My clients and students always ask me what is one thing they can do to improve their health. Or which one food is the most important for a healthy diet. My answer is always GREENS! If there is any place to start – it is with greens. Most people do not eat enough green veggies. So no matter what your diet currently consists of – whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian (a little bit of this and a little bit of that), raw foodie – it doesn’t matter. Getting your greens in is the first step to optimal and long-lasting health.
Leafy green vegetables are one of nature’s richest sources of a full spectrum of nutrients. So look beyond spinach and broccoli and get familiar with things like kale, collards, swiss chard, arugula, bok choy.
Depending on what your taste buds are calling for, there are so many ways to get your green veggies in. The good news is that each green offers a very different unique taste and texture. Even if you have to sneak them into a smoothie for the fussy ones in the family, I promise you – there is always a way!
Whether you are following a vegan diet or just want to take your nutrition to the next level– greens should be an essential component to your day.
Choosing a leafy green such as kale:
- Helps to purify your blood, supports bone health and prevents the risk of many diseases such as heart disease and cancer
- Gives your body an extra dose of much needed calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants and fiber
- Compliments anything and everything on your plate and will boost the nutrients in any meal
- Is especially fantastic when it is just lightly steamed, sautéed or chopped up and marinated raw into a salad
- Makes a super healthy “chip” that is kid and adult friendly. Try this delicious zesty kale chip recipe!
These benefits apply to most greens so really, you can’t go wrong and the possibilities are endless.
It is very common to get overwhelmed when it comes to greens. My suggestion is to start basic. Pick one new green a week to “play” with until you have found a way for you and your family to enjoy it. The number one complaint is that greens are too bitter. Well, yes collards and kale can be bitter – especially if they are new to your palette. Once you find a way to get them into a meal – whether they are added to a smoothie, tomato sauce, chickpea stew, chunky vegetable soup, grain dish or simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt, there is no turning back. You will be hooked because you will suddenly start to feel better, have more energy and you may even lose weight. That doesn’t sound bad does it?
Experiment with natures emerald gems, have fun and make sure you get your greens in everyday. Just remember that a meal isn’t a meal unless there is something green on your plate! Try the Green Garden Veggie Pasta Salad recipe below. We’re making this recipe and many more green veggie-packed recipes at Simple Spring Creations on May 23rd and Green Goddess on June 10th.
Green Garden Veggie Pasta Salad
8-12 oz pasta (kaumt, spelt, Tinkyada brown rice or quinoa)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sliced red onion1-2 yellow summer squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch chunks to equal 2 cups
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1-2 cups washed and chopped chard or kale
10-12 spears of asparagus chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced chives
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
How It’s Made:
1. In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add squash, asparagus and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
3. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, place in a large, shallow serving bowl, and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sauteed vegetables, chard and fresh herbs.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Calcium is a very important subject for me so I was to learn that this month is calcium month! A hysterectomy, shortly after my second child was born pushed me into menopause at the age of 35. Along with this came an increased risk of osteoporosis, making bone health an important consideration in my diet. Like everyone else, I had grown up believing that eating my 2-3 servings of dairy a day was the healthy way to go. I never questioned the absurdity of consuming another species’ breast milk. Through my research and my experiences with Marni to date, I have learned that dairy actually impedes my goal of strong bones by contributing to an acidic body. When this happens the body will try to reinstate an alkaline state by leaching calcium from the bones.
So, where is a girl to get her calcium? I start several days a week with a hearty dose of calcium from a smoothie made with banana, organic berries, calcium rich kale and fortified almond milk. This is a favourite of my daughter’s as well. Trust me, you can not taste the kale. Adding some ground flax seed ups the calcium even more.
While there is a long list of veg-friendly calcium sources out there, two personal favourites are edamame and sesame seeds. Edamame pods are a popular snack in our household; steamed and tossed with a bit of EVOO, salt and pepper. I also add shelled edamame to quinoa dishes, pastas, and salads. Most things I cook are finished off with a healthy sprinkle of sesame seeds as well, adding flavour, texture, and giving the food a nice presentation.
