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Collagen and Gelatin: How the Health Benefits Outweigh the “Ew” Factor

You may have heard about collagen by now, and how important it is for your health. But what about the “ew” factor? Collagen and gelatin have a stigma that seems to scare people off, and here were going to talk about how the benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor.

What is Collagen and Gelatin?

Collagen is an important – and one of the most common – protein in the body’s connective tissues, skin, and bones. It holds the body together, so to speak, helping to provide structure. As we age, and due to toxic environmental factors, our collagen levels decrease. Additionally, our modern diets don’t typically contain collagen or the amino acids that it provides, as we have gotten out of the practice of eating animals parts like our ancestors did.

Collagen and gelatin are derived from animal parts such as skins, bones, and tissues (the “ew” factor), and contain important amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked. Hydrolyzed collagen has the same amino acids as gelatin, but is a more processed form of collagen, which breaks up proteins into smaller pieces. While the health benefits of hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin are thought to be roughly the same, some people find it a little easier to digest hydrolyzed collagen. I prefer hydrolyzed collagen in things like smoothies or yogurt because it doesn’t gel like gelatin does. On the other hand, gelatin is what’s used in making gummies or marshmallows, or in thickening soups, due to it’s gelatinous nature.

Health Benefits of Collagen and Gelatin

If you’re new to the idea of consuming animal parts that do not include meat only, eating collagen or gelatin may not sound so appealing to you. The good news is that if you can get past that initial “ew” you’ll find that there are numerous health benefits that you can get, simply by adding a little collagen or gelatin powder to your foods, or by including delicious bone broth into your diet. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of the tremendous health benefits of collagen and gelatin:

  • Promotes joint health and reduces joint pain
  • Improves health and digestion
  • Improves mood, reduces anxiety
  • Improves skin and hair health
  • Maintains strong bones, relieves osteoporosis
  • Can aid in weight loss (it’s a healthy protein)
  • May help balance hormones

What Kind of Collagen or Gelatin?

We use this kind because it’s grass-fed and from humanely-raised animals. The Collagen Protein will gel, so I use that more for things like gummies and marshmallows, or thickening soups. The Collagen Peptides is water-soluble, so I use this one for my smoothies and shakes (instead of protein powders), or mixed in any other hot or cold liquid. We also like Great Lakes collagen hydrolysate and beef gelatin.

Hope fully this will convince you that the health benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor, and that you’ll give it a try! What ways do you like to get collagen into your diet?

 

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10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

Coconut oil in our house is one of those items that we would have a hard time living without. We try to be pretty minimal when it comes to shopping, and products that are both healthy and multi-purpose are wins. There are a million and one uses for coconut oil, ranging from using it as a cleaner, to using it in your favorite brownie recipe. It’s well-known and revered in both the primal/paleo and the non-paleo world, as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and one of the most versatile products to own.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

The benefits of coconut oil have been proven in over a thousand research studies, and the list is endless. Here are a few commonly known benefits of this amazing fruit:

  • high in saturated fat, making it heart healthy
  • can heal urinary infections
  • high in antioxidants
  • can reduce inflammation
  • anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral
  • improves gut health
  • helps balance hormones
  • improves hair and skin conditions
  • prevents tooth decay and other dental problems
  • treats candida and yeast infections

10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

In order to gain benefit from coconut oil, you can eat it as part of your regular diet. Grease your pans with it, cook your eggs in it, use it in baking recipes, melt it over your favorite veggies, etc. But don’t stop there! Coconut oil can be used in a myriad of ways that are non-food related! *Just as a note, I believe that anything that goes on your body should be safe enough to go in your body. After all, your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs anything that you put on it – if you wouldn’t eat certain chemicals and toxins, why would you put them on your skin? Here are 10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House:

