CUCUMBER VANILLA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

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Unfortunately, smoothies are often just a pseudonym (slash coverup) for milkshakes. We can call it good marketing, but I find it pretty misleading and messed up! Admittedly, I can be a little crazy about reading labels and scrutinizing ingredients, primarily because I can't stand being tricked into eating something naughty that I think is healthy. If I'm going to have a milkshake, I'd rather just get a real milkshake! Maybe one with coconut ice cream, but still...you get the point. I don't need one after my morning spin class. 

I fell in love with this smoothie at Kreation in LA and have tried to recreate it here, since we don't have one in New York (wink wink, Kreation). Cucumber might sound like an odd smoothie ingredient, but you're just going to have to trust me on this one; it gives the blend some girth and a ton of hydration. 

I used Sunwarrior's Warrior Blend in vanilla, but if there's another vanilla protein you like, give it a try. Just be sure to read the label!

This smoothie is sugar free and 100% RASA Challenge approved. 


CUCUMBER VANILLA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

½ cup spinach

½ medium cucumber, peeled

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup non dairy milk

MAKE IT

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

 

 

Photo Credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

Why You Should Keep A Food Diary

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The very first activity I ask all my clients to do—yes, before hitting the gym or the farmer's market—is start a food diary. I like to understand someone’s eating patterns, likes and dislikes before making any suggestions, but I actually find journaling to be even more helpful and eye opening as a personal exercise.

The best way to change behavior is to pay attention to your actions. Studies show that self-monitoring (like food journaling) consistently leads to weight loss and more sustainable lifestyle alternations. Just writing down what you eat gives you more discipline and makes you more mindful and aware of your food choices, which leads to results.

When keeping a food diary, it’s important not to shame any of your choices, but instead interpret and learn from them. Did you do deep dive for the bread basket at dinner because you hadn’t eaten anything since lunch? Do you tend to crave sugar all day when you have oatmeal for breakfast? Do you eat more when you take a 6am spin class or have a bad night sleep? None of these things are “bad”. It’s actually really good to take note of where your food choices are not serving you and find productive ways to improve them without having to sacrifice too much of your lifestyle.

Often what we eat is less important than why or how. If we can better understand the nuances behind what drives what we eat, we can start creating more sustainable habits the promote healthier foods that support our wellness goals. 

How to start? You can get an app, take notes on your phone, or keep an old school journal. Here is the template that I use with my clients. Try it for a week and get your friends and family on board. Sharing your food diaries also helps keep you accountable. Feel free to share/tag me on Instagram (@the_rasa_life) if you want any feedback or have questions.


FOOD DIARY TEMPLATE

Breakfast

Time:

Food/Bev:

Lunch

Time:

Food/Bev:

Snack

Time:

Food/Bev:

Dinner

Time:

Food/Bev:

Questions/comments

How do you feel today?

What is one thing that went well?

How did you sleep last night?

Exercise:

Comments/notes:


Photo credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

TRAVEL GUIDE: BARCELONA

Barcelona is a city close to my heart—I spent a magical year there when I was 19, roaming beaches on the Costa Brava, staying up all night (ooops) and eating tapas to no end. Recently, I went back for the first time in over a decade (gasp!) and while so much about the architecture, old barrios and even some of the restaurants were so familiar, I was absolutely enthralled by the city’s thriving wellness scene. Here are a few of my top spots:

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EAT

Flax & Kale: It sounds healthy, and it is. There are a couple of locations of this all-day café, and it’s just perfect when you need a big old salad or want a gluten free croissant. The paleo bread and all the desserts are f****** good. Carrer dels Tallers, 74b

The Green Spot: The sweet potato tagliatelle at this super chic vegetarian restaurant is next level. Literally insane. Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12

Mont Bar: Perfect for date night. This sultry little corner churns out some excellent food, with local wines to boot. Carrer de la Diputació, 220

Bar Brutal: A local favorite. Literally, all the locals recommended this place. Natural wines, tasty food, no frills. Can’t beat it. Carrer de la Princesa, 14

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SLEEP

Soho House: This place is heaven! The design is eclectic, homey and original, and the service gets an A+. Awesome location near all the action of the El Borne and Barrio Gotico areas. Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli, 4

AirBnB: There are so many killer apartments to rent in Barcelona (like this one or this one). Fun way to get a taste of what it’s like to actually live there.

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SHOP

Mi Vintage: A gem of a vintage shop with some serious finds. El Borne, Carrer dels Canvis Nous, 2

Clay: Located in the trendy El Borne area, this lifestyle shop stocks Mens and Women’s clothing international brands like Ganni and You Must Create as well as a collection of killer ceramics that will make you want to get a freight to carry it all home. Banys Vells 11

Antique Boutique: The coolest homewares store in town! We scored two amazing ceramic lamps that by the grace of god made it back to New York unscathed. Carrer de Sèneca, 16

Wer-Haus: Rad concept store with matchas, art books and men’s clothing. Carrer d'Aragó, 287


CULTURE

Picasso Museum: Worth it! Buy your tickets in advance and go during siesta, since there is nothing else to do. Carrer Montcada, 15-23

La Boqueria: The holy grail of farmer’s market. If you’re lucky enough to be there in the fall, they have the most incredible selection of setas (wild mushrooms). La Rambla, 91

 

How Much (if Any!) Meat Should We Really Eat?

