Trust your body (it knows what it needs)

July 1st, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

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Last night Wayne and I enjoyed a beautiful patio dinner in front of a perfect wood-burning fire. We refer to it as our “fun platter dinner”, because it’s full of mostly finger foods– you know, the type you’d find on a charcuterie board at a nice restaurant (to go with your glass of wine). 

Right before bed, I experienced an almost insatiable thirst. Well of course I did; I probably consumed 1000 milligrams of sodium in one sitting…duh! After guzzling a big bottle of water, I began contemplating the very real phenomenon of inner-homeostasis– or our body’s drive towards balance and equilibrium. I came to this conclusion:

Damn is my body brilliant!

And yours is too.

 

Trust your body– it’s smarter than you think!

Have you ever stopped to appreciate the wonder of the human body? It knows exactly what to do to heal itself. Its only role is to keep us protected and alive, at any cost. I mean think about it– imagine if we had to personally instruct our body to heal that cut on our finger. I think we’d all be up the creek without a paddle, and some of us (ahem…ME) would miss a crucial step because we’d be too busy checking Facebook!

Last night, this brilliant body of mine– of which I claim no credit–knew exactly what to do about the excess salt I fed it. Because I disturbed my inner-homeostasis, it responded with a very appropriate: Let’s make her barren desert-thirsty so she’ll drink enough water to restore us back to balance.    

I’m not sure how it knows what to do; it just does! I believe the 13th century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi said it best with this advice: Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. 

Your body is an amazing, wondrous, bewildering treasure of light, strength and resiliency. It wants to be well and will do everything in its power to get your attention.

 

Pay attention! Otherwise you’ll miss the warning
  • Thirst.
  • Stress-induced neck pain.
  • High blood sugar following a sleep-deprived night.
  • That subtle layer of extra fat that just “magically” appeared on your abdomen.
  • Elevated triglyceride levels revealed on your recent bloodwork report.
  • The inevitable stroke caused by your pack-a-day habit.  

These are all warning signs that something is disrupting your inner-homeostasis.

So stop with the “whoa is me”, trust your body, and start paying attention! You can fix this. If I may be so bold, you’d better fix it, otherwise your body will cry louder and force you to pay attention.

Can you say D-I-S-E-A-S-E? 

 

First trust your body, then put your $$ where your mouth is

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m being a little harsh, but I hope you understand it’s coming from a place of love and absolute knowing. Knowing that– even if YOU don’t– your body will absolutely support you if you support it.

By all means, read my posts and take it all in.

Then DO something.

Claim ownership of your health and take action.

Listen my sweet friend, I’m not asking you to move mountains here…just little piles of dirt: Make one of my recipes for dinner tonight (try this week’s recipe pick for Avocado Alfredo Pasta); get your ass into bed a half-hour earlier; trade that (may as well be cotton candy-water) sweetened beverage for a glass of lemon water or fruit-infused water; calm your stress with five minutes of quiet meditation.

You get the point! 

 

Trust ME…I speak from experience

Back in 2015, I was told I had pre-diabetes—a diagnosis that literally knocked the wind out of me.

It was my body’s way of getting my attention.

You see, I thought I was doing everything right– I ate healthy food, exercised most days of the week, and my body weight was within a normal range. Well it just so happened that I was eating more carbohydrates than my body could handle. Walking into the kitchen on any given day and mindlessly grabbing a bag of sprouted tortilla chips, was a common ritual for me. I reasoned that “Hey, they are sprouted, whole grain, non-GMO, low sodium, and organic, so I get a free pass to eat as many as I want!” This ended up being half of the bag.

I also came to discover that although I didn’t physically feel it, I was experiencing more stress than I realized, which manifested into elevated blood sugar.

By taking the proper measures to clean up my body and mind, through good nutrition, exercise, rest, supplementation and meditation, I am happy to report that in just six months, I created a healthy environment of normal blood sugar. If you want to read more about my story, click HERE.

Could I have thrown up my hands and jumped on the “it’s genetic” train? Sure. But I didn’t. I trusted, shifted, and my body brought itself back into harmonious balance. 

