I don't make cheesecake often, but when I do, it's raw, vegan and straight out of my food processor! In fact most of my dessert recipes these days are completely healthified and that's just the way I like 'em. I'm a sweets person, so it's important for me, especially around the holidays, to have 'treats' that I can substitute in that I know I can feel good about eating because they are low in sugar and high in fiber and nutrients. HOWEVER, these recipes are often time consuming, super expensive, or both- creating a real hinderance when it comes to converting my clients.
Well, not this one my friends! This treasure of a recipe is cheap, easy and absolutely delicious- and will completely fool any unsuspecting SAD (standard american diet) lover at your holiday parties. I buy a lot of my baking products in bulk from Speerville Flour Mill- a local source of organic grains, seeds and legumes- which even further cuts down on cost and ensures a high quality of nutrients and environmental responsibility. We bought six 4 litre jugs of local maple syrup back in the spring too- but that's fodder for a different post!
Getting back to these gourmet bars, I promise you'll swoon. The 'real deal' are chock full of dairy, sugar and gluten products- whereas this recipe only contains 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in the whole recipe, not to mention it's completely dairy and gluten free (if you use the right oatmeal!) PLUS the whole recipe only takes 20 minutes to whip together, including cleaning if you're quick!
Try them out and see for yourself, you can thank me later :)
This (nut free, raw, vegan) recipe makes 12 bars or 24 small squares
BOTTOM RICH CHOCOLATE LAYER:
FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:
In health & wellness, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Yes, I'm sure most of us feel a pang of distain, a shot of envy or a touch of grinch-like nastiness at some point over the holidays (which can be overcome through mindfulness btw...) BUT in this post I am referring to the sharp, pungent taste that many of us westerners are missing from our every day diet- especially during this sugar ridden season!
What many people don't know is that this particular taste can be the key to avoiding sugar comas, mood swings and general lethargy during the holidays- let me explain why!
When you have a sugar craving, it can mean several things- that you're thirsty, you need to sleep or relax OR that you need certain nutrients to give your body energy. Overall, if you give your body healthy nutrients throughout the day you shouldn't be craving sweets.
It comes down to biology- taste buds are bundles of nerve endings, and our bitter taste buds connect to the vagus nerve, which stimulates the functioning of the digestive organs. So by eating bitter foods you will improve digestion, therefore providing your body with more of the nutrients it may be missing, therby cutting down on cravings! Symptoms of a digestive system crying out for bitters include bloating, burping, flatulence and constipation. These symptoms in particular indicate low stomach-acid production. As we age, stomach-acid production drops and this inhibits absorption of nutrients such as protein, iron and vitamin B12- leading us to exhibit symptoms include peeling fingernails, dry lips, general fatigue and lethargy as well as an increased susceptibility to parasitic and fungal infections. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to be MINDFUL of the foods we are giving our bodies!
The problem with the holidays, as we health conscious folks already know, is that sweets are inevitably a part of the celebration. When we reach for sweets it starts a rollercoaster ride of quick highs and lows in our mood and energy, causing even more stress and tension in this already tightly wound season.
The solution? Make a conscious effort to eat more salad. Yes, leafy greens will provide a body satisfying bitterness that you are really craving and give you vital, powerful nutrients that your body is searching for!
Where to start? Try spinach. Kale, broccoli, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens and watercress are also amazing options. Try the winter greens salad recipe I've given you below as a test of this theory- the next time you're at home and have a sweet craving, have a serving of this salad instead of a cookie and probably within 15 minutes your craving will probably have subsided. Worth a shot right?
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Winter Greens Salad (serves 4-6)
1 large head kale, stalks removed and thinly sliced
1 ⁄2 head Swiss chard, stalks removed (save for soup!) and thinly sliced
1–2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped golden raisins (or pomegranate seeds)
1 ⁄2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Massage kale and Swiss chard with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp sea salt (to break down the fibers) for at least 2 minutes. Once the salad is wilted, toss in apple and raisins/pomegranate. In a separate bowl, toss the walnuts with thyme, 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and pepper. Toss the walnuts with the salad. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Preparing the first flat for jamming and freezing. So simple, just cut the green tops off (and any soft bits) and rinse! If freezing, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour before bagging so they don't stick together or burn.
