Blackberry Maca Smoothie Bowl


It’s officially spring! The warmer weather today inspired me to make a bright, bold smoothie bowl. I’ve been meaning to try maca root powder for some time now. I like to read about so called “superfoods” and look for evidence based studies in scientific journals before trying them out. I’ve read that maca root, which is grown in the Andes mountains in Peru,  was consumed by the Incas because it was thought to balance hormones, increase energy, and also help with fertility and libido. Maca has also been touted as a phyto-adaptogen. Phyto-adaptogens are plant based substances that are thought to help the body respond to stress. One evidence based human study suggests that maca may improve libido in women treated with antidepressants. This study attempts to follow more rigorous scientific study methods such as double blinding but is very limited by the small number of patients enrolled and lack of objective measures. Human studies in men have not clearly demonstrated an improvement in fertility. Most human studies of maca root do not meet rigorous scientific standards because of the very small number of patients studied. Maca is being studied further regarding its effects on fertility and libido in men and women. Maca is not particularly high in protein, fiber, or vitamins (according to the nutrition information on the package). It does have a pleasant, sweet, nutty fragrance and taste and is great in smoothies and smoothie bowls. You can try out maca powder using my smoothie bowl recipe or you can also try about 1-3 tsp in your favorite smoothie, tea, or yogurt. I found vegan, gluten free, non-gmo maca powder at Whole Foods Market for about $16 but you can also find it online.

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Maca Root Powder

Blackberry Maca Smoothie Bowl

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 sliced, frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla vegan protein powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • toppings such as fresh fruit, raw coconut, cacao nibs, chia seeds (optional)

Directions


Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend on low speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of the blender as needed. Top with your favorite toppings and serve immediately.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per Smoothie Bowl: 365 cal



References:

  1. Dording et al. A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Maca Root as Treatment for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction in Women; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2015, Article ID 949036, 9 pages
  2. Shin et al. Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review; BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:44

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Chai Spice Pancakes (vegan)

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I made these pancakes for brunch this weekend and they were a big hit! My entire house smelled like delicious Chai tea. I was craving Chai tea this weekend which inspired me to make pancakes with the same flavors that are in it. Chai is traditional Indian tea that is served in certain parts of India. It’s black tea brewed with milk and multiple spices and served very hot. There are lots of different versions of Chai which you’ll find at coffee shops or in the grocery store. These are typically a lot sweeter and milkier than traditional Chai tea. The spices also vary quite a bit. These pancakes were light, springy, and not dry at all. These are all of the qualities I look for in a good pancake recipe. I tend to make my pancakes a bit smaller and thinner (I use about a 1/4 cup of batter). The nice part about this recipe is that you can adjust it to your preference by adding more or less water. You can also make it sweeter by adding more agave syrup to the batter. If you’re gluten free, you will need to add another 1/4 cup of water to thin the batter since gluten free flour tends to be a little thicker. Let me know if you give this recipe a try by taking a picture and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram!

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Chai Spice Pancakes (vegan)

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 flax egg (combine 1 tbs flaxseed powder with 3 tbs water; wait 10 minutes before using)
  • 2-4 tbs water
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • olive oil spray or vegan butter to grease pan
  • fresh fruit (optional topping)
  • maple syrup (optional topping)
  • powdered sugar (optional topping)

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir in almond milk, flax egg, agave syrup, and coconut oil. Add 2-4 tbs water if batter is too thick. Stir until large lumps disappear and batter reaches the consistency you prefer. Heat a medium-large frying pan or skillet on low heat. Grease pan with olive oil or vegan butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter in center of pan and cook until edges start to turn darker and small bubbles appear (about 3 minutes). Flip pancake with a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Top with fresh fruit, organic powdered sugar, and maple syrup and serve immediately. Makes 6 pancakes.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per pancake: 127 cal

 

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Avocado Spirulina Protein Smoothie Bowl (vegan, gluten free)


Have you ever heard of Spirulina or had it in a smoothie and wondered what it is? Spirulina is actually a type of algae that is found in some bodies of water naturally. It has a very dark green color and a pungent odor. Spirulina is touted as being nutrient dense and rich in anti-oxidants. It’s thought of as a ‘superfood’ because it’s high in protein, iron, vitamin A, and B vitamins. I’ve found that 1 to 2 teaspoons in a smoothie is almost odorless and doesn’t change the flavor of my smoothie bowl much. A teaspoon contains about 2g of protein, 100% of your daily vitamin A, and about 11% of your daily iron requirement. There are lots of other claims regarding Spirulina’s potential health benefits which have not been well studied. Some studies claim that it may help improve the symptoms of chronic fatigue, lower cholesterol, and reduce nasal allergy symptoms. The only studies I could find regarding this algae did not necessarily meet the rigorous scientific standards typically sought after to prove these types of health benefits. There are also some reports that Spirulina can worsen certain auto-immune conditions or interfere with blood thinners. Spirulina is thought to be safe for most adults but if you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, have a blood clotting disorder, or are on immune suppressants or blood thinners, it’s best to avoid it altogether or check with you doctor first. It’s also not recommended for children. In my experience, Spirulina is best used in small quantities in smoothies to add a nutrient boost and that vibrant green color. I found mine at Whole Foods in Chicago for about $14. It’s also available on Amazon or by clicking here. This colorful smoothie bowl is creamy, delicious, and energizing. Make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make it!

