recipes

Summertime Basil Lemon Peach Smoothie

smoothie

Fresh basil goes well with sweet summer fruits. Plums, apricots, and nectarines are also delicious here, so choose your favorite stone fruit and give this a try!

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen peaches
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 medium avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Preparation

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth.

If you need additional sweetness, add a few drops of stevia.

Enjoy!

health

10 Ways To Beat Stress

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In a previous post I talked about stress being the most dangerous toxin to our bodies. If you really knew what was happening to you when you are stressed, you would freak out. It’s not pretty. Chronic stress has become an epidemic in our society, where faster seems better and we pack more obligations into our ever-expanding schedules.

Chronic stress has been linked to-

  • lowered immunity
  • raised blood sugar
  • belly fat
  • weight gain
  • diabetes
  • increased blood pressure

And that’s just a tiny percentage of what stress can cause!

So what do you do to start reducing stress? For starters, change your diet.

Food is something I talk a lot about because it’s important. The right diet can do wonders to reduce stress’s impact. When you eat whole, real foods, you restore balance to insulin, cortisol, and other hormones.

Eliminating mind-robbing molecules like caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars and eating regularly can help you avoid the short-term stress of starvation on your body. You maintain an even-keeled mindset throughout the day, even when things get hectic.

You’ll replace those foods with clean protein, healthy fats, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, berries and non-gluten grains. Food is information that controls your gene expression, hormones and metabolism. When you eat the right foods, you balance blood sugar, restore hormonal balance and reduce stress’s damaging impact.

Change your mindset

Stress is a thought, a perception of a threat, even if it isn’t real. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.

Here’s where it become interesting. Stressors can be real or perceived. You might imagine your spouse is angry with you. Whether or not they are, you raise stress levels. Real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.

Fortunately, a wide variety of techniques and tools can help effectively manage stress. Among them, these 10 are most beneficial:

1. Address the underlying biological causes of stress.

Find the biological causes of problems with the mind including mercury toxicity, magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies, and gluten allergies. Changing your body can change your mind.

2. Begin actively relaxing.

Humans remain primed to always do something. Even when we’re not working, our mind is on work. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must do something relaxing. You can’t just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Whether that means deep breathing or a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works for you and do it.

3. Learn new skills.

Try learning new skills such as yoga or muscle relaxation, or take a hot bath, get a massage, watch a sunset, or walk in the woods or on the beach.

4. Make movement your drug.

Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind. Studies show exercise works better than or equal to pharmaceutical drugs for treating depression. Try interval training if you’re short on time but want a powerful, intense workout.

5. Supplement.

Take a multivitamin and nutrients to help balance the stress response, such as vitamin C; the B-complex vitamins, including B6 and B5 or pantothenic acid; zinc; and most important, magnesium, the relaxation mineral.

6. Reframe your point of view.

Challenge your beliefs, attitudes, and responses to common situations and reframe your point of view to reduce stress.

7. Find a community.

Consciously build your network of friends, family and community. They’re your most powerful allies in achieving long-term health.

8. Take care of your vagus nerve by using deep breaths.

Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now. See how differently you feel?

9. Meditate.

No matter how much or little time you have to commit, find a practice that works for you.

10. Sleep.

Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed sleep. Prioritize it, and if you feel like you’re not getting high-quality shut-eye, find strategies to improve it.

What one technique or strategy would you add to this list to manage stress levels?

health

Don’t Eat These 8 Inflammation Causing Foods

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I’ve talked quite a few times in the past about inflammation and the damage it can do to our bodies; from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and aging, inflammation is the underlying factor in almost every disease. What you may not know is that apart from stress and other environmental factors, food has a lot to do with inflammation. Here’s a list of some common pro-inflammatory foods-

1. Sugar.

You already know that sugar is bad for your teeth and your waistline—but did you know that it fans the flames of inflammation as well? When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines that rev up the fire inside you.

2. Artificial sweeteners.

A diet high in these sweeteners can lead to inflammation that puts you at risk for glucose intolerance and metabolic disease—steps on the path to diabetes. Researchers believe that some of the bacteria in your gut react to artificial sweeteners by secreting chemicals that provoke an inflammatory response, making it harder for your body to handle sugar. What’s more, a new study reports that in addition to hiking your risk for diabetes, these sweeteners can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

3. Glutenous grains.

I know that lots of people pooh-pooh the idea that gluten sensitivity is common. But I speak from experience. Eliminating gluten can help people get control over inflammatory diseases from arthritis to psoriasis to inflammatory bowel disease. It’s actually smart to reduce or eliminate all grains because of their pro-inflammatory effects, but at a minimum, give gluten the boot.

