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Fish and Shrimp Socca Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

I was craving fish tacos for dinner; had been dreaming about it for a few days now.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I only found one small haddock fillet in my freezer….eeeks!  Normally I would just make something else, but my cravings were so strong that my mind wouldn’t let me think of anything else.  It was time to get creative.
Cilantro Socca Collage
Luckily I also had some jumbo shrimps and home-made cilantro pesto in my freezer.  Out they came with the fish fillet and voila, I had me some Fish and Shrimp Socca Tacos with Cilantro Pesto. This dish takes all of 15 minutes to make, provided that you have the pesto made in advance. Otherwise, tack on another 5 minutes.  And since I am avoiding gluten, I opted for this socca flatbread as my soft taco wrap making this recipe gluten, dairy, and sugar free.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
fish & shrimp taco 2

Fish and Shrimp Socca Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
1 small haddock fillet (or any other white fish)
9 jumbo shrimps (shells removed and deveined)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small, thin slices of fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp grapeseed oil

For the pesto:
2 cups fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Socca (recipe from thekitn.com):
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1.5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, water, oil, and salt. Set aside and let rest for ½ – 2 hours.
2. In a food processor, combine cilantro, pumpkin seeds, garlic, and salt.  Pulse a few times until all ingredients are finely chopped.  Add the olive oil and process until desired consistency.  Set aside 1/4 – 1/3 cup for the tacos.  Store the rest in the fridge or freezer.
3. Film a small skillet with oil (I used grapeseed oil) and set over medium-low heat.  Pour a thin layer of the socca batter into the skillet until the bottom is covered (pour in less batter for smaller wraps).  Cook 2-3 minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Repeat this step until batter is used up.
4. While the wraps are cooking, heat some oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger.  Sautee for about 30 seconds.
5. Add the fish and shrimps.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Flip, and cook another 3-4 minutes.
6. Assemble tacos: spread cilantro pesto on a wrap, add shrimp and fish filling, fold wrap over and enjoy!

You will have socca wraps left over, so you can double the filling ingredients and now the recipe serves two.  Or you can reduce the socca ingredients by half to get just the amount of wraps you need.  I put my extra wraps in the fridge and enjoyed them the next day as bread with stew or chili to soak up the yummy sauce.


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Hot Carob with Coconut Whipped Cream

Chilled to the bone thanks to the -35 C temps in Toronto?  Warm up with this Hot Carob with Coconut Whipped Cream drink….. a fun twist to the traditional hot coco.

If you’re a chocolate lover who’s looking for an alternative that is lower in fat and caffeine-free, then carob is your new BFF. Carob has the same taste and mouth-feel as chocolate, but offers more advantages: it’s naturally sweet, high in fibre and calcium, and rich in vitamin D.  So you can satisfy those chocolate cravings while building bone strength and improving your digestive tract, all at the same time.  How can you beat that?

Carob is a legume that grows in the Mediterranean regions, and has been used since ancient times for consumption as well as medicinal purposes.  Thanks to its anti-allergic, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties (among others), carob is effective at treating conditions such as colds, diarrhea, high cholesterol levels, and poor digestion.  The carob pods are grounded into flour which is then sold to consumers as carob powder. Look for it in your local health food stores.

Not sure how you can use carob powder? Here are few ideas you can try:
• Use it for decoration: roll your energy balls in it, or sprinkle on top of cakes and cupcakes.
• Substitute cocoa powder with carob powder the next time you make brownies.
• Use carob chips instead of chocolate chips when baking cookies and muffins.
• Add it to your hot beverages like in the hot carob drink below.
carob collage

Hot Carob with Coconut Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
2 tbsp carob powder
1 tsp raw organic honey
One 15 ounce can full-fat coconut milk

Directions:
1. Heat the almond milk in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
2. When the milk is warm, slowly add in the carob powder as you stir (to prevent clumbs). Heat for another 30-60 seconds.
3. Remove from heat and let cool to a drinkable temperature; add the honey. Pour into your favourite mug and top with coconut whip cream.

