This healthier coffee is actually good for you.

Four Sigmatic Mushrooms Elixirs | The Organic Beauty Blog

I was never a big coffee drinker.  Not out of any high minded health reasons, necessarily — I just didn’t like the way it made me feel.  Jittery, anxious, higher strung… Pretty much like your average New Yorker.  Seeing as I was doing everything I could to counteract the energy of my former city, coffee just wasn’t for me.

Now that I’m a mom, and one living on the fairer (calmer) coast, there have definitely been days when I craved a good cup of joe. I would source some great organic coffee from the cafe down the street, add coconut oil (or sometimes even some grass-fed butter… more on why that’s a must here), and still, an hour later, I would find myself a little more testy or jittery or wired.

Why does this happen? Coffee does a number on your adrenals, stimulating a fight-or-flight response that can leave you feeling wired, and then depleted.  People who drink coffee on the regular pretty much live in this state, so it’s a little less noticeable.  But that fatigue you feel before you’ve had your first cup? Or at 3pm? Or in the evening? Or pretty much anytime between your cups of coffee?  Yeah… that’s adrenal fatigue.  And it is no bueno.  In addition to messing with your body and mind, this caffeinated adrenal overexertion also stimulates the release of cortisol, which leads to higher stress levels, poor sleep, premature aging, and even weight gain.

Ok, ok, so we get why coffee isn’t the best thing in the world.  Well there’s got to be a better option out there, right? One that isn’t a pseudo-coffee hippie drink (though I definitely love me some chicory)?

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The 3 beauty products every woman needs

3 Must-Have Beauty Products | The Organic Beauty

I get asked a lot about my favorite natural beauty products.  Since I test and review so many different products on this blog, picking favorites is a tall order, and my top picks really do change from month to month.  But regardless of what specific product I’m currently obsessing over, there are 3 basic products that I simply can’t live without.  These three puppies are the main workhorses of a great complexion and slowing the signs of aging.  Find a natural version of each of these three that you love, and you can toss pretty much 80% of the stuff pouring out of your cabinets.

Here are the 3 beauty products every woman needs:

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The Skinny on Superfoods

By Callie McBride

navitas

Gone are the days of avocado madness; chia seeds have had their time. Though we aren’t saying goodbye to these wonderful nutrient powerhouses, there’s some new kids in town: superfood powders. The latest craze to hit health food stores and foodies’ cabinets, these natural powders, often sourced from the rain forests of tropical islands, offer insane amounts of nutrition and flavor in each scoop. With so many to choose from, your morning smoothie will get a fabulous makeover and your nutrient checklist will trump all others.

Flax Powder:

Sprouted flax seeds. That’s it. This powder will load you up with omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, and it’s incredibly easy to digest, so your body will feel its benefits quickly. Flax seeds hail from Canada, where they were cultivated for their awesome fiber content. Throw a scoop into a banana, almond milk, and spinach smoothie or mix into your morning oatmeal for optimal taste and benefits. You can also purchase flax in the form of ground seeds and oil.

Lucuma Powder:

Lucuma is actually a fruit, originating in Peru, which is milled into a fine powder and used as a type of low-glycemic sweetener. It contains iron, zinc, calcium, and protein, and has a maple flavor to it. It’s definitely smoothie-friendly, but mixing into a raw ice-cream or coconut yogurt sounds equally as heavenly.

Goji Berries:

Either in powder form or as dried berries, the amazing goji contains tons of antioxidants, as well as over 20 vitamins and minerals. These berries hail from the Ningxia Province in China where they are grown, harvested, and dehydrated to maintain maximum nutrient content. They’ve been consumed by Asians for decades, and the Western world is just catching up. Eat ’em by the handful or toss some in trail mix for  a chewy texture and sweet flavor.

Maca Powder:

This one’s my favorite: its known to increase stamina, boost libido, and combat fatigue. I’ll take 20. The maca root, found in Peruvian Andes, is gently dried and milled to a fine powder, and contains amino acids, fiber, and phytonutrients. Listen to this: the maca root is one of the only plant foods able to survive a such a high altitude as the Andes mountains. How cool? It energizes naturally and, according to the ancient Incans, helps relieve stress. This powder is packed with body and mind benefits.

Acai Powder:

The Acai (ah-sigh-ee) berry grows in the Amazon Rain Forest and is known for its high antioxidant content, as well as its vitamins, minerals, and dark fruity flavor. You can also find frozen, slushie-like acai packets in health food stores to whip up in smoothies…I’ve been known to snack on dark chocolate-covered acai berries, as well. Yum.

Maqui Powder:

These berries are sourced in the mountains of southern Chile, and similar to Lucuma, offer a sweet taste that’s perfect for dessert. They boast of anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects, and contain loads of calcium, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Get this: Mapuche Indians, the longest living culture in the world, credits the maqui berry as a staple food, as well as an addition to their rituals and ceremonies. They believe that the superfood symbolizes goodwill (not to mention a good body!).

These are just a handful of the fabulous superfoods currently on the market; coconut palm sugar, camu powder, mesquite powder, and dried mulberries are some more to check out for their heavy nutrient doses. If anything, these unique names will impress your next house guest and get a conversation started, either on geography or your health food obsession.

All information comes from the Navita Naturals website, where you can learn more about and purchase all of the above mentioned superfoods. Many other brands produce and sell the powders, as well. Our Organic Beauty store has a handful in stock, too! Go get your superfood on.

