Top 7 Healthy Traveling Tips

Tip #1: Do your research before you go  

The internet is your friend and it will help you to explore the city you are visiting before you embark on your trip. I always find this especially important if you eat a plant-based diet like I do because it helps you to know how veg-friendly the city is and you can prepare by packing extra snacks if needed. I always look for:

  • The closest natural foods or health foods store. (In a pinch, a regular grocery store will also do!)
  • A nearby juice bar (if possible)
  • Nearby Asian, Thai, Indian, and (healthy) Mexican restaurants. (These restaurants are usually my best bet for finding plant-based protein sources and fresh veggies in an unfamiliar city.)

If you know that you are traveling to a city that isn’t veg-friendly or doesn’t have any options for dining healthfully, the next few steps are really important because they will help you to be prepared and make the best choices on the trip.

Tip #2: Pack your snacks

Nothing is worse than traveling hungry. I always make sure I have a variety of healthy snack options with me to prevent blood sugar crashes. Some of my favorites include:

  • Nuts (preferably unsalted and raw) or seeds
  • Crackers
  • Nut butters (I really love these individual Justin’s almond butter packets because they don’t have to be refrigerated for traveling and are easy to use on-the-go.)
  • Dried fruit
  • Larabars (Cashew Cookie is my favorite!)
  • Herbal (or decaf) teas

Other items to pack:

  • A small bottle of extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar (helpful for salad bars with limited dressing options)
  • A can-opener (helpful if you plan to purchase canned beans)

 

Tip #3: Pick-up some fresh snacks and basic ingredients when you arrive  

One of the reasons why I research a health foods or grocery store before I go is because then it’s easy to pick-up some fresh snacks when I arrive. Even if you don’t have a refrigerator in your room, you can easily make an ice bath in your sink to keep these items cold overnight or for a few days (just replenish the ice as needed.) Some of my favorites include:

  • Whole carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks
  • Fresh guacamole or an avocado
  • Hummus
  • Fresh fruit
  • Mixed greens
  • Canned beans

I love these options because they can easily double as meals if I need them too. I will often pair my flax crackers with hummus and veggies to make a light lunch or combine mixed greens with veggies, canned beans and the olive oil and vinegar that I packed to make a large salad for dinner. If you are planning to dine out or have lots of restaurant options, you might not need to be this resourceful.

Tip #4: Drink water and stay hydrated

One of the worst things about traveling is how dehydrated I feel during and after a flight. Carrying a water bottle and drinking lots of water ensures that I will stay hydrated and energized throughout my day. I also try to drink at least a cup of water for every hour that I am flying, as well as increasing water intake on the days before and after flying.

Tip #5: Eat smart when dining out  

From small airports to big cities, I have experienced a variety of challenges during my travels over the last few years since going plant-based. Dining out is always easier if you are going to a restaurant that is veg-friendly or at the least has lots of healthy options, however, when that’s not possible here is what usually works for me:

  • Start with a large salad. Every restaurant should have some type of salad and you can usually get it without cheese, croutons, and mayo-based dressing. This is helpful if you don’t have a lot of options for fresh food wherever you are dining.
  • Pair together a variety of sides to create a meal. Restaurants are usually able to give you a side of black beans, steamed broccoli, and rice. In a pinch, this can be a lifesaver. I also like to order a side of beans and put them on top of a salad to bulk it up a bit.
  • Ask what accommodations they can make. Some restaurants are more flexible than others, but often times they can remove cheese on items or make dishes vegetarian/vegan if you need them to be. A polite request can go a long way.

Tip #6: Supplement as needed  

This last trip I used a few supplements that were immensely helpful for traveling and I will definitely be using these on future trips. My favorites were:

  • Natural Calm Anti-Stress Drink packets. I found these individual packets were great for traveling and helping to reduce stress and fatigue during the trip.
  • Airborne Immune Support on-the-go packets. Traveling can be stressful at times and I hate arriving home with a cold. I’ve had great results using Airborne while traveling in the past and I loved these packets because they were convient to mix with water during the flight.
  • JetZone Jet Lag Prevention. This trip was my first time trying this supplement and I was a little skeptical of it as first, but I decided to try it because of the time difference. By the end of my trip I was exhausted, but I had a wonderful night of sleep when I returned and woke up incredibly refreshed the next morning. I know there is no way I would have felt this good without this. If you are traveling between time zones, I would definitely recommend trying it.

