Recipes Archives - Meg Sylvester

How To Perform Your Very Own Sacred Cacao Ceremony

When you think of chocolate what images come up? Pretty boxes tied with ribbons, a naughty treat, or perhaps a gift from a loved one?

How about an ancient mystical plant medicine, that channels the divine and helps us connect with our highest Self?!

It’s a little far removed from a Hershey bar right?

Surprisingly, chocolate, or rather Theobroma Cacao actually means “food for the Gods”, and has been used as a plant medicine for over 4000 years.

It’s believed that Cacao is an ancient gift from Mother Earth, to help guide us, release old wounds, and ultimately bring us into a state of love and deep spiritual communion.

Happiness is our birthright, and Cacao is a wonderful tool to help us raise our vibration, and move into a place of divine alignment. This is the space from which we can heal old wounds, set intentions, and manifest our desires.

Think bliss, love, joy, flow and FUN!

Cacao also has a very feminine energy, helping us to bring our masculine into balance and become vessels for the divine feminine.

When you work with any plant medicines, it’s wise to do so in ceremony and treat them with respect.

Plant medicines are not just substances that we take to feel good; they are spirits, each with their own consciousness, gifts, and healing powers.

I like to think of them as elevated beings, ready to bestow their wisdom on those who seek it. In the same way you would approach any shaman or spiritual teacher, reverence and humility is key.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun with Cacao. Ceremonial garb, feathers, beads, crystals, and witchy friends welcome!..

Just keep in mind that Cacao is a spirit, and when seeking connection with it, it’s important to do so with respect.

If you would like to open your heart, raise your vibration, and harmonize your energies, why not create your own sacred Cacao ceremony with these 5 simple steps.

1. Set and Setting

Make sure to source high quality Cacao to create your elixir. Then decide whether you would like to perform your ceremony alone, or with friends.

I’ve done both, and while drinking alone can facilitate very deep healing and introspection, I also love the high vibrational energy that comes from joining together in a group of soul sisters.

If you’re in a group, it’s nice to start off by sitting in a circle. As the host you’ll have the Cacao drink set out in front of you, perhaps on a mini altar you’ve laid out just for this purpose.

I like to spread out a small rug, and set upon it my favorite crystals, personal totems, and anything that brings me joy. I’ll also invite my soul sisters beforehand to bring anything they’d like to add, so that it’s a collective offering.

2. Set an Intention

To receive the most from your ceremony it’s wise to set an intention.

This could be on an old wound that you would like to heal and integrate, a desire that you would like to call in, a deepening of your connection to Source or a specific side of yourself.. or even just to raise your vibration.

If in doubt, focusing on the feelings of bliss, ecstasy, joy, and love is a fantastic intention to set for ceremony.

When you’re ready to begin ask each person, one by one, to sit in front of the altar. As the host you now pour them a cup of the elixir, and hand it to them.

Before they drink, invite them to meditate upon their intention for the ceremony, drink the medicine, and return to their seat.

So it goes round, each person connecting with their intention, while everyone holds space and supports them. This in itself is such a beautiful practice!

3. Play Music

Music is a great accompaniment to Cacao.

Not only does it help to raise the vibration of the ceremony, but it also helps to focus the intention inward, and protect the space from any outside energies.

I personally love sacred drumming, chanting; or just a good rhythm to help carry the movements.

If you’re feeling stuck, there’s lots of ceremonial music you can find online – as long as it’s rhythmic, you’re good to go!

4. Dance & Movement

Allow the music to grow in Intensity, then dance, move, have fun and let go.

You’ve set your intention, and now it’s time to surrender to the medicine. Let go, and express whatever wants to come through. This is your own personal space to allow the Cacao to work through you.

Don’t worry about what people might think.. the more we dive deeper into the medicine and express ourselves authentically, the more we allow others to do the same.

While you move, hold space for your intention, and recognize the wisdom of Mother Earth coursing through your body.

The spiritual path doesn’t have to mean you are constantly focused on releasing or healing. It’s equally important to simply have fun, to admit to yourself that sometimes you are actually OK!

Treat these ceremonies as a celebration. How would you feel and act if your intention for the ceremony was realized?

