5 Food Habits to Get You Energized this Spring!

 

5 Food Habits to Boost Your Energy this Spring, including green smoothies!

Green smoothie to-go!

When spring time comes around, many of us get the mental and emotional awakening –  we feel happier, more positive, ready to get outdoors, explore, try new things and new foods! This explosion of energy and excitement also often comes in a physical sense, and we wake up feeling fresher, energized and ready to take on another beautiful day.

If you’re NOT feeling that way this spring, it may be due to your diet. If you wake up feeling sluggish, perhaps with a headache and would prefer to go back to sleep, you may need to revamp your food habits. And this can be easier than you may think!

Below are five fabulous food habits to add to your life. Try one or try them all, but you will undoubtedly be feeling far more energized, fresh, healthy and ready to jump into another spring day!

  1. Get Your Green Juice On. By juicing on a regular basis (especially green juices and mostly veggies!), you add in some alkalizing foods that will help to balance your body’s natural pH level (which should be a little alkaline) and give you a burst of nutrients that might be difficult to eat in their whole food form all at once. By juicing, you’re getting this super-dose of vitamins and minerals and helping to flush out toxins that may be contributing to your low energy. New to juicing? Check out our 7 Tips for Getting Started or take on our 7 Day Juicing Jumpstart Challenge!
  2. Eat Green Veggies Daily. Kale, spinach, collards, bok choy, dandelion greens, watercress, dark lettuces – these superfood veggies will boost your energy and moods, helping you feel happy, light and vibrant. Try using these veggies in salads, smoothies, give them a quick water sauté with some garlic and a pinch of sea salt, or try out Cashew Kale recipe.
  3. Get Smart with Smoothies. If you need an easy and quick breakfast in the morning, please don’t grab that bagel with cream cheese. That just won’t sustain you or give you the vibrant springtime energy we know you’d love to have! Instead, blend yourself a power-packed smoothie with some almond milk or water, almonds, avocado, banana, kale or spinach, berries and coconut. Or experiment with your own ingredients – just stick with whole foods, good sources of protein (like nuts/seeds), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut), and some green veggies. For more tips on how to create the perfect smoothie to kick-start your day, try our Smoothie Tips for the Newbie here.
  4. Drink water. A general rule of thumb is to drink about half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink about 75 ounces daily – more if you’re pretty active. Dehydration can bring us down (our energy and moods) fairly quickly. Plus, if you’re drinking more water, it should help you to drink less soda and other sugary drinks that will only compromise your immune system, blood sugar balance and energy. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice to bring some alkalizing power to your body (remember tip #1 about keeping your body’s pH on the alkaline side?).
  5. Eat More Plant-based Protein. While eating some quality meat or animal protein can be beneficial for many of us, overdoing it can often lead to low energy and feeling sluggish. Our bodies work hard to digest meat, which means less energy is available for the rest of the body. Try swapping your steak for black beans or tempeh (or another plant-based protein source). Need some ideas for plant-based protein recipes? We have a whole bunch in our book: Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen and some on our Recipe page. You can also check out Forks Over Knives for yummy recipes.

Warm Chocolate Wheat Berry Porridge

Warm Chocolate Wheat Berry Porridge / The Kicking Kitchen

[Kendall] Last night, we enjoyed some wheat berries with our Arame Red Cabbage Salad (amazing-for-you sea veggie salad from Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen!) and an impromptu sautéed mix of lentils, carrots, onions, celery and some seasonings. I try to make food prep easier whenever I can, so this morning was leftover wheat berries for breakfast: Warm Chocolate Wheat Berry Porridge ! And my creation was not only delish, but also good for you. (Take that, cocoa puffs.)

This can really be made from any leftover grains. If you have brown rice, for example that would also work well. For wheat berries, add 1 cup of berries to 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer for about 45 to 60 minutes, until water is absorbed. This will yield about 3 cups of cooked wheat berries.

Once you have your wheat berries, the rest is simple!

Warm Chocolate Wheat Berry Porridge

1/2 cup wheat berries, cooked (can also use raw, sprouted wheat berries, if desired!)

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoons raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon raw shredded coconut

If desired, warm up the wheat berries by heating in a pot on the stove over medium heat for a few minutes until warmed through. Ingredients will combine better if it’s warm. Stir honey, cacao, coconut oil, and chia seeds into the wheat berries. Top with shredded coconut and enjoy!

 

 

Meet Diane and Try Her Tasty Collard Wraps!

