Blueberry Beauty Smoothie

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This delicious smoothie is a quick and nutritious way to kickoff your morning. Packed with vitamins and nutrients that hydrate your skin, slow the aging process and reverse cell damage, this breakfast drink helps you look your best from the inside out. I typically make only one serving for myself in the morning, but you can easily multiply the recipe if you've got additional early risers in your household. 

Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: None Serves: 1

  • One banana, peeled

  • One handful of frozen blueberries

  • One TBSP of chia seeds

  • One full scoop of collagen powder

  • One spoonful of coconut oil

  • Half a cup of almond milk

Add ice for additional hydration and a smooth frozen texture, blend and pour! So easy. 

 

Favorite Food Friday: The Best Autumn Produce

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I was born in late spring so summer was the first season I really experienced and I am pretty sure that is why I love it the most. But even after the season’s juicy melons and tangy citrus are past their prime, Mother Earth’s bounty offers up some of its richest flavors and a cornucopia of benefits for our bodies. Before hitting the grocery store, check out my list of favorites to fill your cart this fall.

Sweet Potatoes: The long-lasting, versatile veggie is packed with Vitamin C and E which improve the immune and cardiovascular systems, exactly what we need as cold season looms in the near future. The tuber also offers Vitamin B, maintaining your mood, and Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” of which we need to increase intake levels during colder months.

Rutabaga: This thick-skinned root vegetable is a great source of potassium for regulating blood pressure and serves up lots of fiber, aiding in digestion. Also known as Swedes, they have phytochemicals that eliminate the body’s carcinogens and help the liver process harmful toxins. What’s more, a serving of rutabaga includes over half the daily value of Vitamin C.

Pumpkins: Reigning king of the season, pumpkins have a wealth of nutritional benefits — when they’re not flavoring your latte, sorry ladies. Expectant mothers can benefits from their folate levels which boost cell renewal and fetal development. Don’t toss the seeds! Instead, roast them with a little oil and salt, as they contain tryptophan, an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder that improves your mental well-being.

Carrots: This fan favorite is the most abundant food source of beta-carotene, effectively slowing down the aging process by diminishing wrinkles and repairing cell damage. The Vitamin A in carrots protects the skin from sun damage, acne, uneven tone and dryness. Those of us who consume carrots at least twice a week have drastically lower rates of glaucoma.

Red Cabbage: Although you can find cabbage in grocery stores any time of the year, the cruciferous vegetable ripens at the end of the summer and gets sweeter as the weather turns colder. Red cabbage contains ten times the vitamins of its green brother, improving your eyes, teeth and bones.

Mojo Criollo Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

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I put this recipe together for the first time this summer and it was a huge hit with my Latin husband and not too spicy for this Gringa. Combining healthy, lean protein with the best seasonal fruits and vegetables, this meal can be made ahead of time for easy midweek dinners. I recommend making extra salsa (especially if you have a chopper to do all the dicing for you), and eat with tortilla chips or over spinach for a quick salad. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 2.5 hours Serves: 4

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 canned pineapple
  • 1 medium tomato (or a handful of grape tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 canned corn
  • 1/2 a lime, juiced
  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Spanish rice (I am lazy and love Uncle Ben's Ready Rice)
  • 1 bottle of GOYA Mojo Criollo

Add chicken to crock pot and cover with the Mojo Criollo marinade. Cover, turn to high and cook for 2.5 hours (alternatively, cook on low for about 5 hours). While the chicken cooks, chop tomato, onion and cilantro. Heat coconut oil on a skillet and add pineapple chunks, allowing them to brown (about 4 minutes each side). Remove the browned pineapple from the heat and chop. Add all the chopped fruits and veggies to a large bowl, add corn and mix well. 

When chicken is fully cooked, remove from the crock pot and shred with a large fork. Pop Ready Rice in the microwave for 90 seconds. Plate rice and chicken, top with the salsa and add half an avocado to each plate. 

Healthy Desserts that Actually Taste Like a Reward

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After almost every meal, no matter how satisfying, I am overcome with an irresistible craving for something sweet. If you're trying to cut calories or lower your sugar intake, there are plenty of guilt-free ways to please your palate. To combat your sugar cravings without reeking havoc on your diet, try one of these naturally sweet alternatives for your next dessert. 

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt: Blend Greek yogurt, frozen raspberries, lemon juice and honey for a homemade blend that is sweet, delicious and takes about five minutes to make. 

Pears and Peanut Butter: This naturally sweet fruit pairs well with peanut butter for dieters who have grown tired of apples. The fructose will give you a quick burst of energy and peanut butter provides protein to keep you full longer.

