recipe

HEALTH HACK | HOLIDAY MOCKTAILS

What comes to mind when you think of the holidays? Food, family, love, DRINKS. The last subject is almost it's own food group as the holidays are never complete without a bevy of festive beverages. Now, there are plenty of alcoholic cocktails on the web for the merry drinkers that like to get a buzz on, but where does that leave the more health conscious folk who also like a good toast? Worry not, there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks that are perfect for the holidays! Try one of these 5 mocktails for your next holiday toast: 

1. Grinch Punch. See recipe here.

2. Candy Cane Sparkler. See recipe here.

3. Apple Cider Fake-tini.See recipe here.

4. Sparkling Pomegranate-Chai Mocktail. See recipe here.

5. Sleigh Driver. See recipe here.
 

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HEALTH HACK | SLOW COOK FOR ME

Want an easy, low-maintainence meal full of bold flavors and a warm sense of comfort? Time to bust out your handy-dandy slow cooker! The slow cooker is the perfect versatile instrument to concoct hearty, fall-inspired meals without devoting long hours in the kitchen. You only need to pop the ingredients in the pot, forget about it, and then reap the fruits of your (minimal) labor after you've enjoyed your day. Cook in big quantities and you can meal-prep for the week or effectively serve big dinner parties (where you will be lauded for your cooking prowess). Either way, you will relish in the victory of a delicious, healthy meal with almost no effort. Check out these 5 scrumptious fall recipes to try with your slow cooker:


1. Slow Cooker Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Kale Stew. See recipe here.

2.Cider Pork Stew. See recipe here

3. Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken. See recipe here

4. Vegan Lentil Chili. See recipe here.

5. Slow Cooker Minestrone. See recipe here

HEALTH HACK | DIET WITH PIZZA-ZZ

Eating healthy means you are cutting calories and maximizing nutrition--It does not mean you are cutting out one of life's savory and comforting staples: pizza! All diets should include pizza and we have discovered some of the tastiest and healthier pizza recipes to please your palette. Next time you crave a cheesy slice, try one of these 5 recipes that won't leave you feeling guilty for cheating your diet (talk about a personal victory): 

1. Margherita Pizza. See recipe here.

2. Turkey Pizza. See recipe here.

3. Mushroom and Arugula Pizza. See recipe here.

4. Roasted Pepper and Olive Pizza. See recipe here.

5. Tomato Ricotta Pizza. See recipe here.

 

HEALTH HACK | FALL SOUP (FOR THE SOUL)

We are officially two days from saying hello to... FALL! Before you get sad about Summer coming to an end, get excited about what the upcoming season has to offer! Fall means crisper air, beautiful Autumn leaves, sweater weather, and hearty soups that make your heart smile. And on that last cheesy note, check out these 5 delicious soups/stews that will warm your soul and prime you for Fall: 

1.  Aromatic Shrimp and Noodle Soup.  See recipe  here .

1. Aromatic Shrimp and Noodle Soup. See recipe here.

2.  Chicken Tortellini Soup . See recipe  here .

2. Chicken Tortellini Soup. See recipe here.

3  Mushroom Soup.  See recipe  here .

3 Mushroom Soup. See recipe here.

4.  Veggie Kimchi Soup.  See recipe  here .

4. Veggie Kimchi Soup. See recipe here.

5.  Egg and Lentil Stew . See recipe  here .

5. Egg and Lentil Stew. See recipe here.

HEALTH HACK | EAT WELL, EAT CHEAP

There is a common fallacy that eating healthy is very expensive. While eating healthy can be expensive, one does not definitively lead to the other. Even on a budget, it is possible to cook a nutritious and delicious meal. With a little bit of research and mindful application, eating healthy can actually save you money! Next time you have trouble figuring out a healthy meal option and are strapped on cash, try one of these easy, budget-friendly recipes:

1.  Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken and Vegetables . See recipe  here.

1. Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken and Vegetables. See recipe here.

2. Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta. See recipe here.

2. Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta. See recipe here.

