Grow in Wellness Wants to Hear From You!

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Let's face it, it's tough to navigate the world of healthy eating.  There are a multitude of messages touting everything from heart healthy foods to promised weight loss. Nearly every product on the store shelves has a label filled with buzzwords designed to make you choose them to spend your dollars on, whether or not it's truly good for you.  Choosing meals at a restaurant is even trickier since it's rare to know the source of ingredients in each dish or what kinds of oils are used to prepare them. Cooking at home is always the best choice, but finding new, healthier recipes and learning how to cook with unusual ingredients can be overwhelming.  And if you want to go a step further and choose better-for-your-body skin products, then knowing which way to go can make you freeze in your tracks from all the confusion.

If you can relate to any of the above scenarios, then Grow in Wellness wants to hear from you. What are your biggest frustrations with grocery store shopping? What is hardest about choosing a restaurant when you want to eat out? How easy is it to sort through menu options and know which dishes are better than others? Are you bored of your home recipe collection? Do you wish you could bring healthier meals to your family dinner table? Have you ever considered the effects of what body care products you use and want to make improvements?  

Grow in Wellness wants to help you make healthier choices and the best way to do that is to have you tell us what your biggest struggles are.  Please share your thoughts through the comments section or email them directly to growinwellness@gmail.com.  Can't wait to hear what you have to say! 

Score a FREE jar of Justin’s Almond Butter

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Peanut butter lovers, rejoice—there’s a new nut butter on the scene. Meet Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, a delightfully simple spread that will win over even the most devout PB&J fans. An added bonus? It’s naturally gluten-free, vegan, and Paleo-friendly.

Whether spread on toast, or drizzled over apple slices, Justin’s Classic Almond Butter

is the MVP of snack time. Made from just two ingredients—almonds and sustainably sourced red palm fruit oil—this almond butter is as wholesome as it is delicious.

Often, manufacturers try to jazz up nut butters by adding sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Justin’s, on the other hand, is the real deal—this almond butter doesn’t need any sweeteners or fillers to make it palatable. The great taste comes from the naturally delicious almonds. Since every spoonful includes a solid serving of protein and healthy fats, you can feel good about indulging in this creamy spread.  Plus, Paleo eaters or people with peanut allergies can safely enjoy Justin’s almond butter as a peanut butter substitute!

Once you try almond butter, you’ll never want to go back to sugary peanut butter again. For a limited time, Thrive Market is offering a free jar of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter!

 

 

>>>>>>> GET YOUR FREE GIFT NOW! <<<<<<<

 

 

Do You Grill Your Guac?

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There is a certain kind of excitement that comes with getting something new, whether it be a new pair of shoes, new gadget (like an iPad) or even a new favorite show on TV.  For me, the excitement over our new Big Green Egg (BGE) grill is motivating me to put close to anything I can “over the coals”. I’ll save the long explanation of the Big Green Egg, but let’s just say it’s the most amazing grill we’ve ever owned - long cook times, fantastic flavor for everything we’ve cooked, and easy to use. 

This BGE enthusiasm led me to experiment with making guacamole recently.  Avocadoes are quite possibly my most favorite food and avocado season is upon us! I love a delicious, fresh guacamole, but to add an authentically roasted flavor to it seemed like a perfect way to up the guac game. 

I prepped (aka: washed, sliced and lightly brushed with coconut oil) my organic ingredients: red onion, red pepper, Serrano chili, heirloom tomatoes, limes and avocadoes (pitted, with skin on). Then placed them face down on the grill over medium heat and cooked each until they were just starting to char and blister.  As they finished cooking, I took them off to cool.  Once they were done, I scooped out the avocado, chopped the peppers and onions and combined everything except the limes in a bowl and mashed until they came together in perfect union.  I added fresh crushed garlic, sea salt and squeezed one lime at a time until the flavor was just right.  It was a perfect compliment to our turkey burgers and doubled as a tasty dip for the grilled sweet potato fries.  A 100% cooked outdoors meal - - tastes great and keeps the heat out of the kitchen! 

