Tips to Stay Energized and Happy During the Holidays

That time of the year has come when we're surrounded by baked goods, chocolates, candied nuts, seasonal lattes, and alcohol. The holidays can be a stressful time which usually results in us overeating and feeling bad afterwards. Whatever it may be that has you overindulging in these treats, remember that you always have control of what goes into your body. Wouldn't it be nice if the holidays passed and you still felt great?

I'd like to share with you some tips to help you stay disciplined and not be hard on yourself after the holiday season:
  • Start your day off right. Focus on a protein-based breakfast to reduce sugar cravings throughout the day. 
  • Be aware of portion sizes and snacks. Start off with small portions and pace yourself while eating. If you are still hungry 20 minutes after you are done, then go for more. When reaching for a snack, be mindful of what it is and if it will sustain you. It's okay to have a snack a few hours prior to a meal, but avoid grazing right before a meal to eliminate overindulging. 
  • Enjoy your family and friends. At the table, take a moment to be grateful for the people around you that love and care for you. Enjoy conversation and be in the moment. 
  • Check in with yourself. Tune in with your body and listen to what it feels/needs. 
  • Before reaching for a snack or a second portion, ask yourself: Am I really hungry? Am I just eating due to emotional stress or anxiety? Am I thirsty? 
  • Keep moving. Exercise will help your mood and keep your mind active. If you don't have time for a full workout, take a 10-20 minute walk after meals. 
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause a sensation of hunger and lead to overeating. Drinking water will keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day. Avoid sweetened and/or caffeinated beverages. 
  • Be conscious of your breathe. Breathing is the best way to relax if in a stressful situation and helps you release anxiety and stay centered. Do it alone in a quiet room or step outside to get some fresh air. 
Happy Holidays! x


Kale and Walnut Pesto

I love pesto. Pesto is a great way to incorporate healthy fats, greens, and herbs into an every day diet. It is high in protein and pairs well with almost any type of vegetable or meat. I use it as a spread, dip, marinade, or dressing. There are many different recipes and types of pesto. Here is a recipe that I recently came up with and I eat with absolutely everything! 


1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
8 small kale leaves (about 2 cups), stemmed
2 Tablespoons thyme leaves
1 clove garlic
zest and juice of one lemon (about 3 Tablespoons juice)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust with sea salt or lemon juice. If pesto is too thick, add more olive oil. 
  • Toasting of nuts is not necessary, but it will enhance their flavor. 

Author: Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef


Coconut Chia Pudding

I'm currently obsessed with this pudding. Not only is it delicious, but it doesn't contain any unrefined sugar or sweetener. It's a great health-supportive dessert or snack that provides energy and lots of fiber. Just a few simple steps and it's ready to enjoy. 


1 cup coconut milk
6 dried figs or dates
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons chia seeds

  1. Place all ingredients, except chia seeds, in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in chia seeds.
  3. Pour into small glass bowls or cups and let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 
      Servings: 4

      Author: Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef


Alternative Sweeteners

Refined sugar is in everything these days. It's amazing how many products contain it without us realizing. It's in sauces, dressings, nuts, tea, coffee, smoothies, granola, cereals, and most other packaged foods. You'd think it would be easy to point out and eliminate these foods from our diet, but the problem is that we don't even know it's there because it's hidden with names such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, glucose, maltodextrin, Sucralose, sorbitol, agave nectar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and many others that I can't even pronounce. These sugars and artificial sweeteners are highly processed and harmful for our health. They don't provide any health benefits and just keep us wanting more and more.

