Saturday, August 8, 2015

Blueberry Basil Gelato [Recipe]

      So I've been gone from the blog for a bit, life's been somewhat hectic, and I was beginning to feel myself getting into a kind of slump. Though, it wasn't the usual sort of slump that I typically find myself falling into; this one has been much more circumstantial, and heavily influenced by factors that are mostly uncontrollable for me. With forces somewhat out of my control, I started finding it more and more difficult to keep up with healthy eating habits. I've never really enjoyed the thought of myself as a perfectionist in any way, but I most definitely like to think that, as a mother, I'm capable of feeding myself and my child the best I can. I'm absolutely certain that no one likes to think of themselves as sub par, particularly us parents. Not to say that I've been a horrible mother in any way, but times have definitely been tough for me lately, and I've sort of just been trucking through it with all my might. No one's life is perfect all the time, or even most of the time, but I'm not going to quit being me, or doing what I love, and what helps me feel my best, which in turn makes me the best mother that I can be. It's been hard, but I'm still trying.

      Recently I've been focusing on smaller goals. I realized a pattern, that when I attempt to focus on eating as perfectly as I can all of the time, I tend to have much harder falls. Eating to 'perfection' all of the time, while dealing with any kind of illness or even just life's normal daily struggles, can become a fairly daunting task. At least that's what I've found to be true. I've been aware of this issue for quite a while, while almost subconsciously pushing it aside. It's taken me an extremely long time to truly accept this, but in doing so I'm starting to realize that I'm actually a lot more successful at staying balanced, and maintaining a real groove in my lifestyle patterns when I take on a challenge bit by bit. So am I currently eating as well as I'd like to be? No, and everyday is different, but I'm definitely on the right track to getting back into my groove.

      A lot of my time is spent thinking about snacks, not only because I'm just a foodaholic, but also because, as most parents know, it can be tricky getting a toddler to eat a consistently balanced diet. One day my daughter will only want to eat blueberries and avocados, and for a week straight she may be on a never ending quest to load up on carbs. Often times snacks can be the most difficult meals of the day, because almost all snack foods you find in stores are incredibly processed, with lots of additives, preservetives, unhealthy oils, and sugar. It really seems like the only way to provide truly healthy snacks are to make everything from scratch, but not many people have the time for it. There are tons of foods which I do make from scratch, and a lot of them can be really time consuming to make, so when I find something that's not only super tasty, extremely healthy, but incredibly simple to make as well, I know I've got a real keeper.

      It was while we were at the farmers market about two weeks ago, when as we were leaving, one of the vendors offered my daughter a taste of gelato. I asked if she had anything vegan, and she did, it was a sorbet. Blueberry basil sorbet, which I thought seemed like an odd, yet interesting flavor combination. My daughter and I both loved it! A couple of the ingredients were questionable though, and it contained loads of sugar, so it wasn't something I would want us eating regularly. Before we even made it back home my mind was already spinning with ideas on how I could create something similar, but better; something even more like a real gelato, with that same great flavor, only healthier. Bananas seemed to be the logical conclusion. Banana "nice cream" is pretty big right now, and for good reason, it's always delicious. Though I wasn't entirely certain that bananas would work for this, mainly because I really didn't want a strong banana flavor, which you can often get with "nice creams." So I tinkered with the recipe in my head for a bit, then gave it a go, and it was a huge hit the first try! I've made it at least three times in the past two weeks, it's just so yummy, and if my 3 year old loves it too then I'm a really happy camper.

Blueberry Basil Gelato
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 large ripe Bananas
- about 5 ounces, or one small Mango
- about 1/2 to 3/4 pint fresh Blueberries
- 6 to 10 fresh Basil leaves, depending on how strong of a flavor you like
- First slice your bananas and mango into chunks, place them in ziplock bags and freeze, or you can always use pre-frozen mango like I did.
- Once they're frozen solid you can place them into your food processor, and process until it just begins to start getting creamy. First you'll see it turn into crumbles, and you may need to stop your machine to help press everything down.