3.  Kale & White Bean Potpie with Chive Biscuits.  See recipe  here .

3. Kale & White Bean Potpie with Chive Biscuits. See recipe here.

4.  Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole.  See recipe  here .

4. Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole. See recipe here.

5.  Vegetable & Tuna Pasta Salad.  See recipe  here .

5. Vegetable & Tuna Pasta Salad. See recipe here.

HEALTH HACK | LUNCHES (BACK-TO-SCHOOL EDITION)

Summer is coming to a close and that means it's back-to-school season! As people gear up for the beginning of yet another school-year, there are many things to consider when preparing for a successful quarter (or semester). One thing that might not come to mind immediately (but is still so important) is keeping healthy! Long nights of studying and grueling class schedules may take a toll on your body so it is imperative to be smart about what you eat during the day--especially if you are trekking around campus from morning to night. To ensure you maintain a healthy diet amidst all the school chaos, here are 5 easy recipes for healthy lunches on-the-go:

1.  Lebanese Lemon Parsley Bean Salad.  See recipe  here .

1. Lebanese Lemon Parsley Bean Salad. See recipe here.

2.  Chicken Club Wraps . See recipe  here .

2. Chicken Club Wraps. See recipe here.

3.  Veggie Fried Rice . See recipe  here .

3. Veggie Fried Rice. See recipe here.

4.  Smoked Turkey & Farro Salad.  See recipe  here .

4. Smoked Turkey & Farro Salad. See recipe here.

5.  Fajita Quesadillas . See recipe  here .

5. Fajita Quesadillas. See recipe here.

HEALTH HACK | SALMON DINNER RECIPES

Salmon is a hallmark food item for many health conscious eaters.  Few foods have as much of a nutritional punch than salmon--this fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (which can decrease inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and benefit overall heart health) and is rich in protein and vitamin D. To help you get more of this super fish in your diet, check out these 5 easy, delicious and nutritious salmon dinner recipes: 

1.  Smoked Salmon & Avocado Hand Rolls . See recipe  here .

1. Smoked Salmon & Avocado Hand Rolls. See recipe here.

2.  Salmon Tacos With Cabbage Slaw.  See recipe  here .

2. Salmon Tacos With Cabbage Slaw. See recipe here.

3.  Roasted Salmon With Pesto Vegetables . See recipe  here .

3. Roasted Salmon With Pesto Vegetables. See recipe here.

4.  Salmon Salad With Vinaigrette.  See recipe  here .

4. Salmon Salad With Vinaigrette. See recipe here.

5.  Salmon With Sautéed Tomatoes . See recipe  here .

5. Salmon With Sautéed Tomatoes. See recipe here.

HEALTH HACK | SUMMER BBQ

With summer officially a couple days away, its time to break out the seasonal staple--the grill. Cooking outdoors can be an easy, fun way to enjoy summertime--whether it be for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday Funday BBQ party with friends. Get inspired to fire up the grill and cook outdoors with these festive and healthy recipes:

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2.  Shrimp burgers.   See recipe here.

2. Shrimp burgers. See recipe here.

3.  Grilled Vegetables with Romesco Sauce.   See recipe here.

3. Grilled Vegetables with Romesco Sauce. See recipe here.

4.  Tangy Coleslaw . See recipe here.

4. Tangy Coleslaw. See recipe here.

5.  Grilled Watermelon with Balsamic Dressing .  See recipe here . 

5. Grilled Watermelon with Balsamic Dressing. See recipe here

HEALTH HACKS | COOKIES FOR YOUR CONSCIENCE

For those you with a sweet tooth and a healthy conscience, eating dessert may cause you occasional emotional turmoil. The combination of butter, granulated sugar, milk chocolate and all-purpose flour may make your mouth water, but may also make your mind weep as you consider the considerable calorie intake. But fear not--low calorie, low fat desserts do exist and yes, they are tasty as well! Try out these cookie recipes the next time you are craving something sweet:

1.  Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  See recipe  here .

1. Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. See recipe here.

2.  Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  See recipe  here .

2. Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies. See recipe here.

