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Food & Drink, Recipes
Green smoothies are a great easy way to start incorporating healthy greens and fruits into your diet. Green smoothies can help you get your required greens and fruit intake! Adding a green smoothie into your day is great for people who know they need to start eating healthier but aren’t quite yet ready to quit their favorite artery-clogging, unhealthy foods. Earlier, I shared with you my 3 favorite special occasion green smoothies. This recipe is a tried and true classic that you would be happy to whip up every day if you so choose. There are so many ways to make a green smoothie, the options are endless! You’re really only limited by your imagination and your taste buds. The recipe that I’ll share below is the ideal green smoothie starter recipe for anyone who loves the peanut butter & banana combo. If you think of peanut butter and banana toast as comfort food or a nostalgic trip to your childhood, you’ll love this recipe! The flavor of the peanut butter and banana will completely mask the taste of the greens. Before you know it you’ll be craving your green smoothies instead of those other unhealthy foods that you know are bad for you!

What You Need

To get started all you need is a blender. If you can afford it, I recommend that you go out and get a Vitamix, a high-powered blender, right off the bat. You’ll be able to make the smoothest, creamiest green smoothies right from day one. You won’t regret it. Vitamix is the brand that professional smoothie shops use like Jamba Juice and Starbucks. If you want to make drinks just like you would find at those stores, then you need yourself a Vitamix. If you’re not ready to jump in and get a Vitamix, that’s ok. I’ll share with you how to blend your green smoothie properly in a regular blender, it will make all the difference. Just be aware, that if you’re not happy with the texture of your green smoothies it may become difficult for you to enjoy the green smoothies that you make at home. If that’s the case, I recommend spending the extra money on a vitamix. You don’t have to get the newest model (In fact I don’t have the newest model). Just get the basic model and if you buy from Vitamix.com you can make your purchase with PayPal Credit and get the first 6 months without interest. If you don’t mind buying a used model you can look locally on apps like OfferUp and LetGo for a good deal on a used model. Just check to make sure it’s still under warranty or at least test it in person to make sure it works. I was lucky enough to get a great deal on LetGo for the 750 model and it was unopened! You might be lucky enough to find a deal too, so give it a go and see what you find.

My Blender Story

I’ve had a regular kitchen blender, the original Magic Bullet, a Ninja Mega Kitchen System, and now I’m lucky enough to have a Vitamix. Before I had the Ninja or the Vitamix I only used powered greens in my smoothies. Obviously, it works great since it’s already pulverized. However, to have the freshest produce bursting with nutrients that you know haven’t yet degraded, fresh greens are the best way to go. When I was using a Ninja, I did not enjoy drinking the green smoothies that I made because it left giant chunks of greens and vegetables in the smoothie and I was not a happy camper. As soon as I could, I got a Vitamix and now I can make more tasty, smooth and creamy smoothies for years to come!  

 

Directions For a Regular Kitchen Blender

If you have a regular blender, it’s not strong enough to blend regular greens for a smooth consistency. I recommend that you purchase baby greens for your smoothies. Baby greens are softer and easier to break down. Here’s the order to blend your smoothie with a regular kitchen blender.
  1. Put your liquids and greens in the blender first and blend on high speed. This allows the greens to have as much contact as possible with the blades to get broken down into tiny pieces.
  2. Once the greens have gotten to a good consistency add the fruit and blend.
  3. Then add the other extras like protein powders, nut butters, chia seeds, spices, etc and blend.
  4. Enjoy!
 

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 cups baby spinach (I used 50/50 spring mix)
  • 1 frozen banana (cut into 1/4 pieces, add ice if you’re using a regular banana)
  • 1 Tbs peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1 Tbs chia seeds (optional)
  • cinnamon to taste (I used a few shakes of the spice bottle)

Directions

  1. Blend
  2. Enjoy!

Notes

  • To reduce calories and fat, use 1 cup water only without almond milk
  • For a richer taste, use 1 cup almond milk only without water
 
I hope that these tips and tricks help you get started on your green smoothy journey! Have you tried making green smoothies before? What has your experience been like? Leave a comment below!
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Food & Drink, Health

Well folks, it’s that time of the year again!

The Environmental Working Group aka The EWG came out with their 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce so go and grab your copy! What I love about this download is that it’s wallet sized! All you have to do us cut it out, fold it in half and then you can have the list in your wallet for easy access whenever you’re in the grocery store!
 
