Lil Bucks-Approved Eats in Tulum

I just took a quick vacay from Chicago winter and went down to Tulum with a group of girls for a long weekend. Beach relaxin’, warmth, cenotes (deep water-filled sinkholes, like caves!!), Mayan ruins, tacos and smoothies. And gawking at the prices of some of the eco-chic hotels and boutiques along the beach. It’s definitely a resort town more than an authentic Mexican town but nevertheless worth the visit! And you can explore the town to get more of the Mexico feel. I had the best time!!

The FOOD is the first thing I think of with this trip. Given our big group (5 girls) we tried tons of different places where we could share plates and get a taste for everything!! I am not a huge eater so sometimes this was a struggle hah, but I must say every thing we ate was AMAZING.

I wanted to share some of the top healthy cafes/restaurants in Tulum that we visited. This is not a top tacos list, but please note most places had amazing tacos and there are plenty of lists on that! Basically everywhere you eat will be delish, but if you’re looking for a nice juice, smoothie, veggies, or breaky, here’s what I’d say:

Acai bowl from Matcha Mama

1. Smoothies, Reishi Latte & Swings at Matcha Mama

Okay, this place is so gringo (owned by someone in LA), but whatever. IT’S SO GOOD. The Mamacita smoothie was the group fave, and I loved their reishi cacao latte – got it almost every day! Also smoothie bowls, superfood bites (in matcha and cacao, the Lil Bucks flavors!!). I went nuts here.

2. Breaky & Juice at The Real Coconut

Aaaaand another American-owned (LA again) cafe inside the gorgeous Sanara resort. This is a great place to come have breaky and spend the day. Saw a bunch of people catching up here, posting up with a journal, and coming for a feed after a yoga class. This was def the best cold-pressed juice I had in Tulum, and we had a lotttt of juices. They also had a reishi type of latte, I enjoyed it but TBH the Matcha Mama one was a bit better. Great savory breakfast items here too.

https://www.therealcoconut.com/

 

3. Veggies, Dinner & Vibes at Gitano

A dinner spot! This place has the MOST VIBES of anywhere in the universe. Incense, the building built around trees (indoor/outdoor), a disco ball, candlelit everywhere, art, plants, cool mirrors… it’s also huge. And the food + drinks are juuuuust amazing. There were good fish/veggie options here. We had spiced asparagus under a cauliflower mash and that ended up being one of my fave bites of the whole trip. Who would’ve thought.

https://www.facebook.com/gitanotulum/

 

4. Juice & Italian at Posada Margarita

You’ll randomly see a lot of Italian in Tulum – this is regarded as the best place, and it’s on the beach so you could buy some food to get a bed at the beach for a bit! I ordered a beet ginger juice and it came in the largest jug ever… and it was so smoooooth. Highly recommend for the juice. I didn’t have room to eat much of the Italian but it was all handmade pastas and looked amazing. The best part, though, might be the LUSH walk through a beautiful garden to get to the restaurant!

http://www.posadamargherita.com

 

5. Coffee at Nest

This place is ‘grammed by celebs left and right, but worth strolling off the beach to hang out at the restaurant on the beach and have a drink or coffee. We didn’t stay for food but I must say the coffee I got there was the best I had in Tulum. It was PERFECT!!

nesttulum.com

 

6. Breakfast at Tunich

This is one of the first breaky spots you see when you hit the beach area. We biked here for breakfast after seeing the Mayan Ruins, about a 15 min bike ride. They had an insane french toast for a little indulgence, good juice + smoothies, kombucha, and apparently the breakfast burrito was incredible. It’s nice because this place isn’t as expensive as the others hah. We met a super cute Canadian couple who had breakfast here literally every day. The staff was super sweet too! Good vibes all around.

http://www.tunichtulum.com/

 

7. Raw Desserts & Smoothie Bowls at Raw Love

This place is located in a beautiful garden right by the beach. I loved the chocolate raw cake! I’m pretty picky when it comes to my smoothie bowls (and helloooo I want Lil Bucks in it) and I preferred the Matcha Mama smoothies, but this place was nevertheless a wonderful spot 🙂

 

8. Massage at Shantala Boutique Spa

Lastly, not food, but I must say – the massage at this spa in town was one of the best of my life, and half the price of the ones on the beach. The spa is def hole-in-the-wall vibes, but the staff were so sweet. An hour deep tissue massage cost about $60 with tip!

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, two of my friends did 90-min clay massages at the Mayan Clay Spa by the beach and I believe it was about $150 – better value than a lot of other places they found and it seemed magical! You get massaged in your own little hut.