3.  Mocha Cookies . See recipe  here .

3. Mocha Cookies. See recipe here.

4.  Almond Lemon Macaroons . See recipe  here .

4. Almond Lemon Macaroons. See recipe here.

5.  Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Cookies.  See recipe  here .

5. Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Cookies. See recipe here.

HEALTH HACKS | Substitutes for Cleaner Eats

Cleaning up our diets can be as quick and easy as a simple substitute.  Here are some of our favorite clean eats!

Avocado > Mayonaise

Avocado is loaded with healthy fats and none of saturated fats and processed ingredients found in conventional mayonaise.  You can use this as a spread on your sandwiches, or even in tuna or chicken salad!

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Oatmeal > Breadcrumbs

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate, which means it won't spike your blood sugar like white breadcrumbs!  Complex carbs provide longer sustaining energy and it's loaded with fiber.

Cashews > Cream

Blended cashews can be used in place of creamer in anything from soups, pasta sauce, over fruit, and in mashed potatoes!  Check out this easy recipe here!

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Nutritional Yeast > Cheese

Full of B Vitamins, protein, and fiber, nutritional yeast adds a fantastic nutty and cheesy flavor without the fats and calories!  Try it over popcorn, in soups, over pasta, or on your veggies!

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Greek Yogurt > Sour Cream

You won't even know the difference while cutting the calories in half!

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We'd love to hear your feedback if you try it out!

xx

The Motivate Team

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Kicking off the Year on the Right Foot

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a great start of the year.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been noticing temperatures a little colder than usual this time of year and I’ve also seen a lot of people coming down with “the common cold”–especially after crazy travel itineraries for the holidays.

With this in mind, I saw fit to talk about the importance of vitamin C in case you, or someone close to you, might need to be reacquainted with this health-essential, water-soluble vitamin to kick-off the year properly.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease, among many other illnesses like scurvy (not pretty). So vitamin C is our friend. Our bodies actually are capable of producing some vitamins but not vitamin C like some other animals.

Since our bodies can only store a small amount of vitamin C, it needs to replenish levels daily through diet. The best food sources of vitamin C are: bell peppers (including red chili peppers), guava, kale, spinach and parsley (and all dark leafy greens), kiwi, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), berries (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries), citrus fruits (lemons, oranges), and papaya, to name a few.

Vitamin C is used for the production of all adrenal hormones, especially cortisol. Cortisol and its importance is more than worthy of its own post–more to come. But staying on track, vitamin C is vital for the immune system. When we are stressed (from whatever event or ongoing stress), vitamin C is utilized rapidly to produce more cortisol. The more cortisol made, the more vitamin C is used, which makes vitamin C essential to support adrenal function (control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to illness or injury, regulate blood pressure and stress, among others).

So add some spinach to your morning smoothie, add some berries or kiwi on top of your warm oats in the morning (uh! you can even make your own jam!), roast some brussels sprouts, or add some peppers, broccoli, and/or cauliflower to your stir fry. Whatever rocks your boat, make sure you are getting your much needed vitamin C, your body will thank you for it.

Remember to eat the rainbow!

Love,
Gina

Every two weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

 

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | O Porridge, My Porridge

Ummm…is it fall yet?

With our recent weather, you wouldn’t think that we are well into the first month of fall. Yes, the mornings have definitely been much cooler; and, as I constantly check all the weather reports like a dork, I do hear that fall is upon us!

With a change of season comes a whole new wave of foods (pumpkin-spice anything, anyone?) and new craving for warmer dishes. Out go the cool smoothies (well not out completely but…maybe just not as often?) and in come the warm, more comforting foods to enjoy post workout or before heading out to work: a warm breakfast that energizes us, keeps our blood sugar levels stable and keeps us fueled to kick some butt for the rest of the day!

My go-to breakfast for days like these is porridge–it’s creamy, comforting, hearty, and filling. If you know, or suspect, that you are going to have a long day, porridge sure does pack a punch to help you start your day and keep you focus for those early meetings.

