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Ingredients:

1 c coconut water
1 c frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana
1 orange
2 leaves green kale
2 leaves swiss chard
1 tsp bee pollen and/or protein powder

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy being naturally infused with vitamins and nutrients! 🙂

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I was expecting the sun to come out on my day off of work today. I’ve been feeling unmotivated this afternoon so I decided to throw together some ingredients from the overwhelming fruit and veggie collection that I’ve been hoarding lately (not the worst thing to get into the habit of :P). Here is the lowdown on what I threw together and I feel like I can now go about my day with a bit more energy despite the clouds and cool breeze (I’m not ready for summer to be over!):

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-1 bunch dandelion greens – detoxifying, an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K, calcium and iron. These do add some bitterness/bite, which I don’t mind, but you can also throw in kale, romaine or spinach instead.

-1 very ripe pear – a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper, and vitamin K

-1 banana – a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese.

-1 c blackberries – packed with polyphenols and anthocyanins which can help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Blackberries are also rich in manganese and vitamin C. Can sub. other berries too – blueberries would work great!

-1 teaspoon ea of unsweetened cocoa powder – rich dietary source of flavonoids, bee pollen – loaded with enzymes which help us break down and digest food, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and phytonutrients (please do not use this if you are allergic to bee products), spirulina – rich supply of many important nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, and vitamins A, K, and B complex. It also has a high supply of carotenoids such as beta carotene and yellow xanthophylls which have antioxidant properties. It is also rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids, rich in iron, magnesium and trace minerals, and is easier to absorb than iron supplements. The highest source of B-12, essential for healthy nerves and tissue, especially for vegetarians.

-1 c goat milk kefir – provides protein, calcium, probiotics (or milk/non-dairy option of your choice)

-a few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender, enjoy immediately!

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I used agave nectar on a few occasions in the past but I stopped purchasing it after reading several articles that made me question it’s touted low-glycemic index. The few times I did use it, I found it to be too sweet. I stay away from refined sugars or anything with too much added sugar to begin with (another reason to avoid packaged/highly processed foods).

If you use it, you may want to research the source and ingredients or consider one of the alternative sweeteners mentioned in this article just posted by health/nutrition guru David Wolfe. There is also more detailed information on agave here from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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I am not a big fan of soy-containing products to begin with. After reading the following article several months ago I became even more aware that my stance on not buying items such as veggie burgers, fake “meats,” and most energy bars is well-backed. You can read more about the dangers of soy protein isolate, which is in a lot of those products here.

Soy has become the go-to meat substitute for many vegans, vegetarians and health-minded consumers alike. I think that what a large portion of these consumers don’t understand is that soy should not become a regular ingredient in every dish that you prepare, and it is not healthy to rely on it as your sole protein source. Many people compare the health benefits of soy as positive, especially with many studies among Asian cultures who consume it and the longevity of their country’s populations. What they don’t understand is that those societies eat soy in moderation, and often in a more healthy, fermented state.

I am not a fan of packaged foods to begin with, let alone those whose ingredients list contain several unpronounceable additives. This goes back to my philosophy that you should eat food in it’s natural state whenever possible in order to receive the most nutritional value. Any time that a food has been processed, wrapped in plastic and put inside of a box for your chewing pleasure, that should be a red flag that you may be better off reading the ingredients before buying it. Mother Jones posted a report about the recent findings of a Cornucopia Institute investigation behind the dangers of hexane in soy products.

In it, they investigated several soy-based food manufacturers and their processing practices. The findings are, to say the least, troubling. Hexane is used in gasoline refining. Would you put something that is a by-product of what you fuel your car with into your body? I think not. Not only was this substance found in things like protein bars and veggie burgers, but also soy-based infant formulas. The evidence is disturbing and yet most consumers don’t think twice about it. I highly suggest that you read the report in full and then decide for yourself if the so-called benefits of soy are worth it.

Lastly, I would also recommend that any women reading this research the correlation between phytoestrogens found in soy and the link of consuming it regularly to the incidence of breast cancer. Research is still up in the air about this issue, but given all of the recent negative press I find it to be yet another solid reason to limit soy food intake.

For those of you that are vegan or vegetarian I would encourage you to consume more whole food based healthy protein from plant sources such as leafy greens, lentils, sprouts, raw nuts/seeds, hemp protein, spirulina/chlorella, and some grains such as quinoa. Foods such as these also have the added benefit of less or no packaging (especially if you buy them in bulk), which is kinder to the environment. If you do consume meat please try to buy organic and/or local raised, grass-fed whenever possible to limit the amount of environmental impact and toxins conventional raised meats produce.

Please research anything that you put into your body before choosing to buy it. Just because an item is certified organic or contains organic ingredients does not mean it is healthy. Many of those foods have added preservatives and sugars and are not much better than junk foods. I hope that this post encourages you to become more aware of your purchases during your next trip to the grocery store and to think twice before adding certain foods to your cart.

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Doritos. Soda. Vending Machines. That questionable breaded meat patty on a plastic tray. These are the first images that come to mind of my high school lunch experience. I did not know any better. I’m sure that the schools, their employees in the kitchen, and our parents didn’t think about how unhealthy these now questionable choices offered really were.  Trans fats, preservatives, unpronounceable ingredients; none of those were of much concern back then. Drive thrus were more familiar to me at times than a seated meal at the family dining table. It was quick, easy and didn’t require any waiting. That was in the mid-1990s. Fast forward to today and sadly not much has changed. Except now there is the option to supersize your fast food. Yikes.

Enter Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, airing every Friday night on ABC. He is honest and passionate about truly wanting to make a change in these kids’ lives, one healthy meal at a time. I watched tonight’s episode where he moved from the elementary school lunchroom that he visited last week to the local high school. Of course, it was the same story as the elementary kids. The students wanted to load their trays with carbs instead of carrots. This time he had their fries taken away! What was great about this episode was that he encouraged a group of kids to help him with prepping and cooking a gourmet dinner for a fundraiser event to help pay for a more healthy school menu in their community.

They visited a farm to learn about the importance of local, fresh ingredients. It encouraged everyone to participate and learn, while at the same time promoting a healthy lifestyle. Many people continue to order their food at drive thru menu boards and eat their meals in a disconnected manner.   Jamie Oliver will be there to set the record straight, that this is not okay.  His food revolution begins with our children, who have often been misled by their own schools and families when it comes to nutrition.

I’m glad to see a show like this on network television and I hope that it makes an impact on those that might be otherwise misinformed as to what constitutes a healthy meal.  We should all research what we are putting into our bodies.   Understand food labels and please choose fresh over the overly processed and packaged foods.  A simple home cooked meal brings together friends, family and communities.

I am looking forward to next week’s episode. If you missed any of them or haven’t seen the show yet you can watch it here and he also references the show in this eye-opening TED Talk. His website also has plenty of information, recipes and an online petition you can sign to encourage the White House to improve school food in America. 

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