Tip #7: Respect your body  

Traveling is physically and mentally exhausting and it’s important to take care of your body. This includes:

  • Getting extra sleep as needed.
  • Moving your body. This might be walking around the city, using a hotel gym, or doing some yoga poses in your room. I always pack my resistance bands so I can do some basic resistance exercises (e.g. arm curls, side leg lifts, etc) in a small space if I don’t have other options for exercise during the trip. This really helps with jetlag, overall fatigue, and feeling energized during the trip.
  • Avoiding salt, sugar, and caffeine as much as possible. Even though I work to avoid these things in general, I have found that minimizing salt, sugar, and caffeine while traveling is especially helpful for keeping my energy level up and preventing mood swings.

5 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Travel Experience

ONE. Drink a head turning amount of water. 

Dehydration creeps up on you while traveling. Sitting in a seat for hours, sweating ever so slightly, humidifying very dry air with your breath, battling inflammation and fatigue, - your fluid demands are up there. But, are you drinking more? A LOT more? You should be. My simple rule for travel is to drink until your pee runs clear. This will ensure your body is getting all the fluids it needs to flush, cool, circulate, and rehydrate. Yes, I recommend the aisle seat!

 

TWO. Wash hands OFTEN.

I am not a 'germaphobe' and do not use hand sanitizers usually, but I do think there is a time and a place for hand cleaners and keeping hands exceptionally clean. Many folks complain of the lack of bacteria in our digestive tracts and argue against hand cleaners on that basis. However, I think the argument falls flat, especially when travelling - it is not a shortage of bacteria, but a shortage of GOOD bacteria that bites us. When travelling, especially in a plane, you are sitting in a human made test tube of everyone's bugs. Add in some sleep deprivation, some stress, a bit of traveler's diarrhea, and a likelihood of eating nutrient deficient food (and typically gut damaging) while on the road, and it becomes a case of "give me your bugs and I will grow them for you". To avoid this, wash your hands often, be very careful of what you touch with your hands and what you put in your mouth (skip the hand snacks unless you have just washed your hands) and on top of washing your hands often, feel free to be a snob with your hand cleaner and to decline anyone's hands (including yours) touching your food/face/mouth.

 

THREE. Don't eat gut damaging or pro inflammatory foods.
If it contains gluten, skip it. Even if it is not gluten-laden, if the food is crap, just SKIP the meal. Pre and during travel is not the time for that cheat meal, or to start your "holiday binge" or to inflame your gut, or increase gut permeability to allow gram negative bacteria (the bad ones!) into your system more readily. Did I mention that you are locking yourself in a human test tube, full of bad bacteria and not so friendly viruses? Don't give them a head start - give YOURSELF the head start - keep your gut lining healthy and intact!

Specifically skip the gluten, the sugary cereals, and any dairy you don't normally consume and tolerate very well. Avoid the heavily processed crap they try to feed you before, during, and after your journey. Better options are to take your own food, or be very judicious in your eating selection, or just SKIP the food on offer, and fast your way between safe eating destinations. Make it as hard as possible for any ingested nasties to get into your system though a damaged gut lining, while keeping inflammation low and your gut healthy so your immune system has the bandwidth to smack the nasties that do get in.


FOUR. Keep a Clean (Sinus) House.

Perform a nasal rinse beginning two days before, during, and for two days after your flight. If you consider the same principle as the one above of eating cleanly to maintain gut integrity - if you are going to be more heavily exposed to things that want to hurt you - make it as hard for them to set up shop as possible. In this case, we want to leave your sinuses as unblocked as we can, while flushing out any rapidly growing microbe colonies. This one works a treat, and is doubly important if you intend on doing any scuba diving at your end destination. Free diving in the salt water of the ocean by the way, is a great way to score a solid nasal rinse for free while looking at fishies. You can get these at your local pharmacy or online.

 

 

FIVE. BE Proactive with Your Nutritional Insurance. 