Diane PicOur guest blog post today is by Diane Giuliani, one of our two fabulous health coaches. Diane is a breast cancer sur-THRIVER and offers so much in the world of healthy living and eating, especially when it comes to food and cancer. She knows from personal experience what it’s like to cope with cancer and try to eat well to heal from the disease and feel your best in the middle of chemo and other traditional treatment. Welcome to our team, Diane!

==================================

I was bustling around preparing for my son’s 14th birthday when I got the news from the imaging center that my biopsy results were positive. I had breast cancer.

Needless to say that wasn’t the news I wanted to hear or was prepared to hear. In those first few moments of disbelief I was gripped by fear, concern and uncertainty. Little did I know in that moment how significantly my life would transform. I was being called to action.

A few years prior to my diagnosis I had been questioning my life’s purpose. Having had a number of wonderful and satisfying “mini-careers,” as I like to call them, I still hadn’t landed on the career that was going to allow me to serve for the greater good, yet remain personally fulfilled. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was the news I received on that beautiful June day that would soon seal the deal on my life’s purpose.

Fast forward nearly three years. Today I am a certified health coach and nutrition and wellness educator and I am thrilled to have made the connection with Kendall and Annette here at The Kicking Kitchen. A cancer diagnosis can throw you a curve ball leaving you spinning and uncertain about what to do next. Being naturally inquisitive by nature, it was that cancer curve ball that set me on a path, searching for what I needed to do to empower myself and strengthen my immune system through diet and lifestyle. After countless hours of book reading and internet research, along with trials, errors and successes in the kitchen, I feel blessed with my current state of health and pleased with where I am physically, mentally and spiritually.

I recently taught a class that I titled pH 101 and I thought you might enjoy the kitchen tip I demonstrated. I shared with the group how important it is to strive for a diet that is abundantly rich with alkaline-forming foods, and that some of the best cancer kicking, alkaline foods are the bold and sassy leafy greens. I’m always looking for more ways to include them in my diet and in fact, I challenge myself daily to eat something green and leafy with every meal. One of my favorite lunch time meals uses collard greens as a replacement for a sprouted wrap or tortilla.

Collard Wrap

Start with a leftover you might have in your fridge that has some substance or body to it. It might be a quinoa or potato salad, a veggie, bean and rice chili, or a mock tuna salad made with either tempeh or garbanzo beans. Sometimes I choose to warm the leftovers just to take the chill off.

Next, in a 10-12 inch skillet, bring about ½ inch of water to a simmer. While you wait for your water to heat, take a medium sized collard green and turn it so that you’re looking at the underside of the leaf with the raised part of the center rib. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the center rib a few times so that the rib is almost flush with the leafy part. Save the peelings and put them in the wrap. Once the water has come to a simmer, hold onto the end of the stem and swish it around in the water until it starts to turn a deeper green. Turn it over and repeat on the flip side. This process only takes a few seconds on each side.

Pull out your now soft and supple collard and set aside. Repeat this step with as many collards as you need for your meal. Cut off the very end of the stem so that it’s flush with the bottom of the leaf. Put a few large spoonfuls of your filling at the stem end of the collard. Roll the end over the filling slightly then fold in the sides. Continue rolling and folding until the wrap looks like a sweet little green bed roll. This meal is super transportable and boosts your daily dose of super nutritious greens. As an interesting side note, cooked collards have four times the amount of available calcium than collards in the raw!

Bon Appetite!

Warmly,

Diane

Easy Homemade Brazil Nut Milk Recipe (Non Dairy)

 

If you want to avoid large amounts of (or any) dairy, but still enjoy using dairy-like foods in your Brazil Nut Milkcoffee, baking, cereal, smoothies or any other food creation, it’s very helpful to know how to make your own dairy-free nut milk. While non-dairy milks are available in health food stores and most grocery stores, they often have other ingredients added that may be potentially harmful to your health, or just aren’t whole foods. Carrageenan, for example, is a popular food additive made from seaweed, in degraded form, that has been shown in studies to cause malignancies, inflammation and gastrointestinal problems. Carrageenan can be found in many non-dairy milks (you can learn more about carrageenan here on Dr. Weil’s site).

As always, if you can make it at home, you control what is going into your food. Non-dairy milks that you can purchase are convenient, but making your own milk is pretty darn easy too! We include two simple non-dairy milk recipes in our book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen – and now, here is one more for you!

For this nut milk recipe, we use Brazil nuts. Coffe with nut milkBrazil nuts are full of amazing nutrients, including a large amount of selenium, which is helpful in preventing certain cancers, liver cirrhosis, and coronary artery disease. They are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Brazil nuts are also an excellent source of B vitamins, as well as a good source of magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron (and so much more!).

