Not Another Model Salad + Creamy Cashew Dressing (Oil Free & Vegan)

Homer and Bart once said to a devoted vegetarian Lisa Simpson that “you don’t win friends with salad.”

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Courtesy of the internet.

Little did they know about this delicious salad recipe. (I like to pretend it’s one of Lisa’s go to favourites!)

A salad so simple, creamy and nutritious, it’s hard not to impress people (or at least your taste buds) with all of its glory.

And if you’re like me and absolutely crave a filling tossed salad, this recipe will become a staple in your cooking routine. Works perfectly as a side dish to a hearty entree or just as its own. This salad is very similar to my popular lemon tahini dressed kale salad. Which by the way, was an absolute hit on Facebook! 😀

In this case, I use cashews as the main base to achieve the creamy-ness and “milk-like” flavour. Cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are some of my favourite ingredients to use in the kitchen! Chop em, mash em, blend em, bake with em, these tiny yet powerful entities are so versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. (You can even make your own vegan “cheese” with cashews!) However, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t familiar with the health benefits of consuming them, and sometimes think twice about eating them because of their “high fat content” (which is mostly the healthy kind of fat). I’ve stressed many times in my blog about the importance of eating good healthy fats and incorporating cashews into your everyday diet is a great way of doing so.

Did you know that cashews come from trees? The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentaleis native to Brazil, where its fruit is considered a delicacy. Technically they’re not even nuts, rather a seed (or fruit) that comes from a tree that thrives in tropical climate. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese introduced them to India and a few African countries, where they now also are grown and produced. What we call the cashew nut is actually the seed of a fruit, very similar looking to a large bell pepper, that hangs off the cashew tree.

They’re typically sold shelled and roasted. If you do buy cashews labeled raw, they are not truly raw but instead gone through a process of steaming, light roasting or otherwise processed to remove its toxic oil. This toxic oil is found in the double shell that encases the raw cashew called anacardic acid, which is a poisonous oily substance that can trigger significant skin rashes, and can be toxic when ingested. Alike to the toxic compound that’s found in poison ivy and poison oak.

Despite its proneness to poison, this potent C shaped ‘nut’ is lauded for its substantial emporium of vitamins and nutrients. They’re deliciously rich in iron, phosphorus, niacin, selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium, you know – all that good stuff our bodies require! And like most nuts, cashews are an excellent source of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, flavanols, antioxidants, vitamin E and protein. Being cholesterol free and high in mono-unsaturated fats helps lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.

So before you crack open that big bag of cashews (for our recipe), please take a moment to value the hard work that went into them and the long expedition those beloved nuts took from the exotic tree to your hands!

And if we don’t win friends with salad, then dang-it…it just means more for us!!

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What you’ll need:

3/4 cup – 1 cup of preferably organic unsalted cashews (Using 1 cup will make your dressing creamier!)

1 cup of filtered water

1 1/2 Tbsp of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tbsp of lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)

1 garlic clove

Optional: 1 Tbsp of All Natural Dijon Mustard (if you like your dressing zesty and tangy!)

1/2 Tsp of black ground pepper

Soak cashews in warm filtered water for about 2-3 hours. If you have a high speed blender, Magic Bullet or Vitamix, then you can skip this step.

Blend all ingredients until you get a smooth and consistent dressing – start with just a 1/4 cup of water and add more as you blend until you reach a consistency that you like. The more water, the more of a dressing it will be. Use less water, you’ll have a thicker sauce like dressing. Adjust to taste.

Coat baby kale, chickpeas, chopped peppers, cucumbers and broccoli (or veggies of choice) in homemade dressing. Serve immediately. x

Healthy “Detox” Booster: Maca Apple Cider Drink [Let’s Talk About The D Word]

How many times have you heard someone blabbing about how badly they need to detox because of one too many bad lifestyle habits or choices?

Probably a lot.

It seems as if everyone is talking about detoxing these days. Or for the smarty pants out there, le detoxification process. Besides, who wouldn’t want to “cleanse” their insides of all the harsh chemicals, unnecessary fat and sugar they’ve put their body through? The D word is in the latest magazines, online fitness blogs and a popular term used among the health and wellness world. Sounds like to me that the word detox is like the word diet. 

Is detox the new diet? 

The most common detox method is the ever so popular juicing diet. Now, I’m not saying that I’m against it. In fact, I’m an advocate for drinking your greens, the only concern I have is when someone follows a trend without doing any research of their own beforehand. Personally, you can’t eat bad food and then go on a sporadic juice cleanse for a week and think you’ve ridden all of your toxins. Our bodies are machines. Smart ones at that. They know how to flush out the bad and use the good stuff for energy and sufficient living. However, we are responsible for providing it with what it needs so that our organs are able to do it properly and efficiently.