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13 Essential Brain Foods For Improved Memory, Mood And Clarity

By: Stephanie Heino

90624500252306462Your brain is a complex and hungry organ, and its cells require two times the amount of energy than that of other cells in the body. Therefore it is very important to feed the grey matter with highly effective brain foods that improve memory, mood, concentration, and overall clarity and keep your mind sharp and nourished. As you might know, your brain is mostly composed of fat, and therefore needs fatty acids to process information and for brain cells to communicate. Omega-3 fatty acids – particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – play a very important role in allowing brain cells to transmit signals properly. Lack of DHA can cause brain signals to become distorted and difficult to read, which will make it harder for you to control your mood, concentrate, and remember things. DHA can also help you feel happier by helping your body to release serotonin (the amazing chemical the body uses to boost mood and relieve depression!).

Eating foods rich in antioxidants is also very important since it helps your system rid itself of free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and halt the damaging effects they have on the body. Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, goji berries, and many others are a great source of antioxidants, as are a variety of nuts and seeds.

While only making up two percent of total body weight, the brain consumes 20 percent of the oxygen your body gets. Your brain needs oxygen, and your blood is what delivers it. This means that by having healthy blood flow, the oxygen and nutrients can keep your brain going at full power. Foods like goji berries are great since they naturally promote circulation.

Recent studies suggest that inflammation, high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, obesity, arterial inelasticity and a condition known as metabolic syndrome are all risk factors that can lead to a decline in brain health, so it is very important to eat the right foods for your brain!

Take a look at these 13 super foods for excellent brain health:

fishFish (Salmon, anchovies, mackerel, tuna). Awash with nutrients, coldwater fish like salmon are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in strengthening synapses in your brain, strengthening brain function and memory. One concern that many have about consuming fish are the levels of mercury that accumulate through the food chain and residing in salmon. To avoid contaminates, experts recommend eating wild salmon. Wild salmon is also an excellent source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two potent omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Sardines, anchovies, and mackerel are also packed with brain-healthy omega-3s, but have lower levels of mercury that may be found in other fish.

Turmeric. This Asian spice is commonly found in mixed curry powder and contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin which has serious anti-inflammatory effects.

Mushrooms. For thousands of years, the Chinese have revered mushrooms, specifically shiitake, cordyceps, and reishi, for their immune-boosting properties. Mushrooms increase blood flow and supports lower cholesterol levels, and are considered a superfood for many reasons.

Avocado. Many consider avocados to be the food of the gods. This nutrient-packed fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit) is high in monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower cholesterol and improve blood flow. Since the brain uses 20% of all the oxygen the body consumes, it’s vital to have healthy blood flow to carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Avocados are also a good source for omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which functions as an antioxidant and promotes healthy brain activity.

Go Nuts!. Three specific nuts have been linked to a decreased risk of many diseases. Now there’s evidence that they also improve cognition. Most have high concentrations of vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, minerals and Omega-3s, which all support the nervous system.

  • Walnuts. The walnut’s shape resembles a brain, so why shouldn’t it be a brain food? It is! Rich in both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, walnuts offer a variety of benefits for brain health. Since omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in meats, walnuts provide a great non-meat alternative. They can help you concentrate and protect your brain against the effects of aging. Walnuts have also been shown to improve mood by influencing the brain’s serotonin levels. For those who suffer from depression, insomnia, anxiety, or related issues, walnuts may be a helpful food to munch on.s1
  • Almonds. Almonds may help to save your memory! In studies on laboratory mice, the rodents rendered temporarily amnesiac were more apt to remember their way around a maze 24 hours later if they first consumed an almond paste. The evidence suggests that almonds slow the decline in cognitive abilities linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The memory effects can be linked to the presence of the essential amino acid phenylalanine and L-carnitine, which are believed to boost neurotransmitters essential to memory.
  • Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts can spare the obese the vascular damage associated with body fat. An excess of fat tissue stimulates low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can lead to cardiovascular disease. With high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and bioactive substances that combat inflammation like selenium, phenolic compounds, folate, magnesium among them, Brazil nuts improved microcirculation, lowered cholesterol levels, and normalized blood lipid profiles without causing weight gain in 17 obese females (wow!).

Green Tea. China’s (and now our!) favorite drink has been shown to provide many benefits for memory, and may positively impact cellular mechanisms in the brain. There is an organic chemical found in green tea, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) that is a key health property of green tea and is a known antioxidant. EGCG is found to boost the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stems cells, can adapt or differentiate into various type of cells. EGCG is also said to enhance learning and memory by improving object and spatial memory.

Seeds: Flax, chia, hemp, sesame. These small seeds all provide big benefits for both the body and the brain.

  1. hemp-chia-flax-seeds-bunch-329x390Flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are an even more potent source of omega-3 fatty acids than walnuts, and also a source of B vitamins, which is great food for your brain cells since they need this for improved cognitive function and memory. Flaxseeds are also a source of manganese, which acts as a powerful antioxidant. It’s best to grind flaxseeds before eating them, since the body has difficulty absorbing the seeds’ nutrients when left in their natural state.
  2. Chia seeds. Chia seeds are a super-food that the ancient Mayans heavily relied upon. These seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and contain more antioxidants than blueberries. Add chia seeds to your diet (in your smoothies or sprinkled on top of your salads) for improved concentration, memory, mood, and protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
  3. Sesame and hemp seeds. These seeds contain plant sterols that help strengthen the immune system and bring down an overreaction.

