Green Power Protein Salad

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Well, hello there, 2017! It’s so nice to meet you!

I hope you all had an awesome time ringing in the New Year! Now, it’s time to revisit those goals and check in with how you are eating. So…how are you eating? Be honest! Are you “starting” a new diet this month?

My goal with my clients is NO DIETS. The goal is to help you transition to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, so that when the new year creeps up, it’s not some daunting task to weed out all the junk! The reality is that you can eat clean 90% of the time, and allow for those treats you love (within reason) around those special times of year or whenever you’d like. It’s not about living a restrictive life; it’s about enjoying an empowered one!

Here is a kick ass, detoxifying and energizing recipe to get you pumped for your first week of 2017! I call it my Green Power Protein Salad! It’s jam packed with nutrients, plant protein and healthy fat!

Green Power Protein Salad

 

Ingredients (serves 4):
•1 bunch organic kale (your favorite variety), rinsed well and chopped
•1 can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
•1/2 cup pre cooked quinoa
•1 avocado, chopped

For dressing:
•1/4 cup olive oil
•1 tsp apple cider vinegar
•1/2 fresh lemon squeezed
•Water, to thin, to your desired consistency
•Sea salt and pepper to taste
Whisk and drizzle over salad, then toss!

First, place kale in a big bowl with a bit of olive oil and massage for a few moments. This helps break this rough leafy green down a bit.

Place kale and other ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with dressing. Toss to coat.

Will store for about 3-4 days in tightly sealed container in fridge.

For more delicious and healthy recipes or to get started on your health related goals, contact me! It’s my joy and purpose to serve you! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Yours in health,

Dori

Vegan Ayurvedic Recipes

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of doing a food demo in an Ayurvedic Immersion class that was taught by Travis Eliot at Santa Monica Yoga. I received my 200 hour yoga teacher training with he and his amazing wife, Lauren Eckstrom last year. I admit, I don’t have extensive knowledge in Ayurveda, but I do find it very interesting! I have seen a couple of Ayurvedic practitioners in the past, and have even tried diet recommendations to help with the issues I went to see these people for. I believe in the power of Ayurveda. Heck, it’s *only* 5,000 years old. 😉

So, when it came to the food demo, I was a tad limited, since I would not have access to a kitchen. Travis originally asked if I would be willing to make kitchari, which is a sort of porridge, and it would have been awesome, but alas, no stove.

I chose two foods that I could do with minimal cooking requirements; Golden Turmeric Milk and Ayurvedic Bliss Balls. All these required were my Vitamix blender and my food processor!

I thought I would share these recipes with you, so you would have the chance to experience some of the healing benefits in these foods. They call for the use of some pretty healing and delicious spices; cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and saffron. Before I get into the recipes, I want to share with you the benefits of these particular spices. I am a nutrition educator, after all! 😉

Spices

 

Cardamom:

  • Known as the “Queen of Spices”
  • Good for detox, digestion, and is considered an antioxidant
  • Mentioned in the Vedic texts as antidepressant
  • One of the most expensive spices next to vanilla and saffron

Cinnamon:

  • 2 types of cinnamon on the market: Ceylon & Cassia – Cassia is most common and cheaper, Ceylon is “true” cinnamon, and more expensive
  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, lowers blood sugar
  • Has been shown to help with HIV
  • Cinnamon pacifies Vata and Kapha doshas, but it may aggravate Pitta dosha if taken in excess.  It has a sweet, pungent, and bitter taste, it is heating, and has a pungent vipak or aftertaste

Ginger:

  • Excellent for digestion, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness
  • There is an ayurvedic sutra (verse) that says that everyone should eat fresh ginger just before lunch and dinner to enhance digestion.

Turmeric:

  • Antiinflammatory-natural Ibuprofen
  • Antioxidant / anti-cancer
  • Every traditional Indian bride is layered in turmeric paste before her wedding to create that special glow!!
  • Used in Ayurveda to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, though in excess, it can aggravate pitta and vata.

Saffron:

  • Most expensive spice on the market (roughly $8 per oz.)
  • Dried stigma of Crocus plant
  • Helps pacify all three doshas. It improves immunity, increases energy, helps fight phlegm and respiratory disorders, improves vision and reduces inflammation. Its tonic can lower cholesterol, improve digestion and help treat spleen ailments, insomnia, impotency, premenstrual syndrome and neurodegenerative disorders.

