Probiotics ~ Superfood or Too Good to Be True?

With claims of healing everything from gut infections to skin disorders, are Probiotics worth the hype? If you’re like most people you have no idea of what they are, where they come from and what they can do for you. I’ll briefly give you the low down so you know exactly what the deal is.

What are Probiotics?

In essence Probiotics are microogranisms such as live bacteria and yeasts that are similiar to the beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut.  They are also called “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria”  Our bodies contain both – however when the “bad” bacteria outweighs the “good” issues will arrise. Now you may ask – how will the bad bacteria overgrow?  Simple – from the daily use of tap water (chlorine kills good bacteria, allowing bad to flourish), repeated or long term use of Steroids or Antibiotics, and a diet that throws off the balance (one that is typically heavy in processed food, sugars and unorganics will wipe out the good bacteria, allowing the bad to take over. Even the person living the utmost healthy existence, avoiding most of the practices that kill good bacteria – one round of antibiotics without replacing the good bacteria (via Probiotics) could set up a domino effect of some major health issues.

What can they do for me?

Pretty much – EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Believe the hype, these little buggers are everything they claim to be – just look at the list below:

  • Enhanced immune system response
  • Reduces negative affects of taking many types of antibiotics
  • Aids in preventing and treating colon inflammation following surgery
  • Helps to prevent eczema in youth
  • Increased ability to digest food
  • Therapeutic for viral respiratory tract infections by enhancing the overall immune system
  • Reduces lactose intolerance
  • Reduces incidence of yeast infections, vaginitis and candidiasis
  • Increases ability to assimilate the nutrients from food
  • Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
  • Acts as a remedy for bad breath(halitosis)
  • Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B, calcium,zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium
  • Promotes anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity in the body
  • Protects against tooth decay & periodontal disease
  • Enhances the skin – Since the skin is a reflection of inner health a healthy inner ecosystem = healthy outer appearance. Additionaly the better absorption of foods, vitamins & minerals also will benefit the skin
  • Reported to assist weight loss – with the benefits of better digestion and food transit through the body, less energy is wasted on digesting foods plus a clean gut absorbs nutrients better. When you crowd out the bad bacteria and let the good bacteria thrive your belly will eventually flatten – no bloating, no gas so in turn you will lose a few inches.
  • Reduced cravings for carbs and sugar.

Wow – pretty exhaustive list, isn’t it?  And thats not even all the benefits. Basically, anyone following a healthy, unprocessed, organic, whole foods diet or cleansing regimen should definitely consider adding probiotics to their daily arsenal. One caveat though, if you’re going to continue eating “crap” – in the form of processed foods, excess sugars and unorganics – save your money! Probiotics are one of those things that will only work for you if YOU work for them.  As seen above they are delicate flora that can easily be wiped out.

In my opinion, I can’t live without them! As soon as I stop the eczema flares ( a patch on the back of my neck), my skin doesn’t look as healthy and my digestion comes to a grinding halt.  Now, I believe I just happen to be one of those people that really benefits from daily probiotic consumption (too many extended courses of antibiotics and medication).  My probiotic of choice is fermented veggies – I just made a delicious batch of Kimchi and I can’t live without my Kefir water or occasional kombucha. There are really soo many delicious food sources of probiotics – you must try at least one.  Now, with that being said, i also insure I back it up with daily dose of probiotic supplements – always rotating the brand/strength as they each offer something a bit different.  Soo eat up, drink up- To your health 🙂

Golden Healing Elixir

 

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This is by far one of my favorite and most popular recipes among my clients! I always love hearing about how quick relief comes (typically after a few days!)  I’m big on using SPICES in my foods, drinks, smoothies, juices, etc!!!! Super potent & healing, the Golden Healing Elixer contains both turmeric & ginger; Its a take on the Ayurvedic Golden Milk Tea (which isn’t a tea at all) and its amazingly delicious!  What makes this uber healing is that it not only quells inflammation, but it conquers candida (thanks to a healthy dose of coconut oil AND turmeric & cinnamon!) and balances blood sugar & hormones, in addition to be antioxidant and a whole lot of other anti’s!

To get started melt in a medium sized saucepan:

  • 1 tbs coconut oil

Once melted add:

  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp fresh grated Ginger or 1 tsp dried

Stir well to combine and let sizzle a bit

  • sprinkle with a bit of fresh ground black pepper (optional but amps up the turmeric’s power)
  • Pour in 1 cup of Non Dairy Milk – I love coconut milk or almond but any can be used

Whisk all ingredients together while adding

  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Pour into a fancy schmancy mug & ENJOY!