Without further ado, today I’m going to provide you with two recipe options that include seasonal fruits that you can find at your local farmer’s market or grocery store for both a traditional porridge à la G and a quinoa version, since not everyone loves oats (gasp!); and because it’s sometimes fun (and actually quite nourishing) to mix it up!
 
Apple Pie Quinoa
Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
1 red apple
A handful of strawberries
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 medjool date
1 cup coconut or almond milk
1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil (optional)
Optional topping ideas: 1 tbsp chia seeds, or 1 tbsp almond butter

Wash the apple and chop it into cubes. Slice the strawberries into thin pieces. Chop the date and discard the seed. 
Place the fruits in a saucepan over medium heat and cover them with water (about ½ cup). Add the 1 tbsp of cinnamon, and vanilla. 
Stir frequently while cooking, for about 15 minutes, until the apples are soft. 
Once the apples are stewed, add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Add in the quinoa, the other 1 tsp of cinnamon and reduce heat to a simmer. 
Add coconut oil (optional, but it adds a creamy boost) and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Enjoy!

Persimmon Oats
Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats (soaked previously in water so they are easier to digest)
1 cup coconut or almond milk
1 tbsp cinnamon + 1 tsp
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 medjool date
Optional topping ideas: 1 tbsp chia seeds, or 1 tbsp almond butter

Wash the persimmon and cut it into cubes. Chop the date and discard the seed. 
Place the fruits in a saucepan over medium heat and cover them with water (about ½ cup).
Add the 1 tbsp of cinnamon, and the ½ tsp of cardamom. 
Cook for about 12-15 minutes, until water has absorbed and the persimmon is soft.
Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. 
Add oats and reduce heat to a low simmer. 
Add coconut oil (optional, but as I said above, it adds more to the creaminess) and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until desired creaminess is achieved! 

Enjoy!

(Note: You can switch these recipes up: instead of using quinoa, you may use oats (simply reduce cooking time) or the other way around. You can also switch up the fruit and do this with your favorite fruits! I can’t get enough of bananas, but I’m a little monkey :) 

 
NUTRITIONAL INFO
 
Rolled oats are high in fiber; they also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, some B vitamins and iron. I do stress to soak your rolled oats in water before consuming them (you may do this the night before or for at least 4 hours); this will help remove the phytic acid which can make them harder to digest and make the nutrients more difficult to absorb in our bodies. Plus, phytic acid can also make some of us feel bloated! I will be explaining the importance of soaking very soon!
Note: steel cut oats are an even better option, but they do take longer to cook. Feel free to use these if you have the time!

Quinoa is high in protein and fiber. It has all the essential amino acids and is also a great source of magnesium, manganese, vitamin E, iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc. It is technically a seed not a grain, and is naturally gluten free. 
 
Dates are a great source of potassium and a special type of soluble fiber which has been noted to aid in keeping blood sugar levels stable by delaying the absorption of glucose in the small intestine. This fiber also increases satiety – which helps to keep up feel fuller for longer. Dates are also rich in B vitamins, copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, phosphorous.  They also contain zinc and selenium.
 
Persimmon: Have you been seeing these orange babies everywhere? I sure have. They are an amazing source of provitamin A, copper, manganese, and some B vitamins. Get them while they last!
 
Apples are a good source of vitamin C, and fiber; their skin contains a lot of the nutrients, so try to leave it on!
 
Strawberries are an amazing source of vitamin C, which helps keep our immune systems strong. Pairing them with iron-rich oats is a perfect combo since iron absorption is enhanced with intake of vitamin-C-rich foods. Strawberries also contain vitamin K, flavonoids, dietary fiber, manganese, some B vitamins, and iodine (which is essential for our thyroid).
 
Cinnamon: It might just be my favorite spice. It helps lowering blood sugar levels, circulation and is even a digestant. Plus, in my opinion, it is absolutely delicious on everything–especially fruits!
 
Cardamom helps relieve gas, is a digestive aid (like cinnamon) and is rich in zinc and manganese (an antioxidant mineral). 