What do I do if I can't make it to the beach or a lake on a beautiful sunny Sunday? I go to the Strawberry U-pick with my love and then proceed to process 24 pounds of strawberries! At least that's what I did on this particular Sunday.
Where I live we have the wonderful gift of being able to access locally grown, unsprayed fruit- and I intend to take full advantage of it! It takes a little time yes- but with good company and dancing tunes playing it becomes a lot of fun! Besides, I now have a ton of local, organic ( & CHEAP) strawberries in my freezer (to keep my rhubarb company) for making smoothies, salsa, and other deliciousness long after the season has passed! Strawberries don’t ripen after they’re picked. That’s why berries shipped from elsewhere can’t match the quality and taste of those locally grown. We went to Hick's Berry Patch, a family owned and operated U- pick in Midgic, NB. They're so friendly and have a fantastic crop- but the season is nearly over! If you're no where near Sackville, NB where I live, ask around at your local farmer's market for similar gems.
Strawberries deliver a ton of vitamin C and are a good source of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese, a mineral that maintains healthy bones and helps regulate blood sugar. Their also well know for having a many antioxidants- especially anthocyanins that may help dilate arteries and prevent the build-up of fatty plaque and protect brain cells by fighting free-radical damage and reducing inflammation.
In addition to freezing the berries whole, I also made some jam! Jamming takes me back to summer kitchen fun with my mama- I can't believe she used to make huge cauldrons full! However, she and most other jammers use a ton of refined sugar in the process- and anyone who knows me can hear me saying that this is a huge no no! Not only do you lose the flavour of the berries and gain a ton of calories, but the nutritional value becomes diminished. The solution? This magnificent pectin I've discovered! Pomona's Universal Pectin is amhaaazing- no sugar or preservatives plus super simple recipes for low sugar jams & jellies. My jam contains only berries, apple juice concentrate and pectin. So now, we can enjoy jam on pancakes, toast and in cocktails (yes cocktails) without the sugar guilt!
Does the fact that I'm a 27 year old jammer concern me? Not really. Being a young person who makes and preserves her own food makes me feel like a renegade! I save money, help my environment and local economy, have fun and stay healthy. And seriously, to make 11 jars of jam only took 4 hours - including picking a ton of berries, enjoying a scenic drive with my love, and waiting for those babies to pop (audibly) their lids. One morning to enjoy a treat- and share as presents- well into the winter (only because there are just two people in my house and I hid the bounty!)
I used 12 cups of strawberries, 2 cans of organic apple juice concentrate, 6 teaspoons of Pomona's pectin and 11 250 mL jars- which means this project cost me about $22 all said and done. $2 for homemade, local & organic jam? I'll take that :)
I really encourage you to get out and enjoy the summer's bounty however you can!
Only by decreasing the amount of chemicals and unnatural products we consume will we enjoy healthy minds and bodies and a healthier world for us all.
If you have your own recipes or tales of how you've become a food renegade please share them with me <3
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Some of us have big (or small) beautiful vegetable gardens. But did you know that you can grow green, crunchy food year round in your home? A few cups of sprouts can be produced with minimal effort in just a few days at a cost of a few pennies!
Major organizations including the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins University have reinforced the benefits of sprouts in prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases. They are conducting ongoing studies that explore various sprout varieties for their nutritional properties and to validate health claims. These tiny foods pack high levels of powerful phytochemicals that help to restore optimal health-and they’re so simple to grow!
All it involves is:
A 500 mL jar
sprouting seeds, beans or grains!
Seeds have historically been sprouted for several reasons. It improves digestibility, releases nutrients and removes anti-nutrients to enhance bioavailability of certain minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. By soaking seeds in warm water, they are tricked into thinking that conditions are right for germination and they will start to grow. Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and the sugars responsible for fermentation and intestinal gas production. So people who complain of GI distress after eating cooked grains/legumes may tolerate the sprouted varieties. Those seeds contain all of the vital fats, vitamins and minerals necessary to grow a plant to maturity, all packed into one delicious little package. Plus, once the cotyledons of the seeds turn green, you have the added antioxidant benefit of chlorophyll in every bite!
