my formula for quick, easy, plant-based meals

*Heads up! This post is for everyone, but it may appeal more to someone who is “first starting” a healthy lifestyle, rather than someone who’s been at it for a while.

If I tell someone I’m meeting for the first time that I’m vegan, the questions start rollinnn’ in. Though I get asked about a lot of things, some reoccurring themes I’ve seen over the years are cost, creativity (learning how to cook/what goes with what taste-wise), and the concern of eating enough food/nutrients.

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I remember when I first went vegetarian, I didn’t like it. Surprisingly, it wasn’t because I missed meat, it was more because I didn’t enjoy what I was making and I never felt full. When I decided to “cut something out” of my diet, my brain automatically reverted to think about what I couldn’t have all of the time, rather than what I could. It’s as if broccoli, carrots, and spinach were the only things I could think of to prepare, and steaming them or throwing them in the microwave was the only way I knew how. This obviously isn’t true…I just wasn’t educated on what foods were out there, how to prepare them to make them taste amazing, what flavors worked well together, and what my body needed nutrient wise to keep me full and energized.

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Honestly, it took me years of meal prep and recipe testing to get to a place where preparing food for myself became like second nature. BUT, I now realize that if there would have been someone there to say, “Hey! Raw broccoli and black beans with salt and pepper will taste like shit, and that’s not a meal. Here’s how you can do this quickly and enjoy it,” it would have been so much easier and enjoyable. So, I’m writing this post in hopes that I can be that person for you. Even if you aren’t vegan, my go-to formula can help you. Though the formula is plant-based, you can add in anything you want. Just try not to take anything away because everything is there for a reason. (AKA, nutrients!)

FYI: This formula builds SIMPLE meals, which allows them to be quick and cost-efficient. This approach fits my lifestyle a little better than the fancy recipes out there (which I love dabbling into when I have time), but usually, I’m always on the go while working with a tight budget. In general, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are way cheaper than people realize (spinach/kale, beans, and fruit often come in at under $5 for large amounts).

gater’s easy healthy meal formula…the GGBV rule

Grains + Greens + Beans + Vegetable

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Let’s break it down.

Grains

Whole grains, not refined. Examples: Quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, black rice, barley, farro, buckwheat, oatmeal. Depending on the grain, this part of the equation provides protein, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals. They also keep you full and make meals more substantial.

Greens

Leafy vegetables. Examples: Spinach, kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, micro greens, swiss chard, cabbage, and romaine lettuce. I love my greens, but unfortunately, they aren’t the best to enjoy alone due to the mass quantity you need to take in to feel full and STAY full. However, they taste amazing, and they are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, flavonoid anti-oxidants, potassium…the list goes on and on. I try to have greens in every meal, including breakfast. They do nothing but help you, so I say, load em’ up! When I eat greens, I eat them raw, sauté them in coconut or olive oil, or roast them in the oven.

Beans

Beans provide taste, protein, texture, and substance. In order to feel satisfied after a meal that’s made of mostly plants, you need beans or anything of that nature that’s filled with protein, healthy fats, and other food components that energize you and keep your tummy happy. Obviously, the beans part of this equation is mostly talking about…well, beans. But in my mind, I categorize other things with them. Examples: black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas (my personal fav), split peas, lentils, and edamame. Though they aren’t actually beans, I also umbrella nuts and seeds into this part of the equation, for they provide your body with many of the same nutrients (such as protein) and they keep you full. My go-to nuts and seeds are almonds, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed. I often eat beans raw, or I add them to the skillet when I’m sautéing something.

Vegetable

I always add vegetables to my meals IN ADDITION to my greens. It’s super important to do this so you’re gaining optimal nutrients, eating enough food, and so you don’t get bored with the same meals over and over again. Spice it up! Try a food you don’t usually cook with. Examples of my favs: carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, onion, peppers, asparagus, radishes, zucchini, and beets. Roasting vegetables is my SHIT, but I eat them raw and saute them as well.

