What Kind Of Milk Do You Put In Your Daily Coffee?

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Many coffee shops have started carrying alternatives to Cow’s milk. Until recently, Soy Milk was the the only alternative to milk that was offered. Now, you might find options like Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. (How exciting!) You might be curious as to why you would switch over to a milk-alternative if you are not lactose intolerant. Well, I am here to give you 2 nutritional reasons why you might consider making the switch.

1. Most coffee shops do not carry Organic Milk. You may know my recommendations already, however, if you haven’t heard me say this before… “If there is one thing that you should choose to buy Organic, it should be animal products.” Unfortunately, in this country, most of the cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones. That means that consuming non-organic dairy on a daily basis exposes you to high levels of hormones which in turn disrupts your natural hormone levels. By the way, you do not have to be a female to experience changes in your hormones! Shifts in our food system are playing a big role in the increased infertility levels, estrogen dominance in both males and females, and fluctuations in testosterone levels.

2. Dairy is one of the top 7 food sensitivities. That means that dairy can still be negatively affecting your health even if you are no “allergic” to it. If you are “sensitive” to dairy, you may experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, mucus (flem, snot, congestion), itchy throat, eczema or other skin conditions.

Now you might ask, what dairy-alternatives do I recommend?

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I suggest choosing unsweetened Almond Milk and unsweetened Coconut Milk. (Hemp Milk and Rice Milk and Cashew Milk are also good options but they are not offered at coffee shops..yet) If you are getting them at a coffee shop, they may only have the sweetened version. In that case, you may want to consider adding less sweetener or no sweetener at all.

I also recommend steering clear of Soy Milk. Soy is one of the most commonly genetically-modified crops, so it is best to choose organic soy or soy that is marked “non-GMO” when you can. Most coffee shops do not offer organic or non-GMO soy milk. Similar to Cow’s milk, Soy can enhance estrogen levels in the body. Soy is also on the top 7 Most Common Food Sensitivities list.

When you first switch over to a dairy-alternative, it is clearly not going to taste exactly the same as the milk that you have been drinking for years. However, if you give it a chance for at least 1 week, you will begin to adjust to the new flavor. I can speak from personal experience, it does not taste “bad,” it just tastes “different” at first.

Power Breakfast for Men- Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs and Avocado

This post is in honor of Movember– a month dedicated to Men’s Health!

Most men eat a breakfast comprised of carbohydrates and coffee. This is something that has to change! If you are  a man reading this article and you want energy throughout the day, you need to get a jump-start with a power-breakfast. The ideal breakfast would consist of protein, healthy fats and some healthy (un-refined) carbohydrates. A balanced breakfast will provide you with the nutrients your brain and muscles need for a productive day.

Check out this simple recipe that was designed just for you!

[Click to View VIDEO]

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Sweet Potato Hash with Scrambled Eggs and Avocado

Prep time: 5 minutes                                                                                            Cooking time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • ½ diced onion
  • ½ cup shredded sweet potato
  • 4 eggs (or 1 egg with 3 egg whites)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • ½ avocado

Directions

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and melt 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan
  2. Add your diced onion to the pan and stir for about 3 minutes until translucent
  3. Add your sweet potato and saute, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes until your sweet potatoes soften
  4. In a separate pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or organic butter). Pour in eggs and cook over medium heat until cooked through.
  5. Add your spinach to your eggs and stir often until fully wilted.
  6. Plate sweet potato hash on a plate and top with eggs. Slice up some avocado for the side OR top with goat cheese.

Chef tip= Double the sweet potato hash recipe, cook it and leave some in the fridge for another quick breakfast. Next time you can heat up the hash and then you only have to cook the eggs.