Quinoa. Quinoa is an amazingly good grain; I love having quinoa porridge in the morning! It makes up a complete protein, containing all nine of the essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron, which is needed to produce energy for the brain’s neurons, as well as being rich in riboflavin (or vitamin B2), which is another important energy source. Since the brain consumes such a large amount of the body’s energy, it’s important to eat the right foods to supply it. Riboflavin also functions as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

kaleVegetables: Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, and cabbage. These veggie powerhouses are highly regarded for being a great source of nutrients. Many are rich in vitamin K, which has been shown to prevent arterial calcification in the brain, which may be linked to Alzheimer’s. Vitamin K also plays a role in creating important fats that the brain needs to perform properly. Great sources for vitamin K are broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, which helps the body get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds. In studies, broccoli, red cabbage and sulforaphane have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Nice!

Sweet Potato. A good (and yummy!) complex carbohydrate, as well as a great source of beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6, C and a great dietary fiber. Combined, these are powerful antioxidants that support inflammation in the body.

brain_food1Berries: Blackberries, Blueberries, Goji Berries, StrawBerries, Cranberries – All berries. Adding berries to your diet can help your brain better process information and stay mentally sharp. Loaded up with polyphenols and antioxidants, berries can help reduce inflammation in brain cells, making it easier for them to communicate with each other. Polyphenols found in blackberries also help reduce accumulation of toxins in the brain. Rumor has it that blueberries, strawberries and cranberries can improve metabolic syndrome through lessoning inflammation.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to slow brain aging. Virgin olive oil is the Mediterranean secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

water bottleWater. Last but not least, we can never forget this amazingly important nutrient. Water makes up 85% of brain weight– so by being dehydrated, brain volume decreases, whereas rehydration increases cerebral volume significantly. So make sure to get your 8 glasses a day, people!

[Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

The Best Diet To Clear Your Acne, For Good!

By: Stephanie Heino

acne-dietTrust me when I say that you can get rid of that acne if you just put some effort into it! Just in the same way that certain foods can ruin your figure, some foods will ruin your skin, and adopting a healthy skin diet can make all the difference in the world. What’s on your plate really dictates how healthy your skin is, how young you look (see our guide to younger looking skin), and whether or not you have acne. Sure genetics and other lifestyle and environmental factors play a big part, but it would be hard to find any nutritionist or dermatologist that wouldn’t consider food a major deciding factor in whether you have healthy-looking skin or not.

Basically, whether you like it or not, what you feed your body really determines whether you have healthy skin or “problem” skin, so it’s time to start watching what goes into your body, and as an added bonus, it will help you fit into your skinny jeans (score!). There are a number of foods for clear skin that can help to keep your face looking nice and clean, and it is all about what I call “clean” eating. This concept, along with the other tips in this article, have helped me clear up all of my acne (amazing!). Read on for a brief overview of some of the best (and worst) foods and other lifestyle changes that you can eat and do to help keep your skin clear and beautiful, and get rid of that acne once and for all!

There really are some foods than can aggravate acne, and here are the big ones to avoid:

High Glycemic Index Foods. The Glycemic index is a ranking of carbs (from 0 to 100) based on unhealthy-foodhow much they raise blood sugar levels when we eat them. Foods with values below 55 are considered “low-GI,” while those above 70 are considered “high-GI”. High GI foods (like doughnuts, white pasta, or white bread) spike blood sugar levels because the body digests them very quickly. This can increase acne flare-ups because spiked insulin levels increase the body’s inflammatory reactions, which can lead to acne inflammation.

Greasy Foods. While eating certain foods can affect our skin from the inside out, greasy food causes problems from the second it reaches your mouth. French fries and a cheese burger can create acne when the grease from that meal touches our skin (disgusting!), which results in pimples all over.

Refined Sugars, Dairy, Chocolate, Fast Food. While some people may get acne flare-ups from eating dairy, refined sugars, and even chocolate, there is no real evidence it really is the cause of acne (but it sure does make it worse!). Dairy is still on the radar because milk and whey protein-based products raise levels of insulin. Fast food, because of high sugar levels and fat content, could contribute to unhealthy skin, but there’s not a lot of research to prove its link to acne, yet. Cacao itself is not something that makes skin problems worse; the culprit in chocolate is simply the milk protein and sugar in it.

Now that we know what foods we should steer clear of, what foods should we eat for clear skin? We all know that protein- and veggie-packed diets are good for us, but there some diets that can actually help maintain clear skin. I don’t like to say diets, because it is actually more of a lifestyle. Studies have found that the Mediterranean diet (mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, nuts and olive oil) can protect against acne, as can thee Paleo diet (which we are definitely not big supporters of). But you don’t have to follow a diet with a fancy name to get rid of your acne. Simply adopting an overall clean way of eating will take you a long way when it comes to getting clean skin.

Cantaloupe-melon-001Vitamin A. Foods like carrots and spinach are a good source of vitamin A, which prevents the overproduction of cells in the skin’s outer layer (read: there are fewer dead cells hanging around to clog pores). If you are not a fan of spinach or carrots (how can you not be?), try other vitamin A stars like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and cantaloupe which all contain beta-carotene, the type of vitamin A produced by plants.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Foods rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts, and flax seed may help keep inflammation under control (all nuts and seeds are great!). Because that is really what acne is – inflammation — which will show up as red, painful bumps on our skin. In addition to helping to prevent acne and providing a generally healthy, clear appearance for the skin, these essential fatty acids are amino acids that can help to prevent a wide range of different diseases and conditions as well. They have also been linked to long-term cardiovascular health, making them a great choice for any diet. Salmon is another great source of omega 3 fatty acids. It is a good source of protein and is low in unhealthy fats and sodium, making it a smart alternative to other types of meat.

raw-broccoli-lgVitamin D & E. Foods containing lots of vitamin E, like pine nuts and sunflower seeds, play an important role in preventing acne development. Many studies have found that levels of vitamin E were significantly lower in patients with acne. Dark green vegetables are a great example of vitamin E, and they are also rich in antioxidants. Dark green vegetables are often times full of vitamin D as well, which help to provide your body with a necessary component of skin cell production making it an essential vitamin that helps heal acne-scarred skin. Without sufficient quantities of vitamin E and vitamin D in your system, your skin may begin to take on a pale or unhealthy appearance. Some of the best vegetables for these nutrients include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, and soybeans.