**Remember: When you’re preparing meals, you have the world at your fingertips. You can add spices, drizzle lemon, play with different ways to prepare it all, whatever. This formula is much more of a baseline or building block rather than a recipe, ya know? Many people feel overwhelmed when they try to start eating healthy; like they don’t even know where to begin. This is how I felt, at least. This formula is a great place to start when you’re getting your toes wet, and it checks off all of the important boxes so your healthy transition doesn’t seem impossible: cheap, filling, tasty, and versatile.

Good luck!

In good health,

G

 

quitting coffee: my story + how to tips

 

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This photo was taken in the summer of 2013, which was the first summer I interned in NYC.

 

I’m pretty sure that when the photo above was taken, at that moment, I was the happiest woman in Times Square. I was hungover as shit, and my $3 bagel and $2 iced coffee were bringing me back to life in just enough time to only be five minutes late to a meeting with my editor, rather than the usual 10 or 15 after a night of clubbing with promoters. At that point in my life, you might have well just stuck an IV of iced coffee in my arm for me to have at all times…then I’d REALLY be a happy camper.

I don’t remember the moment where coffee started becoming a regular part of my routine. If you know me well, though, you know that when I’m invested in something, I’m REALLY invested. My relationship with coffee was no different. As soon as I started, I couldn’t go a day without it. The moment I woke up, I’d feel a headache if I didn’t have a cup in hand right away. If more than a half hour went by and I didn’t have any, I’d start to feel REAL withdrawals: shakes, mood swings, digestive issues, you name it. And—stating the obvious because many people feel this way—without coffee, I was pretty unpleasant to be around.

I smoked cigarettes in college, and when I interned in London senior year, the black coffee and cigarette duet was 100% the highlight of my day. On my way to work, I’d sit on the tube with a cup of black coffee in between my legs and use the napkin they’d give me to hold the cup as a rolling station for my hand-rolled cigarettes.

The time period between living abroad (and then a short month in New York) and graduation was when I first started becoming interested in my health. I knew I was going to move to the city and try to make my dreams come true, and I also knew that I had to be in a good mental and physical place to do so. That’s when I decided to quit smoking. If only coffee were that simple.

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I moved to New York to be a journalist. My first job in the city required me to write five stories a day, five days a week. Given the fact that I’d literally have five deadlines every time I went to work, coffee quickly became my safety net when yet another deadline would approach and I felt behind. Every morning, I’d have a cup of coffee at home. Then, I’d pick up a venti iced coffee on my way to work. Every afternoon, I’d have a cup of tea. Around three or so, my coworkers and I would make another Starbucks run, making that coffee number three or four for me. Finally, while I had that job, I’d often work from home if I didn’t meet what was expected of me that day. You better believe my “work from home moments” consisted of cup after cup of black coffee, accompanied by Anderson Paak and a lavender scented candle.

As I sit here and type this, I’m realizing that though I’ve changed my lifestyle dramatically in the past few years, the present and past Gater have something in common: Deep in my gut, in my soul, I always know when I’m doing something that doesn’t serve me in ways that will push me forward, towards a better life. The main difference between the present and past Gater is that back then, I’d ignore it, even if I knew it was wrong. Now, I always take action and make a conscious effort to make positive lifestyle adjustments. If I see myself walking towards a cliff, I just turn around.

Needless to say, when I was having anywhere from four to six cups of coffee a day, it became clear to me that this was something I needed. At that point, I was beyond just wanting a cup of coffee. Without it, I couldn’t get my day started. I couldn’t get my work done. I couldn’t function.

At the time, my desk was nestled in-between another section editor and our copy editor. After realizing that I was depending on coffee to do my job, I asked the copy editor (also a dear friend), if he’d be interested in seeing how long we could go without it. To my surprise, he agreed to try it out. Little did both of us know that this would ultimately lead to my decision to quit coffee altogether.