For the coconut whipped cream (recipe courtesy of thekitn.com):
1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and leave it there until well-chilled; I left mine in overnight.
2. Open the can of coconut milk. There will be a firm, waxy layer on top.
3. Scoop out this firm layer coconut cream that has solidified at the top of the can.
4. Stop as soon as you reach the water at the bottom of the can; don’t include anything but the solid cream. (You can use the water in smoothies, or just drink it straight.)
5. Place this cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl.
6. Turn your mixer or hand beaters to high speed, and whip the coconut cream for 3 to 5 minutes.
7. Whip until it becomes fluffy and light, with soft peaks. Mix in sugar or vanilla, if using.


How do you use carob powder in your recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment box so that I can give them a try too!


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Sugar. Oh honey, honey.

Raise your hand if you have a sweet tooth.  My hand is up.  And I know that I’m not alone here because according to StatsCan, Canadians consume, on average, 110 g of sugar a day.  That’s equivalent to 26 teaspoons!  While a daily recommended intake amount for sugar has yet to be set, the World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 10% of calories be from free sugars.  Do the math and it means that we are consuming 60 g above the daily recommended maximum.  Is that a concern?  You bet.  Sugar (especially refined white sugar), in excess, can become toxic in the body, weakening our immune system and eventually leading to many health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and the list goes on.

So we all know what we need to do here – cut sugar from our daily diet.  A feat that’s easier said than done.  And to most, is not very appealing (myself included).  A more attainable ask is to reduce our sugar intake and opt for natural sweeteners that won’t spike blood sugar, are free of toxins, and will actually add nutrients rather than strip them from the body.  Here are three options you can try:

Organic raw honey
Honey is not just a natural sweetener made by nature’s hard-working honeybees.  It has a lot more to offer than that.  First of all, honey is composed mostly of fructose (38%) and glucose (31%), both monosaccharides that are used directly by the body for a quick source of energy.  Second, it contains a number of enzymes that enhances the metabolism of carbohydrates such as sugar and starches.  Third, it is rich in the following nutrients: amino acids, vitamins B and C, and the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese.  Fourth, thanks to honey’s high phytonutrient content (flavonoids, antioxidants, and others) it is often used as an effective anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungus, anti-tumor (colon), and anti-inflammatory agent.

Honey is low on the glycemic index, with a score of 55, indicating that it does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.  So you don’t have to worry about getting a sudden surge in energy only to crash and burn later on.  Studies conducted on patients with type 2 diabetes show that natural honey caused a significantly lower rise in blood sugar levels than refined sugars.

So what should you look for when buying honey?  Keep in mind that heat destroys the healing properties and nutrients that are found in honey.  Therefore, to get the full benefits, be sure to buy raw organic honey.  Unpasteurized honey is the next best thing as it is only exposed to slight heat during processing.  Pasteurized honey is the least beneficial as most of its healing constituents have been destroyed by the heating process.  You’ll also want to remember this heat concept when using honey in your hot beverages, like tea.  It’s best to wait for the beverage to reach a drinkable temperature before adding the honey.  The other thing to keep in mind when making your selection is that darker honeys will contain a greater amount of antioxidants.

Honey can be easily substituted for sugar in most recipes when cooking or baking.  For every cup of sugar that the recipe calls for, use one-half to three-quarters of a cup of honey, and reduce the amount of liquid by one-quarter of a cup.  In addition, reduce the cooking temperature by 25°F since honey causes foods to brown more easily.

Pure maple syrup
Maple syrup is also a natural sweetener made from the sap of sugar, black or red maple trees.  The trees are tapped for their sap, which is then boiled to evaporate the water, leaving behind the maple syrup.  The main sugar in pure maple syrup is sucrose, with the darker syrups having small amounts of fructose and glucose.  Sucrose is a disaccharide so it will need to be converted in the body to glucose before it can be absorbed and used for energy.