I was happy to see these two ingredients front and centre at Marni’s Amazing Asian cooking class earlier this month. My two favourite recipes were the Nappa Cabbage Salad, and the Arame Soba Noodle Salad. I recreated both of these dishes at an Asian-themed pot luck this past weekend to great reviews. One of my reasons for wanting to win the Fully Nourished Lifestyle prize was to be an example to those around me. I find people can be pretty sceptical of vegan cooking, so it is very heartening to bring healthy vegan fare and have it be as well received as the meat and sugar-laden foods around them. Thanks Marni!
When you eat a plant based diet, people never tire of demanding you’re not getting enough protein. I have literally never had anyone ask me about my calcium intake.
I have a pretty hectic schedule that is constantly changing. One day I may be taking acting classes and running to Hot Yoga class, the next I’m auditioning for commercials and then babysitting the world’s cutest toddler. As much as I love cooking, I don’t always have time to micro-manage every single aspect of my daily diet. This means it’s so important to have a well-rounded diet that includes lots of Calcium rich foods.
One resource that I’ve found invaluable is CalciYum!, a vegetarian calcium based cookbook by David & Rachelle Bronfman. Marni gave me this book at my first consultation, and it has a ton of great recipes along with information about Calcium dense plant foods. This has helped me to consider Calcium in addition to protein when I’m choosing different ingredients for my meals. I love beans, tempeh, and tofu which are great sources of Calcium. Incorporating leafy greens into my everyday life has made a big difference. I put kale, spinach, and collards, into my soups, salads, stir-fries, and baking. You get countless benefits from consuming leafy greens, and there are so many to choose from and experiment with. The other high calcium food that I try to eat everyday is Almonds, I am a huge Almond lover. I like to have a little container of almonds with me or a Lara bar on hand as an emergency snack.
A great part of living in Toronto is the plethora of Vegetarian stores and restaurants at our fingertips. Last fall I was doing a class at Second City, and I would often have to rush to another audition, appointment or class, right after. Thankfully I could stop at Fresh on Spadina for a quick nutritious pick-me-up. Smoothies are an awesome way to get some extra Calcium into your diet! The Date Almond Smoothie and Tropic Thunder at Fresh are two of the most delicious beverages I’ve ever had. They both have Almond Butter, and the Date-Almond Smoothie can also have Almond milk in it, and you can add Kale to any juice or smoothie!
I also participated in my first cooking class with Marni this month called Grain Goodness. She showed us just how versatile vegetables and grains can really be. All of the dishes we made were so delicious, and I will definitely be recreating them all at home.What about you? Do you give much thought to the Calcium in your diet?
March is calcium month and there is no better time to clarify the myths of calcium and bone strength! Despite what dairy companies lead you to believe, building strong bones is a lot more complicated than consuming calcium. There are three misconceptions when it comes to dairy, calcium and bones.
1. Building strong, healthy bones depends only on calcium
2. Your calcium intake is the only thing that matters
3. Dairy is the only good source of calcium
Let’s clarify these myths one at a time:
Clarification #1 – Calcium + Vitamins Build Strong Bones
Bone development is influenced by a number of factors, including nutrition, exposure to sunlight, hormones, and physical exercise. There’s no denying that calcium is important for bone health but bones need more than just calcium to grow and stay strong. Other important sources include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K.
Enjoy these foods that are bursting with calcium!
- Green Leafy Veggies – kale, chard, beet tops, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dandelion, mustard greens and bok choy.
- Root Veggies – parsnip, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, squash, okra.
- Nuts and Seeds – almonds, pine nuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds.
- Beans, Legumes and Whole grains – kidney beans, black beans, quinoa and amaranth.
- Fermented and Organic Soy – Tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame.
- Sea vegetables include arame, nori, dulse, wakame and kombu. They can be found at your local health food store or in the condiment section of your grocery store. Another great place to look is at authentic Asian markets.