Something I want to mention here is that when I went vegan, I didn’t do it by going cold-turkey. First, I tried being a vegetarian. After seeing all of the positive results that a meatless diet had on my body and mind, I decided to stop having dairy six months later. Then, I learned more about the vegan lifestyle, and a few months after that, I let go of eggs and fish. I compare quitting coffee to going vegan because when I got started on both, I put ZERO pressure on myself. When I became a vegetarian, I didn’t intend to become vegan, it happened naturally. This is the same thing that I did with coffee, and I really believe that that’s how I’ve kept up with it for this long!

Long story short: Letting go of a part of your everyday life is a huge decision. For me, it made it so much easier if I told myself, “I’m just going to see how long I can go and take note of how I feel. If I want to have it, I’ll have it. If I feel okay and see positive results, I’ll keep at it.” If I took it truly day by day and didn’t make it a big deal in my mind, then that’s exactly what it was. Not a big deal.

Sure, I had withdrawals at first. Right when I woke up on day one, I wanted a cup of coffee. But in that moment, I just told myself, “Try to make it to lunch, AT LEAST.” Once I pushed through and lunch came around, I would think, “Try to make it until the end of the workday,” or even, “try to make it another hour. Another minute.” After I got through day one, I realized I could do this, so day two didn’t seem as bad. After three days, I started to feel better. I noticed how much money I was saving. I woke up naturally. I felt less foggy. This was enough for me to keep at it, and it wasn’t until a year and a half later that I decided to have a cup, simply because I missed the taste and my boyfriend at the time made it every morning. To my surprise this time around, every time I’d have coffee, my body would reject it. This is the same thing that happens to me if there’s dairy in something that I’m unaware of, and for me, when my body sends me signals, I really try to respect it and listen.

So, do I have caffeine? Yes! I just don’t drink coffee. I have caffeine in the form of matcha and kombucha. I enjoy these drinks because I LOVE the health benefits and taste of both. I don’t drink them every day, and I don’t have them first thing in the morning. I only drink them after a meal due to the effect it has on my hormones if I drink them on an empty stomach.

During and after my “coffee cleanse,” I did have cravings, there’s no doubt about that. Even to this day, sometimes I see someone walking down the street with an iced-coffee, and for a split-second, I think, “Damn, that looks good.” Over time, though, I’ve learned a few tricks to stay on track. I’d love to share them with you here!

Quitting coffee has been such an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. I have no regrets. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some tips that helped me.

tips on quitting coffee

1. hot water + lemon

When I first decided I was going to give the “no coffee life” a shot, a friend had told me that hot water and lemon was said to give your body a natural boost of energy when enjoyed first thing in the morning. Not only did this wake me up naturally and help with my coffee detox tremendously, it has also become part of my daily drink routine. Lemons are full of tons of lovely benefits, so I add them to everything I can.

2. replace the ritual

Looking back, I think this is what I wanted to hold onto the most. Sure, the withdrawals weren’t a pleasant thought, but for me, coffee was an experience. I loved holding a hot mug in the morning and before I went to sleep. I loved hugging my hands around a mug at brunch. The smell it had, the culture surrounding it…these were things that seemed irreplaceable to me at first. If you’re serious about trying to quit it, I promise you, there are so many other things that can replace your coffee ritual that provide the same emotional experience. For me, those things were (and still are) enjoying hot water and lemon, learning to make my own matcha latte, and making my own nut milk. I still believe the culture surrounding coffee is bad ass, but I can wholeheartedly say I love my new rituals just as much if not more.

3. Be honest with yourself, and then experiment

Are you wanting to quit caffeine altogether, or, are you just trying to lower your coffee intake? Are you open to alternatives, like matcha or decaf? Also, why are you having coffee in the first place? Do you truly enjoy the taste, or do you need it to start your day or get your digestive system going? If you are honest with yourself about all of the above, your journey and the decisions make will seem much, much clearer.

