healthy eating

Dinner & Dessert Menu for Valentine's Day

Are you looking for a fun, healthy meal to have Valentine's Day?  This would be a great dinner to have with your special love, with your family, or with a group of special friends!  Both recipes below are gluten-free, dairy-free and good for you and they are a cinch to make so you have less time in the kitchen and more time with those you care about.  

Creamy PB Protein Smoothie w/ Hemp Seeds

A seriously yummy smoothie great for getting in a decent amount of protein for breakfast or at any time of the day. This is also a great go-to for those who have chocolate or sugar cravings in the afternoon!

Creamy PB Protein Smoothie w/Hemp Seeds

Main Ingredients

1banana

3/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup gluten free oats

2 pitted medjool dates

1huge spoonful of organic peanut butter (or more if desired)

1 tbsp. raw shelled hemp seeds

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 ice cubes

topped with bee pollen (optional)

2 scoops collagen peptides (optional)

Preparation

1Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until you get a creamy consistency. Pour and then top with bee pollen if so desired.

Additional Notes

If you have a hard time finding fresh Medjool dates where you live, you could substitute with another sweetener, like honey, or use a sweeter non-dairy milk alternative, like oat milk.

Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Traditions

happy-thanksgiving-cornucopia-1.gif

Go ahead, be a rebel.  Instead of serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal, why not switch things up a bit this year?  While searching for my own replacement dishes, I thought it would be helpful to share with you all the recipes that have made my personal short list.  Consider swapping mashed white potatoes with one of the healthier sweet potato versions below or trade the green bean casserole (that nobody eats anyway) with some sauteéd sesame green beans.  A mission I’ve been on this year is to find a healthier option for cranberry salad and I think I’ve found it with the mandarin-cranberry relish by Nourished Kitchen.  It looks amazing and I can't wait to try it!  Don't feel the need to break tradition completely, though.  I mean you should probably still serve a gorgeous farm raised turkey (unless all your guests are vegetarians or vegans), but consider getting a smaller bird and pairing it with something plant-based like Acorn Squash Roasted with Walnuts and Cranberries (note: I would sub in coconut palm sugar and use olive oil instead of the butter).  There are many options available, but you should start your planning now if you’ve not done so.  A quick Google search revealed most of these awesome alternatives so check these out first and then take a few minutes to peruse yourself.  I know I’ll be serving my Red Kuri Squash Pie with Savory Crust for dessert and I encourage you to try it out, too.  For family gatherings, I use a traditional crust recipe using real butter, so if you are sensitive to wheat and/or dairy, be sure to visit some of the links I have listed as dessert options below.

Also, for those of you who don’t have time to sit and plan a menu, check out all the resources I've listed below!  Many of these dishes will be good throughout the holiday season.

Aside from the actual dishes themselves,  I wanted to give you a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning and then ultimately enjoying your Thanksgiving meal:

-Find a turkey that is farm raised and free of antibiotics or hormones.  

-Stay away from recipes that use heavy cheeses or heaven forbid, marshmallows, for toppings.

-Avoid recipes that use more than ½ cup sugar or Jell-O and if possible replace all white sugar with a substitute like coconut palm sugar, which is low glycemic, or a Lakanto sweetener, which is derived from the monk fruit. 

-Opt for foods with color over foods that are white (white mashed potatoes, white bread, white pasta, etc.)

-Use healthy grains like quinoa, millet or amaranth as a salad or roasted squash topping.

-Twenty minutes before the main meal, drink some water to help boost metabolism and to help prevent overeating.  It's also best to drink your water before your meal as opposed to with your meal so that you don't disrupt stomach acid pH.

-Drizzle your salad with an organic, cold-pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper instead of the more mainstream store bought dressings that often contain artificial flavorings and added sugar.

-I mentioned this above, but be mindful of color!  Get a broad spectrum of phytonutrients into your body just by eating lots and lots of colorful fruits and veggies.

-Fill half your plate with plant based foods.

-You don’t need to eat the whole bird.  Keep your meat portion in check by sizing it up against the palm of your hand, which is roughly six ounces.

-Don't forget to chew your food.  Give digestion a head start by putting your fork down between bites, enjoy your delicious food and your lovely guests and chew...and then chew some more ;)

-You don’t need stuffing AND a slice of bread.  Swap your stuffing for a wholesome grain and ditch the bread...especially if you plan on eating dessert.

