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Raspberry + Basil Pops

Natalie Griffo

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Why hello there San Diego summer! You sure came out of nowhere fast. One minute I'm wearing jeans and light layers, and the next I'm sweating it out on the Fourth of July in shorts and a tank. I must've brought some of the Palm Springs heat back with me from my anniversary getaway!

Combatting the summer heat is a must. And what more beautiful and delicious way to do so than with homemade popsicles! These Raspberry + Basil Pops come together quickly, with minimal time over a stove and maximum time spent relaxing.

Notes:

The leftover basil syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two weeks, and used in a variety of ways. Use it to sweeten and flavor iced tea, or stir it into sparkling water to make your own soda.

This is my celebratory purchase and use of my beautiful new Vitamix Professional 750 that I've been saving for for ages post! Hooray!

Recipe inspiration comes from this tasty little book, People's Pops, from the famed Brooklyn pop shop of the same name.

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Makes 10, depending on your mold

4 cups raspberries

5 cups if you strain out the seeds

if using frozen berries, allow to thaw

4 tbsp mascarpone 

if vegan, replace with coconut cream

a few splashes of whole or full fat coconut milk

1 1/3 cup basil infused simple syrup

 

Basil infused simple syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

4 - 5 large handfuls basil leaves

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Begin making the basil syrup by heating the sugar and water together in a small saucepan until the sugar is fully dissolved, and the syrup is just simmering. Turn the heat off immediately, as you do not want any of the syrup to evaporate. Add the basil leaves to the saucepan, and stir until wilted. Allow the basil leaves to continue infusing the syrup while it cools. Once the syrup has cooled, remove the basil leaves and squeeze them over the syrup for maximum basil flavoring.

Place fresh or thawed raspberries in blender. Add the mascarpone or coconut cream, and the basil infused syrup. Puree in the blender until smooth, and the mascarpone or coconut cream is fully integrated. If you're removing the seeds, strain them out.

Get out a popsicle mold, and splash a little whole or coconut milk in the bottom of each mold (this is so that they get pretty marbling and streaks). Pour the raspberry puree into the molds, leaving a little room at the top of each for the mixture to expand as it freezes. Place the lid on your popsicle mold, and place popsicle sticks into the holes. 

Freeze for 3-4 hours, or until frozen solid. 

When pops are fully frozen, fill a sink or large bowl with enough hot water to submerge the popsicle mold in water without going over the top of the mold (no wet pops please!). Let the popsicle mold sit in the water for a few seconds, until you are able to release the pops from the mold with a gentle tug.

Working quickly so that they don't thaw, wrap the pops in plastic wrap or place individually in small bags. Place in the freezer. You can store in the pops in the freezer for up to a month (although I strongly doubt they will be around long enough for that). Enjoy!

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Coconut + Mango Granola

Natalie Griffo

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Remember when I said I preferred my granola sans fruit and nuts? I may have spoken too soon. This granola, in all it's crunchy, lightly sweet, whole grain deliciousness, has converted me.

I had a similar granola a few months back at a conference I was taking photographs at, and fell swiftly in love. So much so, that I managed to ask for and leave with a bag of the leftovers... Rationing out the bag's contents for as long as I possibly could.

I'd been meaning to replicate it in my own style for the blog for some time... But between my morning smoothie routine, and things being so busy this past month (graduations and birthdays every week kind of busy), any sort of blogging fell to the wayside. But here I am, returned to blogging, just in time to bring you this delicious granola... and on my birthday no less!

Oats: Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. 
Beta-glucan has been shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels by removing it from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. 
In laboratory studies, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system’s response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there. 

Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in beta-glucan, or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods, experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread. Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels stable and under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods. [1]

So make this deliciously fruity granola, serve it up with some almond milk or yogurt of your choice, and eat some breakfast. Preferably outdoors, enjoying the first official week of summer.

Note: If you like your granola clumpy, mix an egg white into the wet granola (during the honey and coconut oil stage) prior to baking. 