 

Anyways, hope that inspires some healthy vibes in your travels or life at home! Let me know if you hit any of these up when you go, would love to hear what you think!! Xx


Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Squash menu item from sweetgreen served with toasted buckwheat

Lil Bucks is probably one of the first sprouted buckwheat brands in the U.S.A., and while sprouted buckwheat is popular in healthy cafes in Australia, it hasn’t really blown up here yet

So honestly I get SO excited when I see reputable brands using buckwheat. I really hope Kellogg’s or General Mills doesn’t just steal the idea and recipe and put Lil Bucks out of business, but in general it’s great. I found a tiny health cafe in NYC using sprouted buckwheat in their granola recipe, a cafe in Hawaii used it as a crunchy base for a vegan dessert bar, and a smoothie shop in St. Louis offers buckwheat on their acai bowls!

sprouted buckwheat choice health bar hawaii
Mmmm a sprouted buckwheat treat I found while in Maui, Hawaii! (Choice Health Bar)

AND NOW! Sweetgreen using buckwheat on their roasted Koginut squash. I LOVE sweet green for popularizing less known, in-season foods on their menu. Plus, you can really taste the freshness, and this sets them apart from other salad shops across the country. (PS this Mindbodygreen podcast with the sweetgreen founders is great!)

So I’m hoping people continue to fall in love with this crunchy, subtly nutty flavor of buckwheat, along with the nutritional benefits! And as buckwheat grows in popularity, I want to educate you on the different ways of consuming it: sweetgreen uses toasted buckwheat rather than sprouted+dehydrated buckwheat (Lil Bucks are sprouted and dehydrated), and I wanted to explore the differences in these two things, so you can learn why I prefer sprouted buckwheat vs. other forms of cooked/roasted buckwheat (but both are great!!).

WHY COOK OR SPROUT BUCKWHEAT?

Raw buckwheat contains phytic acid, a nutrient inhibitor that’s resistant to digestive enzymes and blocks the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium. AND BUCKWHEAT HAS 25% OF YOUR DAILY VALUE OF MAGNESIUM. Sooooo um this phytic acid has got to get out of the way 👋

Phytic acid is common in other seeds, nuts and legumes as well, which helps them last for years completely dormant, but isn’t great for digesting these foods. This is why you see ‘sprouted’, ‘activated’ and ‘roasted’ as popular descriptors for seeds, nuts and legumes.

Sprouting buckwheat (and other seeds, nuts and legumes) almost completely rids the buckwheat of phytic acid, so it becomes more digestible and we can better absorb all the magical nutrients. I really can’t say this better than Raw Gorilla:

“When the nut or seed is soaked it is activated and the dormant enzymes inherent inside start to awaken. Basically the nut or seed is preparing to burst into life and this is the optimum time to de-hydrate or consume them whilst they are at their enzymic peak and bursting with life-force!”

That’s why right after sprouting Lil Bucks, the buckwheat seeds are dehydrated!

Roasting (or cooking) is another way to break down the phytic acid so we can absorb the nutrients, but by doing this we are damaging some of the antioxidants found in buckwheat, and there are a LOT in buckwheat!

Some of these nutrients are sensitive to heat and might be lost during the roasting process. There still isn’t a ton of research on this as we are just starting to learn more and more about antioxidants, but multiple studies show increased temperature and roasting time decrease antioxidant activity (see sources at bottom).

You also want to be careful about the roasting method – dry-roasted or oil-roasted (can even mean deep-fried…). Dry-roasted is better but sometimes with this method, the temperature is much higher, causing more potential heat damage to the nutrients in buckwheat. I’d be interested to know how sweetgreen toasts their buckwheat – I imagine it’s a light toasting to give it that nutty flavor and ensure the phytic acid is released, but I don’t know. I’ll send them this blog post and ask! 😊

APPLYING THIS PRINCIPLE TO OTHER SEEDS, NUTS AND LEGUMES

If you are thinking about the other seeds, nuts and legumes you eat, the principles for sprouting/dehydrating vs. roasting are similar, and you can follow the links below to learn more (most articles and studies don’t focus on buckwheat as much as it’s not as popular YET).

To summarize:

sprouted/dehydrated: less phytic acid, seed is dried at its most bioavailable life stage (aka when the nutrients are most available to us). Con is that if you don’t fully dry a sprouted/soaked seed/nut it can go moldy from the inside, but you can rest assured that commercially purchased sprouted seeds/nuts (like Lil Bucks) go through moisture tests to ensure they are completed dried 🙂

roasting: slightly more phytic acid than if sprouted, but much easier to do at home. Less risk in roasting than sprouting as the high temperature kills off any dangerous bacteria (although risk is small unless you are eating A TON of the particular seeds/nuts/etc.), even though it kills off some antioxidants.

