whole foods and beyond....nourishing the body, spirit and soul

Saturday, September 26, 2015

tips for packing a nourishing lunch

hi, my name is eleni, and i'm addicted to bento box.
there's just something about these oh-so-perfect compartments, that i fall more in love with every day! my inner ocd dances as piece by piece the sections are filled to create a symphony of nourishment. lord help us all, my #ocdlife and #momlife have fully collided and there's no turning back! to watch this happen on the daily, follow me on instagram @mynourishedvibes.

homemade veggie spring rolls/blueberries/homemade elderberry gummies/terra veggie chips/ghiradelli dark chocolate chips/dye free pickles with fermented garlic

you know i love my labels!

feeding others is my love language, so as fall approached i got more and more excited to pack these lunches for my sweet dimitri. but i also got overwhelmed easily, questioning how i would have enough time, energy and creativity to offer him nutrient dense lunches every day. full gear into our routine, i offer you these tips i've discovered along the path.

1. timing
i hate doing anything last minute, so just the idea of making school lunches in the morning, stresses me out!  to keep it stress free, with time to intentionally choose each item, i always pack dimitri's lunches in the evening. with the momentum of dinner clean up still coursing though my veins, i reach for the yumbox and enjoy the task at hand as i fill each compartment.

2. left overs
as i start to fill the compartments of the masterpiece of artwork bento box, i almost always start with left overs from the dinner i just cleaned up after. on most nights our meal has a simple roasted vegetable in the line up, like my roasted butternut squash recipe. since i'm a planner, before dinner is even served, i'll stash a few roasted veggies to the side, so i know there will be enough left over.

3. fresh fruit and veggies
now that i've got dinner left overs checked off the list, i shop our fridge for fresh produce. we almost always have peppers, cucumbers and carrots. a quick chop and they're ready to get tossed in. if the stars align and i also have a dip, in she goes! at this time i also check my pantry for what nuts and dried fruits i can use.

4. freezer supply
i can not tell you enough how important those two words are! like for real. having a stash of homemade, nutrient dense foods in my freezer, gives me the convenience of packaged foods without all the damage. a few times a week ill do a little work to make sure things are stocked up. a fun baking session results in an ample supply treat-yo-self material. or an afternoon of a netflix marathon results in hundreds of stuffed spring rolls, or spanakopita, that i can bake a couple the morning of use. #winning

freshly baked mini pumpkin spice muffins and mini english muffins ready to freeze

5. fermented foods
my next slot to fill is small, but so important! check out my recent post over at PostModernhood to hear my love saga  reasons we eat fermented foods daily. since these foods contain probiotics that help digest your food, its important to eat them at every meal. dimitri has had fermented garlic (get my recipe here) each day because i seem to have an endless supply, and more importantly, the kid freakin' loves it! any fermented food will do, so go with what your kid likes.

fermented garlic/jalepeno/onion

6. store bought
now that i've put all my key players into the game, it's time to call in second string. i fill in the blanks using these items last and in the least amounts, because they are most "convenient" at the store, meaning they have little to no nutrients. some times this is a hard to digest white flour tortilla filled with better ingredients like veggies or peanut butter. and some times its gluten free pretzels (easier to find than gluten free tortillas), or dark chocolate chips. it doesn't matter what it is, if it's processed at all, the nutrients are removed. but since i am not perfect, and we live in a modern world, i just try to choose my best where we as a family should allow wiggle room with limited damage to our wellness.

i'm actually jealous dimitri gets to eat these everyday!

7. relax!
that's it! i'm done! and now i get to go put on my pjs….

show me your best nutrient dense lunch on instagram and hashtag it #MyNourishedVibes! 
See you there!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

traditional mayonnaise

dear mayonnaise,
i'm sorry your good name has been misrepresented, tarnished and dragged through the mud for decades. people have made you out to be a jerk, but i will do my best to lead others back to your awesomeness. 
with love,

yes, i was shocked when i found out too. but it's true, mayonnaise is a nourishing food! and once upon a time everyone knew that. because once upon a time people valued real food.