It's natural to have sugar cravings and although sugar can be addicting, completely depriving ourselves from it is not always the best option because it can lead to increased cravings. It's okay to satisfy your sweet tooth every once in a while if doing so with high-quality, unprocessed ingredients. Here is a list of natural sweeteners that actually support our health and can be used as alternatives for refined sugar:
  • Dates/date sugar
  • Dried figs
  • Palm/coconut sugar (doesn't give a blood sugar spike like others do)
  • Raw honey
  • Grade B Maple Syrup
  • Fresh fruit
  • Organic Cane Sugar (Sucanat)
  • Stevia
* Purchase organic products whenever possible

These alternative sweeteners are natural but should still be consumed in moderation as they still do raise blood sugar levels. Other natural ways to reduce sugar cravings include drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating more fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir), getting more sleep, yoga, and meditation.

Stay healthy!


Not all Fruit is Created Equal

Fresh fruits are an important part of a whole foods diet. They are a great source of antioxidants, water-soluble vitamins, and fiber. Water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B vitamins are necessary in our daily diet because our body cannot make them and only stores them in very small amounts. Antioxidants help our body get rid of free radicals that are harmful to us and can lead to disease such as cancer. The high fiber content in fruit aids digestion and is great for detox/cleanse and weight loss. Since fruits are one of the best sources of these water-soluble vitamins and nutrients, making sure that we get 2-3 servings of fruit every day will provide us with what we need to function properly.

Serving Size:

1/2 cup or 1 medium piece of fruit (apple, pear, orange, 1/2 banana)

Like any other type of food, each type of fruit has different nutrient percentages. It's good to be mindful of this especially when it comes to sugar (carbohydrates) because consuming too much of it can potentially lead to health concerns. Dried fruits (all kinds) and fresh tropical fruits such as banana, pineapple, and mango, are the highest in sugar. Fruits lowest in sugar include all types of berries and lemons, while all other fruits fall in between. The good thing is that the fruits lowest in sugar contain the most antioxidants.

Some examples of fruit and their sugar content:
1 cup strawberries = 8g sugar
1 cup blueberries = 5g sugar
1 banana = 15-20g sugar
1 cup pineapple = 17g sugar

There are misconceptions with fruit because they are a whole and natural food (if organic) and they do provide lots of health benefits, but they are a source of sugar (carbohydrates) and can add up without us realizing it. So next time you are preparing that smoothie, take a look at how much fruit you throw in the blender and figure out how many servings that is. These sugars are natural, yes, but they are simple carbohydrates which are the same as white sugar and are digested fast to create a blood sugar spike followed by a crash. This is why a piece of fruit alone is not the best snack because it won't hold you over for a long time. Pair your fruit with some protein and good fat to enjoy a delicious snack. Protein and fat take longer to digest and balance blood sugar by slowing down digestion of carbohydrates.

Looking at sugar content is not as important as making sure we get those 2-3 servings of fruit each day, but is a good thing to keep in mind especially when doing a cleanse/detox (detox with vegetables) or watching sugar intake. Organic, local, seasonal, and fresh fruits are always the best option, they provide the most nourishment and health benefits. Remember that moderation is key!


Acorn Squash with Sautéed Kale

Fall is here! I know you're all just as excited about it as I am. Who doesn't love pumpkin and squash? Not only are they delicious, but they also have a great nutritional profile. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamin C, and high in fiber. These vegetables are anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative. 

Below is one of my first recipes of the season with roasted acorn squash. Roasting is an easy way to cook pumpkin or squash to bring out their amazing flavor and either eat as is with some spices or incorporate into a dish. 


1 acorn squash, halved
filtered water
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, more to taste
sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup almonds, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Scoop out seeds with a spoon. 
  3. Place squash halves in a baking dish, face side up. Add about 1/2 inch filtered water to bottom of baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until squash is soft and a fork can easily be inserted into it. When cooked, peel skin off with knife or hands and dice squash. 
  4. While squash is baking, heat a medium size saucepan over high heat. Add coconut oil and let melt. Add onion and generous pinch of sea salt and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add garlic and kale and sauté for another few minutes, until kale starts to wilt. Add cinnamon and mix in. Taste and adjust with sea salt and more cinnamon if desired. 
  6. Turn off heat. Add cooked squash and combine well. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with chopped almonds. Serve. 
Servings: 4

Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef


8 Tips to Keep Motivated to Workout

Moving our body can increase our energy level and release stress. Exercising in the morning is best because it sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. Besides the benefits of preventing diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it boosts the brain and improves our attention skills. It also improves mood and can act as a natural anti-depressant. 

