Chocolate Maca Smoothie

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Caffeine and chocolate fiends, unite! This smoothie is the perfect wake-me-up for summer. Here’s the recipe we made today along with ideas for modifications:

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Yields: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 banana
1 pint blackberries (or blueberries)
3 tbsp cacao nibs
5 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp shredded coconut
2 cups swiss chard leaves
2 cups non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut milk from Elmhurst)
2 cups water
1 cup coffee
1 tsp maca powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ashwagandha powder (optional)

This recipe is meant to be healthy and full of veg! If it’s not sweet enough for you, consider adding your favorite form of sweetness (e.g. more fruit, stevia, dates, etc). Looking for more greens-based smoothies that are lower in sugar? Check out theGreen Smoothie Challenge eBook! It has recipes, grocery lists, along with tips and tricks for making smoothies part of your life.

Instructions
You know what to do here – load all ingredients into the high-speed blender, cover, and blend to desired consistency. Enjoy!

Blame it on the Alcohol?

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Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

Continue reading

Red, White, and Blueberry Tart

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You may remember this beauty being featured on WBNS 10TV in honor of National Pecan Month. This healthy dessert is easy to make and fun to decorate. Made from fruit and nuts, the tart is raw, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Did we mention delicious? Because it’s definitely that too! Enjoy it this holiday weekend.

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup chopped nut blend (we used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup pecans)
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg, optional

Toppings

1-2 mashed bananas
Blueberries, strawberries, and kiwis to decorate (about 1 cup of each)

Instructions

Soak dates in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Chop nuts with a knife or use a food processor. Drain dates and mix with nut blend, coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Once well mixed, roll into balls and press into pie plate. Mash bananas and add a layer or ‘frosting’ to the crust. Top with berries and kiwi or your desired fruits. For extra pizazz, drizzle honey or melted chocolate over the tart.

Recipe: Savory Tahini Sauce

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Savory Tahini Sauce

Tahini, made from sesame seed paste, is a surprisingly versatile condiment to have in the kitchen. You can often eat and use it the way you would peanut butter – right out of the jar or with celery sticks. This five-ingredient savory sauce an be drizzled on top of salad, falafel, soup, roasted veggies or any number or dishes.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: ~1 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt in blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until smooth. Enjoy it fresh though it does keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Homebound Banana Nut Bread

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We’ve been in a cooking and baking mode the past few weeks – from cherry almond pancakes and black bean brownies to a recent favorite, comforting banana bread.

How is it comforting? For those with gluten-sensitivity, this gluten-free version is gentle on our digestive system, the cinnamon brings back happy memories from childhood, and warm bread as a snack just has a way of making you feel cozy and safe (even if all the news points you in the opposite direction). Plus, we like making things and baking is an easy at-home activity along with knitting, organizing, creating new programs, reading and puzzles.

This bread is gluten-free and dairy-free; it can be made vegan as well. We find that two loaves is the best amount for us, given how much we love it…and one can go in the freezer, if it makes if that far.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
5-6 medium bananas (if you wait until they have brown spots on them, they are even sweeter)
2/3 cup melted coconut or avocado oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs or the equivalent in chia/flax vegan ‘eggs’
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans with oil (see above ingredients list) and preheat oven to 325° F. If using coconut oil, get it to melt if not liquid already. For this next part, we used a blender but you could also just use a bowl: beat/blend oil, maple syrup, eggs along with mashed banana and water. If you used a blender, pour mixture into a bowl; whisk together added gluten-free flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Then add walnuts and pecan pieces.

Transfer batter into loaf pans and bake for about 65 minutes or until knife inserted into center of bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Lasts for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator; freeze bread for up to 3 months, if desired.

5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

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Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.

Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.

Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research.  On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…

Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…

Garlic

Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.

Elderberries

The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.

Licorice

Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Echinacea

Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.

Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.