::sigh:: real food

so if mayo is nourishing, how does it have such bad PR surrounding it? 
well, let's start off with the concoctions we're used to seeing on the grocery store shelves. "light mayo," "real mayonnaise," "made with olive oil," "eggless mayo, " "low fat,"….. it doesn't matter what the label claims, they're all garbage. these imposters are made with factory engineered vegetable oils, loads of sugar, chemical thickeners, chemical colorings, and scary preservatives. store bought "fake" mayonnaise will never bring nourishment. on top of that, negative PR was originally gained in the 40s and 50s, when companies producing margarine and other highly processed vegetable oils, funded research on saturated fats. they made false claims that saturated fats found in mayonnaise (and other animal products), were causing heart disease and making people fat, so that the american consumer would be driven to purchase these new "healthy" alternatives of vegetable oils. the gimmicks worked so well, that 75 years later, the benefits of real mayo, and saturated fat are completely forgotten, and confusion abounds in the discussion of fat.

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how did these posers end up on grocery store shelves? 
in the 1930s as america stepped into industrialization, the idea of convenience foods, trumped the idea of nourishment…and unfortunately still does today. factories began producing this condiment in large amounts and needed to ensure that each batch tasted the same. because small artisanal batches of fermented foods are hard to do on the industrial scale, the traditional food techniques were left behind in favor of using vinegar and sugar to achieve the tang and processed hydrogenated oils for consistency in texture. 

what's nourishing about it?
real mayonnaise is a gift from god!! before food became adulterated by the industrial age, the goal of condiments was not only to add flavor, but to add nutrients and enhance digestion. organic extra virgin olive oil and organic egg yolks are a great source of enzymes. when consumed raw, all the enzymes are intact and ready to break down the food you are eating for easy assimilation of nutrients as well as containing the fat necessary to deliver nutrients into your cells. (note: it is crucial to use organic eggs. im sure you already know the cess pool of disease factory farm eggs are….and consuming them raw would be a pretty big risk.) 

<<a beautiful organic yolk, fresh from my farm trip>> when a chicken is fed the proper diet, her eggs are nutrient dense, with firm, deep yellow to orange yolks.

that's a load of fat…
oh you bet it is! and guess what... fat does not make you fat! it is hardwired into our DNA to seek out fat occurring in whole foods. indigenous cultures all over the world, in tune with their nutritional needs, ate liberal amounts of fat. but it is not wired anywhere in our DNA the process to break down fake fats like hydrogenated oils and extremely processed vegetable oils, which are found in high amounts in the standard american diet. a consumption of these highly processed oils is the real reason bad cholesterol rises, arteries are clogged, and fat stores accumulate. the human body literally has no idea what to do with these highly processed impostors.

i love getting my nutrient dense fats directly from a local farm! i pick up 2 dozen eggs and a gallon of raw goat milk every other week :) 

so rid yourself of the fake fat, and 
>>Nourish Yo Self<<
with a big dose of real fat! 

traditional mayonnaise

1 c extra virgin olive oil 
3 organic egg yolks
1/4 c raw apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground mustard
1 tbs whey (from any cultured dairy product)

adding the oil drop by drop will ensure the right texture

* place all ingredients in blender except olive oil and whey. blend on high until smooth.
*turn blender to low and slowly pour oil in drop by drop for the first minute. then continue to stream oil in slowly. if the oil goes in too fast, the mayonnaise won't emulsify.
*at this point you can store your mayo in a glass jar in the fridge and it will keep for two weeks. or you can boost the nutrient content by allowing it to ferment. (i know i was scared the first time i fermented mayo too! but its worth it!) stir the whey into your jar of mayo and leave at room temp for eight hours. then store in your fridge. the fermented version of this condiment will keep for six months, adding tons of probiotics to the meals it accompanies!

ill eat this mayo with just about anything! one of our all time favorites is dipping roasted sweet potatoes in it!

if you try this recipe, post it on instagram and hashtag it #MyNourishedVibes. see you there! ...and while you're on instagram, click "follow" on my account @mynourishedvibes for daily real food inspo!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

cinnamon zucchini flax crackers

kids love crackers.