  1. Skincare. We use coconut oil in our homemade body butters, lip balms, lotion bars, deodorants, and sunscreen. It has a natural SPF of 4, is an excellent moisturizer, and can heal skin conditions. Additionally, in a pinch we use plain coconut oil on our dry skin or lips – doesn’t get much easier than that!
  2. Haircare. We use coconut oil in our homemade hair pomades and conditioners. To condition hair, simple rub between your hands until soft, then rub on ends of hair and into scalp. Leave on for 1 hour or even overnight, then rinse. *Be careful not to use coconut oil in the shower or sink too frequently as we have found that it clogs the drain when used regularly!
  3. Detox Bath. We love detox baths, and while we don’t take them as often as we’d like, we definitely feel the benefits when we do. It’s great for kids too, and seems to instantly relax them. Here’s a simple recipe to try:
    – 1/2c Epsom salts or magnesium flakes,
    – 1/4c coconut oil
    – 2-3 drops of essential oils (such as lavender or eucalyptus)
    – Hot bath
  4. Dental Care. We oil pull. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique, used to draw out toxins from the mouth and body, and create a sort of anti-septic environment. It is said to prevent tooth decay, kill bad breath, and whiten teeth, among other oral hygiene benefits. How to do it: Swish about a tablespoon on coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Spit into trash can. Do this daily for noticeable benefit.
  5. Cleaning. We even use coconut oil for cleaning purposes! It cleans crayon and other marks off of walls, a trick that I was very grateful to learn. We also use it to clean marks off of furniture!
  6. Petfood/Health. Did you know that coconut oil is also beneficial for pets? Makes sense, since it’s
    so beneficial for us, right? We give our cats food that contains coconut oil daily, and have noticed a huge difference in their digestion and fur since starting it.
  7. Carrier Oil for Use with Essential Oils. Coconut oil is one of our favorite carrier oils when using essential oils. We mix it with peppermint eo to help with headaches, eucalyptus eo for a chest rub when sick, tea tree eo when needing a powerful antibacterial (think warts or fungus), wintergreen eo for sore muscles, and many more.
  8. Candles. I’ve started making my own homemade candles from beeswax and coconut oil. It’s so easy, and a greta way to avoid the chemicals and toxins that many candles consist of. I can add my favorite essential oils for an amazing scent too!
  9. Cough Suppressant. We make our own cough drops and cough medicine using combinations of coconut oil, ginger, cinnamon, and honey, all immune-boosting superpowers.
  10. Itches. We sometimes use coconut oil plain, or more often blended with essential oils, for relieving the sting or itches of bug bites or rashes.

As you can see, coconut oil really is a go-to for us; so much so that our kids even request it when they have a minor ailment! Hopefully this list will inspire you, if you’re not already a coconut-oil fanatic! What are your favorite uses for coconut oil?

 

 

 

 

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Developing a Positive Relationship with Food: Making a Positive Shift

What comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”? For many, it’s a sense of dread or even disgust. Just like with any diet or lifestyle choice, Paleo has its critics. I’ve found that the most critical opinions tend to come from those who don’t really understand what Paleo is, and what it really is about. For us, it’s not a diet (and I hate associating it with the word “diet” because of the negative connotations that go along with that), and it’s not meant to be a restrictive lifestyle either. Paleo, for us, is changing our way of thinking about food, and our perspective about what food is and what we use it for. Since beginning the Paleo lifestyle, I have gone through a myriad of emotions, many that I witness our clients going through as they transition to eating healthier. It’s looking at food in appreciation, and an understanding of how it was made, what is in it, and how those things effect our bodies. Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s not a temporary way to lose weight, or a restriction of all things fun. In fact, since going Paleo, I have had more fun than I ever have in shopping for food, creating food, and enjoying food with my family, without that insatiable need to depend on food for all social activities and emotional ups and downs. It’s been freeing in that I can focus more of my energy on experiences and relationships with people, rather than food. All that said, like anyone, I struggle at times, especially as our society is still not conducive to clean eating. Going out to eat can be challenging, as can other social events. But I have learned to navigate most situations in a way that is comfortable to me and my family, and allows me to still enjoy most things that I did before – and then some new things too! For me, once I figured out how to look at food differently, more positively, I became content with my nutrition, my lifestyle, and myself.