This part is the easy part. To stack the deck in my favor I just load up with an "immune" daily dose of Athletic Greens from three days prior to the trip through to two or three day's after my flight or drive. For me that means taking 2-3 servings each day for that period. I also make sure to double up on my daily probiotic about 1 week prior to and during travel. This will almost always prevent any occurrence of traveler's diarrhea, I rarely get so much as a sniffle, and this leaves my energy rocking super high when I get to my destination - which is perfect, since it allows me to do what I traveled to do... enjoy my holiday!
I hope you do the same (enjoy the holiday) and incorporate these tricks to make this happen.

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.

Farmer's Market Gazpacho

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Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped

1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup water

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

How To:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Place three-quarters of the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer contents of blender back to the bowl with the rest of the mixture. Stir. Cover. Chill. Serve.

Garnish: I love to garnish this soup with fresh chopped basil, cilantro and diced avocado.

Adapted from Whole9Life.

Beet Avocado & Arugula Salad

Prepare the beet slaw on the first day and refrigerate leftovers. Add greens, avocado, and seeds just before eating.

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Ingredients:

For the Big Batch

2 beets, peeled and grated or thinly sliced

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, seeded, thinly sliced

2 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced

For Each Serving

1 packed cup baby arugula

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 avocado, diced

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted

How To: 

In a large bowl, toss beets, celery, cucumber, and scallions.

To serve, toss 2 cups slaw with arugula, oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with avocado and seeds.

Thank you to Whole Living for this liver-nourishing Spring salad.

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

Arugula, Frisee, Red-Leaf Salad with Strawberries

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Ingredients:

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Coarse salt and ground pepper

3 cups baby arugula (about 2 ounces), washed and dried

3 cups (about 1/2 small head) red-leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces

3 cups (about 1 small head) frisee, trimmed, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces

1 pint strawberries, washed, dried, hulled, and quartered

1/2 avocado sliced

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)

2 Belgian endives, leaves separated, washed and dried

6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

How To:

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, red-leaf lettuce, frisee, strawberries, and walnuts, if using. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine.

On each of 4 individual salad plates, arrange 3 large endive leaves in a 3-pointed star with tips facing out. Then place equal mounds of salad in the center of each plate. Scatter goat cheese on top, if desired. Serve immediately.

Optional Garnish: I will change up this recipe by sprinkling either pepitas or sunflower seeds on top.

Adapted from Whole Living.

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.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut flour

¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup vegan shortening

¼ cup honey

4 large eggs

½ cup (about 3 ounces) dark chocolate chunks, coarsely chopped

 How To:

  • Scoop batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Bake at 350° for 10-14 minutes
  • Cool and serve

Makes 6-8 scones.

Thank you to Elana's Pantry for this yummy treat.

Massage for a Happier, Healthier Life

I frequently encounter the perception that massage exists solely as a pursuit of idle ancient-massageluxury. Often even well-educated clients only “treat” themselves a few times a year, but anyone remotely interested in overall health ought to investigate the beneficial effects of massage first hand.

Many writings from our ancient civilizations describe the healing benefits of intentional touch. In our modern world you can still observe other social mammals, like dogs and cats, pack and cuddle up together. Our children come running to us for healing and a consoling touch after any playground insult or injury. For me, it deepens the impression that perhaps we have been using massage for as long as we’ve had hands with which to touch.

Judging from the sheer ubiquity, vintage, and variation of the massage craft now, I’m tempted to argue that there has been a style of massage for any given culture at any given period. Within our society countless forms of massage speak to very specific needs. That being said, the results are remarkably similar when one person touches another for the purpose of support and healing, no matter the external manifestation … the client leaves feeling better.

It is a misconception to think massage is only about your muscles, it addresses your entire body.

The most basic styles, such as Swedish, at the very least “feel good” and “get things moving,” and kind of “squeegee” out the gunk that makes your muscles tight and sore. This is because massage enhances circulation, decreases nervous system activity, promotes digestion, and even aids immunity functions. The traditional Chinese medicine theory asserts it moves our life force energy through sluggish and stopped-up areas, toning the whole of the system. Of course, directly working the muscles also relieves and rebalances the musculoskeletal body, that body you inhabit at work, at home, and at play, so as to safeguard you from overuse and stress. This is the sweet spot of massage: receiving therapy at the most basic, direct, one-sided, and lived-in level possible.