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Meat is controversial; from raw vegans to hard core paleo dieters, there are arguments for both sides of the spectrum from health and environmental points of view. As a nutritionist, meat eaters often assume that I am vegetarian and plant-eaters worry that I am not. In truth, I'm neither. RASA was founded on the belief that we are all unique individuals; we have different preferences, lifestyles and moral/ethical values. Vegetables are my favorite food, so if you’re vegetarian/vegan and feeling good, keep doing that. I’m into it! 

Biologically speaking, humans are omnivores and benefit from eating some animal protein, whether it be from fish, poultry, eggs, red meat or dairy. But when it comes to eating meat, I have saying: eat better, eat less. Here’s why:

QUALITY MATTERS!

It matters so so much. The food industry (especially in the US) is f*ed up, and we eat what the animals we eat ate. If you don’t want to eat genetically modified corn and soybeans, you shouldn’t eat animals that were fed that. So if you’re not 100% sure of the quality, I would say you’re better off not eating it. Here is what to look for when buying animal products:

  • Seafood: Wild fish and seafood ONLY! Nothing farmed. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is an excellent resource to learn more about the quality of seafood, what to buy and what to avoid, and includes informational on the environmental impact on seafood consumption.
  • Eggs: Buying eggs is like going to the bookstore, so many covers/labels, it’s insane (WHY???). Look for organic, pasture-raised eggs. They do not need to be vegetarian (chickens are omnivores, just like us), or porch raised or free range…look specifically for pasture-raised. The yolk should be bright orange.
  • Poultry: When buying chicken or duck, you should also look out for organic, pasture-raised animals. Free range means nothing.
  • Meat: For red meat, look for all grass fed. Unfortunately, the label “grass fed” can literally mean that the animal was fed grass once in its life. Horrible and shameful, if you ask me. Cows were meant to eat grass. The meat from grass fed cows is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, while the meat from cows fed corn, soy and hormones is full of highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

EAT LESS

We need some animal protein, but not as much as you might think. Our body is constantly breakdown and rebuilding, and protein plays an important role in pretty much every single biological process and cell. Your vegan friends are right: vegetables are full of protein too! Nuts, seeds, legumes, even broccoli are all great sources of protein. These awesome foods don’t, however, provide all the essential amino acids (i.e. the ones our body can’t make on its own), so we need to supplement our vibrant plant-based diet with a little animal protein. The best way to think of meat is as a condiment, not the main event. So how much is that? I would say 3 ounces or less per meal (about the size of a deck of cards) and not necessarily with every meal. 

Bottom line: if you eat meat, be mindful of the quality and don’t go overboard. Paying attention to the quality and quantity of your meat intake is not just good for your body, but for the environment as well. I love roasting a chicken and having it for the week. It’s economical, delicious and the bones can be used for broth. Here is my perfect roast chicken recipe from the spring RASA Challenge.

 

 

Perfect Roast Chicken

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Roasting a chicken can be intimidating, but it’s actually really easy and great for leftovers. Make sure to buy organic, pasture raised chicken and save your bones for broth!

PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN

Serves 4
Prep Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

1 organic, pasture raised chicken

½ cup coconut oil or ghee, melted

1 lemon

½ head garlic

Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Salt and pepper

MAKE IT!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Take chicken out of the fridge to prep and get up to room temperature before cooking.

Place chicken on a cutting board. Pat dry with a paper towel. The dryer the chicken the crispier it will get.  Using a sharp knife, and with the chicken breast side up, cut the loose skin between the breast and the leg so that the chicken can lay flat. Next, generously season with salt and pepper. Really get in there, making sure to season both sides of the chicken and the cavity. 

Place chicken in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Cut a lemon and head of garlic in half. Place half of the garlic head and both sides of the lemon alongside the chicken. Add fresh rosemary, if using. Cover with melted coconut oil or ghee.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is nice and brown and the juices run clear. If the juices are still a little pink, cook a bit longer, checking every 5 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes after taking out of the oven. You can eat it right away with roasted garlic and lemon, or cool and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Don't forget to save your bones for broth!

 
 

TRAVEL GUIDE: MEXICO CITY

Almost ubiquitously, the first thing I was told about Mexico City was that it was unsafe; I should be careful and not wear jewelry. I expected a busy, sprawling metropolis of Vespa smoke and cartel action, but I experienced none of that. Mexico City is green, lush and surprisingly quiet. The people are lovely and hospitable, and the food is some of the best I’ve had. Ever.