- Once it begins to get creamy you can add your blueberries and basil, and continue processing.
- Blend until you've reached your desired consistency, though be careful not to over process it, as it can become too watery. But if that does happen all you have to do is pop your mixture into the freezer for a little while, and it'll get right back to where you want it.

Come visit me on Instagram!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Working My Way Back To Normal

      I say "normal," but in all honesty I'm still not entirely sure what that means. Do any of us? I'm nearly 25, I've been "abnormal" for the better part of my life, two decades, and I still can't even begin to fathom how my own mind is supposed to function; what it means to be like everybody else. The good news, I think, is that even most normal people feel the same way that I do at some point in their least I think.

I remember being in kindergarten, we only had half days in our school, and I had been in preschool before so it wasn't an entirely new experience. At that time our bathrooms were in the classrooms, but they were single bathrooms. I distinctly remember the all encompassing fear that I felt just contemplating having to close the door. The mere idea of it terrified me, I obsessed over it throughout the day, praying that I wouldn't feel that uncomfortable fullness indicating my need to go. Barely able to focus at my desk, my daydreams were consumed with every illogical, and unlikely event that could possibly take place, fearing my life would end. I'd look out of the windows for some reassurance, only to be thrust further into a state of terror, thinking that the oddly shaped clouds in the sky were asteroids on a collision course with earth. Everywhere I turned there was some hidden threat, lingering in the shadows just hoping for me to find them. In my mind there were lines on the grounds where I walked, borders which indicated "safe" or "dangerous zones," where I could or could not walk. Though the consequences of stepping into an unsafe area I wasn't entirely clear on, but I was certain death in some manner would be imminent. I was five years old.

Those are some of my first experiences where I can remember thinking, "Why can't I be like everybody else? Why can't I be normal?" Surely none of my peers minds were scrambling in panic the way mine always was.

I've repeated those phrases in my head, begrudgingly shouted these questions more times than I care to remember. I was afraid of everything, simply being away from my mother for any amount of time was a source of infinite anxiety, enough to send me into a tailspin of sheer terror. I was barely school aged, and having full blown meltdowns, panic attacks, on a regular basis. My mother was called to pick me up from school more times than either of us can count. I'm certain that at this time most of the adults around me probably believed that I was just high maintenance. When I finally had the opportunity to meet my first therapist at age 6, 

she told my mother that I was "attention seeking," and to "just ignore her."

      It may be silly, or childish, but I still hold a sort of resentment towards this woman for the years of needless suffering I endured, when it was her job to help me. It took nearly 10 years to finally be given a diagnoses, though it has evolved over time, Obsessive Compulsive with psychotic tendencies. Little did I know that my aunt was dealing with Schizophrenia at the same time. Mental illnesses tend to do that, stay in the family. As I got older I realized that I had been doomed from the get-go; every single woman in my family suffered with varying degrees of anxiety disorders. Apparently, I just happened to have landed with the worst case out of everyone. Lucky me.

Me, age 7

I think the one thing that all people dealing with mental illness understand is that there will always be both good and bad days, and our illnesses can tend to follow somewhat of a cyclical pattern. There's a very fine line that you balance on daily, and any small change or disturbance could potentially send you tumbling 50 feet down into a black hole of worry and confusion, scrambling once again to gain your footing so you can attempt to begin the long and arduous journey back up to your balance beam.

      This is the strange, and oddly comfortable limbo that I've found myself in over the past few months. Sometimes I only begin to regain my footing on the ground before stumbling again. Other times I feel as if I've finally made my way back up, not quite so sturdily perched upon my balance beam, before being abruptly thrown off once more. My tumble downward isn't always a surprise, nor is it always quick. There are times when I can see the decline as it begins, while it's taking place, I often feel powerless to stop it. Almost as if I'm not actually a part of myself, but some spectator forced to watch the madness.

Other times the downfall is so abrupt that it's as if I've been struck by lightening on a sunny day. 