Allow this gift to flow through you, and surrender to the feeling of having your wish fulfilled. Follow the dance of Cacao into that place, and let go.

5. Share & Close

Once the ceremony has come to a natural end, and the medicine has worked it’s magic, I like to return to the circle and collectively hold space for anyone who would like to share their experience.

There may be tears, laughter, internal transformations, sparks of divine insight.. or just that beautiful afterglow that we’ve learned to know and love.

Either way, snacks and hugs are a great final close to the ceremony! 🙂

I really hope you enjoy yours, and please get in touch with me to let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about how the magic of Cacao has touched you personally!

Join My Cacao Ceremony

I will be a hosting a Cacao Ceremony during the Goddess Within retreat in Panama happening April 7-12, 2019. There is still room available.

Learn more or sign up here.

Cacao Elixir: Healthy, Indulgent, Delicious.

Cacao Elixir, mmmmm. Say it again. Cacao Elixir. Yes, oh yes. Even the name sounds indulgent and delicious. But did you know that cocoa also has tons of health benefits? Today I am serving up a recipe to battle the sweet tooth while packing a healthy punch of flavonoids, antioxidants, and mood boosting ingredients.

 You know those days when the sweet tooth is real? When your brain has one single repetitive focus, and that focus is on the almighty chocolate? You know those days, right? Sometimes it’s stress related, sometimes hormonal. But whatever the reason, chocolat always seems to  do the trick.

I’ve combined some of my favorite healthy ingredients to give you the perfect, indulgent answer to your chocolate craving that is totally supportive to your health and wellness goals.

 

This Cacao Elixir combines the health benefits of MCT oil with nutrient packed maple syrup. But as a bonus, it also acts as a perfect pick-me-up with coffee as the base (you can substitute with chamomile tea or decaf coffee if you’re wanting it for bed-time).

A couple of facts that make this drink a true elixir:

  • Cacao has been proven to be an amazing source of magnesium. Magnesium.  is associated with healthy blood pressure, lower risk of cardio vascular disease, a healthy nervous system, and lower risk of diabetes (Volpe, 2014)….score!!
  • The flavonoids found in cacao help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.
  • Maple syrup is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, making it a much healthier choice than other sweeteners.  The medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology revealed that pure maple syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants. According to my man, Dr Axe These antioxidants are beneficial for reducing free radical damage that can cause inflammation and contribute to the formation of various chronic diseases.
  • MCT oil adds a yummy coconut undertone to the elixir. “MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that have loads of healthy benefits ranging from weight management to improve cognitive functioning. A few other benefits include increased focus and energy levels. Increased metabolism and less mood swings can also be expected from normal consumption of MCT’s.

With all of the health advantages of this treat, it really is a true elixir. So next time you find yourself reaching for a candy bar or a treat loaded with processed sugar make this Cacao Elixir instead!

 

This drink is best enjoyed blended rather than stirred. I recently bought this handy dandy hand mixer and love it. It’s perfect for small batch drinks like this and your regular morning bullet coffee. Makes you feel super fancy pants.

To make this Cacao Elixir combine the following ingredients in your coffee mug then blend with a hand mixer (or in a blender)

 

1 10-oz cup of black coffee

1 to 1.5 heaping tsp raw, organic cacao powder

1 tsp organic maple syrup

1 tsp MCT oil

 

Blend, Sip, Indulge, and enjoy the good vibes.

 

For a real treat try this Elixir with this plantain recipe

 

 

Meg Sylvester is a Spiritual Life Coach who combines the science of functional medicine with metaphysical principles to help her clients release their blocks to well-being. She empowers her clients with tools, strategies and guidance so that they can connect to the health, vitality and well-being they desire. To learn more about how you can work with Meg click here.

The Healthy Gal’s “Oreo”

Several months ago, I did a Facebook Live on how to bust the after dinner sweet tooth. One of my go-to’s is this “Oreo” that’s packed with sweetness without the refined sugar and yucky ingredients. Packing a healthy punch with minerals like magnesium, this quick fix is sure to satiate your sweet tooth.