sadly the ingredients in store bought crackers are not only hard to digest, they're pretty damaging to our bodies too. even the gluten free ones!! i'm so sorry friend. consider this:

*the grains are so highly processed they are stripped of all nutrients.
to make the product "healthy," synthetic vitamins are added and our bodies do not recognize how to break them down.*

*sugar in all of its evil forms (any word ending in "ose"…fructose, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, ect. and even sneaky terms like "fruit juice concentrate") is added in large amounts. even savory crackers!*

*chemicals. 'nough said right? a host of man made chemicals from "flavor factories" are responsible for giving the crackers their texture, shelf stability (what a creepy term) and even flavor. yes even though that cracker says that its flavored with something simple like tomato and basil, these flavors are actually derived from reactions of chemicals to create that flavor. a chemist formulated those crackers, not a chef.*

*gmos. incase you've been living under a rock for the last decade that stands for "genetically modified organism." a gmo vegetable has had its genes altered to create a more "favorable" outcome. for instances gmo corn has been so severely altered that is actually its very own insecticide, poisoning bugs all around it with it's new toxic chemical makeup. and thanks to laws in favor of the grain and snack food industries, companies are not required to label if their crops are from gmo sources.*

real food to the rescue

with all that horrible mess up there, i *highly* limit our intake of store bought crackers. they're pretty much reserved for emergency situations, like when there are limited real food choices at a party. or when you pour me a glass of red wine and there's a cheese platter in eye sight……

so my children have a sense of belonging when their snacking next to the cracker-eating kids, i make a nourishing snack i can always feel happy about feeding them. and always remind them that these crackers are so much more special than goldfish! 

cinnamon zucchini flax crackers

4 c spring water
2 c whole flax seeds, soaked
1 1/2 c ground flax seeds
1/2 c honey
1/2 c dates, soaked
1 zucchini, shredded
1 banana
3 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs chia seeds, soaked
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
15 drops trace minerals (optional for added nutrients)

the flax seeds and chia seeds at the beginning of their soak time

after just two hours, the seeds create this super cool gel

*place whole flax seeds, chia seeds and water in a big bowl. stir well and leave to soak for at least two hours. pit dates and place in a separate bowl of water to soak and soften. if you plan to leave it for longer than that, be sure to store it in the fridge.
*when ready to prepare the rest of the recipe, blend dates and banana together until smooth, using just enough of the date soak water to keep the blender moving.
*when the seed and water mixture have formed a gel, stir in all ingredients except coconut oil and ground flax seed.
*next, slowly fold in the ground flax seed, adding more if the mixture is too wet. 
*grease a large baking sheet with the coconut oil (or prepare your dehydrator) and spread the "dough" in an even layer. turn the oven on 170 degrees F (or the lowest setting your oven has) and leave in the oven for 24 hours or until crackers are fully dry. after 12 hours i flip the dough upside down onto another pan. the bottom is still pretty wet at this point. return them to the oven and a few hours later the top will be dry enough to score with a pizza cutter. place them back in the oven for a few more hours. once crackers are fully dry, break into pieces using the pizza cutter scoring as your guideline. store in an air tight container.

**note: i know 24 hours is a long time to use up valuable real estate in the oven, but i don't let it stop me from cooking other things while my crackers are drying out. if i need to use the oven, ill just set the cracker pan on the counter, preheat, and cook other food. then i reset the oven and toss the crackers back in.**

Nourish Yo Self

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

pumpkin spice muffins

september is upon us.

you know the drill….

i love pumpkin spice everything just as much as the girl wearing ugg boots in line at starbucks….but i hate the way it leaves my stomach feeling! considering there's actually zero amount of real pumpkin in a pumpkin spice (insert-every-product-ever-created-hiding-under-the-label-"pumpkin-spice"), its no wonder it leaves me feeling *robbed of nutrients* after indulging.  so when i come down from the excitement of "sweater weather", and have ordered the obligatory pumpkin spice latte, followed by the classic pumpkin spice stomach ache, complete with sugary jitters… i return back race back to my roots.

