Superfood Hot Chocolate

Yes…you heard that right. Hot Chocolate that is not only decadently delicious but a nutritional powerhouse as well. Nope, you can’t get it at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. But what you can do is empower yourself to reject the convenient, nutrient deficient beverages that fast food companies market at you. Instead, buy a handful of healthy ingredients and make your own creamy, cozy mug of hot chocolate; fully knowing that it is serving your body and mind on a much higher level. The no-brainer ingredient here will be Cacao; I mean…you can’t make chocolate without it! But one of my favorite ingredients to add to this recipe are dates! So plump, juicy and chewy. I use them in everything from smoothies to spreads (and everything in-between).

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But how else can we upgrade our hot chocolate? Well, I know an easy way that will also provide you with 20 grams of premium plant-based protein, 6 servings of greens, 50% DV vitamins and minerals, 25% DV fiber, 1.5 grams of Omega-3s, a slew of antioxidants and 1 billion CFU Probiotics. Whaaaat?!?!? No joke, it’s called Vega One! For a couple years now, it has been my go-to when I need to get in my daily nutrition “on the go”. It’s perfect in smoothies, nice creams, oatmeal bowls…and now in superfood tonics!

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If you put these excellent, plant-based ingredients together you can’t go wrong. And just because this hot chocolate doesn’t come in a quick packet or will not be handed to you from a drive-thru window, doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. These days, you can’t afford NOT to treat your body right! Don’t be afraid to carve out a few extra minutes in the morning for this truly wonderful mug of goodness.

What you’ll need:
10 oz Heated Almond Milk
4 pitted Dates (any variety – but I LOVE Khadrawy)
1 scoop Vega One Nutritional Shake (Chocolate)
2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

How to do it:
In a small saucepan, heat up your Almond Milk on medium/low heat (stirring often) just until bubbles begin to form. Now switch the heat to low and toss the pitted dates in there to soak for a few minutes (this helps soften them further for blending). While the dates are soaking, get out your blender and add the Vega One, Cacao and Maple Syrup. Now turn off the burner and gently pour the hot Almond Milk and Dates into the blender as well. Place lid on tightly and securely. Begin blending on low speed, gradually increasing to high. Blend until smooth. Pour into large mug and enjoy!

Beeting the Odds: 9 Day Body & Mind rEvolution (Day 8)

Day 8: Back to Raw

So here we are on day 8, after a revitalizing 5 day juice fast. If you’re experiencing what I am you should be glowing and feel awesome!

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That said, today was interesting in that I didn’t run into the kitchen for food immediately when I woke up. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even eat my first “food” until about 3pm today! I’m still in the mindset of practicing patience and I truly was not all that hungry for food, believe it or not. So this morning, I started with my normal routine of tongue scraping/rinsing/brushing, yoga stretches, psyllium husks, lemon water and…you guessed it…juice. I finally had a smoothie and then later indulged at a local Organic Vegan Eatery by the name of G-Zen. I had some amazing 100% raw dishes there and even a raw desert (what the heck!).

Tomorrow will mark the end of this detox but not the end of these great habits. They really do crowd out the bad ones; especially when you just let go and don’t resist. I learned this 2 years ago when I practiced this program on and off for a total of 45 days. If you’re desperately looking to change your ways; this plan will do the trick! You can find more details on eating raw in my Day 2 post.

Today’s details:

Tongue Scrape (Brush Teeth)

Fasted Stretching and Meditation (30 minutes)

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Psyllium Husks w/ 8 oz Water

8 oz Warm Lemon Water

12 oz Gold Juice (Carrot, Fennel, Grapefruit, Apple, Celery, Lemon and Turmeric)

12 oz Water

12 oz Orange Juice (Cold Pressed, 1915 Boathouse Farms; Orange, Carrot, Pineapple, Apple, Lime)

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20 oz Water

32 oz Green Smoothie (Coconut Water, Banana, Orange, Dates, Hemp Seed, Hemp Powder, Chia Seed)

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8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea: Sage

1/2 Cup Mixed Raw Nuts/Seeds (Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Pepitas)

8 oz Water

G-ZEN Raw Meal (Immunity Elixir Shot, Raw Tacos, Raw Kelp Noodle Bowl w/ Walnut Meatballs, Tomato Basil Cream Sauce and Cashew Parm)

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12 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea: Peppermint

12 oz Water

1 slice Raw Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake (yup…vegan)

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8 oz Herbal Tea (Sleep tea: Passion Flower, Chamomile, Linden Flower, Catnip, Hop Strobile, Spearmint, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Peel, Lemon Grass).