Vitamin C. Citrus fruits are one of the strongest sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is usually best known as an important component of the immune system, and it helps to boost your body’s natural defenses against common diseases and viruses. However, vitamin C is also essential for the adequate production of collagen, a staple ingredient in the production of healthy new skin cells throughout your body.

Zinc. Zinc deficiency is associated with a variety of skin problems, including acne. Kicking back oysters and munching on dark chocolate can provide a healthy dose of zinc.

Vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 (and other B vitamins) promotes, among other things, healthy skin and hair. In one small study, a large dose of vitamin B5 supplements cured cases of acne. Why, you ask? Vitamin B5 has been shown to decrease oil production on skin and reduces the size of pores.

Selenium. Whole grains (like yummy quinoa and brown rice) and aromatic vegetablesquinoa-1 (like onion and garlic) are rich in selenium, which helps preserve skin’s elasticity. But that’s not all — selenium can also reduce inflammatory damage to the skin. A small study found that taking selenium supplements improved the skin of patients with severe acne.

Water and High Fiber Foods. Sipping H2O and consuming high fiber foods like fruits, beans, and vegetables, can help the body flush out toxins, which are culprits leading to inflammation and clogged pores. Constipation has also been linked to skin conditions like acne. A high fiber diet with adequate hydration will help keep things moving smoothly through your body.

Antioxidant_berriesAntioxidants. Different kinds of berries all contain antioxidants of different kinds and in different proportions. Berries, such as blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries, are all high in beneficial nutrients of these types. Antioxidants not only help to reduce your risk of cancer and provide general immune system health, but they are also very beneficial at helping to keep the skin clear and free of oil and grease by keeping your cells healthy too.

Here are 8 tips you could benefit from when fighting your acne:

1. Keep your face clean. Whether or not you have acne, it’s important to wash your face daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil from the skin surface. Use warm, not hot, water and a mild facial cleanser or the oil face washing method. Using a harsh soap (like deodorant body soap) can injure the already inflamed skin and cause more irritation. Avoid scrubbing your skin harshly with a washcloth or exfoliating glove. Gently wash it with your clean hands or a very soft cloth. Always rinse well, and then dry your face with a clean towel. (Toss the towel in the laundry hamper, as dirty towels spread bacteria.)

girl_washing_face12. Use makeup sparingly. During a breakout, try to avoid wearing foundation, powder, or blush. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. Always select natural cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals (Yuck!). Make sure you read the ingredients list on the product label before buying! Make sure to wash your makeup brushes at least once a week, as there are huge amounts of bacteria living in your brushes. Also make sure to change your bed sheets often to get rid of bacteria, but check your laundry detergent for any irritating ingredients.

3. Watch what you put on your hair. Always go for natural beauty products when buying skin and hair care products. Avoid using fragrances, oils, and harsh chemicals! These ingredients can drip on the face, blocking the skin pores and irritating the skin. Stick to a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face, so wash your hair often, especially during a pimple outbreak. If your hair is long, keep it pulled off your face as much as you can.

4. Keep your hands off your face. Avoid touching your face or propping your cheek or chin on your hands. Not only can you spread bacteria, you can also irritate the already inflamed facial skin. Never pick or pop pimples with your fingers, as it can result in infection and scarring.

5. Stay out of the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and redness. Further, some oral and topical acne medications may increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Whether you have pimples or not, always apply a natural sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Look for a sunscreen that does not create new outbreaks (Non-acnegenic products!). Again, always read the ingredients on the product label to make sure you use natural beauty products!

6. Exercise daily. Regular exercise is good for your mind and your body, including your skin — the body’s largest organ. Working out reduces anxiety and boosts blood flow throughout the body. When you exercise, avoid wearing clothing or using exercise equipment that rubs on the skin and may cause irritation. Also, avoid wearing hats, goggles, or helmets that cause you to sweat excessively, as this can irritate the skin and increase bacteria. Always shower or bathe right after exercise.

Enjoying the sun7. Chill! Experts believe that our emotional state is related to all aspects of health, including skin function. Some studies link stress with the severity of pimples or acne (Check out this great Acne Face Map to see what you can do about each area!). Take time to understand your stress reactions. Also, try to figure out what’s causing you to feel stressed. Find effective ways to deal with stress before it builds up and causes a breakout by doing yoga, meditation, reading, etc. While pimples are normal during your teen years, it is important to learn some daily self-care steps to manage skin problems before they get more serious.

8. Be positive! Believe it or not, but you attitude and mood can have a major impact on how your skin is looking! By keeping a positive attitude, worrying less and generally being happy will make a huge difference in how your skin looks!

If in doubt, schedule a free consultation with Holistic Health Counselor Natasha Uspensky to learn how to decrease the stress in your life and get that acne under control!

To Juice Or To Blend? That is the question…

By: Stephanie Heino

juicingversusblendingLately, it seems juicing and blending are on every health fanatic’s lips, and we wanted to weigh in.  For a long time I was wondering what the actual difference was between blending and juicing foods, and I know that I am not alone so let us clear this confusion by listing the pro’s and con’s of each so you can see what fits you best. First of all, it’s important to note that just because it is a smoothie doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Buying pre-made smoothies in stores is probably not a good idea if you are looking for optimal health benefits. Often times they are loaded with sugar and preservatives to be kept fresh (a major no-no!).

