Homemade Immune Boosting Tea

Life is absolutely wonderful.

It can go from chaotic to joyous in a matter of minutes! At times, it can go from amazing to stressful. Then there are the days when you feel like you just can’t keep up anymore!

That’s why I believe that the food we put in our bodies is one of the essential tools that helps us cope with the roller coaster moments of life. We all know that with a conscious effort, eating smart, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, exercising daily and doing daily affirmations and/or meditations creates the perfect balance and booster to one’s being. However, those days that you feel like you can’t keep up anymore hit us unexpectedly thus causing us to become sick from stress, lack of nutrients and vitamins, unhealthy eating, etc. And before we know it – our immune system crashes.

It’s no secret that a healthy body and mind begins with a healthy immune system. It’s been said that 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. In turn, what we put into our bodies forms and supports the foundation of our overall health. And we always want the best, right?

Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods that are mainly plant based is far better and ideal for your health than loading up on unnecessary supplements, or worse, falling victim to vaccines that expose you to health risks far severe than influenza and gut issues. Unfortunately, infections are inevitable. So whether you have a tickle in your throat, fighting off flu season, feeling a little bloated,or just need a little “super charge boost” in your day, try sipping on this immune-strengthening homemade tea that helps to ward off bad bacteria and viruses, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, all the while allowing you to naturally fight back. Sans Tylenol, sans over the counter pills.

Food is most nutritious and powerful when it’s close to its original form ergo having the properties to heal and nourish the body organically. Make this special (beware, it’s an acquired taste!) tea from a combination of pure herbs and whole ingredients and you’ll not only decrease your exposure to the circulating viruses but improve your overall health and longevity at the same time. Don’t expect this tea to be a miracle worker though; this hug in a cup works best with a healthful diet and lifestyle. So eat those veggies!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

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What you’ll need:

2.5 cups of water

Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

1 organic cinnamon stick

2 slices of fresh ginger (I like it grated sometimes)

1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

1 garlic clove OR 1/4 tsp of cloves (depending on which taste you prefer)

A pinch of cayenne pepper (add more if you can handle it!)

Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat. Let simmer for 7-9 minutes until well steeped.

Pour tea through a strainer. Drink mindfully.

Scary Dairy Industry + ‘Cruelty Free’ Cinnamon Roll Super Milk! [Vegan, Sugar Free]

Got Milk? 

These guys sure do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj324R9R_NQ&feature=youtu.be (Warning. Some explicit content!) 

While you’re there, check this one out too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZcUrWAK-8Q (Sorry!)

Don’t like what you see, do ya? After all, you’ve been brainwashed by the dairy industry’s propaganda to believe that the main source of calcium is by consuming milk (and milk products) and by drinking the recommended glass of it a day (or 3 according to the USDA), you’ll grow up to have strong, healthy bones.

So yes, you do need cow’s milk to be healthy – if you’re a baby calf! :/

The meat industry has been under some major scrutiny (and for good reasons) for their colossal factory farm system and practices of raising cattle in immoral confinement, yet the animals in the dairy industry are arguably just as guilty. In their haste to sell you their products, the dairy industry has created an obsession over the importance of dairy products (also known as liquid meat) which in reality does more harm to the body and our planet than good.

There has been extensive scientific studies on the many harmful cumulative effects of consuming AND producing dairy – whether organic or not. In actuality, there is no reason for us to consume cow’s milk—and there are a host of important reasons to avoid it. Here are some that I’ve gathered for you to help you pass up that glass of cow’s milk:

1) Less dairy equals better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Asia and Africa) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

2) Calcium may (or does) raise cancer risk. Some studies have proved that with higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products can potentially increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Dairy product consumption increases levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream. IGF-1 is a potent stimulus for cancer cell growth. High IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer. Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it.

3) Not everyone can stomach dairy. Approximately 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance. You may not show the common symptoms, but try taking it out of your diet and see what happens! 😉

4) Adding dairy foods to your diet would only supply more calories, fat, animal protein, cholesterol, sodium, microbes, and chemical contamination—ingredients that may contribute to even more health problems and trigger inflammation such as allergies, sinus problems, diabetes, chronic constipation, asthma, autism, skin issues such as eczema and irritable bowel syndrome.