You could easily adapt this concept and grill your mango salsa or grill tomatoes and bread for a twist on the traditional Italian tomato-bread salad.  How will you up your grilling game this summer?  Share your inspiration in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

*note: Grilling slightly changes the texture of avocadoes.  If that does not appeal to you, then grill all the ingredients except the avocado and then add them to a bowl with (un-grilled) avocado and mash together for a still-delicious guacamole.

Upgrade What Goes on the Outside - Products for Our Skin

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There is a lot of time spent on this blog talking about food and how to make the healthiest choices, but there is more to good health than just what we eat. What goes on our skin matters, too. If you think about how a nicotine patch curbs smoking addiction and pain patches control pain, you’ll realize our skin absorbs what is put onto it – for better or worse.  We are exposed to thousands of chemicals through our hair, make up and body care products and we are not as protected as you might think. 

A 2015 study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported these findings: 

“Women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals.” 

The 40-year-old law, The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is outdated.  Many harmful chemicals do not have to be revealed if they are considered “trade secret”, so don’t think the EPA is out there with a shield and sword coming to our defense.  Here's what a report from the Environmental Working Group has to say:

“Current law requires companies to inform EPA when their chemicals are shown to pose substantial risks. EPA must publish this information, but the companies can request that the company’s name, production volumes and even the chemical’s identity be kept secret. Half of the more than 250 “substantial risk” reports filed to EPA since October of (2015) masked the chemicals’ identity.”  

It’s a sticky mess for sure and so, short of becoming a chemist, how are we supposed to know which brands and products pose the least threat?  The Environmental Working Group has a great section to their website called Skin Deep. It’s a searchable database of toxic ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products.  If you find some of your favorites get a failing grade and you want to make some changes, then here is a good place to start . . . with five of my favorite ("passing grade") skin care products: 

1.   Face Cleanser – MyChelle Refining Sugar Cleanser. This gentle cleanser starts out sugary, but melts into a nice cream that is effective without drying out your skin. 

2.   Face Moisturizer and Serums – Odacite is my favorite for serums and moisturizers, especially when used together. Available online, these formulations are so fresh, they actually have an expiration date. Not sure which products to start with? Try their 10-day discovery kit.  

3.   Sunscreen – the key ingredient for optimal sun defense is zinc.  MyChelle makes a great clear spray Sun Shield Clear Spray (that is also reef safe) and Suntegrity makes a good option for your face in both clear and tinted formulations. 

4.   Hand and Body Lotion – The Naked Bee Hand and Body Lotion and Seaweed Bath Co. are my current favorites. They go on nicely, smell good and don’t leave an oily residue. Both available on Amazon.

5.   Nail Polish – yes, our nails absorb chemicals from nail polish, so choose wisely.  OPI and Deborah Lippmann both get passing grades. 

While it is impossible to live a life completely free of exposure to unwanted chemicals and toxins, it IS possible to reduce our exposure to them. And why wouldn’t anyone want to do that? Upgrade your products, one purchase at a time and improve your health from the outside in.

Where will you start making changes? 

Berry Important News

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Spring. Strawberries. Bright, plump, red. Sweet and juicy. Laden with pesticides. Move over apples, strawberries have stolen your spot as number one on the top of EWG’s dirty dozen list. 

What am I talking about?  Since 2004, the Environmental Working Group has been ranking pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables from over 35,000 samples tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.   They call it the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, or as it’s more commonly known: "The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15”  lists. This is the go-to guide for how to prioritize your dollars on organic produce if you cannot afford to buy (or don't always have access to) organic produce all the time.  While there are several repeat offenders each year (apples, zucchini, strawberries, tomatoes and grapes), apples have been taking home the top prize until this year's list was released and strawberries came out on top.

(Want to know more? Read all about it here)

That's all fine and good, but how does this strawberry news affect you as a consumer? This is your cue to make sure the strawberries you eat are certified organic. Bonus if they come from local farmers. And with strawberries just coming into peak season, this is the time to indulge.  If you want to really stock up, then purchase a flat of strawberries, wash, trim and slice some for immediate eating and then prep the extras for later with my berry preservation method: 

Wash, dry and cut strawberries into slices or small pieces.  Spread them out onto a cookie sheet and place in your freezer until they are frozen.  Once frozen, scoop them up into a zip top plastic bag and store in your freezer for later use.  They are great added to smoothies, stirred into hot oatmeal or tossed into salad. This works great with blueberries and raspberries, too.

