I've used beets, baby carrots, red onions, and garlic cloves here, but you can use any veggies you love. Cauliflower and brussels sprouts is another favorite combo of mine. The pumpkin seeds are optional, but I really enjoy the addition of nuts and/or seeds to a dish like this. The crunch adds lovely textural interest along with the healthy fatty acids, fiber and additional protein.

Rockin' Roasted Veggies with Red Quinoa (2-4 servings)

Ingredients

4 cups washed and chopped vegetables**, I've used beets, baby carrots, red onion, and garlic cloves

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

1 1/2 cups Cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place veggies, oil, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine well.

Spread veggies out on a heavy metal baking sheet in a single layer. Use two pans if necessary to avoid over-crowding the veggies otherwise the veggies will steam and not roast properly.

Roast the veggies until tender and browned on the edges. Depending on the veggies you use and how small you chop them this will take from 15 to 45 minutes.

Combine roasted veggies with quinoa and pumpkin seeds in serving bowl and toss to combine well. 

Makes 2 large servings or 4 side servings.

**The smaller you chop your veggies the faster they will cook. Harder veggies like beets and sweet potatoes will take considerably longer than more tender veggies like broccoli. Don't move veggies around while roasting or they won't get nicely caramelized edges and bottoms- that's where the amazing flavor is! Flipping once is enough.

Posted on September 29, 2014 .

Africa

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We all have defining moments in our lives, those experiences that divide our lives into "before" and "after". Know what I mean?

I've had a few of those moments. Becoming a mother, going through divorce, being diagnosed with an incurable disease. Until this Summer I was certain that the single greatest defining moment in my life would be developing that disease. There was my life before Rheumatoid Arthritis, and then there was my life after RA. Distinctly different lives. Before. After.

And then I went on safari to Kenya. 

I've waited several weeks since my return from Kenya to write this post. I've struggled to find the words to express what this experience meant to me, to find a way to share how it's changed everything for me. I still haven't found the words, but I'll try.

What I thought was going to be a "once-in-a-lifetime" vacation for three generations of Ruehles ended up being a journey home. I found my home. The place where my heart and soul are truly alive. I can't explain it, so I'm not going to try. All I can say is that I've found the place that is my true home, and when I left Kenya, I left a piece of my heart and soul there.

My life is now divided into "before Kenya" and "after Kenya". Defining. Life-changing.

Ok, so maybe I will try to explain it, just a little bit. It was MAGICAL. Have you ever had a moment that felt "perfect". Like everything in your life came together in that one moment to create a crystal clear, slow-motion, joy-filled, PERFECT moment? That was Kenya. A series of perfect moments, one leading into the next.

My mom joked that I never stopped grinning the whole time we were there. And she's right. I've never felt so full of joy, peace and contentment. Never felt so centered, so "right" with the world. The coolest thing is that my son, Cade, had the exact same experience. Perma-grin the whole way. He fell in love with Kenya and with safari. He's now planning to work in the safari industry after college. He begged me to find a way for us to not have to leave. I couldn't make that happen (our guide suggested that "losing" our passports would get us about two extra weeks, but we decided against it), but I did promise Cade we'd get back as soon as possible.

There's an interesting thing that I've noticed about my life's defining moments. Each one has led to a new opportunity in my business life. I hadn't realized this until I sat down to write this post, but there's been an important career development after each of my defining moments. The birth of my son led me to start my first business online, so that as a single mom I could be home with him. Developing RA convinced me to change the direction of my culinary career, to return to school to study nutrition and start A Well-Nourished Life. My divorce led me to accept an opportunity with a production company for my own TV show which is now in development. And now, this experience in Kenya has opened doors that I never expected- I'm partnering with a fantastic safari company to lead wellness retreat safaris and gluten-free safaris in Kenya.

You just never know where life is going to lead you, do you? A once-in-a-lifetime trip for three generations of Ruehles led to the discovery of my heart-home, a new business venture, and who knows what else.

So when you see me wearing my Kenyan beaded necklace in just about every photo and TV appearance these days, you'll understand, I'm just trying to hold it a little bit closer, to keep just a small part of Kenya near my heart, until I can return and find the magic again.


Posted on September 20, 2014 .

Fox 4 Good Day appearance

I had the good fortune to appear on Good Day Fox 4 last week to talk about my new cookbook, Let Us All Eat Cake. Click on the photo if you'd like to watch the segment.

Posted on September 20, 2014 .

Cookbook Preview

Hey guys! Today is a BIG day for me, my new cookbook is finally in stores and I couldn't be more proud and thrilled! In this video I give you a little sneak peek into Let Us All Eat Cake, and share a few of my favorite gluten-free cakes and the stories behind them.

Posted on September 9, 2014 .

Gluten-Free Zucchini Muffins

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My son's favorite zucchini muffins, they are utterly fabulous and just happen to be gluten-free. I use my Cat's Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend to give them a nutritional boost, and pack them tightly with shredded zucchini to maximize the flavor and moistness. 