All you need is a date fruit and a tablespoon of almond butter (preferably a kind with no added sugar or sweeteners – I love Justin’s Brand)

Simply slice open the date and add a scoop of almond butter in between to create the perfect, sweet-tooth stating snack ever.

Not only does this quick snack nix the sweet tooth, it also hooks you up with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and protein (protein comes from the almond butter).

According to Organcifacts.net, “The benefits of dates include relief from constipation, intestinal disorders, heart problems, anemia, sexual dysfunctions, diarrhea, abdominal cancer, and many other conditions. Dates also help for a healthy weight gain. They are rich in several vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These delicious fruitscontain oil, calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium, which are all beneficial for health. Some health specialists have said that eating one date per day is necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.”

So next time you’re feeling the urge to grab a handful of sugary snacks, make yourself the healthy gal’s “oreo” and know you’re doing a body good!

Carrot & Veggie Soup

This Carrot & Veggie Soup comes from a lovely ranch in La Fortuna, Costa Rica called Ranchot Margot.

Rancho Margot is a jewel of a place plopped into the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. I spent several days as a guest at a this completely self-sufficient farm and ate this carrot & veggie soup every single day for lunch (and sometimes dinner). This place was amazing. The food that was served was cooked in-house with all ingredients coming straight from the property. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were beautiful displays of natural colors and textures that came straight from Mother Earth.

On my last night there, it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked for any recipes. I wanted to take home a recipe that was straightforward, simple, and nourishing (so, basically everything they cooked).

Seeing as though I was obsessed with the Carrot & Veggie soup, I asked for that recipe. They were so sweet, and so excited to share the goodness.

If you ever get a chance to go to Costa Rica, I can not recommend Rancho Margot (and their Carrot & Veggie soup!) enough. You are off the grid, surrounded by nature, no wifi in the bungalows, and in really amazing company.

This Carrot & veggie Soup is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner as it has a very mid flavor and is ultra nourishing with the vitamins and minerals from the carrots, potatoes, and garlic.  You can sip on this straight from a big, old coffee mug too – perfect for cold days when you just want something warm.

 

Rancho Margot’s Carrot & Veggie Soup:

1 lb carrots – peeled, roughly chopped

¼ lb onion – peeled, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic – peeled

2 capfuls of olive oil

¼ lb potatoes – peeled, roughly chopped

1/3 sweet pepper – seeded and chopped.

 

For the Garnish (optional):

Roasted pumpkin seeds & chives

 

What to do:

Cover all ingredients with water.

Season with Salt, Pepper, and whatever other seasonings you desire!

Bring to a boil.

Turn down heat and simmer for about an hour

Once soft, pour all contents into a blender and blend. (you may have to do in batches).

*Do not fill blender to the top, as hot liquid expands and you may end up burning your hand.*

Pour into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds and chives.

Healthy and Healing Chicken Soup

Who doesn’t love a good healing and hearty pot of chicken soup when it’s cold out? Seeing as though we are in the midst of  snow-day season, cold & flu season, and sweater season, I thought I’d cook up a fresh pot of delicious chicken soup and share it with you guys. This recipe is super easy, gluten free, dairy free, and full of healing and nourishing veggies. Stay warm as you slurp up and enjoy this chicken soup!

Ingredients:

4 quarts chicken stock

avocado oil

1 whole white onion – chopped

1 bunch green onion – chopped

2 TBS chopped and peeled garlic cloved

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 carrots peeled and chopped

1 whole celery root – peeled and chopped

cajun seasoning

2 bay leaves

 

For Garnish (optional) 

Avocado Slices

Parsley

 

What to do:

In a large pot, brown chicken in avocado oil and cajun seasoning (just enough to coat the chicken). Add in all veggies and sauté until onions are clear. Add in chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer until carrots are soft – the longer you can let it cook the better! Should be done in about 45 minutes but try and go a little longer to get a richer flavor.

Garnish with fresh avocado slices and/or chopped parsley.

 

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy healing chicken soup!