- Other: carob, tahini, almond butter, cocoa, goji berries, figs and molasses.
Clarification #2 – Importance of Calcium Absorption & Retention
As we just discussed, calcium-rich foods is one source that helps build strong bones. But what you may not realize is that calcium is for more than just your bones – almost every function in our body requires calcium. Many degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis among others are a result of poor quality supplementation and an imbalanced diet. Reaping the benefits of calcium is also about how much we’re able to absorb, and retain. Factors including our dietary habits, lifestyle, and aging process all contribute to calcium absorption and retention.
- Stress impacts normal digestion and can have a negative effect on calcium absorption.
- Age also impacts calcium absorption – on average, adults absorb approximately 20% less calcium than children.
- Protein increases calcium absorption and stimulates the production of hormones that promotes new bone formation.
Clarification #3 – Avoid Dairy as a Source of Calcium
People have grown to accept that you can only get your daily intake of calcium from conventional dairy and a calcium supplement. What you need to also focus on is whole food sources that are naturally loaded with calcium. These foods don’t contain dairy, but will provide your body with the calcium it requires to function in an easy-to-assimilate way along with a whole bunch of other minerals and nutrients that are vital to good health!
So skip the dairy, eat your greens, get some sunshine and exercise regularly and enjoy all of the health benefits of a whole, natural diet! For calcium-rich, plant-based recipe inspiration join us on March 18th for Veggin’ Comfortably where you will learn some delicious calcium-rich recipes and you will receive a free copy of Marni’s best-selling eBook Veggin’ Comfortably.
Try this calcium-rich treat — Carob Fig Frozen Fudge
What’s In It?
1 cup figs, soaked
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1/2-1 cup nut butter (almond or sunflower)
1/2-1 cup raw carob powder
1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
How it’s Made:
1. Place the figs in a bowl and cover with water and soak for about an hour, until soft. Drain reserving liquid.
2. In a blender, blend the figs, and vanilla until smooth, slowly adding soaking water as needed to form a creamy consistency.
3. Transfer the fig mixture into a large bowl, add the nut butter, and stir to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the carob and hemp seeds.
5. Gradually add the dry carob mixture into the wet fig mixture. Stir well. Press evenly into a 10 by 18 inch brownie pan, 1 inch thick and freeze until firm (about 3 hours).
6. To serve, cut into 1 inch squares.
I’m almost completing week 3 of my veggie challenge. It’s going really well – I’ve only been tempted to have chocolate a few times but know that there are other delicious alternatives like the cocoa powerballs that my friend made! I’m really trying to be conscious of not just practicing a vegetarian diet but ensuring that I follow a nutritious diet consuming only whole and natural foods. It is going well so far (minus my cheat night on Saturday night – my friend brought me Ferrero Rochers – my favourite chocolates – for a house warming gift… how could I have resisted!).
I went to my first cooking class taught by Marni the other week. It was a great class and I learned about all of the plant-based foods that contain high sources of calcium. I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore (although occasionally I have Greek yogurt, goat’s cheese and ice cream) mostly because I don’t really like the taste or idea of cow’s milk. But after attending class with Marni, I am now aware that veggies certainly provide more than enough calcium for a balanced diet.
The leafy greens that everyone says are so good for you actually are, so listen to your Mom and Doctor when they tell you to eat them! They contain good amounts of antioxidants, vitamins such as Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, or folic acid, as well as abundant amounts of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, both essential for bones, muscles, and heart health. They are also rich in cholorophyll (indicated by their dark green colour), an important phytochemical (plant chemical) that aids in detoxification.
If you’re looking to add plant-based calcium to your diet you can eat lots of greens including spinach, collards, kale, beet root tops, arame (a sea veggie) and bok choy. Other great sources of calcium can come from carob, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, figs, oranges, and sunflower seeds.