Negative Relationship Patterns with Food

So let’s take the word “diet” out of the equation, and even the word “Paleo” for a minute and focus on how to start shifting perspective from a negative to a positive relationship with food. Because in order to be successful in reaching any health and fitness goals, a positive relationship with food is necessary, and imperative. Here are some of the most common negative patterns with food (do any of these relate to you?):

  • Emotional/Stress Eating: whether feeling positive or negative emotions, eating based solely on emotion can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.
  • Ignoring Hunger Cues: an inability to tell when you are hungry, and when you are satiated. Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to weight fluctuation and unhealthy weight gain or loss.
  • Food Guilt: beating yourself up about an unhealthy food choice so much that you’re unable to enjoy the food, or the experience.
  • Skipping Meals: skipping meals is just a bad idea. It can be detrimental for your mood, your sleep, your metabolic functioning and your overall health.
  • Negative Nelly: when describing your eating routine you list all the things you cannot eat. When thinking about your health/nutrition plan, the only things you can focus on are the foods that you miss and that you have eliminated, and how that impacts other aspects of your life in a negative way.
  • Restriction: you restrict yourself from food so much that you miss the point of healthy eating – to fill your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically – not to deprive yourself of all things happy!

Making a Positive Shift

If any of these things describe you, you may have some work to do before you can be successful with your health and nutrition journey. We’re striving for healthy body and healthy mind, and to do that we want to take some of the emotional stress out of your relationship with food. Here are some ways to make a positive shift in perspective when it comes to food, and how ultimately to develop a more positive relationship with food in order to be successful – and happy!

  1. Mindful Eating. This is listed first because I feel that it is the most important key to enjoying food, understanding food, and learning to eat and enjoy real, whole, organic foods. Eating mindfully can lead to better control over your weight by allowing you to tune into hunger cues. When eating mindfully, it also helps you to get more satisfaction from food, and enjoy the various flavors of real foods. Think about how you might eat a hamburger from a fast food restaurant or popcorn at a movie theatre – probably pretty fast and mindlessly, right? And you think it tastes so delicious because in those quick minutes of eating you are overwhelmed with the taste of salt and chemicals. Now imagine sitting down to eat a salad made with fresh, local organic vegetables and a bunless grassfed burger, eating slowly and tasting each subtle flavor, imagining the farm that these foods came from, healthy cows, and vegetables growing in the warm sun, and no added pesticides or chemicals. Try bringing more time and awareness to your next meal and notice the difference.
  2. Eat When You’re Hungry. It sound so simple, but we all struggle with this one. You come home from work and nosh on the first thing you see because you’re relieving stress. You have a fight with a friend or spouse and you down 6 brownies. You go to dinner with friends and you eat an inordinate amount of cheese dip, fries and maybe even some key lime pie. I’m not saying don’t eat when with friends. My point here is to bring more awareness to when you eat and why. And try to eat when you’re hungry, as much as possible. Emotional/stress eating leads to weight challenges, and negative emotional energy toward yourself and others.
  3. Imperfection. If you’re human, you will make mistakes, even when eating. And it’s ok! Just because you couldn’t resist that bread, or slice of cake, doesn’t mean your health plan is ruined, and it doesn’t make you a failure. Acknowledge your mistake, and how you want to do it differently next time, and let out go. Move forward. Be kind to yourself.
  4. Positive Penny. Let’s say goodbye to Negative Nelly – she drives me crazy. When someone asks you about your nutrition or lifestyle, start telling them about all of the amazing things you do and eat. For example, I had this amazing 6 layer paleo strawberry cake for my birthday this year! I discovered how to make the most delicious salad dressing I’ve ever eaten because of my paleo preferences, and I never feel bloated after a Thanksgiving meal! Also, I’m more active since going paleo, because all of my social engagements are no longer centered around food, but more around things like yoga classes, bowling, hiking and concerts!
  5. Enjoy the Experience. Whether cooking your own food or eating out with others, take time not just to eat mindfully, but to enjoy and be grateful for the experience of creating the food, sharing the food, and eating the food.
  6. Eat. Be okay with eating. Every meal, and multiple times a day. When you use the tools above you’ll soon realize that not only will you not gain weight or fat from eating multiple meals a day, you will actually feel better and your life and energy will improve.

