Drink to your health – right in the morning!
One of the best things to have right after a well rested sleep is a delicious, healthy green smoothie loaded with nutrients. They give you a boost in energy, supply a radiant amount of nutrients, help improve skin conditions, reduce sugary cravings, assist in effortless weight loss and provide you with the daily dose of vegetables and fruits your body needs. While green smoothies and juices are all the hype these days, there are ways to get the most out of your daily dose of uplifting nourishment.
Steadily start your engine by swapping your dead, sugary, unhealthy breakfast with a pre-chewed living greens smoothie after your tall glass of lemon water or morning green tea. This way, your body reaps the benefits of the bio-available nutrients it has offer while preserving your delicate digestive fire.
The other day, I learned a fantastic habit to get the most out of my daily smoothies. Chew them! Digestion starts in your mouth, so by activating salivary enzymes by “chewing” your smoothie, you are basically letting your digestive organs know that food is on its way. Saliva is secreted when you chew your food, so by chewing your smoothie, you’re helping an important part of the digestive process by lubricating the sugars that essentially helps them break down easier in your stomach. Let’s face it – bloating can suck! So try chewing your smoothie instead of gulping it down in one sitting.
I’ve made this recipe almost everyday this week! It’s easy, quick and absolutely tasty. As you probably know from my previous posts, I keep on a low sugar, low glycemic diet in which I consume much more vegetables than I do fruit. The first tip to making a nutrient dense smoothie (or juice) is by keeping the greens-fruit ratio roughly 4:1. Leafy greens provide a substantial dose of calcium, iron, disease fighting phytochemicals and phytonutrients. You don’t necessarily want a sugar laden smoothie as it defeats the overall purpose. Frozen cucumbers is a great way to add some wholesome sweetness to your smoothie without having to use sugary fruits like bananas or mangoes.
A second important tip is making sure you get an adequate amount of protein combined with healthy fats. This is very important especially when you’re having your smoothie for breakfast or as a meal replacement. Raw almond butter and hemp seeds stow healthy fats including immunity and brain boosting Omega-3 fatty acids. Along with the vegan protein powder (whether it’s pea protein or brown rice protein), this smoothie is packed with the essential protein your body needs for daily fuel, growth support and maintenance.
Get the right energy you need by starting your day off with a smoothie bang!
An Ode To Smoothies – Recipes like this:
Ironic isn’t it? I don’t drink alcohol but I love using my tall Carlsberg glass for my smoothies! Who needs alcohol anyway when you can have a succulent and beneficial drink instead?
What you’ll need:
Half a large local cucumber (frozen, cut into slices)
3-5 packed cups of organic baby spinach (or leafy greens of your choice!)
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (or 1 cup of almond milk +1/2 cup of filtered water if you don’t want it too creamy)
1 tsp of organic raw almond butter (I love Dastony’s sprouted almond butter for this!)
1/2 a scoop of vanilla vegan protein powder
2 tbsp of raw hemp protein (Natera’s Natural Hemp Protein works great)
1 tsp of grounded flax or chia seeds
Optional: sometimes I like my morning smoothie a little bit tangy sweet, so I add half a cup of FROZEN sliced raspberries!
Blend the cucumbers, baby spinach and almond milk first for 1 minute. Add in protein ingredients and flax/chia.
Blend some more. Keep a bit of the smoothie chunky so you retain some of the needed fiber which you can then “chew” during consumption.
Chew, drink and feel powerful!
Organic Week is approaching us in Canada and I thought I’d discuss the benefits of buying organic and local whenever possible! Now I know the word “organic” can sound just as overwhelming and “trendy” as the word superfood, but regardless of your diet, buying organic food is a smart and beneficial priority. Opting to buy even some organic and local foods can be an efficacious choice for personal and environmental health.
So why (try to) buy organic?
Organic food delivers more nutrition and is higher in minerals and antioxidants than traditional foods. There have been many studies that have been shown that show an increased level of some nutrients in various organic foods. On average, organically grown foods provide roughly 20 percent more iron, 25 percent more Vitamin C and 30 percent more magnesium per serving. Significantly more minerals, vitamins, enzymes and micro nutrients than conventionally grown foods because the soil is handled and nourished with sustainable operations by accountable standards. So by consuming organic foods fairly consistently, we technically can double our overall daily nutritional intake!
Buying and eating organic also means avoiding and lessening your chance of chemical absorption. There are a cocktail of chemical poisons and pesticides that can be found in commercially grown foods in today’s society. More than 600-1000 active synthetic chemicals are registered for agricultural use in North America that produce about 45,000-55,000 different pesticides. More than 90 percent conventionally grown produce is guaranteed to contain pesticide residue. Most of them have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency prior to extensive testing for long term effects on our health. When we are exposed to a number of different toxic chemicals, that are most likely carcinogenic, for over a long period of time, we put ourselves at risk for adverse health issues such as cancer, birth defects, mineral deficiencies, hormone system disorders and other diseases. To dramatically reduce our exposure to these harmful. choose to buy locally organic foods that contain much lower concentrations of chemicals whenever possible. Purchasing locally grown food doesn’t always mean chemical or pesticide free unfortunately. The pesticide residue some organic produce sometimes come from the soil that previously sustained conventional farming, pesticide accumulation from neighboring farms or other environmental factors. But certified organic produce is always grown with absolutely no chemicals and pesticides! Better for your body and the planet in the long run.
