Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Raw, Vegan "Egg nog"

Have the twinkling Christmas lights got you in the mood for a holiday beverage? Try this raw, vegan version of egg nog. It's thick and creamy with a touch of spice.

Step 1 - Make a thick almond milk.

I used Almonds, Sesame seeds, & Brazil nuts.
1 cup nuts to 3 cups water plus 5 dates
Blend well and strain the pulp if you like. I prefer to keep the pulp in there.

Step 2 - Blend the following ingredients:
  • 1 batch of Almond milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ginger

The spice measurements are approximate. I just kept adding spice until I was satisfied. Also, the drink tastes better if it has time to sit overnight.

This recipe was adapted from Raw Glow.

I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Truly Natural Skin Care

Have you been spending a lot of time and money looking for truly natural and organic skin care? I have been making my own for years because it is nearly impossible to find truly pure products. Finally, I would like to present to you a skin care line that is truly pure: Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Read a review on the products here.

I have used 3 of the products myself.

Coconut Body & Face Oil - I loooooooove this, and so does my skin. It smells great, calms, and nourishes.

Anti-Aging Serum & Anti-Aging Oil - I put these on before bed. They have a nice herbal scent. A little goes a loooooong way too, so your 15ml bottle will last a long time.

Good news is, mini sets were just made available, so you can try it out without committing too much. Also, you get free shipping until Dec 15... that's just 3 days away, so check it out now. Read more...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To Open A Pomegranate + Pom Smoothie

With the fall season come the delightful pomegranates and pears. Pomegranates, however, can be quite perplexing. Let me show you how to open this unique fruit to get the most out of it.

Here's a delicious fall pomegranate smoothie to try:

  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate

  • 1 ripe bartlett pear

  • 1 lemon, juiced or peeled

  • 2 t cinnamon

  • Blend all ingredients in your Vitamix blender until smooth.


    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Food Rules

    In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is one of my favorite books ever. It's phenomenal. The introduction alone is worth a read. As I read it, I am jumping up and down in my mind, cheering the author on. It's absolutely right on point concerning the evolution of health and nutrition in America and the confusing mess Americans find themselves in today.

    One thing Michael Pollan mentions is orthorexia. This really hit home for me. If you don't know already, orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with being healthy. It's true; obsessing over health can be very unhealthy. We health nuts need to take a step back and ask ourselves: Am I enjoying my food? Check this out:

    "What you think about your food is more important than what the food actually is."

    Wow! Simple but incredible! So what does this mean to me? It means,

    • Do not eat when I am upset.
    • Always bless my food and those who prepared it.
    • Always be grateful for my food no matter what it is.
    This is very important because sometimes I find myself in situations where I cannot eat the food I would prefer because maybe it's not available or I would be rude to turn it down. Thoughts are powerful, so the lesson is don't get caught up in negative thinking about your food or health.

    Back to Michael Pollan... his books are great. He wrote a little book in 2009 called Food Rules which is basically a quick summary of the conclusions he has reached through his research while writing previous books such as In Defense Of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma.

    I am going to share some of his rules here because I think they are important, and it will help all of us be less obsessive over the little things, appreciate more, and still pursue high-quality nutrition. Additionally, these rules apply to all types of eaters: vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore. By following them, we can all relax and be healthier as a result.

    • Eat Food. This raises the question, "what is food?" Some of the following rules will help you distinguish between real food and food-like substances.
    • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
    • Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
    • Avoid food products containing ingredients a third-grader cannot pronounce.
    • Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
    • Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw, natural state.
    • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
    • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
    • Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food.
    • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
    • Eat well-grown food from healthy soil.
    • Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.
    • Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare.
    • Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.
    • Treat treats like treats.
    There are 64 rules in total. Most have a short explanation. Additionally, most have exceptions... because life doesn't always follow 'the rules' :)

    "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."


    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Peanut Butter (and Chlorophyll!)

    When I was a child I would eat nothing but peanut butter. Every cell of my body was built on peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Fortunately I grew out of that limited diet, but I still enjoy a little PB here and there. Remember peanut butter on celery? Good snack. But let's talk about peanut butter itself, because I am realizing that the peanut butter I am thinking of may not be the same thing you are thinking of...