General rule of thumb is that if you eat a lot of roasted nuts/seeds, roasting at home is better than store-bought as you can control the temperature and oil used (if any). But sprouting (or at least soaking before roasting or better yet, dehydrating) may be the best if you’re eating a lot of seeds/nuts to ensure you aren’t consuming too much phytic acid, and you’re making the most out of its nutritional content. ✨

MORE READING ON THIS TOPIC:

https://treadingmyownpath.com/2013/08/26/roasting-soaking-sprouting-activating-or-eating-raw-a-guide-to-eating-nuts/

https://thenourishinghome.com/2012/03/how-to-soak-grains-for-optimal-nutrition/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vs-roasted-nuts#section3

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-sprouting

https://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/69542/That-s-Nuts-A-Complete-Guide-to-Soaking-Nuts-and-Seeds


Healthy Soil Compost Partnership!

Last night I lucked out and got last-second entry to see Stephanie Izard, Top Chef winner and owner of Girl & The Goat, discuss food sustainability. Between obscure lines from Mrs. Doubtfire, ordering cocktails via her microphone, and hilarious side-stores (I’m all about a tangent), Stephanie discussed her new cook book “Gather & Graze” about how to repurpose leftovers instead of throwing them away, and how her Goat team implemented sustainable practices to redirect 10,000 pounds of kitchen scraps to the compost pile each month!

Five days ago, MindBodyGreen shared a podcast interview with Lauren Singer, the environmental kween who popularized the zero-waste movement through her blog, Trash Is for Tossers.  I loved this podcast – it reminded me to think about everything you throw in the trash… is it worth producing trash that is literally going to rot away for practically EVER?! What can we do to reduce? She offers practical solutions so you can gradually reduce your impact.

Both Stephanie Izard’s chat and Lauren’s podcast interview didn’t reveal any mind-blowing environmental practices we should all be doing… everything mentioned was relatively simple and doable, dare I say obvious, but we sometimes just forget we can do these things when you’re not in the habit. Lauren may have even convinced me to start concocting my own toothpaste – apparently it’s simple!

One of the things I can happily say I do is HOME COMPOSTING. Composting is such an obvious choice to save food waste from getting stuck in landfills and releasing dangerous CO2 emissions. And even if you live in a city with no yard (#highriselife) your city likely has a composting option. I started using Chicago’s Healthy Soil Compost Community compost program, where they drop off a bucket and you pay depending on how many times they pick up per month. All you do is leave the bucket by your door and they replace with a fresh one, and you compost, compost, compost. We have saved SO MUCH doing this. I throw any food waste that falls on the floor during Lil Bucks production in here.

I am stoked to partner with Healthy Soil Compost and you will see Lil Bucks promoting them at our upcoming events (see the end for our upcoming events). Also if you sign up (WHICH YOU REALLY SHOULD THIS IS SO EASY AND AWESOME), mention Emily from Lil Bucks so we get a discount 😛If you know anyone who owns a cafe or restaurant, send them this list of Chicago partners and get their restaurant on board. Lil Bucks may save a few lbs per month of food waste, but like Girl & The Goat, restaurants who compost can have a HUGE impact.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and GET CREATIVE with those leftovers friends!! Xoxo

UPCOMING LIL BUCKS EVENTS & HOLIDAY MARKETS

November 25th: Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen, 12pm – 5pm at Emporium Logan Square

November 27th: Lil Bucks x Vital Proteins x Title Boxing Club Wellness Event!! Come in for an evening class at Title Boxing Lincoln Park. Some other amazing brands will be there… DM @Lovelilbucks to get a spot / first class is free

December 7th: Revival Food Hall First Fridays Party and Holiday Market, 5pm – 9pm. This will be fun – kick off your weekend with some fun brands, a DJ, drinks, friends, etc.

 December 9th: Covet Markets at Revel Fulton Market 10am – 5pm! DM @lovelilbucks for a discount code for entry. I love this market!!

December 11th: Member appreciation event at AIR Lincoln Park – take a class and have fun with some cool brands!

December 12th: Sampling at The Startup Food Bash, 6pm – 8:30pm.


Greetings From Oaxaca + Lil Bucks Update

Hi friends!