The “silly” thing you can do is go on a juice cleanse for a bit (which then your body might go through withdrawals) then start up again on your old food habits. This not only puts your body on a yo-yo ride but it can also lower you metabolism and potentially stress your body out. Our bodies expect food, our fuel. And when we go through strenuous points of ‘starving’ it, the metabolism and immune system can slowly get weaker. If you’re a very healthy eater, you’ll be able to “handle” the juice fast or cleanse much easier compared to someone who’s been eating a ton of processed and refined food their whole life. Don’t get me wrong – I think a juice cleanse is a great way to get your intake of veggies and increase vitamin and mineral intake which is beneficial for your overall health. Like any healthy diet, this shouldn’t be a treated like “medication” or a crash diet but instead as a sustainable lifestyle change. It’s not the easy way out! Your body will benefit a lot more from drinking green juices when supported with a healthy balanced diet.

Green juices are great for that extra “detox” boost and an excellent option for a healthy pick me up snack. For some, like this fella, it’s helped him lose a ton of weight which in turn would help him prevent future diseases and illnesses. While I don’t doubt that it has made some people feel amazing, personally, I don’t believe that it’s for everyone and should be an ongoing affair. Yes, you will lose weight – mostly water weight. And that alone will make you feel great. With the weight, you’ll also be losing muscle and fat. Then after the fast, you’ll most likely gain it back. Then what? Eat like crap and detox repeat? I myself haven’t tried the juice cleanse or fast partially because I’m quite a “clean eater” and I LOVE food. I don’t drink, smoke or eat processed foods and refined carbs and I eat a ton of vegetables throughout the day. These invisible “toxins” or the “nasties” in my body that I’m told I should get rid of through fasting is probably already taken care of from the help of my liver, kidneys and intestines. I’ve given those organs the right fuel it needs to do their job properly. I don’t need (and want) to push myself with a strict juice-only diet in order to eliminate the bad stuff. Plus, I love (and need) the fiber in veggies and fruits (from their skin) and only consuming juices wouldn’t allow me to have any of it. Isn’t fiber a good thing for healthy weight loss and management? Hmmm.

There are benefits to drinking juices. Drink them. Don’t fast or detox. If you do, make it a short session. Never starve yourself. Or, perhaps for a week, swap out a heavy meal with green juice (or smoothie!) instead? Refrain from restricting your body for weeks from other nutritious foods it requires. The best thing you can do for your body is to not deprive it of other essential nutrients. This is by eating a well-balanced diet, eating a ton of vegetables, well portioned meals and yes, drinking green juices! Okay, so what if you eat like crap and absolutely need to detox? Well, first, I recommend you consider detoxing like an elimination game. Optimize your gut function! Eliminate all of the bad food you eat and swap them out for healthier choices that are beneficial and doable. You can do this slowly as part of your healthy detox plan. First week, cut out sugary pops and beverages. Drink lots of filtered water and green juices. Drink lemon water in the morning instead of coffee. Second week, cut out processed foods such as take out food or anything that comes from a can or box. Eat home cooked prepared meals using whole grains, lots of vegetables and your choice of protein. Third week, cut out milk and dairy products. Opt for homemade almond milk or other non dairy milk products. More trouble-free ways to support detoxification: eating raw garlic and virgin coconut oil, taking zinc, probiotics, spirulina and chlorella, dry skin brushing, and doing yoga. This is a wholesome “detox” you can manage and can benefit from. The weight will shed off naturally and it’ll be done at a healthy, happy pace. Thus, you’ll be in a healthier, happy place. 🙂 Moderation and balance is the key – for everything!

What I’m about to share with you is one of my favourite “detox” drinks that’s both healthy and nourishing. This is not the next type of “Master Cleanse“. Remember that? Such a ridiculous diet! Like the title says, this is a healthy detox booster. It can be had in the morning before your breakfast, in the afternoon for a mid day pick me up or right before bed to aid with digestion. The ingredients are simple and the combination is perfect to soothe and coat your tummy. I’m sure you’ve learned from somewhere, or on my blog, about the benefits of these ingredients alone to assist in digestion, hormones, weight and pH levels. Now your body can profit from all the advantages in one cup with a just few sips of this warm medley.

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What you’ll need:

2-3 cups of water, boiled

1 organic cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp of organic cinnamon powder

1 tsp of maca powder

2 tsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp of organic apple cider vinegar

Combine all of the ingredients in your favourite mug (or jar in my case). Stir well. Add boiled water. Drink with bliss! x

Optional: a pinch of stevia to add some sweetness

#FoodExplorerFriday on FoodiePages!