Sweet Potato Cakes

These Sweet Potato Cakes were literally the easiest recipe I have cooked up in a while. I like cooking sweet potatoes for two reasons:

  • If you’re feeling up in the air or swirly whirly, eating a root vegetable is great way to bring in a sense of grounding
  • Um, and reason number two… if you’re feeling a hungry a root vegetable is a great way to bring in a sense of feeling not hungry. (I’m hilarious, I know)

So if you’re in a mood for something warm and comforting with a hint of sweetness, try this sweet potato cake recipe out. Or if you’re like me and you get a copious amount of sweet potatoes in your farm delivery box, this’ll be a great go-to for you. And bonus…my kids loved them because I kept using the word CAKE. tricky tricky.  

 

 

Here’s what you need:  (for a family of four)

  • 1 very large sweet potato
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
  • Ghee or Grass-Fed Butter
  • Parchment Paper

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 400, then line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Rub dry potatoes with paper towel to remove dirt.
  • Slice unpeeled Potatoes in large circular sections (as pictured above)
  • Heat coconut oil in heavy skillet on medium heat.
  • Once oil liquifies, place unseasoned potato slices in hot pan.
  • As they are cooking season with seasonings.
  • Sear on each side for 3 minutes. It’s ok if you see dark spots pop up on potatoes from the sear. They aren’t burnt (their just getting yummy for you)
  • Use tongs to transfer sweet potatoes to the pan then place in oven
  • Cook sweet potatoes for 12-15 minutes.
  •         Remove from oven then put a teensy bit of ghee or grass-fed butter on top.
  • Once butter is melted serve right away!

 

The leftovers also work really well for breakfast with a boiled or over-easy egg!

 

Hope you enjoy this super simple yet super healthy recipe for Sweet Potato Cakes.

 

For other easy and healthy veggie recipes; check these out:

Healthy Collard Greens

Cauliflower Whipped “Potatoes”

Heart Warming Plantains

 

 

 

 

Pan Seared Red Snapper, Plantains, and Bok Choy

Red snapper, plantains and bok choy. OK, OK, I hear what you’re saying….this might sound like a weird combo, but I am telling you…it’s soooooo good! Just give it a try and let me know what you think. This is a nutrient packed plate of food. You’re getting proteins, healthy fats, micronutrients, and fiber. Plus tons of flavor. I hope you enjoy!!

This recipe is for one (pretty hungry) person. So just increase the amount of each ingredient as needed

 

Ingredients:

1 whole plantain – peeled and cut into spears

Coconut oil

2 baby bok choy – separated into leaves

Coco Aminos

Black Pepper & Salt

Olive Oil

Celery Root – use a vegetable peeler to create shavings, about 1/2 cup worth (use veggie peeler to remove hard outer layer first).

1 6-8 oz Red Snapper fillet

Smoked sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder

Squeeze of lemon

1 tsp minced garlic

 

How to:

fry plantain in coconut oil on medium/low until golden brown

cook bok choy in pot with 2 oz water, coco aminos, black pepper, until soft

heat olive oil in pan, once hot, throw in shaved celery root. Season with garlic powder, black pepper, dash of salt and cook until they look like chips, remove

season snapper in smoked sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder

Using the same pan you used for the celery root, heat olive oil on medium/low, once oil has heated up a bit add snapper flesh side down (make sure not to get pan too hot or fish will stick). add lemon and garlic. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. flip, cook for another 4 minutes or so paying attention to the color of the fish.

When ready to take off, turn up the heat just a bit with scales down so the scales stick to the pan, making it easier to peel the flesh away from the scaled.

Put snapper on top of bok choy in the plate, top snapper with celery root chips, put plantains on the side. According to my husband, this dish is “f’n good!” 😉

 

Curious to learn how to incorporate healthy meals into your home! I am here to help – send me a message by clicking here and let me know how I can help you!

 

 

Thanksgiving Leftover Wrap

This Thanksgiving Leftover Wrap is the perfect way to eat all of that leftover turkey without having to break out the elastic waistbands (2 days in a row). When I was a kid our typical thanksgiving left over was a white bread sandwich with mayo and big chunks of turkey. This is my grown-up, health coach version of that. This time of year is a time meant to be spent with family and friends, so I wanted to do something that didn’t require a bunch of time in the kitchen. As with all of my recipes, this dish is minimal effort, minimal ingredients, tasty, but still friendly to your insides.