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

HEALTH HACKS | 5 Delicious Yet Nutritious Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to trick your body into ingesting a smorgasbord of goodness --protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits-- without compromising your taste buds. They are the perfect, tasty vehicle for a nutritious meal in the convenience of a to-go cup. Moreover, aggregate prep and gulp time can be less than 10 minutes (it would take you longer to unearth matching socks in your underwear drawer). Brighten your daily diet with these recipes that are health-nut approved... but are so delicious your brain will never deem it to be true:

1.  Beet Berry Smoothie . Get the recipe  here .

1. Beet Berry Smoothie. Get the recipe here.

2.  Strawberry Banana-Mango Lava Flow.  Get the recipe  here .

2. Strawberry Banana-Mango Lava Flow. Get the recipe here.

3.  Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie . Get the recipe  here .

3. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie. Get the recipe here.

4.  Vegan Detox Green Monster Smoothie . Get the recipe  here .

4. Vegan Detox Green Monster Smoothie. Get the recipe here.

5.  Orange Oatmeal Smoothie . Get the recipe  here .

5. Orange Oatmeal Smoothie. Get the recipe here.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Tabbouleh with at Twist

Hi everyone! I don’t know about you, but with this heat I find myself craving cooler foods at the moment. As delicious and versatile as salads can be, it is easy to get stuck in a rut of having the same ol’ greens such as kale and arugula and we can easily forget about the good ol’ basics. Don’t forget about the basics ;) This inspired me to make a slightly more nutritious twist on an all-time favorite of mine: tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is usually served as a side dish in Middle Eastern cuisine. This recipe can be enjoyed as a side dish (with some hummus, yummy) or simply as a meal by itself.

Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat.  Since wheat is so hard to digest, causes inflammation, sensitivities, and intolerance in so many of us, in this recipe the bulgur wheat is replaced with a naturally gluten-free and hypoallergenic ancient grain: amaranth.

Amaranth is so often overlooked and overshadowed by it’s sister grain: quinoa (technically neither are a grain; they are actually seeds). It is very delicate both in texture and in flavor, andis exceptionally nutritious! Olives and hemp seeds are also included in this recipe, both for the nutritional and taste punch that they add.

What you’ll need:

1 medium cucumber
1 cup parsley (stalks and all!)
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup mint leaves
6-8 kalamata olives
2 tbsp finely chopped scallions or chives
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup dry amaranth (makes 1 cup cooked) Use quinoa if you don’t find amaranth
2 tbsp hemp seeds


Measure ½ cup dried amaranth and rinse. Bring ¾ of a cup of water to a boil, add the amaranth, cover and reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes.

Place the rest of the ingredients (except for the hemp seeds) in a food processor and chop. If you don’t have a food processor, bust out those knife skills and chop everything into tiny pieces. When everything is chopped, add in the cooked amaranth and hemp seeds. Stir and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

In my humble opinion, we live in a world where there is excessive worry and, sometimes, a borderline obsession with protein; as if it were the only thing we should be worried about when making food choices!

Protein is an important macronutrient; that, I won’t deny. But so are carbohydrates (from whole-unprocessed foods) and fats (from whole unrefined and unprocessed sources). And so are all of the micronutrients–so often overlooked–that we can find in many foods.

Instead of focusing on foods that simply contain “protein” and that are more-than-often loaded with a lot of other junk, it would be much more beneficial to focus on foods that also contain minerals that support our immune system, our muscles, hormones, moods, digestion, our cognitive health, skin, nails...our whole body; foods that are actually nutrient dense!

So yes, while the amaranth in this recipe does contain a good amount of protein–as do hemp seeds–they are a protein source that is easy for our bodies to digest, absorb and use. (Boom!) And for that reason, I added this bad boy (Amaranth, that is) to the recipe: because it offers a lot more than a good protein content.
 
“What other nutritious 'wonders' does this recipe have?”, you might ask.

Amaranth contains a great dose of calcium (about 8% of your daily value in just ¼ cup of dry seeds actually–that’s double the DV of milk, but don’t get me started on that subject). Amaranth is also high in fiber, contains a hefty amount of iron (20% of you DV), B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, among many others. Talk about full service!

