Four ways that cocoa can supercharge your health

You may not know it, but cocoa makes other so-called superfoods pale in comparison. That’s pretty sweet if you ask me!

Offering your health a titan of benefits, raw cocoa can supercharge your health in many different ways! Here are some top health benefits of cocoa.

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Four health benefits of cocoa

#1: Cocoa can save your skin

Dealing with problem skin? No problem – cocoa can help! Brimming with antioxidants that are fantastic for repairing skin cells and neutralising harmful free radicals, cocoa is suitable for treating just about any skin issue, according to dermatologist Ava Shamban.

#2: Cocoa crushes sugar cravings

Pass up on the sweet treats and take a whiff of cocoa instead. Cocoa powder has a rich, seriously indulgent aroma, so you’ll often be satisfied by simply smelling it, says founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation Alan Hirsch.

#3: Cocoa promotes heart health

Cocoa is fantastic for treating your ticker. The flavonoids in cocoa are linked to a number of cardio perks, from reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol, to lowering blood pressure, according to director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital Suzanne Steinbaum.

#4: Cocoa enhances your mood

Cocoa can make more than just your taste buds happy … it can make you happy, too! Containing more than 300 compounds, many of which enhance your brain chemistry, cocoa powder is the ultimate mood-booster, explains author of Eat Your Way to Happiness Elizabeth Somer. Some of these compounds boost your serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which generate a happy mood.

With all these amazing benefits, I don’t know about you, but I’ll sure be enjoying many mugs of hot cocoa this winter!

Three things you didn’t know about yoghurt

As you already know, yoghurt is a dairy wonder that’s beneficial for your health in many ways.

Rich in calcium and an excellent source of high-quality protein, this nutrient-rich, all-star food is delicious no matter how you eat it – whether it’s on its own or in smoothies.

However, there are a couple of facts about yoghurt I bet you didn’t know – I’m letting you in on three of them.

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Three surprising health benefits of yoghurt

#1: Yoghurt improves your digestion

That’s right – this creamy stuff can easy all of your tummy troubles! The probiotics AKA friendly bacteria in yoghurt helps balance the microflora in your gut, which in turn helps with digestion and keeps you regular, according to culinary and nutrition expert Robin Plotkin (RD). Considering 80% of your immunity lies in your gut, it goes without saying that maintaining optimal gut health is key to a strong immune system and excellent overall health.

#2: Yoghurt is great for your heart

One of the most surprising reasons to heart yoghurt? It keeps your ticker healthy! According to associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Alvaro Alonso, eating low-fat and fat-free yoghurt may also help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. The special proteins, calcium, magnesium and potassium in yoghurt contribute to this blood pressure-lowering effect.

#3: Yoghurt can do wonders for your skin

Forget those pricy skin treatments to perfect your problem skin. According to dermatologist Hema Sundaram, yoghurt is rich in lactic acid, which is a component in some in-office chemical peels. Lactic acid is a super-gentle exfoliator that sloughs dead cells of the top layers of the epidermis, which helps clear up blemishes and discolourations as well as smooth out wrinkles.

And there you have it – three awesome health facts about yoghurt! Do you know of any others?

This delicious, gluten-free sundried tomato and garlic pasta is perfect for a speedy weeknight dinner

Are you looking for a quick and easy pasta recipe that’s both gluten-free and dairy-free? Then you’ve come to the right place!

This delicious sundried tomato and garlic pasta recipe I’m sharing takes little time to prep and cook, requires only a few simple ingredients, and contains no gluten or dairy. It’s all vegan-friendly!

Plus, this pasta is a great way to get your fibre and protein in for a super-speedy lunch or dinner! Be sure to try it out this winter – it’s the perfect guilt-free comfort food.

Enjoy!

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Gluten-free sundried tomato and garlic pasta recipe

Serves: 4-5

You’ll need:

  • 350 g gluten-free pasta of choice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 650 g fresh baby spinach, shredded
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup plain hummus
  • 1/4 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp whole almonds
  • 10 sundried tomatoes, finely diced

What to do:

  1. Cook your pasta according to the directions on the packaging. Drain the pasta, then place it back into the empty pot.
  2. Add the garlic and olive oil to the pot and cook for two to three minutes.
  3. Add in the spinach, sea salt and black pepper, and cook for a further two to three minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the hummus and sundried tomatoes.
  5. Transfer to pasta to a large serving bowl and top with almonds.

If you try out this tasty recipe, be sure to let me know your thoughts!

Three amazing “green” ways to treat breakouts

If you suffer from acne or regular breakouts, you may think that running to the pharmacy or your doctor is the easiest and best thing to do every time your skin flares up … but it really isn’t!

In fact, it’s the all-natural, homemade remedies that best treat acne in the long-term. This is because antibiotics and analgesics only help reduce symptoms immediately. In the long term, they can actually cause severe problems and side effects.

On that note, I’m sharing three super-simple ways to treat your acne the “green” way. Your skin is sure to thank you!