5)  Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.

6) Milk is a very strong earth pollutant: it is about 400 times more polluting than untreated sewage. To put it another way, 1,000 gallons of milk has the same polluting potential as the untreated sewage from a town of 7,000 people.

7) So yes, dairy farms and factories pollute the earth and also accountable for the huge amounts of CO2 emissions, land degradation, water consumption and water contamination. They also contribute to the slaughter of more than 250,000 dairy cows per year.

8) ALL cow’s milk (regular and ‘organic’) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol that either occur within the milk naturally as the cow develops it OR it has synthetically been injected into them. Most cow’s milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels) and up to 52 powerful antibiotics. Milk also contains blood, pus (about 750 million pus cells allowed by the FDA), feces, bacteria, viruses and traces of anything (both toxic and non) the cow eats too. Yes, while some raw, whole, organic milk eliminates concerns like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and the effects of homogenization and pasteurization — but these benefits don’t outweigh dairy’s potential health risks overall.

9) The amount of money the government spends to promote the dairy industry is roughly 550 million just in America alone! Each marketing buck spent boosts sales by an average of $8, for an annual total of an extra $4.6 billion in government-backed sales of meat, dairy, and eggs. If that wasn’t enough, the U.S. government also spends on average more than $30 billion in subsidies for animal products such as dairy, and only a fraction of a fraction of that much on fruits and vegetables. That’s just sad. In addition, some of the “experts” who have helped create the recommended food pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s recommendations reflect industry interests (aka money), not science or the public’s best interests.

10) The life of a Western cow ain’t a pleasant one. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are often taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 1 day old to be chained in tiny stalls for three to 18 weeks. Male calves, who cannot be raised to themselves become dairy cows, are slaughtered early on in life for veal. The dairy industry is the backbone of the veal industry – without it, the routine slaughter of calves could not continue. Just like veal calves, dairy cows who cannot produce milk due to exhaustion or disease are of no use to the dairy industry. Instead of “wasting resources” (feeding, sheltering), these cows are transported to factory farm feeding facilities to be fattened up, then slaughtered for meat.

One of the best methods to battle practices you don’t support is to vote with your dollars. Or as I’d like to say, “Vote with your fork!” Opting out from dairy altogether is definitely an ideal option and it’s a lot easier than you think. Nowadays, you can almost always find milk alternatives in your grocery aisle. You can choose from a number of delicious non dairy alternatives such as almond milk, hemp milk, organic soy milk and rice milk. Or – make your own! Be your own almond milk man. Don’t eat meat but can’t live without cheese or butter? Try making your own homemade cheese made from nuts like cashews and almonds. Rather than slathering your food with salty butter, try going for organic virgin coconut oil!

What about calcium and the benefits of milk we’re told are good for us? While calcium is a necessary nutrient, we can easily get enough of it from plant based foods. The most healthful sources of this vitamin can be obtained from eating green leafy vegetables and legumes, beans, seaweed and nuts. You don’t need to rely on dairy for healthy bones either. If you want strong, healthy bones, getting plenty of exercise and vitamin D (about 2000 IU or more depending) daily is key. Remember, dairy is not vital for good health nor is it sustainable.

Go dairy free and see what it can potentially and positively do for you. Trade in that glass of chocolate milk you crave in the morning and instead opt for a delicious vegan cinnamon roll protein milk beverage that’s nutrient dense, immune boosting and cruelty free. And then if someone throws a “Got milk?” at you (whether in a paid advertisement or from someone who wants it for breakfast) smile and let them know that you know better!

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What you’ll need:

1.5 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (homemade or an organic brand of your choice – always unsweetened!)

6-10 ice cubes

1 pouch of vegan protein powder unsweetened vanilla flavour (Brown rice or pea protein works best!)