Eating fresh organic produce also means a decreased intake of food additives such as MSG, food colouring agents, artificial ingredients, growth hormones and antibiotics. Your body will also thank you for providing it with food that doesn’t contain any genetically modified organisms (GMO) and hasn’t been put through irradiation. Popular grocery list items such as apples, strawberries, spinach, almonds, soybeans, and corn that aren’t certified organic and locally produced are contaminated with an alarming rate of GMO, with repercussions beyond our own understanding! Did you know that GMO foods do not have to be labeled in North America? How do we actually know what we’re eating if the government chooses to conceal it from us? Why is everything else labeled and deemed safe to consume but GMOs are kept hidden ingredient lists? Instead of labeling items as “non GMO” or “organic”, shouldn’t that be the natural thing to assume they are and label them when they aren’t? Since the organically grown food supply is not permitted to be genetically modified in any way, choosing to go organic is the only option to steer clear from ingesting genetically modified foods and having to play the ingredient guessing game altogether. 🙂
Sustainable organic food also tastes a lot better! I can’t imagine the amount of times I’ve bitten into a strawberry that wasn’t organic and it tasted like plastic! Not to mention how ginormous they were to begin with. Strawberries shouldn’t be the size of tennis balls. As a matter of fact, they’re actually quite small, sweet and absolutely lush! And if you compare the non organic, non local strawberries to strawberries that aren’t, you’ll not only notice the difference in size, but also in taste – big time! Organic produce tends to taste better and fresher for the most part. Well balanced soil means better produce which means better tasting nourishing food for us! And since most organic food is locally produced, it doesn’t need to travel as far as most conventional foods do. Because they’re picked closer to their peak ripeness, it allows the natural rich flavors to be more delicious and potent. Besides, is it really necessary be eating strawberries imported from Mexico when we’re capable of growing them here? *And by here, for me, it’s Canada! 😉
There’s a myriad of exceptional decent reasons why you should always try to choose and eat organic whenever you can! Aside from avoiding chemicals and better taste and better quality, you’d also be supporting local economies and farming communities, help preserve our ecosystems, reduce pollution, protect our water and soils and preserve agricultural diversity. While there are some expensive organic items on our shelves today, there are ways to eat organic and local without breaking your budget. You can shop at bulk stores, food coops and/or local farmers’ markets like The Stop @ Wychwood Barns and Evergreen Brickworks which are two of my favorites in the city! If you’re a meat eater, you can maximize your plant consumption and swap for plant based protein options that are definitely less expensive like organic dried beans, nuts and more nutrient dense greens like kale, collard greens and broccoli which are actually affordable to purchase organic!
Some other simple guidelines you can gradually follow that will help you make the healthiest and safest choices:
- Read the labels that are accessible on all of the foods you buy and learn about the ingredients.
- Eliminate one conventional processed food product that you normally grab and buy it organic! Non organically grown apples, carrots, seeds and soft fruits are some of the most heavily pesticide sprayed products. If apples are usually on your list, opt to buy them organic. And if that’s not convenient or accessible, it is important to thoroughly wash the skin with apple cider vinegar to reduce pesticide intake. Remember, companies invest big money in chemicals that are resistant to rain drops! So soak, scrub and repeat!
- Look for Non-GMO options for particular foods like grains, corn, soybeans, beans, nuts and frozen produce.
- Buy local whenever you can! Try to stay away from produce that’s grown in countries that requires two plane rides! 😉 (It always makes me happy to see a product that’s in my case, 100% Canadian and local.)
- Focus on buying produce that’s in season. You can freeze summer fruits and vegetables if you live in a country with a not so pleasant winter season.
- Choose who your money goes to. Buy from companies that are committed to providing you the best worthwhile quality food…
Mike and Mike’s Organics carries a variety of diverse nutrient packed finds such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits and fresh produce that’s good for you, nature approved and organic! All of their products meet the rigorous standards and handled according to strict procedures in order to be certified organic. This ensures that the quality of their products are deemed safe to consume for everyone. They carry a delicious line of good-for-you healthy munchies that you can happily choose from: raw organic almonds, pine nuts, cashews, trail mixes, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts – you name it! And all bursting with natural nutrition, quality taste and sustainable substance. Everything you would want (and more) in fresh valued food! Use them in salads, homemade baked goods, savory dishes, or soak ’em then eat ’em raw as healthy delicious snacks! They are all so unbelievably convenient and reasonably priced too (from as low as $3.99 to $8.99 depending.) If you care about your food just as much as I do or starting to make the change, Mike and Mike’s Organics is on your side.