and these grain free pumpkin spice muffins greet me with open arms.

i created this recipe, not only to get my pumpkin spice fix, but also to use up some roasted sweet potato i had in the fridge. using a real roasted vegetable like pumpkin, sweet potato, or even winter squash, will add nutrients as well as depth of flavor. but if canned pumpkin floats your boat, search for an organic brand to avoid unnecessary chemicals. bonus points if you can purchase a can that uses bpa free lining! (bpa, a toxic chemical in plastics, is found in the lining inside the can, where it then leaches into the food. no thank you!) 

refined white sugar behaves more like a drug in the body, than a food! choose whole, nutrient dense sweeteners like honey or pure maple syrup when baking.

grain free pumpkin spice muffins
1 c roasted sweet potato (or 1 c canned pumpkin puree)
5 eggs plus 1 yolk
6 tbs butter, cubed
2/3 c honey
1/2 c coconut flour
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

*pour all ingredients in your blender. layer the wet ingredients on bottom and dry ingredients on top.
*blend on high until all ingredients are fully incorporated and batter looks smooth.
*pour into lined muffin tin. bake at 350* for 25 to 28 minutes.
*store in the fridge for best texture. 

ill be welcoming fall 2015 with lots of batches of these delicious pumpkin spice muffins!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

nourish your coffee

there are a lot of things i am to those around me; encourager, home decorator, mvp when playing taboo…. but a morning person i am not! and despite hours of praying to become one, i know this is just not written in the stars for me. because of this, it has taken me years to craft together the perfect morning routine! years!

from hitting snooze a million times in high school, to being a full on adult with a  fave coffee mug, my morning routine has had quite a few makeovers. i used to be awesome and start everyday with a fresh green juice. in another chapter of my life, my mornings began with superfood smoothies. winters usually lead me back to bone broth. pregnancy always has me craving soaked oats with lots of grass fed butter. and one summer it was even just water and sitting on the grass "earthing!" despite the fact that my routine changes with the seasons, for reasons i don't even know, one thing will always remain: i can't remember how to human for at least the first hour after waking...

i have loved coffee for as long as i can remember. but after learning that it creates an acidic environment in the body, aka a perfect home for disease, my early 20s were plagued with guilt every time i indulged in the smooth, bold glory of a good cuppa jo. cue the fateful day in 2013 that i stumbled upon bulletproofexec.com, his amazing recipe for "bullet proof coffee,"and my acidic shame was washed away once and for all.

let's get really brutal for a moment. all coffee is not created equal! there are great benefits to drinking coffee, but just like everything else in our modern culture, there's a real one and a counterfeit one. companies talk a big game about using quality beans, but the truth is, if they are not grown organically, heated at low temps during roasting and stored properly during transit, they are a toxic mess. this slew of toxins then courses through your body creating an acid ph in your blood, all while leaving you with the jitters while your body tries to clean up the mess! so in the famous words of the bullet proof executive himself, upgrade your coffee!

ditch instant coffee
it's so highly processed it should be called instant chemicals.

buy organic
none of our food should be grown with chemicals! but sadly we live in a world where we have to seek out safe foods. 

choose whole beans
coffee beans go rancid and grow microscopic mold very easily after being crushed. brutal wake up call: every bag of pre-ground coffee is swimming with mold! store your whole beans in an airtight container, in a dark, cool place, and grind them as close to the time of brewing as possible.

My precious coffee beans get stored in this canister. I love all my homemade labels,  but this  one, written in Greek is my favorite!

use french press
you'll be on your knees thanking me after this step! by steeping the coffee, instead of quickly dripping water passed it, the nutrients in the coffee bean (potassium, magnesium, antioxidants) are unlocked. and the flavor is something' to write home about!

add fat
trade in the damaging sugary creamer and even the plain cream (btw if it's not fresh from the farm it's fake!) for grass fed butter. real butter is loaded with fats we need to build healthy cells, vitamin activators that help with nutrient absorption, all while helping us avoid sugar crashes and feel satisfied. getting a big dose first thing in the morning? it literally sets the switch in your body to run on the efficiency of fat stores all day instead of the ups and downs of sugar!