    I recently discovered that to most Americans, peanut butter equals JIF. I'll hold back my gasps of horror to offer my suggestion. To me, peanut butter equals peanuts and perhaps some sea salt--no more. It contains no added sugar or hydrogenated oils. Have you checked out the ingredient label of your peanut butter of choice? You'd be surprised to find substances that really don't belong.

    A complaint about natural peanut butter is that it has to be stirred. The natural oils settle on top and must be stirred in when the jar is first opened. Additionally, natural peanut butter should be refrigerated. But this is more than worth it because natural peanut butter is far healthier and tastes far better.

    Tip: turn the unopened jar of peanut butter upsidedown for a couple days before opening the first time. This will make stirring easier because the oil will get to the bottom of the jar where the peanut butter is prone to become rock hard.

    While peanut butter may not be the absolute purest, healthiest choice on the planet, it still has lots of nutrition to offer such as protein, fiber, folate, and niacin..... hey, I did survive on it for a couple decades afterall...

    The primary risk of peanuts is contamination by mold, particularly aflatoxins which are very toxic and can affect the liver. Fortunately, the FDA has established some regulation to help protect humans and animals. My advice is to always purchase organic, natural peanut butter from a company who cares. A glass jar is preferable over plastic also :)

    Tip: Sprinkle nutritional yeast on your peanut butter snacks for extra B vitamins. It's good. I've been doing that since childhood too.

    If you are particularly worried about aflatoxins, increase the chlorophyll in your diet (which you really should do anyway!) as chlorophyll blocks absorption of toxic carcinogens, according to this article from Natural News. Take the suggestion from Mike Adams and drink some parsley juice. Add it to your green smoothie or put it through a twin-screw juicer such as the Greenstar: Tribest Green Star 3000 Deluxe Juicer/Juice Extractor.

    Try out this juice combination:
    • 2 organic granny smith apples
    • 1/2 organic cucumber
    • 1/2 head of organic celery
    • 1 lemon
    • 1" of ginger root
    • 1 bunch of organic parsley
    If you are a peanut butter lover, throw away the Skippy and try something natural. Just do it, please.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    More "After School" Snacks: Vega Shake & Go Smoothie

    I have been taking advantage of the nice weather this summer by biking to and from work. I save so much time by combining my daily exercise and commute, it's awesome! However, when I get home after the 4 mile uphill ride, I need some food right away. This week my dynamite solution has been the Vega Shake & Go Smoothie.

    The Vega Shake & Go Smoothie comes in four different flavors: Choc-A-Lot, Vanilla Almondilla, Bodacious Berry, and Tropical Tango. I have tried 3 of the 4. The first time I tried this product, I blended just the powder with water and ice. Result: eh, not too fantastic, and they sat on my refrigerator shelf untouched for several weeks. However, I got inspired this week to add a banana and nut butter to help out. Result: Fantastic!

    First smoothie (probably my favorite):
    1/4 C Water
    Ice cubes
    1 banana
    2 heaping tablespoons of Choc-A-Lot powder
    2 T Raw Almond butter

    Second smoothie:
    1/4 C Water
    Frozen banana
    2 heaping tablespoons of Vanilla Almondilla
    2 T Peanut butter

    These smoothies not only serve as post-biking nutrition but also pre-activity nutrition before I head out the door again to play futsal. These smoothie powders are a combination of proteins, fiber, greens, and probiotics. They serve as a great, quick, whole-food snack for the famished. Give 'em a shot.

    Quick note on nut butters: unless you grind the nuts yourself, you should look at the ingredient label. One would think peanut butter is self-explanatory; however, have you seen some of the labels out there? Holy cow! Steer way clear of those containing even a little high fructose corn syrup and/or hydrogenated oils. When I purchase peanut butter or almond butter, I check the label to see that the only ingredients are nuts and sea salt. If there is anything more, I put it right back on the shelf.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Quick Raw Snacks

    When I get home from work, I'm usually famished and need something in my belly right away. Recently, my favorite 'after-school snack' has been fresh green juice and cilantro-jalapeño hummus on bell pepper slices or a delicious raw paté on crackers. This holds me over well until I can get a more substantial dinner prepared. I got my last raw paté from the farmer's market. My friend has a cart there called The New Leaf selling delicious and satisfying raw meals, patés, and salad dressings. However, when I need to make my own raw spread, I go to my friend Lou's recipe for 'Brazil Nut Cheeze.' Today, I'm having it with avocado.Wow is it good. You should try it too.