Like honey, you can find many nutrients in maple syrup that are beneficial to health.  For starters, maple syrup contains the minerals calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.  Next, you can find trace amounts of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B3 (niacin), biotin, and folic acid, as well as trace amounts of amino acids.  And when it comes to healing properties, pure maple syrup is jam packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances – 54 phenolic compounds to be exact – which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.  In fact, scientists at the University of Rhode Island have found that the phenolics in maple syrup help in the management of Type 2 diabetes by inhibiting two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes.

Be sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup instead of maple “flavoured” syrup.

Raw evaporated cane sugar
The juice of the natural sugar cane is made up of sugar and water, and is high in the minerals calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and iron.  It is also rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, along with a high concentration of phytonutrients, antioxidants, proteins, soluble fiber and a number of other health supportive compounds.  After the juice has been pressed from the sugar cane plant, it is then hand-stirred with paddles under low heat to evaporate the water, and then the dried juice is formed into a block of sugar.  This process ensures that the nutrients of the sugar cane juice are preserved and remain in the sugar.  Doubtful? Check out the study conducted at the Simon Bolivar University.  However, not all evaporated cane sugar undergo this process, so you must be sure to look for Rapadura, Panela, or Sucanat.  All other cane sugar (like Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara) are all refined, although not to the extent as white sugar.

Evaporated cane sugar is also rich in polyphenols, including a large amount of antioxidant phytonutrients.  These polyphenols, combined with the vitamins and minerals, all work together to help slow down the body’s absorption of sugar (sucrose), preventing a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.  As well, thanks to the healing properties of the polyphenols, evaporated cane sugar has been studied for its role in health benefits such as fighting cancer, stabilizing blood sugar levels in diabetics, and assisting in weight loss.

A word of caution
So the next time you cook, bake, or have a sugar craving, consider one of these natural sweeteners over the typical refined white sugar.  But remember, consuming too much sugar, natural or refined, can be detrimental to your health.  So enjoy responsibly, consume in moderation, and always adhere to the advice of your health care practitioner.

Over to you….
What natural sweetener do you use as a substitute for refined sugars?  Leave a comment below and share with me your tips for reducing sugar intake.
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Sources: 1. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=96; 2. http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/loveridge/index-page3.html; 3. http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index; 4. http://www.processedfreeamerica.org/resources/health-news/405-the-truth-about-evaporated-cane-juice; 5.http://www.scielo.br/pdf/cta/v30n1/aop_3523.pdf; 6. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0963996996000002; 7. http://www.uri.edu/news/releases/?id=5758; 8. http://www.mi-maplesyrup.com/Information/info_maplenutrition.htm; 9. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2011003/article/11540-eng.htm; 10. Vertolli, Michael, A Herbalist’s Favourite Home Remedies, Vitality Magazine, December 2013/January 2014 issue, p. 24.


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I Found the Perfect Granola Recipe

I’ve been searching high and low for a granola recipe that is simple to make, has minimal ingredients, and low in sugar.  You’d be surprised how hard this task has been.  Most of the recipes I have come across are very high in sugar (and often call for more than one type), as well as a long list of ingredients.  So I kept searching and I’m happy to say that my perseverance has paid off!  This Pistachio Goji Berry Granola recipe from Love and Lemons is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  It’s super simple to make (done in just 15 minutes!), calls for healthy ingredients, and uses maple syrup instead of refined sugars.  All music to my ears.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can easily substitute for ingredients you may not readily have in your cupboard.  I didn’t have the pistachios and goji berries on hand, so I used raw almonds and raw pumpkin seeds instead.  I also added in some flax seeds to get an extra boost of essential fatty acids. My first batch of home-made granola turned out to be so super delicious I had to pass along the recipe:
pistachio goji berry granola | Love and Lemons.

Got a granola recipe of your own that you love to pieces?  Don’t be shy. Share it with us by leaving a comment.


