All posts by lifes abundance

World's Best Dairy-Free Cheesecake

LA-cheesecake

It’s raw. It’s vegan. And it’s impossibly delicious.

Our culinary artist has created a taste sensation that puts other cheesecake recipes to shame! What’s so amazing is that’s it’s dairy-free and packed with nutrients, thanks to our incredibly nourishing Vanilla Plant Protein.

Using muffin tins, makes 36 mini or 12 full-size cheesecakes.

Ingredients

CRUST
•1 cup packed pitted dates*
•1 cup raw walnuts (or almonds)

FILLING
•1 1/4 cups raw cashews, quick-soaked**
•1 large lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup)
•3 Tbsp Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein (about 1/2 scoop)
•1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
•1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (recommend skimming ‘cream’ layer off)
•1/2 cup liquid sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup or honey if not vegan)

FLAVOR ADDITIONS optional
•2 Tbsp salted natural peanut butter
•1/4 cup wild blueberries (allow to thaw slightly if frozen)
•3 Tbsp caramel sauce
•Lemon peel, fruit, chocolate or crushed nuts

Directions

1. Add dates to a food processor and pulse several times until only small bits remain and form into a ball. Remove and set aside.
2. Add walnuts to food processor and pulse 5 times to create a meal texture. Add dates to walnut meal and pulse until a loose dough forms. Add more dates if the texture is too dry. If too wet, add more walnut meal.
3. Lightly grease your muffin tin, either standard or mini-size.
4. Scoop in a dollop of crust (about 1 T for standard tin, 1-1.5 tsp. for mini). Press is down using a small glass or the back of a spoon. A shot glass works perfectly for mini tins. If it sticks, cover the glass with parchment. Place in freezer to firm up crusts.
5. Add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until creamy smooth. Add a bit more liquid (either lemon juice, sweetener or coconut milk) if the mix fails to blend uniformly.
6. Taste and adjust as needed. If you opt to use additional flavoring to the filling, blend in now. Leave aside any toppings for now.
7. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release air bubbles. Add any toppings, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 4-6 hours.
8. Once set, remove by loosening with a butter knife.
9. Serve frozen or thawed. You can store these cheesecakes in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks … not that they’ll last that long!

Notes

*Soak in warm water for 10 minutes if they’re not very sticky. Drain well and pat dry before using.
**To quick-soak cashews, pour boiling water over them and allow to soak for 1 hour uncovered. Drain well before using.

Protein-Infused Crispies

Rice-Crispies

Christmas may have come and gone, but the New Year is on the way. Now's no time to power down! Whip up this incredibly tasty batch of pure goodness that's also oh-so-nourishing! It's all the snacky yumminess of rice crispy treats but with a modern twist, achieved by the delectable additions of peanut butter and our scrumptious Plant Protein. Launch into the New Year with newfound energy from Protein-Infused Crispies!

Ingredients

Coconut oil
4 cups brown or classic rice crisp cereal
½ cup all-natural peanut butter (or other nut butter), partially melted
½ cup brown rice syrup
2 scoops Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. Grease a 9-inch by 9-inch pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together melted peanut butter, brown rice syrup, protein powder and vanilla until it forms a dough consistency.
3. Gradually add brown rice crisps to the peanut butter mixture. Use a spatula or your hands to gently fold the rice crisps into the mixture. Then, pour mixture into the pan.
4. Using a spatula, spread mixture out evenly and press into pan so the bars are compact.
5. Place into freezer for at least 30 minutes.
6. Before serving or storing, use a sharp knife to cut your treats into squares. Coat the knife with a thin layer of coconut oil to prevent sticking.

Substitution Tip

Brown rice syrup provides essential stickiness to the recipe’s texture. In a pinch, you can substitute a mix of honey and molasses at a ratio of 3:1.

Blackberry Tapenade

Tapenade

This holiday season, try this sophisticated appetizer on for size! Not only is it sure to please hungry party-goers, it’s chocked full of nourishing goodness, too! What better way to shore up your joyful reserves and fuel your holiday spirits than with this unique recipe from our very own culinary specialist at Life’s Abundance!

As outlined, makes about 8 ounces of tapenade. Simply increase the fixings to serve larger crowds!

Ingredients

1 tsp. capers

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup dried figs

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup kohlrabi

1/4 cup blackberry preserves

1 scoop Life’s Abundance Greens Blend

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Rinse both the capers and olives and air dry on a towel.

2. In a small bowl combine the blackberry preserves and Greens Blend. Mix well and set aside.

3. Roughly chop dried figs. Wash and dry parsley. Remove parsley leaves from stems. Remove paper skin from garlic clove.

4. Add garlic to the food processor and pulse for three seconds.

5. Prepare kohlrabi by removing ends and peeling. Roughly chop and add kohlrabi to the food processor. Pulse for five seconds.