-EAT DESSERT.  Don’t make yourself miserable by watching everyone else eat their pumpkin pie while you sulk in the corner taking a bite here and there off everyone’s plate.  Just be mindful and remember that it’s not dessert at Thanksgiving that determines a healthy lifestyle, it’s what you do every other day that does.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Bread Stuffing w/Apples from FOOD52
Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Bread Stuffing w/Apples from FOOD52
Mandarin & Cranberry Relish from Nourished Kitchen

Mandarin & Cranberry Relish from Nourished Kitchen

Polenta Crostini w/ Butternut Squash, Polenta & Sage from Edible Perspective
Polenta Crostini w/ Butternut Squash, Polenta & Sage from Edible Perspective
Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust
Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

Traveling? Eat Out Guilt Free!

I want to share with you my anytime top tips for surviving restaurant pit stops and getaways so that you can feel your best!  So many of us have dietary restrictions on some level so thinking about the following suggestions will help you feel prepared and in charge of your diet while traveling.  If you have a suggestion that's not listed, please add it for others in the comments below!  

Tip #1: Plan ahead - Research your route and the towns/cities in which you are traveling through and make note of healthy options such as restaurants, natural health food stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.  You can easily pick up a lunch or dinner at one of the stores I mentioned instead of relying on a restaurant.  I’ve even found cafe´s and locally owned coffee shops to carry gluten-free, sugar-free, whole-foods options, but I needed to call ahead or go online to do the research first as it is not always apparent from a roadside sign. 

Tip #2: Call ahead - If you are staying at a hotel that has an inclusive restaurant, call the concierge desk to make sure they give the staff a heads up that you are staying with them and that you have dietary restrictions.  If a menu is not posted online, ask about your specific concerns.  Most restaurants are used to accommodating food allergies and sensitivities so don’t think you’re asking them something they haven’t been asked before. 

Tip #3: Ask to Read Labels - As I stated before, restaurants are becoming more and more accommodating to food allergies, so they are sensitive to those requesting certain food preferences.  Having said that, don’t be afraid to ask them to bring a label out to you so you can read the ingredients in something you are about to order.  I do this ALL the time because my son has reactions to artificial food coloring, additives and preservatives.  Also, most restaurant foods will contain hidden sugars, MSGs, processed soy and hidden wheat so it’s worth a few minutes of questioning.

Tip #4: Avoid Trans Fats - 

  • Ask that your meat and/or vegetables be cooked in butter or olive oil to avoid highly inflammatory and often trans fat based vegetable or canola oils.  If you have a dairy sensitivity, ask for olive oil preparation.
  • Sub out fried sides (french fries) with steamed vegetables or rice side dishes as a healthier alternative. 

Tip #5: Pack your own sweetener - Carry your sweetener with you or ask for honey.  I will carry a few packets of Stevia in my bag so I don’t have to even consider using the white sugar or even the raw sugars at most establishments.  And don’t even think about grabbing an artificial sweetener.  Opt for the real raw or white sugar instead if you’re not prepared with your own.  

Tip #6: Scrutinize your "healthy" salad - Ask for olive oil and vinegar and pass on the in-house made dressings, unless you ask for a list of ingredients.  This is a great place to avoid sugars and extra calories. Also, ask them to hold the croutons and extra cheese on top.  You can ask them if they can sub in some walnuts or almonds instead.

Tip #7: Hold the Bread - Many restaurants are holding their bread baskets now unless otherwise requested.  You can also let them know upon being seated that you would like your bread basket to be held.  This is crucial if you have a gluten intolerance on any level as your body will start the inflammation process and you will probably end your meal feeling bloated and uncomfortable.

Tip #8: Know your meat - Only order meat that is organic and/or grass-fed to avoid feed-lot quality meat, which has been pumped full of hormones, additives, and toxins.  If you don’t have any options there, then order fish, as long as its not farmed salmon, which are loaded with antibiotics, corn and soy products and other toxic chemicals.  

