It's cabinetry installation day at my #foodstudio - my heart is pounding http://t.co/TiXQLYT0df
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.
I am continuously on the look out for great products that I want to support and promote – especially when it comes to chocolate. Mark and Bridgette have been at it for the last few years and have brought their love for chocolate to life.
They have masterfully created a line of raw chocolate bars that are made with Love and Gratitude, 70% plus pure cacao paste, chocolate, pure cane sugar and crafted essence extracts for each bar. Whether mocha, mint, ginger, orange, spice or just plain delicious original.
Why Giddy Chocolate?
As you know, I am not one for packaged products, but there are a few that I endorse and think are a great addition to a balanced lifestyle. Especially when it comes to chocolate. Since most commercial chocolate bars are just not an option (being loaded with sugar, dairy and containing cocoa that is devoid of any nutrition), why not get your hands on some pure giddy love. Carry them around in your purse or car (though not on a hot summer day). Keep them in your freezer, bring them to a movie, share with a friend – or mix into recipes.
I like to crumble my mint giddy yoyo bar on top of some Coconut Bliss ice cream for a chocolate – minty dessert. I have also crumbled down the original and ginger to top on some strawberries for a refreshing and tasty dessert. Your options are limitless.
The giddy yoyo chocolate is from the most pristine and exotic lands. They way the cacao processed is minimally invasive keeping the cacao as intact and as pure as possible. There is no side effects or strong caffeine-like reactions from consuming giddy yoyo, just pure enjoyment. To find out more see here.
The cacao bean is one of nature’s highest sources of magnesium and antioxidants, it is also high in iron, vitamin C, zinc, manganese, chromium, copper and fiber. Kind of like a multi-vitamin? It is also beneficial to your cardiovascular system, prevents against cancer, can balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol and makes you happy as cacao contains trytophan which is key for mood-enhancing and overall feeling good!
Now that you know why chocolate is so good for you, I want you to have the chance to try one of these amazing bars. I only have a few bars to give away, so please tell me why you are worthy of a giddy yoyo bar.
What you need to do to win is:
Comment below – tell me why you love chocolate or why you want to try some giddy yoyo.
Who ever shows the most activity and the most love – will win one of the 6 bars that I have to give away.
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.
I know you have heard of seaweed, also known as sea vegetables, and I know you have eaten them a number of times (whether you realize it or not) -but before you turn up your face and look the other way, let me tell you how amazing they are and what they can do for your health!
When I refer to sea veggies it is anything that, yes, grows in the sea and this includes nori (what your sushi is wrapped in), wakame (what is in your miso soup), arame (often in your seaweed salad), dulse, kombu, kelp, hijiki and the list goes on. The list even carries over to varieties of seaweeds that are in hidden forms of commercial foods such as ice cream, baked goods, jelly, salad dressings, chocolate milk and toothpaste. This is what I mean when I said you’ve eaten them many times before – and you didn’t even know it.
These little wonders, because they are grown in the deep depths of the sea, carry with them the highest doses of vitamins and minerals. All of which are essential to human health and daily nutritional balance. Sea vegetables are singularly the most nutrient dense food, as they are earth’s first vegetables and the best part is, is that they are delicious! Sea greens are a direct manifestation of their environment and therefore contain and abundance of minerals that is 7-38% of their dry weight. In such small amounts, seaweed contains more vitamins and minerals than any class of food. It supplies all the minerals needed for human health in proportions very similar to those found in human blood. The most significant elements that can be found in sea greens are calcium, iodine, phosphorous, sodium,and iron. Sea veggies are also extremely rich in protein, vitamin A, B, C and E.
The health benefits of sea vegetables is so vast and incredible. They do everything from reducing blood cholesterol, removing metallic and radioactive elements from the body, and prevent goiter. So if you are suffering with a thyroid problem, like so many women these days, then sea veggies are for you! Seaweed also has antibiotic properties, counteracts obesity, strengthens bones, teeth, nerve transmission and digestion. Seaweed is also an incredible beauty aid as they help to maintain glowing healthy skin and contain anti aging properties. To me, this sounds like the perfect food!
So how do you use sea veggies?
The garden of sea veggies is extremely versatile and they can be used in a number of recipes and incorporated into numerous styles of cuisine and compliment or accent many dishes from soups, salads and desserts. To explore this world of sea veggies and roll your own sushi, I encourage you to join me next Thursday October 8th at my Scrumptious Sea Vegetable class!
If you have ever used or tried sea veggies, share your story. Leave a comment and let us all know what you have done with Sea Greens!
I love knowing that I can make “chips” from one of natures healthiest vegetables in my own kitchen. Kale chips have become a new craze in the Raw Food and Health world over the last couple of years. They serve a very important and satisfying purpose. They fulfill that salty, crispy, crunch that most people often crave every once in a while. Since these “chips” are full of delicious and healthy whole food ingredients, it makes them just that much better!
It doesn’t really take much to put them together. You don’t necessarily need a dehydrator, which is what is commonly used in most “raw” food recipes. So if you don’t have one, the good news is that you can just use your home oven (on a low temperature of course!). But if you have already gone the length and purchased a wonderful Excalibur dehydrator, then you may as well make your kale chips in there - as a dehydrator will preserve all the nutrients and enzymes and ensure they don’t get “overcooked”, especially if they are only done at 115 F. If the oven is your only option, then you will need to keep an extra eye on them so that they don’t burn or shrivel up and disappear on you. Kale is a very tender green leafy vegetable that carries with it so many amazing nutrients.
Kale truly is a superfood. Kale contains powerful minerals and vitamins that strengthen your bones, protect your eyes, cleanse your blood, prevent colon cancer and makes your skin glow (now who doesn’t want that!). This all because Kale is an exceptional source of chlorophyll, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A and C.
So the next time you are perusing through the produce section, or at your local farmer’s market or in my backyard…then grab a bunch of kale and experiment with it at home. Making kale chips is one way and a great way. But also marinating it in a salad or steaming it with some olive oil are other delicious ways as well!
If kale you want to get more familiar with kale in the kitchen, then you may want to check out my Green Goddess Cooking Class next Wednesday!
Zesty Kale Krisps
1 bunch of kale, washed and torn
1/4 cup tahini
2-3 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic
1 juice of half a lemon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (can add more for a “cheesier” flavour!)
Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth to get a thick consistency. You may have to add more water. Pour over kale and mix thoroughly with your hands to coat the kale. You want this mixture to be really glued onto the kale.
Place kale onto a Teflex sheet, and dehydrate for 4 hours @ 115 degrees. You’ll need to use two trays. Rotate kale occasionally to dry uniformly.
Place on parchment paper on a sheet tray, and bake on a low temperature for about 30 minutes. Keep and eye on them and turn them often to make sure they dry evenly.
You can use any variety of Kale for this recipe, however curly kale tends to taste and turn out the best!