4. grab a buddy

This was a deal-breaker for me. It’s kind of like having a workout buddy; it’s a win-win situation. If you embark on this journey with someone else, you’ll have a shoulder to lean on when things get rough, you’ll have someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, AND, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it if I didn’t have someone to check in with throughout the process.

5. keep track of how much $$ you save without it

I’m not even going to tell you how much money I spent on coffee each month…THAT’S how embarrassing it was. Even if you don’t drink it often or make it at home, that shit adds up. If you don’t really have an emotional attachment to coffee and you’re looking for other reasons to quit, this could serve as great motivation. Who doesn’t wanna save some extra cash?

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope I can help you on your journey, no matter what you decide!

 

In good health,

G

how something as small as gratitude changed my life

When is the last time you took a moment to stop and think about what you’re thankful for?

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Or, how often do you take the time to actually sit and write it down? If you asked me this question two years ago, I would probably have said never. And guess what? Two years ago, I was insecure. I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I was living the life I “thought” I should be living, rather than the life I wanted to be living.  Anyone else ever feel this way?

Here’s the peculiar part of this picture: At that time, I didn’t realize how unhappy I actually was. I had great friends and family. I was at a college I loved. I was about to move to the city of my dreams and work in the industry I had worked my ass off to get into. That sounds like happiness, right?

Since I graduated college, I’ve learned more than ever that just because you’re not unhappy doesn’t mean you’re truly living your best life. Sure, that may seem daunting, but in my opinion, it’s exciting. Think about it this way: Whether you consider yourself to be happy or unhappy, there’s always room for growth. You can always be happier. Healthier. Stronger. In my opinion, happiness is a choice, and a huge part of how I found mine is such a simple yet highly underrated practice: gratitude.

Now, you may be thinking, “Practice? Gratitude is a noun, not a verb. It’s a thing, it’s not something you do.” This was my hesitation at first as well. How can something as small as gratitude be practiced regularly, like brushing your teeth or going to the gym?

I came across the concept of practicing gratitude and making it part of my everyday routine after reading an incredible book called The Secret. The Secret is a book that focuses on energy—both good and bad—and how it can affect your life in ways you could have never imagined. In the book, the author Rhonda Byrne explains the law of attraction. We’ve all heard about karma and the concept of, “what goes around comes around,” but the law of attraction is less about your actions and more about your perspective. Think more, “you are your thoughts” rather than “you are your actions.”

In the book, Byrne explains that a great way to use the law of attraction is through gratitude. It’s simple: The more you consciously say, think, and feel excited about the things that you have to be grateful for, the more they will manifest in your life. Whether it be an emotional thing like friendship and love or physical things like a house, job, or car, by practicing gratitude each day, the law of attraction can bring you…well…anything you want.

Sounds crazy and kind of, “living in never-never land” ish, I know. But then I started doing my research. Ever heard of how Jim Carrey became who he is today? He used gratitude, a positive outlook, and the law of attraction to make himself a millionaire. He tells the full story during an interview on Oprah. Once you find his story, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit-hole of countless others just like it. Needless to say, I did just that, and that was enough for me to become fully invested in the concept and practice it as much as I could.

After finishing The Secret I frantically began my search for things that would keep me in the right mindset. Calendar markers, vision boards, and brand new notebooks filled my search history. It wasn’t long before I had a vision board in my tiny New York Apartment in Nolita, a rock that I carried around with me to constantly remind me to be thankful, and a journal I wrote in every morning and night. My gratitude journal is The Five Minute Journal, and this journal, along with my other law-of-attraction rituals, have undoubtedly changed my life.

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Me and a dear friend Hayden with my “gratitude” rock a few years ago.