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STAY

Condesa DF: A trendy boutique hotel in a killer location. The rooms are just OK (in my opinion), but the area is awesome, and the rooftop bar is not to be missed. Av. Veracruz 102, Roma Norte

AirBnB: Live like a local in an charming apartment like this or this one. If you don't speak Spanish, you may want to stay in a hotel (unless you're up for a real adventure!).

Four Seasons: The hotel itself is a little bigger and more corporate than what I normally like, but the concierge is top notch and super helpful. The rooftop gym and pool is also a plus. Paseo de la Reforma 500, Cuauhtémoc


EAT

Páramo: If you like tacos, this is the spot for you! If you don’t like tacos, I’m really not sure why you’re reading this. Go with a group so you can try as many things as possible. The guacamole is by far the best I’ve had in my life. Nothing beats a ripe avocado. Treat yourself to a mezcal pepita, which is basically a refreshing cucumber margarita. You can ask for it sin azuca as well. Av. Yucatan 84, Roma Norte

Contramar: WORTH THE HYPE. This place is so darn fun and the tuna tostadas are next level! Make it a late lunch / early dinner and go around 4pm. Make a reservation or be prepared to wait. And don’t miss out on their famous two colored whole fish. Calle de Durango 200, Roma Norte

Rosetta: Italian with a Mexican twist. This place is soooo gorgeous. Soaring ceilings, lots of plants and incredible details. The food is just as wonderful as the setting . Perfect for date night. Colima 166, Col. Roma Norte

Lardo: The sister restaurant to Rosetta is slightly more casual but just as good (maybe even better). Excellent for lunch or dinner, this may be the spot to throw your gluten free ways out the window for a few hours. The house-made flat bread is out of this world. Agustín Melgar 6, Condesa

Huset: An incredible garden setting with an equally incredible menu of elevated Mexican favorites. The tuna tartar might sound basic, but it was anything but. Colima 256, Roma Norte

Pujol: This place is fancy pants, but a super fun experience if you want to try upscale Mexican food. Tennyson 133, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc

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SHOP

Void: Maybe the best vintage shop I’ve ever been to. Full stop. Situated in a charming house, the kitchen is decked with bootleg Gucci jumpers from the 80s and there is an entire Chanel room. Swoon! Calle Parral 5, Condesa

El Bazaar Sabado: Come for the art, stay for the food. The Saturday market is such a fun activity, filled with amazing and well-priced art that make the perfect souvenirs and gifts. Plaza San Jacinto 11, San Ángel TNT, San Ángel

Onora: Ceramic heaven! This place stocks a ton of traditional and chic home décor items from all over Mexico. Lope de Vega 330, Polanco, Polanco V Secc

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DO

Temples: Kind of a trek from town, but the temples are truly mind blowing. Don’t skimp and get the tour guide. Worth it.

Run, walk: I was surprised how lush and residential Mexico City is. The perfect city for a run outdoors or to walk around all day.

 

 

Intermittent Fasting 101

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There's been a lot of hype around Intermittent Fasting lately. So, what is it, how do you do it, and should you try it? Read on to find out if incorporating an Intermittent Fasting routine might work for you.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

If you sleep, you fast. Unless you get up in the night to eat, we’re all practicing intermittent fasting every day. That’s actually where the word breakfast comes from. You’re literally breaking your fast.

Intermittent fasting is kind of the opposite of dieting. While I always recommend following a healthy, balanced diet, you actually do not need to restrict food quantity or count calories to get the benefits of fasting.

While it’s become a trendy topic in the wellness scene as of late, fasting is not new. In fact, many cultures have a long history of fasting; Lent, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and other religious holidays also incorporate fasting into their rituals.

What Happens When You Fast?

Your body needs a constant supply of glucose for brain, muscle and cellular function. In a fed state, this comes from the food we eat. When you fast, your body uses up all the dietary glucose, then it hits up your glycogen stores, and then dives into your fat stores to create ketones that fuel your brain, muscle and all the other tissues and organs that need energy. Ketones are incredibly efficient fuel source and don’t effect blood sugar levels.

Fasting is also like a daily detox for your body. The time and energy you’re not expending digesting food allows your body to work on eliminating toxins and cellular repair.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits and experience of Intermittent Fasting are going to be different for everyone. Here are just a few of my observations drawing from personal experience, my client work and scientific journals on the subject.

1.     Manage Cravings

Fasting eliminates feelings of hunger that result from low blood sugar. Breakfast foods—think oatmeal, cereal, muffins, fruit, even smoothies (gasp!)—are often carbohydrate-heavy and cause a spike in blood sugar levels. When you’re blood sugar levels raise early in the day, your body starts to ride a rollercoaster of sugar cravings all day to try and maintain those elevated levels.

2.     Become More Aware of Hunger Cues

Often times, we perceive feelings of thirst, fatigue, boredom or perhaps even a stomach growl as hunger, but we’re actually not hungry. Biologically, we were made to withstand weeks without food (btw I don’t recommend this). Compared with dieting, which studies show to increase hunger and cravings, fasting can help you get in touch with your hunger cues, have more willpower, and become more satisfied with your meals so you don’t overeat. 