    Here's the recipe below. Be sure to check out the rest of Lou's blog post for more quick, raw food ideas.

    Lou’s Brazil Nut Cheeze
    • 1 c Brazil nuts (no need to soak these nuts)
    • 1 lemon, juiced
    • 1 - 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 t salt
    • Bunch of cilantro
    • 1/2 jalapeño seeded
    Add as little water as needed for consistency.
    Process all ingredients until smooth.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Raw Strawberry Pie

    I found this raw strawberry pie recipe on a blog about a year ago and finally got to making it. I made 5 pies total and shared with my raw community here in Portland. It was a smashing success! So many people wanted the recipe for themselves. If you are looking for a delicious, springtime, healthy dessert, give this one a try! It is actually more like cheesecake than a traditional fruit pie but delicious nonetheless.

    The recipe comes from Andrea Caplan Livingston of Phytofoods in Portland, Oregon. Her recipe is copied below.

    Raw Strawberry Pie

    2 cups almonds or pecans
    1 tablespoon coconut oil
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or half of a vanilla bean
    4-5 medjool dates, pitted
    pinch of sea salt

    2 cups cashews soaked 1-2 hours
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4-1/2 cup agave
    3/4 cup fresh strawberries
    3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    1/4 cup water
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean (I prefer the bean)
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt

    1-2 cups sliced strawberries

    Place almonds or pecans in food processor and process with the S blade until crumbled. Add coconut oil, sea salt, and vanilla and pulse a couple of times. Add the dates last, one at a time, and pulse until the crust holds together when you squeeze it between your fingertips. If the crust does not hold, add more dates (again, one at a time). Press into oiled (with coconut oil) tart or pie pan. Chill in Freezer for 30 minutes before adding filling.

    Blend all ingredients well in a Vitamix blender if you have one. Pour part of the filling into the pie crust (just enought to cover the bottom). Take some of the strawberries you cut up for the topping and scatter them on top of the filling. Pour the rest of the filling on top and place in freezer for 1-2 hours until firm. Decorate with the rest of your cut up strawberries. This pie needs to stay refrigerated to keep its firmness so make sure you keep in cold up until serving!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Non-toxic Herbal Hair Care

    Truly natural body care products can be difficult to find, and the really good, pure ones are often fairly expensive. If you have been looking for a natural solution to shampoo, conditioner, and hair spray, I have your answer! As an added bonus, I'll tell you how to make a quick & easy hair sheen and perfume combo (my favorite!). Not only do you get to have non-toxic hair care, you get to have fun making it too.

    These are do-it-yourself herbal recipes that I got at a workshop sponsored by Create Plenty, a non-profit organization here in Portland, OR whose mission is to reduce waste by connecting local producers and local consumers and following sustainable consumer practices. They have lots going on so check out their website. By the way, I think the workshop took these recipes from the book Organic Body Care Recipes. Check it out if you'd like to do more herbal experimenting.

    And back to the hair care...

    I made and used these recipes, so I know they work! I think they are good enough to enter into the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest. Speaking of Mountain Rose Herbs, most of the ingredients can be purchased through their website. Bounce on over for a visit as I'm confident you will find many other fun goodies to play with.

    Besides the ingredients listed below, you will need 2 empty bottles in which to store the shampoo and conditioner and 1 empty spray bottle for the hairspray. I also recommend a glass dropper to make the hair sheen easier to apply.

    Herbal Shampoo

    Mix in small to medium sized bowl the following:
    1 tbl calendula blossoms
    1 tbl chamomile buds
    1 tbl nettle leaf
    2 tsp comfrey root
    2 tsp orange peel
    2 tsp rosemary leaf
    2 cups boiling water

    After steeping for 30 minutes, add
    20 drops of lavender essential oil
    ½ tsp jojoba oil
    ½ c castile soap

    Herbal Conditioner
    2 cups of boiling water
    ½ c vinegar
    2 tbl Rosemary leaf
    2 tbl Sage leaf
    1 tbl Nettle leaf
    Mix and steep for two hours. Strain, then add:
    10 drops Rosemary essential oil or Tea Tree oil

    Here is a second conditioner recipe for a simpler alternative:

    Simple Conditioner

    ½ cup rosemary leaf
    1 tsp borax
    4 c boiling water
    Mix and steep for two hours. Strain.

