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Strawberry-Quinoa Salad

This salad has become a family favorite for almost a year now! It is light, sweet and salty and is almost like a "dessert" salad. The mixture of flavors with all the toppings almost taste like a raw cheesecake, yum!

I have decided after 7 years of only posting raw recipes, to include other plant-based recipes that our family has come to love. I hope they will inspire you on your own health journey!

A quick update on my health. By avoiding all the nightshades and many other foods on my weak allergy foods list,  all except for wheat and tomatoes are cleared now. Our bodies are amazing! I have also started taking a probiotic and magnesium/calcium to boost my immunity and hopefully help with my gut healing.

Back to the Salad~

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Strawberry Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
Organic Baby Spinach
Quinoa- cooked
Fresh Strawberries, cut up
Raisins
Raw sunflower seeds or Almonds
Cashew Parmesan
Avocado (optional)
Lemon-Agave Dressing

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)
Quinoa is similar to rice and can replace rice in almost any recipe. It is a complete protein and my very favorite grain because of it's light, fluffy and slightly nutty flavor. It goes well sprinkled over salads or as a main dish with veggies! I always make a big pot of it and serve half for dinner and save half for the next day!

1. To cook Quinoa rinse your desired amount once in a strainer with very small holes because the grains are so small and you do not want to lose them! 
2. Use twice as much water as quinoa +1C. Bring Quinoa to a boil.  
3. Turn to low for about 20 minutes. Stir only once or twice while it is cooking.
4. When it is almost done and you can’t see the water boiling on the sides, do NOT stir. Fluff up the sides a bit and let it sit 5-10 minutes then fluff up the top.

Cashew Parmesan 
This gives the salad the salty flavor and can sprinkled on any salad or cooked veggies and can be stored in the fridge in a container for a week. 

1 C Raw Cashews
1 T Nutritional Yeast
½ tsp. Sea Salt
Process until you have fine crumbs. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Lemon-Agave Dressing
½ C Lemon, juiced
½ C Agave
1/3 C Olive Oil
Shake together and use on any light salad for a sweet dressing.

Layer the salad starting with the Spinach. Add the quinoa, sliced strawberries, raisins, seeds, parmesan, avocado (if using) and top with dressing.

The great part about this salad is that you can make as much quinoa as you need for your family and save it and the other toppings for later!  We also love this salad because sometimes the littles want separate piles of quinoa, strawberries and a few toppings.
I hope you enjoy this family favorite salad! 

Night-shade free Guacamole and Cauliflower "Rice" Taco Salad

I am convinced that avocados are one of the most perfect fruits when ripe!
I have loved a good guacamole for years, but I almost always added chunks of tomato and red bell peppers. This new version is great and I even added more dark leafy greens in it for texture and benefits. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
*Remember this is Family Size!

3 Avocadoes
1Tbsp of Lime
1/4 C Kale
1/4 Red Onion, minced
1 Small Garlic
1/8 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Add all to the food processor or just mash together with a fork or avocado masher.  It's great on a salad or to dip cucumbers in!

While I made organic brown rice and black beans for my family to put on our taco salad, I tried making "cauliflower rice" for the first time, which is just cauliflower in the food processor until it resembles a small rice. It was not bad and mixed in the salad I actually really liked it.
Night-shade free Taco Salad 
Chopped Romaine
Sliced Cucumbers
Kalamata Olives
Guacamole