1 tsp of organic cinnamon powder

1 tbsp of ground flax

1 tsp of chia seeds

Optional: pinch of stevia to taste (my protein powder usually contains some so I usually leave this out)

Another great option: raw cacao nibs, a pinch of vanilla bean powder

Add all ingredients to your Magic Bullet or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with more cinnamon if desired. Enjoy! x

Redefining 100% Natural – YES Please!

Today, I read a fantastic article on News.Mic about how many companies are labeling their products as “all natural” when in actuality, they’re far from that. The article talked about many unverified health claims from businesses like Snapple, Quaker Oats and Kashi using marketing tactics like claiming to use “all natural” ingredients or phrases such as “no artificial flavors or preservatives” and even “100% healthy and natural”. However, if you’re like me and carefully read every label, you know that all your left with in these products is loads of added sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup), toxic chemicals and synthetic substances like maltodextrin and my favourite, the ridiculous and unidentified natural flavors. That’s natural? No, it’s misleading.

Apparently the word natural doesn’t mean anything anymore. This is one of the most emotive words used in food marketing and consumers are being duped by many marketers who are constantly abusing it. Chances are, they probably don’t care about the public’s optimal health and how their “natural” ingredients can affect our long term health in the end. It’s being inaccurately thrown around and used inappropriately in order to make up for the harmful ingredients added and made to believe that they are acceptable to consume. At this point, the word means about as much as “real” does, especially when it comes to food marketing. This is why I’ve expressed on my blog 100 and 1 times about how truly important and crucial it is to read your food labels. Do not be fooled by the large bold words splattered on the front box stating to be wholesome and good for you. Even catch phrases like gluten free, low fat, half the amount of salt, can all be used to deceive you into buying their sugar/chemical laden products.

While some ingredients listed may be “naturally derived” from sources like soybeans, corn and canola oil, these ingredients aren’t the safest to consume and almost always manufactured artificially and manipulated. For instance, a company like Nature Valley can promote their granola bars as “100% natural” because the ingredients it contains like high maltose corn syrup is derived from corn (and most likely from GMO corn). But they ignore the absolute unnatural process it takes along the way to create this “natural” syrup. All this means to me is that foods that are genetically engineered or used with toxic chemicals are permitted to be labeled as natural. Unfortunately it is a processed sugar and should definitely not be marketed as a healthy, wholesome snack. Period.

[Eating] natural is such a nebulous thing these days but you can navigate and redefine it. Eat whole foods (you know, broccoli, spinach, mother nature stuff), buy products that only contain real quality ingredients, look for organic which means something substantial and avoid products that dub themselves as natural but use ingredients unpronounceable and misrepresented. Take the time to distinguish between the good and the bad. Remember that your health relies on it.

There’s a new premium drink in town! And they’re helping to redefine what it means to actually be ALL NATURAL.

YES Drinks has a promise to their customers – everything they make will always be 100% natural (and about 85% organic), they’ll only use the highest quality ingredients, there will not be any shortcuts taken, no preservatives, artificial ingredients, stabilizers or flavor extracts used and will always be kept 100% plant based. Oh yeah, and no added sugars! Yay!

The handcrafted drinks are a natural and healthy alternative to many sugary (and sugary-healthy) beverages and snacks. They are naturally sweetened with stevia and contain absolutely no funky stuff. What you see is what you get. All of the delicious beverages are cold pressed low in calories, gluten free, vegan and contain familiar super foods like organic chia seeds, raw sprouted rice protein, coconut milk, turmeric and psyllium husk. They’re also a delicious way to get a large helping of natural protein and fiber. They won’t cut corners so that we are only left to enjoy increased vitality with the most nutritious and great tasting all natural ingredients. A company that truly knows what’s best for us to achieve optimal health.

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Simple to read and you know exactly what you’re getting. Just how it should be.

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I like the Belgian Cocoa Hazelnut “Milk” and the Vanilla Charge the best! They boast so much flavor (real natural flavors) and I feel great after having a few sips. The bottles are so convenient to have on the go and you can swap your morning coffee with one of these bad boys for a more beneficial wake up call! Which flavor will you say YES to?