For those of you who haven’t heard, the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen are a combined list of the “dirtiest” and the “cleanest” produce in the US. When I say “dirty”, I don’t mean that literally.
 
The Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 conventionally grown produce which are the most heavily pesticide laden. The Clean Fifteen is a list of the 15 conventionally grown produce that has been found to be pesticide free.
 

Changes from 2017

There have been a few minor changes from the 2017 list. For the dirty dozen, there are several shifts in terms of where the produce falls on the list. All the produce from 2017 is still there, just in a different order for numbers 5-12. For the clean fifteen, grapefruits have left the list and broccoli has made it onto the list and avocados have come out as #1 pesticide free. (1)
 

Why pesticides are dangerous

Pesticides are modern man-made chemicals and our bodies are not equipped to process and get rid of efficiently. This means that pesticides and their residues stay in our bodies and wreak havoc. Some mimic hormones in our bodies, these are called xenoestrogens, and they go around tricking our cells into thinking that it’s real estrogen, a natural hormone that our bodies make. (2)(3) Down the road this can lead to cancer, infertility and other autoimmune diseases. For you men out there, the xenoestrogens don’t just affect women, they can lead to lower sperm count and abnormal sperm. (4) Pesticides have also been linked to brain and nervous system damage, ALS anyone? (5) Suffice it to say, pesticides are dangerous for our health and longevity.
 

How the lists are made

The EWG compiles this list with the reports of the tests completed by the US Department of Agriculture. If you think simply washing the produce or peeling the skins off will take care of the pesticides, think again. The samples were tested with the produce in the state that they’re typically eaten. Fruits like blueberries and peaches were washed and bananas & avocados were peeled. This means that the pesticides & their residues were still there in the produce after it was prepared for eating. (1)
 

Why you should follow the EWG Shopper’s Guide

Disease rates have risen over the past decades and the way that our food is grown has changed as well. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to reduce your exposure to pesticides as much as possible. Whenever you can, buy the Dirty Dozen organic and I would recommend always buying them organic. The Clean Fifteen can be bought conventionally. Anything not on either list is in the middle and the choice is yours to buy those as either organic or conventional.
 
As an easy guide, if the food is leafy, thin skinned or has a tendency to be eaten by insects and other critters then they are likely heavily sprayed with pesticides and you should buy them organic.
 
If you didn’t get it above, here’s the link to get your free copy of the EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides on Produce. For more detailed information and a quick 2 minute video check out the EWG’s article about their Shopper’s Guide.

References
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Food & Drink
Green smoothies are a great way to get started on a healthy lifestyle. You can get several servings of fruits, greens, healthy fats and proteins all in one easy to eat meal that will keep you satisfied! What’s not to love?
 
For all of you out there who aren’t getting enough greens, you know who you are, give green smoothies a try. The fruits and spices that you add can completely mask the greens. If you’re just starting out and you simply cannot handle any “green” flavor, use baby greens in your smoothies. They have a lighter, milder flavor that will be completely covered up. This means, start by using baby spinach. When you’re feeling more adventurous, try baby kale, then when you’re ready to step up your game, use regular greens.
 
When it comes to green smoothies, they don’t always have to be green! One of the smoothies below is a completely different color all together, and a beautiful color to boot!
 
These three smoothies that I’ve listed for you below are three of my favorite special treat green smoothies. Give them a try and you’ll like them as much as I do!
 

Fancy Wedding Cake Smoothie by LifeIsNoYoke

Shalva from LifeIsNoYoke came up with this special treat green smoothie as a vegan “dupe” for her wedding cake. Lenny, her husband is vegan, so, Shalva, being the amazing innovator that she is, developed this Fancy Wedding Cake Smoothie. If you love lavender, lemons, and pistachios then you will go bananas for this smoothie!
 
When I was in living Portland, OR I was able to try edible lavender for the first time incorporated into desserts like ice cream & boba tea, I was hooked! As soon as I saw their video for this on YouTube, I had to try it! Let me tell you, it is amazing!
 
The quality of lavender you get really makes a difference as well. Make sure to get edible lavender that is a nice bright purple. If you have the luxury of choosing different qualities of lavender, go for the more expensive one. Trust me, it’s worth it! The more expensive the lavender, the less debris like small twigs and stones and the more fragrant the lavender. This means that you can also use less lavender to get that special punch of lavender flavor.
 
Give it a try, this just might become your favorite special treat smoothie!
 
Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 tsp dried edible lavender
  • 1 lemon slice, garnish size with peel
  • 1 whole date, pitted
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 3/4 cup ice, or more to make it thicker
 

Tropical Chia by PitayaPlus

This special treat green smoothie comes from PitayaPlus. Pitaya, aka dragon fruit, has become really popular in recent years to incorporate into smoothies and smoothie bowls. I’m sure you can see why from looking at the picture above. You can turn any regular smoothie into a visual banquet, especially if you love hot pink! Kids love pitaya smoothies because of their vibrant color. Why wouldn’t you want to try it?
 
You can find PitayaPlus at your local Whole Foods Market in the frozen section. If you want to buy the actual fruit, you should be able to find it in the spring/summer from Whole Foods or your local asian market if you’re lucky.
 
Here’s a quick visual guide to help you when you’re looking for dragon fruit in grocery stores:
Dragon Fruit Types by Dr. Hazel Gois
Dragon fruit doesn’t have a strong flavor of it’s own so you can mix this into any smoothie and it will taste like the other flavors that you have in there. Since it doesn’t have a strong flavor, you might as well get the pink dragon fruit for the color.
 
Even if you don’t have dragon fruit, you can make this smoothie as a basic tropical smoothie. Add greens and you’ll turn it into a tropical green smoothie instead!
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 Pitaya Smoothie Pack, or 1/2 pink dragon fruit
  • 1/3 cup pineapple
  • 1/3 cup frozen mango
  • 5 oz coconut water
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
 

Peppermint Patty Green Monster by OhSheGlows

The third special treat green smoothie takes me back to childhood. Growing up, mint and chocolate were a favorite dessert combo. When I was a kid, mint chocolate chip was my favorite ice cream flavor and I LOVED Andes chocolates! At Dairy Queen I would always go for either a mint Oreo or mint M&Ms Blizzard. Yum so good!
 
However, since then, I’ve wised up to the detriments of dairy on my digestive system (I’m lactose intolerant), and all the other problems dairy contributes to,  so those desserts became a huge No Go for me! But what was I going to do without that mint chocolate goodness and the dairy filled desserts?
 
Enter a mint chip green smoothie! All the deliciousness of mint and chocolate without the side effects of dairy? Yes, please!
If you love mint chocolate chip as much as I do, you’ll love this version of a green smoothie!
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 handful fresh mint, stems removed
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
  • 1-2 tbs chopped dark chocolate to top or mixed in at the end
 

You don’t have to save them for a special occasion. I know I’ll appreciate it much more if I have them every now and again as special treats!
 
I hope you give these extra special green smoothies a try. I’m sure you’ll come to like them as much as I do!
 
What are your favorite special occasion smoothies? Let me know in the comments below!
~ Dr. Gois
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Food & Drink, Health, Supplements
Probiotics have become really popular in health circles and the media for the past several years. I’m sure you know by now that probiotics are important for your health. According to The Joint FAO/World Health Organization, probiotics are “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” They are the “friendly” bacteria that can help correct imbalances in our digestive system. In fact, our digestive system is home to TRILLIONS of microbes that live with us in a symbiotic relationship.
I’m sharing 5 ways that you can get probiotics into your diet from everyday food & drink. If you’re healthy incorporating these into your diet regularly is all you need to keep your guy healthy. However, if you have any health conditions then this alone may not cut it. If that’s the case, see your naturopath or other health professional for specific recommendations.
You can make all of these, except the last one, at home. I recommend you give it a try at least once, not just to save money but so that you know exactly what goes into making it and whether or not you’re willing to buy it off the shelf. I myself have made a few of these at home except kimchi, which is next on my bucket list!

In no particular order, here are 5 ways to get your probiotics from every day food and drink:

Water Kefir

water kefir grains
I discovered this over a year ago now and I have been making my own at home for almost as long. This is really simple to make, it only takes a few minutes of care every few days and you’ll get a fizzy probiotic drink that you can flavor to your liking! The end result is also called “water kefir soda” because it can get that fizzy if you make it just right.
Water kefir is made with water kefir “grains” or “crystals”. It’s those white clusters in the picture above. You can even see a couple floating in the water due to the carbonation. These little guys are a symbiotic mix of yeast and good bacteria. They use sugar water and ferment the drink leaving good-for-you probiotics behind. If you’re lucky enough to live in a location where you can buy this on the shelves, give it a try and see how you like it. If you’re not that lucky you can purchase live grains online from reputable companies.
Tip: It’s important to make sure that you get “live” grains. Dehydrated grains take longer to produce and they likely won’t produce as well as living grains.

