Preparing for Pitta Season

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As the days seem to get longer and longer, and the sun stronger and stronger, it is a sure sign that we are moving into Pitta season. Made up of the primal elements fire (mainly) and water (secondarily), pitta has hot, oily, sharp, light, sour, fluid, and pungent attributes—many of the same sensory qualities that summer surrounds us with. As we enter the summer season, the other elements of earth, air and ether take a backseat to fire for many of us who have higher amounts of Pitta in our constitutions. If you or others you know are predominantly Pitta, you may notice that you tend to be a bit more fiery than usual. Signs of Pitta imbalance this can be represented in the physical body through acne, heartburn, skin irritations, diarrhea and more. Through the mind, it can be witnessed through irritability (especially after being exposed to heat), hypercritical of self or others, competitiveness, envy, and being easily angered.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you are a hot yoga loving Pitta-Yogi, then maybe during these summer months you should focus more on non-heated classes, as you have enough fire and heat in your body to warm yourself quickly than those of a Vata or Kapha nature.

Pitta governs digestion and metabolism, so the fire may flare first in the small intestine and the stomach—Pitta’s main seats in the body—with excesses of digestive acid and bile. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially those with a high water content, can help you to cool down. Also taking sips of aloe vera juice or lots of coconut water throughout the day. However, it’s best to avoid icy-cold drinks (especially with meals) as they will douse your digestive fire and cause digestion to slow down.

If you are Pitta, although that habanero salsa sounds like a great addition to your fish taco, it’s better to skip on the spicy food during this season too. Bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes calm Pitta, so eat more foods like apples, grapes, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers and cilantro. Eliminate or reduce your intake of alcohol, heavy meats, and fried, oily, salty, spicy, and sour food

It’s also important for Pittas to eat three meals a day during this season, and lunch should be eaten as close to noon as possible. If you need to go out into the sun, be sure not to do it on an empty stomach. My Farmer's Market Gazpacho is a perfect Summer recipe to balance the fiery-side of Pitta.

No-Bake Power Bars

I'm always playing around with power bar recipes. And when I'm on the go, which is often, I want to grab something that is packed with nutrition and not too sweet. These bars are my new go to afternoon snack.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almonds (raw)
  • ½ cup golden flax meal
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup creamy roasted almond butter
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 4 drops stevia
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place almonds, flax meal, shredded coconut, almond butter and salt in a food processor
  2. Pulse briefly, about 10 seconds
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over very low heat
  4. Remove coconut oil from stove, stir stevia, honey and vanilla into oil
  5. Add coconut oil mixture to food processor and pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste
  6. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish
  7. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, until mixture hardens
  8. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate over very low heat, stirring continuously
  9. Spread melted chocolate over bars; return to refrigerator for 30 minutes, until chocolate hardens
  10. Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars and serve

Makes 20 bars.

Recipe adapted from Going Against The Grain by Diane Smith.

Benefits of Eating Chia Seeds

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Yes, these small seeds are notorious for getting stuck in your teeth, but the health benefits of these tiny super seeds outweighs the dental inconvenience they cause. The ancient Aztecs consumed chia seeds for energy and conquered their corner of the world. These days, many people still enjoy the nutritional benefits of chia seeds.

The chia seed (Salvia hispanica) is a cousin of the seeds (Salvia columbariae) once used to grow a crop of green “hair” atop the popular 1980s clay pets famously sold on infomercials. The chia seed is now sold as a topping for yogurts, salads and used in cereal, energy bars, and even pasta. Also, it packs more alpha-linoleic acid, a heart-healthy omega-3 fat, than flaxseeds and provides fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and iron.

The tiny black chia seeds, cultivated by the Aztecs during pre-Colombian times, are slowly working their way into American markets. Similar to flax, chia seeds are also rich in phosphorous, and manganese. Sprinkle them on cereal, oatmeal, or salad for some crunch.  Or add them to your morning smoothie to stay fuller longer since the seeds expand in liquid.

When Life Gives You Lemons...Eat the Peel!