Let me use my Five Minute Journal as an example of how. This journal is designed to help you practice gratitude daily by taking five minutes to write down what you’re thankful every morning and night. Here’s how it’s laid out:

First, the journal presents you with an inspirational quote or challenge. (This quote has become more of a daily reminder than an inspiration for me.) It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget why you are even doing what the hell you’re doing; we all need a little reminder every once in a while.

Then, the journal prompts you to list three things you are grateful for. After that, it asks you to write down three things that would make the day great. If you’re writing down what would make the day great, you’re more likely to do anything to make them all happen, right? That’s where the magic happens. By doing this you’re setting yourself up for success first thing in the morning.

The next part of the morning journaling is my favorite: it tells you to write your daily affirmations. If you’re unfamiliar with what this means, here are some helpful prompts. Finish these sentences:

I am…

I have…

By saying things like, “I have the best job in the world,” or, “I’m healthy, happy, and strong,” it’s manifesting these things and making them a reality. Whether or not you actually have what you believe to be the best job in the world, by writing down that you do every day, you are taking it out of the future and bringing it into the present. You’re making it real. You’re using the law of attraction.

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At the end of the day, the journal gives you two prompts: “3 Amazing things that happened today…” and “How could I have made today even better?”

The first allows you to sit back and recognize the beauty that is life, even if you’ve had the worst day EVER. I’ve gotten dumped, laid off, and sick as hell, and on days like these, this prompt saved my mental state from slipping into a slippery slope of, “whoa is me.” Because even on days where shit hits the fan and life happens, there’s always something to be thankful for; even if it is something as small as “I had a great cup of tea,” or “my commute was three minutes shorter than usual.”

By asking you to reflect on the day and put your life in perspective, the second prompt is setting you up for success BEFORE you even wake up the next day. How badass is that?

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Something I want to stress here is that I’m human, and some days are definitely better than others. Sometimes, I wake up late and forget to write in my journal. Sometimes, sad things happen and I just want to cry about them and not only focus on the good. It’s important to feel your feelings and recognize that life is not perfect, and through pain comes growth. However, it’s also important to realize that no matter what happens, happiness is a choice and there is ALWAYS something that makes life worth living. I write more about feeling your feelings and how to do so in a functional way in this post.

In a nutshell, gratitude is all about perspective. If there’s anything I’d like for you to take away from this post, it’s that you get to decide how you are going to receive and react to everything that happens in your life, and you also get to decide what your future looks like. Yes, some things are out of our control. However, by practicing gratitude on a regular basis, you will always feel happy because you will constantly be reminded about how everything that has happened to you has made you better; and you will constantly be reminded that the world is literally at your fingertips. You can have it all.

All you have to do is step back, be thankful for what you have, and allow the universe to shower you with anything you desire.

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In good health,

G

why it’s important to feel your feelings

Before you read this, ask yourself: How do you deal with trauma? When things aren’t going the way you planned, how do you cope with it?

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Life is beautiful. There’s so much to see, so much to experience, so many people to meet that will change your life and shape who you are. I often wake up and look out my window in disbelief that I get to live on this planet and choose what my life is going to look like. It’s all about perspective, ya know?

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When I take a moment to stop, revisit my gratitude, and focus on the things that make life worth living, I feel so humbled. I feel amazing. That being said, like anyone else who lives an ordinary life, though, I work. I workout. I pay bills. I cook, clean, visit with friends. I travel. When you get caught up in the day to day and you get into a routine, it becomes easy to turn on auto piolet and cruise along for the ride. So, what happens when the autopilot is on and tragedy strikes?

Feeling your feelings and dealing with emotions can be difficult. This is why people do things to “not feel,” like use drugs, shut down, disappear, etc. Obviously, everyone deals with stress, sadness, and hardships differently. Recently I’ve noticed this more than ever. Sometimes you forget that people are different than you—I know I definitely have forgotten this and still struggle with understanding it. Through friendships, work, and relationships, I’m still learning.