Hopefully this will give you some food for thought. How have you found success and contentment when it comes to food and a healthy way of eating? What mistakes have you made, and how have you overcome your challenges?
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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Instant Pot Chicken Salad (Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

Instant Pot Chicken Salad (Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

The Instant Pot makes life so much harder! – Said no one, EVER. The Instant Pot is amazing, and I’ll tell you why. It has about a million settings on it, for everything you could possibly need, from stew and chili to yogurt. It boils eggs perfectly, making them a breeze to peel, cooks beef to the perfect level of tenderness, and produces perfectly steamed veggies in a matter of minutes. When we switched from slow-cookers to the Instant Pot, I admit I was a little reluctant. My slow-cooker was my prized possession, giving us warm and wonderful meals week after week, delighting our house with the smell of something yummy cooking. But then Japheth started going on and on about the benefits of pressure cooking, and then he said “it acts as a slow-cooker too”, and I was intrigued. “I’ll give it a try” I said. So I did. And I faced my pressure cooking fears too. Come to find out, pressure cooking with the Instant Pot does not result in fires that destroy the kitchen and home, as I had pictured. I now own 4 Instant Pots, and rave about them so much that I’ve convinced numerous clients and friends to get them too (and they LOVE it).

3 Striking Benefits of Pressure Cooking

If you’re like me, you may be a little averse, or even ignorant to pressure cooking because of preconceived notions based on your mom or grandmom’s pressure cooking fiascos. The truth is that many modern pressure cookers are actually very safe due to built-in safety mechanisms. Here are some benefits of pressure cooking, and why you may want to give it a try!

  1. It’s More Healthy Than Many Other Cooking Methods. Research shows that pressure cooking can actually preserve more nutrients in foods that most other cooking methods. This is because the amount of time to cook food through pressure cooking is much less, and because they actually cook food at relatively low temperatures compared to most methods.
  2. It’s Fast. Pressure cooking can cut down cooking time by as much as 70%. While this is great for us and our busy lives, it also helps preserve the rich flavors of the food.
  3. Saves Energy. Cooking with a pressure cooker means less time using appliances, and the convenience of one-pot meals cuts down on the number of appliances or boiling pots that are needed.



Instant Pot Chicken Salad

So now that you’re sold on the Instant Pot, lets talk food. As I said, my Instant Pot(s) is my go-to for almost everything (except ice cream). This recipe uses the Instant Pot to cook the chicken to absolute perfection, but if you’re still not ready to try this magical vessel, then I’m sure you could use another method to cook he chicken. Just don’t come complaining to me if it’s less than amazing. Anyhoo, the Instant Pot makes cooking the chicken super-easy, and then after that you simple shred and mix and voila! I like to eat this chicken salad with my Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip, sometimes in a wrap, and sometimes over greens.

Chicken

Dressing

Put your chicken breasts and broth in the Instant Pot and place pressure cook lid on tightly. Make sure valve is set to “sealing”. Press the “Poultry” button, which defaults to 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, you can make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Once chicken is done, simply turn valve to “venting” and open lid (you can let the pot release naturally if you like, it will just take a little longer). Remove the chicken breasts and place in a large bowl. Shred using two forks. It should look like this:

Once shredded to desired consistency, toss with the dressing to make sure all the chicken is coated. It’s delicious warm, if you need to eat it right away (like me), or cold after you refrigerate it. Enjoy!