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The Benefits of Lemon Peel:

Cancer fighter

super alkalizing & contains salvestrol Q40 + limonene which all help to prevent AND fight cancer 

Rids your body of toxic elements

or at least aids in getting rid of them

Has 5 to 10 times MORE vitamins than lemon juice

such as, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, beta carotene, Vitamin A & Vitamin C 

Improves your bones

oh yeah, bring on those STRONG bones

How do you eat lemon peel? You freeze it & then grate it on your salad or tea or soup... Get creative & enjoy! 

You can also use lemon peel when creating your own cleaning products. I put as many lemon peels as I can fit in a canning jar, fill it all the way with vinegar, close it up & let it set for 2 weeks. When the 2 weeks are up strain out the lemon peel & dump (or you can put in a compost pile) but KEEP the lemony vinegar. Then mix half of the vinegar solution with half water in a spray bottle & it's an all purpose cleaner. Of course, like any other cleaning product, try it out in a little spot first to make sure there are no side effects of using it on your stuff!

6 Top Foods for Beautiful Skin

Glowing skin is anything but skin deep: the epidermis is often the visible scorecard for how well we eat. Look for these go-to beauty foods at your local farmers’ market or health food store, and start noshing your way to luminous skin and glowing inner health:

1. Berries. As rich sources of antioxidants, berries help protect your skin’s collagen from free radical damage (think: wrinkles) caused by too much stress, sun and pollutants.

2. Dark leafy greens. Kale, collards, chard, spinach, arugula, watercress, parsley, and wheat and barley grasses are all rich in chlorophyll, a pigment that catches the sun’s energy and emanates its radiant benefits to you. 

** Add in recipe for Summer Spinach & Berry Salad **

3. Radishes. This humble root might hold the triple crown of glowing skin: vitamin C, sulfur and silicon, which all support collagen production and help keep skin moist and elastic.

4. Dark chocolate and raw cacao. The super dose of antioxidants in high-quality, organic, raw chocolate and 70% dark chocolate can help increase hydration, improve blood flow, enhance skin texture and cell renewal. Cacao has a high concentration of sulfur, known to promote beautiful skin.

5. Flax, hemp and chia seeds. These beautifying seeds are rich sources of ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) omega-3 fatty acids. High levels of ALA can help prevent wrinkles and protect against sun damage, resulting in youthful, nourished skin that glows.

6. Olive oil. Organic, cold-pressed olive oil is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, which can help keep skin looking soft, smooth and radiant.

Lastly: Dry, rough and dull skin can be a sign of dehydration. Ensure your body is hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

When To Buy Organic: The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

The Dirty Dozen are fruits and veggies that can contain a high amount of pesticides and toxins. The Clean 15 aren’t as heavily sprayed and therefore, don’t have to always be organic. Don’t see one of your kitchen staples on the list? Remember this: Organic is always best, especially if the skin is edible.

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The Dirty Dozen:  

Apples

Celery

Sweet Bell Peppers

Peaches

Strawberries

Nectarines (imported)

Grape

Spinach

Lettuce

Cucumbers

Blueberries (domestic)

Potatoes

* Dr. Andrew Weil and the Environmental Working Group also note that kale, collards and other dark leafy greens should be added to this list. 

The Clean 15:

Onions

Corn

Avocado

Pineapple

Cabbage

Sweet Peas

Asparagus

Mango

Eggplant

Kiwi

Cantaloupe (domestic)

Sweet Potatoes

Grapefruit

Watermelon

Mushrooms

5 Surprising Weight Loss Foods

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No matter what popular ads might claim, processed “diet” foods don’t work in the long run. Too often, natural fats are swapped for excess sugar and calories or artificial ingredients that spur cravings…and now, more Americans are obese than ever.

So if you’re confused about what really is waistline-friendly, you’re not alone. In this article, Jarred Koch, founder of Clean Plates, shares 5 surprising foods that will help you to loose weight.

While some of the following foods may seem heavy, the key is that they’re very nutrient-dense, which makes the body feel satisfied with smaller servings or fewer calories. “A lot of cravings come from us being deficient in a particular nutrient or nutrients that we can’t decipher,” says Koch. He suggests you eat mostly low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods along with some good quality, high-calorie and nutrient-dense foods. Get started by adding the following to your diet now.