Tip #9: Water is key - Drink a glass of water BEFORE you head out to the restaurant (or about 20 minutes before eating) and then limit water consumption during your meal.  I know this sounds counter intuitive, but many people are not digesting their foods properly and an overload of water to the stomach while eating will raise the pH of its acids and not allow it to do its job as effectively had the acids not been diluted.  This will also curb your appetite and keep you from overindulging.

Tip 10: Take a digestive enzyme -  I like Digestive Enzymes Ultra by Pure Encapsulation.  You will see this enzyme listed under the supplements category on my Amazon storefront. This enzyme will help you break down and digest your food more easily,  which is very helpful while eating at any restaurant to help you avoid gas, bloating and other digestive upset from either eating too much or from eating some funky ingredients that you weren’t counting on.  Like my packets of Stevia, I carry this with me at all times to avoid feeling uncomfortable. 

Have you already tried some of these ideas?  How have they worked for you?  

 

 

Your Morning Cup of Joe +5 Healthy Coffee Swaps

If you are one of the average Americans drinking 3.5 cups of caffeinated coffee a day, I’m pretty sure you’re going to tell me that you need your coffee, you can’t live without it and you feel awful if you don’t get it.  If you are one to say that you think coffee is “drug in a mug,” you probably have reason to believe through reading or through personal experience that you and coffee (or more accurately the caffeine) don’t mix.  

I get the question, “Is coffee bad for me?” all the time and to be honest I don’t have a straightforward answer because the reaction of caffeine in a person’s body is very bio-individual.  Personally, I am sensitive to caffeine and cannot drink coffee everyday because I have a hard time metabolizing it.  This is a very genetic tolerance. Some people can metabolize caffeine better than others based on the production of certain enzymes in the liver.  Therefore, I often resort to green teas or some of the other options on my list below.

However, most of the population can handle about two cups of coffee (caffeine) per day and then a smaller percentage of the population can drink coffee right before going to bed and still get a restful nights sleep. Again, this happens because we all metabolize caffeine differently from one another.  However, just because someone can metabolize caffeine doesn’t necessarily mean that they can tolerate caffeine.  Caffeine tolerance is basically how your body will respond to caffeine over a long period of time and there’s a lot of research backing both ends of the spectrum here.  

Yes, coffee in and of itself is a superfood.  It’s packed with phytonutrients and there are some health benefits associated with moderate consumption, like increased stamina during exercise, increased memory, reduced kidney stone risk, and reduced mouth and throat cancer risk, just to name a few.  

So based on this it sounds like we should be drinking coffee all day every day, right?  Not so fast.  There is something else going on in the body with two little tent shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney.  These are your adrenal glands and they are receiving the full brunt of your coffee habit in not so great a way.  Their job?  To release hormones so that we can decipher between the fight-or-flight response when we’re confronted with stress. The caffeine keeps the adrenal glands constantly “on alert” and overtime this can lead to exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.  Caffeine consumption also has a negative influence on cortisol.  It will throw the balance of cortisol that we have in our body all out of whack.  Naturally, cortisol levels are high in the morning to help us get moving to start the day, but people who have stressed adrenal glands are over producing cortisol so that it’s low instead of high in the morning.  What happens next?  You reach for your caffeine and an unhealthy cycle continues.  High cortisol levels will also cause you to overeat and deprive you of a good night’s sleep.

Some other negative side effects associated with the overuse of caffeine include headaches and migraines (even though the reverse of this is believed to be true), poor fertility in women, indigestion and insomnia (among others).  Coffee will also prevent some from getting their necessary water intake for the day and will create a very acidic environment inside us, which is never good for those of us wishing to have a hearty immune system.

If you are looking to reduce your caffeine consumption, my advice would be to drink two glasses of water in the morning before having your coffee.  This will help to jump start and flush out your system so that over time coffee may not be the first thing it needs.  

Check out these awesome healthy coffee swaps:

  1. Matcha Green Tea - I can’t get enough of this stuff. Matcha tea trumps other green teas because you are ingesting the entire leaf as opposed to just the brewed water.  It’s filled with nutrients and high in antioxidants and it tastes great!

  2. Warm Lemon Water - I’ve talked about this before and I know it doesn’t resemble or taste anything like coffee, but give it a try!  It will gently detox your liver and leave you feeling refreshed.