    Activities for when your herbs are steeping:

    Hair Sheen
    I love to apply this hair sheen after blow drying my hair in the morning. It soothes dry frizzies and makes my hair smell great! It helps if you have your jojoba oil in a glass dropper. I merely drop the oil in the palm of one hand, rub my palms together, and rub the oil into the ends of my hair.

    3-5 drops of jojoba oil
    1-2 drops of bergamot (or another favorite essential oil like lavender or ylang ylang)

    I love the beautiful floral citrus fragrance of bergamot. Do be warned though not to wear bergamot on the skin in the sun. It will turn the skin red for months. I speak from experience.

    Hair Spray

    1 cup of water
    1 chopped lemon
    Boil until lemons are soft. Let cool, then add ½ tbl of 80 proof Vodka.

    Consider adding a few drops of essential oil such as lemon or mandarin for a fresh fragrance.

    This hairspray offers a gentle, flexible hold. It's enough to smooth fly-aways and keep strays out of your eyes without cementing your hair into an immovable block. Lol. Do be advised that it contains lemon which may have a highlighting effect when combined with sunshine. I cannot say for certain though since it is not so much a concern for blonde hair like mine.

    Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite place to get organic herbs and essential oils. They have everything you need to create your own body care, teas, and home remedies. Go get your herbs now and have fun creating personal care products you and the environment can truly feel good about!

    Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin


    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    A Bowl Of Gratitude

    This week for dinner I made a recipe for A Bowl Of Gratitude, a delicious rice bowl from Cafe Gratitude in San Fransisco. And, wow, was it good. I made it basically as this blog describes, but I was all out of hearty greens and used cilantro instead. I also used avocado rather than egg. It was like an avocado roll in bowl. So good! "I am grateful!" were the first words out of my mouth when I finished this. Here is the basic recipe copied below:

    A Bowl Of Gratitude

    1. Cook 1 cup of red Bhutanese rice
    2. In a large skillet, saute onions and garlic. Add greens and a little water to steam.
    3. In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, tamari, vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil salt, and pepper.
    4. Add the sauce and rice to the skillet and stir together. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve with sliced avocado and a shredded nori sheet.


    • 4 T. orange juice (freshly squeezed if you can get it!)
    • 1/4 t. salt
    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 1 T. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
    • 1 T. rice vinegar
    • 1/2 t. toasted sesame oil


    • 1 T. olive oil or coconut oil
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
    • Pinch of salt
    • 4 small garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    • 2-3 tightly packed cups of greens (such as collards or kale)
    • 2-3 cups cooked black Chinese “forbidden” rice (or other nutty rice – brown or red Bhutanese)
    • 2 large or 3 small scallions, coarsely chopped
    • 1 ripe avocado (or 3 eggs)

    Super delicious! Makes good leftovers too.


    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Vega Sport! Energy Booster

    Whew! Finally a day of rest and rejuvenation after a seemingly endless season of tax deadlines. I'm already feeling refreshed! But the last few months certainly weren't easy. One of the tools I used to cope with the fatigue of long days at the office was Vega Sport.

    Vega Sport calls itself the "Natural Plant-Based Performance Optimizer." It is designed specifically to be used as a pre-workout sport drink; however, it works fantastically as an afternoon pick-me-up too. Sounds like a great substitute for coffee and diet coke. Nice!

    It's not without caffeine but does not cause the caffeine jitters like coffee does. Some of the energy-boosting ingredients include Yerba Maté Leaf, Green Tea Leaf, Rhodiola Root, and Ginseng Root. It also contains Devil's Claw Root, Turmeric Root, and Ginger Root which work to alleviate joint and muscle pain. This is great for post-workout recovery.