Let’s start by defining juicing to clear the confusion. “Juicing is a process in which a machine, either through centrifugal force, grinding or mastication (chewing), extracts juice from its source. The juice will contain most of the nutrients, but not all of them, despite what ardent juicers claim. This process removes the insoluble fiber and some of the soluble fiber from the juice, which contains healthy colorful antioxidants. According to studies, juicing delivers 80% to 90% of the antioxidant potential of a veggie or fruit. Blending provides close to 100%.”

After extraction, it is best to consume the juice or blended foods within 10 to 15 minutes because antioxidants are activated and used as soon as air and liquid hit the food. There are some juicers that claim a vacuum extraction, however that doesn’t totally stop the loss of antioxidants.

Some also say juicing and blending gives the body more energy than solid food because the only nutrient that is quickly available for energy is sugar. Remember, with blended foods the sugar absorption is slower and steadier (which is a good thing), but even juice requires some form of digestion.

Benefits of Juicing

  • green_juice_smoothies_recipes_apple_cucumber_Broccoli_spinachVery fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach, pancreas and colon.
  • Because of the lack of fiber, a lot of plant juice can be consumed. You can effectively drink more, consuming more nutrients.
  • Helpful for people sensitive to fiber since there is no insoluble fiber content. Juice does have some soluble fiber, but only a small amount.
  • Provides 80% to 90% of the nutritional value of the food being juiced.

Negatives

  • Allows very fast delivery of sugars to the blood stream.
  • Removes most of the fiber and some antioxidants from the juice.
  • Not as filling or satisfying for most people.
  • More time consuming and more difficult to clean.
  • Good juicers are expensive.

Meanwhile, blending is a process in which the whole foods, along with some liquid, are put in a machine and blended to form a puree. You get everything the whole food has to offer: vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber.

tofu-banana-strawberry-smoothieBenefits of blending

  • Fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach and pancreas.
  • Because the food is blended, it takes up less space than a full meal would. This allows for more nutrient intake at one time.
  • The natural fiber slows the release of sugars into the blood stream.
  • More nutrient availability due to the whole plant being consumed.
  • More filling due to the fiber.
  • Very fast to make a smoothie (or Blast) and clean up.
  • Blenders are less expensive than juicers.

Negatives

  • If someone is sensitive to fiber, it could make a person bloated and a little gassy.
  • You can’t consume as much liquid as you could juicing.
  • Some blenders can create too much heat if you let them blend too long. The heat will kill the naturally occurring enzymes. (This is not the case with NutriBullet, as it doesn’t heat to the point of destroying enzymes.)

In the body, nutrients work together and support health through their interaction. For example, when the pulpy white part of the orange is removed in the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids in the orange are lost. This loss of flavonoids is one of the many reasons for eating the orange in its whole food form. The skin on a apple contains other antioxidants that you are not going to get in the juice and skins of vegetables and fruits contain some of the highest concentrations of nutrients and juicing is not as efficient as the body at extracting those nutrients.

There’s a jungle of blenders and juicers out there, but here is a few great ones to help you chose the best one for you!

Nutribullet ($90-$120)

The praised blender has taken the health market by storm and it truly takes blending to a whole new level by enhancing the absorption of nutrients. It has been called the superfood nutrition extractor since this powerful blender is used to grind up all types of foods into drinks yet keeps all the nutrition. Not only can you use it to make health shakes and juices, but you can also make soups, dressings, desserts, flour, and peanut butter.  We’ve been using this amazing kitchen tool for almost a year and love it.  At under a hundred bucks, it’s an amazing value and is the easiest way to start making super healthy smoothies at home right away!  You get 4 convenient to-go smoothie cups that you can take with you anywhere. (Click to read our full review of the Nutribullet.)  Get it here!

Ninja Mega Kitchen System ($160-$220)

If you’re ready to take your blending up a notch, and want the option for higher capacity blending and food processing, this is the blender for you.  It has a super high powered motor, and is an all-around great blender, because of the combination of the patented Ninja technology and powerful pulsing action. It comes with two to-go sized blender cups (like the Nutribullet), a full-size blender, and a food processor, making it a truly indispensable kitchen tool. At less than half the cost of the Vitamix, this puppy does pretty much everything it’s big expensive brother can do, but at a much friendlier price point.  We recently upgraded to this blender and couldn’t be happier! (Click to read our full review of the Ninja.)  Get it here!

Vitamix ($330-$650)

This healthy kitchen favorite not only makes perfect smoothies, but Vitamix machines are also built to stand up to years of demanding use in commercial kitchens and decades of daily use in your home. Impressive!  It can liquify almost anything, making blended soups and smoothies a cinch.  The high powered motor also warms blended soups without cooking them, which is essential for raw foodies in the colder months!  Get it here for less!

Breville Juice Fountain Compact ($99-$139)

This juicer is one of the best! It collects all the pulp and extracts 8 oz of yummy, refreshing juice in less than 5 seconds. Amazing.  Plus it’s nice and compact, which makes it much more flexible a kitchen tool than many of the bulkier juicers out there.  An awesome value!  Get it here!

Check out these delicious blended soup recipes, perfect for a cold winter day!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is delicious, and did you know they’re low in calories and fat and packed with vitamins A & C as well? This soup makes a fabulous, nourishing soup.

