Perfect Morning Smoothie

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It is important to start your day of with the right nutrition, and sometimes I just don’t feel like eating a big meal first thing in the morning.  So, some days, I make a delicious smoothie to get me through the first half of the day and to jump-start my metabolism.  Below is my current favorite recipe with links to the brands I use.  This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and is packed with vitamins, protein and healthy fats…did I mention it was delicious?!

Ingredients

1 organic banana

3-4 Frozen Organic Strawberries

1 Small handful of Frozen Organic Blueberries

1-2 Leaves of Dino Kale

1 Heaping spoonful of Raw Organic Almond Butter

1 Spoonful of Raw Organic Coconut Oil

Homemade Organic Almond Milk (enough to fill the cup about 3/4 of my 20 oz vitamix cup.  Add more or less depending on your consistency preference)

5 Drops of Vitamin D3 (5000 IU total)

Two droppers full of Liquid Vitamin B Complex

1 tsp  Vitamin C Powder

1-2 tbls Protein Powder

 

Directions

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

 

An apple a day…can cause cancer?!

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Apples have always been associated with good health, hence the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  They are full of fiber and antioxidants. Unfortunately, according to a new study, this saying does not apply to conventional apples in the US.  This new study found that 80% of conventional apples in the US are treated with a pesticide called Diphenylamine that is banned in Europe because it has been linked to Nitrosamines, which are well-known and well-studied cancer-causing chemicals.  This also goes for applesauce and apples used in non organic baby food. Thanks America!(sarcasm)  I’ll never understand why US food companies will continue to use known carcinogens and/or toxic ingredients in their products that have been deemed unsafe in other parts of the world.  I find it very upsetting. To avoid this pesticide and other toxic chemicals on your produce, please buy organic whenever possible.  Another alternative is to check out The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list.  It tells you which foods show the highest concentrations of pesticides so that you can avoid those at the very least.  So, I guess we should change the old saying to “An ORGANIC apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

What IS a baby carrot anyway?

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Ever wondered what the heck makes a baby carrot a baby carrot?  Did it come out of the ground that way?  Is it a big carrot shaved down to a baby size?  Are they as healthy for you as regular carrots?  I’ve also heard rumors that baby carrots are soaked in chlorine before being packaged, which I found super disturbing.  I personally don’t buy baby carrots, I just wash and cut up regular, organic carrots, but I know a lot of people eat them, especially kids. So I wanted to get the story straight and here is what I found out:

1) Baby carrots do come from a smaller, thinner carrot variety, but are in fact vigorously peeled and cut to achieve their baby carrot size.  In the industry they are actually called “baby cut carrots”, where actual baby carrots are just slightly smaller sized carrots that are harvested at a younger age than larger carrots.  I personally love smaller sized carrots (whole, not baby cut), they are sweeter than the huge ones!

2) Baby carrots (organic and conventional) ARE soaked in a chlorine bath before packaging!  Now, before you freak, it’s not straight up chlorine.  It is actually a water/chlorine solution that supposedly contains the same amount of chlorine that is allowed in your tap water.  This is to prevent food borne illness and they are rinsed again with fresh water before being packaged. Apparently, most lettuces and pre-cut vegetables go through the same process.  Still doesn’t sound very appetizing to me and this is why we have a whole house water filter to filter out things like chlorine.

3) Baby carrots may be less nutritious than regular, organic, full size carrots.  Baby carrots apparently contain 30% less beta carotene than a regular carrot.  This is because of the variety of carrots used  and the fact that they are peeled.  Many of the carrot’s nutrients are found in the skin or just below it.  However, because a carrot’s flesh and peel are the same color, it indicates that there is a very similar nutritional value inside and out.  So no need to worry if you prefer to peel, just remember to still wash it before and/or after peeling to prevent ingesting any possible pathogens.

4) Baby carrots are more expensive than buying regular carrots and washing/cutting yourself.

My take away:  After doing this research, I still believe that washing and cutting your own organic carrots is the best way to go.  It is cheaper, takes two minutes, and you can rest assured that there will be no possible chlorine residue, no pesticides (because they are organic) and that they contain all of the nutrition they are meant to.  Now, that said, I also wouldn’t freak out and not eat baby carrots that were served at a friend’s bbq or not let my kid have one.  It ain’t gonna kill you.  But, my philosophy remains the same: food is most nutritious in it’s most natural state.  So buy organic carrots, scrub them well with a veggie scrubber, cut it you prefer and munch away!

NOTE: If your carrots ever become white-ish, or flimsy in the fridge, soak them in cold or ice water to rehydrate them and they will come back to life.  Sometimes I prefer to wash and cut the whole bunch at once, so to prevent dehydration, I’ll store them in a glass tupperware filled with water and it keeps them fresh.

Homemade Ketchup!

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We all love ketchup.  But unfortunately, even organic ketchup contains sugar, which I would like to avoid as much as possible.  So, I started looking for a homemade recipe and came across this quick and easy recipe for homemade ketchup on the Mommypotamus blog that replaces the sugar with raw honey or grade B maple syrup, both of which contain healthy enzymes and minerals.  Genius.