Finding motivation to workout can be a challenge. Sometimes it's the type of workout you are doing that can maybe get boring or simply not challenging yourself enough. Switching up workouts is important for best results. Here are a few tips to follow in order to keep yourself motivated and keep active:
  1. Keep a workout log. Simply writing down what you did and how you felt after your workout can keep you engaged and wanting to feel the same again. Once you begin to see a regular pattern, it can also make you feel accomplished.
  2. Find a workout buddy. Working out with someone else that wants to be active provides mutual motivation. 
  3. Set goals: register for a competitive event, write down where you want to be in weeks or months.
  4. Join a fitness class or program: boot camp, spinning class, dance class
  5. Make sure you feel good in your workout clothes. If you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in your workout clothes you will never want to workout. Find clothes that you like and are comfortable in. 
  6. Remind yourself how good you feel after a workout. A workout, especially in the morning, usually sets the tone for the rest of the day and clears the mind. 
  7. Use motivational quotes. Find motivational quotes online and write them on post-its and have them in places where you will read them when you wake up.
  8. Say YES! Simply wake up every morning and ask yourself if you should workout, answer YES every single time. You will never regret it. 


Tips for Weight Management

There are many factors that contribute to a person being overweight. It can be frustrating to manage weight when we don't know what the issue is. "Calories in and calories out" does play a role in weight management, but there is more to look at. It's mostly the quality of the calories that matters.

Most popular weight management diets just restrict calorie intake and don't consider the quality of the food going into our bodies. If a diet is low in calories and still full of refined sugar and carbohydrates, a person might lose some weight at first, but the sugar cravings, mood imbalances, and old eating habits will still be there. A weight management plan should be a lifestyle change and not temporary restrictions or eliminations that are not realistic to stick with.

Factors that contribute to a person being overweight:
  • Behavioral
    • Eating when not hungry
    • Skipping meals
    • Lack of exercise
  • Emotional
    • Overeating due to stress, anxiety, depression, or frustration
  • Metabolic
    • Low thyroid
    • Slow metabolism
    • Medical drugs
    • Low muscle mass
    • Lack of exercise
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Toxicity
      • Metals
      • Food colorings, preservative, and flavorings
      • Plastics and pesticides
      • Bacteria or parasitic overgrowth
  • Nutritional
    • Eating too many foods that lack nutrients such as processed foods, high sugar foods, and refined carbohydrates
    • Consuming more energy (calories) than expanded 
    • Having an imbalance of essential nutrients (usually it's an excess amount of carbohydrates and not enough protein and healthy fats)

Factors that contribute to a person being underweight:
  • Not consuming enough energy (calories)
  • Not getting enough nutrients
  • Digestive issues
  • Anorexia/Bulimia
  • Excessive exercise
  • Allergies
  • Stress
  • Crohn's and Celiac Disease (gut issues)
  • Mal-absorption of nutrients
  • High thyroid
  • Medication side effects

