Mediterranean Paleo Cooking Book Signing & Paleo Popup Brunch

Hey friends,

How have you been? I’ve been great and I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to this past weekend.

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking Book Signing

 

Med Paleo

On Saturday, I attended a book signing for Mediterranean Paleo Cooking and had the opportunity to chat with the authors Caitlin Weeks of Grassfed Girl, Chef Nabil Boumrar (who happens to be her husband, or as I like to refer to him, in my head: “Grassfed Boy”), and Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo and the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

They were all wonderful to chat with in person. The book is absolutely gorgeous and filled with tantalizing recipes.

 

So far, I am super impressed with how useful the book seems to be, as it has taken into consideration food intolerances and allergies, which many people have. Stay tuned for a full review of the cookbook.

SF Paleo Pop-Up Brunch

On Sunday, I attenIMG_8084ded a Paleo Popup Brunch. Early on in my holistic nutrition program, I connected with one of my classmates as we discovered we were the only two students who were “paleo people”. We quickly bonded over our shared values of a nutrient dense, whole foods-based diet.

Recently, she told me about a popup brunch she was organizing with a few of her friends. Eager to support the growing Paleo movement in my community, I attended the event.

The food was delicious, and was by definition grain free, gluten free, legume free, minimally processed, organic, and free of refined seed oils.

In addition to being seasonal and delicious, special offerings were available for vegetarians as well as those with nut allergies.

 

 

 

Fritatta with squash and greensFritatta with squash and greens. Bacon, kale, and sweet potato hash.

Smoked Salmon and Dill on Cucumber

Smoked salmon with dill on cucumber

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Paleo Coconut Banana Muffin with butter

 

 

 

Paleo Muffins: Coconut Banana, Pumpkin Walnut

Paleo Muffins: Coconut flour based banana muffins & Pumpkin based walnut muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Brownies were provided by SF based Paleo baked goods company Real Food Kitchen. Although I didn’t personally try them due to a nut intolerance, people seemed to gobble them up. You can find Real Food Kitchen here.

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At the brunch, I connected with several like-minded individuals who are equally as excited as I am to be a part of the real food movement. I sat next to Zoe Wong of Revive Foods, which produces minimally processed jams that are made from local and organic surplus fruits. The jams that were available to sample at brunch were made from “rescued” fruit from Whole Foods Oakland.

Zoe explained that produce that is perfectly good to eat, but may be aesthetically unfit, such as bruised fruit, often go to waste. Zoe’s mission is to reduce food waste while producing delicious and healthier products. Revive Foods is still in its start up phase, but you can keep up with them on their FaceBook page.

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SF Paleo Popup

The lovely organizers of the Paleo Popup Brunch

 

At this time, the organizers of this brunch do not have a website, however, I will provide updates to this blog post if this changes in the future

******** Update 11/4/14*******

If you’re interested in attending future pop up events, you can keep up with Paleo Pop-Up here and here.

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The Paleo community is small but growing here in the Bay Area. I had a great weekend connecting with like-minded people. I love to know that there are people in my community who value nutrition in the same way that I do.

I encourage you to get out there, and connect yourself with people in your community who share the same interests as you do. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities may come your way.

Love and light,

vm

Double Chocolate Macaroons

Paleo Double Chocolate Macaroons by Against All Grain

Double Chocolate Macaroons by Against All Grain

I’m back with a crowd-pleasing recipe from Danielle Walker‘s cookbook Against All Grain. Recently, I attended a potluck at my gym. It’s a very family-oriented community, so it meant fun times and lots of food (I mean LOTS of it). I opted to contribute Double Chocolate Macaroons because..

1) They’re delicious.
2) People love ’em.
3) They’re Paleo*.

* A note on the word “Paleo”: When I say “they’re Paleo”, I don’t mean “cavemen must have eaten chocolate macaroons”, no. What I DO mean is that the food item contains nutrient-dense, whole ingredients. It’s free of refined oils (like nasty canola, hydrogenated oils, and industrial seed oils), grains, gluten, refined sugar, and anything highly processed. Although “Paleo” is a word that has been abused, overused, debated, and associated with fad dieting, I view it as just a handy word that communicates clean food in 3 easy syllables.

Now that we’re on the same page, here’s the recipe:

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Double-Chocolate Macaroons

Source: Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 C shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • ½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ C honey
  • ½ C coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch sea salt
  • ½ C dark chocolate chips, melted

Instructions

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients together
  2. Add a pinch of sea salt to the egg white and beat with a mixer or by hand until peaks form
  3. Add egg white to coconut mixture by gently folding in
  4. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, form balls onto parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Bake for 30 mins at 325 degrees F, rotating the tray halfway through. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour
  6. Dip the bottom of the macaroons into the melted chocolate and set at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Macaroon 6Recipe Tips

I opted to make a bite sized version of these by making them 1/3 of the size. If you do this, decrease the oven  temperature and cooking time. This may vary depending on your oven, but I reduced the temperature of my oven to 310 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Remember to check on them by pushing down gently and rotate half way to avoid burning!