Hope you enjoy this thanksgiving leftover wrap!

 

Here’s what you need: (No need for exact measurements, it’s just a wrap…eyeball it!)

Left over turkey – use two forks to shred

Collard Green Leaves – raw and rinsed (if you don’t have collard greens, romaine lettuce will do!)

Avocado Oil Mayo (I like Chosen Foods brand) OR sliced Avocado

Purple Onion – very thinly sliced, lengthwise

Tomato (optional) – thinly sliced

 

Here’s what you do:

Chop bottom stem off of one collard green leaf.

Spread Mayo on collard green – one thin layer will do. OR if you are using avocado slices, place two slices then squish and spread (it’s OK if it’s still chunky)

Place shredded turkey on top

Add in thinly sliced onions  and tomatoes

Roll the leaf then slice on a diagonal creating two pieces.

Enjoy!!

 

  • Ready to take create a life you love, a body you feel great in, and a mind that motivates? Get a head start on making 2018 your happiest year yet. I offer private, 1:1 coaching to get you where YOU want to be. Curious to learn more, Message Me (click here). Give me the scoop on what’s been holding you back.

 

Healthy Collard Greens

Healthy collard greens are an easy addition to any meal -especially Thanksgiving with all the stuffing and root veggies. There’s typically not a ton of green options included in the Thanksgiving spread, so these healthy collard greens are perfect for those who want a healthy option to reach for.

I  made these the other night with my cauliflower mashed potatoes and a rotisserie chicken. It was a perfect, wholesome and nurturing meal. Plus the collard greens are super easy to make, so that’s a win in my book!

The bone broth adds a nice rich flavor that I prefer over ham hocks and turkey legs used in traditional recipes.

Ingredients for Healthy Collard Greens:

Two Bunches of Collard Greens (for 4 people)

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS minced Garlic

1 red onion – sliced thinly and lengthwise

1 1/2 cup of Bone Broth (chicken or turkey)

2 tsp chipotle powder (optional for smoky flavor)

Salt & Pepper

Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Instructions:

Prepare Collard Green by removing the stems. I stack them up on top each other then slice the whole lot on each side of the stem, giving me two separate stacks. Then slice the greens in  1 inch horizontal ribbons.

Heat heavy dutch oven pot large enough to accommodate all greens (I love this pot!)  on medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil begins to glisten add in garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add in onion and sautéed for about 3 minutes until onions become very soft.

Add in greens, stock, chipotle powder (for smoky flavor), and salt & pepper.

Turn heat to low/medium and cover.

Right before serving add 2 capfuls of apple cider vinegar to the greens.

I hope you enjoy these healthy collard greens! Have a happy and joyful holiday season!

 

Cauliflower “Whipped Potatoes”

Cauliflower Mashed potatoes are something I’m asked about all the time when it comes to recipes that are easier on the waist line. As a side note; potatoes themselves are not “bad”. The are a great form of a slow release carb full of nutrients. However, there are times when we don’t want all those carbs and can opt for something with a lower glycemic load that still tastes good – Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are perfect for that!

I love using cauliflower to replace foods like rice and potatoes when I still want the texture and similar flavor profile. I made these whipped cauliflower potatoes the other night and paired them with pulled rotisserie chicken and my healthy collard greens recipe. Wholesome, soul-warming dinner without the “soul food” calorie count. I call them whipped rather than mashed because I put these in the food processor to get them really smooth. However, if it’s the mashed potato style you’re after, you can make cauliflower mashed potatoes by following the same recipe below, but rather than transfer into a processor, transfer back into the empty hot pot you boiled them in and mash with a potato masher or fork 🙂

Try these Cauliflower whipped potatoes or cauliflower mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving or next time you have a meal with lots of carb heavy foods. It’s also super easy with minimal ingredients, so you can enjoy yourself with friends and family rather than spending all of your time in the kitchen!