Blueberries Dipped in Yogurt: A great frozen treat to prepare ahead and enjoy after a day in the sun or at the sweaty gym. Coat fresh blueberries in low fat yogurt (plain or fruit flavored), spread on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and stick in the freezer. 

Chocolate Banana Cookies: Stir together instant oatmeal, two ripe bananas and unsweetened cocoa powder, add spoonfuls of the mix on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Elevated Avocado Toast

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I will never fork over $14 to have this for brunch when I’m out with my friends, but I’ve come up with a few homemade recipes that are just as delicious and cost half of avocado toast on any restaurant menu. Here are a few of my favorites:

Classic: Avocado mashed up on whole wheat toast with an egg on top. I like to hard boil eggs and have this for lunch throughout the week but if you prefer scrambled or fried eyes, those work well here, too. Optional add-ons include salsa or red pepper flakes.

Tex Mex: Trade eggs for black beans and top with lime juice and hot sauce.

Veggies: Avocado spread with sliced cucumbers and diced grape tomatoes, sprinkle with dill.

Savory Veggie: Heirloom Tomatoes, balsamic vinegrette. I’m allergic to basil but some people think it pairs well with this dish.

Philly: Smoked salmon, capers. Optional: red onions and cream cheese.

 

Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie

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This Friday I am sharing one of my absolute favorite smoothie recipes because it's quick, delicious, nutritious AND wakes you up -- everything a breakfast shake should be (especially on a Friday). If you workout in the morning, this combination gives you potassium, electrolytes, protein and caffeine to start your day with some energy. Add the following ingredients to your blend, mix well and drink up on your way to the gym. 

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: None Serves: 1

  • One banana, peeled
  • One cup of cold coffee
  • One cup of almond milk (I used coconut flavored)
  • One full scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder
  • Half a cup of ice

Favorite Food Friday: Apples

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In honor of being back in the Big Apple after a month of travel, today I'll share some of the surprising ways this popular produce benefits your body. 

One of the most highly-consumed fruits in the United States, apples are a delicious, portable and doctor-approved sweet treat. Twenty-five hundred kinds of apples are grown in the U.S. and species triple worldwide.

Apples have always been a favorite pre-workout snack for me but I never realized how much good this fruit was doing for my entire body until recently. A few months ago on a press trip with I Love NY, I had the chance to tour Fly Creek Cider Mill, a water-powered mill operating outside Cooperstown for over 150 years. Between cider samples and doughnut tastings, I learned the following apple tidbits:

  • The abrasive texture acts like a mini toothbrush, removing plaque and helping whiten teeth by stimulating saliva production. 
  • The natural sugars are more potent than coffee without the inevitable caffeine crash. 
  • Apple skins contain a compound that breaks up cholesterol before it solidifies on artery walls, preventing coronary diseases.
  • Studies have proven fruits high in antioxidants -- like apples -- help protect eyes against cataracts.
  • Fighting the effects of aging on the brain, apples can keep Alzheimer's symptoms at bay. 

Favorite Food Friday: Dark Chocolate

Everyone has a weakness when it comes to food and mine is chocolate, specifically ice cream. While sundaes topped with hot fudge are probably not a secret solution to weight loss, dark chocolate is actually very beneficial to your health. If you're looking for ways to treat yourself after a week of "good" eating, read on to see why chocolate could be the indulgence you deserve.

  • Increasing blood flow to the brain, chocolate helps cognitive function and decreases age-related mental problems
  • This additional blood flow also improves skin by protecting against harmful effects of the sun
  • Chocolate boosts endorphin production, the hormone responsible for feeling happy and lowering stress levels
  • Eating dark chocolate reduces the number of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which harms muscles and tissues
  • Last but not least, the antioxidants kick start the metabolism, helping burn calories and reduce fat

Foods to Keep You Energized All Day

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It's Friday and after a long week, I know we could all use a pick-me-up to make it through the final hours in the office. Instead of downing cup after cup of coffee, trade your cappuccino for a healthier energy boost. Here are some of my favorite snacks that naturally increase your stamina. 

Apples: Everyone's heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know eating an apple can give you as much energy as a cup of coffee without the caffeine crash? Apples contain about 13 grams of glucose, a natural sugar. These sugars provoke a similar response to caffeine because the vitamins are released slowly, making you feel more awake. 

Honey: This sticky, sweet food includes healthy carbohydrates like fructose and glucose as well as vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants. Sports dietitians recommend athletes  add honey to their pre-exercise meal to instantly boost performance and endurance while reducing muscle fatigue. Compared to other forms of sugar, honey keeps blood sugar levels constant. 

Green Tea: This soothing drink is loaded with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance that increases the rate of fat burn. Green tea also contains some caffeine (but not too much!) to nudge up those energy levels temporarily when you need them the most. 