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Pass the Salt Please

c202a_120531030036-eliminating-salt-horizontal-galleryHow many times have you ordered McDonald’s french fries, preloaded with salt, and made sure to add even more salt to it?  Or how about immediately reaching for the salt shaker when your fav dish arrives at the table, even though it’s likely the chef has already flavoured it?  Yes, that’s how much we, as a society, love salt.  And why wouldn’t we? Salt tastes great.  Plus, it’s an essential mineral that keeps the body functioning.  Found in every cell of the body, salt (comprised of sodium and chloride) works with potassium to regulate the fluid balance of the body, control the acid-base balance, and creates an electrical charge for muscle contraction and conduction of nerve impulses.  Sodium is also important for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which we need to digest our food, and it helps in the transport of amino acids from the gut into the blood.

However, we must keep in mind what they say about having too much of a good thing, which salt is no exception to. Too much salt can cause stress, kidney failure, obesity, and high blood pressure (which can lead to strokes or heart attacks).  In Canada alone, 14,000 deaths per year are a result of eating too much sodium; a problem that is completely preventable, simply by cutting back on the amount of salt we consume.

So just how much is too much?
Public health organizations have set the maximum daily amount of sodium intake at 2300 mg (milligrams), which is about 1 teaspoon.  1500 mg of sodium per day is all the body needs to maintain health, and is the recommended limit for people with high blood pressure or other salt-related health problems.  To put this into context, let’s look at a popular dinner choice for most – pizza.  One slice of veggie pizza has 420 mg of sodium.  A slice of pepperoni, 520 mg. Most people can, and will, eat half a pizza in one sitting.  That’s over 2000 mg of salt being consumed in just one meal; well over what the body needs and pretty darn close to reaching the daily maximum.

How can you reduce your salt intake?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. More home cooking, less restaurant dining.  Eating out is super convenient and tasty, there’s no doubt about that.  But you can also expect those meals to be heavy on the salt, even though you may just be ordering a salad. One serving of the Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad from Wendy’s has 1990 mg of salt.  You can reduce this by more than 70% simply by making your own meals at home so that you can control the salt usage.  For the times you do dine out, order wisely.  Ask for veggies to be steamed, dressing or sauces on the side (and use sparingly), stay away from deli meats, and limit the use of commercially prepared condiments.

2. Avoid canned foods.  Buy fresh where you can.  Did you know that one cup of canned tomatoes contains 343 mg of sodium?  A typical stew or sauce recipe will call for at least one 980 ml can of tomatoes, which equates to 1344 mg of salt.  And that doesn’t include the additional teaspoon of salt you will add for overall flavouring, as per the recipe.  Compare that to one cup of fresh tomatoes which has only 9 mg of sodium.  Need I say more?  Tomatoes freeze well, either whole or pureed, so stock up when they are on sale and store them in your freezer.  When using canned beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans, thoroughly rinse them with cold water to wash away some of the salt.

3. Read labels on packages carefully.  Take the time to read product labels when shopping, not just the front of the package, but also the nutritional data label and pay attention to the serving size indicated.  It’s common for food manufacturers to use smaller serving sizes so that the amount of calories or fats/carbs/sodium appear to be less.  They can also be tricky with their marketing, so understand what these common phrases used on food packages really mean:

Reduced sodium – 25% less sodium than its “normal” version of the food
Light in sodium – sodium has been reduced by at least 50% (of the amount in the ‘original’ version)
Low sodium – contains 140mg or less of sodium per serving
Very low sodium – has 35mg of sodium or less per serving
Sodium-free – has less than 5mg of sodium per serving

4. Eat more natural foods.  Almost all wholesome, natural foods will have some sodium in them.  However, the amounts won’t be anywhere nearly as high as processed and packaged foods.  The added bonus is that natural foods are also packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibre that the body needs.  So try to add more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted) to your daily diet and trim down on the chips, cheese, crackers and take-out food.