If you don’t find amaranth, you can always use quinoa which is also a great grain/seed and almost equally nutritious.
 
So if that wasn’t enough, this salad is an iron powerhouse. Parsley, hemp seeds and amaranth are all great sources of non-heme iron, plus the parsley is also packed with vitamin C (50% of our daily value in just ½ cup. Wow!) which actually helps our bodies absorb iron. Talk about a 2-for-1 deal.

Ok. I know I’ve given you enough nutrition information (I warned you kitties before that I’m a dork when it comes to nutrition) but having adequate amounts of iron in our diet is essential! 1 in 4 women are deficient in iron. (I’m talking to YOU, ladies!) Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells, it also transports oxygen throughout the body and is critical for converting blood sugar to energy (metabolism).

Last but not least, parsley also contains chlorophyll, folate, pro-vitamin A, and an enormous amount of Vitamin K – which is essential in preventing blood clotting. Parsley, oh, parsley, why aren’t you appreciated more? I love to add this green on salads and even in pesto–it can really help enhance flavor. The lemon juice provides even more vitamin C, while the olives are an amazing source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Have you ever heard (or read) that having olive oil is amazing for our skin and hair due to their vitamin E and antioxidant content? Well, how about we go directly to the source by eating the olives and enjoy their wonders in their true state!

I think that is enough for now. Alimental G, over and out!

Every two weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | The Everything Smoothie

Hello everyone!

I’m so happy and excited to officially be posting on Motivate’s blog!

Every two weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

So, without further ado, here is a recipe of a chocolate smoothie that I love (!!!) This smoothie should satisfy your chocolate cravings (oh, we all have them!) while providing your muscles with the nutrients they need after kicking butt in class. It is rich and has a decadent taste while actually being oh so nutritious!

This recipe serves 2 because, you know, your other half or roommate is going to want some. Or you can just keep the second serving all for yourself in the fridge for later. This smoothie is almost a meal by itself! Plus it’s so creamy you can literally enjoy it with a spoon.

You will need:

photo: Gina Mehta

photo: Gina Mehta

Blender (or Vitamix)
2 frozen bananas (make sure you peel them before putting them in the freezer ;)
¼ cup rolled oats (soak these in water the night before)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup goji berries
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp organic plant protein powder (the easiest to digest are usually “Hemp”, “Sprouted Brown Rice”, and “Pea” proteins, or a combination of these)
1 small ripe avocado
⅓ cup coconut meat or unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup coconut water (Straight from the coconut is best. If not, the “Harmless Harvest” raw coconut water is great!)
¼ cup filtered water
1 cup (or a handful of) organic spinach

Optional:
1 tsp hemp seeds (to sprinkle on top to make it look pretty; you get an added protein bonus, too!)

Instructions:
Put all ingredients in the blender.
Hit the “blend” button.
Done!

Nutritional Value:

This recipe is filled with good fats, fiber, protein and complex carbs from real, whole foods that will provide a slow, constant and stable release of energy, which helps to avoid rapid spikes in your blood-sugar levels and keeps you satisfied all morning (or afternoon - depending on when you are having it).

Raw cacao is filled with antioxidants, magnesium and iron. It’s the essence of chocolate, in its purest, unadulterated form. It’s made by cold pressing the raw cacao bean; it isn’t a processed food and maintains all of its nutrients intact. Magnesium is a relaxation mineral, it is critical for energy production in the body, helps maintain blood sugar balanced and is a great sleep aid.  

Bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, essential in maintaining electrolyte balance, regulating fluid and pH balance, and alleviating tension.

Coconut water is another great source of potassium (better than bananas, actually), while the meat or dried flakes also contain a significant amount of iron, vitamin C and magnesium.

So what’s with the pumpkin seeds? It’s come to my attention that many of us aren’t getting enough zinc in our daily diet. Pumpkin seeds are an amazing source of zinc! Zinc is a mineral that is essential for healthy hair, skin and nails. It also supports our immune systems, our thyroid, and even our adrenal glands which help us manage stress.