    The container label boasts the following features:
    • Provides immediate & sustaining energy
    • Increases endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity
    • Enhances mental focus and motor performance
    • Reduces stress and enhances immune system function
    • Replenishes electrolytes lost during exercise
    • Reduces inflammation, joint and muscle pain
    • Improves body composition and reduces body fat
    • Supports healthy weight management

    I have used this product several times before workouts and noticed a definite performance boost. So.... it works!

    Vega Sport comes in 2 flavors: Acai Berry and Lemon-Lime. It doesn't taste great, in my opinion; but one can get used to it. After all, I'm not drinking it for taste; I'm drinking it for effect!

    I recommend giving it a try. You can purchase this at VeganEssentials.com along with other great Vegan nutrition products such as the new Vega Sport Performance Protein which does everything Vega Sports does but adds the muscle protein synthesis factor. I got my hands on a sample packet and gave it a try for post-workout recovery. This one doesn't taste great either, but I like the ingredient label a lot! I just shook up a single serving with water and a couple ice cubes and gulped it down. I am able to get past taste when seeking important results; it's just a sport drink after all. You could sufficiently improve the flavor by taking it a step further and blending it with a banana.

    Get some Vega Sport and take it to the office, gym, or both for energy and performance enhancement.


    Friday, January 29, 2010

    Chocolate Avocado Mousse

    At $3 a piece, an avocado is not something to waste. If you're wondering what to do with an overripe, bruised, or less-than-flavorful avocado, just add chocolate...

    Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

    • 1 Avocado
    • 1/2 C Dates
    • 1.5 C Nut Milk (Hazelnut, Almond, Brazil nut, or your favorite)
    • 1/3 C Raw Cacao (use a combo of cacao nibs, cacao powder, and carob)
    • 1/4 C Pecans
    • 1 T Maca Powder
    • 2 T Mequite Powder
    • 1 t Vanilla
    • Pinch of Sea Salt

    Blend all ingredients in your VitaMix until you get a thick, smooth, chocolatey pudding.

    ...'Cause avocados are too good for the compost bucket.

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Health & Fitness for the New Year

    For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter just started, but trust me, it's not too early to start getting your beach body back. If you wait until June, it will already be too late. I know, it's tough to fight the impulse to hibernate in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a novel. A little hibernation is therapeutic, but make it your goal right now to take action, alter stagnating behaviors, and implement a few new tools toward shaping up for the new year. I am going to share with you 5 simple steps to get healthier, more fit, and increased energy. What better way to start the new decade?

    Health & Fitness Step #1: Eat fruit for breakfast. Fruit is best consumed on an empty stomach for optimal digestion. Fruit contains all the components it needs to digest itself and requires little assistance from the body. Fruit for breakfast will wake your body up and stimulate elimination channels. Proper elimination is the most important factor for improved health and weight loss. When you do your grocery shopping, look around the produce section for seasonal fruit that stands out and looks delicious. Always make sure you keep your fruit basket full at home, so you don't even have to think in the morning. Just grab a piece of delicious, juicy fruit and bite in!

    Health & Fitness Step #2: Eat at least one green salad every day. Greens are such an important food to include in your diet because they contain an array of important vitamins, trace minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, even macronutrients in perfect proportion to nourish the body's tissues and cells. They even contain plenty of amino acids to help you build muscle! Greens are truly a super food. I know it can be difficult to get that green salad in every day. I love greens, but I get tired of them too! I have a solution, however, which will guarantee you to eat your green every day and love it! The answer is the green smoothie. I have one every single day for breakfast. By making my green smoothie every morning, I knock out step 1 and 2 at the same time: fruit first and greens every day! This is what my green smoothie was this morning:
    • 1/4 C. purified water
    • Half organic cucumber
    • 1 peeled lime
    • 1 ripe banana
    • Kale & Cilantro
    • 1 T. freshly ground flax seed
    • 1 C. frozen mango
    Toss it all into the blender and power it up. Making breakfast and eating my greens takes 10 minutes tops. Fantastic!
    It is important to rotate your greens and get creative with your smoothie ingredients.