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip (Paleo, AIP)

Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip (Paleo, AIP)

Let’s face it: dips are fun. Who doesn’t love dips? They make food fun, and delicious. The word “dip” might even be the reason you’re reading this post. Dips are so much fun that they even make spinach fun.  It’s true. Take this dip for example. Here I’ve paired spinach with avocados (another fun food, by the way) and added some fresh herbs to create a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, power-packed and superfun dip. Serve this at your next gathering and you can’t go wrong. Unless you go fun-overboard, by dancing the Funky Chicken or something weird like that. Then you’ve taken it too far.

Health Benefits

Avocados are not only delicious, but are also packed with health benefits. Read more about the health benefits of avocados in this blog post. Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, and the great thing about it is its versatility. Raw or cooked, stand alone or in a pesto, spinach makes for some very yummy and creative dishes. Eat more spinach. Here are a few of the health benefits of spinach to get you going:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • high in anti-oxidants
  • cancer-fighting
  • immunity-boosting
  • detoxifying
  • heart healthy
  • promotes bone health
  • high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium

Spinach-Avocado-Herb Dip

We’ve been really into avocados lately, and have been big fans of spinach and fresh herbs for years. Smoothies, salads, dips and casseroles, no green dish is safe from us. With my renewed love of avocados, I have found that combining this superfruit with a superveggie like spinach is a match made in heaven. They are delicious together, and your body feels good eating them. Pay attention when you eat this dip – notice how your body responds. For this dip, I used a little fresh cilantro and basil for additional health benefit and of course flavor. And to me, no dip is complete without garlic. Enjoy this over chicken or hamburger, with plantain chips, or in a grain-free tortilla, the options are endless!

Ingredients

  • 6c raw organic spinach, washed
  • 2 organic hass avocados
  • 1c organic basil, washed
  • 1c organic cilantro, washed
  • 1/4 organic yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2T olive oil
  • juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2tsp Himalayan sea salt

Directions

Throw all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and process. Drizzle olive oil into processor while its running. Process until creamy and smooth. Eat immediately or store in fridge for up to two days.

And don’t forget: eat more spinach!

Yoga and Pumpkin Meatballs (Paleo, Gluten-free, Nut-free)

Yoga and Pumpkin Meatballs (Paleo, Gluten-free, Nut-free)

Meatballs are fun. Fun to make, fun to eat, fun to talk about…everybody loves meatballs. Actually that should be the name of a book, or cookbook, or maybe it already is. Kids love meatballs too, especially making them, so anytime I make meatballs I enlist their help. I use the word “help” very loosely here! They love making the dough into balls, hearts, snakes, monsters, and anything else, and then of course getting to eat them when they’re ready. And I use the word “they” very loosely here, because I probably enjoy making monsters more than they do.

Let’s talk about yoga and meatballs for a second. I talk a lot about how to incorporate yoga into everyday life and situations, and this is a great example! Sound crazy? Read on. I may be a little weird, but I find it therapeutic to squish things together and make a yummy concoction. Taking a few minutes to use your senses (touch, smell, sight, and later taste) and be present with the dough can be a very yogic process. Squishing, kneading, and forming balls, using the physical body in conjunction with the calm, quiet mind can soothe the spirit. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the breath and to enjoy the mindfulness that cooking and preparing food promotes. Plus, you’re making something that is healthy, delicious, and good for your body, which makes the process that much more rewarding and fun. Try it, you’ll get it.
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Anyway, these Pumpkin Meatballs are yummy. A warm comfort food on a cool day, an easy snack for on-the-go, or, paired with some roasted veggies or maybe spaghetti squash, a perfect meal for an evening at home. The pumpkin and cinnamon add a little fall flavor, while the honey gives it a subtle sweetness to complement the savory aspect of a traditional meatball. They are super easy to make, which is always a plus in my book. I also love that you can freeze these to enjoy later, or as I do, pull them out when you forgot to make lunch for your husband to take to work!