The basic process is this:
Soak seeds overnight (about 8 hours) in water. Place cheesecloth over the opening and secure with an elastic band.
Rinse seeds 2 times daily (morning and night while you’re at your kitchen sink), and allow them to drain via sprouting jar or in tilted bowl. You want the inverted jar to be tilted at least 60 degrees (nearly completely upright) to ensure no water sits in the jar.
Sprouts will be ready in 2 to 4 days, when sprout is ¼ inch and green leaves form.
Dry completely, and store in fridge for about 3 days.
Now this is important- seeds need to be rinsed and well aerated. If you neglect your sprouts for a couple days and they start to turn pink don’t eat them. This indicates that bad bacteria have started to take over your sprouts, and consuming them will do you harm. Also, raw kidney beans are never to be consumed. Ever. It can be deadly!
I make up a ‘garden mix’ that contains alfalfa, china rose (radish), broccoli, clover and mung beans (2 Tbsp seeds to a jar) and use these sprouts to enhance my salads, sandwiches and smoothies. Bean sprouts (1/2 cup per jar) can also be grown on their own to use in stirfrys. Buckwheat (2/3 cup per jar) can be sprouted easily and is great in recipes where you’d use oatmeal.
Sprouting seeds and beans should be bought local and organic whenever possible to ensure best quality. Speerville makes a seed mix that can be purchased on their website and at some stores. Georgia Barnwell of Cuisine for Life also sells sprouting seeds and other bulk offerings (including many of my fav superfoods!) If this is something you’d like to try but want to learn more first, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I also have a great sprouting chart with the amounts, yields and time to harvest of a variety of sproutables that I’d love to share with you!
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
If there is one thing that we should all have in our homes it is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). My Grandma told me about its benefits many years ago, and as I conduct my research it seems to be making a resurgence as a heal-all product!
Unpasteurized (raw) and unfiltered ACV is a fermented food that helps to balance your body’s pH level and acts as a probiotic in your gut. It also has incredible antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of ACV to 6-8 ounces of hot water with a teaspoon or 2 of honey and drinking it each morning will remove excess mucus from your body, cleansing your system and enhancing weight loss.
However- ACV also has some other interesting uses including:
Hair: rinse your locks with 1 Tbsp ACV & 1 cup water once a week to remove residue and boost shine
Face: Dilute ACV with water (1:2) and use as a toner to balance your skin’s pH and lighten age spots. Works just as well as an aftershave!
Teeth: If you can stand it- rub it directly onto your teeth to remove stains!
Sunburn & Windburn: add 1 cup of AVC to bath water and soak for 10 minutes
Cleaning: Mix 1/2 cup ACV with 1 cup water. This mix can be used to clean grime off of anything, and also works well as a disinfectant- try it in your kitchen or bathroom!
Flea Reduction: Rub toner dilution (1:2) onto pets skin, add some to their water, and spray their fur with ACV- all will help in repelling fleas!
I try to live my life as toxin free as possible- the world has enough toxins and carcinogens floating around without me adding them to my immediate vicinity! For this reason, I tend to follow the mantra: If I can’t eat it, I shouldn’t use it on my body or in my home. This also allows me to simplify my life- if you can help it don’t add to existing chaos right?
Boates Apple Cider Vinegar is locally produced, and can be purchased at the farmers market, health food stores and Superstore.
Thanks for reading, let’s talk soon!
Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
The World Health Organization has found that domestic and sexual violence affects 30 to 60 percent of women in most countries. Some women come out of these attacks stronger, some weaker, some determined to make change, some ashamed and unable to cope.
When I hear about specific cases of these attacks- these horrible acts- especially when they involve young women who had their whole lives ahead of them, I am so deeply saddened for them- and for human kind.
Rather than responding with anger to the weakness and foolishness of some people, I choose to respond with respect and affirmations of the fundamental worth and potential of all women everywhere.
I would like to share a prayer from Ms. Katherine Tyler Scott in the book Women's Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated.