Now, here’s what you can make with all of the above!! Enjoy!

Golden Milk 1

Golden Turmeric Milk – traditionally, this recipe uses ghee (clarified butter), and is served warm. My version is vegan and sort of a “cheater” easy version that can be served warm or cold

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (or you can use coconut nectar or stevia, if trying to avoid sugar)

Blend all ingredients well in your blender. Serve cold, or warm gently in a small pot over the stove to enjoy warm.

Ayurvedic Bliss Balls – bliss balls are amazing because you can pretty much add in or remove any ingredient that doesn’t work for you, and since they are raw, the proportions do not have to be exact. Play around and create your favorite version!

  • 1 C dry coconut flakes
  • 1/4 C raw almonds
  • 1/4 C raw sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 C Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 5-6 saffron strands

Process all ingredients in your food processor and roll into bite sized balls. Can store in the fridge for 1 week.

For more information on Ayurveda, you can contact Travis, although, his focus is on teaching yoga and teacher trainings. He is definitely an expert though! Another amazing resource and friend of mine is Dr. Aunna Pourang, who is an Ayurvedic MD!!! Check her out here.

For nutrition coaching and more super healthy and easy recipes, contact me! As always, I’m happy to be of service to you!!

Golden Milk

Dori The Healthy Donut Baker

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Hey all!

Wow! I feel like a jerk for not blogging regularly, so I apologize for that! I know it’s been a while, but hopefully you’ve been staying in touch on my social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

If you’ve been kind enough to follow me there, you may have seen recently, that I’ve taken up baking healthy donuts! Kinda random, I know, but it’s been super fun, and those babies have been keeping me pretty busy! Last month, I was honored to participate in a Lululemon event in Brentwood for the Manta Movement bracelet launch, my buddy’s open house for his amazing natural therapy clinic Pure Vitality Rejuvenation Center and a Meatless Monday event in Long Beach where my donuts were in the swag bag with some delicious vegan fave samples provided by Beyond Meat, Daiya Cheese, Upton’s Natural’s and Field Roast! I was blown away and so stoked to have my little donuts handed out with such BIG names in the vegan world! #grateful

I just wanted to tell ya about the donuts since I don’t have an official website for them, so you won’t find much about them online, unless you’re following my social media.

The donuts are vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free. They are made with gluten free oat flour and contain chia seeds, for added protein. They contain roughly 10 g of sugar per donut (varies on the topping choice), and the sugar source is a teensy bit of pure maple syrup. They are all topped with a chocolate glaze, and that is sweetened with malitol, which is a sugar alcohol (and thus, less than 1 g of sugar and zero calories).

I started playing around in my kitchen, and posted a photo of them one day, and it all started with one friend asking me to make her a batch and then POOF, it’s now “my thing.”

You can find them weekly in my office at Lotus East-West Medical Center, and they can be ordered privately via email: healingthrufood@gmail.com. Currently, I am only servicing Los Angeles, and this helps to keep them local, fresh and “eco-friendly”. 😉

My philosophy behind them is that you do not have to give up tasty, fun food if you want to eat healthy. Eating healthy *should* be FUN!

Speaking of fun–it’s 4th of July weekend!!! Hope you have plans to do something SUPER fun (and healthy). A few healthy tips:

  • Stay hydrated (travel with a refillable water bottle)
  • Bring your own food to parties (something fun to share–a big salad, a gigantic watermelon–it doesn’t have to be complicated to be great)
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Graze all day–even if it IS a holiday–especially if you *are* drinking

Stay safe and have fun, you guys!! …AND, if you’re local and would like to order donuts, shoot me an email! I’d love to connect with you over some truly healthy, delicious, guilt free treats!

 

Plant-Based Protein Sources

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The majority of people I come across and work with do not always understand where they can find alternative sources of complete plant protein and some will argue that a plant-based diet is lacking and one cannot survive without eating animal flesh. Hogwash!