Tips to manage weight:
  • Detox/Cleanse: A detox is not the same as fasting and should not be a calorie restriction diet
    • Feed your liver: The liver is an organ with many important functions such as making enzymes, making proteins, making bile (helps digest fats), detoxifying chemicals, detoxifying drugs and alcohol, filters about 95% of microbes and toxins from the bloodstream, and regulates blood sugar
      • Increase protein: eggs, meats, yogurt, nuts, seeds, legumes
      • Increase bitter foods: arugula, dandelion greens, chard, raw cacao powder
      • Increase greens: leafy greens, sea vegetables
      • Increase sour foods: sauerkraut, vinegars, lemon juice
      • Increase herbs and spices: parsley, cilantro, licorice root, cinnamon
  • Regulate blood sugar: Weight gain around the waist is usually a blood sugar issue
    • Decrease gluten-containing grains and sugar intake (refined carbohydrates)
      • Eat gluten-free grains: amaranth, millet, quinoa, brown rice
      • Avoid tropical fruits (banana, pineapple, mango) because they are very high in sugar, stick to berries
    • Increase non=starchy vegetables: greens, greens, and more greens
    • Increase healthy fats: coconut oil, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil
    • Increase protein: protein at every meal is important, especially at breakfast (Ideally within an hour of waking up)
    • Increase fiber: legumes (good source of fiber and protein). flax seeds, chia seeds, vegetables
  • Increase metabolism
    • Cinnamon
    • Cardamom
    • Green Tea
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Sea Vegetables
    • Cumin and Curry Powder
    • Hot Peppers (Cayenne)
  • Exercise daily
    • Exercising in the morning is best because training hard at night messes up cortisol balance and can cause you to hang on to weight
  • Get enough sleep!
    • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night
    • Lack of sleep leads to cravings and overeating
  • Stay hydrated
    • Water
    • Herbal teas


Bauman College Workbook, Spring 2012


Breakfast On The Go

We've all heard it before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It really is! This is where you have the chance to get important nutrients in and set the stage for the rest of the day. Do you want to start your day off with a good quality, balanced meal or with a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash?

Most American breakfast foods are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, high in caffeine, low in nutrients, and don't provide sufficient energy to sustain us through the morning. A good breakfast should be nutrient-dense and should balance blood sugar. A protein-based breakfast is key in order to sustain energy and stay full longer. Protein sources include: eggs, plain yogurt, cheese, nuts, nut butters, seeds, meats, and protein powders (Without genetically modified ingredients or sugar additives. If it contains soy-lecithin, look for "non-GMO"). 

Breakfast can be anything you want it to be as long as it has the right ingredients. Try having left overs for breakfast (keeping portion size in mind) if you're not big on "breakfast foods." For example, a green salad with fish or chicken is a great option.

My favorite way to start the day is with a high nutrient smoothie. It's the fastest and easiest way for me to get everything I need in the morning. I choose a source of protein and throw in some herbs, vegetables, fruit, and spices to make a delicious meal. Liquids are also easier to digest than solid foods, so it's not a bad idea to give your digestive system a break every now and then. 

Below are some smoothie recipes to try. Don't be afraid to play with ingredients and get creative to accommodate your tastebuds. 

Strawberry, Spinach, and Chia Smoothie


1/2 cup kefir or yogurt
1/4 - 1/2 cup almond milk or water
5 ice cubes
1 cup spinach
3/4 cup strawberries
1/2 cup cilantro
1 large hard boiled egg
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds
pinch sea salt

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Almond Butter, Cacao, and Kale Smoothie


1/2 cup yogurt or kefir
1/2 cup almond milk or water (less for a thicker smoothie)
5 ice cubes
1/2 cup berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)
1 cup kale
2 celery stalks
1 1/2 Tablespoon almond butter
1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 

 Beet, Cucumber, and Avocado Smoothie 
(Tastes better than it sounds, I promise)


3/4-1 cup almond milk or water
4-5 ice cubes
1/2 cup steamed beets
1 cup leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula, chard, dandelion)
1/2 cucumber
1 scoop protein powder (protein powder of choice: pea, hemp, brown rice, whey)
1/4 avocado
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch sea salt

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
Author: Giovanna Garcia, Natural Chef


Sauté the healthy way

Healthy sauté is a way of sautéing without the use of a fat, such as olive oil, that could potentially get damaged (rancid) by heat. The sautéing is done with vegetable or chicken broth and still makes the food to taste great. The olive oil can be drizzled over after to preserve its good flavor and nutritional value. This method can be used with any vegetable or meat. 