It seems those who receive massage regularly probably live with less pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and blood pressure. They enjoy a greater sense of well being, greater flexibility and range of motion, and a relaxed state that is simultaneously revitalized. They probably get sick or injured less often. If you do not receive massages, you may not die of touch starvation but you probably will live longer, and might enjoy a higher quality of life, if you incorporate massage into your lifestyle. People have been doing it forever.

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.

Detox Massage for Body Cleansing

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Consider going for detox massage that is not only relaxing but also aids your body in the removal of toxic waste. A detox massage can be of great support to any cleansing program you are in. It can address health conditions including fatigue, headaches, fibromyalgia, and other system dysfunctions that result from the presence of toxins in your body.

A detox massage is helpful because of the rhythmic strokes that your therapist apply to stimulate your body. Your therapist uses a combination of massage movements including irregular and altering applications of pressure that gently compress and stretch your muscle tissues.

There are a number of different massage therapies that also promotes detoxification. One example of a detox massage is the lymphatic massage. The lymphatic system is one of the main elimination systems of the body that is integral in the detoxification process. It is responsible for the absorption of food nutrients and also creates a waste disposal system in your body. Your therapist uses strokes that that help your lymphatic system to clear dietary toxins and other unwanted substances. Your massage therapist can help remove blockages in your blood circulatory system. The toxic waste are actually by-products of stress, dead cells, heavy metals and other excess debris.

A detox massage can also enhance your immune system, strengthen the muscles and toughen your connective tissue. If your muscles are relaxed, then your body is likely to detoxify and cleanse much better. An analogy can be drawn here. Just imagine if you are constipated and your muscles are tense. Did you not have a hard time trying to remove your bowels? When you are less stressed, your organs including your digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, are likely to perform at optimal levels. Under the skilful hands of your therapist, you can end up feeling so relaxed that you may even fall asleep during the session.

A Swedish massage can be likened to a detox massage. It normalizes oxygen levels and improves the function of your colon drainage as well as other organs involved in the detoxification process. Traditional Chinese massages are also excellent for body cleansing. The strokes may differ slightly but the aim of a session is the same.

The next time you schedule a massage, be sure to ask your therapist for a massage that helps detoxify and cleanse your body. You may also want to consider signing up for a few sessions so as to reap maximum benefits from this form of healing.

Don't Try a Detox Without Knowing This

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Isn't "detox" a trendy word? It is a common assumption that we can detoxify our bodies by simply consuming some green vegetable juices and eating raw foods. The truth is, detoxification is not a one step process. It’s just not that simple!

It is important to know that detoxification is an action! Toxins must leave the body in order for a detox to take place.

Detoxification can be summed up in two steps:

1. Awakening Toxins

2. Releasing Toxins

 

Step One : Awakening Toxins

When we consume unnatural foods they leave a sludgy, dense residue in our cells. This residue becomes our excess weight, our body odor, our wrinkles, and our cellulite. This residue in excess is even the culprit behind rapid aging!

We awaken these toxins when we rehydrate this sludgy toxic residue in the cells by consuming alkaline substances:  fresh vegetable juice, raw vegetables and fruits. The negative ionic charge of vegetables, fruit, and their juices are opposite of the positive ionic charge of toxins that were consumed throughout our lives and remain lodged in the cells.

During this step of detoxification the juices, vegetables, and fruits attract the toxins that would otherwise remain in the cells. The alkalinity of raw plant foods and juices lift toxins up and out of our cells and tissues. However, the detox has not occurred yet. The detox occurs during step two.

Step Two : Releasing the Toxins

After the toxins have been awakened they enter the bloodstream and the body filters them to the elimination organs so that they can be released. At this point in the game, you have great potential to detox, but you haven’t quite detoxed yet!

There are two main elimination organs that we focus on with detoxification: the colon and the skin. If you are following a detoxification regimen and you are not eliminating waste matter through the colon and the skin you are not detoxing!

Listed below are classic signs that toxins are being awakened, but not released: 

  • You become constipated.
  • You break out.
  • You have headaches.
  • You develop rashes.
  • Youjust feel really awful, overall.