Also, in my humble opinion, I think we are truly a bit “protein obsessed” in this country! On average, we only need about 20-30% of our calories to come from protein and our bodies can really only absorb about 20 grams of protein per sitting, so consuming globs of whey powders of pounds or grilled chicken breasts won’t do us any good since the body does not maintain a store of excess amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Once your daily protein needs are met, your body has two options for dealing with any excess protein. Option 1: If your calorie intake is low that day, your cells may convert it into fuel. Option 2: If you’ve had plenty to eat that day (i.e. met your caloric intake), your body will convert the extra protein to fatty acids (a.k.a. FAT).

Many argue that plants are not a source of “complete” protein. The term “complete protein” refers the building blocks of protein: amino acids.  There are 20 different amino acids that form a protein molecule, and there are nine that the body cannot make on its own. These nine are called essential amino acids and since the body does not produce them, we need to get them from food sources. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in mostly equal parts.

So, animals products such as meat and eggs are naturally complete proteins, and plant sources such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are not. But I’ve got news for you; we don’t need every single essential amino acid in every bite of food in every meal we eat; we only need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day. So, if you are consuming a diet rich in nutrient dense plant-based foods, and grazing all day, your body in its infinite wisdom, is smart enough to do its own combining and you’ll get what you need! So don’t worry too much about that and get your butt to the farmer’s market!

As you browse the list to follow, you can see there are plenty of healthy, nutrient dense, plant-based protein choices listed (that are not just soy-based—with the exception of organic tempeh, which I like on occasion!). A lot of these things can be thrown into smoothies, which I believe is the tastiest way to consume things like blue-green algae, for instance.

Most supplements can be found at your favorite health food store, or online.

POWER PACKING VEGGIE PROTEIN SOURCES

  • Green-leafy veggies (spinach, kale, bok choy, collards, green cabbage, arugula)
  • Good quality plant-based protein powder (my fave is Sun Warrior)
  • Goji berries
  • Mulberries
  • E3 Live (amazing blue-green algae product-this can be extremely powerful for mental clarity!!)
  • Blue-green algae such as chlorella and spirulina
  • Hemp (raw hemp seeds and hemp protein)
  • Pea protein
  • Rice protein
  • Fresh olives
  • Grass powders (wheatgrass, barley grass, etc. I like Amazing Grass’s products)
  • Maca powder
  • Brewer’s yeast (not recommended for people with candida)
  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Raw almonds
  • Sprouted grains
  • Sprouted wild rice
  • Sprouts of all types
  • Nut butters
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, black, adzuki, etc.)
  • Lentils
  • Organic, non-GMO tempeh

As you can see, there are plenty of foods to choose from! If you need more specific help incorporating them into your diet, contact me! I can help you come up with some very tasty ways to start consuming more plant-based protein, and I promise, you won’t even miss that burger!

Gluten Free & Vegan Superfood Granola Bars

I totally admit it: I love snacks. I especially enjoy protein dense bars that aren’t full of sugar or GMO-laden ingredients. That’s why, sometimes it’s nice to make your own, so you can control exactly what goes into them! Homemade granola bars are super nutrient dense (as long as you use natural sweeteners) and make the perfect on-the-go snack for you or your kids, if you have ’em. If not, make up a batch and share the food love with friends, if you have ’em. If not, eat them all yourself. 😉

I whipped up a batch of these amazingly simple Superfood Granola Bars, and yes, they are amazingly gluten free AND vegan as well! Score! Granola bars are great because you can pretty much add anything you like to them after making a basic recipe. If you don’t like my ingredients, swap them out or add in other things you like. I will give you some suggestions for additional ingredients as well. Make them your own and rock on with this healthy snack!


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Gluten Free & Vegan Superfood Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (I like Medjool dates best)
  • 1/4 cup natural sweetener of choice (I like 100% Grade B maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter or sunflower seed butter (I used sun butter here)
  • 1 cup raw almonds, loosely processed in food processor
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup dried mulberries
  • Teensy pinch of sea salt
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Optional ingredients: raisins, shredded coconut, vegan chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raw cashews, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax…

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 350, and toast your oats for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a food processor, process dates down into small bits. You can soak your dates in warm water for 5 min before hand to get them soft, if they are not already.  In food processor, they should turn into a little ball, kind of like a dough ball.

In a large mixing bowl, place oats, almonds, dates, cacao nibs, mulberries, sea salt and cinnamon, and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat your sweetener and nut butter of choice over low heat. Stir and pour over ingredients in your mixing bowl. Make sure to break up the dates while doing so.