4. Seed oils.

Oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean—as well as margarine and vegetable fats—are highly processed and contain an unhealthy ratio of inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, I recommend reaching for healthy substitutes like avocado and olive oil.

5. Dairy.

Most people don’t tolerate dairy foods well. Frequently, they don’t even know this is a problem until they eliminate dairy from their diet. When they do, symptoms like headaches, skin breakouts, bloating, and a stuffy nose clear up—and that tells me that their internal inflammation is dropping as well. If you’re not sure whether dairy bothers you, I recommend eliminating dairy foods, carefully reintroducing them, and then discontinuing them if you experience a bad reaction. There’s so many great non-dairy alternatives out there so I recommend just avoiding dairy all together if you can.

6. Foods packed in BPA-lined cans or packages.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is already linked to many scary problems ranging from birth defects to obesity. In addition, research now links BPA to increased inflammation in post-menopausal women. Luckily, more and more manufacturers are offering their products in BPA-free packaging; read labels carefully, and reach for BPA-free products whenever you can.

7. Commercial condiments (with exceptions).

Most grocery-store mayos, ketchups, and salad dressings are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, harmful emulsifiers, seed oils, and other junk. I make a lot of my own condiments but you can find some great additive and sugar free options at health food stores for ketchup, mustard, mayo and all that other good stuff.

8. Soy “Frankenfoods.”

I know you hear all the time that soy is good for you. However, the heavy processing of foods like soy burgers and soy hot dogs can lead to the formation of lysinoalanine and nitrosamines—toxins that can damage your cells, leading to inflammation.

If inflammation is a problem for you, try kicking these eight pro-inflammatory foods out of your diet and see what happens. It may take a few weeks (or even a few months), but I’m betting that you’ll feel healthier and look younger all over!

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5 Minimalist Habits For A More Peaceful Lifestyle

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I’m sure by now we’ve all heard about the benefits associated with scaling down our possessions and simplifying our lives. Everything from your finances, to organization skills, aesthetics, psychological clarity and the environment can benefit from a minimalist approach.

But what does a simplified life look like in practice?

When you’ve committed to paring down your belongings and de-cluttering your living space, the things that you do choose to keep take on greater importance. Here are five minimalist habits to bring more order and efficiency into your life:

1. Dress with Less

In a world filled with choices, the need to make lots of small repetitive decisions day after day is a drain of your energy.

You can avoid stress and decision-fatigue by automating your daily processes as much as possible. Particularly with deciding what to wear. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama are known for their very limited wardrobes, which reportedly helps them save brain power and maintain focus on the important things. Minimizing your wardrobe will make for a more efficient lifestyle.

2. Plan and Repeat Your Meals

Food is a great domain for enjoying abundance and variety. But constant attempts at creativity can be a drain on your time, energy, and resources. To solve this problem, many minimalists commit to a simple and repetitive meal plan, which automates the shopping process and removes a lot of routine decision-making from the day.

Deciding what to eat can be deceptively exhausting, especially if you’re dieting. By creating a meal plan, you’re limiting alternatives and options. Your mind can relax. Plan ahead of time your meals for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner; or all three. Stick to it during the week, or for your particularly busy days. And save your more ambitious or spontaneous cooking projects for the weekend!

3. Rethink Your Space

Walking into a room in your home, and being overwhelmed by the clutter is not a good sign. Every room in your house should serve a purpose, and no, a junk-room doesn’t count as ‘a purpose.’

Creating more space is not the solution; Americans are building bigger homes than ever before. When you have too much space, human tendency wants to fill it, and usually, we don’t fill it with things we actually need.

To become a minimalist at home, begin “The Great Purge.” Gather boxes and trash bags and go through one room at a time. Have three piles: 1) keep 2) throw away 3) donate/sell.

Anything to be thrown away, take out to the dumpster or trashcan immediately. Don’t let it linger so you can second-guess yourself! Any items to be sold, snap pictures of and set a time limit on how long you’ll keep it posted on Ebay or Craigslist before you donate it. Two weeks is a suggested amount of time. For items being donated, load them up in your car and get them out of your place ASAP.

