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Bio-Diversity & Smoothie Formula

After 38 hours of travel we made it back to Fernie from Thailand. Does it take 38 hours? No, no it doesn’t but after having five months of travel go pretty smoothly there is bound to be some hick-ups. All I will mention is that at the start of our trip we went to the wrong airport in Bangkok- delaying us another 24 hours on top of that.  It made landing in Cranbrook and getting to Fernie so exciting and worth every mile travelled. Going from the intense heat (35-40°C) and lush vegetation of Thailand to the fresh bite of mountain air was easier than we thought.  We are truly fortunate to live in this valley and country with fresh air that smells so good it feels like you are drinking in nutrients with each breath. And although the vegetation is so different we live in an incredible jungle-gym of mountains, valleys and forests.

Despite the easy transition of climate I was very much jetlagged, once adjusted to the time- I was back in the kitchen and making all the things I missed while away.  After all the family staple dishes, each morning I naturally gravitated back to the smoothie.  Truly one of the best ways to get nutrient diversity of foods is the trusty smoothie. Yes, I know – all we needed is another smoothie article in the universe. You might be sick of the nutritionist approved foodie blogs about smoothies, but I have to say being away from Canada, this was one of the things I missed the most. I have to admit, my smoothies don’t look pretty at all -nothing like the colorful pictures.  In fact, my smoothies look like swamp water, cement or brown gloop depending on what I use.  For example blueberries are a tasty ingredient then add spinach, and voila, a brown smoothie (so for any picky eaters out there drink out of coloured cups).

The difference between this smoothie article and most others is what they all fail to mention.  The most important or crucial thing to remember is to change your ingredients often.  This really goes for everything you eat!  Did you know there are around 7500 tomato varieties grown around the world, and yet most of us eat only what is available at our closest grocery store. On average an American is eating fewer plant species a year – roughly 30 species a year compared to our hunter gatherer ancestors that ate substantially more. Remember that a plant species includes a variety of plants. For example kale and cauliflower are of the same plant species.

What to do then? Try. New. Things. Always change up your leafy greens, forage, go to farmers markets, eat a vegetable you have never had before, shop around, find different ingredients and get inspired to try odd combinations like spirulina and pineapple or medicinal mushrooms and chocolate, add some nut butter and YUM!

Smoothies are a quick, easy, nutrient packed-punch to start your day or fuel you for a Fernie adventure.  When you are making a smoothie into a meal, think about balance.  To ensure balance, always have at least one item from each macronutrient; Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins.  Without balance you can become hungry before your next meal, have a blood sugar spike and crash or just not feel full or satisfied.

Carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables, juices, coconut water

Fats: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, coconut milk, nut milks (almond milk), nut or seed butters (peanut or almond butter)

Proteins: Hemp seeds (1 Tbsp=5g protein), protein powders (organic whey & plant based proteins), spirulina & chlorella (blue green algae high in chlorophyll, protein and micronutrients)

Make it green: spinach, kale, collards, beet greens, dandelion greens (forage!), parsley, mint, fennel, romaine, green cabbage, pea shoots, sunflower sprouts

Optional: nutrient dense superfoods, spices (cinnamon & turmeric), herbs, cacao powder, goji berries, dark leafy greens, cold tea, medicinal mushrooms, bee pollen, etc.

Tools/Best Blenders: The Cadillac of all blenders is the Vitamix or the Belndtec, by far the best for constancy.  More affordable and still awesome is the Nutri-bullet. 

Everybody has their own smoothie recipe it’s very personal to your own palate.  There are lots of recipes out there, but mostly it’s whatever is in season or what you have in the fridge or freezer. To start you off, here is a good guide. Now go get creative!

Find this and other great articles in the Fernie Fix Magazine!

Smoothie Formula

  • 1-2 cups liquid (H20, herbal tea, nut or seed milk, coconut water)
  • ½-1 cup fruits (or vegetables)
  • 1 serving of protein
  • 1-2 servings of fat
  • 1-2 cups greens
  • Optional superfoods

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Tip: Place your greens in first then pour the liquids, this way they will blend in nicely.

Matcha Tea & Latte

As spring touches the Japanese Alps of Hakuba, Nagano, Japan the rivers fill with white water and the sasa grass, the native bamboo shoots with long green leaves poke their heads through the snow again. The mountain air is warmer on your face, the corn snow is delightful around noon, two-toned faces of goggle tans are a sign of happy riders and the buds of green are making the streets of Hakuba sing spring.

