Superfood Hot Chocolate

Yes…you heard that right. Hot Chocolate that is not only decadently delicious but a nutritional powerhouse as well. Nope, you can’t get it at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. But what you can do is empower yourself to reject the convenient, nutrient deficient beverages that fast food companies market at you. Instead, buy a handful of healthy ingredients and make your own creamy, cozy mug of hot chocolate; fully knowing that it is serving your body and mind on a much higher level. The no-brainer ingredient here will be Cacao; I mean…you can’t make chocolate without it! But one of my favorite ingredients to add to this recipe are dates! So plump, juicy and chewy. I use them in everything from smoothies to spreads (and everything in-between).

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But how else can we upgrade our hot chocolate? Well, I know an easy way that will also provide you with 20 grams of premium plant-based protein, 6 servings of greens, 50% DV vitamins and minerals, 25% DV fiber, 1.5 grams of Omega-3s, a slew of antioxidants and 1 billion CFU Probiotics. Whaaaat?!?!? No joke, it’s called Vega One! For a couple years now, it has been my go-to when I need to get in my daily nutrition “on the go”. It’s perfect in smoothies, nice creams, oatmeal bowls…and now in superfood tonics!

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If you put these excellent, plant-based ingredients together you can’t go wrong. And just because this hot chocolate doesn’t come in a quick packet or will not be handed to you from a drive-thru window, doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. These days, you can’t afford NOT to treat your body right! Don’t be afraid to carve out a few extra minutes in the morning for this truly wonderful mug of goodness.

What you’ll need:
10 oz Heated Almond Milk
4 pitted Dates (any variety – but I LOVE Khadrawy)
1 scoop Vega One Nutritional Shake (Chocolate)
2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

How to do it:
In a small saucepan, heat up your Almond Milk on medium/low heat (stirring often) just until bubbles begin to form. Now switch the heat to low and toss the pitted dates in there to soak for a few minutes (this helps soften them further for blending). While the dates are soaking, get out your blender and add the Vega One, Cacao and Maple Syrup. Now turn off the burner and gently pour the hot Almond Milk and Dates into the blender as well. Place lid on tightly and securely. Begin blending on low speed, gradually increasing to high. Blend until smooth. Pour into large mug and enjoy!

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).

Beeting the Odds: 9 Day Body & Mind rEvolution (Day 4)

Day 4: Juice, Dry Brush, Oil Soak

If you’ve been following my posts day by day, you already know what the purpose of juice fasting is. If not, check out my previous post here. But as we get further into the juice fasted aspect of this detox program, we will now add in other key factors that will assist in cleansing and purging the body of toxins. A few of the things I’d like to focus on in this post include sleep, dry brushing, oil soaking and tongue scraping. As the digestive system begins to slow down and get a much needed break; your body begins to rid itself of damaged cells and generate new ones. How amazing is that? That said, you want your body to be in a supportive state which allows these toxins to leave the body as easily as possible.

Sleep

Getting a good amount of sleep is crucial during a detoxification program. And it’s more about the quality than it is the quantity. Being free from stress, as much as possible, throughout the day will help us quiet our mind while enabling us to become deeply relaxed in the evening. The body performs many vital functions during the 3rd, 4th and REM levels of sleep such as tissue repair/regrowth, restoration of energy and hormone release for muscle growth/development. Sleep during a juice fast brings even greater benefits due to the energy which was previously unavailable to us. Since the digestive system normally uses a massive amount of energy to break down large meals, a fasting state will reserve and use that energy for other functions in the body; such as regenerating cells. So, as long as you’re getting a deep, restful sleep each night; you should feel pretty amazing when you wake up the next morning.

Tongue Scraping

One thing that can become overlooked during a detox (and everyday in general) is the collection of bacteria on our tongue. If one has good dental hygiene, they at least are brushing their tongue at some point. The cleanliness of the tongue has much to do with bad breath but what you probably don’t realize is that while we continue to swallow saliva and food throughout the day, this tongue bacteria is ingested again. Yuck. That said, on a detox, our goal is to get toxins out of our body…not put them in. Scraping the tongue before bed and when we wake up in the morning will keep these nasties out of our mouth and body. You can get a special tongue scraper, brush or just use the edge of a spoon. Scrape gently from the back to the front, rinsing the tool each time. Once finished, rinse out your mouth making sure not to swallow, then brush your teeth as normal. Once you start doing this on a normal basis, you’ll notice that your taste sensitivities will return.

