Improve Your Energy and Health in 5 Easy Steps

Have you ever heard of somebody NOT wanting to improve their health? I haven’t. But what I do hear are a whole lot of excuses as to why they cannot; all the reasons that keep their hands tied, while health somehow eludes them. These rationalizations usually include gripes such as “I don’t have the time”, “I don’t have the money”, “I don’t know how”, “I don’t like vegetables”…and the list goes on. Am I judging? Not one bit; in fact, I was pushing the same hot air no more than 4 years ago. But after being tired of hearing my own lame excuses over and over again, I finally just jumped in head first and have never looked back! I found that convenience seems to be the biggest issue which holds us back; let’s face it…we’re an extremely lazy society. And interestingly enough, the reason why we are so lazy is that we simply lack the proper nutrition to fuel us in the first place; it’s a terrible cycle to be stuck in.

The thought of giving any extra effort beyond our daily “duties” makes us sick to our stomachs. Well, worry no more. I’m going to tell you how you can start getting onto the health track with a small handful of ingredients and a blender. Thats right, I’m talking about smoothies. But aren’t smoothies just another food fad like…fondue? Sure, if you’re only going to have one every other month when you go meet up with your “healthy friend” at Jamba Juice. But what if you could truly take your health back on your own? What if you could find 5 minutes each day to create a simple meal that fully nourishes you with whole food, can be dumped into a “to-go” cup and tastes amazing…would you shift your perspective?

I make a lot of smoothies. So many, in fact, that I have a backed up list of recipes I’ve yet to post on my site. I’ve always had a system when it comes to making them; but as complicated as many of my concoctions can be, you really don’t need all of the ingredients that I use in order to make a great smoothie for yourself. You also don’t need an insanely expensive blender; when I first started, I used a very affordable yet amazing machine by Kitchen Aid . You can snag it between $80-$130 USD on Amazon. We’ll go into further detail on ingredients below but for now, let’s do a quick reality checklist to see what you actually need get started:

Blender: This is what you’ll use to create your smoothies. Buy it once, use it everyday.

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Liquid Base: This is the foundation of every smoothie. Whether it be Filtered Water, Coconut Water, Tea or Non-Dairy Milk, this will be the liquid component.

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Baby Greens: In order to take advantage of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which plants provide, you’ll want to get in your greens. Buy bagged; From “bag to blender”, no cooking required.

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Fruit – Not only do fruits add sweetness and flavor but they also contain many antioxidant and energy benefits. Stock up on Bananas and bags of frozen berries.

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Protein – When I first converted to a plant-based diet I was constantly asked where I get my protein from (and actually still do). Some of the best sources of protein to put into your smoothies will come from nuts, seeds and superfood powders. Some of my favorites are Hemp Seeds, Cashews, Flax Seeds, Hemp Powder and Spirulina. Another great thing to have on hand is a large tub of clean, plant-based Protein Powder (about 20 servings worth). One of the cleanest and most powerful brands that I have ever tried comes from Vega. See which products are right for you. My top 2 choices are Vega One and Vega Sport.

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That’s it in a nutshell. But if you’re really low on cash, groceries and/or time…all you really need is a liquid base and the protein powder. Super simple…super fast…super good! If you just keep those simple handful of ingredients on hand, you can’t lose. And if you want to step it up a bit (after you’ve become a smoothie wizard) refer back to these simple steps and tips for guidance.

1. Liquid Base
The first thing to always go into the blender is the liquid. Measurement markers are usually right on the blender jar, so no need for an extra measuring cup. A good rule of thumb is 8-12 oz, depending on how thick you want your smoothie to be. If you want to be able to drink it faster (on the go), you can always add more liquid for easier drinkability. If you’re in a pinch, filtered water is the easiest choice. Coconut Water is also an excellent choice for hydration and electrolyte replenishing qualities. For texture, creaminess and added nutrition, use a nut milk such as Almond, Hemp, Cashew or Coconut Milk; these are normally supplemented with B-12 and Vitamin D (which are crucial if your diet is plant-based). For the advanced “en-smoothiast”, you can even use chilled teas, health tonics, pressed vegetable juices, aloe juice, etc.