The bottom line is this

Trust your body, it knows exactly what it needs. Ignore it, and don’t be surprised with what “magically” occurs. 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Fresh Basil

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Native to India, Asia and Africa, fresh basil just happens to be my all-time favorite herb. I enjoy this highly fragrant plant most in prepared pesto sauce or Avocado Alfredo Pasta

Benefits:

  • Basil has an impressive amount of vitamin K and is packed with flavonoids–natural plant substances known for their beneficial effects on health. In fact, it’s the flavonoids in basil that protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. 
  • Basil also acts as an antibacterial! Its volatile oils protect against unwanted bacterial growth like Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
  • As an natural anti-inflammatory, basil offers symptomatic relief for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. 

Uses:

Fresh basil can be used in so many ways. Here are some of my favorites:

In hot dishes, be sure to add basil near the end of the cooking process to preserve its heavenly flavor.

Storage:

Treat fresh basil like you would fresh flowers. Simply trim the leaves off the bottom of the stems, place in a jar or vase with fresh water and store on your counter. Change the water every two days and wash the leaves right before use. You could also store the leaves by washing gently, patting dry and wrapping in a paper towel. Place in a plastic bag, seal, and store in refrigerator drawer.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Avocado Alfredo Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Avocado Alfredo Pasta

Wow! That’s all I have to say about this super-simple recipe.

A creamy, flavorful sauce made with avocado, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese). Yes, I know it’s green, but I’ve got to tell you, it totally fulfills the role of “comfort food”.

I chose to serve it over Banza Chickpea Pasta, a gluten-free pasta that offers a nice amount of protein and fiber compared to traditional wheat-based pasta. 

In case you’re wondering, nutritional yeast is not the same thing as baker’s yeast. Known for its cheesy flavor, it’s made by culturing yeast for several days in a nutrient growth medium (often glucose from beet molasses or sugarcane) and then deactivating it with heat. Just like sauerkraut and other cultured foods, the final product contains no sugar. A wonderful addition to a vegan diet, nutritional yeast is full of B-vitamins, minerals and complete protein (8 grams per 1 1/2 tablespoons). 

Because it’s so rich, Avocado Alfredo Pasta is best served as a side dish.

Print Recipe
Avocado Alfredo Pasta
A creamy, flavorful sauce made with avocado, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese). On the table in 15 minutes or less! 1 Earthfood per serving: ❤️
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. (1 box) Banza Rotini pasta
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or grated Parmesan cheese) Red Star or Bragg brand of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. (1 box) Banza Rotini pasta
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or grated Parmesan cheese) Red Star or Bragg brand of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to the package. Drain well.
  2. While pasta is cooking, place the avocado, olive oil, nutritional yeast or cheese, garlic, basil, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.
  3. Toss cooked pasta with sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with additional cheese and basil ribbons if desired.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 270Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 100 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 26 g; Dietary fiber: 8 g; Net Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Sugar: 3 g (no added sugar); Protein: 12 g

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Canola Oil is NOT Good for You (despite popular belief)

June 27th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick: California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Loaded Hummus Plate
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

A descendant of the rapeseed plant, the canola plant was first bred in Canada in the early 1970s. Its name is derived from “Canada” and “ola”, which means oil. 

For some reason, society for the most part still collectively believes that canola oil is healthy; don’t worry, I did too! While it is higher in cardio-protective monounsaturated fat, it’s also a highly refined, genetically modified (GMO) vegetable oil that undergoes a 7-step process before hitting the shelves.

Check this out…

Canola oil: Hexane, bleaching, and deodorizing…oh my!

During processing, a chemical solvent such as hexane, is first used to extract the maximum amount of oil from the seed. Hexane comes from petroleum and crude oil and is used as a cleaning agent in the textile and furniture industries. It also doubles as an additive in gas, glue, and varnishes. Yeah…enough said.

After bathing in this toxin (seriously, the EPA considers it an air pollutant, while the CDC classifies hexane as a neurotoxin), canola oil is put through a bleaching process to lighten the color. A deodorization process follows, which removes a large portion of omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. The end result is an oxidatively damaged oil, which poses a risk to the health of your body. 

 

But wait, there’s more!

 

Omega-6 fats (i.e. canola oil) are PRO-inflammatory

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats considered “essential” because your body can’t make them. This means you must get them through food or supplementation.

Omega-3 fats—found in seafood and certain plants—have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, while omega-6 fats tend to be pro-inflammatory. This means they promote chronic inflammatory conditions such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Remember, omega-6 fatty acids are essential, and if you eat them in the form of unprocessed foods like nuts, seeds, poultry and eggs, you will have no problem. 

 

So what is the problem?