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats and calories, but its unique medium-chain fatty acids boost metabolism and provide energy similar to blood glucose, so insulin levels aren’t impacted (meaning you won’t crash and crave sugar). Also, the fat can help you feel satiated quicker. As with all oils, use judiciously.

2. Pears

Sweet as they are, pears are a great example of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food. Pears have more fiber than apples (be sure to eat the skin if it is organic), plus they contain pectin, which helps block fat absorption. 

3. Buckwheat

It might seem dense, but buckwheat is high in phytochemicals and fiber, which will make you feel full faster. Plus it’s free of wheat and gluten, so it causes less of the inflammation that can eventually lead to fat retention. Because of buckwheat’s specific protein profile, it can also reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels. Just be sure to check labels, as many brands of buckwheat noodles contain wheat. 

4. Beans

Though you might associate them with heavy Mexican food, beans contain cholecystokinin, a digestive hormone that acts as a natural appetite suppressant. They are also a good vegetarian source of fiber and protein. Buy dry beans in bulk and soak them before cooking for optimal assimilation.

5. Fatty fish

Have no fear of these fats. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines can be your best friends thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation. They can also reduce triglyceride levels. Opt for wild-caught whenever possible.

Thank you to CleanPlates.com for this article.

8 Top Sugar Alternatives

You’ve probably heard by now that too much refined sugar (and its counterpart, high fructose corn syrup) can contribute to health problems from obesity to diabetes. But signing on for a life without another cookie, slice of birthday cake or sip of hot chocolate can sound like, well, a bitter pill to swallow.

Jared Koch, founder of Clean Plates, rounded up eight of my top alternatives to refined sugar. With fewer of the harmful qualities of refined sugar and HFCS and some bonus nutritional attributes, these are sweeter swaps.

These sweeteners still aren't health foods, and fruit is the best way to sweeten up. But when you do indulge,  try to stick to this list and you might add a little nutrition to your dessert - that's a treat!

1. Coconut Palm Sugar

Derived from coconut tree blossom nectar, this isn’t the same as palm sugar—not all palm sugars are made from coconuts. The ingredient list should say 100% coconut palm or sap. Coconut palm sugar is preferable thanks to its low glycemic index and minimal processing.

Health Benefits: Much smaller percentage of blood sugar-spiking fructose than most other sweeteners; contains B vitamins, potassium, chloride, and other vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aid in slower absorption into the bloodstream.

Flavor: Comparable to brown sugar in appearance and taste, with caramel notes.

How to Use It: Adds depth to baked goods, sauces, coffee and tea; can be used instead of brown sugar.

2. Coconut Nectar

This is a thick syrup made from coconut tree sap. Unlike maple, it doesn’t require intense heating to bring out its sweetness. This allows it to be enzymatically alive and for its naturally high amino acid profile to remain intact.

Health Benefits: Low glycemic index; high in vitamins and minerals. Also has insoluble fiber, which prevents against sugar spikes in the bloodstream, and a unique medium chain fatty acid, said to help prevent heart disease.

Flavor: Doesn't taste like coconut, but has a light, delicate sweetness.

How to Use It: In tea or coffee, in raw desserts or on top of waffles or pancakes. Can also be used in baked goods, but heat may destroy some of its nutritional profile.

3. Date Sugar

This comes from dehydrated dates that have been ground into a coarse powder. While minimally processed, date sugar isn’t one of the lower glycemic alternatives, so those with sensitivities should proceed with caution. It also has a higher fructose percentage; keep in mind that over-consumption of fructose has been linked to liver problems and weight gain.

Health Benefits: Minimal, raw processing allows for retention of dates’ natural fiber, tannins, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals.

Flavor: Less sweet than other natural sweeteners, and tastes like dates.

How to Use It: Can be substituted for sugar in baking and works well in breads, muffins and crumbles, creating delicate brown flecks. Does not melt, so blend thoroughly to avoid clumps. Also won’t dissolve in beverages; don't add to tea or coffee, but enjoy sprinkled over yogurt or oatmeal.

4. Stevia

Stevia comes from a shrub native to Latin America, and has been a popular sweetener in Asia for decades. In the U.S., it's commonly found as a clear liquid or a white powder. Look for the green powder (most health foods stores carry it), which is less processed.