The best way to ensure that you are detoxing effectively is to make sure that you have access to gravity method colon hydrotherapy from a trained professional, have access to a sauna so that you can sweat deeply and get massage treatments to aid in the detoxification process. Always remember that waste must leave the body for detoxification to take place, and waste leaves the body through the colon and the skin.

Saunas are particularly useful for detoxification because in order to experience a deep sweat you would have to do an intense workout that is not always advisable during a detox. Sometimes we have soaring levels of energy when detoxing, but sometimes we will be more tired than usual. Both of these experiences are typical reactions and nothing to be alarmed about.

A detox massage can enhance your immune system, strengthen the muscles and toughen your connective tissue. If your muscles are relaxed, then your body is likely to detoxify and cleanse much better. An analogy can be drawn here. Just imagine if you are constipated and your muscles are tense. Did you not have a hard time trying to remove your bowels? When you are less stressed, your organs including your digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, are likely to perform at optimal levels.

Colon hydrotherapy is also helpful because it removes old waste matter that would otherwise be too difficult for the body to eliminate on it’s own. If you become constipated while attempting a detox and would like to continue your detox, you must get to a skilled colon therapist, or else you will begin to experience symptoms, and feel awful!

When you awaken and release effectively you will feel an overall lightness physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is how wonderful we can feel when we release toxins that have been weighing us down for days, weeks, months, years, and even decades!

While the awaken and release approach is very easy to understand intellectually, it is not always so easy to implement effectively. Detoxification can be tricky to understand and monitor, which is why seeking out a nutritionist or coach to guide you can be very helpful, even imperative, to progressing on your journey.

When cleansing, always remember the importance of awaken and release, and you’ll be set up for successful detoxification!

Read more at MindBodyGreen.

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.

Communicating with Your Massage Therapist

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Let's Talk

Sharron Leonard

People get massages for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you're seeking stress relief from the weekly work commute or your wanting to cleanse your body of toxins. Or maybe massage is helping you recover from a sports injury or surgery. Whatever your reasons, it's absolutely important that you explicitly communicate to your therapist the reason you made the appointment. Otherwise you run the risk of not getting what you want.

In addition to explaining any wellness requirement, you also need to clarify your comfort needs during the session so that you feel completely at ease. Most practitioners work to create an appropriate environment with elements such as the temperature, music, aromatherapy, and table setting. But if anything makes you uncomfortable, feel free -- or rather, feel responsible -- to say as much. Your therapist is as interested as you are in making sure you get what you want from the massage, and building a communicative partnership is key. Remember, communication is a two-way street.

The BodySandy Anderson, owner of Relaxing Moments Massage in Reno, Nevada, asks at the beginning of each appointment, "What is the focus of our session today?" -- whether it's the client's first or 21st appointment with her. The therapist needs to know your wellness context. Even if she has your health history, circumstances -- and bodies -- are always changing. Perhaps you were traveling for the last two months spending significant time in cramped seats on airplanes. Maybe you're training for a marathon race, logging numerous miles each week. Or, a more likely scenario, you're stressed and feeling emotionally tapped.

Furthermore, it's important she or he knows about your massage preferences that just make your massage more pleasurable, such as getting extra work on your feet or ending the session with a face massage. Perhaps it's important to you to have the therapist "stay connected" by keeping her hands on you rather than, for example, going from your feet to your shoulders. By simply letting her or him know of any such information can vastly improve your session.

The Setting

"I have designed my treatment room to offer a basic comfort level based on my professional experience," Anderson says. "But I need the client to tell me if something is not to her liking. For example, I have provided a small fountain that I thought provided soothing background sounds, but two of my clients have requested that it be turned off because it made them feel as though they needed to run to the restroom."

One important amenity issue that should be discussed by the client and the therapist is massage-table comfort. "I use a heated table covered with a sheet and a blanket because as the active therapist I need the room temperature lower than what is comfortable for the client," Anderson says. "Then I ask the client what adjustments she might want me to make." Even if your therapist doesn't specifically ask about the temperature, background sounds, aromas or whatever other subtle amenities in the room, if there's something that's making your massage less than great, be sure to discuss it with your practitioner.