Organic Select will now be marketed as Mike & Mike’s Organics. Here’s a sneak peek of their new and upcoming brand! Same quality taste only now in a new fresh seal packaging. Easy to open and favorable for any time of the day! You’ll see their latest collections at your local store very soon. 🙂
I admit, I don’t always buy organic. It can definitely be a challenge at times especially when it comes to eating at restaurants, the limited selections at our stores and of course, the cost of organically grown food. But when I do, I choose companies like Mike & Mike’s to help me out and I buy certain products organic whenever I can like spinach, frozen berries and corn. 🙂 The hope is that when we do start buying more organic food, that prices will eventually decrease. But this is all up to us – the consumers. The choices we make today as consumers not only affect our health but have a profound impact on tomorrow’s future. The best way forward it is to expand our enquiring minds, continuously question the food we feed ourselves today, reclaim our health by simple ways like choosing organic and voting with our dollars.
Do you vote organic?
I love hearts and moons. Especially if I can eat them.
I love cookies just as much as the next person. But I have a hard time finding gluten/grain free / sugar-free “sugar” cookies that are healthier and easier for your body to digest. They either contain a whack load of unnecessary starchy carbs (like corn, baking powder, potato, white rice, tapoica, etc) or they’re sweetened with funky artificial sweeteners (like malitol, sucrose, and stuff I can’t pronounce!)
So I decided to make my own. Low carb style. Paleo and diabetic friendly. And they are vegan too!
1 cup of fine ground almond meal/flour (You can make your own with just blanched almonds and a food processor/blender)
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 tbsp of organic virgin pressed coconut oil (Melted)
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract (Vanilla flavouring or vanilla alcohol isn’t the same!)
2 tbsp of dairy free milk of choice (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk by Silk or organic light coconut milk by Thai Kitchen)
Stevia or Xylitol to taste (The amount used will all be depending on your sweet taste buds. I prefer 1 teaspoon of xylitol or one packet of stevia)
Optional add on: 1 tsp of pure almond extract
Combine all liquid ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir very well. Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and keep stirring, making sure to get all of the clumps as you mix. The batter may seem dry at first, but it will eventually form into something that can be squished into a greasy ball with your hands. If you need to, add a teeny weeny teaspoon of milk or coconut oil but do not add any more liquid than the recipe calls for. Roll dough out in between wax paper and then cut into fun shapes as desired. Freeze dough for at least 30 minutes. This is crucial!! Sometimes, I freeze the dough overnight. Preheat oven to 325 F. Let dough stand at room temperature or hand knead until it’s soft enough to roll out. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or greased cookie sheet. Transfer dough shapes and bake for 10-13 minutes (depending on desired crispiness). Let cool for another 10 minutes on sheet until they firm up nicely. THEN DEVOUR! (Or leave them out if you want ‘em crispier. 😉 THEN DEVOUR!
Or at least what I eat.
I get a lot of questions about my eating habits and lifestyle. I have some that ask me how I stay fit, some that ask me how to maintain a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet and then those who are just appalled to hear that I can’t eat what they’re eating at the moment. I agree that sticking to a clean eating low GI, low sugar, wheat/gluten/meat free diet can be difficult but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done right and deliciously.
It is important to eat rich and nutritional foods in all of the food groups. And not the food chart that the government insists you follow for a healthy “balanced” meal, but I’m talking about these important food groups: proteins, anti-oxidants, greens, vitamins and fats.
What do I consider the most important foods to have in my diet daily?
Complex Carbs/Healthy Grains: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Brown Rice Pasta, Long Grain Rice, Basmati Rice, Chick Peas, Lentils
Veggies: Spinach, Broccoli, Arugula, Kale, Green Beans, Swiss Chard, Cucumbers, Sprouts, Moringa Powder (I go through a bag of spinach and broccoli every other day!)
Fruits: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Goji Berries, Green Apple (in moderation)
Seeds/Nuts: Raw Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds
Fats: Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Almond Butter, Maca Powder
Spices: Garlic, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lime, Cumin, Coriander
Drinks: Green Tea (Matcha is my favourite!), (Warm) Water with Lemon, Unsweetened Almond Milk, Unsweetened Quinoa Milk, Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Sugars: Stevia, Xylitol, Coconut Sugar (All in Moderation)
Now, I’m not a nutritionist but below is an example of a typical and basic everyday meal I would have that I consider healthy and clean. I also highly encourage you to start prepping and making your own meals instead of buying them. Tupperware containers are my best friend. Not only is it cheaper, but I know exactly what I’m putting into my meals and I don’t have to think twice about what it’s going into my body.
Morning: Warm water with a fresh lemon – cup of green tea – chia seed pudding with unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon and fresh berries
Morning snack: A Simply Bar or flax seed crackers with organic no sodium spicy hummus
Lunch: Lemon water – quinoa with olive oil and roasted garlic – baby spinach – broccoli – sprouts –
Snack: Raw almonds – cucumbers – green tea or fresh green juice (made with spinach, cucumber, kale and green apple)
Snack: Green tea – organic stove top popcorn with coconut oil or brown rice cakes with natural almond butter – warm lemon water
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