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eating for health

a guilty pleasure that's good for you

Life is all about balance. Try to live on lettuce and berries alone, and be prepared to take down the next tray of brownies someone puts in front of you.

Understand that as a human being, you need a little treat once in a while.

Raw cacao powder is my secret weapon for a healthy indulgence that makes you feel good... and a little bad at the same time. :)

It's great for smoothies (even green ones!), but because it's winter, my favorite way to enjoy it is by making raw hot chocolate.

You've heard that dark chocolate is good for you, I'm sure - and cacao is just that, in it's purest form. It's packed with antioxidants and very good for your cardiovascular health, and then there's the feel-good component of it, as chocolate has certain antidepressant, mood-elevating properties.

If you've got a VitaMix, it's really the best, because you can use dates to sweeten the drink and the machine warms it up if you leave it on long enough. You can use raw agave if you don't have one, but dates are the best choice because they are a more natural form of sugar.

There are endless ways to enjoy this one - I added hazelnuts because I had them on hand, but you could easily go without.  If you don't like coconut, you could keep it simple with almond milk, dates or agave, and cacao. Add some flaxseed or vanilla for extra flavor... or cinnamon and a touch of cayenne for a Mexican-like variation.

Raw Coconut-Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

  • 1-¼ cup almond or coconut milk (I use vanilla unsweetened coconut)
  • 3 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in VitaMix and blend until smooth and warm from the machine. Alternatively, replace dates with raw agave to taste and warm the mixture on stovetop.

Makes 1 large mug.

Enjoy!

cleansing 101: juice vs. smoothie

cleansing 101: juice vs. smoothie

I'm always looking for ways to sneak more greens into my body, and an easy way to do that is to drink them. Juicing is having a moment right now - it seems like there's a juice bar on every corner here in NYC, and then there are all of those BluePrint-esque companies selling cleanses-in-a-box, so to speak. But - there are also green smoothies, right? A smoothie takes the fruits and vegetables in their whole form, meaning you're getting all of the fiber - which is important. With juicing, that fiber is lost, while most of the nutrients remain. You're able to get a lot more down without filling up on the fiber, which is why juicing makes people feel so energized and healthy - they're getting a huge nutrient boost. And yes, drinking nothing but juice for a few days is obviously going to help you lose weight temporarily. But typically, when you go back to eating normally ... well, you know the deal with that.

I personally like the fiber aspect of smoothies. Not only for the cleansing part of it, but because I prefer eating things in their natural, whole state whenever possible. I look at it like, this is the way that product was naturally created, so this is the best way for it to be consumed. (There is a debate, for example, about why whole milk is better than skim milk, and this is why I prefer whole milk as well.) The fiber also makes a smoothie filling enough to use as a meal replacement, which I like because I'm a busy girl and sometimes that's all I've got time for.

And while in an ideal world we could have both smoothies and fresh juice at home, many of us aren't lucky enough to have both a juicer and a blender. I prefer a VitaMix for the best (smoothest) smoothies but a decent blender will get the job done. A juicer tends to be more of a pain to clean, and a substantial investment. And because you need a lot more produce to juice, that also gets expensive (and is also why buying juice is also so pricey).

So, my move is: Make green smoothies at home, and buy juices occasionally when out and about. (If you're in the city, I like Juice Press because they do keep some of the fiber in their juices.)

I usually make one green smoothie daily as a supplement to my regular diet. The other day, however, I got the urge to make bigger batches and drink three of them per day. Not really an official "cleanse" per se, but just something to help get my body on track and feel good. That's my personal goal for a cleanse: To make me feel good. And if you're looking to kickstart a healthier overall eating plan for 2013, I think three days of green smoothies is a great way to do it.

Stay tuned for the recipes!