  3. Drink Local Coffee - If you think I’m crazy for even suggesting you bring it down a notch, then don’t!  But do yourself the favor of finding a local coffee roaster.  Chances are it will taste much fresher and the chances of it containing mycotoxins (mold) are slim.

  4. Herbal Coffee - Mountain Rose Herbs (.com) sells an herbal blend of organic roasted dandelion root, chicory root, roasted carob and maca powder.  It has a rich and bold roasted flavor and is caffeine-free.

  5. Vanilla “Latte” - Dr. Lipman says, “If you want something warm and comforting in the morning, you can heat up a mug of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (on the stove or in the microwave) with a dash of cinnamon and stevia to taste. It’s delicious! You could also add a teaspoon of cacao powder for a chocolate-y treat.”  

These alternatives also do well for those experiencing afternoon dips.  Instead of drinking a cold cup of coffee or brewing a new one, try one of these options first!  I think you will be surprised by how much your body likes them.  Good luck!

Until next time, Be Well.


 

Resources:

pubmed.gov

caffeineinformer.com

drjessechappus.com

livestrong.com

drfranklipman.com

 

Game Day Crockpot Chili

The last thing I want to do Super Bowl Sunday is stand in the kitchen and cook and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way even if you aren’t watching football!  I want to share with you my go-to crockpot chili recipe that you will love so much you won’t even care who wins!  Okay, that last part may not be true (wink), but I can guarantee that you will be celebrating come food time when all you have to do is scoop out some hot, spicy goodness to your family and friends.  If you’re hosting, you may want to double the recipe.  If you’re a guest, you may want to make it in a travel crockpot.  Either way, it’s a winner! I started tinkering with this recipe about the time I first met my husband.  Before we had our son, weekends were filled with football games and I wanted an easy go-to recipe that I didn’t have to think about and that turned out great every time.  Check out the recipe below along with a few healthful notes along the way:

IMG_7482

Game Day Crockpot Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3-4 hours

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • large white cooking onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
  • 1 lb. local grass fed beef
  • 2- 16 oz. cans chili beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1- 16 oz. can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1- 16 oz. can Bush’s Chili Beans with Mild Sauce (optional)
  • 1 quart size jar canned tomatoes or 2- 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • 2- 10 oz. cans of tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp Homemade Taco/Chili Seasoning  (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet on the stove.  When the oil has warmed, add the diced onion and the diced garlic.  Cook until fragrant and starting to turn translucent.
  2. Add beef and break apart with a wooden spoon, mixing together with onion and garlic.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add basil and oregano and stir frequently until meat is browned through.
  5. Transfer meat mixture to crockpot.
  6. Turn crockpot on HIGH.
  7. Add all remaining ingredients.  Make sure to drain and rinse the unseasoned chili beans and the kidney beans.  If adding the Bush’s Chili Beans with sauce, do not drain this can.
  8. Mix everything together and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 7-8 hours, stirring frequently throughout cooking time.
  9. Serve over brown rice and top with raw cheddar cheese.

Notes:

  • When I am making this for regular family dinner I will double the recipe and freeze half of it in ziploc bags to use on a busy night in the future.
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice.  Brown rice promotes good digestion, balances blood sugar and helps to control mood swings whereas white rice does the opposite.
  • I soak my rice overnight to increase its digestibility.  This also helps speed up cooking time.
  • If you are in a time crunch, the organic frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s is a great alternative since its already cooked and literally takes minutes to warm up.
  • If you are skipping dairy, nutritional yeast is delicious sprinkled on top.

Getting ready to add the chili beans to the meat mixture.

Adding some homemade canned tomatoes to the mixture!  No worries if you don't have canned, just replace with two 16 oz. store bought cans of tomatoes.  ;)

I love this taco and chili seasoning!  YUM!

Homemade Taco and Chili Seasoning

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix everything in a bowl and then store in an airtight container.

Notes:

  • Use 1.5 tbsp. of seasoning for every 1 pound of meat.  Taste and then add more if needed.
  • If younger children will be eating food with this seasoning make mixture using 3 tbsp. chili powder instead of 4 tbsp.
  • I have given this mixture in a cute glass jar with a twine ribbon as a hostess gift before instead of the traditional bottle of wine.
  • To save time, triple this recipe before storing.  It will stay fresh for about a year in an airtight container.