Ingredients:bowlcloseup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ cup of coconut milk or soy milk
  • ½ cup of cashew puree
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:

Sauté onions and apples in a stockpot with olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, except coconut milk, cashews and quinoa. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add batches of mixture to the blender, add coconut milk, cashews, and quinoa, and puree until smooth. Add a crispy green salad and you have a complete, healthy dinner!

Delicious Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe really gives you the nutrition your body needs thanks to the Nutribullet. It’s a great way to heat up on those cold winter days, and in addition to that it is so easy to make.

Ingredients:Tomato-Soup-1

  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Italian tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice or quinoa (cooked)
  • ¼ cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)

 Directions:

1.      Place tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes in a pot.

2.      Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are fork soft.

3.      Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.      Place cashews in blender and grind.  Add to soup.

5.      In small batches add soup and puree with extractor blade until smooth.

6.      Add brown rice or quinoa to soup and finish with coconut milk.

Happy blending everyone!

Don’t forget to check out our delicious Nutribullet smoothie recipes!

Tips For Younger Looking Skin

5-tips-to-younger-looking-skin-262x300By: Stephanie Heino

Forget the fountain of youth, and simply take a look on what goes into your grocery bag. This is a guide on how to increase the foods that you should consider your anti-aging staples. Fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids and carotenoids, two powerful plant-based antioxidants, are given since they will remove the free radicals from your skin and body that cause you to age prematurely. Overall, a well-balanced diet can help you lose weight, live longer and feel fitter. But it can also help you look younger. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Stop looking for expensive, unnatural products being advertised on TV promising you younger-looking skin by the morning. Instead load up a plate at the feel-better buffet and turn back the clock on a full (and happy) stomach. Exercise and a healthy diet are the best (non-surgical) ways to keep you looking years younger. But certain foods possess qualities that will improve your skin, boost your energy, and even fight of disease.

Spinach. This leafy green is a true nutrient powerhouse, and it’s easy and tasty to use as the base of a salad, or even in your Spinach_2337460bsmoothies. Spinach is rich in lutein, which has been shown to have anti-aging properties.

Cinnamon. Research shows that cinnamon may decrease the post-meal insulin spike. And the more controlled the spike, the less likely you are to store body fat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in your smoothie for great taste, but also to help slim your waistline. And, it’s a powerful antioxidant too!

Sweet Potatoes. They do more than to fill out the table at Thanksgiving, ladies. Sweet potatoes contain lycopene, which protects your skin from UV damage. It also is loaded with vitamin C, which produces collagen for healthier skin.

Green Tea. It keeps showing up in many of my posts, but it is truly a miracle drink. Whether you drink it hot or cold, or use it as a refreshing base for soups or stews, green tea might help you look younger. In fact, Chinese researcherimages-2s found that people who drank 3 cups of green tea per day slowed down the aging process. And the reason is that green tea might improve your DNA structure and slow the shorten of cells that results during aging. Great!

Watermelon. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Carrots are filled with beta-carotene. And watermelon is loaded with both vitamins, which help protect your skin and repair cells that are damaged by sunlight.

Hemp. Most people know that salmon is a strong source of omega-3s, but so is hemp. Hemp seeds and oils are a natural moisturized, which helps your skin retain moisture and counteract the effects of aging. Eat the seeds raw, or add the oil to your favorite smoothie.

Pistachios. These little green nuts are not only high in nutrition, but they also have a major pistachiosbenefit over other nuts since they come in shells. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, subjects consumed 41 percent fewer calories when in-shell nuts are offered compared to those already shelled. Those who eat nuts gain, on average, an extra two and a half years. Nuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats, so they offer benefits similar to those associated with olive oil. They’re also concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals, including antioxidants.

Blueberries. These colorful little berries are high in fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and a great soorganic-olive-oilurce of antioxidants that may help protect the brain and skin.

Olive Oil. Four decades ago, researchers from the Seven Countries Study concluded that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Now we know that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.

I also want to share 5 easy beauty steps you should follow in order to achieve younger looking skin:

1. Choosing the correct skin care products for your skin type is an essential part to younger looking skin. Either if you are having problem skin or not you should go for all natural skin care products since products that containing harmful ingreBeautiful woman with purifying facial mask keeping her palms by her facedients can increase your chance of premature ageing. Natural ingredients will help your skin remain wrinkle free for as long as possible.  Remember, less is more!

 2. Always use a good eye cream that contains vitamin A. They will soften the fine lines that appear under your eyes by boosting the collagen production. Never use your face moisturizer as your eye cream as these creams weren’t meant for such skin areas. Using a suitable eye cream will also help with under eye puffiness, wrinkles and dark circles.

3. Your face cream must always contain SPF 15 sunscreen which will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. UVA rays from the sun can damage the collagen, which can result in premature aging and wrinkles.

4. You know it is important to cleanse your face daily, but don’t forget to exfoliate regularly. This will eliminate dead skin cells and giving you younger and more glowing skin. rec-woman-using-a-hula-hoop-credits-thinkstock-04-03-12-md

 5. Believe it or not, but exercise can contribute in a great way to get younger looking skin. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes a day by going for a walk, go running or even chasing your kids around the local park. Exercise gets your blood flowing, and an increase in blood flow will carry more oxygen to the skin. The boost in blood flow and oxygen to the skin cells also carries nutrients that improve skin health, supporting all the effort you make with moisturizers and other skin care products.