Kombucha

kombucha
Kombucha is another fermented drink that has gotten really popular over the past few years. I first discovered this as a student in naturopathic medical school. The first time I tasted it…let’s just say I didn’t like it, not one bit. I didn’t understand how anyone could drink the stuff! After a few years, I found some brands and flavors that I really liked and I grew to love the stuff.
Like water kefir, it’s fermented by a yeast/bacteria symbiotic mix called a Scoby. In the picture above you should be able to make it out at the top of the liquid (what wavy line). What makes it different is that kombucha is fermented from sweet tea while water kefir is made with sugar water. Another difference is that it’s filled with healthy enzymes and it doesn’t have as many probiotics as water kefir. So, if you’re looking for probiotics only, stick with water kefir, if you also want the health benefits of the enzymes in kombucha, then why not drink them both? It’s pretty simple to make. It just takes regular checking because it can go from a tasty drink to a sour vinegar pretty quickly.
Tip: It’s important to get a good quality, live kombucha scoby. Apparently, a kombucha scoby looks just like an apple cider vinegar scoby and some buyers have gotten the wrong product online. Reputable places will give you a nice big scoby w/ starter tea so you can get brewing right away.

Kimchi

kimchi side dish
This is a Korean staple and they eat it at every meal. It’s incorporated into different Korean dishes and it’s even eaten on it’s own with rice. Kimchi is fermented cabbage with a spicy seasoning. You can eat it fresh but as it ferments, that’s when you get the healthy probiotics. That’s also when the kimchi gets more sour. The older the kimchi is, the more sour it gets. In the past Koreans would make one batch that was large enough to last the entire year. Imagine how sour it became at the end of the supply?
Tip: There’s as many recipes for kimchi as there are chefs so it’s best to try different brands and recipes until you find the one that you like. I haven’t made this myself just yet but I do want to try it in the near future. When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sauerkraut

sauerkraut
Lots of people love their sauerkraut, am I right? It’s a German staple that made it’s way across the Atlantic. Being Asian myself, I didn’t grow up eating sauerkraut and I never really developed a taste for it. However, it is filled with good probiotics so I think of it more as a supplement. It’s very simple to make; all you need is cabbage, salt and an airtight container.
Tip: Sauerkraut is available on the grocery shelf but that means it was pasteurized to kill bacteria. Sauerkraut in the refrigerated section likely still has all the good probiotics inside (but check the labels just to be sure).  If you’re just eating it for the flavor then keep on keepin’ on. But, what’s the point of eating it if you’re not going to get the good health benefits of the probiotics? A good reputable brand that I like is Bubbie’s which can be found in the refrigerated section of natural food grocery stores. They make it the old fashioned way with just cabbage and salt. Oh and they use artisan well water…doesn’t that sound delightful? There’s also many new fermented foods companies popping up so if you see other brands of ‘kraut in the refrigerated section, give them a try. It’s really simple to make your own batch from scratch. I actually have my first batch fermenting right now and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Yakult

This is the first probiotic drink that was made available to the masses. The exclusive strain they use Lactobacillus casei Shirota was discovered by Dr. Minoru Shirota a Japanese scientist. He started making and selling Yakult in 1935 and it’s still going strong. I loved to drink this as a child but I had no idea about the goodness of the probiotics inside. Back then you could only get this from Asian markets. Now, it’s available at a local grocery store near you! I was so pleasantly surprised when I found this in the dairy section of my local grocery store. I have no idea when that happened but it’s great! It just goes to show how popular probiotics have gotten in America. (Also, did you notice how far behind we are compared to Asia? 1935…seriously??) If you haven’t tried it before, you just might fall in love with it!
Tip: If you’re lactose intolerant then you might want to stay away from this one. If you can eat things like yogurt and ice cream you might be fine but be careful and pay attention to any symptoms that might crop up, just in case.

That wraps up my favorite sources for natural probiotics from regular foods and drinks. That’s the key to taking advantage of the health benefits, regular consumption. Heath benefits of probiotics can be strain specific. By eating a variety of different fermented foods, like I’ve listed here, you’re going to be consuming a variety of different probiotics as well, which will only be good for you in the long run.
Have you tried all of these? Which one is your favorite?

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