6. Add capers, olives and figs to the food processor and pulse for five seconds. Add the blackberry preserves mixture to food processor and pulse for five seconds. Add parsley leaves, olive oil and lemon juice to the food processor and pulse for five seconds.

7. Scrape down any tapenade that is on the side of the food processor into the base and pulse until desired consistency.

8. Serve chilled.

Substitution Tip

A number of preserved fruits will work beautifully with this recipe. Try mixed berry, blueberry, currant or apricot preserves.

The Secret to Finding a Lost Dog

Chevy-Koko

Few feelings of dread are as harrowing as the moment you realize your dog is missing.

Late Sunday afternoon, our long-time employee, Dawn Tate, experienced just such a moment. After hanging out with her two dogs, Chevy and Koko, in an open field near her home, Dawn realized that her Florida cur, Chevy, had not returned from her recent romp. Minutes later, as Dawn’s searches became more and more frantic, she realized that Chevy had vanished.

After a several minutes of fruitless searching, Dawn launched a full-out rescue attempt. Not only did she contact her local Animal Control Department, but also the police. Both agencies expressed concern for Chevy’s welfare and were only too happy to receive her emails with photos of Chevy, so they could keep an eye out. In addition to contacting the authorities, Dawn turned to social media for help. She posted images of Chevy and shared her last-known location with her friend network. Unfortunately, there were no sighting reports of Chevy.

frantic-phone

Dawn was determined to bring her baby home, searching the surrounding areas as late as 2 a.m. and then was up before the crack of dawn to resume search efforts.

Thanks to a helpful friend, Dawn decided to try a recovery strategy that someone shared online. It’s a method that’s popular among outdoorsmen for lost hunting dogs. The trick is this … return to the location where you first became aware you were separated from your canine. At the scene, place at least one article of recently worn clothing (not anything freshly clean from the wash). The more scent it holds, the better. If at all possible, also bring along a crate or carrier and two or three of your dog’s favorite toys. It is recommended that you also provide a bowl of water (not food, as it may attract wildlife that might scare off your dog). You might also consider leaving a note for any people who happen by, requesting that the items remain undisturbed and why.

The basic concept here is that your dog wants to return to you, he just can’t find you. Thanks to their incredible sense of smell, they will be able to find their way back to these familiar items. Time and time again, this method has proven highly successful in reuniting lost dogs with their caretakers.

Why is it so effective? Dogs have an amazingly keen sense of smell. Their noses possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors, which is 50 times more than humans. To convert all of the sensory data picked up by these detectors, there’s a great deal of processing power. The canine brain allocates 40 times more brain power proportionately, compared to people.

It’s hard to quantify exactly how much better a dog is at detecting scents compared to ours. Some experts say it’s a 1,000 times better, while others say it’s one million times better. And humans actually have well-developed sniffers. All of us have had the experience of returning home and opening the front door to smell that someone’s been cooking. You were probably even pretty sure what dish was being made. If we can smell this, a dog could detect the same in a house the size of an average-sized city!

Dogs are able to pick up on a whole host of information from smells. When it comes to knowing their pet parent, they can read unique chemical markers (such as hormones) that we’re not even aware we’re emitting. With one breath, they can easily determine if we’re fearful, anxious or sad. That’s astonishing! Just remember, the next time you’re walking your dog and she lingers to smell the grass, she’s reading all sorts of information from the last dog that passed by. In this scenario, veterinary experts would say that your dog’s interior thoughts probably sound like, “Let’s see, you’re also a girl, you’re about 4 years old, you had a chicken-based meal this morning, you were super excited on your walk, etc.”

A HAPPY RESOLUTION

It was a frightening 24 hours, both for Dawn and for Chevy. But thanks to the innovative strategy we just explained to lure her back to the exact spot where they were separated, Dawn, Koko and Chevy are now safely back under the same roof. Yay!

Chevy

Have you ever become separated from your companion animal? What strategy did you use to search, and were you successful? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Share your stories in the comments section below!

Make Thanksgiving Great For Your Dog

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is surely a canine favorite. There's abundant food, there's full gatherings of friends and family, and did we mention the food?

The downside is much of the bounty you'll be serving at your feast doesn't jibe too well with a dog's digestive system. Sure, they'll enjoy it in the moment, but there can be some serious side effects to all the sneaky feeding of scrumptious table scraps.

Fortunately, we have some food for thought, presented in the following holiday infographic. You'll learn about some of the incredibly tasty and oh-so-nourishing alternative foods and treats your dog is sure to love. After all, we all want this Thanksgiving to be the best it can be for your beloved pup-pup.

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your friends and family!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies

Cookie-Bowl

Fall is upon us. And what better way to celebrate the changing season than with the rich, creamy, nourishing delight of healthy cookies straight from the oven! 