3.     Cell Maintainance

During a fed state (i.e. when you’re not fasting), your body expends over half of its energy digesting food. That’s a lot of work! When you’re fasting, your body can allocate those resources to other functions. This is important for reducing oxidative stress, eliminating toxins, keeping your immune system healthy and improving biomarkers for disease.

4.     Regulate Hormones

Fasting can help increase insulin sensitivity, which regulates hunger and fat storage, and also increases the amount of HGH (human growth hormone) that you produce. HGH helps build muscles, burn fat, increase bone density, improve your sleep, elevate your mood and reduce signs of aging (yes, please!).

5.     Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting has been shown as an effective weight loss tool, without the need for dieting. Also, when you crave less sweets, are more in tune with your hunger cues and have healthy hormone levels, you will naturally lose weight (if that’s your goal) without any tedious calorie restriction/counting.

6.     Brain Function

Fasting has been shown to improve and preserve learning and memory function.

 

How to fast?

There are many different methods of intermittent fasting. Here are a few of them in detail:

Time restricted fasting. This means an overnight fast of a minimum of 12 hours, but up to 18 or 20 hours of fasting. This works for me and many of my clients, and is relatively easy. Eat dinner earlier and breakfast a little later. There's a good chance you already do a 12 hour fast a few times a week (dinner by 8pm, breakfast at 8am). You can experiment with different fasting periods a couple of days per week, or you can go on a 16:8 or 18:6 eating schedule, which means 16 or 18 hours in a fasting state and 6 or 8 hours in a fed state. 

Alternate day fasting. This means severe calorie restriction (under 500 calories) two non consecutive days a week. In my opinion this is too hard for most people, and the idea is not to be starving, grumpy, or hangry, but to find a way where fasting can seamlessly integrate in your normal life.

Daylight only. This means only eat during daylight hours. I like the idea of this, but I also like to go out to dinner after 6pm, so for me, this is no go.

What can you have while you fast?

I’ve seen some conflicting literature on this, but I go by the under 50 calorie rule. That means, black coffee, tea/matcha (with water), a little kombucha (check labels for sugar content!), bone broth and water. You could even put a pinch of stevia or a splash of milk in your hot drinks. Bulletproof coffees, while great for many reasons, do not count as fasting.

Working out in a fasted state.

Can you work out while you’re fasting? That’s a resounding YES. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have, especially when you are fueling your body with adequate protein and healthy fats. Depending on the type of exercise you do, you may feel like you don’t get as strong a workout in a fasted state, but everyone is different.

You can also take BCAAs to give your muscles an extra boost. Make sure to read labels, as a lot of the BCAAs are full of artificial sweeteners. I like THIS brand, which is stevia sweetened. You can also find a raw one, but the taste is a little harsh.

Who shouldn’t fast.

Pregnant women, anyone with fertility issues or who have experienced disordered eating should not fast. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If fasting makes you a hangry a-hole, don’t do it. And if you’re not sure, ask your doctor.

The bottom line.

There are lots of different fasting methods, but it all kind of boils down to this: eat well most of the time, indulge occasionally and give your body ample time to rest by fasting a couple of times a week. If you’re interested, try it! You certainly do not have to do it every day.

Start with 12 hours and see how you do. I’ve found that it gets easier the more I do it. But, as with all things nutrition, it works for some people, and not for others.

Xx Mia

 

Walnut & Kale Stem Pesto

 Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Stems are underrated. Why do we only eat the leaves? There is so much nutrition in the stems of vegetables and herbs (parsley, broccoli, kale!), it’s such a waste to toss them.

If you’ve ever used kale for salads or sautés, you’ve probably had leftover stems. This recipe is a quick, easy and nutritious way to make use of your scraps. I love serving it with kelp noodles (pictured here) for a light lunch or alongside salmon or chicken. Also great with crudité.

Walnuts are high in omega 3s and protein, giving this pesto a nice nutty flavor and anti-inflammatory boost. I’ve also made this with almonds, and it came out great.

Pecorino is a great substitute for parmesan, as it’s made from sheep instead of cow’s milk, which I find a bit easier on the digestive system for anyone with diary sensitivities. If you want to make this recipe vegan (or RASA Challenge-approved), omit the cheese and add a little extra salt or nutritional yeast.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

RECIPE: WALNUT & KALE STEM PESTO

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of fresh basil, loosely packed

1 cup of kale stems (or whatever you have on hand!)

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup of olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp lemon zest

1 clove of garlic

Small chunk of pecorino cheese (about 1 inch)

1 tablespoon filtered water

Salt and pepper to taste

MAKE IT

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. If your pesto is too thick, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

 

Matcha Pear Smoothie

 Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Great for breakfast or an afternoon snack, this high energy smoothie gives you a full serving of greens, healthy fats and an anti-inflammatory kick! Protein powder goes really well in this shake, but is totally optional. Enjoy as the last of winter pears are still at the market.