If you enjoy drinking your coffee with some dairy cream or milk, you will love the creaminess of this Brazil nut milk. Especially fresh from the blender, it creates a nice froth – almost like a latte! Yum! You can save your nut milk in a pitcher in the fridge for about a week. Make a large batch and use wherever you would use dairy milk.

Brazil Nut Milk

Makes about 3 1/3 cups milk

1 cup Brazil nuts (soaked in water 4 hours or overnight)

3 cups water

Optional: cinnamon, vanilla, dates

Drain and rinse Brazil nuts and add to a blender. Add water and any optional ingredients as desired. Dates will sweeten and vanilla and cinnamon add additional flavor, but you don’t need anything besides the nuts and water to make your milk).

Blend at high speed for one to two minutes until mostly smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, collecting the liquid in a container. Use the liquid as your milk!

Note: You may wish to save the Brazil nut meal collected in the strainer for use in baking.

 

Go Minty Green for St. Patrick’s Day!

photo credit: ilco

photo credit: ilco

Get your Green on and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a delicious way this weekend with our delicious Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie.

Who knew something posing as a creamy, minty treat could be good for you? Enjoy – and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

Yield: 20 ounces

Ingredients:

1 frozen large banana, very ripe

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

10 drops pure peppermint extract

11/2 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup baby spinach, packed

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

Mint leaf sprigs

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender and mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for another minute until smooth. Add three to four mint leaves if desired and blend for a few more seconds. Pour into a glass and garnish with sprig of mint leaves.

10 Tips for Shedding Unwanted Weight Effortlessly and Bringing Harmony to Your Body

We hear so much about the latest diet fad and how to lose those extra 10, 20 or 30 pounds withweight some special pill or drink. Many of us have grown up seeing advertisement after advertisement for the next big weight loss program or quick fix. This leads to yo-yo dieting and feelings of failure and inadequacy when we can’t lose the weight we want to lose.

For many cancer survivors, excess weight is one more crappy side effect of conventional treatment, and can add to the lack of energy, strength and balance we feel once treatment is done.

The truth is losing weight is just one part of the picture. And very often fad diets and magic pills might help with weight loss but they create imbalance and stress in the body, weaken the immune system, create fatigue, disrupt proper hormonal function and even put us on an emotional rollercoaster. Even if the weight is lost, it is likely to come back and there are usually other issues in the body that are not addressed or resolved.

When we begin adding in real, whole foods, mostly plants, and focus on that on a daily basis, rather than going on a strict diet or restricting certain foods, the results are amazing, real and long-term. How we eat, our health, our weight – these things are all a result of a lifestyle shift. Rather than going on the on-again, off-again dieting route, instead, it could make all the difference if we begin to make changes in food and diet that we plan to maintain permanently.

To make this work, we can’t be eating in a way that causes deprivation of foods we love, starvation from not getting enough nutrient-dense calories, or an inflammatory, imbalanced environment in the body.

We’re saying get stop dieting, stop counting calories and points. Get real with food and with yourself. Eat in a way that is enjoyable AND health-promoting. Eat more veggies. Eat whole grains. Eat more plant proteins. Eat healthy fats. And as you do, you will naturally crowd out the processed, sugary foods and too much animal protein. You will also find a balance that works well for YOU. After all, there is no one right diet for every body.

To get you going, here are 10 specific tips that you can begin today (or try one new tip a week) for losing unwanted weight effortlessly and bringing harmony to your body:

  1. Pick one leafy green veggie, like kale, spinach, or collards and add it in on a daily basis. Need a recipe to get you started? Try our Cashew Kale recipe!
  2. Make a nutrient-rich smoothie for breakfast.
  3. Replace white pasta with brown rice or quinoa pasta. Add green vegetables to it.
  4. Stop getting on the scale every day. Focus on eating whole, clean foods and getting some movement into your day and the weight will come off.
  5. Include apples, veggie sticks with hummus and nuts as snacks instead of packaged, processed foods.
  6. Cook with coconut oil. This oil helps boosts your metabolism and has amazing health benefits.
  7. Check out our 20 Food Faves and add some to your fridge or pantry.
  8. Want a sweet treat that also packs a powerful punch with health-boosting good fats? Try our Pumpkin Chia Pudding.
  9. Plan ahead with meals. Make your plan for the week and shop accordingly, so you are less likely to get takeout and make a packaged, processed dinner at the last minute.
  10. Make a tasty soup and enjoy leftovers with a colorful salad for lunch the next day.

 

Leftovers: Lunch Made Simple

One of the easiest ways to prepare your lunches is by using leftovers, perhaps from dinner the night before, and throwing it in a wrap. Add some extra veggies and you’re done!