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A #FoodExplorer is a person who loves to experience and experiment with the freshest, most delicious local foods they can get their hands on. They are notorious Foodies who always put their own delicious spin on a recipe or ingredient. This week’s Food Explorer of the week is vegan model blogger Charmaine San Pedro of Not Another Model Blog.

Read the full interview on FoodiePages website!

You can also find my Healthy Soy Free Vegan Scrambled Eggs recipe there too!

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Conscious Friday Favourite: So Delicious’ Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean Ice Cream [No Sugar Added!]

Summer is almost done in Toronto but that doesn’t mean we have to stop eating ice cream, does it? 😮

I think we all know the answer to that…

Practicing a healthy balanced vegan, wheat/gluten free, sugar free lifestyle generally makes some people’s eyebrows raise and mouths drop. Some feel “sorry” for me and some think I’m absolutely crazy. And then there are the ones that are truly supportive and admirable of my food values – and I thank you.

But since it’s summer, when it comes to ice cream and cold treats, my friends don’t understand why I choose to not participate in their Baskin Robins and Dairy Queen evening runs. For them, they think it’s absolutely absurd and depriving.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight! 

When I’m not making my own homemade ice cream or gelato, I rely on my happy relationship with So Delicious’ Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean No Sugar Added ice cream pint. Vegan, certified gluten free, and no sugar added. That’s right folks, no added sugar! I’ve only expressed how many times on my blog on the importance of cutting out refined sugars and sugar alcohols from our lives.

So Delicious makes a variety of dairy free products from coconut milk beverages to dairy free almond milk cultured yogurts and even a line of decadent rich dairy free frozen treats like this one! Not only are they all dairy and pretty much allergen friendly, but they use organic coconut milk to ensure we’re getting the best of the best. The Vanilla Bean flavour is absolutely so delicious that you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

Coconut milk is one of the best dairy alternatives out there on the market and provides loads of fiber, vitamins and good fats called medium chain saturated fats. It’s the perfect creamy base and has the ideal amount of sweetness from the vanilla bean and monk fruit sweetener. And with a serving of ice cream, I’m only having 1 gram of sugar 10 grams of dietary fiber. That’s healthy enough for me!

One of the ingredients some of their products contain that’s been getting a lot of attention is carrageenan. If you search it on google, there are hundreds of articles going into depth about this substance that causes inflammation and other risk benefits – especially when consumed in excess amounts. And since there were a lot of So Delicious fans out there that pleaded for this ingredient to be removed, they listened (because they’re so awesome at what they do!) and are now going forward with producing carrageenan-free products!

But that’s a whole different topic! Back to the ice cream…

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So yes, I can enjoy my summer with a nice cool delicious treat thanks to companies like So Delicious! The only difference is that mine is a much healthier alternative to those pesky commercialized ice creams that contain a whack load of lactose and no good for you sugars. (Sorry!) Balance can be a healthy path and doesn’t need to mean missing out of your favourite comfort foods. It just means finding the best of the best for your body – and enjoying it too!

Here’s one of my favourite mixtures that add a bit of oomph and an extra boast of anti-oxidants and Omega 3s:

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1 serving of So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – NO Sugar Added

A dash of organic cinnamon

1 tsp of organic matcha powder – only buy the best ‘grassy’ grade otherwise it can be very bitter!

Organic chia seeds

Optional: A friendly gnome

Enjoy x

Raw Green Alkaline Detox Blend – pH Balancer

Detoxify with one of my go to delicious and alkalizing raw, green blend. You can have it in the morning or as a mid day snack to fuel up. Having an alkaline environment inside your body helps its systems operate optimally and efficiently. Since the ingredients are blended not juiced, you’ll be happy to know that it’s loaded with fiber that helps to cleanse and rid the body of toxins it doesn’t need. Drinking blends and juices will flood the body with necessary vitamins, minerals and active enzymes. While using very little amounts of energy to soak up these essential building blocks, it allows your body to rebuild, restart and heal naturally. It is an easy and effective way to hit the reset button on your body and restore balance. It’s also one of the most delicious ways too!

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Ingredients you’ll need (try to use organic and local if possible):

2-3 stalks of kale

Handful of baby spinach

1/2 cucumber

1 green apple (I use green gala apples!)

1/2 cup of parsley

1/2 cup of unsweetened natural coconut water

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of ice

1/4 teaspoon of grated ginger

1 lemon squeeze

1 heaping teaspoon of blue-green algae powder (I like SunFood’s Green Superfood Sun is Shining)

Optional add ons: 2 slices of honeydew melon (I try to keep the sugar levels down and I don’t like mixing too much fruit with my veggies), 1 tsp of spirulina, chia seeds

Blend all of the ingredients for 60-90 seconds depending on the strength of your blender. Stop until you reached the desired consistency.

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