Emily here – the founder of Lil Bucks. I decided to start posting more on the website to give you insight into the Lil Bucks journey, more information about Lil Bucks and the ingredients, and recipes of course!!

Writing from Oaxaca City, Mexico today. Things have been busy, launching on Amazon and working on some exciting new things coming up (updated packaging…  more products on Amazon… limited edition flavors…!! ). I also still freelance full-time to fuel the Lil Bucks hustle (…and my need for RXBAR peanut butter packs and acai bowls and paying rent and workout classes etc 🤷).

Yeah, technically Lil Bucks is still a “side hustle”, but the hours spent on this biz every week are really creeping up. 😁 Lil Bucks is #1 in my heart (after bf and family), and I have so many ideas to spread the Lil Bucks love and make your experience better, get into more stores, add more flavors… These ideas dominate my mind and I intend to make it all happen.

Amidst the craziness, my weeklong trip to Mexico with my Aussie friends really snuck up on me. I was so stoked to see them again (it’s been 1.5 years since I moved from Sydney!) but thinking about everything I wanted to do for Lil Bucks, using my free time to travel almost seemed like a waste of time (GASP I’ve never said that – but I did say “almost”).

Any pre-trip anxiety ended the moment I landed. It’s so good to take a step back and peek into another world, just chill out. As a cultural mecca, the “food capital” of Mexico, and its epic location surrounded by mountains, Oaxaca is the perfect place for that (and it’s warm – missed the first Chicago snow 😅).

On the flight over I also made a gameplan for when I get back. Just before leaving, I helped FroyoToFitness design and launch this EPIC 6-week challenge guide (it’s seriously so awesome), and her planning, passion and action really inspired me to do the same. So, when I get back later this week, expect some exciting things to come before the end of the year. Bear with me as Lil Bucks evolves as I’m sure I’ll test + fail on some things.

In the meantime, comment below or DM @lovelilbucks and let me know any ideas of things you’d like to see Lil Bucks do, an event we should attend, or stores/cafes we should reach out to. In the first half of 2019, I’d also like to start a Brand Ambassador program – if you’re interested, fill out this quick form so you’ll be the first to know.

Xoxo

– Em, founder, Lil Bucks


Raw Lil Bucks Fudge

Ingredients:

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil melted
1/4 cup raw almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch fine grain sea salt, to taste
1 cup Lil Bucks
option to add 2 scoops (about 1/4 cup) of Vital Proteins Mocha Collagen Creamer to make it a mocha fudge – this is seriously DELICIOUS!!!

Directions:

  1. With electric beaters or blender, beat together the coconut oil and almond butter. Make sure the coconut oil is melted or the texture won’t work out (learned from experience)
  2. Sift in the cocoa/cacao powder and beat again until combined.
  3. Pour in the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth.
  4. Pour into a bowl if in a blender, and stir in the Lil Bucks with a spoon.
  5. Line a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. Scoop the chocolate mixture into the pan and spread out until even.
  6. Freeze for about 1 hour, or until solid. Slice into small squares and fall in loooove.


Lil Bucks Energy Balls

1 cup Lil Bucks
1/2 cup peanut butter (or another nut butter, or you can omit. This amounts to about 8 spoonfuls. I have gone overboard on this before and they became a little too melty/mooshy, so be careful)
1/3 cup RAW honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or 1/4 cup cacao nibs
1-2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla

Here’s what you do:

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate 45 minutes to an hour
Roll into small balls and keep refrigerated. I usually ‘frost’ with a little peanut butter on top because peanut butter… 😋


Signature Smoothie Bowl

Lil Bucks Signature Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie bowls are heavenly, but you must be careful of what goes in it! Some restaurants go over-the-top with sugary fruits and/or use fake juices or sugar-ed up acai, so it’s best to get it from a place who truly understands superfoods (Chicago: Hi-Vibe Juicery) or just know what to look out for in ingredients (we’ll expand on that eventually).

At home, you really can’t go wrong with this bowl:

  • 1 pack of sambazon protein acai or supergreens acai mix (only 5g sugar – watch out for their acai packets mixed with fruit… high sugar). You can also use their pure unsweetened acai
  • 1 banana (or half banana + half avocado for a creamy bowl)
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice) – start with 1/4 cup and blend, test the thickness, and then add more. I prefer a thicker smoothie bowl base
  • 1 scoop of spirulina – start with half scoop if you are just getting used to the taste – but eventually you’ll crave it!
  • If you’re really making this a meal – add a tablespoon of your nut butter of choice

Blend, and then top with Lil Bucks (yum), chia seeds and cacao nibs. <3