Quick Homemade Organic Ketchup

Ingredients

To Make

1. Place all ingredients in a small pot/pan and whisk together.

2. Place on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to the consistency you prefer. Store in the fridge.

Shelf life: Many online recipes for homemade ketchup say they last in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Learn how to read the stickers on your fruits and vegies!

You know those annoying little stickers on your fruit and veggies that you have to peel off and they usually leave a sticky residue that you have to pick or cut off??  Well, those little stickers actually have a purpose and can tell you a lot about what you are about to eat!   Think of them like your produce’s passport, that tells you where it is from and where it has been.   Read below to become fluent in produce sticker reading…

If the number starts with 3 or 4 and has 4 digits-  It is a conventionally grown and therefore has been farmed with conventional methods using pesticides and herbicides.

If the number starts with 9 and has 5 digits- It is organically grown and therefore has not been treated with any pesticides or herbicides and is not genetically modified (GMO).

If the number starts with 8 and has 5 digits- The fruit has been genetically modified (GMO) and has been farmed using conventional methods using pesticides and herbicides.

 

 

Your favorite candy…unjunked!!

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My dreams just came true!  Ok, not all of them, but one of them.  I always wished that I could eat my favorite candies without having to eat all of the unnatural, unhealthy ingredients that come along with them.  I didn’t understand why candy companies couldn’t use real ingredients!  Well, it has been done.  And by a 15 year old no less.  Nicky Bronner (with the help of his millionaire, entrepreneur father) started UNREAL, a new candy company that boasts no GMOs and no artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives.  Not only that, but they did their best to actually replicate your favorite, brand name candies.  So far, they have replicated the Snickers bar, Milky Way, M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!  I have not tried them yet, but I cannot wait, and I definitely know what I will be giving out this Halloween!  Check ’em out here and look for them at your local CVS, Target or buy them below now!

Peanut butter cups (Reese’s)

Candy coated chocolates (M&Ms)

Candy coated chocolates with peanut inside (Peanut M&Ms)

Candy bar with nougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate (Snickers)

Candy bar with nougat, caramel and chocolate. (Milky Way)

Delicious Almond Zucchini Bread Recipe!

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Hi friends!  I apologize for being gone for what seemed like forever! (at least to me)  July was full of fun travels, but I’m happy to be home.  Today, I have another yummy recipe to share with you!  Now that my son is a little older, he wants a little variety in his meals.  So, I’ve been spending some time experimenting with different recipes.  Most recently, I wanted to find a bread recipe that was gluten and sugar-free.  Well, I nailed it on the first try with this Almond Zucchini Bread recipe I found on Running to the Kitchen.  I just made one small adjustment in adding walnuts for a lil crunch.  It is quick and easy, moist (I know, you hate that word) and delish!  See the recipe below and enjoy!  PS.  I shared this recipe with a gluten-free friend who made it as a cake, added homemade cream cheese frosting and served it at her daughters 1st birthday party.  It was a hit!

Almond Zucchini Bread

*All ingredients preferably organic

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup grated zucchini (squeeze water out after measuring)

3 eggs

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 mashed banana

1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

1/4 cup of walnuts (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease one loaf pan or two mini loaf pans with a lil coconut oil.  ( I used one normal size loaf pan)

2. Combine dry ingredients, except nuts,  in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Combine wet ingredients, except zucchini, in a large bowl and whisk together vigorously.

4. Add zucchini mix until combined.

5. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix until incorporated.

6. Stir in nuts.

7. Pour into loaf pan(s).

8. Bake for 32-35 mins.  Until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Transfer bread out of pan(s) to cool on wire rack.

 

Easy homemade almond milk recipe!

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I never knew how easy making my own almond milk was until I tried it today!  It is SO simple and much healthier than store-bought. It’s a great alternative for dairy if you or your child is lactose intolerant or if you just want to take a break from cows milk every once in a while.  Almond milk is nutrient-fortified, and a good source of several important fat-soluble vitamins.  Surprisingly, almond milk is not only rich in calcium, but it actually provides the same amount per cup as cow’s milk and soy milk!  It also contains vitamin A and E which act as antioxidants, enhancing immunity and protecting the body’s cells and tissues from damage. In addition, vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight and supports normal growth and development. To top it all off, it also contains vitamin D, which helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, and enhances immunity.  Add it into smoothies, your coffee or just drink it plain!

Recipe

1.5 cups raw organic almonds

4.5 cups of filtered water

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

2 dates (optional)

UPDATE- instead of the dates, I now use a spoonful of RAW honey.  The enzymes in the raw honey (must be raw!!!) make the milk last a few days longer than without.

Directions

– Soak the almonds in a bowl filled with water, on the counter, over night.  This is important, as it increases enzyme activity,  leads to greater absorption of the almond’s nutrients by the body and increases digestibility.  Learn more here.

– After soaking over night, rinse and drain the nuts in a colander.

– Put soaked, rinsed nuts into the blender and add water and optional vanilla and/or dates.  Blend until almost smooth.

– Strain the mixture using a super fine mesh colander or cheese cloth into a bowl or quart size mason jar.  Store almond milk in a mason jar or other sealed glass container for up to 3-4 days in the fridge.  Note: Don’t toss the almond “cream” that is left over!! Add it to smoothies, shakes or yogurt!  Yum!