vegan

Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Traditions

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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

Homemade Dried Italian Herb Mix

I know a lot of people who successfully grow herb gardens all summer long, but how about harnessing all of that homegrown goodness for use during the winter months?  In my most recent YouTube video I take you step by step through the process of harvesting, drying and storing your own dried Italian herb mix from your homegrown herbs. 

I also wanted to make it easy for you to gather supplies for making your own so I've linked some resources from Amazon for you below:

Would you like to see a specific health & wellness demo on video?  Let me know below in the comments!  Until next time, Be Well.

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

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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.