Once everything is mixed well and coated, transfer to an 8×8 dish or other small pan lined with parchment paper. Press down with another piece of parchment paper until flattened. Cover with plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.

Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days.

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 See how easy it is to make your own granola bars??!? I hope you’ll enjoy these and explore making them, or a version you are inspired to try!

COMMENT BELOW about what your favorite on-the-go snacks are! Would love to know!

Also, if you are looking for guidance on choosing the right foods to help YOU heal, contact me for a complimentary 30-minute Nutrition Assessment to see if you could be a good fit for nutrition coaching!

Super Easy Kale Chips

kale chips 2

I read recently that kale was “out” and cauliflower was “in.” Our culture is so strange sometimes and we witness our food go through trends, just like clothing does. Kale will never be “out” to me, and will always have a place in my heart and in my kitchen.

My mom is growing a TON of kale right now, so I get to reap the benefits of her green thumb. Lucky me!!

…and I don’t know if you have bought kale chips in the market lately, but they are SO expensive, so why not make them yourself?!? Of course, having a dehydrator helps, but you can always make them in the oven too, on the lowest setting that is available to you.

These are really incredibly simple, so make sure to try them! They make a great snack for the kids, or to take on the go, but just beware, they will go FAST!

Simply Sweet Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 head of kale (any variety)
  • Virgin, unrefined coconut oil
  • Sea salt
  • Raw honey

Preparation

Rinse and dry your kale. Cut into chunks or break apart into decent size “chip” pieces. If you do them too small, they shrink right up and you get nothing! 🙁

Pour about 1 tbsp. of liquid coconut oil over kale. If your coconut oil is solid, you can place the jar in warm water and it will turn to liquid rather quickly.

Sprinkle about 1 tsp. sea salt onto your kale and massage oil and salt into the kale. This helps to break it down a bit and will help the sweetness from the honey stick.

Drizzle about 1 tbsp. (or more…depending on how sweet you want them) onto your kale and continue to massage the kale.

Spread onto your dehydrator sheets and try not to let them touch and get piled on one another. Dehydrate at about 118 degrees F for about 12-14 hrs.

If you do not have a dehydrator, you can make them in the oven by heating your oven to 145 degrees F and bake until crispy, 4 to 5 hours.

Here’s a crazy idea…why not make them for Labor Day??? It’s always nice to contribute a conscious snack to a party or BBQ and I guarantee, your friends will love them!

If you liked this recipe and would like to add more healthy foods like it to your diet, contact me for a FREE NUTRITION STRATEGY SESSION! I look forward to hearing from you and wish you a healthy day!

Chocolate Cranberry Chia “Mighty Bars”

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So, just about every weekend, I head to Cafe Gratitude after doing yoga at the Yoga Collective and pick up one of their “I am Mighty” superfood bars.  The bars consist of raw ingredients such as hemp seeds, cacao nibs, goji berries, coconut flakes, almond butter, etc. I decided that I would try to make my own version of these bars to try to save a bit of money (since they are over $7 each), and save my visits to ‘Gratitude for special occasions and delicious meals with friends. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite restaurants on the planet and they serve up some really tasty and beautiful food.

I created my own version this past 4th of July because I wanted to bring something conscious to a holiday BBQ we were attending, and since I rarely write recipes down, I had to fake it with my second batch, but you know what? They came out pretty flippin’ AWESOME!! This is my favorite thing about making raw desserts…no baking, no exact measurements; just playing around until I like how it tastes and feels! It’s super fun! So, here ya have it… Healing Thru Foods version of the ‘Mighty, which I hope you will try and enjoy as much as I do (the entire batch is nearly gone already, lol!).

Chocolate Cranberry Chia “Mighty Bars” Recipe:

(makes 9-10 bars)

Ingredients for barsIMG_0452

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 dried cranberries (or you can use gojis, dried blueberries, or any dried berry of choice)
  • 1 tbsp. raw coconut butter
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 1 teensy pinch of sea salt

(Un)Cooking instructions:

1. Soak cranberries in warm water for about 5 min. 2013-08-04 13.48.34

2. Add all other ingredients to your food processor. Do not yet process.

3. Drain cranberries and add to food processor and grind up all ingredients.

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4. Form into little squares (try to make them about 1/4″ thick).