Goji berries are filled with iron which is critical for metabolism, vitamin C and antioxidants which are great for our skin and protect our cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. When non-heme iron (iron from plant sources) is combined with foods high in vitamin C, it is much easier for the body to absorb the iron from the food.

illustration: lingvistov.com

illustration: lingvistov.com

Avocado Ummmm...well, does it really need an explanation? Apart from being an amazing source of fiber, folate, vitamin B5 and B6, potassium, and vitamin E, it makes any smoothie so incredibly creamy!

Rolled oats are high in fiber. They also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, some B vitamins and iron. I do stress to soak your rolled oats before consuming them and before adding them to your smoothie, as this will help remove the phytic acid which can make them harder to digest (keep your belly happy), and the nutrients more difficult to absorb in our bodies. Plus, phytic acid can also make some of us feel bloated! Nobody likes to feel bloated...I will go deeper into this subject in another post.

Spinach This leafy green contains iron, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. This is a quick and easy way to get some greens in, so why the heck not?

You might see this recipe and think it’s quite high in fats. Don’t worry, these are good fats. The fats in this recipe come from whole foods: they are real, unprocessed, and highly nutritious. Though fat has been demonized in the past, we do need some fat in our diet. It is essential for our brains. Did you know nearly 60% of our brain is fat?. We need fat to keep our skin and hair healthy and luscious. Plus, cholesterol is needed to make hormones and we all know how awful it feels when our hormones are out of whack!  

I feel it is important that we never feel deprived with our food choices; nor should we feel we need to cut out whole macronutrient groups in order to achieve short-term individual goals. This could eventually cause periods of bingeing and unnecessary guilt. Eating nutrient dense food isn’t boring unless we make it out to be! Have fun with these foods, experiment and see how you feel!

Happy eating!

Love,
Gina

HEALTH HACKS | Undress your Salad Dressing

The concept of clean eating can seem like a completely overwhelming, daunting goal.  "Eating clean" just means you're diet is consisting of as many unprocessed, whole foods as possible. 

An easy first step to make a change is in your salad dressing!  Most pre-made salad dressings are loaded with sugar, oils, and dairy (if you're not into that kind of thing).  

My fave way to dress my salad is just 3 ingredients! 

Avocado

Lemon Juice

Sea Salt

Tonight, I used Dinosaur Kale!  First, remove the ribs of the kale and slice.  Then just massage the avocado and lemon juice into the kale and add a pinch of sea salt! 

This can be done with any firmer lettuce (or to be technical Brassica).  To do this with spinach or romaine, simply mash the avocado, mix with the lemon juice and stir into the lettuce!

Super easy, healthy fats, and nothing processed.  DONE.  Even the kids ate it!

xo,

Cereza

HEALTH HACKS | Coffee has met its Matcha

Coffee, you beautiful devil, you!  You pick me up when I'm dragging, you're warm in my hands when I'm cold, and you're pretty darn delicious.  You also dehydrate me, stain my teeth, make my breath smell, create an acidic environment in my body, and give me the serious jitters when I've had too much of you!  Your wonderfulness got me to the point where I was up to double espresso lattes morning and afternoon.  When I was starting to question whether I was having heart palpitations or not, I knew it was time to kick the habit!

Enter Matcha!  Matcha is a special type of green tea that is grown and produced in Japan.  The leaves are shaded from the sun for the last few weeks of their growth, which increases their chlorophyll content and creates a gorgeous green color. The leaves are then ground into a fine powder.  The result is a super yummy, antioxidant rich frothy green tea! 

Here are some of the amazing benefits of Matcha:

  • Because of the way it is grown and harvested, the amino acids in the Matcha balance out its caffeine levels. While the actual caffeine levels may be the same as other teas, the caffeine in Matcha creates an calm energy, without the jitters and crash!
  • Matcha is loaded with antioxidants!  We all know that antioxidants fight free radicals, which can protect against some types of cancer, infections, and disease.  Matcha contains over 60x the antioxidants of spinach and 7x the antioxidants of high-quality dark chocolate.  You would have to drink at least 10 cups of brewed green tea to get the same antioxidants!
  • Matcha can help burn stored energy as fat as well as decrease the formation of new fat cells by increasing the body's thermogenesis (the body's own rate of burning calories)!