Greek Yogurt: Its liquid form makes yogurt easy to digest so your body absorbs the calcium and vitamins B2, B5 and B12 immediately, resulting in an instant energy kick. Yogurt's high protein levels mean this energy will last while keeping you satisfied and elevating your mental state.  

Almonds: This portable snack delivers a potent combination of nutrients like vitamin E, copper and magnesium, known as the "miracle mineral" for its ability to support the immune system, improve sleep patterns, relax muscles, relieve stress and boost mood. The protein and fiber in these nuts also stabilizes your blood sugar levels and slows digestion, regulating your energy.  

Favorite Food Friday: Grapefruit

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I have never been a huge fan of citrus, preferring apples and bananas, but spending more time in Florida has turned me on to how delicious these nutritious fruits can be. One of my very favorite citrus fruits is grapefruit, halving one for breakfast or blending for fresh juice. If you're curious about the benefits of this beautiful, semi-sweet sphere, read on:

  • Grapefruits fight diseases like indigestion, malaria, diabetes and urinary infections
  • They quench thirst and reduce the burning sensation of high temperatures, lowering fevers
  • Boosting the metabolism for more energy and endurance, they fight fatigue 
  • Containing tryptophan, a glass of juice relieves insomnia, promoting healthy sleep

Favorite Food Friday: Avocado

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One ingredient I incorporate into almost every dinner I cook is avocado. In addition to being delicious, avocados benefit your body in so many ways.

The finicky fruit can be frustrating to diners as it can sometimes be hard to tell if they are ripe enough to eat or are past their prime. A simple trick is to check under the stem. If it comes off easily and you can see green in its place, the avocado is ready to eat.

For those of us on the East Coast, avocados are in season now, so I am sharing some of the reasons you should add a few slices to your sandwich, salad or smoothie today.  

  • This "healthy fat" food helps lower bad cholesterol and improves cardiovascular health
  • Loaded with fiber, avocados keep you full and control your appetite
  • Their thick skin blocks pesticides from reaching the edible center
  • High levels of Vitamins A & E as well as antioxidants prevent the growth of cancer cells
  • Monounsaturated fats maintain moisture in your epidermal level, improving skin's appearance

Ok, who wants guacamole now? 

 

 

 

 

The Freshest Springtime Foods

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The vernal equinox came and went but if you live in the Northeast, it might feel as if spring weather will never arrive. Despite the unseasonable chill in the air, we can embrace the season with plates full of fresh fruits and vegetables that are at their tastiest this time of year. Read on to find out what to stock up on in the produce section.

Citrus: Vitamin deficiencies are not uncommon after a long, cold winter and nutrient-rich citrus fruits guard your immune system with more than 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Citrus also helps maintain eye health with lots of beta-carotene -- vital to anyone who spent the past few months hibernating in front of the television or computer screen.

Banana: Many people ramp up their activity levels in springtime and need additional calcium to prevent injuries. Bananas are a prebiotic that help your body absorb calcium and their high levels of potassium strengthen muscles -- including your heart. 

Avocado: This fan favorite is in season almost all year in California but here on the East Coast, we can only enjoy the ripest selection for about three months. Rich in L-carnitine, this fruit (yup, they're fruit not veggies) helps metabolize fat cells before bikini season arrives.  

Artichoke: Harvested in spring and fall, the spring crop is much sweeter and more tender. If you're trying to lose weight, the fiber (about 1/4 of what you need each day) in this vegetable will keep you fuller, longer. Full of peptides and antioxidants, artichokes also help to diminish pimples and wrinkles which also combat the free radicals that damage skin. 

Asparagus: Available all year, the stalks are thinner, sweeter and more affordable this time of year. This vegetable is said to have been served at the Last Supper and has become a staple for Easter and Passover menus but can be incorporated into your regular diet to help rid your body of excess water and bloat. 

Kale: Hearty kale leaves can stand up to winter weather and still produce tender leaves that can be cooked or eaten raw. The superfood removes toxins from your body and contains high amounts of antioxidants to fight off inflammatory diseases, such as obesity. 

Radishes: Suffering from springtime allergies? The anti-congestive qualities of this root vegetable help clear out your respiratory system. Loaded with Vitamin C, radishes also protect your lungs from infection. 

Favorite Food Friday: Lemons

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For less than a dollar, you can detox your body, rev up your metabolism and protect yourself against illness and disease. Each morning, drink a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice on an empty stomach and you'll soon reap these benefits:

  • Boosted Energy: When negative-charged ions -- like those in lemon juice -- enter your digestive tract, your energy levels are naturally elevated without the caffeine crash. 
  • Revitalized Complexion: Lemons have antioxidants that attack the free radicals damaging your skin and boosts collagen to smooth fine lines and refresh your skin. 
  • Fights Fat: While no food actually burns fat (only your body can do that), lemons help your liver to perform at its best for healthy digestion and also boosts your metabolic rate.
  • Increased Brain Function: Lemons contain potassium which aids in stress relief, clearing your mind and enhancing nerve function to keep you on top of your game. 