 

Omega-6 fats are hiding out in TONS of processed food

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in cereal grains, like corn and wheat, and in refined vegetable oils, such as corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, soybean, and yes…canola oil. Read the nutrition label on any processed food, whether it’s a bag of chips, a frozen pizza, or a box of “healthy” cereal, and you will likely see one or more of these pro-inflammatory ingredients.

So if you live on a steady diet of convenience food, you are consuming way more omega-6 fats than you should.

PS: Canola oil is hiding out in many popular brands of hummus. Read your nutrition labels and choose those made with tahini and extra virgin olive oil instead.

Our ancient ancestors did not suffer from inflammatory diseases like we do today

Research from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers did not experience inflammatory diseases.

Ready for a real shocker?

Today, thanks to our standard American diet, we consume a ratio closer to 20:1 (that’s 20 omega-6 fats to 1 omega-3 fat!).

The bottom line: Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids promote chronic inflammatory conditions. There’s a price to be paid for filling your body with processed and refined foods, while neglecting a relentlessly consistent diet of Earthfoods; it’s called disease! Dis-ease. 

What fats should you be eating for better health? 

I recommend the following:

  • For salads, stews and low-temperature cooking: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, walnut oil, almond oil 
  • Avocado 
  • Grass-fed butter such as Kerrygold or Organic Valley 
  • Ghee, or clarified butter (good for high-heat cooking)
  • Unrefined coconut oil
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts 
  • Seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds 
  • Nut and seed butters
  • Olives 
  • Fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, herring, wild salmon
  • Tahini (sesame seed paste) 
  • MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride)

Resources:
https://kresserinstitute.com/what-really-causes-oxidative-damage/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685950?dopt=AbstractPlus
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648?dopt=AbstractPlus
https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/1846638/association-dietary-circulating-supplement-fatty-acids-coronary-risk-systematic-review

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is essentially “olive juice”. It’s the oil extracted from the olive– that’s it! Unlike canola and other highly processed oils, no solvents or chemicals are used in its production. 

EVOO is high in heart and brain-protective monounsaturated fats and contains polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress throughout your body. 

To protect from light, which can deteriorate the quality of the antioxidants, choose EVOO in dark bottles and store away from heat. For best quality, it’s suggested to use within 30-60 days once opened. 

Don’t be fooled by the lingo on the front of the bottle– olive oil labeled as “Light” or “Pure” are refined, meaning heat and/or chemicals are used in the process of extracting the oil. 

Founded in 1998, California Olive Ranch offers a variety of high quality, great tasting extra virgin olive oils, ranging from mild to peppery. They’ve pioneered new ways of cultivating and harvesting olives in order to make their extra virgin olive oil premium and affordable. All of their products are certified by Applied Sensory and California Olive Oil Council (COOC).

Their Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil has notes of fresh herbs, fruit and green grass, and is recommended for everyday use in dressings, dips, cold dishes, and low heat cooking. California Olive Ranch offer some pretty amazing recipes on their website too, so check them out! 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Loaded Hummus Plate

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Loaded Hummus Plate

I discovered this idea on Pinterest and because of the sheer beauty of it, I couldn’t wait to create my own version and share it with you! 

Rather than store-bought hummus– which can get expensive and often contains canola or other highly refined oils– I made a batch of my OMG Hummus.

If you prefer to purchase hummus, just be sure to read the ingredients and choose only those brands made with tahini and/or extra virgin olive oil. 

In addition to the raw veggies, you could also serve with Flackers flaxseed crackers!

Print Recipe
Loaded Hummus Plate
Hummus loaded with raw veggies, olives, parsley, roasted peppers, and feta cheese. Makes the perfect summer appetizer! 1 Earthfood per serving (for hummus): ❤️
Prep Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup hummus)
Ingredients
  • 1 batch OMG Hummus (or 2 cups store-bought hummus) Recipe for OMG Hummus in Recipe Notes below
  • raw veggies of choice pepper strips; sliced cherry tomatoes; cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery sticks, etc.
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • diced roasted red peppers
  • olives
  • feta cheese
  • parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • smoked paprika
Prep Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup hummus)
Ingredients
  • 1 batch OMG Hummus (or 2 cups store-bought hummus) Recipe for OMG Hummus in Recipe Notes below
  • raw veggies of choice pepper strips; sliced cherry tomatoes; cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery sticks, etc.
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • diced roasted red peppers
  • olives
  • feta cheese
  • parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Prepare a batch of OMG Hummus, spread on a platter and load it up with toppings of choice!
  2. Drizzle hummus with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika!
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for OMG Hummus recipe!