You'll get a dozen from this recipe. They keep really well in the freezer so if you've got an extra pan I'd recommend doubling up and keeping them on hand.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons Cat's Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 eggs

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin pan with cupcake papers or spray cups with baking spray.
  2. In a small bowl combine the flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon if using. Whisk together to combine well.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar on medium for about 2 minutes or until the eggs have lightened in color.
  4. Add the oil and beat on medium 1 minute.
  5. Add the vanilla and zucchini and mix just to combine. Add the dry mixture and stir to combine, don't overbeat.
  6. Portion into the muffins cups with a large spoon or ice cream scooper.
  7. Bake until set in the center, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. (cooling completely in the pan will result is soggy bottoms- eeewwww!)
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

Hope you enjoy! XOXO




Posted on July 16, 2014 .

Clean-The-Fridge Juice

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Cleaning out the produce bin has never been so delicious. My fresh-pressed juice this morning was a mish-mash of all the little bits I wanted to use up before my stock up shopping this afternoon- gala apple, cucumber, turmeric, beet root, celery, purple kale, broccoli stalks, lemon and lime. Nutritious, hydrating and so yummy!

Posted on July 16, 2014 .

Gluten-free olive oil & thyme dinner rolls

It's been a long time since my home kitchen smelled like freshly baked bread, and I gotta say, I'm liking it! Out of the blue, I got a hankering for some dinner rolls today, and when I noticed I'd run out of whole grain sorghum flour, my heart sank.

That is, until I realized I had a bag of Bob's Red Mill Bread Mix that I'd never tried.

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This mix uses similar ingredients to my own GF flour blend, including my favorite sorghum flour, so I subbed it in my recipe for Olive Oil & Thyme Dinner Rolls, and it worked brilliantly!

Using a high-quality mix is a great option if you're short on time, or if you don't want to keep 3 or 4 different flours on hand for gluten-free baking. I was able to tweak this mix just a bit and come out with roll that is identical to those I usually bake from bare scratch. 

Ingredients:

1 bag Bob's Red Mill Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix

1 2/3 cup coconut or almond milk

1 egg plus enough whites to equal 3/4 cup (flax eggs don't work for this recipe)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

sea salt & pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil for brushing

Instructions:

  1. Follow the instructions on the bag, using the olive oil in place of the melted butter, and adding 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme to the bread dough while mixing, along with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Portion dough out into an oil-brushed cupcake pan (I got 16 rolls from my dough) and allow rolls to rise as stated on the bag. After rising, gently brush the tops of each roll with some olive oil using your finger tips. Sprinkle with remaining chopped thyme and a good bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Bake at 375 until puffed up, golden brown, and hollow-sounding when tapped on bottoms, about 25 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then immediately turn out the rolls to cool completely on a rack. Leaving rolls in the pan will result in soggy bottoms!

The baked rolls keep well in the refrigerator or freezer. My son loves to use a sliced roll as the "bun" for his turkey burger, or as a base for an open-faced white bean salad sandwich.

I always have one straight from the oven while warm- heavenly- but that's it for me. These do contain a small amount of corn and potato (nightshades) to which I am sensitive. I can have one now and then with no ill effects, but I don't eat them every day.

For an every day bread that it 100% free of gluten, soy, yeast, nightshades, eggs, and dairy, see my Holy Loaves recipe here.




Posted on June 17, 2014 .

Terrasoul 1-ounce superfoods bags

I'm really in love with these 1-ounce packages of superfoods from Terrasoul. The small size makes it so convenient (and affordable!) to try a new superfood that you may be unsure of. And, if you're like me, and you carry your favorite healthy foods with you when you travel, these are perfect! The small, resealable bags also mean that your superfoods stay as fresh as possible. Love it! Check them out: Terrasoul Superfoods

Posted on June 5, 2014 .

Almond-tella recipe

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I'm anticipating one of THOSE weeks so I whipped up a batch of my "healthy Nutella" to get me through. This stuff is the STUFF. Seriously, it'll cure what ails ya every time, especially if what ails ya is a crazy busy, emotionally challenging day or week or month. It's deeply satisfying and rich and yummy, while also protein & fiber packed and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You're welcome. 

Stir together in a bowl:

1/2 cup raw almond butter

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

Enjoy!

Posted on May 18, 2014 .

Tuscan bean salad

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This Tuscan Bean Salad tastes remarkably like tuna and is a brilliant vegan stand-in for that lunchtime staple. Simply mash canned garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) with a fork, or pulse-process in the food processor until mashed but still chunky. Add sea salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to your taste. Top with chopped Kalamata olives and serve over salad greens or between slices of your favorite sandwich bread. I like mine with a side of my favorite chips from Beanitos.

Put your own spin on this idea, just use the mashed beans the same way you would normally use tuna and add your ingredients of choice- mayo, pickles, celery, etc- whatever floats your boat.