Ingredients for raw chocolate:

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  • 2 tbsp. raw coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup virgin, unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (or 100% grade B maple syrup) this is to taste, so if you desire sweeter chocolate, feel free to add more sweeter or choice
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder

(Un)Cooking instructions:

1. Melt down coconut oil to liquid form if it’s solid. You can do this either by placing the jar in hot water, or scooping out your desired amount and heating it on low in a sauce pan.

2. Add coconut oil to a medium sized bowl and add coconut butter, cacao, and honey.

3. Whisk together to get a nice, thick liquid chocolate.

Dip each bar half way into the chocolate and lay out in a glass baking pan on parchment paper. Stick bars in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Will keep in fridge or freezer for about a week.

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Enjoy these bars as a quick and healthy (yes, they ARE healthy) on-the-go snack, a dessert alternative, or a post-work out replenisher, since it’s PACKED with protein!

For more delicious plant-based recipes like these or for nutrition coaching information, contact Dori from Healing Thru Food today!

 

Nut Butters-What’s the “Jiff”erence?

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Creamy. Chunky. Slightly salty. Mmm! Who doesn’t love a good nut butter? And if you have a peanut allergy, it’s not a problem anymore because you’ve got so many nuts and seeds to choose from! There’s almond, sunflower seed, hazelnut, macadamia nut, cashew, sesame seed, pecan…pretty much any nut or seed you can think of, it can be ground into a smooth butter for you to make a modified PB & J or eat it plain by the spoonful straight out of the jar!

I am such a huge fan of nut butter as they provide a great source of healthy fats and plant based protein. But which nut butters are better? Is there a difference and what are the overall health benefits they provide besides the two I just mentioned (healthy fat and protein, if you forgot already)? Nuts and seeds are known as polyunsaturated fats (or sometimes called PUFAs), and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Dietary intake of PUFAs have been shown to decrease the risk of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It’s also important to note that we need a healthy balance of omega 6s to omega-3s in our diet for optimal health. In our Western diet, Americans tend to consume an overabundance of omega-6 oils in their diet due to processed foods.

Processed foods as we all should know by now are foods that are meant to stay on a grocery store shelf until eternity. They contain preservatives, added colors, flavors and chemicals to make them appear fresh as the day they were made. These additives are no good for your health and actually create an alarm response in the body, contributing to inflammation. These foods are in fact “false foods” and not truly food at all, unless you consider all the above additives to be food you like to feast on. I for one, do not. I like to follow Michael Pollan’s rule of thumb and “eat only foods that will eventually rot”.

You’ll notice with natural or raw nut butters, there should only be one or two ingredients. These should be the NUT and maybe SALT or SUGAR.

Let’s take a look at one of the “not-so-natural” peanut butter brand’s ingredient list. Tell me if you can spot what’s wrong with this picture.

Ingredients:

MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTS AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT.

If you guessed “fully hydrogenated vegetable oils”, BINGO! Those are also known as TRANS FAT! Trans fats are the bad fats we are not supposed to consume because they increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and clog our arteries!

True, some of the brands that use these ingredients have shifted and started to come out with more natural products, but I say, why give your hard earned money to the guys that still put crap on our shelves? Why not support local or smaller companies that need our business more so they can continue to make a great product for us?

Which brands are best is going to be up to you and up to your taste buds. Just follow the guidelines of reading ingredients.

Some of my favorite nut butters are:

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter
  • MaraNatha No Stir Creamy Almond Butter
  • Once Again Organic Sunflower Seed Butter
  • PocketFuel Naturals (I love the Chocolate  Haze, Vanilla Haze, and the Crunchy Banana Blueberry!)

Now, raw is best, if you can afford it because the nuts have not been heated, thus keeping all those nutritive natural oils in tact. The issue is, raw nut butters are pretty flippin’ expensive! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $21 to spend on a jar of nut butter. You *can* however, experiment with making your own!

Here is an amazingly simple recipe for Raw Almond Butter:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. raw honey (optional)

Place almonds in food processor. Process for about 10-12 minutes. You will need to scrape down the sides when it starts to stick. Add in sea salt and/or honey after you’re done processing the almonds and stir by hand.