What kind of Matcha?  The qualities range from kitchen grade (good for blending or baking) to ceremonial grade (best for a latte type drink).  It is also advisable to use a Matcha that is grown in Japan as the Chinese grown Matcha can contain trace amounts of lead.

To prepare, all you need is whatever milk you'd like to use (I use the Whole Foods brand 365 plain sweetened almond milk) or water and a wisk or frother!

Here are the ones I've tried:

Of the three, so far my favorite is the Domatcha; the flavor and consistency is divine!  All of these can be purchased on Amazon, and the first two are also available at Whole foods!

I've been coffee free now for almost a month and, just as the labels promote, It really does create a smooth, non-jittery energy boost!  

I hope you try it and, if you do, let me know how your experience!

XO

Cereza

 

HEALTH HACKS | Is winter dehydration a thing?

It's colder outside, and you may not feel thirsty, but did you know dehydration can happen just as easily in the winter as it can in the hot summer months?  As you move about in the cold, you may not be sweating, but water vapor is still being lost through your breath!

Winter is also a common time that we tend to exercise less and eat more.  When hydrated, you body is better able to break down body fat for energy and your appetite is better controlled.  Also, if your body does not get enough water, it will hold onto the water it already has; so hydration will help prevent water retention! 

Feeling thirsty is your body's signal that it's close to becoming dehydrated.  Another indication is the color of your urine (kinda gross, I know).  If it's not clear or light-colored, you need more water!  There are many viewpoints on how much water a day is enough.  Some say it's good to drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, each day.  If you're exercising (which you should be!) then you'll need more!

If a tall glass of ice water on a chilly day is not your thing, herbal teas are a great alternative!  Adding low-calorie/low-sodium flavors to your water is great too!  A squeeze of lemon juice or a few slices of cucumber can make getting enough water a lot easier.

Drink up! 

HEALTH HACKS | The Perfect Energy Snack!

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As you may have noticed, I love foods that combine healthy fats, carbs, and protein!  These flavorful bites combine dates, peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil!

Dates have anti-inflammatory properties, are great for digestion, boost brain health, and are a great source of ENERGY!  Raw honey, also a great source of energy, has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.  Coconut oil can help regulate metabolism, boost your immune system, and can help fight candida (hello post-Halloween candy binge).  And peanut butter, because everything is better with peanut butter!

Energy Date Bites

3 cups dates (remove the pits)

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw, organic honey

3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Throw everything except half of the shredded coconut into a food processor or blender. Once combined and smooth, form the mixture into 1/2" balls and roll into the shredded coconut.  These are best kept in the refrigerator.

DONE. 

ENJOY!

 

HEALTH HACKS | Ultimate Protein Pancakes

Move over Bisquick!  I have perfected the protein pancake recipe!!

These pancakes are gluten free, dairy free, loaded with healthy fats (if you know me, you know I'm a HUGE lover of coconut oil), high in protein, and high in complex carbohydrates.  These pancakes will get you fueled properly for the day!

These are the proportions I make for my family of 5.  Feel free to modify for your clan.

Protein Pancakes

2 c rolled oats

2 whole eggs

1 c almond milk

1/2 c egg whites

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 ripe bananas

1 1/2 scoop Vega One plain protein powder

1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

 

Combine all ingredients in your blender and cook up on the 'ol stove top, turning when the bubbles stay open.

 

 

 

I personally like to top my pancakes with blueberry syrup!  It's loaded with antioxidants and lower in sugar than maple syrup.  Simply take frozen blueberries and toss them into a pan on the stove on medium heat.  When they start to soften, mash them with a fork. 

Pour that amazing goodness all over your pancakes and enjoy!