Marni’s calciYUM class incorporated foods rich in calcium and we had a great group. Everyone partook in making delicious dishes including miso sesame crusted tempeh, broccoli quinoa pilaf, citrus salad, almond spinach patties, and roasted root veggies. My favourite dish was the carob-fig bars (thanks to my sweet tooth). Cutting out sweets is definitely the most challenging part of eating nutritiously but luckily we had a delicious and nutritious alternative for dessert which were just as satisfying as Ferrero Rochers!
I am looking forward to my next cooking class with Marni this week! I’ll be attending Gourmet and Gluten Free and will be sure to share more tips and takeaways that I learn!
It’s that time of year again when seeing the sun come out from behind the clouds makes me want to be outside. I want to play, and I want to get fit!
The question that’s always asked of me though, especially because I’m active and vegan, is how I have enough energy to get through my days and my workouts? Well, I simply say that I have the perfect solution: plant-based foods. Not only are they filled with the most highly nutritious and bio-available vitamins and minerals, but they taste great too.
Plant based foods provide all of the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) essential in maintaining optimal energy. Since working out causes physical stress, it creates acidity in the body. In order to regain a state of alkalinity, it’s essential to neutralize the body by consuming a plant-based diet filled with neutralizing plant-based foods.
My top sources of energy foods:
- Hemp Seeds – contains omega 3 fats and provides long sustaining energy. I love to put them on salads, in smoothies and cereal.
- Chia seeds – are loaded with fiber and expand when soaked. Chia makes the most delicious morning porridge. Amazing for before my workouts.
- Kale - is a green leafy powerhouse veggie. It is loaded with magnesium and is alkaline forming. Chopped up in a raw salad or steamed on the side of quinoa, kale completes any plate.
- Sea vegetables – storing a wide range of trace minerals and nutrients, sea vegetables provide natural sodium to the diet. My favourite sea vegetable is arame or nori – they give me mental clarity and focus.
- Tempeh – one of the highest sources of plant protein, is fermented, and is easy to digest. I love marinating tempeh with cider vinegar, lemon juice and coconut oil for a boost to my salads and wraps.
- Coconut water and coconut oil – coconut water replenishes the body with much needed electrolytes. So when I am working out, this is my go to beverage. Coconut oil – is loaded with medium chain fats, so they are a quick source of energy and nourishment before and after activity.
- Quinoa - contains all of the essential amino acids which are crucial building blocks for protein. Protein builds muscle, so it is important to consume protein especially after a workout.
- Goji berries – are a natural source of antioxidants, protein and fiber. They are perfect in a trail mix before a workout or great tossed in a smoothie after a workout.
- Cacao – one of nature’s richest sources of magnesium. Gives me a natural boost of energy. Cacao gives me the perfect excuse to have chocolate for breakfast. Tossed in a smoothie or cereal it adds the perfect crunch and kick!
- Honey – loaded with enzymes, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties honey is soothing and easy to take down. It is a natural source of sugar and calories so it makes a perfect addition to my pre workout snack and it also gives me that extra boost of energy.
These are the foods that I reach to when I want to get moving, and I highly suggest them to anyone who hasn’t tried them yet. I know my body’s going to use them well and efficiently, and give me that boost of energy without causing me to crash and burn out. They are sustaining, nourishing, and versatile enough that I can consume them daily in multiple ways without ever getting bored of them.
To learn more ways to fuel your workouts, join us for our Fit and Fabulous cooking class on May 21st where we will be making homemade energy bars, happy hemp loaves and liquid nutrition smoothies that will help take your body and fitness goals to the next level!
When your mum used to say to you “Eat all your veggies!” it was for a good reason. Vegetables are a must that should be included your diet to keep you feeling healthy and fabulous. Not only are vegetables rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins, but for those wanting to look as good as they feel, vegetables are low in calories, excellent energy sources, and help maintain a healthy weight.