Pumpkin Meatballs (Paleo, Gluten-free, Nut-free)

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 T organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 T yellow onion, minced
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1T raw local honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Get your hands in there and really mix, enjoy the therapeutic benefits! Once everything is well combined, form into 1-2” balls. Place balls on parchment paper lined baking sheet and put into the oven for 20-25 minutes (on the longer end if your meatballs are larger).

US Wellness Meats sells quality grassland meat products – Visit us Online!

Let me know if you try Yoga and Pumpkin Meatballs, and how it goes for you!

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

18 Health Benefits of Avocados and Avocado-Pudding Recipe! (Non-dairy, Paleo)

18 Health Benefits of Avocados and Avocado-Mango Pudding! (Non-dairy, Paleo)

Let’s talk about avocados. You wouldn’t believe the amount of avocados we go through in our house. Seriously. We (and by “we” I mean even the kids) eat them by themselves, on top of salads, and on top of soups. We make recipes, using them in pesto, puddings, ice creams, and of course guacamole. Avocado oil is our oil of choice for most salad dressings and in much of our cooking. We love the creamy texture, the subtle flavor, and most of all how it makes us feel. Avocados provide healthy fat, which when paired with its high nutrient content (i.e. fiber, vitamins B, C, K, and E, potassium, and magnesium) makes them satiating and super-healthy.

Here are some Avocado products that we use and recommend:

18 Health Benefits of Avocados

The health benefits of avocados are numerous, and are backed by loads of scientific research. Here are 18 reasons why these little fruits are so great for us:

  1. They are very nutritious. As I mentioned, avocados are packed with vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin K, folate, Vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5 and B6, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, zinc, and more. They have a very low glycemic index and are low in saturated fat.
  2. They are high in fiber. Avocados are very high in fiber compared to most other foods, a quarter of which is soluble.
  3. They help lower cholesterol.
  4. They promote better nutrient absorption. Avocados actually increase the amount of nutrients your body can absorb from other plant foods.
  5. They promote eye health. Avocados are high in antioxidants that support eye health and lower the risk of eye problems such as degeneration.
  6. They promote weight loss. Avocados are often recommended when trying to lose weight, as they are high in fiber and healthy fat, thus more satiating.
  7. They are high in protein. Avocados, unlike most fruits, are high in protein and low in sugar.
  8. They promote healthy metabolic functioning. Avocados contain fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K.
  9. They are easy to eat. We all love foods that are quick to prepare and easy to eat. Avocados fit the bill. Just cut and scoop, and your snack is all set!
  10. They are beneficial in pregnancy. Due to their high levels of folic acids, vitamin K, and vitamin B, avocados are often recommended to women who are pregnant and post-partum.
  11. They promote healthy liver. Avocados help protect the liver in a number of ways.
  12. They are anti-inflammatory. Avocados contain vitamins K and E, which help reduce cellular inflammation.
  13. They provide dental care. Avocados contain antibacterial and antioxidant properties which have the ability to kill bad bacteria in the mouth.
  14. They promote longevity. These superfoods are associated with healthy aging due to a regenerating compound called xanthophyll.
  15. They promote bone health. Avocados are shown to help in lowering the risk of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
  16. They heal dry skin. They help soothe chapped lips and cracked skin.
  17. They provide great skin care. Avocado oil is soothing and moisturizing for the skin. It can be used in natural homemade skin care such as body butters, face cream and lip balms. Also, the good fats can help protect the skin and prevent sun damage.
  18. They promote healthy mood and sleep.

As if that list isn’t enough, here is another reason to buy and consume avocados: a delicious and easy Avocado-Mango Pudding recipe! This is a favorite in our house. I can whip it up in under 5 minutes, and it hits the spot when craving something sweet and satiating. The light and fluffy texture makes it fun for the kids too!

Avocado-Mango Pudding Recipe

– 1 ripe organic haas avocado, peeled and pitted
– 1 10-oz bag frozen organic mango chunks
– 1 can full-fat organic coconut milk
– 2 T raw local honey (or more, to taste)

Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and fluffy. Eat, and enjoy!