Chocolate Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream

I scream. You scream. We all scream…because it’s almost Halloween. Well, that and because ICE CREAM! And hey…what can I say? I woke up this morning with ice cream on my mind. “For breakfast”? Well, sure. A nutrient rich ice cream with the flavors of Autumn sounds splendid. “But aren’t you tired of Pumpkin Spice”? Nope. And let’s be straight here, making ice cream is not all that different than making a smoothie either; so file away those “I don’t have time” complaints right now.

It’s creamy, sweet and spicy all in one spoonful! And after you taste this, you’re probably going to want to throw away all those chemical and dairy-laden treats in your freezer; you won’t need them any longer. Escape the carton and enter a new world of wholesome ingredients. Did I mention that we’re adding Vega One to it as well? This is not only going to give it that rich chocolaty flavor but it’s also going to give you 20 grams of premium plant-based protein, 6 servings of greens, 50% daily intake of food-based vitamins and minerals, 25% DV fiber, 1.5 grams of Omega-3s, Antioxidants and 1 billion CFU Probiotics. I don’t know about you, but thats enough to make me want to escape “carton captivity”.

So, why don’t I hate on Pumpkin like everyone else is right now? Because I don’t see it as just a seasonal “flavor” to infuse into store-bought junk food and refined sugar-bomb lattes. Pumpkin is actually a very nutrient dense fruit from the berry family (betcha didn’t know that!). It’s high in Potassium, Fiber and Vitamins A/C and is very heart healthy. The beta-carotene in Pumpkin (as well as the other fruits/veggies of the orange variety) is known to support the eyes and prevent degenerative damage. Also, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition has shown that beta-carotene can be a beneficial rival in the development of both prostate and colon cancers.

Theres a bunch of reasons for you to go make this recipe and eat it. You can sit here and weigh them all out or I can just scream ICE CREAM! I’m sure that’ll get you up on your toes.

Ingredients
2 Bananas (peeled/chopped)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
2 Medjool Dates (pitted)
1 serving Vega One Chocolate Protein
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Instructions
1. Place Bananas and Pumpkin Puree in a covered bowl and store in the freezer for at least 2 hours to freeze.

2. After Bananas and Pumpkin are frozen, put them in the food processor along with the Medjool Dates. Pulse a few times to begin breaking down and then set to high speed until the mixture begins to get creamy (this step may take a while depending on how frozen the ingredients are). Once it’s smooth stop processing.

3. Now add in the Vega One and dry spices and process again on high speed until combined well.

4. Scrape all of the creamy goodness out of the container and into a bowl. Top with sliced Cranberries and Coconut shavings if desired. Now eat it before it gets too melty! You can also transfer the mixture to the freezer while you clean up to allow it to stiffen a bit.

Peach Pie Smoothie w/ Aquafaba Lemon Meringue

Ok, so I cheated a little 😉 I normally don’t add any sugars to my smoothies except for the occasional tablespoon of Pure Maple Syrup. Well this was the exception. I had these luscious Peaches just waiting to be used for something creative and then it hit me…Peach Pie Smoothie! Peaches have a healthy dose of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that help fight both obesity and inflammation. The fuzzy fruit packs a vitamin C boost, helps lower cholesterol and is heart healthy. I blended this beautiful fruit with other super healthy ingredients such as Banana, Whole Grain Oats and Vega One French Vanilla Protein; not just because they are all so good for you but because they also compliment the Peaches and really drive home the “pie” flavor.

As I was gathering all the ingredients for the smoothie, I kept thinking “Peaches and Cream”…I couldn’t seem to shake the thought of it. I thought of going for the usual Coconut Cream that you get from the Coconut Milk can after refrigerating overnight but I didn’t have any in the fridge. I also wanted something lighter and fluffier…almost like a meringue. The problem is that meringue is basically just egg white and that doesn’t mesh with a die hard vegan! For kicks, I looked up vegan meringue and I kept seeing this weird word “Aquafaba“. When I finally read what it was, I was almost shocked. It’s the water which is packed into a can of Chick Peas. Apparently, it’s lately been becoming all the rage in the vegan community as an egg substitute which can be mainly used as a thickening agent in recipes which call for eggs. The water can be used from other canned legumes but Chick Peas are really the best choice (flavor and texture).

The water (brine) in the can becomes a thick, emulsion as it sits with the Chick Peas…almost like an egg white consistency. On it’s own, the flavor is fairly neutral. It’s such a new idea, the science community hasn’t even done a nutrition profile on it yet. Although, the developers of this natural egg replacer are currently raising money to do one. I’m assuming that the water must absorb many of the properties of the Chick Peas themselves; which include Protein, Fiber, Iron, Calcium, Complex Carbohydrates (the good kind) plus a host of vitamins as well.

