Go-go Goji Berries!

The goji berry, also known as wolfberry, is a sweet orange-red fruit native to Asia. It has been eaten for thousands of years and is a staple of some of the longest-living people on earth, including the Hunza in the Himalayas. With an impressive array of nutritional properties and health benefits, you might want to include it into your diet. We’ll show you how.

Background & Nutritional Properties

Goji berries have been used both as food and botanical medicine. Fortunately, with its sweet taste (it looks like a red raisin but tastes more like a cross between a cherry and a cranberry), it ‘helps the medicine go down’, as Mary Poppins would say.

What else do goji berries offer, nutritionally-speaking? Plenty – including 18 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), high antioxidant content, more protein by weight than other fruits (e.g. oranges, apples, berries), great source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, trace minerals, B vitamins and more.

Goji berries have been extensively studied for their health benefits and have been known to:

• Strengthen the immune system
• Increase longevity and protects from premature aging
Reduce skin cancer risk
• Promote cardiovascular health
• Support eye health and vision
• Maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar
• Improve fertility
• Strengthen muscles and bones
• Manage weight

Ready to include more of these delicious and nutritious berries into your diet? First, let’s talk about who should NOT eat goji berries without consulting their doctor or healthcare professional. Obviously, those allergic to the berries should avoid them. Goji berries may interact with certain drugs including blood thinners and diabetes medications as well as drugs for high blood pressure.

Choosing to partake in the nourishment and benefits of these red berries? Here are some ways to include them into your go-go, busy lifestyle:

• During breakfast with DIY Hippie Granola or a warming Great Goji Groatmeal recipe or even just as a topping to your cereal

• Brew in a tea ball with loose green tea

• As a snack on its own or in a trail mix

• In smoothies and yogurt

• Paired with dark chocolate for a satisfying dessert rich in antioxidants

…and more! Goji berries have been used to make soup, stew and wine as well as herbal formulas as a tonic for health.

This nutrient-dense superfood deserves a spot in your pantry with all it can offer to you and your family. Enjoy!

DIY Hippie Granola

Mr. Chef recently ordered granola and seeing it was a reminder of how we miss the crunchy grain-seed-sweet mixture of it all. What we don’t miss are ingredients that include questionable vegetable oil sources and excess sugar. The good news is that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds – a delectable, crunchable mixture AND have it be higher in fiber and protein from ethical, whole food sources. We made a fresh batch today and are sharing the recipe with you. Go with the flow and have some granola-y, groovy mornings. Can you dig it?

Prep time: 15 minutes, cook time: 40-45 minutes

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups chopped (or sliced) almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins or goji berries

1/4 cup hemp seeds

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl then add olive oil and maple syrup. Use rimmed baking sheet and spread mixture out evenly. Bake about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until golden and toasted. About 30 minutes in, add hemp seeds and goji berries to bake for the last 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely and transfer to airtight container. It should keep (if the delicious granola even makes it this long :D) for about 2 weeks.

Drop the Sweets!

dropthesweets

Put down the pieces of candy picked up from your coworker’s desk.

The Reese’s cups from the vending machine.

The 3rd cup of coffee for today.

It may be 3pm and the post-lunch energy lull can cause us to reach for the drugs that pep us up. Yes, drugs. Sugar and caffeine – legal though they way be, beware of how they can be robbing you of your natural energy and more.

In an exercise during our recent Sugar Busters class, we explored the history of sugar, the estimated consumption, and then what the average ‘healthy’ American’s intake is. The result was rather shocking. After the coffee and hazelnut creamer, granola and Greek fruit yogurt for breakfast as well as a turkey sandwich and side salad with dressing for lunch, the total is 64 grams of added sugar. That’s before stopping by the coworker’s desk for two fun-size Twix bars (they’re really tiny, we know, but you’ll need to add another 16 grams). So now we’re at 80 grams of added sugar for the day and before dinner! In a game of Sugar Monopoly, you’re about to land in blood-sugar-dysregulation ‘jail’, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Are you aware of the World Health Organization’s recommendation limiting our added sugar intake to 5% or less of our daily calorie needs? Or to have less than 25 grams of added sugar per day?

The truth is, for most of us trying to follow a healthy meal pattern, there’s generally a layer of ‘frosting’ on top of our nutritious choices. Whether the client is vegan, following Weight Watchers, or some other diet program, the sugar seems to seep in.

Added sugar in the diet has been the cause of many of our ills, as a people. Our poor pancreases haven’t been able to keep up with the onslaught of added sugar in the diet since the time the first sugar refinery opened in the United States. The fact that sugar is a negative-nutrient should cause alarm. This is not the food equivalent of Sweden. It is not a ‘neutral’ agent in your body, only supplying a few extra calories. In order to break it down, the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals are used – in effect, sugar ‘steals’ these nutrients from you! Let this sink in. This important concept should help us realize and treat items with this added sugar with a sense of suspicion, disdain, and then complete eradication. If that seems too strong for you at this point, try to focus on reduction of added sugars in your diet. You’ll still be heading in a better direction and help yourself possibly side-step diabetes and other chronic disease.

Here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it: track the added sugars in your diet. Use labels to see how much added sugar is in your bread, salad dressing, instant oatmeal, or barbecue sauce. Or use an app such as MyFitnessPal or Cronometer to track it. Then, if you know you need to make some changes, head on over to join the rest of us in the upcoming Sugar Detox Challenge! The journey starts this Sunday, January 26th.

Change your toxic relationship with added sugars and change your LIFE.