Feed Your Skin Naturally!

Good skin is always in!

I want to share a few natural beauty tips with you today. I’m often asked what I use to maintain my “healthy, glowy skin”and as flattering as it is, I actually don’t have a a line of high end beauty products that I use on a daily basis. My routine is quite simple and guileless. As you already know from a few of my recipes and posts, I like to keep things as natural as possible.

I always count chemicals and I am a thorough label reader – that’s including products I use on my skin too!

The first step to great skin is by what you put at the end of your fork. I consume A TON of greens, stay away from meat and dairy products, wheat/gluten containing foods and don’t drink or smoke! You’ve already heard the importance of drinking lots of H20 but having more than 6 glasses of water a day really does make a difference. Keep it clean and drink up, buttercup!

Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of our skin. Acne, breakouts, psoriasis, dry skin, dull skin and wrinkles are all affected by your diet and lifestyle so by eating the right kind of foods, you can help by reduce or even eliminate these stubborn skin conditions. These are the main minerals and nutrients your body needs to naturally help you achieve healthy skin from the inside out:

Silicon: cucumbers, bell peppers, greens, flax seeds, lentils, BioSil capsules

Sulfur: garlic, greens like kale, broccoli

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds

Biotin: raw almonds, raw almond butter, swiss chard, raspberries, sweet potatoes

Zinc: nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach. chickpeas, raw cacao

Antioxidants: blueberries (organic and wild), pure green tea, baobab powder, more greens!

I always incorporate these specific foods into my everyday diet whether I toss them all into a delicious salad, add them to smoothies or eat them raw as nutritious snacks. These essential foods have definitely been beneficial in improving and maintaining the health of my skin and they’re all nature approved too!

When it comes to a living healthy and natural lifestyle, what you put in your body is just as momentous as what your put on your body. Many people are still unaware of how great an impact the beauty cosmetic lines they use on a daily basis can have on their skin – and health! Our skin readily absorbs chemicals and other harmful substances deeper into our body through our skin layers and then ultimately into our bloodstream. The absorption rates on our scalp, underarms and face are 7-10 times higher than a lot of other body parts. And when we are constantly putting products on our skin that contain parabens, alcohol, petroleum, parfum/fragrance and other harsh chemicals, we are also consuming them and allowing them to get inside our bodies. The skin is the largest organ of the body and since it’s porous, you better believe that it absorbs whatever you choose to put on it.

It’s important to pay careful attention to the ingredients in our skin care products. Unfortunately, the majority of of the mainstream products on our shelves today contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals, carcinogens, allergens, synthetic additives and irritants that contribute to our wellness and what we see every morning in the mirror.

How can we achieve healthy, glowing skin naturally? Just like the food we eat, we should always read the labels, understand what we’re putting on our skin and consider a gentler, natural alternative that’s favorable for us and the planet. Minimalism is always the best option. So choose organic products and natural skin products with simple ingredients whenever possible. Or even use whole ingredients and make your own DIY safer products at home.

Here are my everyday skin/face essentials suitable for ALL SKIN types:

Organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil – Probably the only plant based moisturizer you’ll only ever really need! Don’t be afraid of applying oil on your face. It’s dehydrated and most likely dried out from the harsh alcohols and chemicals that a lot of skin care products consist of. Anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti septic and excellent for balancing the natural oils our skin produces. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of coconuts?! 😉

Baking soda – An affordable and easy way to balance the skin’s pH levels and a great exfoliator too!

Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar –  Great for healing acne, stubborn pimples and light scars. Works great as a natural, plant based toner.