Dry Brushing

One of things I like to do during a juice fast is dry brush my skin. Since our skin is a giant organ, it also rids itself of old cells while regenerating new ones; this process leaves a dead layer of skin which keeps our skin from “breathing”. The skin contains billions of pores and that is where many toxins can enter and exit. This is why dry brushing is important. It’s a good practice, especially while on a juice fast to dry brush your skin before showering. This helps get rid of dead skin and open up the pores. You can buy a natural brush which is made for this. Just stand naked in your shower (before turning the water on) and brush gently from head to toe, being extra careful on sensitive areas. Now rinse off with a warm shower. If you’re daring, you can even alternate your rinsing with cold water as well…this helps open the pores even more.

Oil Soak

One of my favorite things to do on a detox is soak in the bath. It calms, relaxes and allows one to be present without distraction. And if done right, a good bath soak can help draw out toxins and hydrate the skin all at once. My perfect detox bath mix is Baking Soda (which helps clean the water), Epsom Salts (which helps draw out toxins), Coconut Oil (for skin hydration), Vitamin E Oil (to repair/replenish skin) and Tea Tree Oil (anti-bacterial). You can also use a variety of other essential oils which are beneficial to the skin such as Lavender, Sandalwood, Patchouli, etc. Just make sure you use 100% natural oils! My ratio is: Tub filled high with hot water, 1 Cup Baking Soda, 2 Cups Epsom Salts, 2 Tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil, 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and 1/4 tsp Vitamin E Oil. Stir into hot bath. Soak for 20-30 minutes. Massage the oily goodness all over yourself. Enjoy!

My 4th Day (Tuesday April 5th)

This morning I awoke feeling rejuvenated. I experienced a deep, restful sleep and I felt, light, alert and empty. Empty? Well, not in like a “hangry” type way but like there was nothing weighing me down inside. It was an emptiness that feels good. If this had been the same juice fasting day 2 years ago, it was more like “hangry”. But that was then and this is now. Since my entire lifestyle has been turned upside down over the last 2 years, I’ve become quite comfortable on a lack of solid food. As long as I’m hydrated and my body is getting nourished, there is no need for me to have that FULL feeling in my stomach. Thats all just mind game B.S.! That said, this morning…I didn’t leap out of bed in a frenzy and run to the kitchen to gorge on some waffles. Nor did I feel the need to go immediately make my juice. Instead, I took the time to take care of myself by all the ways mentioned above. When your mind and body are in sync, it’s a totally different world.

Here are the highlights of the day:

Tongue Scrape (Rinse, Brush teeth)

Psyllium Husks (w/ 8 oz Water)

8 oz Warm Lemon Water

Dry Brush Body & Rinse w/ Cool water

Soak in hot Coconut Oil bath for 30 minutes

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12 oz Red Juice (Spinach, Basil, Beet, Mango, Celery, Carrot, Strawberry and Grapefruit)

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8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea: Spring Dragon Gynostemma w/ 1 tsp Unrefined Coconut Oil

8 oz Water

12 oz Green Juice (Romaine, Curly Kale, Lacinto Kale, Parsley, Broccoli, Pear, Cucumber, Zucchini, Lemon, Ginger)

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8 oz Water

16 oz Coconut Water

Haircut!

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16 oz Water

24 oz Red Juice (Spinach, Basil, Beet, Mango, Celery, Carrot, Strawberry and Grapefruit)

8 oz Water

8 oz Herbal Tea: Peppermint

12 oz Green Juice (Romaine, Curly Kale, Lacinto Kale, Parsley, Broccoli, Pear, Cucumber, Zucchini, Lemon, Ginger)

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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 7)

Day 7: Juice, Stretch, Massage Therapy, Hydration

So here we are at day 7, the last day of the juice fasting portion of the detox. Feeling great? You know I am! Tomorrow we get to transition back into eating raw (solid) food and smoothies…so exciting! And then on Sunday, we will begin to transition back into cooked foods and ending our 9 day journey. But this doesn’t mean it’s over; moving forward you should still be eating very clean and mindfully. And hopefully this detox has altered your perspective enough that you will now crave more raw foods, smoothies and juices. Don’t be so quick to undo what you’ve worked so hard to do! Stay the course…keep it up…and your old habits will be left in the dust.