2. Baby Greens
The second step is adding your greens to the liquid. I have found that “baby” varieties work best in the blender due to their soft leaves which break down much easier…even in blenders that are less powerful than the holy grail Vitamix or Blendtec models. As far as convenience goes, you can’t beat baby greens because you can buy them in the market already prepped in a bag or container. Just bust it open, grab a giant handful and toss it into the blender with your liquid base. You can use baby varieties of Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Arugula, Spring Mix as well as many other varieties of fresh farm micro-greens and sprouts. Many people complain about not being able to eat enough servings of greens throughout their busy days; well this is your chance to pack it in there and get it down easy. Once you’ve tossed a couple handfuls in the jar, put the lid on and blend on the high setting until all the greens are completely blended. You should end up with green liquid and no tiny green bits.

3. Fruits and Veggies
My smoothies are primarily fruit based, aside from the greens. I do this on purpose because I also drink extracted vegetable juice daily. I “eat & blend” my fruits and “eat & juice” my vegetables. The reason I do this is due to the high sugar content in most fruits. If you blend the fruit, you keep the fiber which will help slow down the absorption of the sugars. Blend your fruits and juice your veggies! So, for this step I almost always start with 1 Banana OR 1 Avocado; it will give the smoothie it’s velvety texture. If you’re looking for creamy but would rather go without the extra sugar; go with the Avocado (packed with healthy fats, vitamins and aminos). Now throw in 1 handful of berries OR 1 piece of fruit (Apple, Orange, Pear, etc). The possibilities are endless; don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Once you’ve added these ingredients, blend on the “crush ice” setting to break up the fruits and then slowly switch over to the high setting. At this point, you should have a pretty good idea if its too thick (add more liquid) or if its too watery (add some ice cubes).

4. Protein Powder
Many seasoned en-smoothiasts go without protein powders but since I am a vegan, I definitely make sure I cover my bases and add it. I’ve also been working out quite a bit since my weight loss, so I’m trying to build some muscle as well (why not?). And if you’re trying to take as much of the guesswork out of smoothie-making as possible, protein powder is the easiest, quickest way. One serving can cover a good portion of your nutrition needs; just be certain that it’s a good one. Theres a lot of junk out there disguised as healthy supplements. Make sure you research and read labels. It should be plant-based, nutrient dense, high in protein, made from clean (whole food) ingredients, chemical free, non-gmo and on top of all that…taste really good! That said, I’ll do you a solid and save you the search. Look no further than Vega’s line of nutrition products. And since we’re talking convenience and essentials, we may as well be talking about Vega Essentials. 20 grams of plant-based protein, 3 servings of greens, 25% daily value of Vitamins and Minerals, 16% daily Fiber, 1g Omega 3s and only 130 calories per scoop. It’s available online, your local Pharmacy and now even Target stores. The price is not bad either; around $2 per serving which is less than a trip to the donut or coffee shop (do I even need to compare the health benefits of those food choices?)

5. Optional Mix-Ins (for when you become a pro)
I find smoothies to be a great opportunity to mix in other superfoods from nature that can increase the nutritional value of this meal in a glass. Of course, at first, you may just want to go with quick and simple shakes (steps 1 -4). That said, save this extra info for when you’re a seasoned smoothie pro and want to upgrade. Myself, I don’t think I’ve ever made a smoothie that did not at least contain some Chia Seeds or Flax Seeds. These seeds are so very important to everyday health…vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, Omegas; they are a powerhouse on their own. Based on what my body feels like, I will also add in a superfood supplement (or 2, or 3). Superfoods are berries, herbs, teas, mushrooms, etc that are found from all over the world. Each one has a unique nutrition profile and can help maintain different parts of the body. Their packed with antioxidants which the “basic” groups of popular produce simply do not contain. It’s always best if you can find the whole food itself; but if, like me, you simply do not have access…bags of the pure powder will do just fine. Some of the ones I use are Reishi, Lucuma, Goji, Camu Camu, Acai, Spiralina, Matcha, Hemp, Cacao and Maca. Other mix-ins to consider are soaked nuts, oats, quinoa, dates (pitted) and good oils such as Coconut or Hemp.