I find that making them smaller helps to retain moisture, and are a more enjoyable texture since you’re not chomping down on a ton of shredded coconut all at once. The dark chocolate to shredded coconut ratio is also higher this way. I’m no mathematician, but methinks more chocolate = more better.

Read the label, and go for the soy lecithin free chocolate (Soy = GMOs) that is at least 75% cacao. I used a combination of Enjoy Life chocolate chips and an organic fair trade dark chocolate bar. For the coconut, I also used the Let’s Do Organic brand. All of this can be found at Whole Foods or Amazon.

Lastly, if you don’t have parchment paper on hand, foil works just fine. Just be gentle.

Nutrition Tid Bits

Dark Chocolate

  • Consumed and fermented by certain bacteria in the intestines into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart (1)
  • High in polyphenols which lower blood pressure (2)
  • Protects against UV damage (3)

Coconut (4)

  • Contains lauric acid and capric acid which are both converted in the body to substances that are antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal
  • Coconut oil protects against heart disease
  • Promotes weight loss and increases the body’s metabolic rate

These macaroons are a delicious snack or dessert that are suitable for many people since they are gluten, nut, seed, and grain free. Although these are better for you than most desserts, remember that the sugar content is still high due to the honey.  So enjoy them as a treat and not as an everyday staple.

Love and light,

vm

Sources:
(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23209885
(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16702322
(4) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005).The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books

 

 

 

 

 

Egg Carton Labels: What do they mean?

Hi wellness friends,

Is it just me, or have you also been bombarded with buzzwords when you’re cruising down the egg aisle? Cage-free, organic, pastured..what do these terms mean? Which eggs are the healthiest ones to buy? And which labels are flat out meaningless?

I put together this guide to help answer some of these questions.

Take a close look! Like me, you might be surprised to find how misleading some of these labels are!

(Click on the image below to enlarge)

Egg Labels

Final thoughts:

The best eggs you can buy are pastured organic eggs from local farms. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Pastured means that the hens laying the eggs are raised on pasture. This means they have access to fresh air, sunlight, and are able to roam around and engage in their natural behaviors. This also means that they are fed their natural diet which includes protein in the form of insects. (You read that correctly, chickens are not naturally vegetarians!)  Tests have shown that pastured eggs are much healthier (higher Vitamin A, Vitamin E, beta carotene, and omega-3 content) than those that are not pastured. For a farm near you, visit http://www.eatwild.com.
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  2. Organic eggs are free of antibiotics and pesticides.
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  3. Eggs from local farms afford you the ability to both research and ask questions about the welfare of the animals. Plus you are supporting your local economy.

A quick note on meaningless labels:

Terms like “Fertile” and “Natural” are virtually meaningless. They are unregulated terms and tell us nothing about the welfare of the animal (how it was raised, what it was fed). If it’s natural, it must be good for you, right? Nope. I wish it were that simple.

The next time you’re in the egg aisle, don’t be fooled by some of the appealing buzzwords that are thrown at you!

Love and light,

vm

Eco Diva Beauty featured my book review!

How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

Exciting news! Eco Diva Beauty recently featured my book review on their blog. Here are just a few reasons why I am so very honored:

  • They are one of my favorite places to shop for nontoxic beauty. (Top of the line natural products, incredibly personalized experience, lightning fast shipping..what more could a girl want?)
  • Their values of conscious, healthy living align with mine
  • Their founders, Charlene Swanson and Garcy Fry are incredibly inspiring female entrepreneurs. Plus, they are sweethearts.

Now about the book review..

If you are curious about the mind-body connection or are experiencing a health ordeal that leaves you feeling powerless at times, I would highly recommend the book How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body by David R. Hamilton. This book helped me get through a very scary time in my life and I think it has the ability to improve many lives.

For my full review, click here.

Shop at Eco Diva Beauty by clicking  here.
Follow Eco Diva Beauty on Instagram: @ecodivabeauty

Love and light,

vm

 

Paleo f(x): Will I see you there?

Hi there. Remember me?

I have been MIA lately and have admittedly neglected this blog. I’m human, do you forgive me?

I have been caught up in the chaotic whirlwind that is my life lately. In addition to doing the school and work juggling act, I recently moved after three years of being a clothes hoarder and have also been experiencing some serious family matters.

As things are settling down a bit (and I’m coming up for air), I thought I’d check in, say hello, and tell you where I’m headed.

On Thursday, I will be flying to Austin, Texas to attend PALEO f(x)!

What is Paleo f(x), you ask?

Paleo f(x)™ is an organization dedicated to advancing and promoting the functional paleo approach to health. Our mission is to show how theories of evolutionary health can be “made functional” — turned into real­ world practices that improve human health and wellbeing.

…Our chief focus continues to be our yearly symposium in Austin each Spring, and we have grown considerably each year. Spanning over three days, Paleo f(x)™ features multiple stages and a massive “expo floor.” It has an array of presentations, Mastermind panels, cooking demos, and workshops, all led by cutting ­edge health practitioners, scientists in a variety of fields, coaches and gym owners, New York Times best­selling authors, popular bloggers, community and sustainability activists, and more. It is the largest paleo health event in the world.