RASA Challenge-approved too!

MATCHA PEAR SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp matcha powder

2 tbsp full fat coconut yogurt

1 small handful of spinach

½ pear

½ tsp ginger

1 cup liquid, water or dairy free milk

* For an extra protein kick, add some collagen or protein powder

MAKE IT!

Add all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

 

HEALTHY TRAVEL: AIRPLANE MUNCHIES

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I used to think of flying as an excuse to get junk food. I even had a rule that I could have anything I wanted in the airport, which normally meant popcorn, a glass (or two) of wine, Raisinets and an arsenal of gossip mags. True story.

While I’ve kept the gossip mags (you can’t part with everything), my junk filled journeys have been replaced by a healthier options that gets me to my destination feeling as fresh as possible and not completely jet lagged.

Airplane food sucks. Yes, we all know it tastes bad, but it’s also full of preservatives, salt and sugar. All of which will dehydrate you, deplete nutrients and make you feel worse when you land. If your flight is long enough to have a meal (4+ hours), pack a salad at home or grab something from your favorite café. Try to fill up on greens, healthy fats and some protein to mitigate the immune and energy suppressing effects of flying.

Fasting in-flight works for some people, but then there’s others (hi!) who like to watch movies and munch on something to pass the time. If you’re part of the latter group, here are six snack ideas to consider for your next flight:

1.     Healthy Fats

Try bringing an avocado or raw, unsalted nuts to keep from eating plane peanuts, which are full of processed oils and refined salts. Nut butter packets are also handy and easy to travel with.

2.     Fresh Vegetables

Carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, whatever you can pack. Eating veggies mid-flight is a great way to stay hydrated and have something to nibble on.

3.     Protein Bars

A protein bar is a great mid-flight meal replacement or snack. My favorite brands are Bullet Proof and Quest. They're also great to pack for your trip!

4.     Kale Chips

Because you can eat the entire bag, guilt free!   

5.     Dark Chocolate

A good bar of dark chocolate (like Eating Evolved) is a welcome in-flight treat that is full of antioxidants and healthy fats.

6.     Water Bottle

Okok. I know, it’s not a snack, but it’s really important to stay hydrated when you travel. The water cups given to you in-flight are too small, horrible for the environment and not topped up often enough. Bring an empty water bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it up for you. Game changer.

 

Last piece of advice: don’t go overboard. Bring enough food to get you through the flight, but try not to load up on too many snacks before you take off. You will eat them all. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Xx Mia

 

Green Market Soup

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After an overindulgent weekend or vacation, I love to reset with a few nights of this green soup for dinner. Incredibly nourishing and anti-inflammatory, it is the perfect way to get yourself back on track.

I always challenge my clients to try and eat 20 different types of vegetables a week. One quick and easy way to increase your nutrient intake is to diversify your vegetable consumption, and this soup packs six different plants. Each vegetable has its own mix of vitamins and nutrients, so if you always opt for spinach or kale, mixing it up with seasonal produce like dandelion greens or Swiss chard will add a greater variety of nutrients to your diet.

I call this green market soup, because it's best when using fresh, in season produce. The fresher the greens, the more nutrient dense they will be, so don’t be afraid to buy something unfamiliar at your local farmers’ market.

GREEN MARKET SOUP

Serves: 4-6

Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 cups leafy greens of your choice, try to include at least two different types  (kale, beet greens, arugula, chard, spinach, watercress, etc.)

1 bunch parsley, stems included, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 thumb-sized nub of ginger, roughly chopped

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee

2 cups broth

Water to cover

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon juice

Maldon sea salt

1 tbsp sesames seeds

1-2 tbsp olive oil for garnish

MAKE IT

Heat coconut oil or ghee in a Dutch oven. Add onions, ginger and garlic, stirring until fragrant, then add greens, parsley and turmeric and stir for a minute or two longer.

Add broth then enough water to cover the vegetables (about two cups). Let simmer for 20-30 minutes and puree in a high speed blender until smooth.

Season as desired and serve with a squeeze of lemon, sesame seeds, a splash of olive oil and some Maldon sea salt.

 
 

Vegan Miso Caesar Dressing

A solid Caesar recipe should be a staple in every cook’s repertoire. This version is vegan, full of healthy fats and gut-loving probiotics. Toss with your favorite greens to elevate an average weekday salad or serve alongside roasted chicken and tomato soup at a dinner party.

This recipe is RASA Challenge-approved.

 
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Ingredients:

2 tsp Miso

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 tbsp Water

Juice of ½ lemon

1 garlic clove

Salt to taste

Make it!

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the fridge for up to one week. You can loosen with some water (1/2 tbsp at a time), as it will thicken slightly as it sets.

 

 
 

Clean Beauty. Are You Ready To Make The Switch?