Strawberries are worth the extra cost of going organic and not just to avoid pesticides. They offer a great dose of nutrition! They offer plenty of vitamin C, fiber, they support heart health and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

The possibilities of what to do with strawberries are (almost) endless.  How about a strawberry-cucumber smoothie? Or a chia seed pudding?  You can add them to your overnight oats, infuse your water with a few fresh sliced berries or even try them with my pesto chicken salad recipe.

So make the most of strawberry season – buy organic – and enjoy every sweet bite!

What’s your favorite way to eat strawberries?

A Bowl Full of Spring

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While the calendar may say spring has arrived, for many of you the weather outside says otherwise. Do not let that discourage you from enjoying the 'other' things spring has to offer. The gifts of spring go beyond sunny days and cherry blossoms starting to bloom.  Your produce department – or your favorite Farmer’s Market – should be filling up with an abundance of spring’s best gifts: strawberries, sugar snap peas, arugula, sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, radishes, avocados and more.  These produce stars are not just beautiful to look at, they taste great, too.

Picking produce at its peak freshness and eating it right away is the key to maximum flavor and nutrients.  Combining spring’s bounty into a salad is a simple, easy way to enjoy them. One of my favorites is my Grow in Wellness Spring Salad, where I simply toss my favorite spring offerings with mixed greens and a homemade balsamic dressing. {recipe here}

Want a few more options? The no-recipe method is one way to go; simply chop your favorite produce and toss with a tangy vinaigrette. You can even make a warm, roasted vegetable salad and toss with a lemony, tahini dressing for something a little less ordinary.  And if a more formal recipe is your style, then here are a few from some of my favorite websites:

Spring Salad with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Warm Spring Salad

What is your favorite way to eat the freshest veggies and fruits of the season? Grow in Wellness would love to hear from you! 

 

“Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘let’s party!’” – Robin Williams

New Things From Old Favorites

I recently spent three days at the annual Natural Products Expo here in California. With hundreds and hundreds of vendors promoting their products, the truth of the matter is that most of the products are processed in some way; many of them are not quite healthy and even fewer are formulated with real, organic, recognizable ingredients.  A great representation of the food world we all have to navigate on a daily basis. But that does not mean all hope is lost!

Amidst the chaos of product pushing, I did find some great products I want to share with you. These products are a mix of new offerings from my tried-and-true favorites or new and promising products that I hope to find on store shelves, soon. 

One of the things I learned after talking to reps from these companies and asking my standard question, “what stores carry your product?” is that getting a product to the shelf of a store you shop at is quite an arduous process. Talking to your store manager and asking them to bring in your favorites can help a new product get to shelf much quicker.  So speak up if your store doesn’t have something you want to buy.  While you’re waiting, order online whenever you can so you don’t have to miss out.  Remember… we vote with our dollars, so vote for good things! 

New products from my favorite brands:

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Sunflower Butter from Bliss Nut Butters.  Delicious! Great for someone with a nut allergy. Not yet on store shelves in southern California, but always available on their website www.blissnutbutters.com. My all time favorite of theirs is the Cinnamon Chia Seed Peanut Butter. Give both a try.

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Sprouted Artisan Bread and Baguettes by Alvarado St. Bakery. I am already a fan of their sprouted sliced bread line and the addition of a frozen sprouted grain baguette that will go from freezer to oven to table in less than 15 minutes is worth a smile or two.  You can use this baguette to make crostini, garlic bread or, if you’re feeling really indulgent, eat it warm from the oven with a little Brie spread on it.  Another new offering is their energy squares packed with organic seeds and nuts. Both should be on store shelves this summer.

hopefoods_guacamole

Hope Foods Guacamole.  Known for their flavorful line of hummus, Hope Foods is coming out with a guacamole in both mild and hot flavors. Perfect for when you can’t find ripe enough avocados to make your own.  Look for it in the refrigerated foods section of your market by summertime

half_half_flavored

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Organic Valley has two new products out: Grassmilk Yogurt from 100% grass fed cows and Hazelnut and Vanilla half-an-half. The yogurt is creamy, full fat (exactly what you should be eating. . . fat-free foods will make you fat!) and comes in vanilla and plain. Try the half-and-half in your cup of coffee. 