i have been "upgrading" my coffee for almost two years now and will never go back! this is my version of the traditional "bullet proof" recipe.

nourished vibes coffee
1 mug freshly brewed coffee (note my daily mug is bigger than average)
3 tbs kerrygold grass fed butter
1 tbs coconut palm sugar (its a very mildly sweet sugar)
1/2 tsp great lakes collagen (this adds just a touch of thickness, but more importantly aids in cell reproduction)

*pour everything in blender and blend on high for one minute or blend in a tall glass with immersion blender
*pour velvety smooth and creamy, nourishing coffee in your favorite mug and enjoy the kick start to your morning!

Poured over ice, in my favorite tumbler is the perfect afternoon treat!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

immune support


that's right. your body is made to thrive! to live a holistic lifestyle, means embracing that your wellness, or vitality comes from the *inside* out. your body has its own healing mechanism and will always strive for perfection.

we just have to get out of the way!

in the wise words of cady from the movie mean girls, "you need to suck out all the poison." eliminate all refined/processed/packaged foods, or what my family calls "fake food," from your diet. refined flour, sugar and dairy (not to mention all the man made chemicals used to process them) are so damaging they actually rob you of your given right to vitality! trade them in for nutrient dense whole foods and the trek to wellness is already half way completed!

since health comes from within, we can't add to it from an outside source. but what we can do is consume foods and quality supplements that nourish our immune system to work at full capacity. after you suck out the poison, now is the time to call in the back up squads to assist your inner healing mechanism! assisting our immune systems should be a main focus of everyday…if she falls, you'll go crumbling right after her. traditional/tribal/indigenous cultures understood this truth and took great care to eat nutrient dense foods, and use herbal remedies and tonics daily to keep them in their natural state of vibrancy. for more on that whole #truthbomb right there, check out "nutrition and physical degeneration" by: dr. weston a. price…and prepare to have your mind blown! 

here's a few basic ways i choose to nourish our immune systems everyday:

elderberry syrup, fermented garlic, vitamin c

vitamin c
i take one capsule every morning and my children take a chewable one. at the first sign of sickness and until wellness is resumed, ill take a vitamin c with each meal.

elderberry syrup
elderberries have been used in traditional medicines for hundreds of years in cultures all over the world.  each of us take 1 tsp every morning. and you guessed it, at the first sign of sickness and until its gone we'll take a tsp with each meal. realfoodrn.com has a great recipe for elderberry gummies (using nutrient dense grassfed gelatin) that the kids love to snack on…ok i do too!

fire cider
oh this stuff is amazing! it's a base of raw apple cider vinegar with antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal herbs, spices and roots. left to "marinade" for a month and then strained, this fiery tonic will burn sickness right out of you! i take 1 tbs with raw honey every morning. it's heat is something fierce so the kids only get it when they ask for it. the recipe i use is over at mommypotamus.com

fancy label not required, but i sure do love it!

fermented foods
the *best* way to keep our immune system flourishing, is to keep our inner eco system balanced, by eating probiotic rich foods. i always have a stash of homemade fermented goodies around, but if you buy them in the store make sure the label says "raw" and "traditionally fermented." we eat a condiment sized amount with each meal.  

and while were "sucking the poison out", can i remove some of the poison of fear you may feel about sickness in general? our culture has taught us to be scared of the first signs of sickness, and has given us no empowerment of how our bodies function...so our default reaction to sickness is to run to a doctor or drug store for modern medicine. medicine is wonderful in trauma situations, but ultimately these chemical reactions will not make you stronger to fight off infections in the future. they will weaken your immune system as they "bandaid" your current ailment. so when a headache or stomachache or even a rash ails you, this is your immune system communicating to you that it has arrested the foreign substance in your body, and is doing it's job to filter it out for you. good job immune system! now all you have to do is "get out of the way" and provide that extra back up support!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

fermented garlic

if you're following me on instagram (@mynourishedvibes), you are quite familiar with our dependency on fermented garlic. it has made it's way into dimitri's bentobox school lunch every day!