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Your skin is your largest organ. You've probably heard that before, but what does it mean? Basically, what you put on you goes in you. We care so much about what we eat, why wouldn’t we focus this same energy on the beauty products we use?

If you’re not sure if your makeup and skincare products are non-toxic, they probably aren’t. Most cosmetic companies use ingredients that can build up in our bodies to toxic levels or are so strong they kill all the good bacteria living on and around our skin.

How to start? Luckily, there are now many retailers and companies that exclusively make and sell non-toxic beauty products at various price points. Stores like Credo and Cap Beauty do the work for you. Everything is clean and the staff are always super knowledgeable and helpful. I began my collection of non-toxic beauty products by replacing old products as they ran out. I now am proud to use 100% non-toxic products and my skin has never felt better.

Some of you might be following my takeover last week with clean beauty sight The Moment, but for those of you who missed it, here are my favorite non-toxic beauty products.

 

SKINCARE

Marie Veronique Oil Cleanser: Removes makeup and dirt without stripping your skin. Also feels super silky. Apply to dry face and neck, and rinse with warm water.

Marie Veronique Eye Repair Serum: Protects the delicate skin around your eyes and prevents signs of aging.

Odacite Eye Contour: My other favorite eye serum. Really soothing, especially for tired eyes. Baobab oil is rich in Vitamins A, E and F.

Vintners Daughter Active Botanical Serum: The holy grail of clean beauty products, this company only makes one product and they make it really well. Worth the investment.

Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Serum: Lifting, firming, toning, tightening, basically all the things that matter when you hit 30+.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask: One of my favorite products. Super effective without being messy. I use this three + times per week.

Osea Advanced Protection Cream: Like La Mer but better, cheaper and non-toxic (no, La Mer not a clean beauty product!). Feels really luxurious on your skin.

Sun Potion Shea Butter: Serious food for your skin. So serious, in fact, that they don't even bother to scent it. Use on everything: cuts, burns, acne, scars, dry skin, wrinkles, hair, the works.

MAKEUP

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream: A little SPF, a little coverage, a little anti-aging magic, this is my all in one and I use it every day. 

Juice Beauty Ultra Natural Mascara: It's hard to find a clean mascara, but I think this one is the best.

Juice Beauty Perfecting Concealer: Made of pure coconut oil and perfect for covering up spots and discolorations. 

Vapour Foundation: Because sometimes I go out and want to feel a little extra special.

Kosås Cream Blush: Natural highlighter and cheek color that is super easy to put on.

Kosås Lipstick: The best long lasting colors.

HAIR

Innersence Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner: Great for taming, cleaning and conditioning my unruly locks.

Abhati Sacred Hair Oil: I use this for shine and as a mask the night before I wash my hair. Plus, it smells amazing!

Reverie Milk: For frizz. Enough said.

SCENTS

Cap Beauty Anointing Oil: A magic potion that makes you smell and feel good.

xx

 

MUSHROOM DASHI BROTH

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I have a confession to make: I hate making bone broth. I don’t like dealing with the bones and I just never have the time or a pot big enough to bother making my own broth, when I can just buy it. I know, I know, I could use a crock pot and #savemybones, but I don’t cook that much chicken, so I don’t have many bones. Rant over, but basically, I’m happy to spend a few bucks on a quart of quality bone broth from time to time – a little indulgent, but to me the time saved is worth it.

What I love making at home, however, is a Mushroom Dashi broth. It takes less than an hour, is incredibly rich in flavor and nutrients, goes great in a soup or a mug, and doesn’t require a freezer full of chicken bones. 

 
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MUSHROOM DASHI BROTH

INGREDIENTS

2 kombu sheets

2 quarts of water

2 cups dried mushrooms (I used shiitake)

1 large piece of ginger (about the size of matchbook), peeled and cut into chunks

1 tbsp bonito flakes (optional)

MAKE IT!

Wipe kombu with a damp cloth. Put two quarts of water in a pot with kombu. Heat over a medium heat and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove kombu, add mushrooms and ginger and turn up the heat a little. Right before the water starts to boil, lower heat back to a simmer.

Let simmer for about 30 minutes total (if using bonito flakes, add them at the end), drain broth, keeping mushrooms to puree in soups or crisp in the oven (highly recommended – tastes like bacon!).

Use your mushroom dashi broth just as you would bone broth to add flavor and nutrients to soups and stews. If you want to enjoy your Mushroom Dashi broth in a mug, experiment with some different flavorings, like turmeric, Braggs liquid amino acids, some sliced green onions, toasted sesame oil or roasted garlic.

Broth will keep in the fridge for a few days, or can be frozen. Enjoy!

 

Photos by Diana Davis Creative

 

10 Reasons to START THE YEAR WITH A Detox

 Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Many of us start the year with a detox because we feel guilty about all the Christmas cookies and cabernet we indulged in over the holidays. But when you actually do a detox, weight loss is just the cherry on top. Here are some other reasons to start the New Year off with a good reset:

 

1.     Set intentions.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Whether it’s a new job, a new home or running a half marathon, setting goals and an action plan will get you there. And if you’re not sure what you want, taking some time to yourself will help you get clarity.