So, as long as you have a blender, some liquid and a excellent plant-based ingredients, you truly cannot fail at making a nutritious smoothie. Make this a new everyday habit to replace a small meal or some other habit you’d like to avoid. Before you know it, you’ll start feeling better and wondering what else you can incorporate into your health regimen. Now pour that amazing smoothie into a tall glass and toast to your newfound health!

Pumpkin Peach Pie Smoothie

What makes Pumpkin Pie even better? Peaches! 😮🍑🍑I took my classic Pumpkin Pie smoothie recipe and made it summer-ready by adding fresh organic peaches. Yum!!! Super high in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and beta carotene…this smoothie combo is excellent for skin, fighting oxidation brought on by free radicals and maintaining a healthy weight. So, go right ahead, don’t be afraid to gulp this one down and turn your frown upside down 😋😃
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1 Cup Plant Based Milk

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Purée

2 Peaches (pitted/skin on)

1 serving  Vega One Nutritional Shake (French Vanilla)

1/3 Cup Whole Grain Oats

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 Tbsp Chia Seed

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Blend all on high speed until smooth. Pour and enjoy!

Mango Vanilla Chai Recovery Smoothie

Fitness can be tough on your body. After working up a sweat, the last thing you want to do is another tedious workout in the kitchen. That said, you’ll be delighted that this smoothie can be prepped and blended in under 10 minutes. It’s creamy, refreshing, delicious and a powerful companion to your post-workout routine. And heck, the bright golden color is kinda pretty to look at too! To get it going, all you need is some Vega Sport Performance Protein and a few things from nature’s medicine cabinet; then you’ll be well on your way to making those gains again.

Ingredients
1 scoop Vanilla Vega Sport Performance Protein
1 cup Silk Unsweetened Original Cashewmilk
1 cup frozen Mango
1 Orange (peeled)
1 thumb Ginger (peeled)
1 tsp Chai Spice blend
Optional: Ice cubes

Preparation
1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
2. Pour into a glass and garnish with some shredded Coconut. Enjoy 45 minutes to 1 hour after your workout.

Berry Berry SubLIME Smoothie

Whether you’re stretching, shredding or striding through your best life, make sure to recover your best too! Vega Sport Performance Protein helps make this task a breeze with a powerful serving of complete protein, BCAAs, glutamine and probiotics. Blend it with a handful of thoughtful ingredients and you have yourself a tart, sweet smoothie that will get you back on your feet in no time!

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One of my all time favorite smoothie blends has Coconut Milk Yogurt, fresh berries and Lime. Theres just something about that combo that my tastebuds really love. The “yogurt” creates a beautiful, creamy texture while supplying your gut with some healthy live, active cultures. Of course, Limes throw in a bit of contrast with their zingy flavor…plus their great for your skin and digestion. And don’t even get me started on fresh berries. They are the world’s most perfect food; packed with an insane amount of nutrients, carotenoids and flavonoids. What does that mean?! It means their an antioxidant powerhouse and a nightmare for free radicals which damage your cells.

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Ingredients
1 scoop Vanilla or Berry Vega Sport Performance Protein
1/2 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1 5.3 oz container So Delicious Blueberry “Yogurt” Alternative
2 cups Baby Spinach
1 frozen Banana
1 cup frozen Mixed Berries
1 lime (juice and zest only)
Shredded Coconut (to garnish)

Preparation
1. Blend the Coconutmilk, “Yogurt” Alternative and Spinach until greens are fully broken down.
2. Add all other ingredients and blend again until smooth.
3. Pour into a glass, garnish with shredded Coconut and enjoy!

Carrot Pineapple Citrus Endurance Smoothie

When I’m setting out to do a long ride, run or swim; I always plan my nutrition/fuel ahead of time.What I like to go for is a clean, complex carb blend that won’t weigh me down. I’ve learned that eating large solid meals (even hours beforehand) seem to hold me back. So today I whipped up this juice-smoothie which is packed with the fuel to stimulate, sustain and help recover from a long, tough workout.