After reflecting on the last six months of my life and taking a hard look at where I am today, I’ve realized something that, in my opinion, is extremely important for personal growth: Feeling your feelings is a good thing.

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Take a moment to think about the people in your life. How do they deal with trauma? In my experience, some people yell. Some people cry. Some people talk it out, bottle it up inside, ignore it all, run away, whatever. Something I’ve learned, though, is that there is a difference between acknowledging the presence of your emotions, rather than letting them run your life and fuel your choices.

Here’s a personal example: This year, I was laid off. In that moment and moments after, I felt sad, hurt, and stressed. When I felt sad, I cried or talked about it with my friends and family. When I felt angry, I did the same. However, once those emotions passed, I had to step outside of myself and make sure I was using those moments to move forward and heal, rather than drag me down and hurt me further. On the days when I let them get the best of me, I wouldn’t be productive and I’d feel like shit about everything. That’s no way to live!

On the other side of things, though, sometimes, I wouldn’t feel anything. I’d start to feel upset, and then I’d stop myself because I wanted to keep my pride. “I won’t let a job and a company that wasn’t meant for me dictate my mood or ruin my day,” I’d think to myself. Or, I would be scared of feeling pain, because let’s be real…no one wants to hurt inside. It’s scary. You feel vulnerable. Well, guess what happened when I didn’t feel pain? I felt it even more later on. It would all come back full circle, and I would have LEGIT meltdowns.

Here’s my point with all of this: In the moments where I felt my feelings, I was able to use my emotions as a tool and look inward to aid my healing process. In the moments where I wouldn’t allow myself to do so, everything would bottle up inside of me. It never “went away” until I released it into the universe.

As my mother always says, our emotions are like a compass. They are here to guide you. They are your friend. Sometimes, we let our brains (or the more logical side of ourselves), overthrow our feelings. Should you go rogue and make every decision based on emotions and nothing more? No. But, if your compass told you to turn North, would you go South? Probbbabbbllyyy not. So, I say, use them to get you on a path that feels right. Then, that’s when the logic comes in. This way, you, your emotions, and your logic are a team. You’re not working against each other. Your emotions are here to HELP YOU, not hurt you. They don’t define you. They don’t make you weak. They are meant to be felt and then released.

If you’re dealing with some BS that doesn’t serve you, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Like I said earlier, feeling your emotions can be scary. Here are a few functional ways I’ve learned to do so that have worked for me, step-by-step.

How to heal by using your feelings

  1. Acknowledge them. The emotions you are feeling are there, and they’re real A F. They’re not going anywhere until you do something about it.
  2. So, FEEL THEM. Cry, run, scream, call a friend and talk it out, whatever. Just be sure to do something…don’t run away.
  3. Accept them. How do we move on from something that doesn’t make sense to us? Or, how do we make sense of something that literally doesn’t make sense? We accept it. We don’t have to agree with it, praise it, or love it, but to TRULY heal, we do have to accept it. HARD, I know, but so crucial for moving forward.
  4. Set them free. Imagine yourself tossing the sadness, despair, or betrayal into the air. And then, like a balloon, they just float into the sky, until they are eventually out of sight. By this point of the healing process, you’ve already felt these emotions and used them as a tool. You don’t need them anymore, so, set them free.
  5. Be patient. You may only have to go through this process once. Or, you may have to go through it every day for months. Whatever your healing process looks like, just remember to be patient with yourself. Everyone is different, but as long as you are feeling your feelings, time, patience, and love (from yourself and others) will take care of the rest.

In good health,

G

 

 

homemade almond milk

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Yes, I took this picture outside because yes, I BYOM’D somewhere. No shame.

I’m not perfect, but I pay a lot of attention to the products I buy and what’s going into my body. A great rule of thumb I go by is if I can’t pronounce an ingredient or picture what it looks like, chances are, my body won’t know what it is either. Therefore, it won’t know what to do with it. Simple, but SO hard to follow with what’s on the market these days.