I’ve felt green as grass since arriving here in November. For a total of 4 months I have had no internet at home and also have not had a cell phone, ipad or i-anything for that matter. Just a good ol fashioned laptop. It has been freeing in so many ways, it has come with it’s hardships and frustrations but this rare blessing has been just that, a forced but detached blessing.  I have read books, spent lots of time thinking, meditating and mostly being present with the people around me. While today’s world is so dependent on being connected 100% of the time, making sure all of our moments are recorded and shared. Having my own business I felt as though I needed to be always online.  it’s a huge eye opener how much it gives but also takes from every situation.  In the land of technology I found the present moment with no way of letting anyone else know, but me.

I couldn’t write an article with the theme green without chatting about something very traditional, ceremonial and sacred to japan, matcha. I’m sure you have heard by now the health benefits of green teas antioxidant value- it’s next level.  But instead of talking about green tea and if you know me at all by now, let’s turn up the gnar points and go for nutrient density, besides which we all know how to steep some tea, lets go crazy and eat the whole tea leaf!  Yes that is right, matcha is the powdered leaf of green tea.  The stems and vines are removed and the delicate leaf is carefully made into a fine powder. This fine powder of green tea is host to many healthful benefits. In fact there are more than 137 antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea! If that alone is not great enough, consuming matcha improves memory, concentration and metabolism. This chlorophyll-rich tea leaf gives a boost of energy but unlike coffees crash this green tea leaf provides a crash-free experience leaving you feeling refreshed. Just before harvesting the leaves produce L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps us balance caffeine, therefore a better option for those who are sensitive and can’t metabolize caffeine.

There are different grades and specific times this green tea leaf is harvested. Before harvesting the tea leaves are shaded from the sun to produce more chlorophyll (green blood of plants) which makes it a deep and vibrant green. The most prized matcha is the first harvest or ceremonial matcha where the leaves are carefully picked in the spring, giving it a smooth light flavour. The last harvest matcha is picked in the late summer rendering an earthy and slightly sharp flavour. The later harvested matcha is more affordable and mostly used for lattes, flavouring dishes, baked goods and other drinks.  It also works great as a food colouring. Because of matchas distinct flavour, if you are new to this try a matcha latte or adding it to/sprinkling it over some chocolate –my fave. 

Japanese tea ceremonies are an age-old tradition. Although the ceremony centers around the matcha tea, the focus is on the aesthetics of preparation, serving and drinking of the matcha.  It is a true art form to watch and witness.  The cups and tools of the ceremony are just as delicate and beautiful.  The bamboo spoon used to measure the matcha powder is called a chasaku and two scoops measure a perfect cup. This spoon looks more like a bent flat stick. The sifter (furui) and bamboo whisk (chasen) help deliver the smooth creaminess of the tea. The whisk is a beautiful tool with many delicate prongs to ensure the fine powder is mixed thoroughly.  

The beautiful ritual of making tea is about patience and delivering liquid nutrition to our bodies. Tea ceremonies were influenced by zen buddists and the art of preparing it is very meditative.  Let’s bring a little more green to your morning and try some matcha tea.

Find this and other great articles in the Fernie Fix Magazine!

Traditional Matcha Tea

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 5 oz or 2/3 cup hot water
  • Bamboo whisk

Place the bamboo whisk into a glass of water so the tines soak and become soft, flexible and supple.

In the bottom of your mug place 1 tsp matcha powder, if you have a matcha sifter or a fine mesh sifter you may use it at this point.  Sifting your tea will break up the fine clumps and guarantee a smooth and creamy cup of tea.

For a traditional cup of matcha tea, allow the boiled water to cool to 170 ˚F (just under boiling). Add 5oz of the hot water to the tea.

Using your bamboo whisk, vigorously whisk back and forth for 20-30 seconds to blend the matcha powder and water. Refrain from using a metal whisk, as an alternative you can use an electric milk frother.

Once blended move the whisk in a zig-zag motion to create a light foam or froth. Be sure not to press on the bottom and bend the prongs of your bamboo whisk.

Enjoy each sip of this healthful beverage.

Matcha Latte

  • 1 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 Tbsp raw local honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Bring a kettle of water to just about boil and turn off.

In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat.

Bring to a very light boil, whisking occasionally-this creates a froth.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and sweetener of choice. Whisk to combine.

In a mug, combine ¼ cup water and matcha.