Bonus Benefits:

To relieve sore stomachs, improve digestive health and rev up your metabolism ... add ginger.

... If your temperature is soaring, add mint to induce sweating to break the fever.

Swap tap for coconut water ... to kick a sugar craving.

 

Winter Chicken Salad

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This recipe can be thrown together in the morning before work and it will be ready to eat when you get home. Bonus: Your house will smell delicious even after you've polished off your dinner plate. 

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 8 hours Serves: 2

  • Two sweet potatoes
  • One large chicken breast, boneless and skinless
  • Teaspoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary
  • One cup of plum tomatoes
  • Two-three garlic cloves crushed
  • One cup chicken broth – can also do one half cup brother, one half cup water
  • Two large handfuls of spinach
  • One avocado, halved and sliced

Peel and chop two large sweet potatoes, placing them at the bottom of the crock pot. Rub both sides of the chicken breast with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Add chicken, tomatoes and crushed garlic to the pot and top with broth. Cover and cook on low for approximately eight hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with a fork. Split the spinach between two plates and add half a sliced avocado to eat before layering the cooked chicken and vegetables on top.

 

Tuna & Avocado Salad

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This is a recipe I put together with the random vegetables in our fridge and pantry but now it's one of our favorite salad recipes. If you love it as much as we do, you can easily double the recipe and eat it again for lunch the next day. 

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook Time: None Serves: 2

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 cans of tuna, packed in water
  • 1 TBSP Light mayo
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 small can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • Half a large cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 a can of black beans, rinsed
  • Chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon to taste

Drain water from the tuna cans before adding tuna and mayo to a large bowl and mix with a fork. Once the tuna is shredded and coated in mayo, stir in the chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes and cilantro. Layer two dinner plates with spinach, black beans and corn before topping with the tuna salad mix and sliced avocado. Dress the salad with a little salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon. Serve immediately.

Smoothies 101: Choosing Ingredients

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I start each morning with a homemade smoothie. The ingredients vary slightly, depending on what is in the fridge, but I make sure to include a mixture of fresh and frozen fruits, dark greens, healthy fats and proteins. Here are some of my favorite foods and supplements to include, and their nutritional benefits:

Fruit for Flavor

Bananas:  Beyond adding a smooth, creamy texture to dairy-free recipes, the simple fruit soothes the stomach and regulates bowel function. Bananas provide instant energy through sucrose, fructose and glucose. High potassium levels while its high potassium levels reduce the change of heart disease improve brain function and manage stress.

Blueberries: This superfood is packed with vitamins that aid in improved vision, reduced belly fat and enhanced mood. Long term benefits include lowering risk of heart disease, preventing certain types of cancer and slows the breakdown of bones. 

Raspberries: The anti-inflammatory benefits reduce joint pain, increase blood flow and manage heart health. Bonus, these berries can boost your metabolism and fight aging.

Vegetables

Spinach: High in Fiber, lowers blood pressure, improves vision, and promotes glowing skin, helps brain function.

Kale: Strengthens the immune systems, heart health, great for eyes, lower cholesterol, improves sleep, high iron content.

Boosts

Collagen: Plumps and firms skin, improves skin’s elasticity and helps prevents the signs of aging. On the inside, collagen helps repair joints, bones and tissues damaged during exercise and promotes healthy immune and central nervous systems.

Protein: One of the main benefits of switching to a plant-based diet is that fruits and vegetables are loaded with healthy fibers that naturally improve digestion

Bee Pollen: Eating bee pollen increases energy, rejuvenates skin, prevents acne and is made of almost 40% protein. Adding this to your smoothies can fight allergies, colds and the flu.

Texture

Coconut Oil: Positively affects our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control, helps body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, increases good cholesterol, helps fight aging by stopping the damage to other healthy fat and tissues in our bodies.

Chia Seeds: This tiny seeds are full of calcium for bone health, fiber for digestive strength, Omega-3 fatty acids that aid in inflammation and are an excellent source of vegan protein.

Peanut Butter: High protein levels and healthy oils in this popular lunchtime spread help with weight loss, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Liquids

Coconut Water: Fat free, Vitamin C, cools the body, diuretic, aids in weight loss and boosts metabolism.

Unsweetened Almond Milk: Low fat, contains no saturated fat or cholesterol – high in Omega-3 fatty acids that lower bad LDL cholesterol, high in vitamins like B, E, Magnesium and Iron