Ingredients

2 bags riced cauliflower (or you can rice 1.5 heads)

1/5 TBS minced garlic

2 TBS grass-fed butter or ghee

Thinly sliced chives for garnish

Salt & Pepper

What do to:

Boil riced cauliflower in water until it is soft (about 12 minutes)

Drain boiled cauliflower then transfer to a food processor.

Add butter, minced garlic, and salt & pepper.

Blend together in processes until cauliflower resembles whipped potatoes. (about 30 seconds to a minute should be good)

Transfer Whipped Cauliflower to a serving Bowl and sprinkle with chives.

 

SEE, told you it was easy!!! I hope you enjoy these Cauliflower mashed potatoes!

Heart Warming Plantains

Not only is this plantain recipe ridiculously simple, it’s delicious. Sometimes we get into the habit of over complicating a dish. Adding in all sorts of ingredients that eventually outshine the main ingredient. This plantain recipe doesn’t do that. It let’s the plantain sing for itself. My point in offering this recipe is to demonstrate how simple healthy cooking can be. Sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out the right cook temp and time!

I think it’s so important to have an array of easy, go-to healthy dishes that make you feel happy. Did you know plantains are an amazing super food loaded with fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, and help boost your immune system? The are a great food to eat during cold & flu season because they help regulate your digestive system (yay fiber) and have tons of Vitamin C. Check out this super simple, and crazy good, plantain recipe. You can use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are also a great healthy food to add to any holiday spread (especially good for a healthy option dessert).

So next time you are hankering for something sweet, or need to whip up something quickly try this recipe. If you bring it to a party you’ll get extra props for providing something healthy among all the sweets and sugar laden foods. Plus you’ll be providing your friends and family with a huge boost of vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

1 plantain

2 TBS coconut oil

Directions:

Peel plantain, cut in half lengthwise.

Heat coconut oil on medium low until liquid. Add plantains. Sauté until golden-brown, about 3-5 minutes. Flip halfway through.

Let the flavor of the plantains shine for themselves – no seasoning needed!

I find that these come out best on a cast iron skillet! Here’s the one I use

 

For other easy and healthy go-to recipes check these out:

Brain Boost Smoothie

Oven Baked Salmon

Sweet & Savory Breakfast Bowl

 

 

 

Brain Boost Smoothie

When you feel your energy levels dwindling, you can pick them back up with this Brain Boost Smoothie. We all know that good wholesome food can nourish our body, but did you know that there are certain foods that boost your cognitive functioning as well? And better yet, you can throw a few of these foods into a smoothie for a quick & easy, on-the-go fix to satiate and boost the body and brain. Here’s what you need for my Brain Boost Smoothie

Brain Boost Smoothie Ingredients:

1 scoop chocolate Vega protein powder

handful frozen blueberries (purple foods aid on cognitive performance)

handful spinach

1 TBS MCT oil (Bullet Proof brand is my favorite)

1 dash Cinnamon (a super food when it comes to battling inflammation!)

1 dash Himalayan salt

10 oz filtered water (If you need an awesome home water filtration system I can’t recommend the Berkey filter enough!)

If you’d prefer almond milk over water, try this recipe for home made almond milk

 

Combine all ingredients into blender and blend for 30 seconds. Enjoy! I hope you like my Brain Boosting Smoothie recipe!

Halloween Treat without the Spooky Ingredients

Last year, I wanted to contribute something on the healthier side to our neighborhood Halloween potluck. However I didn’t want to be “that mom” that brought the carrot sticks and toothbrushes to Halloween. I made these cute little guys and loved how they turned out! Give them a try this Halloween.

What You Need:

Apples –  thinly sliced

Almond Butter (Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is great!)

Greek Yogurt Covered Raisins (White)

 

To Do:

Simply spread almond butter into a thin layer onto two apple slices. Sandwich in the yogurt raisins between two slices. Viola!  You can use left over raisins by putting in a jar and labeling as “Old Teeth” or “Monster Teeth”

Homemade Almond Milk

Several years ago,  I made the decision to significantly cut back on the amount of dairy we were consuming in our home. I did the research, experimented with giving it up for a week or two at a time, and finally came to the conclusion that we were going way overboard with the amount of dairy we consumed. But I was worried about milk. We had it all the time. I found my answer with homemade almond milk. Calcium is abundant in many other plant foods out there, so I felt confident that we could make the switch without giving up any essential nutrients.