My family loves this chili with a huge platter of fresh, raw veggies that we munch on throughout the entire game.  So whether you’re watching the game for the win, the commercials or the halftime show, everyone will agree that a bowl full of chili in the belly makes it a win-win for everyone!  Enjoy!

Until next time, Be Well.

My Juicy Morning Routine, How I Got My Three Year Old to Chug Green Juice + Helpful Juicing Tips/Recipes!

juice title

Everyone is talking about juicing these days and social media has everyone convinced that it’s the healthiest thing for your body.  Cue insanity: “You aren’t juicing??!! Why not? What’s wrong with you?  Don’t you care about your health?  Didn’t you hear it can prevent cancer?!! Well, my two year old is already drinking straight up juiced kale...yada yada yada,” and if you aren’t doing it, then you must (obviously) be crazy, right?  Not exactly.  As a health coach, I know that many people can definitely benefit from getting some healthy green juice into their diet, but if you aren’t doing it properly you may be giving your body a well-intentioned sugar fest or depriving it of other much needed nutrition.  I honestly would only recommend regular juicing to someone who already has an otherwise healthy diet who can afford to skip the whole fruit or vegetable.  If you have a diet high in processed foods, get your veggie intake from your tomato off your sandwich at lunch or are lacking fiber in your diet, start with smoothies.  I drink as many smoothies as I do fresh juice because I need the protein, fat and fiber in my diet just as much as I need the phytonutrients blazing right into my bloodstream.  Having said that, let’s take a look at my juicy morning routine…

  1. Set up juicer - complete with compost bag (more on that later)
  2. Grab produce bag out of refrigerator (more on that later, too)
  3. Rinse produce
  4. Juice into a large pyrex bowl with a spout (forget that tiny little cup it comes with...I don’t even know where mine is!)
  5. Pour into glass(es) that which I am drinking right away or into mason jars for later
  6. Sip juice to make sure it’s what I want
  7. Take apart juicer - pull out compost bag and set aside - rinse all other juice machine parts with water - I do this even before I drink my juice because no one wants to clean cement like dried juice off of anything.
  8. Enjoy masterpiece :)
  9. Hand wash or put juicer parts in dishwasher (minus the part that was lined with the compost bag!

It’s a tried and true routine and usually takes about 20 minutes start to finish.  However, if you are wanting to be a serious juicer, I have another tip...do not buy this type of juicer.

monkey juicing

No, I’m only kidding.  This juicer is perfect for beginners  who are unsure if they will stick with the practice long term.  Years ago when I mentioned to my mom and dad that I wanted to start juicing they bought me this very reasonably priced air whipper machine.  It was great and it is great and I’m thankful for it, BUT don’t buy it if you consider yourself a serious juicer (I will fill you in on the one I’m saving up for in just a sec).  And just to prove that I am thankful for it, I’m going to complement it before I bash it.  1) My son can pretty much use it on his own...awesome! 2) It’s freakishly fast, which is great for the busy full time mom, IIN Health Coach student, LLC starter person or just about anyone else I know. 3) Its parts go in the dishwasher. 4) The juice it produces really does taste amazeballs. 5) It’s really affordable.

Ok, now for the ugly...1) It’s basically a helicopter trying to take off.  I seriously have to weigh the thing down so it doesn’t go airborne.  2) Again, it’s basically a helicopter trying to take off so my son has to cover his ears if he is standing in the kitchen next to it.  3)  I have to take a shower after I use it (only kidding a little bit). 4) The helicopter effect sends so much air into the juice that it immediately begins to oxidize causing a depletion in nutrient availability.  5) It uses more produce than a slower masticating or twin gear juicer, which equals more $ per juice fest, which equals no good.  This is a standard centrifugal juicer and many people use them and like them, but at some point in the near future I need to upgrade.  To what??  I’m glad you asked.