Green Tea for Maximizing Health and Beauty

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By: Stephanie Heino

Tea (Camellia Sinensis) refers to Black, Green, White and Oolong teas. The teas differ by the fermentation process where the black tea is fully fermented (oxidized), oolong is partially fermented, white is minimally processed and green is unfermented, which makes green tea the healthiest. This article will focus on the health benefits of green tea, but in general all teas are similar due to similar bioactive health substances, like bioflavonoids (super-antioxidants found in many natural foods), for example.

Green tea, made from a bioflavonoid-containing plant – has beImageen enjoyed as a hot (and cold!) beverage and an herbal remedy in China and Japan for thousands of years. Recently, researchers have investigated green tea’s healing properties and have discovered some interesting health benefits which include protection against certain infections; improved cardiovascular health; better dental hygiene; clearer, healthier skin; and protection from developing some types of cancer.

There are many different types of teas available these days.  Some are sold as herbal teas to distinguish them from black tea. Green tea and regular tea come from the same plant – the Camellia sinensis shrub, which is native to Asia.  The lImageeaves of Camellia sinensis are dried and cured in different ways to yield different types of tea. Instead of fermenting the green tea, the leaves are steamed, dried, and ready for use. The steaming deactivates enzymes present in the tea leaves that can slowly break down the bioflavonoids. Therefore, the green tea process preserves much of the beneficial nutrient content found in the fresh tea leaves. Many people are confused about green tea containing caffeine –it does, but only half as much as a cup of coffee (6-ounce cup of green tea can contain 15 to 60 mg of caffeine). There are also decaffeinated green tea beverages and supplements available for people who want to avoid caffeine intake while experiencing the health benefits.

Some of the major beneficial effects of green tea include a reduced risk of many diseases such as heart disease; a reduction of dental problems; a reduced cancer risk, especially gastrointestinal cancer; the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels; and anti-hypertensive effects. According to Japanese researchers there is a reduced risk of gastric cancers in populations drinking several cups of green tea per day.  According to vital health statistics, the death rate from cancer in both men and women in the Shizuoka region of Japan was found to be much lower than the national average. After conducting animal experiments to see if feeding green tea leaves to mice would suppress cancer cell growth they found that tumor growth in experimental mice fed green tea was indeed suppressed. There is also some evidence that consumption of green tea can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. This can be accomplished by keeping the levels of cholesterol in the blood within a normal range and promoting good blood flow.

There is a great amount of other health benefits of green tea. Due to the naturally occurring amount of fluoride in green tea, as well as the anti-bacterial property, studies have confirmed the positive effect green tea has on teeth. Therefore green tea may be used to prevent dental cavities. Other benefits of drinking green tea before, during, and after meals includes antibacterial action, antioxidant effects, reduction of blood-glucose levels, as well as increased longevity.

The best way to get the benefits from the green tea, take green tea supplements before or with your meals and enjoy a cup of green tea often, in particular with meals. When selecting dietary supplements, look for brands with green-tea extracts standardized to 25-percent or more polyphenols. As part of a total dietary supplement plan, green-tea extract intake of 50 mg or higher will be beneficial.

As for the beauty aspect of drinking green tea, specialists found out that green tea has a special effect on our skinSkinGreenTea especially for eczema and acne sufferers. If you suffer from eczema, drinking green tea regularly can be a remedy for reducing the symptoms since green tea plays the role of a moisturizer with its powerful antioxidant properties that are 20 times stronger the vitamin E. Some say that 3 cups a day is enough for a guaranteed result!

Green tea is also good for preventing and fighting existing acne and a much better method that is far less harmful than the chemicals in all products you usually are recommended. You can find several cosmetic products containing green tea extracts, but consuming it is the simplest and best method to receive all possible benefits. It is said that this miracle beverage contains more antioxidants than any of the beauty products rich in chemical antioxidants and vitamins like E, C, and A. Green tea is an amazing antioxidant beauty food for skin and glow, as well as your general health!

Drink it up!

8 Amazing Superfoods Your Body Needs

By: Stephanie Heino

These days the term “superfoods” is being used everywhere in order to define foods that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of punch for their weight as far as goodness goes. They are superior sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients – nutrients we need but cannot make ourselves. We all may be adding more salads and vegetables to our diets, and the concern over the quality of foods grown on mineral depleted soils makes superfoods an intelligent choice. I use superfoods daily as part of my smoothies, green juices and salads and they really give me another level of energy and I feel great and nourished all day. Keep reading for some interesting health benefits of a few of them.

Goji Berries

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Also known as lycium or Chinese wolfberries, gojis are native to the Himalayan region of China and Tibet. These small, red berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for thousands of years to help eyesight, boost immune function and promote longevity. Many of the documented health benefits of the berries are related to their high antioxidant concentration. Carotenoids, a specific type of antioxidant found in goji berries have been shown to help protect eyesight. Packed with antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, and complete protein, goji berries are certainly deserving of their superfood status! Dried goji berries make an excellent snack, and are also used in muffins, raw desserts, salads and energy bars! Although they are most often eaten in dried, whole berry form, goji berries are also available as a powder juice or supplement.

Here is a recipe to goji energy bites, which are just so delicious!

Acai Berries

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The endless health benefits of Acai should not be underestimated. They have the highest nutritional composition of anything you can eat in the world (wow) and as a result they can give the body a large number of nutritional requirements that it is typically short on.

The most significant health benefit of Acai berry is that it reintroduces nutritional elements that the bodies ought to have, but are typically just not present in our diet. Eating more of these nutrients aids the body in functioning the manner it’s supposed to. This helps the body to reach a healthy equilibrium.