roasted carrots/frozen blueberries/elderberry gummies/veggie wraps/homemade mayo/dye free pickles and fermented garlic

it certainly sounds like it belongs in a witch's brew, but i promise you the name is much scarier than it's flavor. allowing the beneficial bacteria to grow on the cloves of garlic, means a little army of probiotics have gone to work "pre-digesting" it. because of this, it's flavor is actually dulled down a little bit, and when eaten raw, it just tastes like a pickle with a kick. 

i can't think of a better way to keep dimitri's immune system running on all cylinders during the school day. garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial, basically killing all germs it comes in contact with. it's a major immune booster and as far as i'm concerned, a cure all for everything, making it the all star of my kitchen! allow it to ferment and it now becomes a power house of probiotics ready to fight off intruders! can you imagine my excitement upon watching each member of the deer pack pop raw fermented garlic into their mouths everyday?? and i didn't even tell them too!! they really get me….

fermented garlic
4 heads organic garlic, peeled
2 jalepenos, sliced (optional)
1/2 onion, sliced
1-2 tsp sea salt
filtered water

*slice onion and set aide.
*peel garlic and slice jalepenos. (feel free to throw any other sliced veg in there. i just happened to have 2 jalepenos in my fridge that needed to be used. and boy i can't wait to try them!) mix in a medium bowl with the sea salt. 1 tsp was enough for this batch, but if your cloves of garlic are on the larger side, you may need more. just make sure that each piece looks evenly dusted with salt.
*pour salted garlic and jalepenos in a glass jar. place sliced onions on top to keep everything submerged. pour in filtered water until everything is covered, making sure there's at least one inch of space at the top to allow for expansion.
*seal the lid, and leave at room temperature for one week. (two weeks if your kitchen temperature is cooler.) when you're ready to open it, be sure to open it over the sink…it will fizz and bubble!
*store in the fridge indefinitely. eat raw or chop it up and add it to other recipes.

if you try out this recipe, post it on instagram and use the hashtag #MyNourishedVibes so i can cheer you on!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

new beginnings

I'M BACK!!!!!

It has been three looooong, years of silence....and I don't even have a good excuse for you. Ok maybe I can find three sweet/wild/chubby/loud/hungry  *precious reasons* why I haven't invited you to hang out in my kitchen for a while…..


As Dimitri started kindergarten last week, I waved goodbye through tear soaked eyes to the little boy who made me a mama. My heart felt every emotion humanly possible, as I realized a chapter of our lives was closing. But through the tears of "where has the time gone," I felt the fresh breath of new beginnings.  I could see joy on the horizon, but I knew I needed to release these emotions to move forward. So I strolled down memory lane with a grateful heart. Grateful that though I wasn't ready to be a mom at age 20, Dimitri chose me in my brokenness and revived my soul. Grateful that God showed me how to choose indigenous truths, (like nursing on demand, co-sleeping, and baby wearing)  in every moment of our modern chaos. Grateful that I was able to be a stay at home mom. Grateful that every temper tantrum, every kiss, every full diaper, every hug, every up all night, were all moments….priceless moments, with the boy who stole my heart!

I re-lived each moment of the last six years, through a burst of nostalgia. I saw the moments before me, embraced them with love, prayed that God would be the "more than enough" where I wasn't, and released my grip on the past as I inhaled the new beginning. 

baby Dimitri in our original blog days

my baby all ready for his first day of school

The wave of nostalgia brought me to old Facebook albums, Dimitri's baby book, and eventually the wave crashed me back here, where so many of our sweet memories are documented! My heart feels so full to read the recipes I used to write while a sweet little baby napped in my lap. My soul is nourished to see these snapshots in time of a young girl, a young guy, and a baby in our tiny college apartment. It wasn't always easy or convenient, but we chose love, truth, and real food six years ago, and it is the foundation we're rooted in today.  As we have added another baby to the deer pack since my last post, making us a family of five, and some of my cooking styles have evolved over the years, the goal of my kitchen and blog are is still the same.....

nourish us in body, spirit and soul with real food

document our adventures

inspire you to choose real food.....and enjoy your new beginnings!