Energy boosters, the healthy way

It’s Sunday, grey skies and I feel it is going to be one of those experiment-in-my-kitchen Sundays. Since joining Instagramm I have a tons of things I want to experiment with, nutrition-wise, fitness-wise (mentally and physically) as there are so many inspirational individuals who celebrate a healthy, organic way of life. I am thankful to all of those who share with me incredible tips and recipes that are sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian.

So, back to me. Alone in my house, kitchen is calling me to open its cupboards, use my beloved food processor and come up with something satisfying to the palate and the eye. I am a big fan of clean, pure foods that boost our energy in a gentle and sustainable way, so what better than make some “energy balls“. Yes, correct, for those who are wondering, these little round things are your best friend. Why?

Here’s why:

-they are made of raw, healthy ingredients (nuts, dates, almonds)

-they contain loads of vitamins and other nutritional elements that the body needs. Just think of how many vitamins, trace elements, minerals nuts, dates, contain.

-they are pure energy, meaning they can boost our energy levels without the usual crashing after the energy rush is over (caffeine-sugar fans, sorry but that’s the truth).

-they’re made out of fiber-rich foods, so eating one or two can be incredibly filling and satisfying.

It is great for everyone!

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Energy boosters, home made

How I made my healthy, gluten-free, alkaline, sugar-free Energy Balls.

Cook’s Notes: you can use any nuts or seeds you have in your kitchen. the base is always dates, as they act as a natural sweetener and binder for all the other ingredients you will use. Another key ingredient is the coconut oil. It will help along with the dates to make the mixture sticky enough to be able to form little balls. In case you don’t have dates, use dried figs, or prunes (also alkaline). Remember, there’s no standard recipe for those little energy monsters however, you want them to be made of healthy ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 12 to 15 organic medjool dates
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 80 grs whole organic almonds
  • 1 tsp organic cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp organic cocoa nibs
  • a bit of Himalayan salt
  • 1-2 tps organic goji berries
  • 1 tsp cold pressed organic coconut oil
  • a bit more of cocoa powder
  • some desiccated coconut

Yield: 16-20 energy balls (depending how big or small you want them)

Preparation time: 20-25 minutes

Instructions: Put all of the ingredients in the food processor and whizz away. The mix will become crumbly. Keep processing the mix until you see it becomes more sticky. If the mix seems to be a bit on the dry side, you can add only a teaspoon of water and then mix again. It should hold well now. Use a teaspoon to spoon out a small amount of the mix and roll it in your hands. Then on a plate put the desiccated coconut and on another the cocoa powder and roll some of the balls in each plate until they are coated with each ingredient. Job done!

Place all the energy balls in a plate and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then they are ready to be enjoyed and boost your energy!

Tip: I like to make a bigger batch of these energy boosters, so I can enjoy them during the week. They can be stored in any food container and be a great alternative to any other sugary treats that lurk in the office.

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Which one is your favourite, coconut or cocoa?

Enjoy and share with me your favourite energy ball recipe!

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What I have learnt from resisting bread and pasta (gluten-free baby!)

This week during my usual supermarket stroll I was astound to discover that a gluten home test was available under the “Health & Nutrition” aisle. Bought it without hesitation, to really make sure whether I am gluten intolerant and confirm my body’s relief from restricting it from gluten for the past 2.5 months now.

The test turned out to be a big, fat Negative, which does not prove anything, in my opinion. That goes to show me that the best judge is my body, period. Since going gluten-free I have been noticing the following wonderful changes:

  1. good-bye lethargy after meals!
  2. feeling less bloated, or heavy
  3. my eczema has improved significantly along with the help of daily coconut oil application to the affected areas
  4. stable energy levels throughout the day
  5. good-bye migraines! I attribute that also to my alkaline nutrition these days!
  6. all of the above points conclude to the fact that I am happier, more energetic thus more positive to anything that comes my way!