We made this recipe here at our home office and it was a huge hit. They're buttery, nutty and oh-so-scrumptious! We used almond flour, but encourage you gourmands to try variations.

Be sure to share this fall-inspired recipe with friends and family!

This recipe yields approximately 12-15 cookies, so think about doubling ingredients for a bigger batch of home-cooked goodness!

INGREDIENTS:

3 scoops Life’s Abundance Plant Protein
1 c almond flour, quinoa flour or flour of choice
1/3 c chopped pecans
1/4 c honey
1-1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup milk

Cookie-Sheet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until a cookie-dough-like consistency forms. Add more milk by the tablespoon if needed.

  3. Roll dough into small balls, place on prepared baking sheet and flatten into cookies.

  4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden.

Verdant Cranberry Orange Muffins

Muffins

We challenge you ... what's better than a warm, scrumptious berry muffin fresh from the oven? That's right, nothing!

Judging by the reaction this recipe got here at our home office, you might want to whip up a double batch of this delectable delight.

Be sure to share this fall-inspired recipe with friends and family!

This recipe yields approximately one dozen muffins.

INGREDIENTS:

½ c dried cranberries
1/3 c hot water
2 c all purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free baking flour
2 scoops Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp orange zest (about 1 large orange)
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sugar, agave or liquid sweetener of choice
½ c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 c freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
¼ c non-fat milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly grease 12 standard-sized muffin cups.
  2. Re-hydrate the dried cranberries by combining with hot water into to a heat-safe bowl or mug. Let the bowl sit while preparing the muffin batter.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Greens Blend and zest in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the sugar or other sweetener. Add the yogurt and mix until no large lumps remain. Stir in the orange juice. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Drain the cranberries, and gently fold into the batter.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 17-20 minutes, or until barely golden brown and the centers feel fairly firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack.

Note: Fresh chopped cranberries may be substituted in place of the dried cranberries and water. 

Back to School Tips for Pet Parents

It's that time of year again. Parents across America are sending their kids back to school. For those who are also pet parents, there's an added dimension to this big routine change ... concerns about how the family's companion animals are dealing. 

Fortunately, we have some helpful tips, food for thought and some of the telltale signs of troubled behavior to watch out for, all to help guide anyone who's concerned about how to handle the transition.

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your friends and family!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Futuristic Pet Technologies & Gadgets

smart-dog

Fans of Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know of the amazing convenience offered by the T.A.R.D.I.S. and Babel fish, both of which offer real-time translation of any form of communication, from humans to animals to aliens. A device allowing for instantaneous translation has long fired the imagination of many.

The language barriers have been breaking down since the launch of the internet’s first translation website (interestingly enough, called babelfish). We haven’t gotten to the point Douglas Adams envisioned just yet, but technology inches us ever nearer this holy grail of communication.

These days, all you need is your phone to get around the world. For example, Google’s Translate app allows you to translate road signs and blocks of text with nothing more than your camera phone!

While such advances are remarkable, we’ve only gotten as far as other humans. Cat meows, dog barks, bird chirps, and whale songs are just as much of a mystery to us as they have ever been … but that may soon change. According to a report commissioned by Amazon*, pet translators could be on the market within the next decade. What would that even look like?

The obvious problem with the concept is that dogs and cats don’t rely on verbal communication the way we do. Cats don’t even meow to other cats, just to people. A collar that claims to translate vocalizations therefore isn’t going to give us a whole lot of useful information. Therefore, one would ideally require some sort of technology that would evaluate body language, which is integral to the way that so many pets communicate.

lap-dog-ball

For the past decade, wearable tech has struggled to come up with a device that pet parents actually find useful. Smart implements claiming to translate barks fell by the wayside quickly, due to impractical tech. GPS trackers fared a bit better, but most people find they don’t lose track of their dogs and cats often enough to need them. But the final path to progress, at least based on how the technology has evolved recently, seems to be in devices that capture and interpret a pet’s movement.

Fitbit-like devices that simply tell you how much exercise a pet is getting aren’t that popular. Rather than responding to the tracker’s complaints by upping daily walks with the dogs, most people simply put the trackers in the drawer to avoid the guilt. But rather than focus on the amount of movement, pet trackers are now trying to determine patterns of motion. The newest trackers claim to recognize not only the length of physical activity but the type. Consequently, they’re able to differentiate between an itchy dog scratching all night from an anxious dog pacing around the house. Even better, these trackers could even help pet parents determine if that new allergy drug is helping, or if a dog on arthritis medication is feeling any better. Actions speak louder than words, right?