So here I am again, somewhere in the in between stages of trying to crawl my way up. I've been gone from the blog for quite a while now, and the simple truth is that when I originally set out to create a blog I had this immaculate vision in my mind of myself as this put together, adult woman, someone that had fought through their personal struggles but had come out on the other side unscathed. I wanted to be the person who could give advice, who could be looked up to, a person who had it all figured out.

But now I'm okay with admitting that that's just not me, and perhaps never will be. 

Though I want to be clear, I am not trying to disparage myself, or be self deprecating in any way. None of what I've said is a bad thing really. I'm finally getting to a point where I'm okay acknowledging all aspects of myself. I'm at a place now where I respect that this is going to be a lifelong journey for me. There won't ever really be an "other side" to come out on. This is my life, an experience in learning, and in that way, starting this blog has actually been a really wonderful thing. It's beginning to feel like a sort of catharsis, which is what I needed most whether I wanted to admit it or not. This is now providing another tool to help me analyze things from a different angle. 

      So I may not be able to offer up all of the answers, or any. But what I can offer are my experiences, I can offer my journey trying to navigate through all of life's turbulence, and hopefully I can offer someone the comfort of knowing that they're not alone. I know that would've been incredibly helpful to me in the beginning, and probably now more than ever. Because the truth is that I feel alone,


and unable to connect with other humans on any sort of meaningful level. I feel different than others, I do feel strange, in a sort of ostracized environment, perhaps of my own making. But I need to reach out, even if it is in the most passive sort of way, essentially anonymous, but it's a step. 

Still to this day, after having dealt with mental illness for twenty-some odd years, I've yet to find anyone that can relate in this way. So perhaps now, through this blog, I'm trying to connect, to something. Maybe you're reading it looking for the same, or maybe you were just in search of some tasty plant based recipes. All I can say is that from here on out 

I am not going to attempt to be anything, I'm just going to be.

I need to shed all of my layers, peel off the callouses I've worked so tirelessly to try and hide. Talking about mental illness is a difficult thing to do, which is probably why it's taken me so long to finally get started. It's terrifying, I am terrified. The stigma surrounding these types of illnesses are very real, they run deep, and I experience it from others on a nearly daily basis. My own family, as loving and close as we are, still have no idea how to even begin to handle it, or what to really think about it. Though I'm coming to the conclusion that the best thing I can do for everyone is to just open up, at this point it's a necessity, otherwise I may drown in my stagnation. 

So where do we go from here?

     Well I am most definitely still going to be focusing on holistic health, since that's such a huge part of who I am, and dealing with mental illness is what brought me to this place in my life. I will absolutely be posting recipes that I'm trying out, because I do love food quite a lot, and you can't be healthy without providing your body the necessary building blocks.

But first and foremost I want this blog to naturally evolve into a place where I can share my daily struggles, or my daily triumphs. A place where I can both laugh and cry, and talk about all of the wistful meanderings of my mind, while also discussing methods that I'm using to try and better myself and my situation. I want this blog to be a place where I can express all of the intricacies of life, so that's where I'll be taking this, starting with this post right now.

Consider ourselves reborn.


Please feel free to come follow me on Instagram for random tidbits, updates, whimsical musings, but most of all mouth watering food porn. Light & Love xoxo  Antonia

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quick Update & Thoughts About the Future

Unfortunately, I've needed to take a break from blogging. It was something that came about very unexpectedly, but I really needed the time to gather my thoughts, and deal with some life difficulties, both new and old. I'm feeling much better, and just getting back into the swing of things so I just wanted to very quickly update so that it doesn't seem like I've completely disappeared. I'll be posting a more detailed update within the next day or two, to let everyone know what's been going on. I'd also like to switch things up a bit with the next few posts, and I'd like to begin focusing a bit more on dealing with mental illness naturally, since that's really the reason I began my journey into holistic nutrition in the first place. I will most definitely still be posting fun new recipes that I'm trying out which support a healthy lifestyle, but I'm also planning to speak more about my personal life balancing everyday life and motherhood with mental illness, and learning how to manage my symptoms using a holistic approach.

Thank you so much for all of the support. If anyone would like to stay updated with what I'm up to day to day then please click the link and come check out my Facebook page, Semi Raw Kind of Life.