That’s why it pains me when I often hear that people throw out the stems, tops and skins of their fruits and veggies. You may not realize it, but they usually carry more nutrients than the fruit or vegetable themselves. If you’re going out of your way already to buy beautiful, fresh, or even local and organic produce, then why waste the most nutritious parts? Unless you are composting – you’re getting rid of essential nutrients that could be benefiting you.
Most stems, skins, and even leafy tops to fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber and nutrients. Since the stem is the component that’s rooted in the soil, it contains more substantial vitamins and nutrients. For vegetables such as kale, collards, parsley and swiss chard – don’t get rid of those precious stems!
Then there’s the tops. This is for vegetables like beets, carrots, or any other vegetable that sprouts a leaf or anything green. This is indicating that the vegetable is full of vibrancy and nutrients, so don’t just cut them off and toss them into the garbage. They’re very useful and can be a great contribution to your diet.
The skin of most fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, potatoes, squashes and even kiwi, contain antioxidants, fiber and other health promoting properties.
What can you do with your leftover stems, tops, and skins?
Depending on the type of fruit or vegetable – whether it’s a leafy green or root veggie – there are different uses for them.
Uses and benefits for your stems, tops, and skins
- Stems make a great the base to a stir-fry. Add in broccoli and swiss chard stems at the beginning along with your onions and celery. That way they can soften and absorb lots of flavour.
- Stems make are great for the base for a soup stock (collard stems, kale stems, parsley stems). Let them infuse in your water for an hour or so and then remove. They will leach all of their nutrients into your soup stock.
- The skins from citrus fruits contain bioflavonoids, which are amazing antioxidants. Use the zest of an orange into a cookie, muffin or yogurt.
- Put the stems and skins of any fruit and vegetable through your juicer. From collards, kale, broccoli and chard to carrots, beets and apples.
- Bake your potatoes and squash with the skins on. Potatoes skins have potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
- Use the tops of beets and stems of swiss chard to make a wonderful and colourful side dish. Beetroot tops are loaded with calcium, magnesium and iron.
Garlicky Green Stem Sautee
3 cloves of garlic
2 large bunches of whole beet root tops and swiss chard
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
How you make it!
- Fold green leaves in half lengthwise and cut away the leaf from the inner ribs or stem.
- Chop up the stems into small pieces and set aside.
- Pile about 5-6 leaves on top of one another, and roll into a tight roll
- Starting at the top and cutting across the leaves, slice the leaves into needle thin strips.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
- Add the stems, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add in the green leaves and cook until they are bright green, and are just short of their wilting point.
- Being vegetarian and pregnant is frequently a topic of concern for many people – vegetarians especially!. People often wonder if it is safe for both the mother and her baby. Fortunately, there is good news here. It is perfectly safe and healthy to be a vegetarian during your pregnancy; you just have to plan carefully.
Pregnancy is a time for a woman to take her nutrition and health seriously. Whether you need to give yourself a nutrition makeover or you are already health savvy, your body is now the vessel for another life. This means that you have to ensure that everything you do is working towards making your body and your baby as healthy as possible.
If you are currently a vegetarian, then it is essential to learn what nutrients to incorporate during this crucial transitional stage, and the foods in which you will find them. The bottom line is that your body needs appropriate nutrients: enough calories, protein, iron, and vitamins and minerals, all of which can be derived from a plant-based diet!
Here are some key nutrient and food sources for a healthy vegetarian pregnancy:
Protein: You will need to increase your protein intake during pregnancy. This is crucial for the growth and development of the baby and to keep you satisfied as well. There are a variety of incredible vegetarian protein sources such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, tempeh, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables, organic eggs, and sheep’s milk. These foods are also great sources of Iron.
Caffeine should be completely avoided during pregnancy it interferes with your absorption of iron from vegetables. However, enjoying foods that are rich in vitamin C (fruits and vegetables) with meals has the opposite effect and actually helps your body to absorb iron.
Calcium: This is the most essential mineral for the health of a pregnant woman, as it helps to form the bones, teeth, and muscles of your growing baby. Calcium-rich sources of food include green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables, whole grains such as quinoa and millet, nuts, seeds, and organic dairy.
