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6 Reasons to Drink Kefir (Hey, It Can Be Vegan, Too!)

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Kefir is a cultured milk beverage that has a slightly sour, or tart, taste and a texture similar to liquid yogurt.

A popular component of traditional diets in Eastern and Northern Europe, kefir has become increasingly recognized in the western world for its many health benefits. Yet it still remains outside the mainstream, with many people unaware of its healing properties, unsure of how to consume it, or even concerned that they can’t eat it due to dietary restrictions.

So let’s clear up the kefir confusion. Read on for 6 reasons why kefir is awesome, and how to incorporate it into your diet!

1. Ultra pro-biotic. Like yogurt, kefir is loaded with beneficial bacteria and yeasts. But while the probiotics in yogurt tend to simply feed the good bacteria in your gut as they pass through you, kefir actually goes a step further and is able to colonize your intestinal tract with new friendly bacteria. This makes kefir an excellent food for enhancing digestive health.

Greek-Style Lentil Salad

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Traditional Greek salad is so delicious on its own—the creaminess of the feta against the crunchy cucumber and sweet tomatoes is a perfect combination. And adding lentils is an easy way to up the protein. This classic salad is just the lunchtime pick-me-up I need to give me energy to attack the rest of the day. Add grilled salmon, chicken, or shrimp for even more of a protein boost if you're extra hungry.

 

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

2 cups lentils du Puy

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Zest of 2 lemons

6 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 small red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, grated or minced

½ pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

½ greenhouse cucumber (or mini seedless cucs), cut in ¼ inch cubes

6-8 oz feta cheese

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Instructions 

1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Strain and set aside.

How to Cook Tofu Like a Pro

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Tofu got a bad rap in its early days as a bland, tasteless necessity of a vegetarian diet. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then, and you can now find all sorts of exciting and delicious ways to prepare tofu. This is especially fortunate because it’s such an inexpensive and excellent source of protein.

Tofu is made from fermented soy, and you can be purchased in a variety of forms including silken, soft, firm and extra firm. Most major grocery stores stock it in 1-pound blocks packed in water.

At first glance, tofu can look a bit off-putting. Looking at a jiggly white block floating in a few inches of water, it’s pretty difficult to think of it as a delicious and appealing dish. But with a little imagination, and not very much effort at all, you can turn it into a satisfying, lip-smacking meal! 

How to Massage Kale [VIDEO]

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I know we all love kale here, but it might seem like overkill to give the leafy green a massage. But in reality, massaging kale is actually a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and an important step in preparing kale to eat!

Raw kale can be coarse, so if you don’t plan on cooking it before eating, you need to take some steps to tenderize it first. Massaging kale helps smooth out raw kale’s roughness, making it the perfect crispness for a delicious salad—or anything else you want to use it in!

In this video, Hailey from Wellness Today gives you some pro tips on how to nail down your kale massaging technique. Check it out below!

 

Have you ever massaged kale? Do you have any expert tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Healthy Breakfast Quinoa Recipe

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It can be hard to get back into a healthy routine after the cold, comfort-food-filled winter. I can’t just stop eating sweets and extra salty food in a day; it takes a few to ween myself off. I finally feel back on track, eating like my normal self and feeling more energetic and less bloated.

In order to get to this place, I had to exercise some serious self control last week and start to cook more healthy recipes like this one. 

Although it’s the most important meal of the day, busy people (myself included) have a hard time fitting in a healthy breakfast that actually fills us up until lunch time. I love this breakfast quinoa recipe because you can make it on a Sunday and eat it for the next three days no problem. On Monday morning, breakfast took me only a few minutes to make because I just had to heat up my leftover quinoa and add a dollop of almond butter. 

Unlike oatmeal, quinoa doesn’t get mushy or dense, plus it packs in an extra punch of protein. I make my version of this semi-sweet with maple syrup, but if you’re trying to stay completely sweetener-free, it’s just as delicious without it. I add chia and flax seeds to get extra Omega-3s, fiber, and digestive support. 

Ingredients

Power Smoothie Recipe: Drink Up Matcha Green Tea’s Benefits

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Green tea has long been a popular superfood, but to tap into its most nutritionally powerful form, you may need to think beyond the teabag. If you’ve never heard of matcha, it’s a fine green tea powder that has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries and by Zen Buddhists who valued the tea for its unique therapeutic properties. These traditions hold that drinking this tea is the ultimate path to clarity, energy and better health, and they just might be onto something! 

Choco-Mint Mini Cupcakes (Grain-free, Vegan)

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I made this choco-mint cake for a gluten-free retreat, and it was a hit. Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily suggested making it as mini-cupcakes instead, and she was right! Somehow, everything is more glorious with frosting on top. Go figure.

The recipe features a not-so-secret ingredient (avocado!) which lends a wonderful creaminess. Don’t worry–I won’t tell if you don’t.

 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pureed ripe avocado (approx. ¾ of an avocado)
  • 3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (70-85% cacao), melted
  • 1 cup of maple syrup
  • ½ tsp mint extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups of almond flour
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot flour or cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

Heavenly Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 whole avocado (approx. ¾ cup)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate (70-85% cacao) 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7 Habits of Highly Healthy People

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Whether you’re making a belated New Year’s Resolution or setting goals for the week ahead, improving your health is probably on your radar. We all know that making perfectly healthy choices isn’t easy or possible 100% of the time. There always seems to be some special circumstance or distraction that takes the focus away from our health, and the “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality is all too common. 

However, leading a more a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean dramatically overhauling your routine—it can easily be incorporated into your everyday life by taking small yet significant  steps toward creating better habits. Healthy living is a choice  that will make you feel and look better, and the best part about it is that it’s accessible to everyone.  For me, incorporating these seven healthy habits into my day-to-day life makes me a better friend, family member, co-worker, and participant of life. Perhaps the most important part of sticking to healthy habits is to remember that it’s okay to not be perfect! For me, I know that I don’t stick to all 7 of these habits all of the time, but finding balance is what helps me stay healthy, full of energy, and loving life!  To kick off a healthier, happier you, try incorporating these seven habits into your life:

Keep Your Teeth Cavity Free With These 5 Foods

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You might be surprised to learn that tooth enamel (the outer coating on the teeth) is the strongest substance in the body. And yet, acids and bacteria manage to do a fine job of breaking down that enamel, exposing the inner pulp of the teeth and leading to cavities. Good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) help keep your teeth healthy, but it’s not always enough to strengthen the enamel enough to fend off cavities. The good news is, there’s more you can do than just brushing and flossing.

Turns out, the foods you eat can play a significant role in your enamel health. Plus, strengthening tooth enamel through food choices rather than toothpaste and mouthwash means you not only promote the health of your entire mouth but also avoid all of the chemicals and artificial sweeteners in many commercial toothpastes. Try incorporating these five enamel-friendly foods into your diet, and you’re likely to get a gold star on your next trip to the dentist!

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