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12 oz extracted Juice (Carrots, Pineapple, Yellow Squash, Orange, Lime, Romaine, Turmeric and Ginger)

2 Bananas

1/4 Cup Ground Quinoa Flakes

1/4 Cup Ground Whole Grain Oats

1 tsp Maca Powder

2 tsp Matcha Powder

2 Tbsp Chia Seed (soaked)

Juice the fruits, veg and roots in your juicer. Strain out any lingering pulp. Pour 12 oz of the juice into your blender jar (store any extra for later). Add the bananas, quinoa, oats, maca, matcha and Chia seeds to the blender jar. Add some ice cubes if desired. Blend all on high speed until smooth. I like to sprinkle some coconut and cinnamon on mine. Drink about 1 hour before your workout. 

Beeting the Odds: 9 Day Body & Mind rEvolution (Day 1)

Today I embarked on my yearly detox in honor of the 45 days of juice fasting which changed my life over 2 years ago. As usual, the goal is to “reset” by purging any negative accumulations from my body/mind; while moving forward both refreshed and reaffirmed.
My plan is to jump into 1 day of transitioning, 1 day of eating raw, 5 days of juice fasting, 1 day of eating raw and ending with 1 day of transitioning. I’m also including a colon hydro therapy session, massage therapy, hot epsom bath/essential oil soaks and my usual regimen of stretching and meditation.
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Day 1: Transition

The Purpose
Transitioning is the time just before and after a raw food/juice fast where we taper off and abstain from our usual habits in preparation for the nourishment of our cells and the release of toxins. When I say “toxins”, I’m not only talking about the way we eat or drink but everything we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. The pollution we breathe, the chemicals we consume through drugs (prescription too), alcohol, cigarettes, the chemical products we put all over our skin and hair, the mental and physical stress we put ourselves through; which all produces hormonal imbalances within us. Even the mental baggage we carry around (and add to) each day. This collective accumulation slows us down, breaks down the immune system, creates obesity, fatigue, unexplained pain and disease.

As we will be focusing much on food consumption, it’s easy to forget about our mind and general mood. That being the case, I urge you to begin to transition off the distractions of constant talking, over-thinking, watching television and general stresses. With a job and family, I understand this could be a tough one. My advice would be to take it as a vacation from work (if possible) and just be very mindful that this time is for YOU. Completely disconnect from the “norm” as much as you can. Relax, meditate, do some stretching or light yoga, read positive books, soak in epsom salt baths, get a massage; this time is truly a detox from everything. Allow yourself to take full advantage of this opportunity and let it all go. Discuss it with loved ones beforehand to gain their support.

The Method

Depending on how often the following items are consumed, 1 day of transitioning may not be enough for your specific situation. Gradually, come off of consuming animal products, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, refined sugars, refined salt, flour/gluten, grains, processed/packaged foods, cooked foods, supplements and vitamins. If taking prescription drugs, continue to take them unless otherwise approved by your doctor. ALWAYS consult your physician before starting any juicing/detox program!

I recommend that anyone not already eating a clean, mostly whole food plant-based diet begin transitioning/tapering off each item daily from up to 1 1/2 weeks prior. This will help lessen your detox symptoms when you begin the fast. In other words, do not wait until the night before to decide to stop doing everything all at once; I promise you will regret it. Do not “binge” or go on “benders” leading up to the detox; you will be miserable, sick and giving up before you even give it a chance to help you.

My First Day (Saturday, April 2nd)

In my case, I’ve only reserved one day of transition prior to going 100% raw because I’ve been fairly clean with my eating and lifestyle. My focus on my transition day will be to abstain from flours, grains and lower my amount of cooked food; while beginning to add in more raw food. Then on day 2, I will be off cooked food and switching over to completely raw. That said, here was my day from start to end along with some photographed highlights.

Psyllium Husks w/ 8 oz Water

8 oz Warm Lemon Water

12 oz Green Juice (Kale, Collard, Cucumber, Celery, Lemon, Ginger)

8 oz Water

Mexican Chickpea Scramble with Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach. Served with 1 Mashed Avocado.