We used milk all the time though. We used to be cereal eating fiends. Breakfast was cereal. Busy nights when I was too tired to cook, cereal. Milk went into coffee, soups and stews, baked goods, and nearly every meal we were eating. Milk was my kids’ beverage of choice. It was every where.

This was a period in my life when I was plagued by acne, migraines, brain fog and low energy levels. This was also the time in my life when I had finally put my foot down and decided to transform the way we ate. I experimented with cutting out groups of foods like those that contained gluten, or sugar, or dairy. Now, many years later we follow a plant heavy diet rich in color, high quality protein and high quality fats. We use dairy as a “recreational drug” – very sparingly, never really keep it in the house, and seek healthier non-dairy alternatives to use instead.

One issue  I see with almond milk in the stores is that they are filled with additives and preservatives, like carrageenan, natural flavors, thickening agents, gums, and a slew of other ingredient, even sugar sometimes! Once I realized how easy it was to make almond milk at home, I quit buying it all together.

Read on to discover a simple, low effort way to make almond milk at home!

Home Made Almond Milk:

Ingredients

1:4 ratio of raw, unsalted Almonds to Water (example: 1 cup almonds, 4 cups milk)

Pinch of sea salt

(Optional) Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, or vanilla

 

Directions:

Soak almonds in water  with a pinch of sea salt overnight in an airtight container, like a  mason jar with lid.

Once done soaking, pour ingredients into a blender. If you want to add spices, here’s when you would do it. I add just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. For a more chocolate milk version you can add cocoa. Get intuitive with it!

Blend for 2-3 minutes.

Strain through a sieve, cheese cloth or a nut bag (which you can purchase at most grocery stores).

Pour liquid into air tight container and store in the refrigerator.

Done!

 

Simple Oven-Baked Salmon

This dish can easily be prepared with trout, salmon, mahi-mahi, snapper or nearly any other fish that isn’t super thick. I love roasting it this particular because it conserves the moisture and the flavors from the lemon and herbs really pop. This is one of my basic mea-time preparations that I can always rely on. Build it into your repertoire of weekly protein preparations to bring more simplicity into the kitchen.

This dish would pair wonderfully with  the butternut squash (without the maple) listed in this recipe!

 

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 fillets of wild-caught salmon (or the fish of your choosing)

zest from half a lemon

juice from the other half of lemon

1 tsp minced garlic per fillet

Himalayan or Sea Salt & Coarse black pepper

A few sprigs of Thyme and/or Rosemary

Olive oil

Parchment Paper

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking dish large enough to fit all your fillets with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with olive oil.

Pat fish dry with a paper towel then place on top of prepared parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Spoon the minced garlic onto the fish then spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle lemon zest on fish, then top with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Lay sprigs of herbs right on top of fish (you will remove sprigs before serving).

Bake fish for 12-15 minutes depending on thickness of fish.

You can always throw in some cherry tomatoes to roast in the pan too!

 

www.megsylvester.com

Sweet & Savory Sunny Breakfast Bowl

Eggs and bacon. Cereal. Pancakes and Waffles. Toast. Where’s the color? Breakfast doesn’t have to be so beige. I wanted to introduce a meal that starts your morning off with color and lots of plant based nutrients (as well as protein from eggs). This bowl is sure to please the taste buds and the body. It’s a combo of sweet and savory and can be a great option for other meal times too! (and bonus…you can turn one of the components into a side dish of its own for any meal)

 

Ingredients

2 Eggs – cooked how you like ’em (sunny side up is recommended)

1.5 cups Butternut Squash – cubed

Arugula – 1 large handful

Squeeze of Fresh Lemon

Olive Oil

Avocado Oil

Salt & Pepper

Maple Syrup

 

Directions:

1) Prepare Squash. Saute butternut squash in a pan in a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) on medium heat in avocado oil. Season with salt and pepper. Right as the they begin to soften (about 10-12 minutes) add a drizzle or two of maple syrup.