Love & Light

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chocolate Almond Butter Tarts (Imitation Hail Merry)

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've updated. I like to try and post at least once a week, especially since the blog is so new and I'd like to build on to it as much as I can. I've been dealing with some things which I definitely intend to talk about in an upcoming post, mainly having to do with some internal issues I've been trying to figure out how to deal with. The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I'm just now trying to get back into the groove of things, which can be difficult because it feels so much like almost starting off from scratch. But here we are, and to try and start getting back into my groove and feeling well, I figured the best way to do that would be make some sweets, and what's better than a rich, decadent, chocolaty dessert?

When I used to shop at Whole Foods I discovered Hail Merry Miracle Tarts. They're insanely delicious, and contain ingredients that I feel comfortable consuming everyday, like coconut oil, almonds, real maple syrup for sweetener, and they're also vegan, gluten free, paleo, and essentially raw aside from the fact that they use cocoa instead of cacao. The main problem though, they are far too expensive for me to buy almost ever. I have a pretty strict budget when I go food shopping because organic produce is my main priority, which adds up quickly. So spending almost $5 on a tiny treat which will last me all of two seconds just isn't in the cards. You can purchase a 12 pack from Hail Merry's website for $100, which sounds kind of insane to me since I just can't imagine having the ability to drop that kind of cash on 12 little chocolates, but more power to those that can afford it.

After a bit of consideration I realized that I already have all of the ingredients needed to make one of these, and I'd actually made similar desserts before without realizing there were recipes for these kinds of sweets, back before I knew there were entire real food and raw food communities. So I figured why not give it a try? I thought even if it doesn't come out tasting the same it'll probably still be delicious. The good news is that these do taste incredibly similar, and are very delicious. All you'll need for this are a few simple ingredients, and some baking cups.

Chocolate Almond Butter Tarts

Makes about 6-8 tarts
Crust Ingredients:
-1/2 cup Almond Flour
-2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
-1.5 Tbsp Coconut Oil
-1/8 tsp Sea Salt

Center Ingredients:
-1 or 2 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter

-Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.
-Mix together your dry ingredients.
-In a separate bowl warm your coconut oil just until it's a clear liquid.
-Add coconut oil to dry ingredients and mix well.
-Scoop about half tablespoon (a bit more or less may be needed) into baking cups, and press down with your fingers, molding the mixture into cup shapes.
-Place in the refrigerator while mixing filling.

Filling Ingredients:
-1.5 Tbsp Coconut Oil
-2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
-1/8 cup Raw Cacao Powder

-Melt your coconut oil just until it reaches a clear liquid consistency.
-Add maple syrup, and cacao powder and thoroughly mix.
-Take crusts out of the refrigerator, and scoop a bit more than 1/2 teaspoon almond butter into each cup, then fill the rest of the way up with your chocolate filling.
-Refrigerate for at least an hour, or if you're eager like me then you can pop it in the freezer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Creamiest, "Cheesiest" Vegan Alfredo Sauce I've Ever Eaten

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year, from the crisp air feel, to the changing leaves, though above anything I just can't get enough of the flavors of Autumn; the apples, the spices, but most of all I absolutely love the vegetables. As the air begins to chill I've been starting to crave a little more hearty of meals, and I've definitely been craving the complexity of flavors from a cooked meal which I haven't yet been able to achieve with entirely raw foods. So with that I decided to prepare one of my all time favorite vegetables, spaghetti squash. There are a million and one ways you can prepare this delectable vegetable, but the easiest, yet still my favorite, is to use this as a pasta replacement. You can top your spaghetti squash with any sauce of your choosing and it's bound to be absolutely scrumptious.

I've made a number of different vegan alfredo sauces over the past year or so, both raw and cooked, and while they were all good, none of them quite "hit the spot" the way you expect an alfredo sauce to do. So the last couple of times that I've made it I tried using past recipes as a baseline, and then tweaked them until I finally came to the recipe I have now. It's rich, oh so creamy, and full of complex, robust flavors. It is a cooked recipe, but I'm definitely going to be toying around with it to try and achieve a similar flavor in a raw sauce. 