The masticating juicers extract liquid at a lower speed and creates less friction therefore less heat is coming into contact with your veggies.  This helps to protect the vital nutrients in your juice.  It’s not as messy, it’s quieter and it’s definitely more effective at juicing produce so you get more for your hard earned $.  It is however, way more expensive.  Most models start at around $300 and can easily double or triple that.  My $50 helicopter machine isn’t looking so shabby now...BUT a really high quality juice is important to me.  I need to do a bit more research before settling on one, but these are my front runners so far:

1. The Juicepresso Cold Press Juicer 

2. The Breville Fountain Crush Masticating Juicer

3. The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer

Like I said, more research is needed before I dive head first, but my mom has the Omega and I love juicing with it because so much of the juice is extracted, leaving very little waste.  Ok, enough dreaming about juicers.

So there was a system to my madness when I decided to introduce my son to green juices.  The first thing I did was to NOT introduce him to green juices.  Tricky, eh?  Now there might be a kid here and there who takes one good look at a dark green glass of kale and gulps it (hence the earlier comment), but I don’t know where they are.  Not in my house at least.  So if you want to give it a try with your kiddos, by all means see if this approach makes sense to you and your little monkey(s).  This was my approach…

Step #1:  Introduce baby boy to lots of veggies in many colors, with many textures, during all meals...avocados for breakfast, anyone?  Exactly.  So many of you out there are modeling great behaviors for your kiddos so give them the avocado, too, or give them peas for breakfast!  Whatever, just get them used to seeing GREEN food in the morning so the transition to a GREEN drink is no big deal.

Step #2:  Dive into the smoothie obsession head first.  My son was about two and a half before he would drink his first smoothie and then that’s all he wanted. But prior to that I didn’t push it at all.  If I had a smoothie, I offered him a sip.  If he took it - great (!), but if not, so what?  He’s a little person with a great diet and I knew sooner or later he would like them.  We started with mangos and berries, banana and orange juice.  Very sweet, very high in natural sugar, very pretty - perfect for a transition drink.  [*Note* that I would never recommend this combo to you (wink, wink).  This puts you way too high on the glycemic index!]  Slowly, I started replacing the orange juice with water or nut milk, decreased the fruit ratios and adding subtle veggies like cucumber and started incorporating herbs, like mint.  I would throw in small spoonfuls (so as not to change the color too much - like most kids, he’s very visual) of a greens powder just to give him a bit of an extra nutritional boost.

Step #3:  Juice a pineapple.  Fresh pineapple juice won him over big time.  So using that as my base, I started to incorporate other subtle flavors.  We went from plain pineapple...

to pineapple and green apple…

to pineapple, green apple and half a cucumber…

to pineapple, half a green apple, half a cucumber and one leaf of kale…

monkey juice   IMG_7442

That’s where we stand today.  My next move will be to decrease the pineapple and add more kale or spinach.  He’s three and a half and juicing is already part of his normal routine and vocabulary.  If you’re an adult starting out, try some of these tactics to ease yourself into it.  My other suggestion for newbies is a plain carrot and apple mix or straight up cucumbers.  Try it!

Some other suggestions to keep in mind for juicers of all ages:

  1. Keep the fruit limited.  A good rule of thumb is to juice 3 veggies to 1 fruit.  This will help keep sugar intake in check.
  2. When you are doing your food prep for the week (Sunday afternoon?) include a ziploc bag just for your juicing produce.  I portion my produce out and give it a good rough chop down to the size I need it to fit down the chute of my juicer.  I rinse right before juicing.
  3. Putting a cucumber in the mix will balance out a stronger “green” taste and will increase your overall volume.
  4. Peel your citrus fruits before you juice.
  5. Use lemons!!  This will take the bitterness out of the juices that taste a bit like grass and get them tasting like you could drink them all day long!  If I don’t have a lemon on hand, I will use one drop lemon essential oil or one drop lemongrass essential oil as a replacement.
  6. Save your broccoli stems and parsley stems to juice.
  7. This is personal preference, but I need to drink mine with an ice cube.
  8. Place a plastic bag (this is what I called a compost bag earlier)  in the pulp collector to make cleaning up easier and faster.  Then dump the waste with all the pulp into your compost bin so you can reap the benefits later!
  9. Once you’re comfortable with the more basic vegetables, move towards including more medicinal plants like chard, fennel, beet greens, cilantro, garlic, parsley & ginger.
  10. Bananas and avocados are for smoothies, not for juicing. ;)
  11. Provide your body with variety!  Change up spinach and kale and other greens frequently so that you can safely steer clear of excess oxalic acid.  Spinach is really high in oxalic acid compared to kale so ingesting juiced spinach daily over a long period of time can actually become damaging.  The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse will advise patients with kidney stones to decrease their consumption of foods containing high levels of oxalic acid to reduce the further likelihood of developing more kidney stones and this goes for good preventative advice, too.
  12. Drink and store juice in glass.  Mason jars are the best.
  13. If you’re using a slow masticating juicer you can store your juice for about 24 hrs.  Just make sure you’re storing the juice in a glass jar filled to the brim.  Your goal is to prevent oxygen from getting in and robbing you of the juice’s full benefits.
  14. Drink juice on an empty stomach so the vitamins and minerals go straight into your bloodstream.  Wait about two hours after a meal to juice or about twenty minutes before a meal for best absorption.
  15. A juice shouldn’t be your breakfast.  If you are doing a juice cleanse or trying to lose weight this advice can bend a bit, but I don’t recommend doing it without the guidance from a health coach, nutritionist or ND.  I like to follow my juice up (about twenty minutes later, which is about how long it takes me to clean my juicer, put up produce and get my breakfast ready) with something that contains healthy fat, protein, and/or healthy carbs.  I love mashed avocado on sprouted bread sprinkled with celtic sea salt or steel cut oats topped with local honey and berries.
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One other note on doing a juice cleanse...it can do more harm than good if not done with proper guidance.  The American Journal of Medicine has documented cases of patients having adverse effects to a 6 week juice cleanse, which is way way too long in my opinion so don’t even go there.  Most recommended juice cleanses are for 3-5 days, just long enough to give your digestive system a clean and a rest.  So juice, but be smart...your digestive system is designed to do hard work.

Are you ready for some of my favorite recipes?!  Here you go and don’t forget to share!

lovely lycopene

Detox

beginner's special

Bright eyes juice

I hope you are now super pumped to get juicy, ready to make some adjustments to your juicing routine or feeling inspired to try some new recipes.  Most of all, have fun with it.  There’s not a juicer out there that likes sitting on the counter for months at a time so find one that works for you and get juicing!

Until next time, Be Well.

Health Coaching Kick-Off - Free Wellness Consultations!

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So if you’ve been following either my blog/Facebook page/Instagram page you know I’ve been going to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to get certified as a holistic health coach in order to help people approach health in a whole new way.  I’m happy to say that I am now offering free wellness consultations to anyone, anywhere in the United States.  Before you jump on board, let me answer some of your questions… So what is a health coach anyway?

In a nutshell, health coaches are knowledgeable advisors who provide ongoing support and guidance as we set goals to make long-lasting sustainable changes to improve your health and happiness.  I will guide you to make sense of the overwhelming nutritional advice out there and provide you with information to determine what dietary and lifestyle changes are necessary for you.  You get a very individualized program based on your needs and goals so that you can make powerful changes to become a more balanced you.

What is a free wellness consultation?

I’m offering a free wellness consultation to anyone who is serious about getting their health and life back on track.  We will review your past and current health situations, your lifestyle, primary areas of concern and goals specifically related to your needs.  I have a series of questions that we will address together either in person, through Skype or over the phone regarding your health and then you will have the opportunity to share with me any other information you feel is relevant.  Wellness consultations are typically 45-50 minutes long.

What’s in it for me?

You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your life, your health and what you’d like to accomplish.  It’s an opportunity to be heard and to get a sense of what it feels like to have more support in your life - for YOU.  You’ll also learn how to reach those goals by working with me in my health coaching program.

What type of people use health coaches?

More and more people are using health coaches to reach optimal health.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil in his magazine titled Self-Healing:  “When athletes want a competitive edge, they hire a private coach to monitor their

progress. When it comes to your health, using this mindset could also be beneficial.

Health coaches are increasingly being hired by corporations to help employees stay

healthy and by individuals seeking to improve well-being. For some, these coaches

offer assistance in managing dietary constraints (due to conditions such as celiac

disease or diabetes), and for others, they might focus on teaching stress-reduction

methods. In some ways, the health coach picks up where your physician left off,

helping you implement wellness strategies suggested after a check-up or diagnosis.”

