Renew Week Superfood Day 4: Coconut Oil

Today’s superfood: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an amazing superfood filled with so many health benefits and nutrients. It contains antioxidants, helps to absorb nutrients and vitamins, has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, (which are attributed to the laric, capric, and caprylic acid specific to coconut oil). It is made up of mostly Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs), which unlike Long Chain Fatty Acids, are sent straight to the liver for energy production. It also kills candida growth, helps with hypothyroidism, and helps speed metabolism. Diets high in MCFAs are known to improve glucose tolerance and reduce body fat accumulation when compared to diets high in LCFs.  Although it is high in saturated fat, the lauric acid found in coconut oil allows for it to not raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and is actually known to improve heart health.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

coconut-oil

– Increases metabolism

– Aids in digestion

– Improves healthy hair and nails

– Improves heart health

-Aids in weight loss

-Strengthens immune system

-Maintains healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels

– Improves bone health

-Aids in healthy functioning of thyroid and endocrine system

-Kills candida growth

It is important to look for unrefined, pure, and/or virgin coconut oil when purchasing. This maintains the integrity of the oil, allowing you to gain all of the benefits the natural oil has to offer. Coconut oil is also great to cook with,as it is not damaged by high heat levels (as olive oil and other medium heat oils can be). You will find coconut oil is solid in room temperature, however it is easily blended when added to a smoothie.

Note: it is important to make sure you add a healthy fat to your smoothies, to properly absorb all of the benefits of the veggies and fruits added. Coconut oil also gives smoothies a nice creamy texture and a subtle tropical taste. It’s a smoothie superfood staple in our household, I highly recommend it for everyone!

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Aloe : skin saver or delicious and healthy beverage?

The cool, jelly like substance that comes in a transparent bottle and is usually an electric green color or a frigid blue. Give the bottle a nice squeeze and the gel oozes out with an odd squishy noise following it. It’s our dear old friend aloe that only shows its face in the summer hot months. Sticky, cold and leaves you stuck in scarecrow position for a few minutes to let it sit in and dry off, then you try to sit down and realize it’s less painful just to stay in that position because Mr. Golden Sun did a number to your skin earlier today. But, I’m not here to remind you to put your sunscreen on or to bring back painful memories of a family member rubbing aloe on your bright red back, I’m talking about drinking it. NOT the topical kind!!! Have you ever considered drinking the juice from an aloe vera plant?  Is it good? Is it healthy for us? Let’s dive on in.

ganoderma-aloe-vera-juvebrew
Benefits:
Detox: aloe works as a natural detox. Aloe contains different trace elements, vitamins and minerals that help the body flush out.

Digestion: Aloe has the power to increase protein absorption and regulates the bowel. Aloe helps reduce yeast and bacteria by moving it along the digestive system and aloe soothes heartburn.

The Immunity Booster: Full of antioxidants! Sending those free radicals away with a dose of aloe.

Anti-inflammation: Aloe Contains 12 different substances that reduces and prevents inflammation. The kind of inflammation that aloe can help with are swollenness, stiff or painful joints.

Healthy Skin: We all know aloe helps are skin on a topical level, but consuming the drinkable kind of aloe can repair out caloe-vera-juiceollagen and elastin from the inside. Aloe also helps sooth minor skin irritations, scrapes, cute and burns.

Energy: Because aloe works our digestive system, this can go hand in hand with energy. Aloe regulates the system which prevents you from feeling sluggish.

Vitamins: Aloe includes Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, niacin and folic acid. In addition chromium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, iron and calcium. Maybe it would have been easier for me to list what aloe doesn’t contain!

Amino Acid: Aloe contains amino acids which aid the process of building protein.
Smile: Aloe helps your gums and mouth hygiene. It helps with mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.

Cardiovascular Health: Aloe boost the ability to diffuse red blood cells in return aids the oxygen transportation. It improves the oxidation process, circulation and lowers cholesterol.

As you can see, the benefits of consuming Aloe Vera Juice are abundant. There are brands at local health food stores and Whole Foods that are ready to drink. Others are concentrated and can be diluted in water or juice. I love adding either kids to my smoothies as well for added benefits.

Let’s get one thing straight, we are drinking only the consumable kind of aloe, NOT the topical kind. Drink up and enjoy, let us know your thoughts on the taste, results or experience you have with drinking aloe vera juice.