Folic Acid: This is crucial for forming red blood cells and also aids in the growth and reproduction of other cells, particularly in supporting the development of the baby’s nervous system. Folic acid also stimulates the mother’s appetite, which helps to maintain her overall nutrient intake. Sources include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and organic dairy.
Ensuring that you include foods that provide these main nutrients in your diet on a daily basis will keep you and your growing baby well-nourished. These are the key components to a complete and balanced diet and you can get them all from a variety of plant-based foods, so there is no need for concern, as you can safely be a vegetarian during your pregnancy!
On a personal note, I have yet to get pregnant myself and experience it as a vegetarian. However I feel with the foundation that I have I should have any problems maintaining and achieving optimal health for myself and my baby. I can’t wait to one day share this experience with you on my blog. I understand it is easier said then done to some, so I would love for those of you are veggie moms to share your experience with us below!
Orange-Avocado Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
½ cup arame, soaked
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup pure pomegranate juice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 bunches baby arugula or mixed greens
3 oranges, segmented without membranes
1 avocado* cut into small cubes
1 cup chickpeas
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup chopped parsley or mint
- Rinse arame and soak in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze out any remaining water. Discard soaking water.
- Mix together olive oil, orange juice, pomegranate juice and dijon mustard, honey, and cider vinegar.
- Transfer arame into a bowl with arugula, chickpeas, avocado and orange slices. Add dressing.
- Top with pumpkin seeds.
Avocados are rich in folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy which is vital for the brain and nervous system of your baby. They are also rich in essential fatty acids, b vitamins, vitamin C, potassium. Avocados are high in fat (though the very good kind) and calories, so heap them on your plate only if you’re having trouble gaining weight.
Share you experience with us!
Did you have a vegetarian pregnancy? How was it. What challenges did you face if any!
What can you share or tell readers from your experience so that they are informed!
Welcome my Guest Blogger today Sara Ouellette owner of Beyond Vitality!
As some of you may know, I have been living abroad discovering the world’s natural health products and superfoods. For three years I traveled back and forth between Canada and the beautiful exotic country of Venezuela, finally moving there permanently this past September. I loved discovering all the local superfoods, those that we up in Canada (no we don’t live in igloos), cherish so much!
I could go on forever about all the wonderful and nourishing treats from nature that Venezuela has to offer! The many landscapes of this tropical warm country have everything including wild aloe vera plants, coconut, cacti, noni, papaya, sea weed, pineapple, pumalaca, cacao and much more!
Chocoholics…this is for you…so listen up! The one superfood I want to talk to you about is real chocolate. I’m excited to tell you that real RAW chocolate is indeed a superfood! You can turn cravings for cooked, processed chocolate into super-nutrition instead. All chocolate is made from the cacao fruit. Inside the cacao fruit are beans. These cacao beans are used to make RAW, organic chocolate!
I was fortunate to have seen the process in which cacao is produced. I visited my friend’s organic cacao farm in the lush rainforest of Los Altos, Venezuela. How amazing is it that they produce their OWN chocolate! Yummy! Venezuelan cacao is the finest, rarest, most expensive cacao in the world. The beans have a unique flavor. In case you are wondering, cacao tastes similar to, yet BETTER than, Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate. A natural sweetener can often be used in conjunction with your raw treat ingredients, such as raw honey, stevia, coconut sugar, agave nectar, banana or pure maple syrup.
The cacao beans are grown in the mountains using no pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any type. The trees in which the cacao fruit grows are irrigated by the fresh water that runs down from the clouds in the forest-topped mountains. Once the beans have been harvested they are sun dried right on the small property in the mountains, and hand packaged for local consumption.
When looking for cacao or raw chocolate in health food stores, it’s very important to look for fair trade and organic varieties that support small, indigenous farmers in Central/South America and the West Indies.