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/4 cup of hummus; does not include toppings)Calories: 150Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 450 mg; Potassium: 187 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 13 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 5 g

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One Day, It’ll All Be Over

June 20th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

My husband Wayne has a way of putting things into simplistic perspective. Not long ago he said something that really struck me.

As a bystander of an uncomfortable political conversation-turned-heated-debate with a group of male acquaintances, he stood up, put his hand on the shoulder of one of the gentlemen and proclaimed with an air of absolute certainty: And one day guys…it’ll all be over.

One guy laughed in agreement, and the others just sat there befuddled, as if Wayne just revealed the Easter Bunny’s true identity.

 

And one day, it’ll all be over

Who could argue with that? Why is it that we avoid the reality of our own mortality, as if by paying it no mind, we will somehow escape its inevitability? Besides, it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed and that we all have in common.

Yes, one day it’ll all be over. So what are you spending your precious time doing these days?

  • Complaining about things you have no control over (i.e. weather; the behavior of others)?
  • Stressing over what to eat…or not to eat?
  • Working, working, working… leaving no time for you? (I’m like no-shower-for-a-week-smelly guilty of this)
  • Taking care of everyone else, but leaving no time to care for YOU?
  • Hanging out with energy-vampires who make you want to jump off the nearest bridge?
  • Bathing in guilt for: Eating that cookie? Not being Superwoman for your family? Not making more money? Sitting on the couch instead of treading on the treadmill?
  • Perpetually rehashing the list of everything you wish were different about your body?
  • Caring too much about what other people think of you? As American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once said: What people in the world think of you is really none of your business. Pure genius!
  • Walking around in a trance-like state, while going through the motions with abandoned emotion?
  • Getting caught up in juicy office gossip?

My goodness how bad each of these are for our health… and spirit. Moreover, we are NOT here to live out our days waking up full of recycled worry and resting on a pillow of not-enoughness. Just imagine if you knew with absolute certainty that today was your last day on this magnificent earth plane. Would you spend it doing any of the above?   

 

Let’s stop this pompous sense of entitlement! After all, one day, it’ll all be over

We are guaranteed nothing; not even ten minutes from now. So let’s get out of lalaland and face the facts–none of us are getting out alive, so why don’t we get busy living this spectacular life we are blessed with?

Though it may appear as if I’m directing this message at you, while true in part, it’s also a personal diary entry. Forgive me for being so blunt, but I SUCK at taking time for myself. Even though I partake in daily exercise, meditation, and simple healthy meal prep, I consider these analogous to daily flossing– things I do to express gratitude to my body for carrying me around. But when it comes time to stop and enjoy the simple things, I’m a rookie at best  like the kid who warms the bench all season in little league.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to take hours out of your day quite yet (if I’m being honest, the mere thought of that sends me into a slight panic). Because the truth is, it’s the little things that bring us a sense of joy and meaning in life. Would you agree?

 

Stop being so damn hard on yourself!

Today, I pour my heart out and give you permission (and also plead with myself) to stop being so damn hard on yourself! Instead, cut yourself some much-needed slack and make it a point every single day to do something that fills your heart with joy.

Here are some ideas. Some require just a moment of your time, and others a bit longer.  

  • Look in the mirror and fall in love with the sparkling, extraordinary creation that is YOU.
  • Enjoy a flippin’ ice cream cone once in a while without wondering how many miles you’ll have to log to burn it off. Who the hell cares!
  • Listen to the angelic vocals of Judy Collins in Amazing Grace– and allow yourself to weep in quiet knowingness.   
  • Watch the sun set and see how many colors you can pick out from the landscape.
  • Catch raindrops on your tongue.
  • Read a non-self-help book!
  • Bask in the wonder of a tree.
  • Wake up obscenely early and wait for the first bird to peep (FYI, it’s usually the cardinal around here).
  • Tell a corny joke, or laugh at one! Why was the cook arrested? He was caught beating an egg.🤣 ; What’s the difference between the bird flu and swine flu? One requires tweetment and the other an oinkment. 😜Anything??
  • Watch a hilarious animal video like THIS ONE or THIS ONE. (BEWARE: you may pee your pants!) 
  • Strike up a conversation with a lonely senior citizen. I make it a point to do this and I have to tell you, it fills my heart with such love. Most are widowed and just looking for someone to talk to. Not only are they full of so many rich stories, you’ll never have to worry about them pulling out their phone to check text messages in the middle of your conversation. HINT: they can usually be found in the morning hours at your local Panera.
  • Sit by a pond and toss in a handful of stones, one at a time. Watch the water ripple and become still before tossing in the next one.
  • Notice a flower. 