The Conversation

Conversation can sometimes be a point of contention. Because some clients like to talk during a session while others prefer silence, Anderson believes it's up to the client to dictate this aspect. She does not inhibit talking nor does she initiate conversation if the client is silent. If you want to tactfully make certain your therapist is not overly conversational, it is appropriate to say something like, "You will find that I am not very talkative. I just like to totally relax during this time." While your practitioner may communicate aspects of the massage, don't necessarily take this for her trying to make conversation.

Angie Parris-Raney, owner of Good Health Massage Therapy in Littleton, CO, believes it's very important for the therapist to explain her actions so the client is not surprised. "Whether I'm easing a first-time massage client's apprehension by explaining I will only be uncovering one part of the body at a time or I'm doing a rehabilitation treatment for injury, illness or surgery, I have learned from experience the client wants detailed information on what is going to happen," Parris-Raney says. "It is also helpful if she tells me how she feels about what I am doing. Is the stroke too deep or too light? Does she want me to use a slower or faster pace?" If you are unclear about an expectation or a procedure, even if it is something as simple as, "Where is the safest place to put my jewelry?" feel free to ask.

Massage client Andrea Scott explains her frustration with one massage session where she wishes she'd been more vocal. "I like deep tissue massage, and the practitioner was giving me a very light Swedish massage," she says. "I just didn't feel like I was getting anything out of it and found myself looking forward to the session just being over. For some reason, I thought it would be rude to say anything, but in retrospect, I'm sure she would've appreciated it." Instead, notes Scott, she left disappointed and the massage therapist never had a chance to address the issue.

Your goal as the client is to get what you are specifically seeking in each session. Your practitioner wants the experience to meet your expectations and will appreciate you verbalizing your wellness requirements and personal comfort needs. Your massage therapist is your partner for healthy living, but you need to speak up.

Why You Should Drink Warm Water & Lemon

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The way you start each day is incredibly important. Whether you're a mom, a coach, a writer, a small business owner or a yoga teacher, what you do first thing in the morning matters.

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.

Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature's rhythms, balance the doshas and foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.

Your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out the door, that you can't be late for work or that you just don't have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.

But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this.....

Start the day out with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. 

It's so simple and the benefits are just too good to ignore. Warm water with lemon:

1. Boosts your immune system

Lemons are high in Vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds and potassium stimulates brain and nerve function and helps control blood pressure.

2. Balances pH

Lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, believe it or not. Yes, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they're alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). As you wellness warriors know, an alkaline body is really the key to good health.

3. Helps with weight loss

Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster. And, my experience is that when I start the day off right, it's easier to make the best choices for myself the rest of the day.

4. Aids digestion

The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.

5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic

Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.

6. Clears skin

The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.

7. Hydrates the lymph system

This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which helps prevent dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, or deeply dehydrated (adrenal fatigue) it can't perform all of it's proper functions, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and the list goes on. Your adrenals happen to be two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and along with your thyroid, create energy. They also secrete important hormones, including aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your adrenals that regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium, in your body, helping you stay hydrated. Your adrenals are also responsible for regulating your stress response. So, the bottom line is that you really don't want to mess with a deep state of dehydration!

 

Winter Vegetable Stew with Kale

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, small dice

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 bay leaves

¼ teaspoon thyme, chopped

3 medium boiled potatoes, peeled and quartered **

4 large carrots, 2 inch pieces

½ pound kale, sliced

2 large ribs celery, 2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, grated

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

** Sub 1 can/box chickpeas for potatoes if you've avoiding starches

Garnish

2 tablespoons parsley, small dice.

How To:

1. In large dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.

2. Sauté onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme until onion begins to brown, about 12 minutes.

3. Add remaining vegetables and tomato paste, season with 1 ½ teaspoons salt, pepper and nutmeg; sauté 5 minutes.

4. Raise heat to high and add wine to deglaze pan; simmer until liquid reduces by half.

5. Reduce heat to medium; Stir in 3 cups vegetable broth; let reduce by half.

6. Reduce heat to low; simmer covered until vegetables are tender, 20- 25 minutes.

7. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Recipe adapted from Natural Epicurian.