At the end of the day, as researcher John Bradshaw points out**, technology shouldn’t replace pet parents simply doing a better job of understanding the needs of their dog. A person who lives in a small apartment and works 12 hours a day may run into problems if they adopt a Weimaraner puppy. Knowing that your dog spends the first 15 minutes after you leave the house running at warp speed or tearing up the cushions is useless unless you realize this likely indicates separation anxiety, which can’t be resolved without some sort of behavioral intervention. The true benefit of these technologies is in getting a better handle on what is going on when we aren’t present.

canine-buddies

If you’re an early adopter of pet tech, you’ve probably accumulated all sorts of gizmos. Dog cameras that spit out treats with the push of a phone’s button. Remote tennis ball launchers. Specialized collars that can track a dog’s respiratory rate throughout the day. One of the more popular pieces of pet tech is the Nest camera. Many a canine and feline mystery has been solved thanks to the watchful eye of hi-def video monitoring.

The path to technological advancement is by necessity littered with castoff items that fail to meet their potential, but that’s the nature of innovation. For all the times we try out a new gadget and never use it again, there are occasionally bursts of technical genius that truly makes life better for us and our companion animals.

So, what do you think Life’s Abundance reader? Are you itching to try out mind-bending future tech to communicate with you companion animal? Or are you content with your own tried-and-true methods when it comes to canine interactions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Online References:
* gadgetsandwearables.com/2017/07/21/amazon-shop-the-future
** theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/21/dogs-talk-tell-home-truths-technology-pets-feeling

Supporting Military Service Members

soldier-dog-companion-service

This week, one of our military veterans received a hero’s farewell. In Muskegon, MI, hundreds gathered to witness the passing of Cena, a black Labrador who retired in 2014 after serving three tours of duty sniffing out explosive devices in Afghanistan. After his recent diagnosis of terminal bone cancer, his caretaker made the decision to end Cena’s life with dignity, and some well-earned fanfare. Cena was one of many military service animals who have saved countless lives for decades.

We reflect with gratitude on the history of those who have served, both human and companion animal, alike. For those of us who don’t serve and are fully entrenched in the civilian way of life, military life can feel like foreign territory. Given that so many have given so much, we’re left to wonder, “What can we do to help?” To that we say, “We’re glad you asked” and we encourage you to open your heart to these following possibilities.

Foster During Deployment: If you answer “no question, my dog/cat” when asked who you’d want with you on a deserted island, fostering an animal for service members deployed overseas may be the role for you. Like anyone, active military service members can and often do have doggos and kitties. They also have the unique hardships of extended out-of-town training, deployments and living far away from a network of family or close friends. Lest these difficulties bar service men and women from being pet parents (or worse, surrendering a pet), there are organizations that exist to “matchmake” service members with volunteer pet boarders. These groups seek private homes and boarding facilities that would care for a military foster pet for as short a period as a couple of weeks, up to one year and everything in between. If you live near a military base, check for a regional service in your area or visit one of the national services like DogsOnDeployment.org.

anxiously-waiting

Adopt a Hero: In an ideal scenario, a retired military working dog (MWD) is to ultimately be adopted by their handler partner, but this is not always possible. If you are a fan of dogs who demonstrate a real drive and purpose, perhaps you have a place in your home for a retired hero! The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act was cause for great celebration because it means that retired military working dogs are now, for the first time, assured of being returned to the U.S. Previously there was tremendous advocacy and expense required on the part of the handler or other caring humans to get these dogs back home. Some adoption organizations currently have waiting lists for MWDs, but this new act could mean an increase in the number of retired working dogs seeking forever homes. To learn more about retired MWD adoption, please check out U.S. War Dogs Association and Mission K9 Rescue.

reach-out-online

Make a Contribution: There are approximately 2,500 U.S. Military Working Dogs currently in service around the world. Consider spending the time to assemble a care package for one, two or even a few of these remarkable canines and their handlers. A little bit of comfort can go a long way towards helping service members endure conflict hardships and feel connected to home. There are also a handful of non-profit groups that facilitate medical care, housing and adoption for retired military dogs – all of which need financial assistance. And let’s not forget our local law enforcement agencies! These groups are often under-funded and under-equipped for their K9 officer programs, relying on grants, private donations and out-of-pocket contributions from their officers. Project Paws Alive works to centralize fundraising efforts for departments actively seeking help. Or simply contact your local fire rescue, sheriff or police department to learn about their specific needs and how you might be able to help.

veteran-and-husky

Become an Advocate: As ‘excess and out-of-service equipment’, Retired MWDs do not receive government funding to support their integration into civilian home life. It’s not uncommon for them to have costly medical needs, or to be without a safe place to heal from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress. Others simply need temporary housing or even just transportation to their new forever home. There are also ‘guardian angel’ volunteers who keep track of MWDs re-apportioned to private contract companies in hopes they may be assured a loving home when their service finally ends.

In light of everything our service members do for us (human and canine), embrace that patriotic spark and let your gratitude inspire action. And be sure to share your own stories in the comments section below!

Read more about Cena here:
www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/27/military-dog-cena-jeff-deyoung-michigan