Posted on May 18, 2014 .

Chocolate-Almond Butter Smoothie (and giveaway planning!)

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I'm just swimming in gratitude and joy at this moment. I've got a nom-a-licious Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie to glug-glug this afternoon, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping outside my test kitchen, and I'm planning some awesome giveaways to celebrate the launch of my new cookbook, Let Us All Eat Cake. Whoop!  

I'll fill you in on the details once everything is all set, but let's just say for now that this Summer is going to be feeling a little like Christmas... hmmm...

Ok, so here's the smoothie recipe that's now in my belly. You gotta try this, it's really freakin' awesome.

Chocolate-Almond Butter Smoothie

6 oz unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

1 banana, fresh or frozen

3 pitted dates

2 tablespoons raw organic cacao powder

2 tablespoons raw almond butter

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

ice cubes, if desired 

Blend, blend, blend and enjoy!

Posted on April 10, 2014 .

is your rheumatoid arthritis nightshade sensitive?

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Mine is. Oh boy is it ever! Nightshade veggies are my number one food trigger for my rheumatoid arthritis. If I get even a small amount, say from a seemingly safe dressing or sauce at a restaurant I'll feel it in my joints within just a few hours.

So what's the deal with nightshades?

Nightshade vegetables contain a naturally occurring substance called alkaloids. Alkaloids can mess with your joints and digestion. While most people don't have a problem with nightshades and can eat them without any trouble, for sensitive folks they can reek havoc. Folks with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis (or gout) may experience an improvement in symptoms when they remove nightshade foods from their diet. 

Ok, so which foods are nightshades? Here's a list of the most common nightshades:

  • tomatoes
  • potatoes (but NOT sweet potatoes)
  • sweet & hot peppers (but NOT black pepper)
  • eggplant
  • cayenne
  • paprika
  • goji berries
  • tomatillos
  • pimentos

If you have a health issue that you believe may respond well to eliminating nightshades from your diet you may want try an elimination/challenge rotation to see how your body responds. 

Check out my ebook for a step-by-step method to identify and eliminate your food sensitivities.

Posted on April 3, 2014 .

Gluten-Free Very Berry Muffins

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For all the busy moms and dads out there, this one's for you. These muffins are quick to make, freeze brilliantly, and are universally loved by kiddos and parents alike. Just remove one (or two or five) of the baked muffins and frozen muffins the night before and leave on the counter to thaw overnight in an airtight container of bag.

Your little one not a fan of berries? Not to worry, just replace the berries with an equal quantity of dark chocolate chips, chopped apple, chopped dried fruit, or nuts of choice. 

 

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Very Berry Muffins (vegan option)

Ingredients:

10 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened

1 cup organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar

2 large eggs or flax egg replacer (see recipe below)

1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest

3 cups Cat's Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour Mix (recipe below)

1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Yogurt 

1 cup frozen berries or fresh berries that have been frozen for 2 hours or overnight

juice of 1 lemon or orange

confectioner’s sugar (see note below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 one-dozen muffin tins with pan spray.

Combine the Earth Balance and sugar in mixing bowl and cream briefly, just until well combined, do not over-beat.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing for about 10 seconds after each addition. If using the flax egg option add it now.

Combine the lemon or orange zest with the flour mix, the baking powder and the baking soda.

Add half the dry mixture to the bowl, then 1/3 of the yogurt, mixing well but do not over-beat.

Add half of the remaining dry ingredients, another 1/3 of the yogurt, mix well. Repeat with final dry ingredients and yogurt.

Fold in the berries.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling the cups.

Bake approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned and set in the middle. Remove to a cooling rack.

While muffins are cooling prepare the glaze: whisk confectioner’s sugar into the lemon or orange juice until you achieve a glaze consistency. If you want the glaze to soak into the muffins use less sugar to make it thinner, if you want a glaze that “sets” up on the muffins use more for a thicker glaze.

Muffins will keep at cool room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

 

Cat's Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend

2 cups sweet sorghum flour

1 cup white rice flour

1 cup potato starch (not potato flour!)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours until well combined. Store the flour blend in an airtight container in your pantry for 1 month or in the freezer for 12 months. When ready to use in your baked goods give the mixture a light whisking before measuring the amount you need for your recipe.

 

Flax Egg Replacer (replaces two eggs) 

6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons golden flax meal

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes before using in your recipe.

 

Notes:

  • The flax egg recipe replaces the two eggs in the muffin recipe above. For your reference for other muffin or cake recipes- for each egg replace, use 3 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon flax, just multiply up by the number of eggs you are replacing. The flax egg replacer works best in recipes that require no more than 4 eggs. 
  • I make my own confectioner's sugar at home with coconut palm sugar. While not perfect for all applications (buttercream for example) it's perfect for a simple glaze. Just grind organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar in the food processor until fine. Cover the feed tube of the food processor to avoid a sugar bomb facial!