BODY: Benefits of Smoothies

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Lean, Mean… Green?

I’m a huge advocate of smoothies as a “meal” replacement, and here’s why – using the ever efficient Magic Bullet, I can blend several complete servings of vegetables, fruits, protein, carbs and fats together to make a delicious meal on the go! I’m guilty of being perpetually late, so smoothies are a godsend on mornings when I wake up with barely enough time to find a matching outfit, let alone make oatmeal and coffee.

I’m current adding ProGreens+ Vegan Smoothie powder to my smoothies, but I generally don’t recommend adding any type of substitute – let your foods do the work for you.  Diet supplements are typically a waste of money as you can find all nutrients in your food. With my current job I find I’m hungry very easily (and all the time) so the protein tends to keep me full longer. Fun fact – it can take your body over a day to completely digest 25 grams of protein!

Buying a Magic Bullet, or any juicer/food processor, is an absolute must for anyone looking to eat healthy. Smoothies allow you to experiment with all the foods in your kitchen to produce one SUPERMEAL.

As of late, my smoothies are consisting of lots of greens, (think kale, spinach, celery, broccoli), lots of fruit, (namely blueberries, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, mango), and a serving of protein (soy milk or Greek yogurt). Adding fresh juice, especially the Bolthouse brand, for a more “liquid” smoothie is also amazing.

My smoothies are my wonder food! After a light breakfast (fruit) I wait until I get to work and drink this nutritional powerhouse. Although my ingredients vary depending on what is in my fridge, I can rest assured I am getting copious amounts of Vitamin A, iron, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, Vitamin C, protein, potassium, Vitamin B – all in just one meal!

I also find by substituting a meal for a smoothie, it takes me longer to eat, and therefore it is easier for my body to digest. I’m guilty of cramming my face the minute food is in front of me so by drinking a smoothie, I’m forced to pace myself.

Start off by substituting one meal a day with a smoothie. Notice how your body adapts to the surplus of vitamins and minerals you are providing. Introducing smoothies to your diet is also a great way to ease your body into a detox.

Not sure where to start? Google “GREEN SMOOTHIE” and modify to your needs.

BODY: The Benefits of Dandelion Root Tea

Everyone feels that extra pressure during the summer months to kick-start their beach body and whip themselves into shape – any shape. As an avid “diet junkie” I’m always looking for innovative ways to cleanse and detox my poor body. Granted, my biggest issue is my liver, seeing as I have just finished celebrating the completion of my BA and college diploma.

Heading into my next few weeks and acclimatizing myself to an office routine, I want to make sure my body, mind and soul are operating at 110%. After researching a macrobiotic diet, which I will address later, I decided I needed to find a substitute for coffee that would perk me up and benefit my health as well!

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I’d heard rumblings about dandelion tea in the past, but even as an avid tea drinker I stuck with chamomile and green tea. After branching out and discovering the numerous health benefits to dandelion root tea, I can honestly attest to its detoxification powers.

Many people use dandelion root to detoxify, relieve constipation, soothe an upset stomach, and help shed water weight, among many other health remedies. The tea made from the dandelion’s root or leaves has been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine for centuries; it has recently been deemed as a way to cleanse your liver, helping you detoxify as you sleep.

Granted, there is limited science that backs up the numerous benefits people claim this tea holds. Studies are showing that dandelion does in fact contain liver detoxifying properties, and it may even contain cancer killing properties as well. A study in lab mice found that dandelion extract reduced alcohol-related liver damage, in case you’re like me and used to overindulge in tequila…

While the studies carry on, medical experts regard dandelion use as generally safe, with rare side effects of upset stomach and diarrhea – making dandelion root tea a good option if you’re looking for ways to detox and debloat. Before starting to drink this tea, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are taking any medication, since the weed can interact with some medications, such as lithium, certain antibiotics, and drugs that are broken down by your liver. It should be noted that dandelion tea can have laxative effects, so try it out at night if you’ve never had it before.

Warnings aside, the general consensus of dandelion tea users is that the tea helps in numerous ways, most notably that it can help to improve digestion, helps bloating, reduces risk of UTI’s, helps purify the blood,  and helps to cure skin conditions. It should be noted that when beginning any detox program, side effects are common and harmless. Especially with dandelion tea, I found I broke out mildly on my face as the toxins worked their way out of my system!

Try dandelion tea and notice the change!

 

BODY: Quinoa Love Affair

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I have an obsession with quinoa. It is replete with health benefits and is one of the most protein-rich foods available. It is a complete protein, carrying all nine essential amino acids, which makes it excellent for vegetarians & vegans. It also packs a healthy dose of fibre, which helps prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol. Quinoa contains iron, which helps carry oxygen throughout our body, increases brain function and aids in energy metabolism. It is rich in magnesium, which helps relax blood vessels and alleviates migraines. Magnesium may also benefit Type 2 diabetes by helping maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

Not only does it do all of this for your body, but you can use quinoa for everything; it can be a substitute for high calorie/carbohydrate sources such as rice and pasta, it can be used to make patties, “veggieloafs”, and you can use it in lieu of oatmeal and top it with fresh berries for breakfast. There’s a reason it is hailed as a superfood!

I personally love quinoa salad during summer months. It’s light and refreshing, and fills you up without weighing you down (or bloating you during bikini season).

This recipe can use either plain or red quinoa, although I prefer the red quinoa because the texture and taste complements the ingredients better.

To cook quinoa, follow the same rules as cooking rice. Make sure you measure the dry quinoa, remembering the proportion of dried quinoa to cooked quinoa is about 1:3, so 1 cup dry yields approximately 3 cups cooked.

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then put the rinsed quinoa in a pot of water using a ratio of 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water. Put in some salt to taste if you’d like. Cover and bring to a boil, once it boils, turn the heat down to simmer and leave the lid slightly ajar. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft. If the quinoa is tender but there’s excess water, turn off the boiler but leave the quinoa uncovered for another 5 minutes until it is absorbed.

Once your quinoa is cooked, set it aside and prep your fruits and veggies! I use grape tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, avocado, green onion, red onion and garlic. Use whatever amount appeals to you, but the more veggies the better.

As for dressing, I prefer making my own so I know exactly what is going into it, and so it’s fresh! For the dressing, I use roughly three tablespoons of Dijon mustard, a la France, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 and a half teaspoons red wine vinegar. Modifying this per taste, and per serving size, if you want a stronger mustard taste or not. Mix all of this together, either in a large serving bowl or per meal.