Find out how much salt is in your daily diet.
Curious to know what your salt intake looks like? Find out with this handy tool: salt calculator

So the next time you find yourself asking “pass the salt please”, consider opting to pass on the salt instead.  

Got a great way to lower your salt intake?  Share it with us in the comment box.

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Sources:
1. CBC’s MarketPlace: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2012-2013/the-great-salt-shakedown
2. Hawkins, W. Rex, Eat Right Electrolyte: A Nutritional Guide to Minerals in our Daily Diet, 2006
3. Haas, Elson M., MD., Staying Healthy with Nutrition, 21st Edition
4. Self Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2684/2


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Is Broccoli Making a Come Back?

There has been so much hype given to superfoods these days that it’s easy to forget how some of the good old veggies we use to eat are just as fabulous.  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I suddenly had this strong craving for some cream of broccoli soup.  So off to the grocery store I went to grab the ingredients I needed to satisfy my cravings.  I’ll share my recipe with you below, but first, let’s take a closer look at why making broccoli part of our daily diet is a good idea:

1. Supports the body’s detoxification system. Broccoli contains 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients – glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin – which work together to support all the steps involved in the body’s detoxification process (activation, neutralization, and elimination of contaminants).  They also make isothiocyanates (ITCs) which are molecules that regulate the detox process at the genetic level.
2. Helps to fight inflammation. Broccoli is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is not only commonly missing from our daily diets, but is also required to make anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.  Just 2 cups of broccoli contains about 450 milligrams of omega-3s in the form of alpha-lionlenic acid (ALA), which is comparable to the amount found in a soft gel flax oil capsule.
3. Lowers the risk of oxidative stress. Broccoli is a concentrated source of many antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids.  These nutrients all work together to lower the risk of oxidative stress which occurs when the body is not efficiently metabolizing oxygen.  Just 1 cup of broccoli will give you 135% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant.  When combined with the many flavonoids also found in broccoli, such as kaempferol and quercitin, vitamin C can provide ongoing support of oxygen metabolism in the body.  Broccoli is also rich in the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, vitamin E, as well as the minerals manganese and zinc; all of which function as antioxidants.

If these three areas (inadequate detoxification, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress) occurs in excess in the body, it can lead to the risk of cancer development.  Because broccoli has the properties to combat them, it is therefore regarded as a food that helps with cancer prevention.

And just in case you need further convincing on the health benefits that broccoli can offer you, consider these:
• A recent study released by Arthritis and Rheumatism (August 28, 2013) found that sulforaphane, a compound found in high amounts in broccoli, plays a key role in preventing the progression of osteoarthritis.  The research showed that sulforaphane has the ability to block the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule responsible for inflammation.
• Broccoli helps to lower cholesterol, especially when they have been steam cooked.  The steaming action increases the ability of the fiber components in broccoli to bind with the bile acid in our digestive tract.  This binding allows for the bile acids to be more easily excreted from the body, resulting in the lowering of cholesterol levels.  Steam the broccoli for no longer than 5 minutes.
• Broccoli is an excellent source of both vitamin A (11% DV in 1 cup) and vitamin K (116% DV), which helps to balance vitamin D metabolism (particularly when you are vitamin D deficient and supplementing in large doses).

So try adding some broccoli into your menu plan for next week.  It’s an inexpensive vegetable, and takes no time to cook. You can easily add them into a stir fry, a salad, or as a side dish to compliment a meat or fish serving.  And of course, it’s delicious in a my creamy broccoli puree soup that’s ready in just 30 minutes!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Cream of Broccoli 2

Ingredients:
1/2 bulb of fennel, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 large potato, cut into large pieces
1 bunch of broccoli (stems optional), cut into large pieces
Fresh basil leaves (about 6 large leaves)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sunflower oil
4 cups of filtered water (or vegetable stock)

Directions:
1. In a large pot (or steamer) bring 2 inches of water to a boil and steam broccoli for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium/large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots and celery, cook for another 4-5 mintues, or until onions start to become translucent (reduce heat to medium-low if needed).
4. Add the fennel, potatoes, basil, oregano, and water.  Gently stir, cover, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add sea salt to taste.
5. Let soup cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add the steamed broccoli and puree until smooth and creamy.