Remember, healthy fat is good for us! Contrary to popular belief, healthy fats can actually help control our weight! They also help with fatigue and mood! Don’t ditch the fat, just consume the right kind!

For more help figuring out a nutrition plan that works for you and your personal needs and lifestyle, contact me! I will happily create a personalized nutrition plan that WORKS and is sustainable! We’ll have you reaching your health related goals faster than you can say PB & almond butter!

I look forward to helping you!

 

 

Getting to Know Cocomo Joe – My Interview with Owner Joe LaCroix

One day, after getting acupuncture from my friend Natha at Eastern Therapeutics down in Redondo Beach, CA, I stumbled (and yes, I was kind of in a daze from a great session) into the Whole Foods down there and saw a demo table for Cocomo Joe’s products. Having never seen them before and learning that everything was vegan, I of course gave them a shot! Brian (or, “Happy Brian” as I have named him), was as friendly and as upbeat as one can be doing a food demo. He seemed very enthusiastic and passionate about the products he was representing. I tasted the fig flavored Joe Bar and thought it was great! First off, I love anything fig and second, these bars caught my attention because of the following: they are raw, vegan, organic, paleo and non-GMO. Now let’s face it, there are about a bazillion different bars on the  market, so choosing one can sometimes be an arduous task, so I decided to find out more about the actual company, and meet the man behind Cocomo Joe himself; Joe LaCroix. I went down to the Cocomo Joe headquarters in Inglewood, CA to interview Mr. LaCroix.  You can read Joe’s full bio and story on the company website, and it is a very interesting read, but I wanted to get some information that he doesn’t speak about. I hope you find him to be as interesting a person as I did.

DORI: Joe, in what ways did starting Cocomo Joe change the way you look at food and the industry?

JOE: It made me look at everything more closely because when I decided to start doing this, I decided to do this with as much integrity as I could and it just made me just look at everything else and that sort of helps me to keep my products in the same integrity because I’m constantly looking at other stuff and it would be hypocritical to say, “oh that’s got junk in it, but I put junk in my stuff”, so it does make me really look. It’s educated me a lot more on what to look for. When I was looking for things to put into my products, I learned a lot throughout this whole process. I still feel like I don’t know anything about this business.

DORI: What was your relationship with food prior to starting Cocomo Joe? Vegan? Paleo? Junk food eater?

JOE: I’ve gone through phases where there was a time when I ate raw for a while, when I ate vegan for a while, and the whole paleo thing, I didn’t even know what that was until I started working out at Crossfit. A friend of mine told me about these Crossfit guys that he knew and that I should give my bars to them and I didn’t know who they were, I just thought it was one little gym down in Laguna Beach where he worked out, but he never followed through. I would call and ask him if he wanted to give some bars to these guys and he wouldn’t. Then one day, I was at lunch and there was guy in front of me in line and he had a Crossfit shirt on, so I asked him about it and he was a local guy who worked out at the place where I work out, which is Dogtown Crossfit and I was telling him about the bars and I had still never heard the word “paleo” until I got in there and started working out and they said, “oh, we like your bars” and then I kinda learned about the whole paleo thing.

DORI: Wow, so it was a total accident and you didn’t actually call them “paleo” until after you met the Crossfit people?

JOE: Well, I hadn’t even designed the packaging yet. I was still in the process of forming everything. It took me about 3 years. I wanted to make sure it didn’t move too fast, then once I rented this building, which was about 2 years ago, then I knew I was on the faster track to make this happen.

DORI: Did you have to compromise anything at all when beginning to make your products due to industry standards?

JOE: Yes. I used to put bee pollen in the bars, but because of the organic rules, there are certain things you can put into foods. You can put certain chemicals into food if there is not an organic alternative. Our popcorn has baking soda to make the mixture work right, but bee pollen is wild harvested, so they don’t trust the bees not to use pesticides (laughs). What it is, is that since they are wild harvested, they have no knowledge of where the bees are going to collect the pollen so they could be picking up pollen from things that have been sprayed with pesticides. If you want to get certified organic bee pollen, there has to be verification that there’s not any pesticide spray within a 3 or 5 mile radius and then it’s really expensive and it’s really hard to get, so I just thought, I don’t even know if the enzymes in the bee pollen are surviving the dehydration process, so I could be putting this in there for nothing. I think bee pollen is the greatest thing in the world, that’s why I buy this stuff (shows me his vibrant yellow bag of bee pollen) from this guy in San Diego and he charges like $40/lb for this! But look, no other product when you find it in the store leaves this much pollen in the bag and when you first get this, it’s like glowing in the bag, it’s so effervescent.