Summer’s Bounty

Did you know some of our staple summer produce holds some of the most nutritious vitamins? Here they are right in front of us, in bulk, at our grocery stores and farm stands! They are as fresh as can be and less expensive compared to the colder months. Now that we have all of these fresh and nutritious options at our finger tips lets gobble them in before it’s too late! Some things to keep in mind when buying produce is to consider organic. We can understand that buying 100% organic can be expensive. The “Dirty Dozen List” is a list of fruits and vegetables that are at the top 12 pesticide infested fruits and vegetables, and therefore should be priority when choosing which foods to purchase organic.  Going organic for these 12 are definitely worth your pretty penny!

The Dirty Dozen

Apples Strawberries Grapes Celery Peaches

Spinach

Sweet bell peppers Nectarines Cucumbers Potatoes Cherry tomatoes

Hot peppers

If there is produce available that is organic and locally grown, that’s a double whammy! Buying local doesn’t only benefit you, but the people around you. Your produce will taste better if it is locally grown because it doesn’t have to go through being picked before being ripe and shipping. Local food also promotes energy conservation by decreasing our carbon foot print by traveling miles to grocery stores. Buying local helps local farmers and builds the community as a whole.

One of my favorite summer fruits are BLUEBERRIES. I could go through a carton all by myself, no shame. Blueberries are low in fat with only 80 calories per serving. They are also full of dietary fiber, which helps keep your body regular during digestion, keeps our heart healthy and keeps our cholesterol in check. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help with cardiovascular disease, cancer and other age related diseases. These small little blueberries carry a lot of Vitamin C on their shoulders; Vitamin C helps with collagen formation, maintains healthy gums and capillaries and boosts that immune system. Manganese can also be found in blueberries which aids with bone development and with converting proteins, carbs and fats into energy. Who would have thought blueberries came with such a punch?!

Nothing says summer like a juicy peach. Taking the first bite of a perfectly ripened peach is a force to be reckoned with. You are bound to get peach juice all over your cheeks and then it starts to drip down your hand and then it somehow ends up on your lap, but…it’s all worth it. When there is nothing but the pit left you could go in for another peach. Not only are they delicious this time of year, they benefit our bodies. Peaches contribute to our eye health because they have beta carotene in them which improves eye vision by increasing circulation of blood. Peaches can make our skin glow! They are packed with Vitamin C, which can help with dark circles and wrinkles. Hallelujah. Peaches are a rich source of antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants help with the immune system and fiber keeping our digestion regular.

watermelonA slice of watermelon is always a special treat during the summer because we all know winter watermelon and summer watermelon don’t even compare. Watermelon helps with cardiovascular and bone health because it improves blood flow and  it’s also rich in potassium which holds onto calcium in the body, therefore promotes healthy strong bones. Watermelon is known to reduce body fat with its partner citrulline that reduces the accumulation of fat in our fat cells. Along with the other fruits, watermelon contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support.

 These are just a few of summer’s special treats to us. Whenever you feel a sweet tooth craving come in, give in with fresh fruit! Looking for something a little more complex on your tastebuds? Check out some simple healthy recipes using our favorite summer treasures!

 

Blueberry Peach Cobbler 

Ingredients

  • 5 lb peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup organic cane  sugar or coconut sugar, divided
  • 3/8 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 3/4 oz plus 2 tbsp 100% whole wheat flour, divided (or brown rice flour for GF + 1/4 tsp xantham gum)peach
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup organic butter or EarthBalance soy-free vegan butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk (or dairy free with 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, toss peaches with lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and 2 tbsp flour.  Arrange peaches in a 9×13-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Place the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two, starting and ending with the flour.  Stir in the blueberries.  Pour the batter over the peaches and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar.
  4. Place pan on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly.

 

Watermelon Blueberry- Mint Popsicle 

Ingredients

  • 6 heaping cups diced seedless watermelon (or remove the seeds)
  • 3 tablespoons agave or honey
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. In a blender, puree watermelon along with sugar, lime juice, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add mint and blend briefly to finely mince the mint and get it mixed in.
  3. Pour puree into popsicle molds. (You should be able to make at least 10, but it will depend on the size of your molds.)
  4. Freeze until hard.

 

 

My Cure All : Ginger, Lemon + Turmeric Elixir

It seems like no matter what you do it is  inevitable to avoid coming down with some kind of cold or flu right now.  ‘Tis the season, right?  Don’t worry! I am here to help with this amazing cure-all Ginger, Lemon + Turmeric elixir.

Whether it’s a debilitating flu, a mild cold, or a pesky cough that you can’t seem to kick – this easy homemade elixir will have you feeling better in no time. It is super easy to make, actually tastes really good, and drastically helps with congestion and inflammation. Aside from its cold and flu curing properties, each ingredient contains amazing health benefits. This is also a great drink for anyone who experiences congested sinuses or chronic sinus problems.