I personally love this cooking method and use it with mostly everything. I don't harm my body by eating rancid fats and I add healthy fats such as such as avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil (without heating) after I'm done sautéing. To learn more about healthy fats and fats becoming rancid when heated click here: http://apurifiedlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/choosing-fats.html


Any vegetable or meat of your choice cut into bite size pieces. 

  1. In a stainless steel pan, heat 2 Tablespoons unsalted vegetable or chicken broth over medium heat. 
  2. When broth begins to bubble, add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, or chicken, and continue stirring for another few minutes. 
  4. Add other vegetables of your choice and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until tender and all ingredients are cooked through. 
  1. You can add another Tablespoon of broth at any time throughout the cooking if it evaporates completely and food starts to stick to the pan. 
  2. If not using onion in your sauté, just skip that second step and add the vegetable(s) of your choice instead. 
  3. Visual signs of knowing that chicken is cooked through is that meat is no longer pink when cut into with a knife.


Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods www.whfoods.com

Healthy sautéed onion, eggplant, red bell peppers, and chicken with curry powder over spinach

Healthy sautéed garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil with quinoa on the side


Don't be fooled by food labels - What to look for

We often think we're buying the right thing because we purchase foods with labels such as "All-natural," "organic," "free of pesticides," "cage-free," and "hormone-free." Be mindful that marketers will write anything they can in order to get you to buy their product. There are specific labels that you should be looking for and organic is one of the most important. In order to know if a food is actually organically produced, it must carry the "USDA Certified Organic" label. This label ensures that the food has been inspected and follows the food safety regulations of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

The term "organic" means that a food is free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Choosing organic produce and meats is essential in order to get the highest nutritional value. Conventional foods are filled with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and are genetically modified. Eating these foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inhibit the ability of our body to absorb nutrients. By eating organic we are not only getting the most we can from what we are putting into our body, but maintaining soil health and supporting that animals are treated with respect. Buying organic foods might be pricier, but in the long run, it will keep you from having to spend on medications and medical bills due to diseases caused by food.

There are some exceptions when it comes to produce of what you can get by without purchasing organic, but it is highly recommended to always pay the organic dollar for animal products because these are the ones that are most chemically altered and harmful to our health. So don't deprive yourself from the nutrients you need by purchasing conventionally grown meats and dairy products.

"Choose local, chemical free, organic, and delicious foods. You'll feel the benefits and will have peace of mind and body as a consequence" -Ed Bauman, M. Ed., Ph.D

Here are some general guidelines for purchasing good quality meats and produce:


Purchasing the best quality chicken can be a challenge. A chicken that is labeled organic can simply mean that whatever it was fed (usually grains and soy) was organic. Although you want to look for chickens that are raised on pasture, chickens that are fed organically grown grains and soy still provide more nutrients and better health benefits than those that are not fed organic. Organic chicken can be hard to find and a lot of times what is labeled organic still doesn't necessarily mean it meets other requirements you want to look for.

Now a days, the way conventional chickens are raised is completely inhumane and sad. They are being fed genetically modified grains and kept in tight spaces which makes them stressed and messes with their immune system. This leads to farmers giving them antibiotics in order for them to not get sick and spread any disease to the other chickens. Once the chickens are slaughtered, they are dunked in iced-cold water combined with chlorine and other chemicals to speed up the temperature reduction of the chicken.

With all this said, there are many factors to consider when purchasing chicken. Reading labels carefully is very important because statements on the packaging can be misleading. Make sure to look for the proper wording of certain statements. For example, "antibiotic-free," "cage-free," and "all-natural" don't mean the same as "raised without antibiotics," "free-range," and "organic."

Here is what to look for when purchasing chicken:
  • Organic
  • Free-range
  • Raised without antibiotics
  • Hormone-free
  • Air-chilled
It might be hard to find chicken with all of these factors, but try to at least always purchase organic. 


Look for:
  • Organic
  • Pasture-raised
  • Hormone free
  • Free-range
Note: Remember that "cage-free" is not the same as "free-range."