Basically, I’m here to fill the gap for you and to provide you with support and information to reach bigger and better.  Whether you’re looking to balance out your life, stop sugar cravings, find guidance to achieve your doctor’s recommendations, fight migraines, raise healthier kids, learn more about preventative medicine or anything else in between, a health coach is for you.  I’m for you!

I invite you to schedule your first initial wellness consultation by emailing me, Stephanie, at thewellsideoflife@gmail.com.  You could also head on over to my facebook page and message me there, too.  Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time, Be Well.

Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

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Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

The beautiful red kuri.

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The red kuri purée mixed with the coconut cream.

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The completed pie before baking.

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An absolutely delicious way to eat your squash!

I recently had a squash roasting party in my house and I knew right away that the red kuri had more in its future than just a weeknight side dish.  This squash is so vibrant and meaty - perfect for a pie.  Roasting a squash is not hard.  As you can see, I cut mine in half, seed them and place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  I add a bit of water to each pan to help in the steaming process and then I put them in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees.  When finally cooled, I scoop the insides into a food processor where I add water and blend until a thick, but smooth consistency forms.  Set aside or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the pie filling.

Directions for Savory Pie Crust:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose organic flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 cup ice cold water

  1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add in the butter, and pulse a few times until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and water in a container (remove all ice pieces). While the processor is running, pour the water/egg mixture in and pulse until mixture just comes together.
  2. Pour mixture out onto a floured board and knead a few times to bring all the ingredients together.  Roll dough out so that it’s about ¼ inch thick or so that the circumference is about two inches larger than your pie dish and place in pie dish, pinching edges together at the top.  Pierce the dough at the bottom of the dish a few times with fork to let steam escape.

Tip: Dough can be rolled out immediately, or it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Directions for filling:

2 cups of red kuri squash purée (or pumpkin)

1 can of coconut cream

2 eggs

½ cup Lakanto sweetener (or sugar)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp. Himalayan salt

  1. Whisk ingredients together and pour into prepared pie crust.

Bake in oven at 325 degrees for at least one hour or until middle is set (a fork or toothpick should come out clean).  Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting as the pie will continue to set as it cools.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Getting creative with your veggies?  I'd love to hear about it!

Until next time, Be Well.

Spicy Salsa Verde

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Tomatillos are such a fun plant.  They are easy to grow, easy to pick, fun to husk, beautiful to look at and they make a great salsa.  We picked a good share at the farm Saturday morning and made fresh salsa verde that afternoon.

Here is a picture of them on the plant and after being husked:

tomatillo Collage

 

I couldn't find the recipe I used last year to make salsa verde so I threw something basic together with food I had on hand.  

Ingredient List

Roughly 4 cups tomatillos

2 jalapeños 

4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)

1 large onion (quartered and unpeeled)

Roughly 1/2 cup cilantro

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

1. Husk and rinse tomatillos and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet along with the jalapeños, unpeeled garlic cloves and unpeeled onion.  Place the baking sheet on the top rack of your oven and broil on high (about 500 degrees) for about 15 minutes.  Turn sheet and flip ingredients once through the broiling cycle so that everything is cooked and charred evenly. 

Here is a before and after picture.  You can see some seeds in the second shot because the tomatillos will burst and sizzle under the heat.  As you can see, you don't want to char them heavily.  Just enough to give them a roasted flavor.

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2. After the items on the baking sheet have cooled, peel the garlic, onion and jalapeños and place them along with all the tomatillos into a food processor.  You do not have to do anything to the tomatillos.  Just place them in your processor as is.  If you have never roasted a jalapeño, the darkened skin should just peel off.  You may have to work a little at the rest of the skin that was not directly charred, but try to get as much off as you can.

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Add the cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to the food processor as well.

3.  Blend!  Add more olive oil as necessary to gain the consistency you desire.  *A note of caution here!  In my humble opinion of all things spicy, this definitely has a kick.  It's tasty, but if you don't want something that hot then just add one jalapeño (and make sure you remove ALL the seeds).  However, if you're a crazy person and think I'm a total wimp for barely handling two jalapeños, then I dare you to add some crushed chili pepper flakes to the mix!

There you go!

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We enjoyed this yummy garden creation with some organic tortilla chips, tomatoes and avocados.  It made for a spicy, light and delicious Saturday night!  Enjoy!

Until next time, Be Well.