Monday, January 25, 2016

Tropical Blueberry Cranberry Chia Jam

Have you opened your freezer only to move aside that bag of cranberries you may have forgotten you opened only to have little frozen cranberries spill all over the freezer shelf??  Did you happen to be in a rush so you decided you would remember they were there and promised yourself you'd clean them up as soon as you had a moment?  Did you then forget and next time you opened the freezer find those same frozen cranberries still sitting loose in your freezer shelf?

Don't be like me... always place opened bags of berries in a zip top bag.  And, don't let those nutritious berries sit there taking up freezer space till next Thanksgiving only to realize there are fresh ones in the store so you end up throwing them away.  Cranberries aren't just for the holidays anymore.

With cancer fighting properties cranberries can be slipped into smoothies or quick breads. Or, how about pairing them with another antioxidant filled super food - blueberries - and simmering together a sweet/tart chia jam perfect for topping a crispy slice of toast or slathering over freshly ground almond butter?

Combining blueberries with cranberries brings a virtual powerhouse of nutrition only enhanced by a few tablespoonfuls of protein-filled chia seed.  Sweetened naturally with pure maple syrup you can feel good serving a jam with no artificial sweeteners or processed sugars.

So what are you waiting for?  Blueberry Cranberry Chia Jam = Antioxidant Super Food.  Don't wait for the holidays.... Bring it now!

Shout out to my new favorite bread, that just happens to be vegan, gluten-free and Non-GMO.  Have you tried BFree?!  This Brown Seeded Bread toasted to perfection and became even a bit more heavenly when slathered with our Tropical Chia Jam!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Orange Banana Matcha Smoothie

Orange Banana Matcha Smoothie - refreshing and bright

Zen ~ "A state of focus that incorporates a toghetherness of body and mind.  Zen is a way of being.  It's also a state of mind.  Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts."
~ Urban Dictionary

Oh how I could use a bit of zen in my daily life.  With multiple schedules vying for my attention, a dog wanting a walk, errands and household chores to be done, meals to be made and a husband asking if I want to go to lunch, my mind often finds itself overwhelmed and in desperate need of focus.  

And that's how I expect Rebekah, of Making Miracles, must feel sometimes as well.  Making Miracles with her own family as well as spreading love to others, Rebekah also finds time to keep her blog filled with recipes.  And it was those recipes I perused to fulfill this month's Blogger C.L.U.E. Assignment of "Healthy".  Piquing my interest??  Rebekkah's refreshing Orange Matcha Smoothie.

Health Benefits of Matcha
A new find for me in 2016, matcha simply exudes health.  Definitely not a new product as green tea dates back some 5,000 years and is described as "so precious it could only be of royal origins promoting health in mind and body." ~ The Way of Matcha, but new to my kitchen and I'm ever so happy.

Thankfully matcha now finds itself available to us common folk as well as those royals, and a quick click of the mouse will have Amazon sending you an organic Japanese version in under 48 hours.

But what makes matcha healthy?  First off -  antioxidants.  Lots of them, and some special ones at that.  Apparently in the antioxidant world, catechins make up some of the most powerful antioxidants, and one in particular - the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) - makes up some 60% of matcha's catechins.  Known for its cancer fighting properties, EGCg definitely fills that healthy bill.

In addition, matcha brings health to the mind with its calming yet focusing effects. Long used by Chinese Daoists and Zen Buddhists, matcha green tea allows one to relax while still remaining alert.  Known to enhance mood, improve memory and increase concentration, matcha shows a picture of health.

Covered during the last few weeks of growth the tea leaves are deprived of light, thereby causing a tremendous increase in chlorophyll production in the new growth and thereby bringing matcha is brilliant green hues.  With those high amounts of chlorophyll matcha adds detox abilities to its already amazing resume.  Removing heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body, matcha is more than just "zen".

Orange Banana Matcha Smoothie - refreshing and bright
Have I convinced you on matcha yet?  My husband actually convinced me weeks ago when he sent articles on matcha and proceeded to order an organic culinary (made for adding to foods, not for making tea) grade all on his own - not something he normally does.  But what to do with it?

Thanks to Rebekkah and my dad's orange crop (he dropped a Trader Joe's sized bag of the fruit on my doorstep a few days ago!) we now have a new regular smoothie in our repertoire.  Refreshing with bright orange and green tea flavors, the smoothie finds its creaminess from frozen banana.

Sighing as I slowly sipped, I closed my eyes wroking on the schedule for the busy day in front of me.  Feeling amazingly calm the schedule somehow seemed manageable.  

Perhaps it was the additional focus and concentrating power of the tea, or maybe it was just the fact I was home alone with a puppy on my lap and a fabulous smoothie in front of me... whichever, it was that Matcha Smoothie that put me into a zen state of mind.  You'll find me sipping another tomorrow.