All the recipes I had read for the meringue were pretty much the same; except most of them require being baked at a low heat for like 2 hours or more for a really stiff setting. I wanted something quick, so mine still stands up but it’s more of a whipped cream texture. As you’ll see it’s just 4 elements…the Chick Pea Water, Organic Powdered Sugar, Vanilla Extract and Lemon Extract. When all of that is whipped with a high speed whisk for about 15 minutes, you get a wonderfully light, sweet garnish to top off your smoothie. You can even stir some into the smoothie itself for a creamier texture. This is definitely one of my favorites of the summer so far, I hope you try it and enjoy. Keep it up!

For the Smoothie:
8 oz Cashew Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1 Large Fresh Peach (skin on, stone removed)
1/4 Cup Raw Whole Grain Oats
1 serving Vega One French Vanilla Protein
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Chia Seed

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high setting until smooth. Add some ice or more liquid to adjust preferred texture.

For the Meringue:
15 oz Aquafaba/Water from one can of Organic Chick Peas (Non-BPA lined can)
1 Cup Organic Powdered Pure Sugar Cane
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Lemon Extract

Preheat oven on Broil setting (optional – you can simply eat the raw Aquafaba whip…I just enjoyed the light toasted look and flavor).

Place ingredients in the bowl of a high speed mixer w/ Whisk attachment (or hand mixer) and whip ingredients on high for about 15 minutes until mixture is light, fluffy and peaks begin to form (at this point you can put a dollop on your smoothie OR continue to get the toasty look).

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put small 1/4 cup size dollops of the mixture until sheet is filled (leaving plenty of breathing room around each). Place in oven on top rack and allow meringue to lightly toast/brown. Do not overheat…you pretty much have to sit and watch it because it will brown fairly fast (within minutes). When done, remove from oven and scoop one of the dollops off the sheet and place on top of your smoothie.

Refrigerate all remaining cream and use again as a meringue or as a simple whipped topping.

THE SMOOTHLANDER

If you don’t recall the ridiculous movie Zoolander with Ben Stiller as the zany supermodel, Derek Zoolander, then I guess this whole thing just went right over your head! In any case, if you make this decadent smoothie recipe, none of it will matter once you taste it. There is a scene in the movie where he and his model buddies go off on an adventure to get some Orange Mocha Frappuccinos and ride around town with their devil may care attitudes, spraying one another with gasoline to the soundtrack of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham! Sound to good to be true? See for yourself:

WOW!!! Right?!

Well anyway, if you’re on the “Go Go” and need a super tasty wake me up, search no further than THE SMOOTHLANDER. It’s my healthy smoothie inspired by the famous Starbucks drink. Cold, frosty and creamy with notes of dark chocolate and zesty Orange; melding with the earthy, roasty flavor of the Espresso and the creamy, nutty finish of the Coconut Cream. Damn, this was delicious! Not to mention all of the health benefits you’re getting from just the Vega One protein alone; 20 grams premium plant-based protein, 6 servings of greens, 50% daily intake of food-based vitamins and minerals, 25% DV fiber, 1.5 grams of Omega-3s, Antioxidants and 1 billion CFU Probiotics…HOLY MOLY!!!

You may not want to jump into your Jeep, turn up so hard with your friends that you blow them up at a gas station; but you can make and enjoy this awesome smoothie all the same…enjoy!

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THE SMOOTHLANDER

For the Smoothie:
8 oz ALMOND MILK
1/2 FROZEN BANANA
1 ORANGE (PEELED)
2 OZ FRESHLY BREWED & CHILLED ESPRESSO (Regular Coffee or Chai Tea are fine too)
2 TBSP CACAO POWDER (OR NIBS)
1 SCOOP VEGA ONE MOCHA
1 TBSP CHIA SEED
1 TBSP FLAX SEED
4-5 ICE CUBES

For the Coconut Cream Topping:
4 OZ COCONUT CREAM (FROM CANNED COCONUT MILK)
1 TSP ORGANIC COCONUT PALM SUGAR (FAIR TRADE)
1/2 TSP ORGANIC VANILLA EXTRACT

With an Espresso machine, brew a 2 oz shot of your favorite espresso (if you don’t do espresso, you can just brew some of your favorite coffee instead..or even Chai Tea if you’d like). Once your espresso is brewed, set aside in the fridge to chill a bit. In the meantime, get out your blender and fill the jar with the Almond Milk, Banana, Orange and blend until smooth. Now add in the Cacao, Vega One, Chia and Flax and blend again until smooth. Now get your chilled (or room temp) espresso and add that to the blender along with ice cubes and give that a short whirl until it’s at your preferred consistency (I like a more frosty consistency). Set aside the smoothie in the fridge while you prepare the Coconut Cream.