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I blogged about Tava Life Ghee a while ago and love their green chili flavored ghee. They were back at the Expo this year rebranded as 4th & Heart (named after the heart chakra).  They may have a new name and logo, but they haven’t changed their delicious grass-fed ghee.  While I’m sad they discontinued the chili flavor, they added two amazing new flavors, garlic and while truffle sea salt. Is your mouth watering yet? Look for them at Whole Foods, Central Market and Thrive online market.

Bu_Kombucha

I know this post is long, but before I go, I have to share one last favorite brand and their new offering.  The band is The Bu Kombucha and their certified organic, 100% kombuchas come in some fantastic flavors, like chai spice, lavender and honey dew. They are adding new flavors with ginger and peach to their line, so keep an eye out for them!

A few new things without pictures include:  New flavors from Perfect Bar protein bars: coconut almond and blueberry cashew. . . New addition to the supplement drink line from Oxylent, 3-in-1 Supplement drink. . . Justin's Nut Butter will be releasing almond butter and pretzel snack packs. . . Suja pressed juices is introducing probiotic waters and Bob's Red Mill is getting in the protein powder ring with several flavors including chai flavored protein that has chia and probiotics!

Whew, that’s a lot, just from my favorite brands.  New products to share are coming soon.  In the mean time, which of these are you going to try first? Let me know in the comments below.  Have a happy, healthy day!

For the Love of Coffee

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Hmmm… a warm cup of coffee in the morning just can’t be beat. It’s a national pastime, heck, it’s a day-long activity for many (thank you, Starbucks, for making that such an easy reality).  The “milk or sugar?” simplicity of dressing up your coffee is far behind us. There are dozens of ways to personalize your brew, but not all are good for your body.  I won’t go into detail on the pitfalls of artificial sweeteners (stay away!) or how the sugary, artificially made, flavored creamers in the store are chemical $h*t storms (stay away again!).

 

I will, however, share with you a great option for dressing up your morning cup-o-joe without compromising flavor or your health.  It’s dairy-free, flavorful, creamy and easy to make… and it blends seamlessly into hot coffee.  What am I talking about? Cashew Creamer.  It’s my all time favorite. I could almost drink it right out of the jar. (I actually love it in my chai tea to make it a latte.)  It takes just a few ingredients and a blender and you’ll have enough to get you through a week of morning goodness. Frothing it in a Nespresso Aeroccino frother makes it even better!

 

Do you have a healthy way to doctor up your coffee? Please share it in the comments; I’d love to hear from you.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Cashew Creamer

 

Gather these ingredients:

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, then drained

2 cups filtered water

1 pitted date

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cardamom

¼ tsp. coriander

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Put it all together: 

Put all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high until well combined.  If you want a thinner consistency add ½ cup water or more to your preference.

Keeps for one week in the fridge in a sealed container (using a mason jar is a good option).

 

This is also good poured over fresh berries for dessert.

 

 {print recipe}

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Green for Your Breakfast Bowl

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Do you ever have one of those days that feels like a slow start?  No matter how much sleep you’ve had or how early you got up and got ready for the day, you just can’t seem to get much done?  Well, 2016 has been a little like that for me… a slow start.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about all of you! I recently earned my Culinary Nutrition Expert certification where plant-based, healing, ‘wow’ ingredients and cooking were the focus.  One of my favorite parts of the program was transforming everyday, not-always-healthy foods into powerhouse recipes that give your body powerful nutrients and keep your taste buds happy.  Today I’m sharing one of those culinary creations with you!

 

Cold, wintery days call for warm, comforting foods. Oatmeal is a breakfast favorite, but can be boring and lack diversity of nutrients, especially protein.  I’ve created a delicious way to bring a bowl of warmth to your breakfast table that will give your body a variety of super foods (think: quinoa, maca, hemp seeds, blueberries) to start your day off right.  It’s my Green Breakfast Bowl and here’s how it goes:

 

Start with one cup of just cooked, hot oatmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oats). Add in one cup of cooked quinoa (I use leftovers from a previous meal). 