Health benefits: In truly unprocessed form, provides beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Because our bodies can't digest the stevia plant, it offers essentially zero calories and has an extremely low glycemic index. Fructose count also becomes negligible, and it doesn't affect blood sugar levels.

Flavor: 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. The white form can have an anise-like or bitter aftertaste.

How to Use It: In smoothies, salad dressings, ice cream and tea.

5. Yacon Syrup

This is made from the root of the yacon plant, which grows in the Andes region of South America. Thanks to its high fructooligosaccharides level (FOS), a sugar polymer our bodies cannot digest, it has minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Shop for raw forms when possible, or flash pasteurized at a minimum.

Health Benefits: Considered a prebiotic as it aids in the absorption of calcium and other vitamins. Also promotes healthy gut flora, which is essential for good digestion. Because its primary sugar is FOS, which can't be absorbed, it's low-calorie and has a low glycemic index.

Flavor: A more delicate molasses.

How to Use It: In smoothies, atop pancakes or waffles, in raw food treats or drizzled on roasted winter squash or sweet potatoes.

6. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup comes from boiling the sap of maple trees; the water evaporates, leaving concentrated syrup available in different grades, depending on color and taste. Grade B tends to be the most nutrient rich, and more affordable. Choose pure maple syrup to ensure that no HFCS or other sugars have been added (it also tastes cleaner), especially since maple syrup isn’t a low-glycemic index food on its own. While maple syrup is perceived as naturally organic, some of the processes for harvesting the sap aren't. Paraformaldehyde pellets or lead may be used, which are both poisonous. So choose organic syrup whenever possible.

Health Benefits: Excellent source of manganese and good source of zinc, which supports the immune system.

Flavor: Earthy sweetness. Grade A is a lighter color with a more delicate taste. B is darker, has a bolder flavor and shines in baked goods, sauces and cooked dishes

How to Use It: In salad dressings, sauces, on roasted meats and of course, pancakes and waffles. To substitute for sugar in baking, use a .75:1 ratio of maple syrup per cup of sugar and decrease another liquid in the recipe by two to three tablespoons.

7. Raw Honey

Bees make honey using the nectar from flowers, which determines the honey’s flavor. It's essential the honey is raw, as processed honeys can be high in fructose and have a higher glycemic index. Buying local provides the most nutrients; shipping honey long distance requires heating it, which degrades the health benefits.

Health benefits: Natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties; can be used to treat ulcers. Some raw honeys have a number on their labels; the higher this number, the higher the antibiotic properties. Local, raw honey may also help people with seasonal allergies.

Flavor: Takes on the flavors of the flowers the bees visited; a delicate orange blossom honey tastes wildly different than a pungent, funky chestnut honey.

How to Use It: In tea, homemade sorbet, smoothies, raw desserts, and baked goods; try drizzled on berries, fruit, roasted squash and sweet potatoes.

8. Agave Nectar

Agave nectar comes from the agave cactus. While it’s become a popular sweetener among health enthusiasts in recent years and is a popular alternative to honey among vegans, some experts question its health value due to its high fructose levels—higher, in some cases, than HFCS. Also, the popularity of agave nectar in recent years has spurred its mass production, resulting in some cases of questionable manufacturing processes that may contribute unnecessary chemicals. It’s important to know the source and buy organic and raw if you choose to use it.

Health benefits: Provides the body with several nutrients and may be beneficial for digestion. Because it's very sweet, a little goes a long way.

Flavor: Tastes similar to honey, but more neutral.

How to Use It: Can be used as a replacement for most liquid sweeteners; because of the issues above, use sparingly.

If you use a sweetener that isn’t on this list, opt for the least refined: Choose raw sugar, Sucanat or turbinado sugar, all of which are less processed than white sugar and thus retain more nutrients. Whenever you eat something sweet—even fruit—try eating a high quality fat (like nuts) at the same time; this helps to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.

9 Foods That Will Naturally Detox You

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Our bodies are naturally built to detoxify us. Everyday, we eliminate and neutralize toxins through our colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph, and skin. It’s just that, in this day and age, these organs often get over-worked from the constant barrage of toxins from pollution, animal products, and processed foods. 