Top Fitness Tips

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1. CONSISTENCY is key. You have to stick with your program – anywhere, anytime, no excuses!!!! 

2. A successful workout routine needs Cardio AND Strength training. You don’t need to lift weights to work on your muscle – moves like push-ups and planks can be done at home, and engage your core and arms.

3. Record all of your food & exercise. Keeping track of activity, calories and nutrition is a great motivator to make better choices.

4. At work, make it a point to get up and move once an hour for 5 minutes. During a typical 8 hour day, you can fit in a 20 minute walk.

5. When starting a workout program with a partner, talk about what your goals are. Having a partner who’s a good influence helps keep you motivated and on track.

6. Choose moves that workout MULTIPLE muscle groups at the same time. This way you’re using your energy and time efficiently to tone several parts of the body at once. 

7. To get the toned arms you want, use your own body weight as resistance. Push-ups and pull-ups are great, even if you can only complete a few. Keep up your form and frequency; you’ll get stronger!

8. Students: For every two hours of studying, take 15 minutes to get off your butt and on your feet and climb the library stairs, walk around the dorm, clean your side of the room. 15 minutes of each of these will burn 50-100 calories, and help keep you sharp for the next round of reading.

9. A good 30 minute workout can give you more energy than an hour nap. Time saved and energy gained- what’s not to like?

10. Surround yourself with people who have similar life goals and you’ll find it easier to stick to better habits. Contact with good friends is a stress reducer as well; it’s a win-win!

13. TAKE THE STAIRS! You may not be able to do 30 floors, but even 4 flights before jumping on the elevator is beneficial.

14. What’s a great way to get moving, tone muscles and burn calories? Walking.It’s the simplest and one of the most beneficial activities you can do anywhere, anytime.

15. Never underestimate the power of music as a motivator; that pounding Gaga remix can be the difference between the usual 5 mile run and pushing it to 7 or 8. Get lost in the beats and GO!

16. Schedule working out like you’d schedule any meeting. Carve out time for it on your agenda and stick to it without compromise; this is how you get results.

17. Couples: Consider working out together as quality time. You may be surprised what you learn about each other when you start moving! Plus it's nice to get some encouragement from your significant other.

18. Wear a heart-rate monitor while you work out, it’s the only way to really know if your heart is in the right zone. Aim for 70 to 80 percent of your max target heart rate.

19. Watching TV? Every commercial break, get up from the couch and do a set of leg lifts, squats, lunges or, my favorite, hold plank.

20. Eat smaller and more often. Spreading out your food intake over the course of the day allows your body to better process what you’re eating.

21. Cut down on simple carbs (rice, pasta, bread) especially towards the end of the day.

22. STRETCH! Incorporating flexibility training twice a week Think Yoga, Pilates, or Mobility Drills at least 2 times per week to lengthen and define muscles and increase range of motion in your joints.

23. Strength exercises should be done 2-3 times a week. Having more muscle mass will help you burn more calories long after your workouts.

24. Stay hydrated; especially after cardio and other sweaty activities, drink 1-2 liters of water, more if you are in a humid climate or high elevation.

25. To find how many ounces of water per day you should be drinking, divide your weight in pounds by 2. If you weigh 150 lbs, that’s 75 oz (10 cups) of water. Reach this goal with water-based veggies (lettuce, celery, tomatoes), herbal teas, and by keeping a great refillable water bottle on you at all times.

26. Burn up to 300 extra calories a day just by taking a walk on your lunch hour.

27. Add wild Alaskan Salmon to your diet for a protein boost that helps maintain lean muscle.

28. Never finish a meal in less than 20 minutes. By slowing down you’ll eat 10% less and process more nutrients.

29. Do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercises (power walking, jogging, cycling, aerobics classes, kickboxing, swimming, boxing etc.) at least 4 times a week. This will help you boost your metabolism and burn calories.

 

31. Circle the perimeter of the grocery store for the freshest, healthiest items – stay away from anything processed.

33. Do muscular/strength endurance exercises (body sculpting, weight training) at least 2-3 times per week to boost metabolism and define muscles.

 

Tips courtesy of fitness and health expert, Jennifer Cohen.