To get a nice "cheesy" flavor I like to use nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast comes in both powdered or flake form, it's extremely versatile, and can be added to many different snacks and meals to add an extra punch of flavor and nutrition. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids which our bodies are unable to produce on their own. It also contains the entire array of B vitamins, aside from naturally occurring B12. Though nutritional yeast can be a great source of B12 because it most often is fortified. Vitamin B12 is only naturally produced by bacteria, which means that wild grown yeast can contain this vital nutrient, though commercially produced yeast can not. Nutritional yeast also contains iron, potassium, and selenium, which really makes this a wonderfully healthful food to add in your arsenal.

Spaghetti Squash & Creamy Alfredo Sauce

Serves 2-3
- 2 medium/large Spaghetti Squash
- 3/4 cup Cashews (soaked for 4-5 hours)
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 2 cups Vegetable Stock (not broth)
- 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 small Lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- Coconut Oil
- Dried Parsley (optional)

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place rack in the center of your oven.
- Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the inner seeds. Place cut side up in a pan, brush with coconut oil, and sprinkle with dried parsley.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until the squash is fork tender, and ready to separate.

- Roughly slice or chop your garlic, it doesn't need to be particularly small.
- Place your garlic in a pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil, and allow to brown just slightly, cooking for only a minute or two on low/medium heat.
- Slice your onion, and add them to your pan, allowing to cook for another few minutes, just until they start to become translucent.
- Add 1 cup of vegetable stock to your pan and allow to simmer down until there's no more liquid, and your onions appear almost creamy.

- Place your soaked cashews, onions and garlic, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 3/4 to 1 cup of stock (depending on how thick you want your sauce) into a blender.
- Start on a low speed, and increase up to high for one minute.
- Once cooked, take your spaghetti squash out of the oven and allow to cool just enough to be able to handle.
- Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti strands from the sides of the squash, and scoop it into bowls.
- Pour sauce over spaghetti, and enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pad Thai (Raw/Vegan/Grain Free)

Thai food is one of my favorite types of cuisine, if not my favorite. The complexity of flavors, and the combinations of sweet and spicy are absolutely delectable in every way. Pad Thai is the pinnacle of Thai food for me, and mastering it is an art form. Traditionally Pad Thai is eaten as a street food, served sweet and slightly salty, and with only a touch of spice. It's made with soaked rice noodles which are stir fried with eggs, tofu, and tamarind paste, that's the basic gist, but there are other variations.

I actually wasn't intending to add this recipe to the blog quite yet, since I had been playing around with recipes for quite awhile. But I tweaked some of my old recipes, and made what I think is my best attempt yet, and so many people have already asked for it that I figured why not just write it up so anyone can try it? I do apologize because I only took one photo the night I made this, since I wasn't initially intending to post this recipe. I'll most likely be making this dish again very soon, so I will update with more photo's as soon as I do.

Pad Thai

Serves 1-2
- 2 Zucchini
- 2 Carrots
- 1/2 small head Red Cabbage
- 6 stalks Scallions
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1/2 cup Alfalfa Sprouts (or whichever sprouts you prefer)
- 1/2 cup Raw Almond Butter (I prefer crunchy)
- 1 Orange
- 2 Limes
- 2 Tbsp. Raw Honey or Maple Syrup
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh Ginger
- 2 Tbsp. Nama Shoyu, Coconut Aminos, or Tamari

- Spiralize, or Julienne your zucchini. Julienne carrots, dice bell pepper & scallions, thinly slice red cabbage, and set aside.
- Mince ginger.
- In a bowl mix together your almond butter, juice from orange and limes, Nama Shoyu, honey, and minced ginger.
- Toss all of your veggies and sprouts with your sauce, and serve.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick & Easy Vegetable Nori Wraps

At this stage in life I find my days to be fairly chaotic most of the time, with running after a highly active two and a half year old, and trying to keep an eye on her while attempting to prepare healthful meals for the family, it can sometimes be really difficult to get a good meal on the table. I'm still new to the raw food lifestyle, and I'm constantly searching for delicious new dishes to try that are also not terribly complicated, or time consuming to make. There's definitely a bit of a learning curve when first starting out trying to incorporate more raw meals into each day, but there are a couple of tricks that I've learned to help make things a bit easier.