“Turmeric contains curcumin, which is hailed for its antioxidant properties, antibacterial properties, stimulates our adrenal glands and has even been found to actually help rebuild the immune system. Ginger, its cousin and the other half of this power couple has been shown to reduce inflammation and be a powerful decongestant. The powers of these herbs are only enhanced when combined with a spice like cayenne or black pepper. -Turmeric Life”

Ginger, Lemon + Turmeric Elixir

Ingredientslemon-ginger-tea
2 inches fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp turmeric powder, or 2 tsp fresh grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbs Raw Honey or Manuka Honey
1 liter water

Procedure
Boil water, add all ingredients and mix well. May garnish with parsley or basil leaves.

Additional Health Benefits

Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and immune booster. It helps to also improve digestion, absorb and assimilate essential nutrients throughout the body, ease muscle or joint discomfort, clears ‘microcirculatory channels’  (including sinus cavities),  and helps to clear nose and throat congestion.

Lemons are alkaline forming, helping to balance the pH balance in the body. The citric acid allows the breakdown of bile and dissolves any other toxins in the body, also helps flush out the kidneys and colon of toxic build up. Lemons also contain Vitamin C, which helps to neutralize free radicals and boost the immune system.

Cayenne has many health benefits. It contains anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen and anti-fungal properties. Cayenne is a great anti-flu and anti-cold agent as well, as it breaks down mucus and flushes from the body. It increases circulation, speeds metabolism, helps digestion, and significantly aids in digestion.

Raw Honey contains many vitamins and nutrients, including B vitamins and Vitamin C. It also contains vitamins such as sodium chlorine,magnesiumcalcium,potassium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc and phosphate. It is soothing to the throat and also contains anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.  Honey is a great source of anti-oxidants, supports healthy bacteria in the gut, and provides a natural energy boost (much needed when you are recovering from being sick!). 

Make this today and I promise you will experience a notably faster recovery. I sip it warm throughout the day, or have a big mug of it at night after dinner.  Even when I am not sick, I like to drink it to maintain a healthy immune system and gain all of the health benefits it has to offer.

Drink up!

Superfood Profile : Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an amazing superfood, especially for athletes. As athletes, we strive to achieve optimal endurance and strength, proper hydration, and muscle building and repair.  Chia seeds can help you attain all of these.

The tiny black and white seeds come from an ancient plant used for its nutritional benefits and medicinal uses.  The seeds were used by the Incans, Mayans and Aztecs and were considered a magical seed, providing strength and stamina over long periods of times.  The running messengers relied heavily on them, carrying a small pouch around to provide sustainable energy on their long journeys. The word “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength.

As scientists and researchers are realizing the lack of certain key nutrients in the Standard American Diet (SAD), they are turning to history for natural solutions.  There has been much research over the past few years on the powerful nutritional benefits of the chia seed.

Chia seeds are rich in trace minerals, vitamins, fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more. They have a rich concentration of essential fatty acids, with an almost perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 for healthy tissue and muscle maintenance and repair. Chia seeds are considered to be hydrophilic, meaning they absorb large amounts of water quickly (10x their weight). Thus, they are great enhancers of hydration, as well as promoters of electrolyte balance-  key elements for peak  performance.  Chia seeds are a great pre-workout superfood for the obvious endurance and hydrating benefits.

In addition, they contain large amounts of calcium, potassium and iron. These are essential vitamins and minerals that are lost through sweat and muscle contraction, making chia seeds a great post- workout and restorative snack as well. They are easily absorbed and digested, resulting in quick transportation and utilization of the tissues and cells. Chia seeds also contain protein, also essential for post-workout recovery –  aiding in muscle building and repair.

I’ve touched most of the benefits this powerful little seed has to offer. You can see why these are a great addition to any diet – especially for athletes and those looking to improve stamina and performance.  Try for yourself first hand and start reaping the benefits of this mighty little seed!

How to incorporate chia seeds:

  • Put 1 tsp in glass of water and stir. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Sip pre- or post- workout.
  • In a seal tight container, add ¼ cup chia seeds to 1 cup water. Refrigerate overnight. This will form chia ‘gel’ which is great for smoothies and yogurt parfaits.
  • Add to any of your favorite granola, granola bar, or overnight oats recipes.
  • Make chia seed pudding (recipe below).

magic-chia-seeds3

 Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 cups almond milk (could also use coconut milk or soy milk)
¾ cup chia seeds
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. maple syrup or agave

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
  • Stir for about 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken
  • Stir every 5-10 minutes over an hour
  • Can be stored in the fridge or eaten immediately
  • Serve plain or topped with fruit and whipped cream