 

Food is only one piece of well-being

So often we see health as influenced only by what’s at the end of our fork, however that’s only one slice of the well-being pie! We forget that laughter, fun, wonder, and allowing yourself to just BE are also huge chunks of the equation. The way I see it: not taking time for these– usually thought of as ancillary or “someday when my kids are grown”– activities is akin to skipping out on exercise.

They are enormously important for your health.

 

‘30 Days of Little Things’ Challenge!

Let’s enter into a challenge together, shall we? I don’t know about you, but I need this so badly in my life and could really use some accountability. Let’s make a promise to our sweet selves that, for thirty days, we will engage in one daily activity to honor and rejoice in the little things.

I’m posting my daily activity on Facebook, so if you’d like to follow along, feel free to send me a personal friend request or like my public page and follow me there. And of course, I can’t wait to see what you’re doing too! 

Let’s do this my sweet special friends, because one day…it’ll all be over.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Lemons

Photo by Nery Montenegro on Unsplash

If there’s one habit you can start building today for better health, it’s adding lemon to your diet in some way.

Although usually considered an afterthought garnish on a tall glass of water, lemons boast a pretty impressive resume. In fact, evidence suggests that lemons can support your health in the following ways:

  • Boosts the immune system (due to their generous amount of vitamin C).
  • Offers cardiovascular protection (vitamin C and folate).
  • Prevents kidney stones (vitamin C).
  • Possible cancer-fighter (folate and limonin, a powerful antioxidant found in citrus fruits).
  • Protects liver function, helping preserve its ability to detoxify.
  • Stimulates the digestive tract and keeps things moving along 😁. 
  • Offers antimicrobial benefits against salmonella, staphylococcus and other pathogenic bacteria. 

For all of these reasons, I strongly encourage my friends (yes YOU!) to drink 12-16 ounces of lemon water every morning right after waking. One tablespoon of lemon juice is plenty! Also, check out this week’s recipe pick for Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding. It uses an entire lemon and makes a refreshing, light summer breakfast. 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding (blended)

 

 

 

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Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding (blended)

Yay! Another recipe for chia pudding that I know you will love…especially if you don’t prefer the tapioca pudding-texture of traditional chia pudding. This recipe is so easy, even my cat can make it! Just toss all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until the chia seeds are broken down. 

The combination of lemon and strawberry makes for a refreshing summer breakfast or lunch while on the go. I like to mix mine with a scoop or two of full-fat cottage cheese (like Kalona SuperNatural Whole Milk Cottage Cheese) and top with a sprinkle of grain-free granola and unsweetened coconut flakes. 

You may also enjoy my other chia pudding recipes: Peanut Butter Banana Chia Pudding and Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding!

Print Recipe
Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding (blended)
Another super easy recipe for chia pudding that I know you will love...especially if you don't prefer the tapioca pudding-texture of traditional chia pudding. The combination of lemon and strawberry makes for a refreshing summer breakfast or lunch while on the go! 4 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 oz. unsweetened vanilla plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced and stems removed
  • 1 small lemon, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 oz. unsweetened vanilla plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced and stems removed
  • 1 small lemon, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor and process until chia seeds are broken down and blended.
  2. Transfer contents to mason jar and secure with lid. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Top with nuts, seeds, or unsweetened coconut flakes.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 210Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 25 mg; Potassium: 475 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 31 g; Dietary fiber: 15 g; Net Carbohydrates: 16 grams;Sugar: 15 g (6 grams added sugar from maple syrup); Protein: 7 g

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Peanut Butter Banana Chia Pudding

I’m just getting started with chia pudding…so you’ll have to forgive my obnoxiousness over the next couple of weeks because it’s going to be nothing short of chia mania!

If you love the combo of peanut butter and banana, you will absolutely adore this variety. 

Each recipe makes two servings, or enough to fill one 12-ounce mason jar. I’ve been treating this like a dessert lately, scooping out a couple of tablespoons when I have a taste for something sweet (which is like every day). 