 

Then, under low heat, (because the idea is to warm the ingredients together, not cook them) add:

 

½ cup of almond milk

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp maca

1 tsp raw honey

1 tbsp hemp seeds

and ¼ cup organic blueberries (you can use frozen in the off season)

 

Gently combine until warmed through, then remove from heat and…

mix in ¼ cup fresh, lightly chopped spinach (yes, greens in your oatmeal!).  Place into two serving bowls, top each with a ½ tsp of cacao nibs and serve.

 

Don’t let the spinach scare you from trying this recipe!  You can’t taste it and it gives you fresh greens, iron, fiber and vitamin A. For those of you brave enough to try it let me know how you liked it!


Have a happy, healthy day!

 

{Printable Recipe Here – Green Breakfast Bowl}

Taking "Diet" Off Your List in 2016

It’s a New Year and for many people that means a list of resolutions to accomplish during the next 366 days (2016 is a leap year so you get an extra day to meet your goal this year- yay!).  I propose that you don’t put the word ‘diet’ on your list and instead, create goals that lead to greater wellness.  Think positive with a focus on adding in amazing, good-for-you things that will mean less room for the ‘bad guys’ of the food world.  Good health will follow!

 

Here are my top 5 things to add to your 2016 New Year’s Goals list:

 

1.   EAT SEASONALY, LOCALLY, FRESH – The easiest way to greater health is to eat by these three guidewords.  This might mean a lot more plants that you currently eat, but your body will be better off for it.  Food that is grown locally is fresher, supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint on our environment.  Need a good place to start? Look for a farmers market in your area or sign up for a local CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers fresh, organic produce from farmers near you… not shipped in from a foreign country.  I use Farm Fresh to You . They deliver organic fruits and vegetables and you can customize your box contents and your delivery frequency. You might even get exposed to some new produce you may not normally buy… that’s how I learned to love delicata squash.  Use this code (carl6213) and get $10 off your first box.

 

2.   PACK A SNACK – “Hunger Emergencies” are one of the biggest pitfalls to healthier eating.  We reach out for the nearest thing to put in our mouths to chase the “hunger bear” and most of the time it’s not even close to healthy.  What to pack? Make your own trail mix (cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, goji berries, cacao nibs, walnuts), keep a piece of fruit with you (tangerines and apples travel well) or keep a better-for-you bar from Vega , Aloha or Perfect Bars in your purse or car to help you say no to the drive-thru or donuts.     

 

3.   LEARN TO COOK – I’m always amazed how many people don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen and so they buy premade meals or eat out often.  Cooking your own meals is not only better for you, it will save you money, too. Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma both offer cooking classes, but many local community centers and even some restaurants offer lessons as well.  And if you just can’t find time (or money) to sign up for a class, then look to You Tube for some inspiration. 

 

4.   MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY – This one probably isn’t a surprise, but getting a minimum of 7 hours (all in a row!) of sleep each night helps with stress, builds your immune system (aka helping fight colds) and helps control weight.  See my earlier post to learn more about the amazing benefits of sleep.  

 

5.   HALF YOUR PLATE WITH PLANTS – when you fill your plate at your next meal make this your goal. The more dark greens, the better.  Our country is deficient in vegetables (and fruit). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did an analysis that showed only 13.1% of adults eat enough fruit and only 8.9% eat enough vegetables.  Want to improve your health dramatically this year? Then make plants a priority when you eat.   

Add one more if you’re feeling really bold this year… 

6.  BREAK UP WITH SUGAR – in every form. From sweetened beverages and foods from refined white flours to over-sweetened yogurts and salad dressings, sugar is hiding everywhere.  There are over 50 different names for sugar on food labels.  Get to know them and then stay away.  This kind of break-up will help you lose weight and improve heart health. It’s not easy, but it has a great impact.  

These are just a few ideas for wellness goals… what is on your list?

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2016!