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn – I’m absolutely obsessed with this line! It is probably the only company I’ve come across that uses pure, whole elements that’s sustainable, organic, cruelty-free and skin friendly. While many companies claim to be “all natural” or plaster ridiculous amount of labels to fool you into thinking their products are safe, chances are, if you turn to read the labels, you’ll find a plethora of not so hidden, not so natural ingredients. You can count on S.W. Basics to be 100% pure and only using the finest ingredients that’s actually good for you. They even think about our planet! Aren’t they so sweet? Their products are all fair trade and the ingredients are locally sourced from small, family farms. S.W. Basics also has exceptional branding (I’m a sucker for good branding and packages!) and their story is beautifully simple: Fewer ingredients means less chance for irritation, higher potency and a smaller, overall ecological impact. For them, less isn’t just more, it’s everything. And I agree! This is a line of products your skin will thank you for.

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All of their products have less than 5 ingredients. And they’re all ingredients you can pronounce and probably have in your kitchen cupboard. Luscious stuff like coconut oil, shea butter, ACV, olive oil, vegetable glycerin and cocoa butter. You also won’t need to do a back label read since all of the ingredients are conveniently listed right on the front of each product. So simple and no second guessing. They’ve made it so easy for us how can you not love them?

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Go ahead – put your best skin forward!

Raw Vegan Cacao Crunch Protein Bar

Seeds and nuts are a vital part of our diet – or should be for some. You probably have been told to avoid nuts and seeds due to their high fat and caloric content but don’t underestimate these powerful little gems. Both are high in fiber, antioxidants like Vitamin E and mono saturated heart healthy fats (unsaturated) that help keep our bodies healthy and disease free. They are a great source of plant based protein, minerals, zinc and can even help you lose weight! Munching on them throughout the day or adding them to your meals, like salads and smoothies, help to keep you full longer and aid with keeping your sugar levels down.

Personally, I love eating seeds and nuts in their natural raw form and preferably organic to benefit from their full nutritional components. It’s the best way to derive nutrition because once exposed to heat through roasting or heating, they can produce toxic substances and the essential oils, vitamins and minerals are mostly denatured.

But “bird food” doesn’t have to be boring. These bars are full of seeds, can be made without nuts too, and is a delicious way to nutritionally chirp throughout your busy day! I used the best of the best in this recipe: hemp hearts, raw almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, chia seeds and ground flax meal (from flax seeds).

If you’re allergic to nuts, you can omit the almonds and replace it with more hemp hearts if you wish and the almond butter can be replaced with sunflower seed butter or maybe something stick like brown rice syrup (go easy with it though!)

Happy crunching!

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What you’ll need:

1 tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil

2 tbsp of all natural almond butter (unsweetened)

2 tbsp of vanilla almond milk or other non dairy milk (unsweetened)

1/3 cup of pure unsweetened dark cacao chocolate or vegan unsweetened carob chips (homemade is the best way!)

To quickly make your own homemade chocolate: 1/2 raw cacao or carob powder + 1/2 organic coconut oil + 1 tbsp of raw cacao butter (can omit)

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (alcohol free)

2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp of chia seeds

2 tbsp of hemp hearts/seeds

1/4 cup of sunflower seeds

1/4 cup of raw sliced almonds

2 tbsp of ground flax meal

2-3 scoops of vegan brown rice protein powder (or hemp powder or more hemp hearts)

1/4 cup of xylitol or stevia to naturally sweeten

Dash of cinnamon

In a small sauce pan, on a low setting, heat the coconut oil, almond butter and almond milk. Remove from heat once it starts to bubble a bit. Add the chocolate and mix. Let stand for a few minutes and then whisk until melted and nicely smooth. Add the vanilla and cinnamon.

You can pulse the pumpkin seeds and chia seeds in a blender to make a course meal but I like my bars really crunchy so sometimes I skip this step. Add the seeds, almonds and ground flax meal to the melted cacao mixture. Combine thoroughly. Add protein powder and sweetener. Mix it up!

Spread on parchment paper using a spatula or into a rectangular or squared bread pan and evenly distribute. Chill until set. Cut into desired bar shapes Individually wrap the bars and keep refrigerated. Grab and go when you please! x

Some more yummy protein and snack bar options from my blog:

Healthy Breakfast Protein Fudge Bars (Homemade)

Super Granol-Oat Nut Butter Bars (Homemade)

Inner-J Bars 

Simply Bars 

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