This really makes an incredible breakfast– totally blows yogurt out of the water. And you can make it dairy-free by using nut milk. The only sweetener I added was a teaspoon of raw honey, but the combination of cinnamon, pure vanilla, and banana sweetens it up plenty, so feel free to omit if you’d like. 

The fact that it packs 13 grams of fiber per serving means it will stay with you and won’t spike blood sugar. 

Like blueberry? Try my Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding recipe!

Print Recipe
Peanut Butter Banana Chia Pudding
If you love the combo of peanut butter and banana, you will absolutely adore this variety. The only sweetener I added was a teaspoon of raw honey, but the combination of cinnamon, pure vanilla, and banana sweetens it up plenty, so feel free to omit if you'd like. 3 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️❤️❤️
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk I like Elmhurst unsweetened nut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
  • 1/2 medium banana, ripe
  • 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter (oily kind works best) only ingredient should be peanuts (salt is ok too!)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cacao nibs (optional) Navitas brand
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk I like Elmhurst unsweetened nut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
  • 1/2 medium banana, ripe
  • 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter (oily kind works best) only ingredient should be peanuts (salt is ok too!)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cacao nibs (optional) Navitas brand
Instructions
  1. Combine chia seeds through vanilla in a mason jar and stir until combined.
  2. In a food processor, combine honey through cinnamon and process until combined. You could also mash the banana with a fork and mix the other ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Stir the banana mixture into the chia mixture and mix well. Secure with mason jar lid and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Top with cacao nibs if desired.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 260Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 145 mg; Potassium: 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 23 g; Dietary fiber: 13 g; Net Carbohydrates: 10 grams; Sugar: 7 g (5 grams added sugar from honey); Protein: 11 g

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Stop the Chase: A Healthier You is Waiting

June 11th, 2019 | no comments

 

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Plus:

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Are you tired of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, chasing after good health with limited success? And just when you think you’ve got it…there it goes, like a feather being carried away by the wind.

When I ask people why they feel it’s so difficult to change their current lifestyle habits to achieve better health, I usually get answers like: “It’s too time consuming” or “I miss my favorite foods.” While both are legitimate, supporting reasons for falling off track, they are not at the core of why we really struggle to sustain healthy change.

Why do we really fail?

No, it’s not due to lack of willpower. Nor is it because we failed to find the perfect diet.

Now here this:

We fail because we continue to make choices as the version of ourselves we are trying to change. The one with aching joints, high cholesterol, and fifty extra pounds to lose. We aren’t living and making choices as if we already are in good health.

We aren’t living with the end in mind.

Understand, you can’t get “there” from “here”. In order for conditions to improve in your body, you must be open to the world of possibilities waiting for you when you have the courage to shift your mindset.  

Are you brave enough?

Are you courageous enough to stop the chase, shed the person you see in the mirror, and step into the shoes of the person you long to become? The one who is indeed waiting for your arrival? 

 

It begins with how you see yourself

This shift in mindset begins with changing how you see yourself. Let me tell you…it matters how you see yourself. It matters so much because:

 

How you treat your body– including what you feed it, whether you give it enough sleep and exercise– is directly related to how you see your body.

 

If you see and believe your body to be fat, unhealthy, diseased, broken, or any version of this, you will subconsciously make choices to keep yourself stuck in that body. You will choose the cheeseburger over the salmon at your favorite restaurant; instead of lacing up your tennis shoes, you will sit your butt on the couch; you will trade sleep for another sitcom episode you’ve seen a million times. Even though you instinctively know better, you will make the self-sabotaging choice because deep down you don’t feel worthy of anything better.

On the other hand, if you see and believe your body to be a healthy temple, a five-star resort, vibrant, strong, or any version of this, you will lather it with healthy habits. Because you sense your worthiness at a deep level, you will make choices to support this vision and keep it alive. 

 

Get out of “what-is” land and go Home

As I said above, you can’t get “there” from “here”. What I mean by that is, when you remain in a fog– in what I call “what-is land”– you are blind to your inherent worthiness. Seeing yourself as diabetic, overweight, or whatever your current ailments are, you can’t recognize the healthier, higher self that is waiting for you. Sustainable change in your eating and exercise habits becomes impossible.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this play out in the lives of people I meet. While I know the reason they fell off track, they are in total darkness as to the true cause, and so they blame it on lack of willpower or some other factor.