DORI: Do you put that in smoothies?

JOE: I just eat it straight.

DORI: Does it have an instant effect? Does it give you energy?

JOE: Have you ever had straight bee pollen?

DORI: No (I have had it in smoothies, but never straight up! So, Joe gave me 2 teaspoons of it raw and it had a very interesting taste. I actually liked it a lot!). Thank you!

JOE: You’re welcome. So, that was my biggest compromise because I really believe in it and I really wanted to be able to use it, but it didn’t work out that way logistically. I just couldn’t do it since I couldn’t count on the supply.

DORI: So, with omitting the bee pollen, you could also continue to call your products vegan since they may not be considered vegan if they had bee pollen in them, right?

JOE: I guess, and certain people say that, but I don’t know why they say that since all it is is the pollen from flowers.

DORI: I guess that’s a tricky question and would depend on which vegan you ask (laughs).

JOE: The bad thing about the whole bee thing is that people don’t understand that the bees are in trouble and a lot of people I know don’t understand the connection between everything and the whole ecosystem. I don’t know much about it at all, but I understand on a basic level that we can’t go around screwin’ with stuff. Like now, I just read on the internet that they are talking about going and injecting certain mosquitoes with something in Florida to see what happens and genetically modifying mosquitoes! It’s so “Island of Dr. Moreau.”

DORI: I totally agree and I know there are certain things you shouldn’t mess with, but thank g-d we have people like you creating beautiful food to at least ensure that people are getting nutrients. Hopefully, the ingredients will be around for a while and won’t be going anywhere. Speaking of ingredients, where do you source all your organic,  non-GMO ingredients from?

JOE: Different distributors. Luckily, since I had a lot of time I would get on the internet and research places to get bulk sources for the coconut and coconut oil, all the stuff that we use. So, through searching. Luckily, it’s kind of a helpful community, so if people know where to get something, they will tell you where to get it.

DORI: That’s great! So, you build relationships and pride yourself on community. Okay, so speaking of coconut, I know you use a lot of it in your products. It’s very trendy right now, so do you see it as a continuing trend?

JOE: I hope so because the thing is, I don’t look at it as a trend. I started using coconut 3+ years ago with all this stuff and there was still such a pervasive belief that coconut was bad for you and I just went with intuition and said, “You know, I’m just gonna trust this and my gut is telling me to go with this and use coconut…and I believe it’s good for you” and over the past few years, we’ve really seen a big change. And there are still people who go, “Isn’t coconut bad for you?” and I just say, ” Look, I’ve been eating it for the last 3 years between 1 and 3 of these (Cocomo Joe) bars a day, and I’m not obese. I’m not at my high school weight or anything, but with or without those I wouldn’t be (laughs). So, I hope that it stays and I hope that instead of it being a “trend”, I hope that it becomes known as “okay, it’s good for you”, and then leave it at that. It doesn’t have to be “in” or “out” or the next great thing and that’s how humans are, and it’s kinda stupid, but I think those are the kind of people that are gonna jump to every diet. They probably did the South Beach Diet and the Zone Diet and everything else, but there are the real people who really want to eat healthier that have already been eating coconut and will continue to eat it.

DORI: I guess it’s all about education.  Do you find any challenges with educating people since I know that’s what you’re doing when you are out demoing your bars?

JOE: Yeah, I guess I sort of know how a politician feels getting one person at a time, but when I demo, people look at our bars and they say, “Look at all those calories, look at all that fat”, and I say, “Well, you can’t trick your body.” I say, “Your body needs fuel. You are eating a bar that’s 330 calories or 340 calories and it’s got 22 grams of fat, good fat, it’s coconut fat, but it’s only 2 ounces, so it’s small. If you eat this thing, it’s not going to bloat your stomach out. You’re not going to feel stuffed, but your body’s going to know it’s gotten some nourishment, because these other big bars probably contain no calories, and you eat it and you’re all stuffed and you’ve got no calories, but the problem is, you trick your mind. So, what I think happens when you do that is your body still says, “I’m still hungry. You haven’t given me anything to live on”, and now you’re full and you’re still hungry or you’re full and your body hasn’t been nourished but you don’t think you’re hungry, but I would rather let my body know I’ve been fed and not be full, because I don’t want to feel full. I hate that feeling of being stuffed, so I’d rather eat a little bit and go “Wow! I’m not totally stuffed and I’m not hungry” and your body says “thank you” because you’ve given it what it really wants.