I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love
I am caring and competent
vulnerable and powerful
physically, emotionally, and spiritually
I am a woman
reaching out to others
making a difference
and the world
I am empowering myself
to empower others
I am struggling to accept my anger
and use it to gain strength, confidence,
courage, and intimacy with others
I am a woman
who sees the interconnectedness of all human beings
who values the unique gifts of all
I am a woman
who leads and follows
who accepts responsibility for myself
and the choices I make
Yes, I am a woman
who sees each day as a new beginning
a chance to grow in self, love, and service
I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love
And I can be
All that I am
Another great workshop this morning- I'm so grateful! Cleanses are always so difficult to show up for- both mentally and physically- most of us naturally have a lot of resistance to change, because change is scary! So I am truly thankful that I got to see so many brave and lovely faces this morning :)
We had a big group-21 participants, all members of the Halifax Yoga community. It's always challenging to present to a wide demographic- mostly because everyone is coming from a unique place and a different level of healthy habits and knowledge. That being said, I think it went really well! (I hope my participants would agree). In my workshops, I try to share as much applicable knowledge as possible so that attendees will always find something that really speaks to them and that they can utilize immediately in their daily lives. I feel like having lots of options is the key to having successful transitions into more healthy habits. No one thing is going to work for everybody but there is something that will work for every one!
This weekend everyone is heading out to get their supplies- food, supplements, and other helpful tools (myself included!) I'm going to try to get most of my foods from the farmers market, as local sources are the best sources! I've also mentioned to all the omnivores that some great restaurants to visit while they're going veggie are Fruition at the Seaport Market, Heartwood on Quinpool, The Wooden Monkey downtown and on the darkside and EnVie at the Alderney Landing Market. So many delicious options to try! Fruition and EvVie also have take home options for those that want to eat well but are in a hurry!
Finally just a note on mindfulness. I felt somewhat like a broken record, but mindfulness exercises are so vital to the cleansing process- the physical toxins we remove are powerful, but the emotional and energetic toxins are that much more so. Anyone thinking of completing a cleanse should really pick out a journal (one that they like, that they'll use) because as I said today, it is one of the best tools you'll use during a detox. By recording foods, thoughts, feelings and other musings, you'll be better able to pin point your feelings and have more of an introspective journey through your cleanse. Plus it makes a great keepsake to look through to remind you of all the clarity you found while detoxing to help motivate you to do it again! If anyone would like to experiment with a food & mood journal, please let me know- I have a great template you could use! I've also implemented Reiki and EFT tapping into this workshop (as I do with all of them) because I think that by combining the modalities of nutrition and energy therapy make the final result that much better. I look forward to hearing how our cleanse group makes out with these new exercises!!
Anyway- excited to move forward with this group, and get started with my cleanse :)
Also super excited for my Nutritional Presentation at Kings College on the topic of Veganism and its implications to your Health, Budget, Global Society and Environment this coming Monday evening!
In health, Ariel
I just wanted to post a quick note of gratitude about the wonderful experience I had yesterday.
I had a seminar, Living Your Optimal Life, at Lea Place- A Women's Center in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia.
The space is incredibly welcoming, and there's a wealth of information everywhere you look pertaining to health and wellness. You can't help but pick up one of the great resources they have available- there really is something for everyone! The staff are so kind and helpful, it's no wonder they have a constant stream of people through. It really is a great way to link people together.
Now, my presentation yesterday specifically pertained to older ladies who may be feeling a bit stuck, and are looking to add some new skills and practices to their daily repertoire to liven things up and boost their mood & energy levels. We had a great turn out, and I really found the ladies to be so inspirational! They asked a ton of great questions and were completely open to trying the meditations and visualizations I introduced. They even all had a cup of detox tea- although some complained that it was a far cry from orange pekoe! We carry a stigma in our society that older people are completely stubborn and stuck in their ways- unwilling to try anything different. The group yesterday proved this to be SO wrong. The energy in the room was vibrant and I left feeling completely rejuvenated. I can't wait to go back in a couple weeks to do my Sugar Addiction seminar!
I am doing a similar presentation for a wider demographic for We Are One at the Berkley in Bedford this Tuesday evening and I hope it will be just as powerful! So much to look forward to :)
In health, Ariel