In addition to connecting with like-minded individuals, I am really looking forward to the presentations and cooking demos featuring the following very knowledgeable and inspiring people:

What else am I excited about? Why, the local gluten-free and Paleo friendly eats, of course!
Here’s a list that I’ve been compiling:

  • Picnik
    ” Picnik Austin is your home for paleo, primal, gluten-free, grain-free, clean, healthy, ancestral cooking and baking in Austin, TX.  We source organic and farm-to-table ingredients whenever possible, and we believe in serving the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.”
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  • 24 Diner
    “Chef Inspired Comfort Food.” They have a sweet gluten-free menu.
  • Lick Ice Cream
    “Honest ice cream..we base our flavors on what the land has to offer us and when the season is right for each ingredient.” Lick uses only local, hormone & antibiotic free, and grassfed dairy. They proudly state that they know where every ingredient originates.

Have you heard of Paleo f(x) before?
Will I see you there?
Do you have any places to add to my list of good eats?

Let me know in the comments below!

Love and Light,

vm

 

 

 

 

Monday Morsels 3/17/14

Happy Monday and Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Welcome to another edition of Monday Morsels, where I share the last week’s happenings in the wonderful world of wellness (say that three times fast).

Recipe

The Paleo Mom aka Sarah Ballantyne posted a link to one of her recipes on facebook this week.  Sarah is a scientist, wife, mother, blogger, and author who is a passionate advocate of the Paleo diet. She is quite an inspiring individual. By eating Paleo, she lost 120 pounds and was able to discontinue the use of SIX prescription medications. As Sarah has personal experience with autoimmune disease, she writes a lot about the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP). Lots of people with autoimmune conditions, intestinal disorders, or any type of systemic inflammation can benefit from this type of diet. I, myself, have tinkered with AIP and it has helped in my healing. Check out her blog for more info on AIP and other science backed Paleo information! On to the recipe..

Ginger Chocolate Freezer Fudge

This recipe tickled my fancy because I heart ginger.

If there was a “who loves ginger the most” contest, I would be the winner. I love to stir fry with ginger. I love to make fresh ginger tea. I love ginger juiced raw with other fresh organic fruits. I’m starting to sound like Forrest’s best friend Bubba with all of this ginger talk.

I know lots of people can’t stand its strong taste, but I mostly love ginger for its many healing properties. Just to name a few:

  • reduces inflammation
  • reduces nausea
  • aids in digestion
  • soothes an upset stomach

The Paleo Mom’s recipe is well, Paleo-friendly, which means that the ingredients are grain free and squeaky clean. I’ll definitely be giving this recipe a go, and I hope you do too.

Health

Last week, I got in my car after work and was delighted to turn the radio on to hear NPR discussing gut bacteria and Crohn’s disease.

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my serious health ordeal is the importance of healthy intestinal flora. Your gut bacteria plays a major role in mediating your immune response. We live in a culture where it is easy and commonplace to get antibiotics (aka killers of good AND bad bacteria) to treat just about every little cold.  Taking care of your intestinal bacteria as a means to health and wellness is very rarely talked about in mainstream news. This segment and article from NPR indicates that things are starting to change.

Many people who have Crohn’s disease end up having parts of their digestive tract surgically removed. If more people were aware that gut microbes play a role in their disease, they could address their conditions by taking natural, less invasive routes to healing. As I have said before, many people are thriving on diets that greatly reduce inflammation and support intestinal health, such as the Paleo diet, Paleo AIP, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

Click here to read or listen to NPR’s segment:

Mix of Gut Microbes May Play Role In Crohn’s Disease

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you have a great week!

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 3/10/14

How To Live Your Life in Flow State

Happy Monday, wellness people! While perusing my Facebook feed last week, I came across a brilliant image that presented this idea called the “flow state’, which is defined as the state in which you reach a balance between two things:

  • Being happy in the now
  • Having a vision of the future

You are most productive and effective when in this “flow state”.

I love everything about this image, from the lingo (blisscipline, Brules), to its core values.

It really speaks to me. Since quitting my old job last year, I have enrolled in a holistic nutrition school, started this blog, and landed a newer, better job at a really great company. My life has been a bit of a juggling act, but I have never been happier with where I am in my life both personally and professionally. At times, I do find myself overwhelmed.  There are so many directions I want to take, and I question whether I should be pursuing the paths that I am. However, giving myself fully–my time, my energy–to my passions in life, as tiring as it can be, energizes, fulfills, and excites me.

This visual puts things into perspective and reminds me that I’m on the right path.

If you’re curious, the visual above is based on Vishen Lakhiani‘s brilliant talk called “Why Happiness is the New Productivity”. It is worth your time and I highly recommend watching it here.

In the spirit of “trusting the journey”, I want to leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs.

In 2005, a cousin of mine graduated from Stanford which was the same year that Steve Job’s was a guest speaker. I was fortunate enough to hear his speech. Something he said that day always stuck with me:

 …you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

Love and light,

vm