How did I decide to toss gluten from my life: the root of all the nutrition changes that have followed within the last 4 months has been my life-long quest of feeling more feminine, stronger and healthier with pcos. It took me a while, from Ayurveda I discovered that any imbalance has its ‘antidote’ which is the right food, the right massage or herbal formula. From Acupuncture and TCM I learned that everything is energy, any obstacle that interferes with the flow of this energy can lead from minor to major health or mental imbalances. From Reflexology, I found out that I my feet are a micrography of my whole body and gentle pressure can release, even allow my body to heal itself. From the Aviva Method I gained my femininity, became more confident as a woman. Every form of alternative healing I mention here has been present in my life for a while, helping me discover what my body needs, when is the right time to make gentle changes and of course let my body heal itself.

So, going back to being gluten-free, it all started when I was researching natural ways for dealing with skin issues and pcos. Most articles mentioned that it would be a good idea I tried to go gluten-free for three moths and notice any changes. I was already eating non-processed foods most of the time, but bread or sometimes pasta were very often included on my monthly menu.

Smoothie for breakfast! peach, kaiser pear, apple, avocado & chia seeds

Smoothie for breakfast! Peach, kaiser pear, apple, avocado & chia seeds

Now I eat more consciously, including gluten-free bread, tossed the pasta (yes, I know you think I’m crazy) and instead I embraced quinoa, brown rice, amaranth and millet. Soon will learn how to make my own gluten-free bread and pasta, so there will be more variety in my diet.

Are you suspicious that gluten creates havoc with your system? If you think it is hard to cut off all gluten foods from your diet, cut out the bread and the pasta for 15 days. Notice any changes that might follow. If things are getting better, then do another 15 days of a gluten-free diet. I promise, things will get much better after 30 days! It is good to experiment, so to check start slowly reintroducing to your diet bread or pasta and notice any changes. That will be a good indicator to decide whether you are or aren’t intolerant to gluten.

Gluten-free pizza with lightly grilled veggies and feta cheese

Gluten-free pizza with lightly grilled veggies and feta cheese

Personally, I don’t care about the negative gluten test result. I know a gluten-free, sugar-free, alkaline diet is the best thing that happened to me. Of course I have sweet cravings, or pasta cravings, only they are less frequent now. I am in a good place, and I felt like sharing with you. I find that most of the time a vegetarian/vegan diet works for me best. Eating fresh and organic is the key!

Fresh salad: baby spinach, sprouts, avocado, sunflower seeds, lemon juice & olive oil

Fresh salad: baby spinach, sprouts, avocado, sunflower seeds, lemon juice & olive oil

If you have been suffering from pcos, skin problems or other imbalances and have managed to reverse any issue by changing your diet, please share with me.

Last but not least, we need to remember to love ourselves, every minute, every day. Baby steps, but they will get us closer to our own truth and way of healing.

Love

Love

From Crete with L o v e

This year, I decided to go back to my father’s mother land, Crete. I felt I owed it to myself. And so, I went. From my first day on the island I got surrounded by smells I was accustomed to when on summer holidays. Wild oregano, wild thyme spreading their aroma as the wind swept away cliffs, hills, gorges and I happened to pass by, like the wind. Being in Crete, the first thing you notice is how mountainous the island is, and how many wonderful opportunities there are to look out on the horizon and see the sea…..

Walking or driving through from village to village, you cannot escape from the aromas of Crete’s wild flora: dittany, sage, thyme, oregano, wild mint, ironwort (Sideritis syriaca), marjoram are just a few of the scents the air carries.

Powerful Ironwort

Powerful Ironwort

My travel took me to Chania and its rich history. I wondered through the Old town and the Port on a hot day with a mission: to find Stachi (Wheat), a bio, vegan, vegetarian, slow food restaurant. When I got there, the place looked quiet, two tourists were enjoying the silence and their ouzo drinks. I was welcomed by Stelios, the owner and I ordered, what else, mountain tea. At Stachi, your order comes with a treat. I got served a good piece of a vegan egg-less, butter-less cake that had come right from the oven! The carob sugar, the cloves, the cinnamon blew me away!