Soup can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for future enjoyment.


How do you include broccoli into your daily diet?  Leave a comment and let us know!
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Sources:
1. The World’s Healthies Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9
2. Vitality Magazine, October 2013 issue, p.54, Broccoli Compound May Prevent Osteoarthritis
3. Self Nutritional Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2


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5 Mini Changes Even You Can Do

We choose to eat things like french fries, hamburgers, and donuts, not because we are unaware that we should be making healthier choices, but because old habits are hard to beat.  The road to eating healthier means making changes not just to our food selection, but also to our lifestyle.  Both of which require effort, which can be compounded by the need to prepare meals for family members, a hectic work schedule, budget, or lack of time.  All of which makes it less appealing to make the change, especially when we know it’s easier to just stay with the status quo.  The good news is, healthy eating isn’t just black or white in the sense that you either do it or you don’t.  There are many small things you can do that will help you make the transition from substandard eating habits to a healthier you.  Here are five simple mini-changes you can easily add to your routine:

1. Start your day with lemon and water.  While you’re catching your zzz’s, your liver is hard at work all night long clearing your body of harmful toxins.  You can help your liver expel the collected toxins from the body by starting your morning with a glass of water (at room temperature) and juice from half a lemon. Do this upon rising and wait 30 minutes before eating breakfast.

2. Keep hydrated throughout the day.  You’ve all heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating as so few of us manage to do it.  Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  But I’m not thirsty, you say?  That may be true, but it doesn’t mean that your body isn’t continuously losing water through your skin, wastes and lungs.  You need to replenish that water so that all your body systems (like circulation, digestion, respiration) can continue to function at their optimal level.

3. Be picky with your fats and oils.  You don’t need to cut fat out of your diet, not if you want to keep living for a while.  Fat is essential to our survival.  It is used by our bodies in many important functions such as forming cell membranes, protection from degenerative diseases, production of hormones, and to help transport other nutrients (like vitamins). But not all fats are made equal, so be smart and choose the right type to put into your body.  Always go for the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and 6, found in sources like cold-water fish, chia seeds, or flax seeds.  The monounsaturated fats in avocados, almonds, olive oil and olives are also good for you.  But be sure to stay away from polyunsaturated and trans fats, such as those found in margarine, chips and deep-fried foods.

4. Take a multivitamin everyday.  Everybody needs vitamins and minerals – no exceptions. It’s not just a fad.  These nutrients play an important role in many key functions of the body, such as helping with the formation of tissues, fighting free-radicals to prevent the onset of diseases, and helping to convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into use-able forms, like energy.  So make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals by taking a daily supplement. Chances are, your highly processed foods diet won’t give you any.  Look for a high-quality, whole-foods multivitamin that is derived from natural plants, fruits, and vegetables.  This will ensure better assimilation of the vitamins into the body. You can find them at your local health food stores.

5. You guessed it, eat fruits and vegetables.  Your hectic schedule doesn’t leave you much time to cook, so it’s restaurant meals or take-out dinners that’s the norm, I get that.  But it doesn’t mean you can’t try and balance that out with some healthier choices.  The easiest way to add fresh, wholesome foods into your diet is to have some raw fruits and vegetables.  These guys are packed with nutrients that are vital to cell growth, tissue repair, and the proper functioning of your organs.  You know, all the stuff that your body needs to keep you healthy and alive.  The best part? Fruits and veggies need no prep time.  Just grab them and go. That easy!

If you can fit these simple changes into your daily routine, then you’re off to a good start to taking on some bigger steps towards healthy eating.  Think you can do it?

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Sources: 1. Haas, Elson M., MD, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, 21st Edition.  2. Rowland, David W., The Nutritional ByPass.

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