    Health & Fitness Step #3: Find an enjoyable form of exercise or physical activity and schedule it into your day. Lack of time is probably the biggest excuse for not exercising. Exercise doesn't have to take a long time. I do enjoy going to the gym for an hour-long workout, but most of the time, I just don't have that kind of time. I solve this problem by implementing the habit of waking up 15 minutes earlier to perform a quick, high-intensity workout that will get my blood and lymph moving. If you haven't discovered CrossFit yet, check it out because that is exactly what you need if you are short on time.

    My typical morning workout, which doesn't cost me any money or any more time than 15 minutes per day, looks something like this:
    • Jog to my neighborhood park
    • 10 pullups on the playground bars
    • 3 uphill sprints
    • 10 pushups between each set of sprints
    • 50 lunges back toward home
    • Sprint home
    • Cool down with 4 sun salutations
    These are all bodyweight exercises requiring no special equipment and no money, just 15 minutes per day. The high-intensity factor helps me stay lean and toned. My muscles stay strong and toned without 50 pound barbells.

    The first step for successful exercising is just making it a habit. Decide that is what you are going to do first thing in the morning and don't give yourself any other choice. Write down the five exercises you are going to do the night before. If you do this just four times per week, it will make a big difference. If you are one who really needs someone else to motivate you to action, get a personal trainer. A personal trainer will customize an exercise program for you, keep you accountable, and force you to constantly improve. A personal trainer could be your fast-track to physical results. If you really want to see a difference in 2010, prioritize your finances and hire a personal trainer. Get your butt in shape and get your body moving whatever it takes. By 9AM, you can have steps 1, 2, & 3 knocked out.

    Health & Fitness Step #4: Quit drinking sodas and bottled beverages full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. These drinks full of highly refined sugar or toxic sugar substitutes that do nothing but subtract from your overall health. High fructose corn syrup is not metabolized in the same manner as whole sugars and is linked to obesity and diabetes. Sugar substitutes are composed of toxic elements foreign to the body which may lead to sweet cravings and weight gain anyway. Our bodies are exposed to enough toxic elements in the water and air already. Don't contribute more to that toxic load; the liver already has a demanding job without the food additives.

    If you are attached to the fizz factor, try drinking sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lime. You will be surprised how satisfying this really is. If you are attached to the sugar factor, this is going to take serious self-discipline. Sugar is addictive, so you will have to really make an effort at beating the soda habit. An extremely beneficial habit would be to replace the soda with Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented beverage containing beneficial organisms that aid in digestion and detoxification. For me, it is a treat that ranks above chocolate! In fact, when I get post-lunch sugar cravings, drinking kombucha knocks the craving right out. And how fantastic is it that I am giving my body something healthful?!

    If you are addicted to the caffeine factor, switch to Yerba Maté tea which has caffeine without the other ingredients. Yerba Maté comes from a South American shrub. The tea infusion is similar to green tea. When I drink Yerba Maté for an energy boost, I do not experience the negative side effects that come from drinking coffee such as jitteriness, headaches, or nausea. I keep a Yerba Maté in my desk drawer at work for those especially tiresome days.

    Health & Fitness Step #5: Eliminate fried foods. Fried foods are detrimental for two reasons: 1. They contain trans fat and 2. They are usually fried in vegetable oil. So, what is so bad about these two facts?

    1. Trans fat is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are made to be solids at room temperature. This kind of fat is not found in nature and has been linked to cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, nutritional deficiency, among others and should be completely avoided. Start reading the labels on any packaged food and look for "Hydrogenated", "Partially Hydrogenated", and "Shortening". Strictly avoid these foods. Hydrogenated oils are supertoxins that may get caught in the liver and contribute to gradual health decline. Also, note that fast food is loaded with this fat and should be avoided.

    2. Vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola, and soybean oils are polyunsaturated fats which are highly susceptible to heat damage. Heat causes oxidative damage creating free radicals. Translation: these oils after heat exposure become cancer causing.

    The bottom line is, there is absolutely no reason your body would want you to eat french fries or doughnuts. There is plenty of healthful, natural food to eat instead. For a mid-morning snack, if I want something bread-like, I eat a slice of toasted sprouted-grain cinnamon-raisin bread sometimes topped with an organic nut butter. This a much better choice over doughnuts.

    If you start the new year off by following these 5 steps, you will be feeling better and looking better in no time. Cheers to your beach body 2010.