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Vegan Cake by Stelios

We started chatting with Stelios, only to find out that we have something in common: love for Switzerland, and some special people who come from there. The conversation was so relaxed, that I asked him if I could “interview” him! It was so exciting to find someone with so much love and knowledge for nature, life and of course, organic food.

Stelios has been gathering knowledge on Cretan herbs, hiking the mountains and getting in touch with nature that still gives him a sense of wellbeing for the past 3 decades. His impeccable knowledge on traditional Cretan dishes comes from various sources and goes back 30 years or more. This is so obvious from the way he cooks and speaks. Stelios and Stachi emanate L O V E. He then went on to say, that everything he uses in his kitchen is hand-picked by him, prepared by him and also cooked by him. Somewhere in the discussion food and the concept of love got fused and became one. His philosophy is that nothing is what it seems for example, a simple herb filled pie is nothing if the creator is not in touch with his emotions, if he cannot draw from his life experience in order to create a tasty, loving dish capable to transmit that feeling of love to those who will taste it.

My last question was what does the word happiness mean to Stelios. His answer simple, yet so complicated. “Happiness is when you can take the good things and the bad things in life as they are, as both create happiness”.

My companion got invited to the kitchen to see what Stelios had cooked for the day, and the photos prove it!

Stachi's Kitchen

Stachi’s Kitchen

Vegan Mousaka by Stachi

Vegan Mousaka by Stachi

As the first encounter with Stelios wasn’t enough, I decided to dine a few hours later on at Stachi! There’s nothing fancy about Stachi, yet the people who come to eat, the simple but so well put together dishes create the best atmosphere for a restaurant. Stelios is eager to please even the most demanding wish; his gift: he has the ability to guess what you would like to have and brings always little tasters to the table.

My dinner that day was: a ‘simple’ vegetable soup, vegan mousaka taster-I would have ordered more if I could eat more!- a mpoureki (typical local dish of the area), staffed vine leaves (Dolmadakia) and a green herb pie (Chortopita). All a m a z i n g!!! I could feel in every bite I took Stelio’s love for what he does, how he does it and whom he does it for. Simply delicious!

Veggies soup

Veggies soup

Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia

Mpoureki: layers of pumpkin, potatoe and cretan mature goat cheese

Mpoureki: layers of pumpkin, potatoe and cretan mature goat cheese

For dessert, as I have mentioned to other posts that I have quit sugar, he had the right thing for me: mock milk pie (Galaktompoureko) drizzled with Cretan thyme honey and a taster of his mock must (Moustalevria) pudding. I was in heaven, wanted to stay longer in Chania and try more dishes from Stachi!

galaktompoureko

Milk Pie: soy milk is the base

Mock Grape Must Pudding: Grape Molasses is the base topped with Cretan honey

Mock Grape Must Pudding: Grape Molasses is the base topped with Cretan honey

I am so grateful to Stelios for his generosity, his open heart, the wonderful healthy dishes he prepares and his ability to have reminded me part of my roots so clearly that I felt a deep pride and gratitude.

The Curious Mind & Stelios. Thank you Stelios!

The Curious Mind & Stelios.
Thank you Stelios!

Stachi is a place I will be revisiting. For the excellent hosting, the wonderful dishes and that Cretan air that carries so many scents awaking the senses.

I’d like to close by quoting Stelio’s philosophy about his wonderful restaurant:

Our philosophy about life and a healthier way of life was the cause of  to set up this small, fmaily-run restaurant.

At Stachi restaurant, the visitor will have the opportunity to taste the delicious traditional Cretan dishes and the special Mezes, which we daily prepare for you with love and care, always using organic extra virgin olive oil.

Our plates are based on fresh organic products, originating mainly from Crete, and our farm.

The restaurant is set in an ideal location, whith a view to the sea and a green environment.”

 

A little about Cretan herbs: http://www.sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/herbs-plants-flora-crete.html