2.     Get organized.

Purge old things and make room new stuff. Clean your sock drawer, get a new calendar, dust behind the couch. It feels good to start the year fresh.

3.     Get back into the routines you love.

Have you fallen out of your healthy habits during the holiday rush? Whether it’s a meditation practice, a spin class or even just having a lemon water in the morning, take the time to reestablish your favorite healthy routines.

4.     Save money.

You might be shocked to find how much money you save when you’re not buying lattes, cocktails and going out for all (or as many) of your meals.

5.     Kick a bad habit.

Smoking, too much coffee, chewing gum, midnight snacking, we all have them—use this time to get over it.

6.     Try something new!

Have you always wanted to check out Reiki, take a pottery class or see a nutritionist (ahem!)? Use your free time and extra pocket money to check a box off your bucket list.

7.     Chill out!

Treat your detox like a staycation and do all the things you never have time for: Go to bed early, sleep in late, take a nap…or a bath, watch a movie, all seven seasons of Game of Thrones, read a damn book.

8.     Clear your foggy brain.

Wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day; be more focused and productive at work and at home. Sounds simple, but trust me, it’s magical.

9.     Feel happier and more confident.

Did you know over 95% of our serotonin is in our gut? Taking time to eat healthy over a consistent period of time will make you feel better about yourself. Full stop.

10.  Fit into your jeans again. 

Ok ok, it's in here. A lot of us are motivated by weight loss, and that’s not a bad thing. 

 

This year, instead of setting broad, unattainable resolutions while we’re at our lowest (tired, hungover, anxious, cranky), let’s take some time to reset and reconnect with ourselves, so we can create tangible goals and muster the motivation needed to pursue them for longer than a few weeks. 

Who’s ready? Sign up for the RASA Challenge here.

 

Salted Chocolate Tart

Alright friends, this recipe is a little more involved that what I normally post, but it’s just too good not to share and actually not that hard to make. This salted chocolate tart tastes just as decadent as it looks, but is totally grain free, super low in sugar and high in healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. The perfect holiday indulgence! 

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SALTED CHOCOLATE TART

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Bake Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients

Coconut Almond Crust

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup ounces organic coconut flour

6 tablespoons ghee (I used Fourth & Heart's vanilla ghee), melted

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 pinch sea salt

Salted Chocolate Filling

1 package of chocolate chips (9 ounces) (I used Lily's stevia sweetened chocolates)

1 ¼ cup full fat unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla powder (can be scraped from a vanilla bean)

2 pastured eggs, beaten

Maldon Sea Salt

You will need a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom (like this one) for this recipe. They are super easy to find (and cheap!).

 

Make It!

Start with the crust. This can be done the day before, if you want to break the process up into two parts. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and combine, then add melted ghee and work with a fork (or your hands) until the ghee is fully incorporated and you can make balls with the dough.

Add the crust to the tart pan, working the edges first. Spend a decent amount of time pressing the dough into the edges of the pan. A strong edge will form a strong crust that you can easily cut through, so don’t skimp on this step. Firmly press the remaining dough into the bottom of the pan. The dough should be about ½ as thick on the bottom as it is on the edge.

Place tart pan on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Start checking at 15 minutes, as each oven is different and you don’t want to burn it. Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To make the filling, create a double boiler to melt the chocolate by heating water to a simmer in a pot and placing a bowl on top. The water should not touch the bowl, but it should rest nicely on the pot. Break up chocolate and add to bowl, stirring occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Once melted, remove bowl from pot and slowly whisk in coconut milk and vanilla. Allow to cool slightly, then add one spoonful of chocolate into the beaten eggs to temper. This is to prevent the eggs from scrambling when you pour it into the hot chocolate mixture. Then slowly add eggs to chocolate, stirring continuously.

Pour filling into tart pan and top with a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt. Make sure the tart pan is on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, or until it’s almost entirely firm (give it a little shake in the oven to test). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before placing in the fridge.

When you’re ready to serve, push the bottom of the tart pan up to remove it from the pan. Place on a cake plate, cut and serve with coconut whip cream. 

 

 

Make This: Almond Ginger Snap Cookies

Something about the holidays just makes me want to bake. These Almond Ginger Snap cookies are an OG RASA favorite and the perfect, guilt-free treat for when you're craving holiday sweets. Best part: they take about 20 minutes total to make and are 100% vegan, which means you can munch on the dough 'til your heart's content. 

 
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ALMOND GINGERSNAP COOKIES (Vegan, Grain Free)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Bake Time: 10 Minutes 

Makes about 10 small cookies (depending on how much dough you eat)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp ground ginger (or more if you like a bit of heat)

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Make It!

 

Preheat oven to 175 C / 350 F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat maple syrup and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Whisk until combined.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well combined. Roll 1 tablespoons of the dough into balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Flatten with the palm of your hand and be sure to leave room between each cookie.