Organic, pasture-raised eggs

Meat and Dairy 

Like chicken, they way cattle is raised in industrial farms is unnatural and inhumane. Naturally, cattle should be fed grass, but industrial farms feed their cattle genetically modified grains and soy because it is cheaper and fattens the animals faster. 

The first compartment of a cow's stomach is called a rumen. The rumen is designed to breakdown plant-based foods (grass). When ruminants (animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, bison) are constantly fed grains and soy, they become physically stressed and develop health disorders that ranchers then try to fix by introducing chemicals and antibiotics. These antibiotics and other drugs are present in the meats and dairy products we buy and put us at high risk of developing disease as well. 

Meats and dairy products from animals that are fed organic plant foods are shown to have an overall higher nutritional profile. Dairy products include milk, cheese, and yogurt. 

Here is what to look for when purchasing meats and dairy products:
  • Organic
  • Grass-fed and grass-finished (The term "grass-fed" can sometimes be misleading because cattle that is fed grass for half of its life and grains for the other half can still be labeled "grass-fed." Look for the term "grass-finished" in order to reassure it was only fed grass. Be sure to ask your butcher for help if not labeled)
To learn more about grass-fed meats, dairy and eggs visit Eat Wild - www.eatwild.com and Michael Pollan's website - www.michaelpollan.com


Choosing sustainable seafood is always the best choice. Seafood that comes from fisheries that meet sustainable seafood standards assures that the fish populations are healthy and that the fish is being caught or farmed in a way that is friendly to the environment. So not only are you getting good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but you are supporting healthy oceans when you purchase sustainable seafood.

Depending on the species, some seafood is better wild-caught and some is better farmed.

Here are the best choices to make when purchasing seafood:
  • Catfish - U.S. farmed
  • Pacific Halibut - U.S. Pacific, wild-caught
  • King Salmon - Alaskan, wild-caught
  • Rainbow Trout - U.S. farmed
  • Albacore Tuna - U.S. troll/pole
  • Tilapia - U.S. farmed
  • Scallops - Worldwide, farmed
  • Sole - Pacific, wild-caught
  • Atlantic Cod - Iceland, Northeast Arctic, hook-and-line
To learn more about sustainable fish and recommendations visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch- www.seafoodwatch.org


Fruits and vegetables are best when organic, but the level of pesticides varies in conventionally grown and some are safer than others.

Ferry Plaza Saturday Famers' Market
Here are what environmental workers call the "Dirty Dozen" which are highest in pesticides and should always be purchased organic:
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes (white)
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens 
Here are the "Clean 15" which are lowest in pesticides and are safe to be purchased conventionally grown:
  1. Onions
  2. Corn (non-GMO)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avoado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
To learn more about organic foods and a yearly updated list of the "Shopper's Guide" visit The Environmental Working Group news - www.foodnews.org or www.ewg.org

Amy and I visiting Earl's Organic Produce Market

Due to their low cost, most soy products are unrefined and genetically modified.

Here is what to look for when purchasing soy products:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism)
  • Unrefined and Fermented
Fermented soy products are:
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Tamari/Shoyu
  • Tofu (Not always fermented)
Purchasing local, organic, and sustainable foods will always guarantee you the best health. Stay healthy.


Natural Chef Training Program Textbook, Bauman College, Spring 2012


Almond Pulp Crackers

Don't know what to do with that left over almond pulp from making almond milk? Here are some ideas. There are lots of ways you can use the remaining pulp without sending it to waste. You can use a dehydrator to make almond flour and use it in baking, make dips with it, make crackers, or simply sprinkle it on your salad or throw it in your smoothie. If you're not planning on using the pulp right away, you can freeze it and use it at a later time. 

My favorite way to use the left over pulp is to make crackers with it. These crackers are a great high-fiber snack and are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Enjoy them with some cheese, hummus, or your choice of spread. 