Vigorously whisk back and forth to dissolve matcha.

Carefully pour milk into matcha and enjoy.

Pumpkin Spice Up Your Life!!

Yes, I used a spice girls song as my title and YES, it’s that time of year for pumpkin spice flavoured everything!!! I am very guilty of this seasonal trend, and I’m not scared to admit it.  No fear, I have just the recipes you need to add to your quiver of pumpkin spice treats. I have covered you from latte's to alcoholic beverages.  Yes, pumpkin spice just made it's way into your martini - you are fit for all your autumn holiday gatherings!  Before I delve into all things pumpkin spice, I would like to share a little info on our humble little friend the pumpkin.

12 Things You Never Knew About Pumpkins:

  1. The word pumpkin showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella in 1697.
  2. The word “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon”, meaning large melon.
  3. Pumpkins are actually fruits that originated in Central America.
  4. Pumpkins can help boost your immune system due to the high amounts of vitamin C.
  5. Each mature pumpkin has about 500 seeds! Pumpkin seeds are high in manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.
  6. Shelled pumpkin seeds are green.  Quick nutritious tip: use shelled pumpkin seeds to make pesto instead of pine nuts!
  7. According to the Guinness World Records the largest pumpkin ever weighed was 1,054 kg (2,323 lb), grown by Beni Meier (Switzerland) and authenticated by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) in Ludwigsburg, Germany, on 12 October 2014.
  8. Pumpkins are 90% water!
  9. 90% of pumpkins marketed in the US are used for Halloween jack-o-lanterns.
  10. Pumpkins are extremely high in antioxidant vitamin A.  One cup of pumpkin contains 145.8% of our Daily Value for vitamin A.
  11. Best way to retain the flavour and nutrients of pumpkin is to steam small cubes for 7 minutes!
  12. The first mention of pumpkin pie was a recipe for "pumpkin pudding baked in a crust," which appeared in the first American cookbook, "American Cookery," published by Amelia Simmons in 1796.

Now that I have you in pumpkin spirit, here is the secret to making everything pumpkin spiced. Happy Thanksgiving and Halloween!

Find this and other great articles in the Fernie Fix Magazine!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

The creator of all things pumpkin spice!

1 cup water

cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp vanilla extract

  • In a small saucepan over medium high heat combine water, sugar, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. 
  • Whisk together and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce and let simmer for 5 minutes on low until slightly thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  • Use immediately or refrigerate in a glass jar for up to 1 week.  You can also freeze in ice cube trays for individual use.

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte  

1½ oz Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1½ oz espresso/strongly brewed coffee/ 1 heaping Tbsp Dandy Blend coffee alternative

¾ cup milk or milk alternative

 

Pumpkin Spice Tea

1oz Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1¼-1½ cups hot water

 

Pumpkin spice cocktail.jpg

Pumpkin Spice Cocktail

2 oz vodka

2 Pumpkin Spice Syrup

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a martini glass as is or a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger or a curl of fresh ginger. Optional: Rim glass with cinnamon coconut sugar.

 

Other uses for Pumpkin Spice Syrup

  1. Pour over yogurt or ice cream!
  2. Pumpkin Spice Green Tea
  3. Pumpkin Spice Italian Soda (2oz syrup:1 cup soda water)
  4. Pumpkin Spice whip cream or coconut cream
  5. Pumpkin Spice frosting

 

Like this recipe? Check out my articles and other recipes from Nourish Through Nature in my monthly column of Fernie Fix Magazine!

Dandelion Latte

This is such a treat in our house.  I am quite sensitive to caffeine and dairy, leaving lattes a very desired beve. I had a very similar drink when visiting Calgary at The Light Cellar, so as soon as I got home, I re-created it and here it is....

Dandelion Latte

Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Caffeine Free! 

Serves 1

  • 1½ Tbsp Dandy Blend* (roasted dandelion root powdered blend)
  • 1 tsp chaga mushroom powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut butter (not oil)
  • ½ Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 drop coffee bean essential oil (optional, avoid if sensitive to caffeine)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup cool/room temp water

Place ¼ cup cool/room temp water in blender and then add dandy blend, Chaga, coconut butter, honey, coffee bean essential oil – this is so they don’t stick to the bottom of your blender.

Add boiling water. 

Blend until smooth and pour into your favourite mug. 

Enjoy each creamy sip with love!! 

*You can find Dandy Blend at most health food stores.  In Fernie you can find this at The Good Earth.