The Coconut Cream consistency will depend on the type of cream you get from your canned Coconut Milk. Mine was a more liquid consistency, whereas some others have a thicker cream. The thicker, the better as you will be able to achieve a more “whipped cream” texture. Mine is more of a smoothie cream layer consistency. You can also refrigerate your coconut milk can overnight to achieve a thicker texture. In any case, here is how I made mine. Get a medium size mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer. Pour the coconut cream into the bowl. Add in the Coconut Sugar and Vanilla. Beat with the electric mixer until desired thickness.

Now pour the smoothie mixture into a glass and then add the coconut cream layer on top. Dust with extra Cacao Powder and garnish with an Orange slice. Now drink it up with a fancy, reusable straw from Glass Dharma!

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…Chai, Chai Again

You know what they say about “If at first you don’t succeed”? Yup, you got it…Chai, Chai again! Well….close enough. Anyway, I came up with this smoothie on the fly this morning when I was pondering whether to have a cup of Chai Tea or not. As usual, my mad scientist takes over and decided to combine it with my smoothie. And it just so happens that I had on hand a single serve packet of the new Vega One Vanilla Chai (which, by the way, are really awesome on the go; just tear it open and dump it into your favorite nut milk and you’re off to the races! Who says that?!?!).

But what better way to start off your day than with a double dose of aromatic, spicy Chai? Not only will the flavors awaken your senses but the health benefits are insane. This baby is loaded with antioxidant power! Since there is a bit of natural caffeine in Chai Tea, it has some “pick-me-up” quality to it but, on the contrary, it is also considered to be “sattvic” (meaning calming and mentally clarifying) in the Ayurvedic world; instant stress relief for whatever obstacles your day may bring. I’ve also added in extra Cinnamon, Cardamom, fresh Ginger Root and even some fresh Turmeric Root which all have a slew of antioxidant properties including increased awareness and vitality, reduced fatigue, aphrodisiac (happy valentine’s day!), beneficial to your lungs, kidneys, heart and stomach, stimulates the circulatory and immune systems, aids in digestion and helps relieve inflammation.

So sit back, take a huge, deep breath and relax with this exotic and flavorful smoothie.

CHAI, CHAI AGAIN
8 oz Filtered Water (Boiled)
1 Organic Chai Tea Bag
4 oz Coconut Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1/2 Fresh or Frozen Mango
2 Medjool Dates (pitted)
1/4 Cup Dried Goji Berries
1/2″ Ginger Root (peeled)
1/4″ Turmeric Root (peeled)
1 Packet Vega One Vanilla Chai
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 Tbsp Flax Seeds

Boil 8 oz of water and pour into a mug with the Chai tea bag. Allow tea to steep in refrigerator until chilled. Once your tea is cooled, discard (compost) the tea bag and pour the chai tea into the blender jar. Add 4 oz of Coconut Milk to the blender and add in the Banana, Mango, Dates, Goji Berries, Ginger and Turmeric; blend until smooth. Now add in the Vega One, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Chia and Flax Seeds; blend again until seeds are well broken down. Depending how you like the texture, you can adjust with more Coconut Milk or Ice cubes. Garnish with Goji Berries, Coconut Flakes and sprinkled Cinnamon. Enjoy!

A CLOSE LOOK AT THE NEW VEGA ONE

As you probably already know from my posts, I’ve been using Vega protein powders in all of my smoothies…well, ever since I began making smoothies which was earlier this year. After going on a quest to regain my health back in February, drinking juice, eating clean, becoming vegan (and losing over 70 lbs doing it all) I began adding smoothies to my everyday eating as well. The thing that drew me in most to trying out Vega was Brendan Brazier’s story about his need for a plant-based protein powder, full of whole food nutrition and no chemical additives (as most powders on the market contain). Since I was in a situation where I had just undergone multiple steps to detox my body, I wasn’t about to just grab any protein powder to add to my smoothies. It had to be vegan…it had to be packed with nutrition and most of all, it had to be CLEAN. When I did some research, I quickly found out about Vega and purchased a small bag from my local health market. I haven’t stopped using Vega powders ever since. And now almost 3 months as a Vega blogger and 30+ smoothie recipes later, I catch word that Vega is changing the formula of their all in one Vega One powder. I immediately worried about what was changing, since I had relied on the original formula so much. But with what I had already known about the company, I had a feeling it would be better than ever. And I was right.