 

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

3-Minute 3-Ingredient Mango Milkshake (dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo)

3-Minute 3-Ingredient Mango Milkshake (dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo)

It’s winter, but in our house that doesn’t deter us from requesting – and eating – ice creams, or in this case, milkshakes. It does, however, deter us from eating them outside like we would in the summer. I mean, we’re not crazy. Winter also makes me lazy. Well, as lazy as a mom of two littles who also owns a business can be, I guess. Lazy in terms of making ice cream. During the summer I get super creative with experimenting with recipes (usually involving chocolate) and concocting all kinds of frozen goodness in the kitchen. But in the winter, I spend most of my cooking energy on warm meals (soups and stews oh my), and stick to the basics when it comes to frozen treats. That’s why I love this mango milkshake recipe. It fosters my laziness.

Health Benefits of Mangoes

Let’s talk about mangoes for a minute. They deserve a minute – maybe two. Mangoes have a number of health benefits that make them a super snack. Mangoes are packed with vitamins A, B, and C, and contain magnesium, potassium, and copper too. The antioxidants contained in mangoes can help the body fight cancer, while the vitamins and fibers help lower cholesterol and keep blood pressure in check. The probiotic fibers in mangoes aid digestive functioning, the vitamins and potassium content can help ward off heart disease, and the vitamins and carotenoids contribute to immune system health. Mangoes even promote healthy skin and hair, good eye sight, and bone health.

And they’re delicious.

3-Minute 3-Ingredient Mango Milkshake

Have you ever had frozen mango? Much like fresh mango, frozen mango is yummy. It’s a nice blend of creamy, sweet, and slightly tart, and makes a great addition to smoothies, FYI. We keep a huge stock of frozen fruit in our freezer at all times for our daily kale smoothies, and mango is a favorite. The kids often request frozen mango as part of their snack. So one day, probably a winter day, when I was craving ice cream, I decided to throw some frozen mango into my food processor and see what happened. And this 3-Minute 3-Ingredient Mango Milkshake recipe was born. You won’t believe how easy and delicious it is. You might even feel silly for spending possibly more time reading this post than actually making the milkshake. But hey, you learned some pretty cool things about mangoes!

– 10oz bag organic frozen mango chunks
– 2/3c full fat organic coconut milk
– 2T organic maple syrup  or raw honey

Put everything in food processor (or a really great blender) and process/blend until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if you like your shakes a little runnier, no judgment here. *TIP: store any leftover in popsicle molds for popsicles later!

 

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How to Make Healthy Homemade Sunbutter (nut-free, sugar-free)

 

How to Make Healthy Homemade Sunbutter (nut-free, sugar-free)

I love nut butters, and with my paleo lifestyle, nuts were my not-so-guilty pleasure for a long time. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, no nut was safe! I started making my own nut butters a couple of years ago, when I became more aware of what my habit was costing me, and also when I became more conscious of all of the unnecessary and often unhealthy ingredients that are added to most store-bought versions…oils, sugar, words I didn’t recognize. Making your own nut butter is not only super-easy, but also cost-efficient, especially when you buy your nuts in bulk. All you need is a food processor and a jar to store it in!

Now, onto sunbutter. I discovered sunbutter when I started realizing that my beloved nuts were actually causing me some digestive distress. They made me bloated and uncomfortable. For many people they can also be a barrier to weight loss. Like many, I found that seeds do not have the same effect on my body, and I find them to be just as delicious. I often sprinkle them over salads, use them as a substitute for nut butters when baking, and even eat sunbutter drenched in honey for a treat sometimes. This homemade sunbutter is not only healthy, but with the added sweetness of the coconut sugar (sunbutter alone can be a little bitter), it is yummy enough for your whole family to enjoy!

Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are beneficial to your health for several reasons. They are a great source of vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. Because of these properties, these delicious seeds can help promote cardiovascular health, detoxification, healthy cholesterol levels, and a healthy mood. They also, of course, make a healthy and delicious snack, and even dessert!