– If you have left over butternut squash, this would work wonderfully here! This way you’d just need to heat for a bit and add the maple syrup.

2 ) Prepare eggs you like them. (soft boiled or sunny side up work best for this dish). Then season with a dash of salt & pepper.

– To soft boil an egg, add eggs to pot of cold water, gently bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute. Turn heat to simmer and cover for 3 minutes.

3) While butternut squash and eggs are cooking, dress the arugula. Toss arugula in light olive oil and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Once all three components are ready, layer bowl as follows: Greens, Squash, Eggs on top.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Clean & Simple Chicken Stew with “Rice”

This week, I was craving something warm and hearty (yay Fall!). I had fresh veggies and chicken thighs in the fridge so I thought why not Chicken Stew?! Being from Louisiana, I love adding Cajun seasonings to my recipes for an extra kick. This recipe is simple, with minimal ingredients, but packs a big punch on the taste index. I use water a lot to cook with – we often forget that it’s actually a great conduit for heat. By pouring just a bit of water into the chicken, you get a lovely stew like consistency. I’m grain free, so rice doesn’t show up in my recipes. However, cauliflower rice does! I love playing around with different ways to prepare cauliflower rice. This version is simple and flavorful and can be used with lots of other meals. Enjoy!

 

For the chicken stew:

Avocado oil

1 TBS Minced garlic

Cajun Seasoning Mix:  Combine salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder

Himalayan Salt & Ground Black Pepper

Water

1.5 lbs chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)

1/3 celery root, peel off outer layer then use vegetable peeler to create small slices

1/3 purple onion – thinly sliced lengthwise

1 head Broccoli – cut into florets

 

For the rice:

Avocado oil

TBS Minced garlic

¾ head cauliflower – riced

½ cup diced purple onion

Handful of Fresh chopped parsley

 

Season chicken thighs with avocado oil, Cajun seasoning mix and minced garlic. Heat avocado oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron). Once oil is glistening, add chicken thighs to pan. Let the chicken lightly brown on one side, approximately 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over. Add celery root, onions and broccoli. Let cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add ¾ cup of water and continue to let chicken cook. While cooking, season with salt and pepper (you can add more Cajun seasoning blend  now too). Cook the chicken until it’s no longer pink inside. Time will vary depending on thickness, but it should be around 10 minutes. The water should be nearly cooked out and have a thick consistency to it. If not, ladle out some of the water. Drizzle with avocado oil.

 

Meanwhile make the “rice”. Heat avocado oil in a pan on medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and purple onion. Continue stirring until cauliflower starts to brown. Right before serving add in freshly chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle chicken stew on top of cauliflower rice in a shallow bowl.

 

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Simple Shrimp & Veggie Stir-Fry

I cooked this dish the other night when I wanted a big return on minimal effort! It kind of felt like a clean Moo Goo Gai Pan, without the sleepy, bloated feeling you’re left with after.  As always, all of my recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free, and made of real, whole foods. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Wild-Caught Shrimp – peeled & de-veined
    • Avocado or Sesame oil
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
    • 1 head broccoli – cut into bite sized pieces
    • 1 cup of mushrooms (baby-bella, button or cremini) – stemmed, broken in halves, rinsed thoroughly
    • 1/3 of small purple onion – sliced lengthwise, very thin slices
    • Smoked salt (usually in grocery stores or purchase here)
    • Salt (Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt) & Grated Black Pepper
    • Sesame seeds (Optional)

 

Instructions

Heat garlic and oil on medium low heat until garlic becomes fragrant. Turn heat to medium, Add shrimp and season with Himalayan salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon. If pan ever seems dry add a bit more oil. (Do not ever let your pan get so hot that it burns the oil, aka turns it brown). Let cook for 2 minutes. Add in veggies. Stir on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Once broccoli is bright green and your shrimp are bright pink, you’re dish is ready!

Turn the heat off, sprinkle with a pinch of smoked salt and sesame seeds if you like them. If you’d like, you can top with Tamari – a gluten free soy sauce. Serve on its own, with cauliflower rice, traditional rice, or arugula tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.