Recipe: Rainbow Chili

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It’s the slow-cooker time of the year and we are using the Crockpot on the regular. It’s easy to make a basic chili or a fancier one with this beloved piece of kitchen equipment. We bought some rainbow carrots and decided to make our chili a bit fancy for a recent date night but it’s equally good to casually and lovingly feed yourself or a whole, hungry family.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: about 8

Ingredients

3-4 rainbow heirloom carrots. sliced
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 jar organic tomato sauce
5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can chickpeas
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin (with all these beans, you’re gonna need it :D)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chopped parsley for topping

Omnivore option: add 1lb cooked ground turkey

Instructions

Chop all vegetable ingredients and add to slow cooker container, along with tomato sauce and rinsed cans of beans. Add bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Optional: add 1 lb cooked ground turkey for omnivore option. Add water as needed so slow cooker is halfway to two-thirds full. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove bay leaves, scoop into bowls, top with fresh parsley and enjoy this colorful, plant-based meal!

Drop the Sweets!

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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.

Top 5 Plant-based Breakfasts

Guten Morgen! Buongiorno!

If it’s not already a good morning, we present to you our top five plant-based breakfasts which provide:

  • Fiber to help your digestive system get moving as you start your day
  • Protein – seeds and nuts are great sources of plant-based protein, as is amaranth (technically a seed, though typically considered a whole grain)
  • Fun – these are colorful and customizable, so get your DIY on!
  • Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals so you’re taking care of your body right out of the gate!
  • Fuel for the morning! Test your coffee and bagel against any one of these options and you’ll see which ones hold you until lunch.

Without further ado, your new breakfast options!

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  1. Amazing Amaranth Bowl – Move over, porridge! We have a higher-protein option that also provides minerals such as iron, manganese and phosphorus.

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2. Express Detox Smoothie – Love your liver by providing it with the vitamins and minerals it needs from greens! This recipes takes less than 5 minutes and is one of the most-loved from the Green Smoothie Challenge eBook.

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3. Sweet Potato & Black Bean Southwestern Skillet – Smoothie. Oatmeal. Rinse & repeat. We know that breakfasts can get a bit repetitive and unimaginative so we’re going to shake it up with this inspired southwestern dish. Make it vegan by not adding an egg on top.

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4. Great Goji Groatmeal – This easy recipe can be popped into the slow cooker and you can get fancy with goji berries and other accoutrements. Enjoy this warm breakfast on a cold morning!

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5. Cherry Almond Pancakes – Waking up and enjoying a fresh stack of cherry almond pancakes is both a joyful and nutritious way to start the day. May it be the same for you!

Remember to try the 7-day Breakfast Experiment to see which breakfasts work best to fuel you for your day!

Recipe: Lemony Kale & Almond Salad

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We’ve tested it thrice so far with the crowds at Thanksgiving, a holiday party, and recent Friendsgiving with rave reviews. Here we share the zingy, tongue-tingling Lemony Kale & Almond Salad! May it serve you and yours well during holiday celebrations, potlucks, a light dinner, and even just for a mid-day snack. The dressing’s simple ingredients become something greater when combined, like when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers connected their rings. Also, *voice lowers* it’s gluten-free and vegan…not like anyone will hold it against you :).

Yields: about 12-15 servings

Prep time: about 25-30 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb kale (we’ve used a clamshell of baby kale)
2 cups almonds, chopped
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
Optional: pepper to taste

Instructions

Let garlic steep in olive oil. Toast almonds in pan until golden brown, then set aside to cool. During garlic-steeping and toasting of almonds, cut small batches of kale into thin strips and place into a very large bowl (with lid, for transport to holiday gathering). In a separate bowl, put dressing together by adding lemon juice, salt, and garlic-steeped olive oil. If you don’t want garlic in the end-product, remove crushed garlic from oil and discard. If you are a garlic-lover, use the finely chopped garlic, without sieving, in the dressing. Combine almonds and dressing into larger bowl with kale and toss with tongs. For best results, serve within about 1 hour. Note: the more oil used, the heavier the kale leaves will be and it will reduce volume of salad within the bowl.