1. Meal Plan - Yes, it can seem a little daunting to begin. If you can take time one day each week I can promise you that not only will the rest of the week become less stressful, but you'll save money by only buying what you need, and you'll reduce waste. My new routine is to meal plan on Friday because I do all of my shopping on Saturday. One of our local farmers markets is just a few blocks away from the supermarket where I shop, MOM's Organic Market, so I head there first to buy as direct as I can, then I head over to the supermarket to fill in the gaps. To make life even easier, I recently began using Pepperplate, which is a meal planning website with an accompanying phone app, and it's free. You can add your own recipes, and it will take ingredients from your weekly meal plan and put them onto a shopping list for you.

2. Prep Veggies Ahead of Time - Now, you probably won't be able to prep all of your vegetables in advance, since some could definitely dry out, or get too soggy. But for vegetables like carrots, cabbage, peppers, and onion I chop, shred, or slice enough for most of the week so that I've got ingredients ready to go. You may not be able to prep enough for the entire week, because you do want to retain the freshness of your vegetables, but I can typically get 4 days worth of prepped foods. Just make sure to store everything in separate air tight containers, mason jars, or even ziplock bags would work.

3. Waste Not, Want Not - Don't let food go to waste, seems simple, but putting it into practice can actually be somewhat difficult when you're not used to it. What do I mean by this? Well if you're like me, and you're addicted to juicing, then save the pulp after you juice all of your veggies. The pulp is great to add on salads, or wraps, even raw desserts, and baked goods. Also, if you have produce which may go bad soon, and you can't seem to find a use for it, then either juice 'em or make a smoothie for a quick snack that's packed with nutrients.

I'm always looking for the most simple ideas for lunch, because I typically eat while my daughter is napping since it's the only meal that I can prepare without needing to focus on multiple things at once. As she gets older the naps get shorter, so the quicker I can prepare a meal and get to sit so I can actually eat it, the better. Prepping vegetables in advance, and saving the pulp from juicing have both helped tremendously with this. Typically I stick with a simple salad, but that can get a bit monotonous. I used to eat a lot of wraps and burritos made with the standard wheat flour, or sprouted flours, but I wanted to find something a bit healthier, and more nutritionally substantial. That's when I discovered that you can buy nori sheets.

Nori is a seaweed which is most commonly used in sushi. You can buy nori sheets both raw and roasted, so make sure to check the labels before you buy them. Seaweed is high in nutrients such as vitamin A, B6, C, as well as fiber, and iodine. The iodine contained in seaweed is beneficial for those that eat a lot of raw cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Eating a large amount of these vegetables in their raw form has been shown to increase the risk of hypothyroidism. Though, making sure to eat enough iodine containing foods like seaweed, potatoes, navy beans, and seafood can help to counteract the affects cruciferous vegetables have on the thyroid.

Vegetable Nori Wraps

Makes 4 small wraps
- 2 Raw Nori Sheets
- Sprouted Hummus (or any other spread or dip of choice)
- 2 handfuls Spinach
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
- 1 Carrot
- 1/4 small Red Cabbage
- Broccoli Sprouts (or other kind of sprouts)

- Julienne your carrot and bell pepper, and thinly slice your red cabbage.
- Lay your nori sheet on a flat surface, and spread desired amount of sprouted hummus on about three fourths of the sheet.
- Place a layer of spinach on top of the hummus, and then top with your Julienne vegetables, placing them lengthwise on one end of your nori sheet.
- Top with your red cabbage and sprouts, then roll your nori sheet around the vegetables, just like you would with a normal wrap.
- As you get to the end either dab your finger in water, or use a small bit of hummus to seal the end of the nori sheet closed.
- Slice diagonally down the center, and you're ready to eat!