Luckily Mother Nature has the perfect antidote.

Below are 9 potent detoxifying foods that support your body's natural cleansing system...and you don't have to juice them to get the benefits. You'll receive benefits just by incorporating more of these foods into your diet:

1. Cauliflower

This antioxidant rich cruciferous veggie aids your body's natural detoxification system and reduces inflammation.

2. Broccoli

A strong detoxifier, broccoli neutralizes and eliminates toxins while also delivering a healthy dose of vitamins.

3. Turnip Greens

A potent detoxifier, this cruciferous veggie also has been found to help prevent many types of cancer and is a great for reducing inflammation.

4. Lentils

This fiber-rich legume aids in elimination, helps lower cholesterol, balances blood sugar, and even increases your energy.

5. Grapefruit

This fiber-rich sweet and tangy fruit helps lower cholesterol, prevent kidney stones, and aids the digestive system.

6. Cucumber

Nutrient dense cucumbers, which are 95% water, help flush out toxins and alkalize the body.

7. Steel Cut Oats

High in both soluble and insoluble fiber, oats will keep you satiated and your digestive system moving.

8. Sunflower Seeds

High in selenium and Vitamin E, sunflower seeds aid the liver’s ability to detox a wide range of potentially harmful molecules. In addition, they help prevent cholesterol build up in the blood and arteries.

9. Hemp Seeds

These tiny nutritional powerhouses are an excellent source of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, are an easily digestible plant based protein, have a strong anti-inflammatory effect, and also aid in elimination.

Sneaky Snacks: 5 Healthy Sounding Foods That Aren't Always Healthy

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Egg whites, yogurt and granola might sound like part of a healthy diet, but according to Los Angeles-based health and fitness expert Jennifer Cohen, they may not be as good for you as you’d guess. Think: hidden sugars, bad fats and processed ingredients that you’d want to keep off your clean plate. Here, Cohen shares her top five “healthy” foods that aren’t necessarily healthy: 

1. Trail mix

“Usually, there’s candy in there and it’s laden with sugar, sodium and fat. You really don’t need something like that unless you’re climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. A much better option is raw unsalted almonds.”

2. Yogurt

“You’re not doing yourself any favors by getting a yogurt with fruit on the bottom. It’s full of unnecessary sugars and preservatives. Best thing to do is go with a plain Greek yogurt—it’s got more protein and healthy fat—and add your own fresh fruit.”

3. Dried fruit

“[A lot of] dried fruit has tons of added sugar and sulfur to keep it preserved longer.” Cohen says fresh fruit is always best, so grab an apple or a pear if you’re on the go.

4. Egg white omelet

Egg whites aren’t bad. It’s the unhealthy oils most restaurants use to cook them in that are the culprits. Cohen suggests ordering a dry omelet made with one whole egg and an egg white. “People think the yolk is bad, but it actually contains healthy fats that are very good for you.” 

5. Granola

Granola, often the symbol of a healthy, hippie lifestyle, can be anything but. “Granolas are often all sugars, (bad) fat and calorie-dense.” So read the ingredients, and be sure to check the portion size before you pour: “People tend to eat two to three times the portion size.”

 Want more? Check out Cohen’s blog here.

The Green Smoothie Revolution

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Release Date: August 4, 2009

Thanks to processed and fast foods, being overworked, and feeling stressed while eating on the fly, it is increasingly difficult for most of us to eat anywhere near a balanced diet. We may not be obviously sick, but may suffer from lack of focus, insomnia, sluggishness, or any host of symptoms caused by nutritional deficiency. Green Smoothie Revolution takes aim at this silent epidemic by restoring balance to our diets.

Combining nutrition and know-how with recipes that pack a powerhouse punch, Victoria Boutenko reintroduces long neglected fruits, vegetables, and greens in the most persuasive style for our busy lives: with fast prep and delicious results. Featuring 200 recipes, Green Smoothie Revolution offers both simplicity (4 ripe pears, 1 bunch parsley, 2 cups water; blend well) and enough variety to keep taste buds happy and nutrients coming from a wealth of options.