(Raw) Wilted Kale Salad

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Kale has become a new favorite leafy green in the past couple of years. There are plenty health benefits to this dark green celebrity including:

  • Cholesterol lowering
  • Cancer prevention
  • Detoxifying
  • Anti-oxidant with plenty of flavanoids

My favorite technique for a quick kale salad is called “massaging” the kale. This technique takes 1 minute (if you are using dinosaur kale) or 5 minutes (if you are using curly kale). There are several benefits from using the massaging technique:

  1. Better texture
  2. Easier to digest
  3. You get more nutrients
  4. Better flavor

Here is a recipe for a nutritious and flavorful 10 minute kale salad:

photo-52Ingredients
2 bunches kale, de-stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoon dried cranberries
Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
2 tsp dijon mustard                                                                                                                                      1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Directions

1. Place kale and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into a mixing bowl. Massage salt into kale until for about 45 seconds until it begins to wilt. (It will get moist but you do not want liquid in the bottom of the bowl)

2. Add red onion, roasted pumpkin seeds and cranberries into the bowl

3. Whisk dressing together in a separate bowl. Then pour over salad and serve.

Store salad in the fridge for up to 3 days.

If you would like to get some healthy holiday recipes, I will be teaching a holiday cooking series in San Diego on November 20th and October 23rd.

Homemade Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free)

I am not much of a baker. Yet for some reason, this pumpkin bread recipe from the Comfy Belly blog, was calling my name yesterday (aka the first day of fall). It is such an easy recipe to make and the spices really won my tastebuds over.

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Oftentimes gluten-free bread has a chalky or crumbled texture. This recipe definitely breaks that stereo type. The pumpkin puree keeps the texture nice and fluffy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp  each:
sea salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl, whisk.
3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well (no clumps)
5. Fold in walnuts
6. Using organic butter or melted coconut oil , grease a bread pan. Pour mixture into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until outside is brown.) When it’s done, a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

If you live in San Diego and are looking for some healthy holiday recipes, join me for my Healthy Holiday Cooking Series. These classes are a great way to learn how to cook with healthier ingredients. We will discuss the benefits of using natural sweeteners and flours and how to improve your nutrition during this holiday season.

Nourish Your Body with Coconut Oil Lotion

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Many of us are becoming more aware of what we put into our body, but how about what we put on our body? The average woman uses around 13 different beauty products a day. This includes lotions, makeup, hair care products, and fragrances. Each of these products contain at least 20 different ingredients in them. The point is, that we are exposing ourselves to a ton of additional toxins each day; these toxins have a negative affect on our hormones and our cell health.

Today I am going to focus on making a simple change with your beauty products. Let’s start with your body lotion. We know that the the skin is the largest organ in our bodies. Think about when you rub sunscreen or lotion onto your skin how it dissolves into your pores. Every time we put lotion on, the ingredients (most of which are not regulated for safety) enter into our blood stream.

I have started to use coconut oil as lotion instead of conventional lotions. Yes, I do mean the coconut oil that you cook with too. I like to put my coconut oil (aka my new lotion) into a cute mason jar or airtight glass jar. Coconut oil works great for dry skin, psoriasis and eczema. It is gentle on the skin and contains zero toxins. It is also a great option for babies!

If the texture of coconut oil is not your thing, here is a recipe that you can whip up:

  • 1 cup of hardened coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vitamin E
  • 1-2 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel (optional)
  • You can also add your favorite essential oil

Mix ingredients together in a stand-mixer for 7 minutes or until it becomes a whipped texture. Then place in an air-tight jar.

http://dailymom.com/make/handmade-natural-coconut-oil-lotion/

Go ahead, try it! Nourish your body with some delicious coconut oil lotion.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock (low sodium & organic)
  • 1 large cucumber, medium dice
  • 2 roma tomatoes, medium dice
  • ½ medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, medium dice (optional)
  • ½ cup olives, chopped (optional)
  • 2 oz crumbled organic feta cheese
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • ½ bunch mint, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)
  • black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.
  2. Add quinoa and water (or stock) to a medium size sauce pan. Bring to a boil then cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. You will know quinoa is ready the tiny seeds are all unraveled into spirals.
  3. While quinoa is cooking chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley and mint. Combine chopped ingredients into a large bowl, set aside.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When quinoa is cooked, spread out evenly on the baking sheet and fluff with a fork. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Combine the quinoa with the vegetables. Add feta cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Note: If you want to make extra for leftovers don’t add feta, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Salad will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days without dressing.

I absolutely LOVE quinoa. It is just so versatile and takes very little time to prepare.

Be sure to check some other fantastic quinoa recipes:

 Morning Quinoa porridge

Hearty Kale and Quinoa Citrus Salad 

So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)