How to Make Healthy Homemade Sunbutter
4c. Shelled sunflower seeds
1/3c coconut sugar
1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spread sunflower seeds in thin layer on parchment paper lined, rimmed baking sheet (you may need 2 if you’re sheets are smaller like mine). Toast them in the oven until they are lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir them every few minutes to keep them from burning. **Toasting the seeds first makes it easier for them to release their natural oils, thus eliminating the need for added oil!

Once they are toasted, pour them into your food processor and start processing. This will take several minutes, so just turn it on, go do a load of laundry and come back. Don’t stare at the sunbutter. I do that, and it doesn’t go any faster. If you are staring at it, you’ll notice that the sunflower seeds first turn into a ground meal-like substance, and then a few minutes later will turn into more of a sticky ball, as the oils begin releasing. Don’t stop here! Keep going for a few more minutes and the butter will reach a creamy consistency. At this point you can add the coconut sugar and salt and continue to process to combine. It will look like this

Spoon into a jar of your choice and try not to eat it all at once. Or eat it all, we’ve all been there.

I hope you try this healthy homemade sunbutter recipe, and enjoy it as much as I do! What other nut butters have you made?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Dates – A Super Snack

medjool datesDates – A Super Snack

Dates have quickly become a part of our daily diet not only because of how delicious they are, but their versatility also makes them an easy favorite in our house! It’s funny, I don’t remember eating dates much as a child or even as a grown up until I had kids. I’m not sure why…I think they are quite understated. These little sweet fruits are packed with nutritional benefits and are just plain yummy.

Before I dive into the eating part, I want to tell you a little about the benefits of dates so you can feel even better about pigging out on these little guys. Dates are old. Really old. And are from the palm tree family, like coconuts! They are packed with vitamins and minerals and are even considered medicinal in many cultures. (Read about some of the emerging medicinal research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22214443/)  Dates are a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium and potassium. Which means they can be cancer-fighting and good for heart health. As a source of soluble fiber, they are also good for digestive health. As an added bonus these characteristics also make them a healing food for those who suffer from adrenal fatigue.

Wow, dates are awesome! But…how do I eat them? Ok, I’m sure most of you know how to eat them. Grab a handful and put in your mouth. Chew. OR cut some up for a salad topping. If you’ve exhausted these methods though, here are just 5 of my favorite – quick and easy – ways to add them into our daily routine! *as always, be mindful of what you’re buying- you want to make sure your dates have nothing added, and are ideally organic. We buy ours from nuts.com.

1) Stuffed Dates. It is what it sounds like. First take the pits out (unless you’re lazy like me and buy them pitted). Then stuff them with almonds, almond butter, or coconut butter.

2) Date Rolls. Roll your pitted dates in coconut. Better yet, stuff them and then roll them in coconut!

3) Homemade Lara Bars. Try this: 1c each of pitted dates, nuts of choice, other dried fruit; dash of cinnamon; pinch of salt. Combine in food processor until sticky. Add more of any of the above ingredients, if needed, until sticks between your fingers. (Can also add chocolate chips). Press into square baking dish and refrigerate. Cut into squares.

4) Date Balls. I like to make these for a sweet snack “for the kids” (or…maybe for us!):
– 2c pitted organic dates
– 1c coconut butter
– 1/4c unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1T coconut oil
– 1tsp cinnamon
Combine in food processor until sticky enough to form balls. Place 1-in balls on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in fridge until a little hard (or eat right away – no judgment!)

5) SMOOTHIES! Dates make the perfect sweetener for smoothies! Here’s a rough recipe that I use every morning, as a guaranteed hit with the kids! Add to blender in this order:
– 3 c water (or water kefir or coconut milk)
– 1 bunch of kale
– 2c frozen fruit of choice
– 1c pitted organic dates
Blend until smooth.  Bonus: can also pour leftovers into Popsicle molds for later!

Enjoy your dates! What’s your favorite way to eat them?

-Suzanne