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The Unhealthy Truth

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Book Description

Release Date: May 11, 2010

Robyn O’Brien is not the most likely candidate for an antiestablishment crusade. A Houston native from a conservative family, this MBA and married mother of four was not someone who gave much thought to misguided government agencies and chemicals in our food—until the day her youngest daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs, and everything changed. The Unhealthy Truth is both the story of how one brave woman chose to take on the system and a call to action that shows how each of us can do our part and keep our own families safe.

O’Brien turns to accredited research conducted in Europe that confirms the toxicity of America’s food supply, and traces the relationship between Big Food and Big Money that has ensured that the United States is one of the only developed countries in the world to allow hidden toxins in our food—toxins that can be blamed for the alarming recent increases in allergies, ADHD, cancer, and asthma among our children. Featuring recipes and an action plan for weaning your family off dangerous chemicals one step at a time The Unhealthy Truth is a must-read for every parent—and for every concerned citizen—in America today.

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The Clean Plates Cookbook

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Book Description

Publication Date: December 23, 2012 

Jared Koch’s first book, Clean Plates Manhattan, demystified “clean eating” and mapped out healthy restaurant options all over New York. Continuing in the extremely timely topic of eating clean, organic, and well, his second book, The Clean Plates Cookbook, offers sensible, sustainable, and healthful home cooking for anyone interested in integrating good foods into their lives. It shows readers how to shop for the best ingredients no matter what their diet (omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can all “eat clean”) and how to prepare food that’s simple and delicious. Tips and inspiration from chefs and nutrition experts appear throughout the book, and the invaluable resources section breaks down the recipes by category and offers more of his clear and useful shopping guides.

Clean eating is anything but boring: recipes cover beverages, breakfasts, snacks, inventive entrées, and desserts with things like Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Cracked Wheat Sushi,Wild Mushroom Gratin, Lamb Tikka Masala, and Cocoa Cherry Brownies.

 

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Types of Tea and their Health Benefits

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Health Benefits of Tea: Green, Black, and White Tea

Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Here's what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Tea: Herbal Teas

Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used.

Varieties include ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.

Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep are largely unsupported.

Here are some findings:

  • Chamomile tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
  • Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
  • Rooibos (red tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited.

Health Benefits of Tea: Instant teas

Instant tea may contain very little amounts of actual tea and plenty of sugars or artificial sweeteners. For health’s sake, check out the ingredients on the label.

Can Tea Be Bad for Your Health?

Most teas are benign, but the FDA has issued warnings about so-called dieter’s teas that contain senna, aloe, buckthorn, and other plant-derived laxatives.

The agency also warns consumers to be wary of herb-containing supplements that claim to kill pain and fight cancer. None of the claims is backed by science and some of the herbs have led to bowel problems, liver and kidney damage, and even death.

The FDA cautions against taking supplements that include:

  • Comfrey
  • Ephedra
  • Willow bark
  • Germander
  • Lobelia
  • Chaparral

These cautions aside, nutritionists say to drink up and enjoy the health benefits of tea.

“You want to incorporate healthy beverages in your diet on a more regular basis to benefit from these health-promoting properties," says Diane L. McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. "It’s not just about the foods; it’s about what you drink, as well, that can contribute to your health."

Article sourced from WebMD. You may read the full article here.

Health Benefits of Apples

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In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size.Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fiber called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

11. Control your weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fiber will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

12. Detoxify your liver

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

13. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you're stressed out.

 

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

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October brings a lot of change. Change in the light and temperature outdoors and the natural colors around us. One of my favorite fall visuals is a gorgeous pile of pumpkins, each one adding to the collective power of the whole group. Like most kids, I looked forward to the night we carved pumpkins. And I seemed to forget how much I loved snacking on the salty seeds that had roasted while we brought our jack-o-lanterns to life. I look forward to countering the cooler nights with oven roasted squash dishes and the fall flavor of pumpkin. And luckily, pumpkin is really good for us!