Makes just under 12 cups

4 cups rolled oats

(If you are gluten-sensitive, or intolerant, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup good quality honey, or maple syrup

2 cups shredded coconut

2 cups sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups dried apricots

roughly diced (I used the blenheim variety, which are more tart than turkish apricots)

1 cup dried mangos

roughly torn or chopped

1 cup dried cranberries, or cherries

(I used cranberries)

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, salt, and cinnamon. Add in the coconut oil and honey, and store until oats are throughly coated.

Turn out onto a parchment lined, 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, and stir in the almonds, and coconut. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, watching closely and stirring every 5 minutes so that everything toasts evenly and does not burn.

Remove the granola from the oven, stir in the rest of the dried fruit, and allow everything to cool on the tray, stirring every so often. The oats will crisp up as the granola cools. 

Store the cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks, the refrigerator for 6 weeks, or sealed bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. Enjoy!

Maca Mint Chip Shake

Natalie Griffo

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Well good morning to you too already 85 degree at 8 am (and rising to 95 degrees) San Diego! I'm doing hot, how about you? With a week where the heat is inescapable, no matter how much  of an early riser you are, refreshment is in order.

And what a refresher this is. Cool, minty, deliciousness sure goes down easy on a scorcher like today. This shake is not only tasty (and like drinking dessert for breakfast) but also has, wait for it... Health benefits! With a mix of power greens and energizing maca, this superfood shake is the perfect start to even the hottest of mornings or mid-day cool down.

Maca: Maca is an “adaptogen” meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. For this reason it is particularly effective for improving libido. Maca also has the ability to help us cope with stress, and stabilize our moods and energy.  Boasting 31 minerals and trace elements, maca is a nutritional powerhouse and a stress-relieving, healthy addition to many foods. [1]

A big thank you to Janelle for gifting me the Raw Cacao Nibs from Parliament Chocolate used in this recipe! They are delicious, full of the heady scent of chocolate, and come in the prettiest package.

Makes 2 large, or 4 small servings

2 frozen bananas, broken up

2 cups of greens (I recommend a blend of baby kale, spinach, and chard, for a sweeter tasting smoothie)

2 tbsp maca

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

2 cups almond milk

splash of vanilla

handful of mint

raw cacao nibs

Place all ingredients (except cacao nibs) in blender, beginning with the frozen banana. Pour the almond milk over the top, and blend until smooth.

Divide between glasses, and stir in cacao nibs. Finish with an extra sprinkle of cacao nibs to top. Enjoy!

Spicy Grapefruit Smoothie

Natalie Griffo

This Spicy Grapefruit Smoothie is a metabolism-boosting, fat burning, anti-inflammatory glass of deliciousness. The perfect breakfast or post workout re-hydrator, this spicy little powerhouse is my copycat of one of my favorite smoothies from the superfood spot Beaming, in Del Mar. The taste and texture is similar to that of a margarita or slushie, while actually having health benefits... Unlike the aforementioned sugary drinks. 

Grapefruit: Aids in digestion and utilization of foods. Consuming grapefruit burns as many calories as it contains (making it an excellent choice for those trying to lose weight). A single grapefruit contains about 75 mg vitamin C. Red grapefruit is a good source of lycopene; a phytonutrient with anti-tumor properties. Grapefruit are also high in potassium. [1]

Coconut Water: When we sweat, we lose a lot of minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium). Coconut water has a natural balance of these minerals - also known as electrolytes, making it the perfect beverage for hydrating the body and replenishing lost stores of vital nutrients—even more effective than water itself! [2]

Chili Flakes: Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. Capsaicin stimulates metabolism by activating a chain of events in the body that help to melt fat and break it down in the body. It activates the sympathetic nervous system that is associated with thermogenesis, which speeds the body’s oxidation of fat. With exercise, studies have shown that Capsaicin increases fat oxidation by 42%! Fat oxidation is the process by which the body melts excess fat and converts it into energy. Capsaicin has also been shown in some trials to also decrease appetite, improve circulation and have some antioxidant effects. [3]

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Makes enough for 2

2 whole grapefruit

peel removed

1 1/2 cups pineapple

frozen or fresh

1 1/2 cups coconut water

red chili flakes

2 tsp or more, to taste

1/2 cup ice

Place all ingredients except ice in blender, and bend until smooth. Add ice, and blend again until smooth. Divide into glasses. Enjoy!

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