Fluffy Green Tea Smoothie

Say goodbye to processed protein powders – your body doesn’t recognize them as food anyhow!! A great whole food replacement is AVOCADO! Rich in natural mono unsaturated fats, abundant in fiber,  good source of vegetarian protein (18 essential amino acids and readily absorbed by your body!),anti inflammatory and great source of vitamins and minerals including carotenoids  – these gorgeous green gems can’t be beat.

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How to: Add the following to a blender

  • 12 oz coconut millk
  • one large ripe avocado
  • 1 serving green tea matcha powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • Stevia to sweeten
  • ice cubes

Blend in low a few secs to combine then add ice – I use about 8 cubes and blend away on high until nice & fluffy.

Tropical Berry Cheesecake

Who doesn’t LOVE cheesecake?  Somehow the motto as “American as apple pie” just never seemed fitting to me – but cheesecake – lush, rich, overindulgent, semi sweet – has America written all over it doesn’t it? While standard cheesecake is a pure, creamy,  fat indulgence, the same can be said of its raw counterpart, until now that is.  Introducing my Raw Vegan Cheesecake “Light”.  By adding a few “extra’s” the typical nut heavy cake has taken on a lighter form – never sacrificing for creaminess or flavor.  A definite must. Feel free to play with the ratios – I literally concocted this off the top of my head as I was preparing it and it still came out DIVINE.

I like to begin with cultured cashews – soaking is a must and taking it one step further will lend a true cheescake flavor. To culture cashews soak them first for about 4 hrs.  Then blend with 1-2 capsules probiotics and allow to sit loosely covered overnight.  This is one of the few recipes where I don’t have exact measurements – the reason being is that most everyone has different size springform pans (recommended) and being the ingredients come together sooo nicely – you really can’t go wrong. Just be sure to make enough crust to fit the bottom of the pan and enough “batter” to fill.

Crust:

  • dried apricots
  • pecans
  • coconut oil (2 tbs max)
  • cinnamon
  • mesquite powder (optional but adds a graham crackery flavor)

Blend crust ingredients in food processor and press into greased springform pan.

To make the cake:

Using a high speed blender or food processor add the following:

  • cultured cashews
  • coconut oil – 1/2 cup
  • cacao butter – 1/4-1/2 cup (the more, the firmer the resulting cake will be)
  • irish moss paste – 1/2 cup
  • chopped zucchini (1 large, peeled)
  • mango (peeled & chopped)
  • water or coconut water if really thick

Pour 1/2 of the batter onto the crust, freeze 1 hour until firm.  Top with 3/4 of the Strawberry filling. Back to freezer – 45mins.  Top with remainder of batter.  Chill to firm.

 

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Strawberry Layer & Swirls

  • fresh strawberries
  • thai coconut meat (about 1.5 cups)
  • coconut oil (2tbs)

Blend all of the above in a blender

Probiotic Parfait – aka “Flatten Your Belly Dessert”

How many foods can actually make the claim that not only do they taste sinfully rich and delicious but they will also flatten your tummy? I thought soo….but this really does it – additionally it will add luster to your hair, help digestion, clear toxins, support your thryoid and stop aging…too good to be true? Not at all….

Take:

  • meat from 5-6 young thai coconuts
  • 6 probiotic capsules (be sure they include l-plantarum
  • bit of coconut sugar (optional)

Add the above to a high speed blender with 4-6 oz of the coconut water (the texture should be thick and creamy – think heavier than yogurt but not as thick as greek yogurt).  Pour into glass mason jar, secure lid and leave in warm place (ideally 70-75 degrees) for 8-12 hrs (the longer will product a tartier mix {yes, tartier is a word – it means extra tart!})  Layer in parfait glasses with berries….and Enjoy (ummm, how could you NOT?)Image

Mushroom Avocado Noodles

What is the fascination with noodles?? All I know is that I can’t get enough – whether kelp, zucchini or yam flour – there are many healthy variations to choose from other than the standard gluten free grain based ones.  My go-to noodle for the cooler temps are either kelp noodles or pasta zero (yam flour) – both have great textures; for the warmer temps there is nothing like zucchini noodles!  Each of my recipes can be interchangeable – feel free to use the “noodle” of your choice. Below is a great kelp noodle recipe:

Rinse & drain noodles – set aside

Saute sliced portabello mushrooms in a bit of coconut oil, when tender add the noodles. Season with a few tsp of coconut aminos and gomasio.

I really love this for a light meal – the textures & flavors are great – earthy mushrooms, creamy avocado and salty gomasio & aminos.