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Last week I received a nice big package from my friends at Vega containing samples of the new Vega One and boy was I excited to bust it open and check it all out. The very first thing I did when I took out the tub of French Vanilla was look at the ingredients list. At first glance, my heart sank as it appeared to be a very long list. But upon further inspection, I had realized something amazing; all of these new ingredients were whole foods! Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Carrot, Beet, Tomato, Apple, Blueberry, Orange, Cranberry, Strawberry and Shitake Mushroom. On top of this, they added a ton of super foods as well, such as Hemp, Sacha Inchi, Maca Root, Spirulina, Chlorella, Pomegranate, Mangosteen, Goji and Maqui. I was completely blown away; they added to the powder itself many of the ingredients that I’ve been adding into my blender along with the Vega. Not only is that convenient for me, in the long run it could also save some pennies by not having to buy so many other supplements. And as if that wasn’t enough, Vega also went ahead and got the “Certified Vegan”, “Non GMO Project” designations and also increased the amount of organic produce they use (which are 3 very important things in my world). Awesome! The new powders all look greener because the ingredients are greener.

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One scoop of this bad boy will take you far! The serving size is larger than it’s predecessor but the benefits are even larger. To stretch your dollar, you can actually use 3/4 of a scoop and still get the same nutrition you’ve always been getting. But the quick snapshot of the new “per scoop” stats are very impressive; now boasting 20 grams of protein (33% more), 6 servings of greens (2x more), 50% daily vitamins & minerals, 27% daily fiber, 1.5 grams Omega-3, 1000 ORAC of Antioxidants, 1 Billion Probiotics and only 150 calories. BAM!

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As far as the flavor and drinkability goes, I tried each of the samples I was provided with (French Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla Chai and Natural). All of them had a very mild, sweet and clean taste. It seems that the strong “Stevia Leaf” flavor that is sometimes present in the Vega powders has mellowed out a bit which is a huge plus in my book. Not that it was a big problem for me before, but it is something I noticed with the new formula. In addition, the Vanilla and Chocolate profiles are kicked up even more. You can really taste the vanilla in French Vanilla! And likewise for the chocolate; so chocolaty!

All in all, my review of the new Vega One is 2 thumbs up (it’d be 3 if I could)! Be on the lookout for it on shelves in early 2015 or get it right now on Vega’s eStore. Once you have a supply of your very own, try out one (or all) of these awesome recipes below that I experimented with…yuuuuum…smoothies!

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Vega One (French Vanilla) Green Smoothie

8 oz Almond Milk
2 handfuls of fresh Baby Kale or Baby Spinach
1 Frozen Banana
1 handful of Mixed Berries (Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry)
1 handful of Mango chunks
1 scoop of Vega One (French Vanilla)
2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
2 Tbsp Flax Meal
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Pour Almond Milk into the blender along with the greens and blend on liquify until you have a nicely blended green liquid. Now add the Banana, Berries and Mango. Blend on crush ice setting until cracking stops…then blend again on liquify setting for about 30-40 secs. If too thick, you can always adjust by adding more Almond Milk. Add Vega, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds and Flax Meal and blend one more time on liquify until very smooth. Pour into a large, tall glass. CLEAN UP BEFORE DRINKING (this reenforces good habits and a new regimen). Enjoy!

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Vega One (Chocolate) Smoothie

8 oz Coconut Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1 handful of Mixed Berries (Strawberry, Raspberry)
1 scoop of Vega One (Chocolate)
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
2 Tbsp Flax Meal
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Pour Coconut Milk into the blender along with the Banana and Berries. Blend on crush ice setting until cracking stops…then blend again on liquify setting for about 30-40 secs. If too thick, you can always adjust by adding more Coconut Milk. Add Vega, Almond Butter, Chia Seeds and Flax Meal and blend one more time on liquify until very smooth. Pour into a large, tall glass. CLEAN UP BEFORE DRINKING (this reenforces good habits and a new regimen). Enjoy!

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Vega One (Vanilla Chai) Smoothie

8 oz Coconut Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1 handful of fresh Cranberries
1/2 fresh Pomegranate Seeds
1 scoop of Vega One (Vanilla Chai)
1/4 Cup Coconut Flakes
2 Tbsp Flax Meal
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Pour Coconut Milk into the blender along with the Banana, Cranberries and Pomegranate Seeds. Blend on crush ice setting until cracking stops…then blend again on liquify setting for about 30-40 secs. If too thick, you can always adjust by adding more Coconut Milk. Add Vega, Coconut Flakes, Chia Seeds and Flax Meal and blend one more time on liquify until very smooth. Pour into a large, tall glass. CLEAN UP BEFORE DRINKING (this reenforces good habits and a new regimen). Enjoy!