 Here's what the hearty pumpkin delivers (aside from making delicious Paleo Pumpkin Bars) :

  • Vitamin A: Contains some of the highest amounts of beta-carotene which our body converts to Vitamin A, which is both anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant. Vitamin A also promotes the health of our lungs and cardiovascular system.
  • B Vitamins: Rich in folate (B9), a helpful vitamin to support healthy colon cells and prevent colon cancer. Folate also helps to produce red blood cells, proper brain functioning and contributes to the heart functioning well.
  • Carotenoids: Pumpkins are beautifully orange because of their high carotenoid content. Carotenoids are effective at helping us to stave off free-radicals and disease and giving our eyes an extra boost.
  • Fiber: Pumpkins have a high amount of dietary fiber which helps accelerate food transit and also protects colon cells. Pumpkins are low in calories and the high level of fiber helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).
  • Vitamin C: The high vitamin C content in pumpkins helps to fight free radicals and strengthen our immune system combatting common ailments. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen, promoting healthy skin.
  • Potassium: A potassium-rich diet has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Potassium also helps to lower blood pressure and to help restore electrolytes.
  • Protein: Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a terrific source of protein. The seeds are also a rich source of plant-based fatty acids (phytosterols) and can help to reduce cholesterol. Phytosterols can also lower the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Also found in the pumpkin seeds are the rich source of essential fatty acids. These are especially helpful in promoting healthy skin and brain power along with protection against high blood pressure and arthritis.
  • Magnesium: Found in both the pulp and the seeds, magnesium is necessary for the healthy maintenance of our bones and teeth.

Green Protein Smoothie Recipe

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I make one of these shakes every morning so that I have it ready to drink after my workout for the day. Whether it's weights, cardio, or yoga, your body needs protein to repair the muscle "damage" that occurs while working out.  Exercise breaks down muscle. This requires a fresh infusion of amino acids to repair and build that muscle back up to be even stronger. If you're lifting weights and not consuming enough protein, it's almost counterproductive. Protein also helps build enzymes that allow your body to adapt to endurance sports like running and biking.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pinpointed 20 grams as the best amount of post-workout protein to maximize muscle growth. Be sure to consume your protein smoothie within 30 minutes after your workout.

Ingredients:

2 handfulls baby spinach or Kale (switch it up each day)

1 tbl. spoon Maca powder

1 tbl. spoon Chia Seeds

1 tbl. spoon Ground Flax Seeds

1/2 cup Organic frozen berries

1 tbl. spoon liquid Glucosamine Chondroitin

1 scoop Jay Rob Egg White Protein powder (vanilla or unflavored)

1/4 cup Aloe Vera Juice

1 tbl. spoon Coconut Oil  *unrefined

How to: 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Dietary Guidelines

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I borrowed this list from the Weston A. Price Foundation. (www.westonaprice.org). The last two items listed, numbers 19 & 20, are often not mentioned when people discuss diet, although they are huge in terms of your overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
  3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  17. Use only natural supplements.
  18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
  20. Practice forgiveness.

http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/dietary-guidelines

Refreshing Summer Smoothies

Smoothies made with organic, quality ingredients are easy to prepare, can be full of vital nutrients and won’t heat up the kitchen on a hot day. Armed with a blender and a little imagination, it’s easy to create your own refreshing, healthful drink out of the ingredient options here, or try the Blueberry Bliss recipe below.

Smoothie Styles

Fruit Smoothies

A thick, fruity drink made from (ideally) organic, local and fresh — or frozen — fruitsblended together with filtered water, coconut water or milk, organic milk or other unsweetened alternative milks like almond, hemp or oat.

Creamy Smoothies

For a rich and satisfying drink, blend organic yogurt, avocado, or bananas with fresh or frozen fruit and a little water, milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk.

Green Smoothies

A surprisingly delicious way to get your greens and fruit in one shot. Blend fresh fruit with dark, leafy greens and water or a little fresh juice.

Smoothie Options

Ripe local fruit

Summer brings succulent local fruit to most farmers markets across the country. Fresh, organically-grown berries, melons and peaches add great flavor and nutrients. Choose sweet-smelling, un-bruised fruit; peaches and other stone fruit should slightly yield to the thumb.

Tropical and citrus fruit

Most of the country doesn’t grow oranges, grapefruit, bananas, mango or coconut. If you live in one those places, go pick some fruit and enjoy the delicious, healthful benefits! For the rest of us, chose the most local, organically grown fruit possible for your smoothies.