Now join me as we focus on the rest of our Blogger C.L.U.E. Group to explore even more healthy offerings from around the world!
  • Apricot Muffins by Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch
  • Broccoli Stalk Feta Salad by Stacy from Food Lust People Love
  • Citrus Shrimp by Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook
  • Couscous with Chicken and Vegetables by Sue from A Palatable Pastime
  • Ginger-Citrus Grilled Salmon by Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme
  • Irish Seafood Cocktail by Kate from Kate's Kitchen
  • Massaged Kale Salad by Anna from annaDishes
  • Mediterranean Chopped Salad by Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
  • Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad by Christiane from Taking on Magazines
  • Orange Banana Matcha Smoothie by Kim from Liv Life
  • Red Lion Inn Swordfish by Lea Ann from Cooking on the Ranch
  • Roasted Carrots and Cauliflower (with a kick) by Debra from Eliot's Eats
  • Sophie's Chopped Salad by Rebekah from Making Miracles
  • Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing by Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
  • White Bean Chili by Lisa from Authentic Suburban Gourmet
  • Winter Salad of Roasted Beets, Avocado and Grapefruit by Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm

  • Orange Banana Matcha Smoothie Bowl
    Don't want your smoothie in a cup?  Turn it into a Smoothie Bowl topped with extra goodies like sliced banana, frozen blueberries, granola, seeds and nuts.

    Sunday, January 10, 2016

    2015 Year in Review - Liv Life Top 10

    Summarizing 02015 for a girlfriend, the year didn't seem to be one I wanted to recap.  She asked if I really wasn't going to write our annual Christmas Letter, something I've done with zeal for as long as I can remember, and I shook my head no.  Memories filled with emotion, hospitals and loss flashed through my head as tears pricked at the corners of my eyes.

    But further reflection warmed my heart as I recounted successes experienced by my kids, the kindness of friends, warm days on the beach shooting sunsets, puppy kisses, and the love of my family.

    And then there's Liv Life and the blog world I'm ever so thankful for.  Friends from around the world who touch my life with frequency and share my passion for food warm my heart even more.  Touching the life of people I've never met with a new recipe or health tip, or perhaps opening someones eyes to a new way of eating continues to ignite my passion to share.

    While a holiday card didn't make it into the mail this year, I did take a peek at our 2015 stats out of curiosity and found this year's focus different than in years past.

    Admittedly my focus on food and ingredients changed to a more healthy and mostly plant-based style last year, but we still brought tempting treats as well as a cocktail or two.  Amazingly, those cocktails and treats weren't the overwhelming popular posts as in prior years.  This year the posts that "went viral" included Green Tea and Marinated Sweet Peppers.  Gone were the Strawberry Margarita Tequila Shots, though the Margarita Roundup did have quite a run near Cinco de Mayo.
    I'd like to think there is a healthy trend in the food world, but perhaps it's simply the change in my focus.  In any case, I can't thank you all enough for supporting Liv Life and continuing to feed my passion.  Each and every comment touches my heart and inspires me with renewed love and ideas.

    So Cheers to a new year - hopefully one filled with health and happiness for all. And now we bring you the Liv Life Top 10 in 2015!


    I know I said 10... but these Crispy Belgian Waffles sit at 11 and rank up there as on of our favorite recipes ever.  Oft requested by Liv and her girlfriends, I simply had to share again!

    A recent post that seemed to pique interest as the 2015 weather turned chilly, this sweet potato soup sings with a touch of lime.  Silky smooth with coconut milk, this warm weather soup transports you to the tropics when you close your eyes.

    Ice Cream... always a favorite in the Liv Life household and this coconut version is no exception.  Dairy-Free so everyone can enjoy - but your non dairy-free friends will never miss the heavy cream.  

    A homework project turned new favorite meal... I've never been so thankful Liv chose to take Spanish as when she needed a dish from a "Spanish speaking country" for her final project.  Putting our heads together we added some of our favorite ingredients including avocado, quinoa and lime, and then topped it all with a our favorite Lime Crema for the win.  And the bonus??  She got an A on the project.

     Trying to heal while in the hospital with "hospital food" falls into the "not gonna happen" category.  So, when dad spent a few days recovering from knee replacement surgery last summer we brought in most of his food.  Tops on the list?  These protein balls he and his roommate dubbed "Awesome Balls"!

    Blueberries, Bananas and Almond Butter... who knew the combo brings a concoction so heavenly no one will know it's healthy?!  A new Liv Life favorite, I feel good fueling Liv with antioxidant-rich fruits and a decent dose of protein.

    Ahhh... the classic margiarita!  A favorite of mine since my college days, but does it always have to be "classic"?  Apparently not - and we've brought 10 not-so-classic versions to tempt you.

    Classic Brownies, a treat most people (especially me!) can't resist.  But how does one get that shiny crust on top??  We've got the secret with this classic recipe!
     Simply marinated and then tossed on the grill, this easy appetizer ranks as a favorite just about everywhere we go.  Dipped into a zesty Balsamic Garlic Vinaigrette these cute little guys are practically irresistible.
     Who would have guessed a Green Tea Detox Drink would rank as our number one viewed post this year?  But with restorative health benefits, I can totally see why.  Lovely on a hot day but also perfect after a late night with perhaps a bit too much imbibing - Green Tea, Mint and Ginger are number one in our book.
    And there you have it!  Our 2015 year in review... and not such a bad year when I look back at these recipes that have become regulars in our kitchen.  Our heartfelt thanks for visiting Liv Life, and here's wishing you a wonderful and healthy 2016.
    Cheers to you!