I will say store-bought nut milk options have gotten much better over the last few years. That being said, because the product needs to maintain a shelf life, questionable indigents are snuck in here and there. Long story short: Homemade is always your safest bet. You know EXACTLY what’s going into it, from start to finish.

The below recipe is for homemade almond milk, but you can sub for any type of nut. I just experiment with what flavors and textures I like best, add more/less water, and go from there.

ingredients

Makes one 24oz mason jar.

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • filtered water
  • pink salt
  • dates
  • organic vanilla extract

what you’ll need

  • High-speed blender
  • cheesecloth
  • strainer
  • jar or glass that seals for storage

instructions

Place your almonds in a bowl and fill the bowl with water until all of the almonds are covered. Store it in the fridge overnight or throughout the day, for 6-8 hrs. (The softer the nuts, the less they have to soak.) Once the almonds are ready, strain the water and place them in the blender with 3.5 cups of filtered water. Blend until smooth. Grab a bowl or jar and place underneath the cheesecloth. Pour the blended liquid into a cheesecloth and squeeze the milk into the container. Be gentle! If you squeeze too hard, the pulp will get into the mixture.

After all of the liquid has been squeezed out, pour the milk back into the blender. Add dates, salt, cinnamon, etc. These are all optional.

**FYI: This will last in the fridge for about three days.

nut milk: 6 tips + tricks and why I make my own

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**This post is tips+tricks to making your own milk, along with the reasons why I do it. If you want a basic how-to, check this out.

Making my own nut milk has changed the way I start my mornings, test my recipes, and look at the ingredients in store-bought products. It might sound crazy, but hear me out.

You know how people say it’s good to make your bed in the morning, because you’re starting your day with intention? Or starting it on the right foot? Making my own milk has become a similar concept for me. It’s a huge part of my routine because it makes me happy. Lemmmeeeee tell you why and how I got started.

I first decided to try making my own nut milk last spring, when my boyfriend at the time used Sundays to bake his own bread. I loved the idea of making something I had every day from scratch, and I already used Sundays to meal prep, so what’s another thing on the list?

Like anyone else with a full-time job who was ballin’ on a budget, I used to buy my nut milk at the grocery store. Your average brand is under $5 a box and ready to use, which was super convenient for me. Little did I  know that making the real deal took WAY less time, effort, and money than I thought.

Of course, I first turned to my favorite food bloggers for their go-to nut milk recipes. After doing so, I quickly noticed that there wasn’t much of a consistency in the nut to water ratio in all of their recipes. So, I decided to say screw it and test my own.

My two favorite nuts are walnuts and Brazil, so walnut milk first venture. Since I was a rookie, the first batch I ever made was definitely thicker than it’s supposed to be (apologies to those I shared it with because it was basically a milkshake), but it still tasted good!

Here’s the point of telling you all of this: Yes, there is a standard 1 cup nut, 2.5 cup water ratio to make any kind of nut milk, but in my opinion, it all depends on what you will be using the milk for. Will you be making desserts or lattes? Do you drink it plain, or add it to your morning drink? Are you going for taste, or are you just looking for a quick dairy replacement?

These questions may make things more complicated, I know. No worries, I’m here to make it simple for you! Now, I make nut milk 2/3 times a week, and through trial and error, I’ve learned a handy list of tips and tricks. Ch-ch-check it below.

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1. dates are your best friend

Dates help with two things: taste and texture. If I’ve run out of dates when I’m making milk, I always find the taste to be a little bland and the consistency seems more chalky. It’s like they smooth everything out or something. And they make it a little sweeter…naturally, of course! I usually add 2/3 pitted dates to each batch.

2. soft nuts = more water needed, hard nuts = less water needed

This makes sense if you think about it. If a nut is super soft, it will soak up more water, which gives the milk a thicker. Walnuts are a great example of this. I find that whenever I make walnut milk, I always have to add more water; otherwise, it tastes like a milk smoothie, which is no good for recipe testing. With almonds, I don’t have to add as much.

