Back to Basics

I’m really hot.

And dehydrated. Which really doesn’t help things.

My now former job, which you can read about here, for many reasons, was incredibly stressful and hectic. Some days were so busy that I would leave my apartment at 8am and get home at 7pm, accumulate 5 miles of walking during the day, wouldn’t have time to eat more than a few bites of lunch, and would only be able to sneak sips of water here and there. I would drink a couple glasses of water after work, but be so exhausted that I wouldn’t have much time before going to bed to adequately hydrate myself. I would wake up the next morning, have coffee, not drink enough water, and then continue this cycle day after day. It got so bad that at one point I had to make an ER visit due to dehydration that started to affect my kidneys. Holy kidney beans, batman.


After this, I really had to step back and reflect as to why I wasn’t hydrating enough. Yes, I was crazy busy at work, but I have been insanely busy since my senior year of high school, and I never, ever neglected to drink water.  That’s when I realized that I was simply just bored of drinking water. I was bored of the taste, I was bored of feeling restricted; After all, I cut out all fruit juices, sweet teas, and sodas from my diet. Looking back, I probably should have predicted that this would happen. People who follow a Paleo diet have a lot of things that they can’t consume, but now that the primal movement is gaining more steam, there are many new sunstitutes for grains, refined sugar, and even dairy. But drinks? Nope. Nada. Water, coffee, tea, coconut water, and kombucha is all there pretty much is, my friends. So that’s when I made a conscious effort to flavor my water, and change it up every couple of days.

But then I moved to the desert.

And in the desert I need to up my water intake even more because 15 minutes in the sun now feels like 2 hours in the sun..

So let’s get back to the basics here. We all need water. And now that I’m making a conscious effort to drink even more water, I’ve decided to share some fun flavored water recipes. They are incredibly easy, tasty, and make drinking water much more enjoyable. Plus, they’re gorgeous to look at and make for great accents to the table during meals and entertaining. Here are some of my favorite combinations, but the possibilities are really endless here.


Infused Water, 9 Ways

Each recipes makes approximately 4 liters of flavored water

Citrus mint

  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • ¼-½ grapefruit, sliced into wedges
  • 1 bunch of mint sprigs  

Basil

  • 1 bunch of basil

Chocolate Mint

  • 1 bunch of chocolate mint

Lemon-lime

  • 2 lemons, sliced into wedges
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges

Orange-Raspberry

  • ¼ cup raspberries, washed
  • ½ orange, sliced into wedges

Berry

  • ½ cup strawberries, washed and sliced with stem removed
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries

Pineapple-Watermelon

  • ¼ cup sliced pineapple
  • ¼ cup sliced watermelon

Lemon-Lavender

  • 1 rind from a lemon
  • 2 sprigs whole lavender

Rosemary Lavender

  • 2 large sprigs whole rosemary
  • ½ rind from a lemon
  • ½ rind from an orange
  1. Take 1 liter of water and add chosen herbs or fruit.
  2. Chill in refirdgerator and let infuse for at least 2 hours.
  3. Serve over ice.
  4. Fruit can be reused up to 4 times (Approximately 4 cumulative liters) before water starts to lose flavor. 







Was St. Patrick Paleo?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Normally, I would say what a great spring holiday it is, but here in DC, its miserable. Overnight, it snowed up to 10 inches in some places, effectively shutting the city down for the 10th snow day since January. I even got stranded in Houston overnight on my way back from my weekend trip to New Mexico, although to be honest, I didn’t mind- it extended my time in the sunshine just a little bit more. I literally went from this beautiful southwestern weather:

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To this:

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Ugh. Take me back.



I'll be the first to admit it: I have a serious sweet tooth. Scratch that- I have a serious chocolate tooth. Forget sugar, just give me chocolate. (Unless, of course, you have some German-quality Gummy Bears, then you can give me those...in addition to the chocolate.) I also have serious mint cravings. Mint chocolate chip ice cream and I go way back. Shamrock Shake season at McDonald’s used to be my favorite. It was my favorite up until I realized that every time I ate one, I felt so incredibly sick. Somewhere along the line, I put two and two together and figured if I something was making me feel sick, I shouldn’t put it in my body. Also, I'm a little creeped out by just how green those things are. So there’s that.

When I switched over to Paleo, I was worried about not being able to enjoy the *ahem* sweeter things in life. Giving up grains? No problem? Processed foods? No problem. (Good riddance.) Most of dairy, starches, and limiting fruit? No problem. Desserts? Problem.  BIG problem.

A lot of my Paleo recipes and experiments focus on desserts, mostly because its what I really enjoy. When I first switched to Paleo, I tried to replace all the foods I had favored throughout my life with Paleo friendly versions of them: almond flour pizza crust, coconut flour cupcakes, cashew flour cookies, almond butter banana bread. These are great alternatives, don't get me wrong, but I quickly learned that even these replacements should be limited. Although lots of these recipes follow the Paleo formula, the focus really should be on consuming vegetables, healthy fats, and animal proteins. These are the things that combine together to create optimal health, immunity, and energy.  Paleo baking recipes are wonderful treats, but should you really be consuming the 100 almonds that have been crushed to make that almond meal pizza crust? The 30 cashews that have been crushed to make the batter in that single Paleo cupcake? Probably not- diets should be more balanced, even if it still is Paleo.

So after a few months of Paleo baking my little heart out, and finally realizing that I can't exist off of almond flour everything, and realized that I needed to start approaching pleasing my sweet tooth in a different way. Eventually, I came to this recipe. Actually, I didn't really come to it, a friend of mine asked me one day: "So have you tried Chia Seed Pudding?".

What? Chia Seed Pudding? What? I hadn't heard of it, but she immediately listed off a recipe, and ensured that it was "the best". This girl knows her stuff. and she really nailed it on this seed pudding thing. Chia Seed Pudding is so easy, has only a few ingredients, and can be flavored probably 100 different ways. It really is the best. (Thanks Kathy!)

Since it is St. Patrick's Day, I festively flavored this pudding version with mint. If you don't like mint, just leave it out, and you'll have chocolate. I've also listed some varieties below if you would like to try out a different pudding flavor.


Shamrock Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

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  • 16 oz. canned coconut cream (canned coconut milk will work too)
  • 2 tbsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 11/2 tsp. mint extract
  • 4 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 7 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. melted raw honey
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then serve.
  3. Really, that's it. 

 

Variations:

  • Mint Cream: omit the cocoa powder from the above recipe, increase the vanilla extract by an additional 1 tsp.
  • Chocolate: omit mint extract from above recipe
  • Vanilla: omit the cocoa powder and mint from the above recipe, increase the vanilla by an additional 1/2 tbsp.
  • Maple Pecan: reduce the honey by 2 tbsp, add 2 tbsp. maple syrup. Stir in pecans.
  • Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules, omit mint extract
  • Mint Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • Coconut chip: omit mint extract, add 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
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