Avocado Spirulina Protein Smoothie Bowl (vegan, gluten free)

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 sliced and frozen banana
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder (such as LivWell Nutrition’s protein powder)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp spirulina powder
  • 1 tbs raw shredded coconut for topping (optional)
  • 1/4 fresh fruit for topping (optional)

Directions


Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Stop blender as needed to scrape down sides. Scoop into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, raw shredded coconut, or any of your favorite toppings. Serves 1.

Nutrition Information (without toppings):

  • Approximate Calories per Serving: 404 cal
  • Approximate Protein per Serving: 22g


1 Organic Spirulina Powder, Purest Source & Maximum Nutrient Density, Vegan Protein, USDA Certified, FREE Recipe Book! …

 

References:

  1. Cellular and Molecular Immunology. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. (2011) Vol. 8, pp. 248-254
  2. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Microalgae: a novel ingredient in nutrition. (2011) Vol. 62, pp. 794-799.
  3. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications. (2008) Vol. 2011

Calming Green Protein Smoothie

If you’re looking for a “go to” smoothie to make every morning – this is it! This smoothie is high in plant based protein and fiber and also contains calming turmeric. The cardamom adds delicious and fragrant flavor while the ginger adds a little kick. You can sneak in a serving of spinach as well as 18 grams of protein with this delicious smoothie. It’s filling and won’t make you crash later because there’s no refined sugar in it. I use protein powder from Livwell Nutrition because it’s plant based and raw. I like to have non-soy protein options and prefer this protein powder because it’s soy free and minimally processed. I’m also a fan of Vega protein powder which is easily found at stores like Whole Foods and Target. LivWell Nutrition protein powder can be found here – you can use the code “EPICUREAN” to get a 10% discount.


Calming Green Protein Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup frozen sliced bananas
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder (such as LivWell Nutrition brand)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs raw shredded coconut (optional for topping)

Directions


Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Top with shredded coconut and serve cold.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per serving: 206 cal
  • Approximate protein per serving: 18g
  • Approximate fiber per serving: 6g
  • Approximate fat per serving: 7g
  • Approximate carbs per serving: 24g

Gingerbread Overnight Oats

What could be better than waking up on a cold winter morning to the warm flavors of gingerbread? This recipe is so easy that anyone can make and enjoy it. It could almost be eaten for dessert. These overnight oats are decadent and thick because of the molasses. They taste like homemade gingerbread cookies. You can find the recipe for Gingerbread spice in my last post. The sweet and spicy fragrance of this oatmeal is enough to get anyone out of bed. The chia seeds keep you full and add fiber and omega 3’s. I’m all for having a warm, sweet breakfast every now and then during the holiday season. I like to make overnight oats in a mason jar so that I can grab them and go if needed. If you don’t have molasses, you can substitute maple syrup instead. Don’t forget to take a pic and tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make them!

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Gingerbread Overnight Oats

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 cups light coconut milk (may substitute with any nut milk)
  • 1 tbs molasses (unsulphured)
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp Gingerbread Spice (see previous recipe)

Directions


In a medium sized bowl whisk together coconut milk, molasses, agave syrup, vanilla extract, and Gingerbread spice. Next add oats and chia seeds and whisk vigorously. Pour evenly into 2 mason jars and refrigerate overnight, covered. Makes 2, 1 cup servings.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per serving: 450 cal

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Pumpkin Oat Bars

    It’s almost Halloween! I can’t believe how quickly 2016 has gone by. Last week, I was in London, Paris, Lucerne, and Barcelona. It was a whirlwind trip but so much fun. Our hotel in London was having a costume party on our last night… it made me miss home! Dressing up on Halloween has always been a favorite activity of mine. My sister and i have dressed up as Star Trek characters, Venus and Serena Williams, and goth biker chics (don’t ask!). Those were fun times! October is all about pumpkin. This is my second pumpkin recipe – I had to give these away to avoid eating them all! They’re moist, chewy, and full of warm pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and wholesome oats. I buy pumpkin spice from the spice aisle of the grocery store. It’s mixed in all the right proportions with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg… the smell is so enticing. These bars make a great breakfast or snack. Let me know how they turn out by tagging @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!


    Pumpkin Oat Bars

    • Servings: 9
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print


    Ingredients

    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
    • 1.5 cups all purpose flour (gluten free if desired)
    • 2 flax eggs  (whisk together 2 tbs flax powder in 6 tbs water and let sit for 10 minutes)
    • 1/4 cup almond milk
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup muscovado or coconut sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1.5 tsp pumpkin spice
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans plus 9 whole pecans to top

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with olive oil spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, oil, almond milk, sugar, flax eggs, and vanilla extract on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Next, mix in flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in chopped pecans. Pour mixture evenly into baking pan. Bake at 350F for 24-25 minutes (a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean). Let cool for 20 minutes. Cut into 9 squares and top each square with one whole pecan.

    Nutrition Information:

    • Approximate Calories per Square: 221 cal



    Wilton Recipe Right Square 9 by 9 Inch Covered Pan

    KitchenAid KSM75WH Classic Plus Series 4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, White