Update on avoiding nightshades

 It has been one month since cutting out the nightshades. I wanted to post about it so I could remember and maybe it will help others too. The first time I went grocery shopping it was kind of hard to not buy our foods we have bought for years and even based meals around, like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers among other normal foods for us, like broccoli. Instead I bought a lot more cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and sweet potatoes. It was actually not too bad of a transition and I did come up with a lot of new recipes...I will try to post some things we tried.
 So some good things that have been happening health wise are that we introduced a lot of new veggies. For two weeks I ate all raw and no night-shades. My savers were Sunfoods coconut wraps to wrap in carrots, avocados, spinach or romaine and zucchini with sprouted beat hummus. I felt pretty good, fit and healthier, even though my knees and wrists didn't change. My stomach felt better (it's been one month without any acid/burning in my stomach-yay) and my MIND felt better, I wish I could remind myself how great I feel in those moments. Then I had dates, raw brownies, and decided to try sweet potatoes. They were great, but then the "all fresh" feeling left, and I decided to eat cooked-vegan, but no nightshades or grains except for some quinoa. Unfortunately we then found an amazing almond-flour blueberry muffin recipe and an almond-flour almond butter brownies. I say "unfortunately" because while we replaced wheat flour with almond flour, we still added all the pure maple syrup and then the sweet/salty cycles begins again, wanting more- never feeling "satisfied" like when I eat all raw, low fat and not extra sweeteners.
 However, life is a journey and this month I have learned SOOO much! I now know about Paleo...even I was almost convinced that I needed fish again...and I never liked fish I the first place! I can see how it may work for people going from SAD to Paleo, but not for me. I've been email bombarded with Dr. Axe's "bone broth benefits." While I like a lot of his "fruit and veggie for this or that" lists, I am not about to add a powdered meat product to my diet..nope not for me. I looked at the Gaps diet- I liked the idea of adding in fermented foods and probiotics... even though I don't really like the taste of vinegar, sauerkraut isn't so bad mixed in a salad. I looked at Candida and while I do think my family eats more natural sugar than anything else, I do not think I have that, but at least learning about it motivated me not to buy raisins, dates, pure maple syrup and agave for a while. Actually I think we may be done with agave for good... Still debating with all the controversy going on about it, it seems like since 7 years ago when I was first buying it that it has gotten thinner...is it really agave?
 Anyways, I had no idea that there were so many variations of what people eat. I guess when you choose a lifestyle and go with it for so long you don't really have a reason to go searching again, unless a problem arises or unless you are a fad dieter...which I've never been. 
 So after a month of no nightshades I did some muscles testing and found that tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes were all strong. Goji berries, cayenne, chili powder and eggplants are still weak. But I have just been thinking how amazing is is that just by avoiding these foods my body could create a tolerance to them again! Our bodies are truly a gift from God.
 Well, yesterday I decided to try a tomato on my almond-flour tortilla with avocado, lightly cooked spinach and zucchini with salt and pepper. I have to say that even reaching for the perfectly ripe tomato I didn't WANT to eat it, but I tried it anyways and I ended up scraping it off. It just tasted weird and actually kind of gross and sour. My conclusion is that maybe my body is not necessarily intolerant to tomatoes now, but maybe I do not really NEED tomatoes in my diet. What did I really eat them with before? Salsa.. and since I have not had corn either, we cut out our blue organic corn chips, it was probably for the better. Soup...with LOTS of chili powder! I may keep a few around for my hubby, but we'll see since I do most of the food fixin'. :)
 Oooh, but let me say that without chili powder I have come to like a few new spices. I like black pepper and cumin together, and the Gram Masala that I get in our bulk section does not have any nightshades in it and adds a yummy balance of sweet almost cinnamony and curry-ish flavor (nope, my old love of curry is still on my no-list.) It will be interesting to see if other food sensitivities clear up.
 I want to end with this. With all the learning, my brain has become overwhelmed! Reading and reading and thinking things like, "less cashews, more greens, less dates, berries are low sugar..." and "If I eat this, what will I feed my 6 children and husband?!" or "This food is now "good" but that one causes mold in the body"-which by-the-way is what I think is making my wrists and knees flare up, and we had our vents cleaned, but now I think it is already IN me, so that is one more reason to kill the bad in my gut and put in the good, okay another tangent, I know!
 While feeling overwhelmed with reading, and trying to decipher what are truly "the best books" or "sites" these days,  I finally sat down to read my scriptures today and while reading had the thought, "Do what you already know works for you, start there..." I'm thinking, Like raw? Some cooked veggies, not much added sweeteners and add in these new fermented and probiotics and probiotic-rich foods? Could it really be that simple? I then turned to a random page, which I do occasionally just to see if I can be inspired and in The Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 20:4. I had this underlined, "I know, in the strength of the Lord, thou canst do all things." It brought me to tears and I had to say a quiet prayer of thanks right then. What I learned best of all is that no matter what trial, disease, limitation, stress, or burden you carry, the Lord cares about you and He can comfort you in and through it all and He will let you know in His way and His timing what He wants you to know, do and feel. Today I did not find "the perfect diet" for me, but I found comfort and peace. The rest is in the hands of the Lord.