Listen, I’m not asking you to fire your doctor and ignore your diagnosis, just stop identifying yourself by it. Take off the blinders, open your beautiful heart and mind, and become a witness to who you really are. When you are Home, in the presence of your light, your higher, healthier self is shining bright, waiting for you. (Click here to understand what it means to be at Home)

Salmon or cheeseburger? Take a walk or plop your ass on the couch? When you are Home, there’s no decision to be made…you just know.  

Want to put an end to the chase after good health? Well, then stop running and embody that which is waiting for you…and live from that end.

Don’t you see? It already exists within you, you just have to step into it.

 

End in Mind visualization exercise

Today, right this very moment, you are the sum total of all of your past thoughts and beliefs. If you aren’t happy with the results, step out of the fog, shift your beliefs, and start feeding yourself more affirmative thoughts. 

Spend a few minutes every morning practicing this visualization exercise:

Visualize yourself in a healthy, vibrant body. The one you’ve been chasing after and longing for. What does this body look and feel like? See it in great detail, as clear as your favorite piece of art. What clothes are you wearing? Where are you? What foods are you enjoying? Imagine yourself with lab results in hand…what do they say? How do you feel in this body? See yourself ordering a meal at your favorite restaurant– what do you choose? Believe you are deserving of it and that it is in fact waiting for you.

Once you can see it very clearly, it’s time to embody that person and begin making the choices they would make. For example, even though you may love them, a healthy and vibrant individual would not eat doughnuts for breakfast. It’s not that they forbid themselves, it would just be totally out of alignment with who they really are. It simply wouldn’t make sense.

Understand, this isn’t a matter of exercising willpower, but rather an almost unconscious practice of living with the desired end in mind.

Really, it’s about stepping into that which is waiting for you.

 

This is SO IMPORTANT…

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of living as the end product of your desire and making choices from this place, as this person. Really feel yourself into it. Feel the energy as it courses through your veins. Take a good look in the mirror, believe and feel that you are this person.

The truth is, if your vision is strong and persistent enough, something you can’t get out of your mind, it is an indication that it’s already in you, waiting to be born.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Elmhurst Nut Milk

It’s not easy to find non-dairy milk without emulsifiers, thickeners, and added sugar. That’s why many people are making their own nut milk! Personally, I haven’t gone as far as to “milk” my almonds…yet. If you are interested in making your own nut milk using whole nuts, check out this recipe.

Still, it can be super convenient to just pick up a carton of non-dairy milk, so if you choose to go this route, I would recommend to first avoid carrageenan, then aim for unsweetened milk. For this you’ll have to look at the ingredient label because even the milks labeled “Original” still have added sugar. Choose milk specifically labeled “unsweetened”.

Elmhurst—specifically their unsweetened varieties– is the best brand I’ve found so far. Although a bit pricey, they’ve managed to create a non-dairy milk with only two ingredients: filtered water and almonds. So in my opinion, it’s worth it. Elmhurst also makes unsweetened cashew, hazelnut, and walnut milk varieties too!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Peanut Butter Banana Chia Pudding

 

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7 Good Mood Foods for Your Lunch Box

June 5th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

Plus: Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Got an everlasting case of the “Mondays”? What you eat throughout your day can really make a difference in your mood. This is why it’s so important to pack what I call a healthy food environment, otherwise you’ll be tempted to reach for cookies, chips or any other highly processed foods that may be hanging out in the office junk food dispenser (aka: vending machine) or lunch room.

The key is to pack your lunch box with not only lunch, but also one or two Earthfood-rich snacks in case you get hungry before quitting time. 

See if you can pack some of these good mood foods in tomorrow’s lunch:

 

Fermented Vegetables

Fermented veggies are rich in healthy bacteria (probiotics)—which studies suggest may help reduce negative thoughts and improve our state of mind. They include: cabbage (sauerkraut), kimchi (a spicy Korean dish made of cabbage, radish, garlic and spices), beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, radishes, garlic, and broccoli. 

Ideas: Mix one or two tablespoons in tuna, egg or garden salads. Try my easy recipe for Lentil Quinoa Kimchi Salad!

Brands: Farmhouse Cultures, Cleveland Kraut, Wake Robin

 

Canned salmon and tuna

Salmon and tuna are both good mood foods with serious bragging rights. They are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote a healthier brain and mental state.

Ideas: Mix with mashed avocado and serve with raw veggies or serve on top of a leafy green salad. Try my Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar!