1 cup firmly packed almond pulp (or however much you have leftover from Almond Milk Recipe)
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil (melted)
1 Tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible (mine only goes as low as 170 F)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and press into a ball
  3. Transfer "dough" to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness
  4. Cut dough into squares with a knife or pizza cutter
  5. Bake for about 17 hours, or until crunchy (I leave them in the oven overnight)
  6. Let crackers cool completely on baking sheet before serving

Get creative and use your favorite herbs and spices to create different flavors. 

Store crackers in a cool, dry place. They will only keep for about 4 days (Trust me, they'll be gone sooner than that)


Adapted from Elana's Pantry www.elanaspantry.com


Quick workouts for the busy lifestyle

We all know choosing the right foods is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it's not the only important factor. Proper nutrition along with physical activity are key components to living a long, happy, and healthy life. Physical activity is not only good for weight management, but it also lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression.

The recommendation for an adult is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for maintaining current weight, and 60 minutes per day for weight loss (along with a healthy diet).

A workout can consist of a cardiovascular exercises, strength training exercises, flexibility exercises, or a mixture of all three. Cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, running, bicycling, dancing, swimming, jumping, and many others. Strength training exercises are those that use weight or resistance to make muscles work harder and get stronger such as full-body circuits, ab workouts, weight lifting, etc. Flexibility exercises are those that include stretching or range-of-motion like yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Ideally, all these workouts should be combined in order to get the most health benefits. It's important to mix it up because our body can get used to the same type of workout if done consistently, and after some time, won't provide the same results. Also, a variety of these type of exercises and/or workouts will most likely keep you motivated and won't get boring. It's a good way to keep your body challenged and your mind engaged.

Being active doesn't require a gym membership or lots of fitness equipment. The point is to get your heart rate up and keep it up for 30-60 minutes at a time. So get some exercise clothes on, grab a water bottle, and you're good to go!

I've created a list of exercises that don't require a lot of equipment and can be combined to create a quick workout or circuit to get your heart beat going for 30 minutes or more at home, at the park, at the gym, or even at work during a break. Pick about 4 of these exercises, do 15-20 repetitions of each, then repeat. You can do about 3 cycles of this and then choose another 3-4 exercises and do the same until you reach at least 30 minutes (and hopefully break a sweat):

- Jump rope
- Sprints
- Lunges
- Squats
- Jump squats and/or lunges
- Run/jog in place
- Run in place bringing knees up
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Plank
- Ab crunches
- Side reaches for obliques
- Tricep dips
- Push ups
- Run up and down stairs

I know it's sometimes hard to set aside 30-60 minutes of your day to workout, but being active doesn't need to be something to stress about rather than part of your every day life (because it will make you feel great!). If you absolutely cannot make time to workout during the day, there are small changes that can be made to your every day routine that can add up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Some tips are:

- Walk or bike to work/school/gym or at least anywhere within 2 miles
- Park further away from building entrance
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Go on a walk during your lunch break (after eating, of course)
- Dance when you're stuck in traffic (my favorite!)

For weight loss, the foods you eat are just as important as physical activity. The amount of calories that you burn needs to be higher than the amount of calories you consume. Finding a balance between the right foods and physical activity is important for optimal health. Natural, whole foods are usually lower in calories and provide the nutrients your body needs to have energy and function properly. Avoid consuming high-fat and high-sugar drinks and foods that don't provide any nutrients such as soft drinks, fast-food, candies, and chips or other snack foods.

Get moving!


Pantry Essentials

In order to cook healthy you need to have healthy ingredients to choose from. I've created a table to help. Eating a variety of these foods every day will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Purchase foods organic when possible for the highest nutritional value. Feel free to print this out and keep it somewhere handy for when you go to the grocery store. Happy shopping!