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8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea (rooibos, elderberries, hibiscus flowers, currants, blueberries, schizandra berries)

16 oz Green Smoothie (Greens/Veggie/Fruit)

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8 oz Water

Roasted Sweet Potato Carrot Soup w/ Cashew Sour Cream & Raw Hemp Oil drizzle

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8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea (Lemon Detox: Burdock Root, Stinging Nettle Leaf, Cleavers Herb, Dandelion Root, Lemon Myrtle Leaf)

Giant Salad w/ Greens, Beets, Cucumber, Tomato, Raw Nuts/Seeds, Avocado w/ Cashew Ranch Dressing (not shown)

8 oz Water

Small bowl of Raw Banana Blueberry Date “Nice-Cream” (not shown)

8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea (Sleep tea: Passion Flower, Chamomile, Linden Flower, Catnip, Hop Strobile, Spearmint, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Peel, Lemon Grass.

 

 

 

 

Beeting the Odds: 9 Day Body & Mind rEvolution (Day 2)

Day 2: Raw

The Purpose

After transitioning from our usual lifestyle habits, it’s time to now begin nourishing our body with whole food plants. Taking the bad out, putting the good in. Also, this day of eating entirely raw will help further prepare and adapt our body to accept the days to come of consuming only extracted juices, water and herbal teas. Truly, it is another “transition day”; it simply focuses on our further evolution from eating animal products, cooked foods, grains, refined sugars,etc and replacing them with only fresh fruits, vegetables and raw nuts & seeds. If you are already a whole foods vegan and eat a high raw diet to begin with, none of this should be really shocking to your body at all. For those subscribing to the Standard American Diet (aka – S.A.D.), these transition days may be jarring for you while the body adjusts to the flood of plant nutrients and the lack of processed food. This is precisely why this process is called a “detox”.

The Method

Eating raw is as easy as you want it to be. Since you do not have to cook (or season) anything, you’re free to simply eat bowls of fresh fruit, giant veggie salads, blended smoothies and juices all day. The only stipulation is that the foods remain in their whole state with no added sugars, processed or non-raw plant ingredients. Organic herbal seasonings are completely acceptable; as is Himalayan Pink Salt (as it is a raw, untouched salt which is packed with trace minerals/nutrients). If you are detoxing from a high sodium diet, then I would omit salt altogether. Raw Vinegars and certain oils are acceptable as well, such as Raw Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil or Raw Coconut Oil. If you are unsure if something is plant-based and raw, do the research! In any case, you can make some pretty unique raw meals if you’re creative and willing to put in some extra time.

For me, half of my raw eating day could be filled with smoothies and juices. This is also great because it’s less taxing on the digestive system and getting the body used to consuming less solids. It will be less of a shock to your body when you begin only drinking liquid each day. Keeping a constant regimen of water and herbal tea intake between meals will further hydrate, nourish and help satiate appetite; this is a key factor on EVERY day of the detox. Hydration is the king factor in a proper detox regimen. It helps clean your g.i. tract and prepares digestion to absorb nutrients much more efficiently. You may need to urinate often but your body will thank you by easing your detox symptoms. Dehydration will only accentuate head/body aches and hunger.

My 2nd Day (Sunday, April 3rd)

I went full steam ahead with green juice and smoothies in the morning; then I got creative in the afternoon for a very satisfying raw meal; then went back to smoothies and ended the day with a giant salad. Here was how it all went:

Psyllium Husks w/ 8 oz Water

8 oz Warm Lemon Water

12 oz Green Juice (Kale, Collard, Cucumber, Celery, Lemon, Ginger)

8 oz Water

Raw Sunshine Smoothie (Coconut Water, Banana, Mango, Pumpkin Puree, Dates, Hemp Seed and Chia Seed)

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8 oz Water

Raw Tacos/Burritos (Chard wrap w/ Raw Mushroom Walnut “Meat”, Cashew Sour Cream, Pico De Gallo, Peppers and Cauliflower “Rice”IMG_3066

8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea: Ginger Root

20 oz Reishi Cacao Almond Butter Smoothie

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8 oz Water

12 oz Bolthouse Farms 1915 Cold-Pressed Blended Juice (Coconut Water, Pineapple, Mango, Avocado, Lemon)

 

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8 oz Water

Chopped Romaine Salad w/ Creamy Raw Balsamic Hemp Avocado Dressing

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8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea (Sleep tea: Passion Flower, Chamomile, Linden Flower, Catnip, Hop Strobile, Spearmint, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Peel, Lemon Grass).