Bake for 10 minutes or until brown on the edges and cool.

 

Six Healthy Tips for Navigating Party Season

It’s that time of the year again: holiday parties, family dinners and cocktail events dominate your calendar. Just because your schedule demands a few more nights out than you might normally have, doesn’t mean you have to derail your whole healthy eating plan or be a total party pooper.

Before you stress about your seemingly endless schedule of restaurant reservations and cocktail parties, read these tips:


TRY NOT TO SHOW UP STARVING. This is a guaranteed bread basket disaster. If you’re planning to go out for dinner, have a high fat snack, like raw nuts or ½ an avocado, before and make sure to drink a lot of water so you’re not ravaged by the time you arrive. 

THE ONE BITE RULE RARELY WORKS. No one ever had just one chip. Ever. If you’re trying to stay away for the aforementioned bread basket or the fries your friend ordered, just resist. Or…if you want to indulge, add a decent portion to your plate, eat it, enjoy it and be done with it.

DRINK A LITTLE BETTER, AND A LITTLE LESS. When ordering alcoholic beverages, stick with wine or spirits with soda water and lemon/lime or bitters. Opt for premium spirits when you can and savor them, instead of throwing 'em back. 

BYO-HEALTHY FOOD. If you're headed to a friends house for dinner and cocktails, bake a batch of healthy cookies or bring some sort of treat that fits into your lifestyle so you can indulge guilt free. Not sure what to make? Try my favorite Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. No one will know that they are grain and refined sugar free, if you don't tell them. 

CHOOSE YOUR INDULGENCES AND GO FOR IT. If you just love your Mom's yule log, get yourself a piece and eat it. The whole thing. Stop cutting little wedges and going back for more, you probably end up eating more that way and feeling less satisfied. Just eat it.

IF YOU OVERDO IT, MOVE ON. There’s no point in beating yourself up over a dessert spread binge. It happens to the best of us. If you wake up in the morning feeling guilty about the night before, make up for it with a healthy breakfast, some hot lemon water and good workout. Don’t waste time feeling badly about it. 

 

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MAKE THIS: Harissa-Spiced Acorn Squash Soup

It's officially soup season and the market is ripe with squash in all different shapes and sizes. Squash boast an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins A, C, B12, and folate, and just tastes right this time of year. 

When buying squash, look out for varieties with soft, edible skin, like delicata, petite butternut, kabocha, and (my personal favorite) acorn squash. There's nothing wrong with thick-skinned squash, but let's face it: it's annoying to cook! Save yourself the trouble. 

This Harissa-spiced acorn squash soup has become a staple in my kitchen over the past few weeks. I love the heartiness of the squash, along with the warmth and depth of flavor from the Harissa. Serve alongside roast chicken, a simple salad or have on its own.

It's also the perfect recipe for RASA's post-Thanksgiving Leftovers Challenge. If you're not signed up yet, get on board!

Happy Cooking!

xx Mia

 
 Photo Credit:  Diana Davis Creative

Photo Credit: Diana Davis Creative

HARISSA-SPICED ACORN SQUASH SOUP

Ingredients

¼ cup + 1 tbsp coconut oil ghee                                                                                               (Fourth & Heart's California garlic ghee is amazing in this)

2 medium-sized acorn squash

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

4 cups bone or vegetable broth

2 tbsp Harissa paste (I like New York Shuk)

Salt and pepper

Rosemary (for garnish)

Make It!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut acorn squash and scoop out seeds. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Melt ¼ cup of ghee or coconut oil and pour evenly over squash. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 40 minutes, or until tender.

Heat remaining tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee in a Dutch oven. Add chopped onions and garlic and stir over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add roasted squash and Harissa and continue to stir for another minute or two before covering with broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.

Use a hand mixer or transfer contents to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh or dried rosemary as a garnish.

 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies are 100% grain and refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats. The ghee adds fat to offset the sugar in the dates, so you won’t experience a crazy spike in your blood sugar levels.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Bake time: 12-15 minutes

Makes 10-12 cookies

Ingredients

1/3 cup Fourth & Heart Chocti chocolate ghee spread

2 tbsp almond butter

½ cup almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

1 bar chocolate (I used Eating Evolved)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)

½ tsp baking soda

Maldon sea salt

Make it!

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and vanilla powder into the bowl of a stand-up mixer*. Add ghee and almond butter and mix until combined, then add egg and mix for another minute or two until fully incorporated.

Cut chocolate bar into chunks and mix into dough using a spatula, making sure the chocolate is evenly distributed. Use a soup spoon to scoop out cookie (about the size of a golf ball), place on baking sheet and flatten with the ball of your hand. Continue until all dough is used and top with a generous sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes and cool. The cookies will firm up as they cool down. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long).

* If you don’t have a stand mixer, just use a spatula or your hands to get everything well combined. Also whisk the egg lightly before incorporating.