Nutritional Benefits
Healthy Fats/Oils and Nuts/Seeds (raw or dry roasted)
Brazil nuts
Sesame seeds
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Nut butters
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 servings per day
A serving of nuts and seeds is 2 Tablespoons 
A serving of fats/oils is 1 Tablespoon
Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6), vitamin E, protein, B vitamin, beta carotene, minerals, and folic acid
Soaking nuts and seeds helps digest them better and increases nutrient availability
Coconut oil reduces inflammation, aids digestion and metabolism, and decreases risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer
Whole Grains
Rice (Brown rice, Jasmine, Short grain, Long grain, Wild)
Contain Gluten:
Oats (oats don't contain gluten, but are usually always cross-contaminated with other gluten containing grains unless gluten-free certified)
1-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates and fiber
Gluten-free grains are hypoallergenic and provide B vitamins and magnesium to help with digestion and balance blood sugar
Gluten-containing grains can be inflammatory and hard on digestion
Soaking or rinsing grains before cooking helps their digestion
Spices and Condiments
Unrefined sea salt
Tamari, low salt
Vanilla, pure 
Nutritional yeast
Dijon Mustard
Apple Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Cacao powder (raw)
Sea Vegetables (Nori, Sea Palm, Dulse, Agar flakes, Kombu, Wakame, Hijiki, Arame)
Dried herbs:
Pepper (Paprika, Cayenne) 
Fresh herbs:
Ginger root
2-4 servings per day
A serving is 1 teaspoon - 1 Tablespoon
Spices and herbs add flavor and boost metabolism
Sea vegetables provide amino acids (building blocks of protein), vitamin E, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals
Nutritional yeast provides B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals
Dairy (Choose organic and grass-fed. Choose whole, low-, or non- fat without any additives)
Raw dairy
Yogurt (live)
Goat cheese or yogurt (live)
Cottage cheese

1-2 servings per day
A serving of cheese is 1 ounce
A serving of yogurt is about 4-6 ounces
Dairy are a great source of protein and calcium
Calcium-rich foods help immune system, fat metabolism, and protect against bone damage and breast cancer
Dried Legumes and Soy (Choose soy products that are fermented and non-GMO)
Garbanzo beans
Black beans
Pinto beans
Adzuki beans
Mung beans
Kidney beans
Navy beans
Cannellini beans
Fava beans
Lima beans
Split peas
Soy beans (Edamame)
1-2 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Legumes are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates
25% of their calories come from protein
Darker legumes contain antioxidants
Soak legumes overnight before cooking to reduce gas
Meats (Choose organic, pasture-raised [grass-fed, not grain-fed] lean meat and poultry; free of hormones, antibiotics, and nitrates)
Eggs, high in Omega-3(organic and pasture-raised)
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Animal foods are a very good source of protein and also provide some vitamins and minerals 
Eggs boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and provide heart health
Cold-Water Fish (Choose high in Omega-3, low mercury)
Salmon (wild caught)
Ahi Tuna
Cod, Halibut
Tilapia (farmed in the U.S.)
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Seafood is rich in protein, minerals, and essential fats (Omega-3)
Vegetables (Choose fresh, organic, seasonal, and locally grown)
Bok choy
Napa cabbage
Cabbage, red/green
Broccoli sprouts
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Chard, Swiss
Leaf lettuce
Mesclun salad mix
Romaine lettuce
Crunchy and Starchy:
Bell pepper, green/red/yellow
Summer squash
Green beans
Sweet potatoes
Mushrooms (button, crimini, enoki, maitake, oyster, portobello, shiitake)
Peas, sugar snap
Peas, green
Onions, red/yellow
5-6 servings per day
A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked

Vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals that aid digestion, immune system, growth and development, and bone health
Vegetables with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Bell peppers
Fruits (Choose fresh, ripe, organic, and in season)
Grape, dark skin
Grapefruit, pink
2-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup or 1 medium piece of fruit
Fruits provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals
Fruits with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Peaches

Filtered water
Herbal tea
Green tea
Vegetable juice
Nut milk
Filtered water:
8-10 cups per day

Herbal tea:
2-4 cups per day
Beverages provide hydration and help detoxify 


Natural Chef Textbook, Bauman College