So why is it ok to LOVE raw chocolate? Well, first off, it tastes divine. And second, it’s good for you. The cacao bean contains a wide array of amazing nutritional properties. It is filled with antioxidants and alkalizing minerals, including high levels of magnesium and sulfur. Back in high school, I used to crave EVERYTHING chocolate uncontrollably…mostly processed chocolate (aka Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Nutella). Processed chocolate is NOT the same as good quality raw chocolate! When cacao is cooked, most of its nutritional properties are completely destroyed. Chocolate cravings often indicate a magnesium deficiency because your body is craving the magnesium from the cacao. Processed chocolate never satisfies your body because it has close to NO minerals and it’s filled with refined sugar, which is acidifying in the blood and actually leaches out minerals from our bones and tissues! Since I started consuming quality raw cacao, I haven’t yet had another “processed” chocolate craving. Really…it’s been over two years now!
A study by the Center for Health and Nutrition
Elaborates the following findings: “Analysis of the fruit powders demonstrated that the antioxidant capacity of cocoa powder was significantly greater than blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate powder on a per gram basis. The total polyphenol content of cocoa powder appeared to be greater than acai, blueberry and cranberry powder; however these differences did not reach statistical significance. The total flavanol content of cocoa powder was significantly greater than all of the other fruit powders tested.”
Not only is it high in antioxidants and minerals, cacao may also increase your focus and alertness, making it a good healthy alternative to your morning coffee. I love adding cacao to my breakfast shake. Who would have thought chocolate would be “healthy” option for breaky!
Cacao also contains plenty of nutrients that keep you happy J Chocolate is often associated to love and seduction. This is all because cacao contains phenylethylamine. Also, your brain produces a neurotransmitter called Anandamide when you’re feeling GREAT. Eating cacao makes this neurotransmitter stick around longer thus increasing your happiness. Raw cacao beans, nibs or powder can be used in a variety of ways. I like adding it in baked goods, oatmeal, shakes. and to make a cup of hot chocolate to warm up on a chilly day.
Try out my favorite morning shake that uses cacao as your wake-me-up “stimulant” instead of coffee. It’ll start you out on a positive vibe and leave you full of happy energy!
Cacao-Banana Dream Shake (aka the “Happy Shake”)
1 scoop sprouted vegan protein (or 100% natural whey protein isolate)
2 tbsp of ground flaxseed
1 tsp raw cacao powder [makes you happy]
½ medium banana [increases serotonin to give you a natural “high”]
½ cup organic almond milk (or hemp milk)
¼ tsp natural vanilla extract (optional)
Blend all ingredients while adding water and ice as needed. Serve fresh. ENJOY!
Well they have done it – matched two unlikely combination’s to make the perfect tastiest snack. Chocolate Kale Chips, can you think of a better combination? These are two foods that I tell people to eat just about everyday but why not eat them together? Not only that, their nutritional profile proves to be loaded with magnesium, calcium, iron, chlorophyll and fiber – delicious!
Blue Mountain Organics has truly proven to be a mastermind at creating to most unique blends of raw, organic snacks, treats, flours and desserts. I have had the extreme pleasure of enjoying their RAW Cashew Ice Cream (sorry no nutters, you are truly missing out). It is absolutely to die for! Words can’t even describe how good this frozen non-dairy dessert is. They also have a wide variety of unique supplements like carob powder, sunflower lecithin (soy free) along with sprouted beans and whole grains.
And of course some raw nut butter spreads from cashew, tahini, almond, pecan… you name it! They are called Better than Roasted because for a RAW nut butter they taste pretty fantastic! Their online store, packaging and marketing is very cute, friendly and inviting. If you aren’t teased into at least buying 5 items on their website, I would be shocked! (and please make sure that Chocolate Kale Chips are on that order!!)
What is also truly amazing about all of their products, (and obviously why I am such a supporter) is that they are all superfoods, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, raw, kosher and organic. I wish there was a Blue Mountain Store right here in Toronto! But for now I will have to just order online – and pick up what I can at various health food stores in Toronto.