DORI: What goals have you yet to achieve with Cocomo Joe?

JOE: We have achieved that we are in Whole Foods, we’re in Mother’s Markets, also we should be getting the whole southern region of Whole Foods and then we also have a broker in Colorado that’s probably gonna get us into the Rocky Mountain region. This region is I think 45 stores and that region is 30 stores, so with them, what hopefully can happen is that the dominoes will hopefully fall faster and then we want to be everywhere; nationwide.

DORI: Well, you are certainly on your way, especially since you are already in Whole Foods.

JOE: Well, that’s the majority. Honestly, if we were just in Whole Foods and no where else, we would survive because that’s a huge amount of the market.

DORI: Okay, my last question is kind of a silly one, but since I know you like to make granola and play in the kitchen, what kitchen appliance can you not live without?

JOE: Are you talking about home or here (Cocomo Joe headquarters)?

DORI: At home since I know you make a lot of granola, but do you do a lot of other cooking as well?

JOE: Well at home, not so much.

DORI: Do you just live on your bars?

JOE: Yeah. Umm, what can I not live without? Probably the thing I use most at home is my coffeepot, but lately more for tea than for coffee. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else unless you want to count the refrigerator ’cause I keep things cold.

DORI: So, what do you keep in there? What kinds of food do you have at home? What do you live on?

JOE: Well, drinks that need to be refrigerated; coconut water, kombucha.

DORI: What’s your favorite kind of coconut water?

JOE: Taste Nirvana

DORI: And what’s your favorite kind of kombucha?

JOE: Well…I like GT’s original, Trilogy or Mango Madness.

Well, there ya have it folks. “Cocomo Joe” LaCroix is certainly not your “Average Joe”. He is passionate about sharing the best quality products with you that have integrity and fantastic taste. If you haven’t already tried Cocomo Joe’s delicious treats, make sure to look for them. He also makes this sinfully delicious caramel popcorn (pictured above, and yes, it’s vegan!!!) that has become my newest addiction. Beware, you may become addicted to it as well!!

I’d like to thank Joe LaCroix for taking the time to sit with me and for making it a fun morning to tour the Cocomo Joe headquarters as well as for sending me home with some products. It’s always fun to meet people with like minds and who are living in their joy serving others. For information on where you can find Cocomo Joe products, go to http://www.cocomojoefoods.com/.

Tempeh Cabbage Rolls

Ever get a hankering for Asian style appetizers?

Well, this recipe is for YOU…and you, and YOU! Welcome to my kitchen, where I love to prepare healthy, yet simple foods with flare! These delicious rolls have a lively crunch and a sweet and tangy taste you will love as a starter or even as an entree! They are similar to lettuce wraps, but I actually prefer cabbage because it’s much more hearty and doesn’t wilt and collapse like lettuce does when it’s moist. I think you will enjoy this version and I would love to hear what you think when you try them!

Ingredients:

  • 1 block organic tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1-2 shallots, minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • Kelp noodles (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Soyaki sauce (Trader Joe’s makes this)
  • 1 tbsp. tamari
  • 1 tsp. raw agave
  • 1/4 fresh lemon, squeezed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil
  • 6 cabbage leaves (for your rolls)
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)

Put tempeh, carrots and shallots in a medium sized bowl and add Soyaki, tamari, agave, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Mix until coated well. Heat coconut oil in medium pan on medium/high. Cook tempeh mixture until well done and golden.

Take your cabbage leaf and place some cut up kelp noodles in first. Next, add the tempeh mixture. Layer with shredded carrots and finally scallion. Top with Sriracha if you like some heat!

 For more easy recipes or help with creating a healthier diet and lifestyle,

contact Dori at (323)905-4483