Acai berry in different forms (I prefer the freeze dried powder) can be put into everything from salad dressings, smoothies and your tea. It takes some getting accustomed to. It tastes kind of like a combination of chocolate and berry. There are a multitude of ways to incorporate the health advantages of Acai as part of your nutrition plan and the advantages justify the effort. Acai berries aids in increasing your energy level and your metabolism so your body will use more calories naturally that you will discover helps you to lose weight and helps you to feel a lift in energy.

Camu Camu Fruit

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The Camu camu fruit is believed to be the world’s most abundant source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin often used to strengthen the immune system. It gives you as much as 60 times more vitamin C per serving than an orange. This antioxidant-rich berry from the Amazon is also a plentiful source of potassium, calcium, protein, beta carotene, amino acids and powerful phytochemicals. The most common way to bring it into your diet is to by raw organic dried camu camu fruit powder mixed into your smoothie.

Spirulina

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Spirulina is one of the most nutritious and concentrated food sources on the planet. As a result, it’s appearing more frequently all the time in natural foods and beverages, such as green foods and drinks, energy bars and oral supplements.

Spirulina consistently boasts an amazing protein level of 60 percent on average—making it a protein source for vegans/vegetarians. And spirulina’s protein is biologically complete, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human health. Spirulina is similar to sea vegetables such as dulse, kelp, nori, Kombu, arame, and wakame. Along with its cousin chlorella (another one of my favorites), spirulina is a member of the “blue-green” family—but this family is actually not truly algae. Check out an amazing green smoothie recipe here, containing almost every superfood in this article!

Maca Root

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I myself use maca mainly for its energy boosting effects. Many people use maca for its virility and fertility boost benefits as well. Maca is a real libido booster and people or couples who would like an enhancement in that department should start taking maca regularly. It has been described as the best natural supplement out there for virility and libido for both men & women. Women usually use maca for hot flashes, and for treating and relieving PMS symptoms. Maca works amazingly for regulating hormones. This also makes maca great for anyone with mood swings and stress in their life.

On top of all these things, maca is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s loaded with amino acids, carbohydrates, and minerals including calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E. It’s rich in almost every mineral! Maca is one of the most potent plant-based sources for Vitamin B12, which is great news for vegans or for people who do not eat meat. Rich in protein as well, at least 10% of the maca root weight is protein. It comes in a bunch of different forms; capsules, powder and liquid, and just like many of the other superfoods it is super easy to add to your smoothie for a great boost. If you don’t have a smoothie every morning, the capsule form may work better for you, to ensure you’re getting consistent doses every day for maximum effect!

Hemp Seeds

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Hemp seeds are of exceptionally high quality in terms of amino acid composition and protein structure, the latter affecting digestibility and utilization by the human body. Hemp protein contains all of the essential amino acids in more nutritionally significant amounts and at a ratio closer to “complete” sources of protein (like meat, milk and eggs) than all other oil seeds except soy. It is delicious to boost your morning smoothie with, or sprinkle on top of your quinoa porridge or oatmeal.

Chia Seedsimages

People are going crazy for chia seeds, which have gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of fiber at 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons), and contain protein and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

Including chia seeds as part of your healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables. The seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes. So delicious! Check out this post about healthy breakfast options featuring a delicious chia seed porridge!

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is the food of young bees and is comprised of approximately 40% protein. It is considered one of nature’s most completely bee-pollen-granules4nourishing foods. It contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by the body. Such highly assimilable protein can contribute significantly to one’s protein needs.

Bee pollen contains all the essential components of life, such as proteins, free amino acids, vitamins, including B-complex, and folic acid. The percentage of rejuvenating elements in bee pollen is much higher than those present in brewer’s yeast and wheat germ. Bee pollen corrects the unbalanced nutrition in the body, which is very common today since we consume so many nutritionally incomplete foods, often with added chemical ingredients, which expose us to physiological problems. I would suggest using bee pollen as part of your smoothie, delicious and healthy!

Again, check out our Organic Beauty Superfood Smoothie Recipe to incorporate many of these amazing ingredients!

[Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

Total Beauty Salad Recipe

Last week I posted the top five foods to keep you looking young and beautiful.  While great separately, these foods actually taste amazing together! Try this delicious Total Beauty Salad for lunch or dinner a few times a week, and you will experience beauty, health, and vitality you thought would only be possible through supplements and topical remedies…

Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 cup fresh organic blueberries
1 package (or 6 cups) organic baby greens, washed (I used a baby arugula/baby spinach/baby field green mix)
1/2 bunch (about 1/2 pound) organic asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tablespoons organic tamari
4 tablespoons sherry or sherry vinegar
2 bags green tea
1/2 teaspoon organic arrowroot powder
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Place 4 pieces of salmon into a skillet, and pour over the tamari and sherry.  Add the three cloves garlic with a garlic press.  Let marinate for 10 minutes, flipping the fish halfway through.  In the meantime, using a grill or grill pan, cook the asparagus in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until it shows grill marks and is firm, but easily speared with a fork.  Set aside to cool.  After salmon has marinated, simmer it in its marinade over medium heat until most of the sauce is absorbed.  While salmon is cooking, pour 1/2 cup boiling water over 2 bags of green tea and steep, covered, for 5 minutes.  Squeeze out the tea bags, and mix in arrowroot powder.  Pour tea mixture over salmon and cook another 5 minutes or so, or until the sauce thickens slightly.  Roast sesame seeds in an un-oiled frying pan until the seeds begin to jump, be careful not to let them burn.  Mix seeds into salmon and sauce.  Slice asparagus into two inch pieces, toss with spinach. Serve salmon over a bed of spinach and asparagus, and pour sauce over salad.  Top with blueberries, and enjoy!

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Natasha Uspensky, chhc