Morning Stretching

As you have already read from the previous post, you should be doing this stretch regimen once again, prior to your massage therapy appointment. This will help further loosen your muscles up and help make your massage therapy session more comfortable.

Massage Therapy

Today is all about “squeezing out” as much toxicity from our muscles and soft tissues as possible. Yesterday (and today), we stretched and loosened them up; today we’re going to have a massage therapist work on them. I recommend a 60-90 minute “deep tissue” session. Deep Tissue Massage is a form of bodywork that aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of tissue in the body. It is a highly effective method for releasing chronic stress areas due to misalignment, repetitive motions, and past lingering injuries. Due to the nature of the deep tissue work, open communication during the session is crucial to make sure you don’t get too uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you might feel some soreness after the treatment, and that plenty of water should be ingested to aid with the flushing and removal of toxins that will have been released from the deep tissue work during the session. If you’re still unsure, check out these benefits of a deep tissue massage.

Hydration

Throughout this entire detox, I’ve more than focused on the importance of hydrating with water and coconut water. Today, it is especially important as the deep tissue work will release toxins from the muscles, which can put us in a bit of a “dizzy-like” state afterward. That being said, drink extra water and coconut water than you normally would. It will help flush out and eliminate these toxins through the urine and keep the muscles and tissues hydrated. Also, consider drinking 2 oz of Aloe Vera juice as well; it’s hydrating, great for your internal organs and is great for muscle and joint health. Another great tool for post-massage.

Here are the details of my day:

Tongue Scrape (Brush Teeth)

Fasted Stretching and Meditation (30 minutes)

Psyllium Husks (w/ 8 oz Water)

8 oz Warm Lemon Water

12 oz Red Juice (Beet, Beet Greens, Romaine, Valencia Orange, Pineapple, Celery, Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric)

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32 oz Water

12 oz Green Juice (Lacinto Kale, Curly Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Broccoli, Lemon and Ginger). Also shown is the Gold Juice I had later.

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16 oz Coconut Water

12 oz Water

Deep Tissue Massage (1 hour session)

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20 oz Water

12 oz Green Juice (Cold Pressed, 1915 Boathouse Farms; Apple, Romaine, Cucumber, Spinach, Kale)

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22 oz Water

2 oz Aloe Vera Juice

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12 oz Water

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

12 oz Water

12 oz Gold Juice (Carrot, Fennel, Grapefruit, Apple, Celery, Lemon and Turmeric)

20 oz Water

12 oz Green Juice (Lacinto Kale, Curly Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Broccoli, Lemon and Ginger)

8 oz Herbal Tea (Sage)

12 oz Water

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

The Fire Fighter Smoothie

When this time of year rolls around I look forward to Cranberries being in season. But not just because these little, plump berries pack a tart punch and are a tasty tradition around these parts; but also because they are truly medicine in disguise! In fact, Native Americans were using Cranberries for everything from purifying the blood, relieving stomach cramps and fevers, to utilizing it’s dyeing properties for jewelry and clothing, long before we ever commercialized the popular canned sauce as a holiday meal side dish.

Cranberries are low in sugar, calories and boast high levels of vitamin C and fiber. One of my favorite benefits of the cranberry are it’s antioxidant properties which help reduce inflammation. Since I’m a self admitted “Cardio Junkie”, I seem to be constantly in recovery mode from my workouts. I’m always looking for the best combination of nutrients to help ease soreness and inflammation. That said, I came up with “The Fire Fighter” smoothie this morning which combines the power of Cranberries along with other known anti-inflammatory ingredients such as Turmeric, Orange and Coconut Oil. And with a little extra help (with basically every other needed nutrient requirement), Vega One tops this creamy smoothie off with a nice subtle vanilla flavor.

It’s very exciting when culinary and medicinal converge harmoniously. It is this alchemy which we can rely on to not only reverse disease but to ultimately reverse our entire way of thinking!

8 oz Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1/2 Cup Fresh Cranberries
1 Orange (no peel)
1 tsp Ground Turmeric Root (or a thumb size of fresh)
1 Tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
1 serving Vega One French Vanilla
2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!