Frozen fruit

In a pinch, choose from the organic frozen fruit at the supermarket; most carry strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, and some also sell açai, mango, coconut meat and peaches.

Leafy Greens

Farmers markets are overflowing with healthy summer greens; grab a small bunch of kale, chard, collard or spinach leaves and let the blender whirl away. You’ll get an extra shot of nutrients with a gorgeous, chlorophyll-green hue.

Healthy additions

Let the creativity begin! For an extra boost, try adding a scoop of organic raw cacao, goji berries, maca powder, a little extra virgin coconut oil, almond butter, spirulina, blue-green algae, bee pollen, aloe vera or hemp, flax or chia seeds. Half an avocado provides a luscious creaminess and extra potassium.

Thick or thin

Add more or less filtered water, coconut water, milk or yogurt to taste.

Ice is nice

Add some ice cubes for a lighter, frosty treat guaranteed to cool down a hot day.

Smoothie extra credit

DIY dessert

Make popsicles from your smoothie creations. Learn more about healthy summer treats and find a recipe for Strawberry-Watermelon Paletashere.

Take it to go

Freshly made smoothies are best, but can also be stored in the fridge for up to three days in a sealed container. Bring a smoothie in a travel mug for a healthy mid-morning snack or quick pick-me-up.

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Blueberry Bliss

Serves one

1 organic banana, peeled, broken into two pieces

½ cup organic blueberries

½ cup young coconut meat or ½ cup organic blackberries

2 ice cubes

1 teaspoon maca powder

1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Water or coconut water to thin

Combine all ingredients in blender. Process on high until smooth. Kick back and enjoy the blueberry deliciousness while feeling good about make a nutritious choice for your body. If you need a reminder of exactly why blueberries are so good for you, hop over to my other Blog Post on blueberries.

The Strawberries Have It

Strawberries are bursting out of their baskets at farmers markets right now, and what better way to enjoy this vitamin C-packed member of the rose family than with recipes that celebrate their spring-summer sweetness and cheerful red pop?

lemonadeStrawberry-Lemonade
A refreshing beverage that celebrates the season.
Serves 6-8

4 organic lemons, peel and seeds removed, cut into chunks
1 cup local, organic strawberries, hulled
4 tablespoons local raw honey, or more to taste
7 cups filtered water
ice for serving

Place first four ingredients in blender, working in batches if necessary; process for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until liquidized. Strain through fine mesh sieve; discard pulp and seeds. Pour over ice into glasses and enjoy! 

Strawberry-Watermelon Paletas with Mint  Popscicle
This sugar-free version of a refreshing Mexican paleta(popsicle) will keep you cool as the days heat up.
Makes 6-8

1 pint local, organic strawberries, 5 reserved, sliced
1 small seedless organic watermelon, rind removed, seeded, flesh cut into chunks
5 fresh organic mint leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

In blender, combine strawberries and watermelon, working in batches if necessary. Blend until smooth puree forms, about 20 to 30 seconds. Pour mixture into BPA-free popsicle molds (try the rocket-shaped molds from Tovolo). Add sliced strawberries and optional mint; freeze 8 hours.

Tip: To serve, dip molds in glass of hot water for easy release.

PieStrawberry-Rhubarb Pie
A naturally-sweetened, gluten-free strawberry-rhubarb pie everyone will love.
Serves 8

If you don’t have a favorite recipe for pie crust, try one of Gluten-Free Girl’s:
Gluten-Free: Gluten-Free Girl’s Pie Crust
Vegan: Gluten-Free Girl’s Vegan Pie Crust

For filling:
1½ pounds (about 3 cups) local, organic rhubarb, cut into ½-inch dice
1 quart (about 4 cups) local, organic strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ cup organic coconut palm crystals
¼ cup organic agave nectar
3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt

Prepare crust for filling and preheat oven according to preferred pie crust recipe.

In large bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Fill prepared pie shell evenly with strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Bake approximately 1 hour, or according to pie crust recipe instructions. Cool pie at least 15 minutes before slicing.

 

Thank you to Clean Plates for these sweet summer-time recipes.