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Vitamins

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Drinking Your Greens

The explosion of green smoothies and juices is everywhere.  Within the last couple months, 3 new juice places have opened within one mile of my house and grocery stores and Starbucks are now selling pre-packaged juices.  Are they as good for you as they seem and what are the differences?  My friend, Elizabeth Girouard, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, wrote an excellent article that answers many of these questions and explains why we all should give green drinks a try.  We have posted a portion of her article below.  Read on to learn more.

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I am often asked:  What’s the rage with Green Smoothies? 

This is a great question.  Many of my Healthy Eating Challengers still start off their days with a Green Smoothie – and here are a few reasons why!

Green Smoothies are:

1)  an easy way to get in more than 3 servings of vegetables

2)  easier to digest since the blender starts the digestion process for you by breaking  down the veggies’ cell walls.  This means your body can quickly assimilate the nutrients.

3)  a great vitamin, mineral, phytonutrient and anti-oxidant infusion to start the day.

4)  a nutrient dense powerhouse that can improve your immunity to colds, flus and other potential bugs.

5)  able to help alkalize our bodies which reduces our susceptibility to disease

6)  filled with dark leafy greens that have a lot of chlorophyll which delivers oxygen to our bodies that can increase our energy levels.

7)  able to help diminish cravings and reduce hunger as it is providing nourishment to your body.

8)  able to help you lose weight as you are adding in more vegetables and crowding out the less beneficial foods for your body!

Other related questions that I often receive are:

What’s the difference between juicing and blending (smoothies)?  And, is one better than the other?  And, does juicing increase my blood sugar?

Read the rest of the article at: http://tinyurl.com/pwr8w5h

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You Are My Sunshine

What if we told you there is something you can take to build strong muscles and bones, improve your cognition, build a strong immune system and increase your energy level…and you can’t taste it?

Well, this is your lucky day. We are not talking about expensive, questionable supplements. We are talking about vitamin D. A little dose packs a big punch.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that can be found in some foods but, as many know, is also absorbed by the body from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for the formation, growth, Sources-of-Vitamin-Dand repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption. It is also a requirement for muscle movement and helps nerves carry messages between the brain and every part of your body. In addition, your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off bacteria and viruses. It has also been cited in helping to maintain a healthy body weight and healthy heart.

In fact, high levels of vitamin D were found to protect people at a genetic  level. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that higher vitamin D levels in healthy individuals have a significant impact on the genes that are involved in several biologic pathways associated with illnesses, including cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. It is also a great defense against osteoporosis.

People can become deficient in vitamin D because they don’t consume or absorb enough from their food, their exposure to sunlight is limited or their kidneys do not convert vitamin D to its active form in the body.

How do you know if you are getting enough?

They best indication is through a blood test on your vitamin D levels. A level of 50 nmol/L or above are sufficient for most people. Vitamin D levels can rarely be high enough to be harmful, but it is possible.

How do I get it?

Not that many foods contain vitamin D. It is mostly found in fortified foods. Foods that naturally have vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese, egg yolks (in small amounts), mushrooms and milk. Fortified foods (enriched by food manufacturers) include some brands of bread, orange juice, cereal, yogurt, soy beverages, etc.

The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Recommended intakes of vitamin D are based on the assumption of little sun exposure. On average, you only need 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Skin exposed to sun through a window indoors does not produce vitamin D. Despite the benefits of vitamin D from the sun, is it critical to limit exposure of skin to sunlight, wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen with SPF to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

You can also take vitamin D supplements. The safe upper limit for Vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for children 1-8 yrs old and 4,000 IU/day for children 9 years and older, including adults. You should not exceed these amounts. On average, the recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU per day. Just as a reference, I take 2,000.

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Granola Bars: Homemade and Amazing

I have referred to my daughter’s cooking in past blogs and I can’t resist sharing her latest treat with everyone.  These granola bars with blueberries (or any berry of your choice) and yogurt drizzle are not only healthy, but incredibly delicious.  They are a good source of protein, omega-3, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber.  I never considered making my own granola bars until I tasted these and I have a feeling you will agree.

There is only one caveat – resist the urge to eat the entire batch at once.  We wrap them individually and keep them in the refrigerator so we don’t finish them off as fast as we make them.

Note – the yogurt drizzle contains sugar (the only non-healthy item in the entire recipe) so you can choose to skip it altogether as we sometimes do, or just lightly drizzle the bars with it.  As an additional note, the directions below will make much more yogurt coating than we have ever needed or used.

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Ingredients for the bars:

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown rice krispies
1/4 cup whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter (I typically use peanut butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (rounded) cup fresh blueberries or 3/4 cup dried blueberries

Ingredients for the yogurt drizzle:

1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions for bars:
  • Skip this step if using dried blueberries.  Roast fresh blueberries in 350 degree over for 30 minutes or until they pop and shrink.  Best to coat baking sheet with parchment paper – then blueberries won’t stick
  • In a large bowl combine the oats, rice krispies, almonds, chia seeds and salt.
  • Combine almond or peanut butter with honey and microwave for about 40 seconds or until mixture is pourable
  • Add vanilla to warm honey mixture
  • Add honey mixture to the dry oat mixture and combine – it will be thick!
  • Add dried blueberries
  • Coat a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper and pour mixture into pan and press down evenly and until tightly packed
  • Place in freezer for one hour, then cut into bars
  • Bars should be stored in refrigerator to keep fresh and hold their shape better.

Directions for yogurt drizzle:

  • Combine water, vanilla and then whisk gelatin in and let thicken for about 5 minutes
  • In another bowl, combine yogurt, honey and salt
  • Microwave yogurt mixture for 15 seconds, mix and repeat till warm, but do not let it boil
  • Add gelatin mixture to yogurt mixture and whisk together
  • Add in powdered sugar and whisk until thick, but pourable
  • Drizzle bars with the yogurt
  • The bars will be sticky now – we usually just wrap them (one or two together) with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for later eating. The yogurt will harden in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

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