Brands that test for mercury and PCBs and take measures to control for these contaminants: Wild Planet; Safe Catch; Henry & Lisa’s 

 

Blueberries

Blueberries are high in antioxidants called flavonoids, which help activate brain pathways associated with improved mood and cognition.

Ideas: Add blueberries to lunch salads (like my Shredded Kale & Blueberry Salad with Pecan “Cheese”), pop a handful as a snack, or try this week’s recipe pick for Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding! It makes for an amazing dairy-free yogurt alternative (with much less sugar too).

 

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an impressive source of fiber– 5 grams per tablespoon– and can help prevent constipation and promote regularity. What makes it a good mood food? Have you ever gone a day without pooping? I rest my case. Sometimes I secretly wonder, if all the grumpy Gus’s and crabby Patty’s out there just had a really good bowel movement every morning, would they still be so darn cranky? I think not.  Chia seeds for everyone!

Ideas: Add a tablespoon to shakes, mix into salad dressing, beat afternoon cravings with my Craving-Crusher Water, add to chili (try my recipe for Earthy Turkey Chia Chili), or enjoy it as Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

Brands: Bob’s Red Mill; Nutiva; Navitas; Garden of Life

 

Eggs (especially the yolk!)

Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of choline, a vitamin associated with better neurological function and production of ‘happiness’ hormones!

Ideas: Eat a hard-boiled egg as an afternoon snack, slice into salads, or try my recipe for Egg & Hummus-Stuffed Avocado.

Brands: Organic Valley Free-Range; Pete & Gerry’s Free-Range Organic

 

Lentils

Lentils help keep blood sugar levels stable, which is super important for a balanced mood. This is precisely why you never want to run across me in a dark alley when I have low blood sugar and am ravenously hungry…let’s just say it ain’t pretty! 😈 Lentils are also loaded with folate, a B-vitamin which helps prevent mood disorders.

Ideas: Add ¼ cup lentils to lunch salads and soups or drizzle with olive oil and make it a side dish. Try my Creamy Red Lentil Hummus!

Brand: Bob’s Red Mill Lentils

 

Dark Chocolate

Yes, dark chocolate is a good mood food! It enhances focus and concentration and stimulates production of endorphins—feel-good chemicals that give you a mental lift.

Ideas: Add one tablespoon of cacao powder to your lunch smoothie (try my Gut-Loving Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake!) or for an afternoon pick-me-up, snack on one-ounce of dark chocolate (≥70% cacao) or a square of Chill-the-Hell-Out Fudge (PS: give a square to an angry co-worker and watch what happens!😆)

Brands: Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder; Endangered Species chocolate (70%+)

 

Please don’t be mistaken…

You can’t just add good mood foods to an otherwise crappy diet and expect to be skipping around like Mary Poppins. As you move through your journey to better health and gradually improve the quality of your food choices, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is to include these foods in your repertoire of meals. 

I can hear you singing now…supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 🎼  (tell me you’re not in a better mood after watching this ↓↓↓).

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

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Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

A fantastic breakfast full of mood and brain-boosting omega-3 fats to start your day!

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of yogurt. It’s one of those foods people believe is a healthy choice, meanwhile many varieties contain as much sugar as a Hershey’s bar (seriously). 

Chia pudding is a beautiful alternative to your morning yogurt parfait because YOU control what goes in it…not to mention that a serving packs an enormous amount of fiber (hello 11 grams!). 

More varieties are coming, but in this recipe I decided to keep it simple: just chia seeds, unsweetened nut milk, blueberries, pure vanilla, and a touch of honey. You could even leave the honey out if you’d like. 

Print Recipe
Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding
A fantastic breakfast full of mood and brain-boosting omega-3 fats to start your day! 2 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️❤️
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla plant-based milk almond, coconut, cashew, flax, hemp
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries, mashed
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla plant-based milk almond, coconut, cashew, flax, hemp
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries, mashed
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Instructions
  1. Combine chia seeds through fresh blueberries in a mason jar and stir until combined.
  2. Add frozen blueberries and a couple tablespoons of water to a blender or mini food processor and blend until smooth (should look like a thin fruit puree). Stir into chia pudding, secure with mason jar lid and refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 170Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 80 mg; Potassium: 150 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 21 g; Dietary fiber: 11 g; Net Carbohydrates: 10 grams; Sugar: 9 g (5 grams added sugar from honey); Protein: 6 g

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