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{Vegan} Ice Cream Float

Ohhh…cool…creamy….delicious ice cream floating in bubbly soda! Just makes my heart pitter patter – but traditional ice cream can do some serious damage to a healthy diet.  Enter the ubiquitous “banana” ice cream – which is simply frozen bananas whipped into creamy decadence in a food processor.

The ridiculously easy how to:

  • Fill a cup 1/2 way with GT’s Kombucha – any flavor but I find strawberry to be fizzier than the rest
  • Add one large scoop of banana ice cream to large glass and top with more GT’s, adding more ice cream as needed to fill glass.

Serve! Simple. Sinful. Delicousness.

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3 Steps to Zap Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and health issues, everything from heart disease and Alzheimer’s, to fibromyalgia and even obesity!  

While many doctors are finally jumping on the bandwagon, offering anti-inflammatory diets and supplements, there are many practices you can do at home that will help in the fight.  
Here’s a quick primer on my 3-prong approach to an inflammation-free body!  
Start to integrate a few of these strategies today to see a difference within a few days. The more you do, the better you’ll feel!
 
1. Eat a healthy diet. 
Anyone dealing with chronic issues needs to choose organic as much as possible. While some doctors recommend eliminating carbs in general, I feel there is an easier and more sustainable way to quell inflammation while enjoying life! 
  • Aim to eat 80% unprocessed foods. Shoot for only 20% of your food coming from processed items – this would include pastas, breads, snack foods etc.
  • Give gluten the heave-ho! Even people who aren’t gluten intolerance see marked changes once they eliminate this toxic grain! 
  • High veggie diets are the way to go. Be sure to limit the infamous nightshades that increase inflammation – such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. (Limit to 2 times a week.)
  • Choose sprouted grains and legumes. Many health food stores and even Whole Foods carry a wide array of sprouted products, from pastas to breads and even legumes. While sprouting doesn’t change the flavor of these products, it does enhance the body’s ability to digest them and unlocks the nutrients that wouldn’t be available in the un-sprouted form!

2. Be sensible about supplementation. 

There’s no need for a giant supplement arsenal here. All you need are a few key products: 

  • Whole foods multi vitamin. This should be part of everyone’s regime, it will pick up where a less than stellar diet drops off. Even those uber-healthy eaters should include a good multi from time to time.
  • Whole food Stress B formula. This is generally a broad spectrum B that helps the body defend against stress. Extras such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamins D & E can also be helpful. 
  • Omega 3’s. They’re THE inflammation busters when it comes to supplements. I like to include more than one and rotate every month or so. Ideally the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be 3:1 or better yet 2:1. Some great choices besides the standard fish oils are seeds such as flax, chia and hemp.
  • Spice it up! Spices as supplements? You betcha. Two great ones that are in the forefront as anti inflammatories are ginger and turmeric – use these as often as possible! Fresh or dried, in foods or desserts. 
3. Take some “Me time.” 
Stress is a big contributor of chronic inflammation. One of the easiest ways to combat added stress is to get in touch with yourself and really take care of your body. 
Taking a few minutes out of each day to meditate is a great start as is taking up yoga. Striking a pose not only helps with physical symptoms of inflammation like sore, tight muscles but pranayama (yoga breathing) increases oxygen and lowers stress.  
Finishing up your day by soaking in a tub also helps the body release stress and by adding a few everyday items you can increase the power of the bath tenfold – try some Epsom Salt & Hydrogen Peroxide.
While this list isn’t exhaustive and seems simple, it’s a step in the right direction and shows you that fighting inflammation can be achieved cheaply and easily at home!  
And to start out on your anti inflammatory quest try out my delicious  Anti Inflammatory “Cure All” drink that I recommend to all my clients to quell their inflammation (also kills candida!)
 
Enjoy this Anti-Inflammatory Cure-All
  • 1 cup non dairy milk alternative (coconut, almond or other nut/seed milk)
  • 1 tbs Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp dried
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • Stevia to sweeten
Simply drop 1tbs Coconut oil in small saucepan on the stove. When melted, add grated ginger and turmeric. 
Stir to combine and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add non-dairy alternative, stir to combine, and finally whisk in other ingredients.  
Simmer to warm and enjoy! 