Once you complete “The Great Purge,” you’ll have much more room and storage than you originally thought. You can also check out these tricks of the trade designers use to make spaces seem larger and more functional.

4. Minimize Debt

It might not be a physical hindrance in your everyday life, but debt will be a looming black cloud of frustration following you everywhere. Part of being a minimalist should be studying how to pay off any debts you have, especially bad debts, like credit card balances.

One suggestion is to take a small amount each week — around $20 to $40 dollars — and slap it onto payments you already make. It won’t hurt as much to part with a small amount of money. If you can make the payments automatic or a direct deduction from your paycheck, go that route.

It’s also helpful to have an “emergency fund” to minimize any bad financial surprises. The same principle applies – take money each week and set it aside in an account. If you can forget it exists, do it.

5. Life in Digital

Receipts, bills and records have a place, but it’s not on your counter scattered everywhere. A great way to de-clutter is to digitize your important documents, and have them ready for printing if needed in physical form.

Photo quality is just as good as scanning nowadays. Once you’ve uploaded all your documents, keep a bin by your computer and upload new items each week. Don’t get too far backed up, or you’ll feel overwhelmed. Invest in a hard drive or cloud space so you won’t lose anything should your computer fail.

There are many more steps you can take toward becoming a minimalist, but baby steps are important in any major life transition. As long as you are motivated and driven toward creating a simpler lifestyle, you’ll get there. Celebrate small victories (but not by buying more things!)

Do you have any tips for living a more peaceful and minimal life? I’d love to hear!

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8 Tips To Save Money On Healthy Food

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Photo: Thrive Market

A lot of people think that you can’t eat healthy on a budget. Well I’m here to tell you it’s possible if you shop smart! You can be on a tight budget while still eating nourishing, nutrient packed foods. Here’s a few tips to get you started on the road to wellness!

1. Make a shopping list.

You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s the foundation of smart shopping—make a list! Writing out a shopping list before you leave for the grocery store will save you both time and money. When you have specific recipes in mind, you’ll buy only what you need and avoid making impulse purchases.

2. Shop from the bulk bins.

The average American family throws out $640 of food each year simply because it spoiled before they were able to eat it. When you buy in bulk, you can purchase as much or as little of an ingredient as you need. Buying spices, grains or beans in bulk is an especially big money saver.

3. Order groceries online.

Another great way to avoid buying things you don’t need is by using a service like Instacart. They have partnered with quite a few stores so you can buy from multiple places at once and then get it delivered directly to your door within 2 hours. I’ve been using this service a lot lately due to my limited mobility and it has become a life saver. No more driving from store to store trying to find the best deal. And don’t forget Amazon and Vitacost are also great choices for pantry staples or bulk items like toilet paper that you use everyday.

4. Try big-box stores.

You might think that being healthy or plant-based closes the door on big-box discounts, like good old Costco or Sam’s. Not even close! You can totally make that membership count. In addition to loads of budget-friendly, organic produce, you can get great deals on pricey items like hemp seeds, cooking oils, and nut butters. I’ve even been able to get loads of fresh pressed green juices at a fraction of the cost of juice bars.

5. Watch the sale days and flyers.

Almost every store has an online sales flyer, and many include coupons. Before you make your shopping list for the week, check ahead for what’s on sale and take advantage. For example, Whole Foods has a different item from a different department on sale every Friday. Even if you don’t make Fridays your full-blown shopping day, you can still check to see if you can score any goodies at a bargain.

6. Follow your local stores online.

Subscribing to your local grocery store’s email newsletter can help you be your most frugal self. They’re chock-full of specials and coupons that can save you money on healthy ingredients. If you spend more time on social media than email, opt to keep up with store specials via Facebook or Instagram. If there’s a bargain to be had, you’ll be there!

7. Get produce in peak season.

Buying in-season produce is not only delicious—it’s also easy on your wallet. Fresh and ripe usually means there’s a discount to keep that produce moving. Plan your meals with the season in mind to make the most of your grocery budget.

8. Batch cook and freeze.

Batch cooking is a great way to eat healthy, delicious, inexpensive meals every day of the week. Once you get in a flow of prepping your meals for the entire week in one day, freezing is your next best friend. It’s one of the best things you can do to avoid eating out and making extra trips to the grocery store. Plan your meals and freeze the rest in perfectly portioned containers to stay on budget.

Do you have any tips or tricks for saving money on groceries? I’d love to hear!