3. bring it from “OK,” to “ayyyyyy, OKAYYYYYY.”

There are three things I ALWAYS add to my nut milk: dates, pink salt, and a litttteeee dash of vanilla. As stated above, the dates help with texture. Though they are opposites, adding the pink salt and vanilla compliment each other wonderfully and will give your milk the sugar and spice it needs to bring it from good to GRRRREat. Not do or die, just a suggestion.

4. don’t put your cheesecloth in the washer!

Clean your cheesecloth in the sink. I soak mine in hot water throughout the day after use, and then, I clean it with a food safe soap/cleaning agent. Afterward, I hang it to dry overnight. Be sure to soak it right after so bacteria doesn’t build!

5. make small batches

When I first started making nut milk, I would make these HUGE batches because I thought it was saving me time. Though it would save me time, I was also wasting money because the milk would go bad and I’d have to throw it out. FYI, nut milk lasts on average about 3 days in the fridge.

6. save the pulp

For those of you who don’t know, nut pulp is the stuff that’s left in the cheesecloth once you’re done straining. Don’t throw it away! Put it in the fridge or freezer and look up nut pulp recipes. Most of them are no-bake desserts, which like, hellooooo….

so, why make your own?

Many people ask me, “I know it’s more expensive to make your own nut milk. Is it really worth it?” My answer is, DUH. Think about it this way: What are some other things in your fridge that only last a few days, or maybe a week tops? Fruits, veggies, pre-cooked legumes, etc. All things that are REAL good for you, and don’t have any added BS. Store bought nut milk lasts longer because chemicals are put into it to give it a shelf life. If these chemicals keep the nuts from taking their natural course and going bad when they’re dunzo, do you really think your body will know what to do with it? I try to feed my body with things that it will recognize. Otherwise, my digestive system is like, “WTF,” even if I don’t always feel it. When I make my own, I know EVERYTHING that’s going into it, and that makes me soooo happy.

In addition, it tastes SO MUCH BETTER. It’s creamier, and it actually tastes like the nut you made it with.

Finally, as I said before, like meal prep, it’s become a huge, positive part of my routine. It’s so rewarding and therapeutic to start your day by making something from scratch that tastes good, fuels your body, and has multiple uses. Now that I’ve started to make my own, I can def say I will never go back to the store-bought stuff.

 

gater green smoothie: my go to recipe

GREENS ARE THE FUGGIN’ FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.

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Isn’t it amazing to know that with greens, you literally hold the golden ticket to your health? Sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s amazing because the following statement is something that everyone can agree on: Greens are good for you. Blesssssss.

I LOVE my greens, and I eat them every. single. day. I do have a confession, though…I used to hate them. By now, I’ve trained my taste buds enough to do things like eat (and actually crave) raw kale out of a plastic bag, but it took a while to get there. I hands down have smoothies and juicing to thank for that.

Not gonna lie…if you don’t have greens on the reg, chances are, a lot of green smoothie recipes will taste like cardboard. They did for me at first, and I had to try SO MANY combinations of fruits and vegetables to find something that tasted good and gave me all of the nutrients I was looking for. Once I found my go-to combination of fruits and veggies, I felt like getting in my greens was a piece of cake. (Or kale.)

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ingredients:

  • 1 cup or handful organic spinach
  • 1 cup or handful organic kale
  • three pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries (feel free to sub with any type of berry)
  • 1 or 1/2 banana
  • 2 small sticks of celery
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp grounded flaxseed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

instructions: 

Add all ingredients to a Vitamix or high-speed blender and blend until it reaches desired consistency. To make clean-up easier, add flax and chia seeds after blending. I often meal prep and make my smoothies the night before, so when I make it, I store it in the fridge overnight and don’t use ice.

In good health,
G