Superfoods to The Rescue

According to Wikipedia:

SUPERFOOD is the term sometimes used to describe food with high pyhtonutrient content that may confer health benefits as a result”

While this term has become a catch phrase for most “healthy” foods, the REAL SUPERFOODS are items that are more nutrient dense than the average.  I see the word “SUPERFOOD” being thrown around more and more.  As a society we’ve come soo far from what we view as food that the items that our ancestors ate daily (think grandparents – not that far back in time!!) are relegated to something “special.”  I’ve seen foods such as spinach, berries, mushrooms and even on occasion something like turkey(?), “whole grain” bread (??) or  red meat (???) with the overly used attachment of SUPERFOOD! In my opinion – with the exception of the bread, turkey & meat – these are everyday foods that we SHOULD be consuming! Fruits – such as berries and tomatoes or vegetables like kale, cabbage, onions and garlic should be part of a healthy well-rounded diet. Yes – they are chock full of vitamins & minerals but they aren’t the superstars that real & trueSUPERFOODS are. Most likely you’re not seeing the supefoods I’m speaking of in your corner grocery store! While they aren’t difficult to come by you will probably have to go to your local health food store or Whole Foods.  These foods are “AMAZING” they are really super nutrient dense, usually have multi healing purposes and also taste great!! As true superfoods are soo potent, many times the smallest dose is needed – little bit goes a long way – so no need to go gung ho.  My top picks for SUPERFOODS are:

1.  Goji Berries – jam packed full of nutrients; great source of protein as they contain 18 amino acids, including the 8 “essential” in addition to 21 trace minerals, TONS of beta carotene (more than carrots), vitamin C (more than oranges!), vitamins B1, B2, B6, vitamin E and IRON (more than a serving of steak). Strengthens the immune system touted as an anti – aging tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Its high ORAC value also means that it protects our cells from oxidative damage (aka: free radicals) – All of this in a small handful/day!

2.   Bee Pollen – This very concentrated low calorie “Food of the Gods” is loaded with Vitamins C & E making it a great choice for immune enhancement. Excellent source of Calcium, Iron, Potassium & Zinc and an especially rich source of B vitamins.  In addition to having a good amount of enzymes which assists with food digestion and mineral absorption, the  amino acids found in Bee Pollen control hunger, build muscle and burn calories. Also used to prevent acne & wrinkles and eliminates toxins.

3.   Raw Honey – A true healing superstar that is anti bacterial, anti viral AND anti inflammatory.  This liquid gold considered to be natures “multi vitamin” containing all the B vitamins, vitamin c and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulphur and phosphate. Boosts energy, fights infections, colds, soothes stomach, is a natural calming agent. The most common use for raw honey is to defend against seasonal allergies.

4.   Chia Seeds/Oil – Tiny little seeds that delivers lots of results!!  Balances blood sugar and excellent source of Omega 3’s (more than salmon!). Seeds are a source of plant based protein, high in fiber, calcium, magnesium & zinc (among other minerals).  They also keep you hydrated and fill you up!

5.  Spirulina & Chlorella –  Super GREEN, superstar Micro Algae – the benefits of both of these are truly astounding. A few noteworthy ones are: ounce per ounce spirulina contains twelve times the digestible protein of beef and 300x’s the RDA of vitamin B12!! And phytochemicals found in chlorella can actually rebuild nerve damage in the brain and nervous system!! Spirulina & Chlorella are used to treat AND even reverse: hypoglycemia, arthritis, depression, liver damage, high blood pressure, inflammation and asthma just to name a few.  Both proven to detoxify, heal and alkalize the body.

6.  Sea Vegetables – The healing benefit of seaweeds have long been known by coastal cultures. Sea vegetables contain 10-20 times the vitamins and minerals of land vegetables. The minerals are available in chelated colloidal form that make them bio-available. Excellent source of Iodine and Vitamin K, loaded with anti inflammatory, anti cancer, anti thrombotic, anti coagulant and anti viral properties. Highly beneficial against female estrogen related cancers.

7.  Coconut Oil – Once given a bad rap for being a saturate fat, coconut oil is finally being praised for its multipurpose, health enhancing benefits such as hair & skin health, stress relief, maintain cholesterol levels, weight loss and thyroid support, high blood pressure, diabetes and even HIV and cancer! The natural anti bacterial, anti viral, anti microbial and anti fungal owe much of its healing powers is due to Lauric Acid, Capric Acid and Caprylic Acid.

8.  Quinoa – Ancient Incan food that is frequently mislabeled a grain but is actually a SEED!  Amino acid rich, complete protein with a mild, nutty flavor that has been proven to be beneficial against migraine headaches due to its high riboflavin content. A true “whole grain” filled with fiber with lots of versatility – perfect sweetened with dried fruit for breakfast or spiced up for dinner. Light in flavor with high protein and fiber – a great combination that will fill you up without weighing you down.