A Fresh Start

 Hello and Happy New Year!

 If you are one of the few who have ever followed my blog or stumbled upon it, you may have wondered why I haven't put anything new on here for....a like a year? Well, it is mostly that my family does not eat all raw anymore and I just could not bring myself to change the blog.

  I have had recipes I have wanted to post on here that our family has come to love that are plant-based and cooked, but just never either took the time or felt like they were really "healthy" all around. 

 However, we have stayed completely plant-based for the last 7+ years. We have enjoyed much health balanced weight, get well quickly and have added more family members- we are now at 8!
 Since I believe in celebrating the good that happens in life, here is what we have done well.
1. We have not eaten meat or dairy and very minimal white sugar or flour.
2. We have eaten thousands of fresh fruit, veggies, green smoothies, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
However, we have eaten a lot more baked goods with whole wheat flour, corn chips/tortillas, peanut butter, coconut palm sugar, and LOTS of tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.

 That sounds pretty good right? I thought so too. Well, recently my knees started to hurt more and my wrists, though a different area than years ago, started to swell slightly and be sore. I had also noticed that whenever we had spicy foods (that I love) and taco soup or curry the upper part of my stomach felt a slight burning. I have really bad heartburn when I am pregnant, and now not being pregnant and still having a burning was really noticeable and uncomfortable.

 I love to run, so a big part of my problem may be that I am working out more now that we live in a warm climate during the winter, but part of me had to ponder on if I still had some sort of imbalance going on in my gut!
 So you start with what you know, right? What I know was that I had similar symptoms in the past and I have tried orthopedics in my shoes, so I got those out. I also know that the only times I feel free of any stomach issues is when eating completely raw, although I had noticed that when eating raw, my favorite tomato soup still made me feel funny.

Here I am on another health adventure. Dealing with 2 issues, joints and stomach. Are they related? Maybe, maybe not. If they are great, if not, great. What I know is that we are given tests and trials in life to LEARN! I am not a afraid to learn, change, and learn again. I love it! Learning is a gift and so is this body that I have been given!

I was just thinking this morning how we are motivated to change when we are AWARE of a problem and the problem is interfering with comfort in life.  I also believe that once we know something, we are accountable for that knowledge. 

 So I went completely raw again, but this time I felt to do some self-allergy testing first. After testing I found results that I did not necessarily like,  but did not find surprising. 

My list of intolerance or weakness in the allergy testing included:
* Wheat, wheat flour, millet, yeast, corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, mold, cows milk, cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, white-sugar, AND Tomatoes, Brown Potatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Egg Plants, and Gogi Berries.

WOW! What I realized was that when we went raw 8 years ago, it immediately eliminated some of the major known allergies, but ones that I never thought about having issues with, only knowing that when I ate a lot of bread I felt bloated. So at that time, it was probably one of the best things we did and has definately not hurt us! Slowly we added back in cooked vegetables and grains and we felt it was a good place to stay.

I thought that my list was kind of odd when it got to those vegetables until I made the connection that they are all what are considered "Night-Shade" foods. I had heard many years ago that sometimes inflammation can be related to night-shades, but thought it odd because these are fruits and veggies we're talking about, not something that "hurts" us.

Over the years of our health journey I have learned many things. Recipes, diets, fads, intolerance, allergies, I have been to classes and read books, read blogs, talked with many people about health- what is "good", what is "bad" but I know one thing for sure. No BODY is the same. What feels bad to my body, is fine on my husbands. While others people cannot eat nuts, my body feels great eating them.

Talking to my husband the other day I decided that I love the Word of Wisdom given in Doctrine and Covenant 89. It is a definite guideline! Here is what to avoid and here is what is better for you.  After that, our bodies are all different from genetics to lifestyle choice and I believe we need to learn for ourselves what is best for us individually.

 So here I have new-found knowledge. I almost take it on as a challenge. A way to have a fresh start, literally. A way to find new recipes that feel good to me. It's time to add to the blog, find new recipes and share what I learn with others. A time to learn more about the body, zoning, allergies, and more. If one day I am free from those intolerances, great, but if not I will always go on faithful in the Lords plan for me and continue to learn what I can and share with others.

May YOU gain knowledge and have a Fresh Start to your health this year!
Angela