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Three all-natural breakout treatments

#1: Yoghurt, honey and cinnamon mask

Honey and cinnamon both pack impressive antibiotic properties, while yoghurt soothes irritation and reduces redness.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened full fat yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Small bowl

What to do:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients to form a paste.
  2. Apply the mask to clean skin and leave it on for 10 minutes.
  3. Wash the mask off with warm water and pat dry.

#2: Face steaming

If you’re looking for an easy, non-invasive way to loosen oil and dirt that’s clogging your pores and causing your breakouts, look no further than face steaming. Steam is an excellent immediate cleanser, and practising it regularly can help improve your skin health in the long term.

You’ll need:

  • 1 pot boiling water
  • Handful of organic mint, basil or lavender
  • 1 fresh towel
  • Large bowl

What to do:

  1. Pour the boiling water into a heat-safe bowl and toss in the herbs.
  2. While you wash any make-up or residue off your face, let the water cool.
  3. Carefully hover your face about 15 cm above the surface of the water and drape the towel over your head so it catches the steam.
  4. Steam your face for 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to breathe deeply to inhale the herbs you’ve added … they’re a great source of aromatherapy!
  5. When you’re done, pat your face dry.

#3: Honey and lemon toner

Both honey and lemons are antibiotic, so this is a powerful combination to help deep-clean your pores and treat any blemishes you may have to prevent future breakouts.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • Small bowl

What to do:

  1. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add in the honey, then stir to combine.
  2. With clean hands, carefully apply the tone to your face, gently massaging it in as you go.
  3. Leave the toner on your skin for five minutes, then gently rinse it off with cool water.

Share your top natural breakout treatments and tips with me in the comments below!

Lose your unwanted belly fat with coconut oil!

Coconut oil is one of the most weight loss-friendly fats in the world. Rich in a combination of fatty acids, it promotes optimal metabolism function which ultimately helps with weight loss!

Several studies show that by simply adding coconut oil to your diet, you can lose fat – especially the “dangerous” fat in your abdominal area, which has been linked to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To learn more about how coconut oil can help you lose weight and belly fat, keep reading!

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Four ways that coconut oil helps with fat loss

#1: Coconut oil boosts your energy levels

Coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium-chain triglycerides AKA MCTs and lauric acid. This essential fatty acid metabolises differently in comparison to other saturated fats, such as those you find in dairy and meat products.

Your body doesn’t store MCTs as fat, but instead transports them directly to your liver, where they’re quickly converted into energy. So what does this mean for your weight loss efforts?

By adding two or three tablespoons to your daily dietary regimen, you’ll boost your energy levels by an average of 5% for a full 24-hour period! I find that adding coconut oil to my morning smoothie is the best way to get my energy kick for the day.

#2: Coconut oil decreases hunger and curbs pesky cravings

You already know that MCTs go directly to your liver during digestion. Not only does this provide your body with a natural energy boost, the processing of MCTs also forms keytone bodies, which have the added benefit of reducing hunger and curbing cravings.

I recommend enjoying two to three tablespoons of coconut oil each day to feel fuller for longer and to kick the habit of snacking on unhealthy foods between meals. You can enjoy the oil in tea, coffee, smoothies or directly from the jar!

#3: Coconut oil burns fat amazingly fast

Are you looking to reduce your daily caloric intake and lose weight faster without compromising your health? Well, then, you’re in the right place. Coconut oil enhances your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients so that you can eat less without feeling unsatisfied, tired or weak all the time.

Plus, because coconut oil is a natural mood enhancer, eating it daily will help you reduce your stress levels and feel more motivated to partake in heart-healthy activities, which will only help you burn off persistent fat stores even faster – bonus!

Consuming coconut oil regularly will power up your body’s fat-burning potential – especially for losing stubborn belly fat. It will also regulate your appetite, improve digestion and just make you feel great!

#4: Coconut oil helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Because your body absorbs coconut oil easily without the need for digestive enzymes, your pancreas is less stressed and able to produce insulin more effectively. Plus, as a saturated fat, coconut oil makes it easier for your cells to bind with insulin during digestion.

When your body has the required amounts of insulin, your cells get the glucose (or blood sugar) that they need to fuel your daily activities. So how exactly does this translate into belly fat loss?

A daily serving or two of coconut oil will help your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels by promoting the efficient use and production of insulin. As a result this will provide your cells with more glucose to give you energy and help you lose fat.

PS: Just remember – coconut oil is high in calories, so it’s important that you use it in moderation. I recommend limiting your intake to one or two tablespoons a day to avoid unwittingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Good luck!

This cleansing cabbage and hemp salad only takes 10 minutes to toss up

Are you looking for something quick, easy as well as tasty to toss up at lunchtime? Then this colourful cabbage and hemp salad recipe is just the thing for you!

This delicious salad incorporates a variety of colour, which is essential for obtaining a vast amount of nutrients in a single meal. It’s sure to stave off midday slumps and instead give you a great energy boost!

With added hemp seeds for protein and healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil, this salad is perfect for a satisfying lunch.

Bonus tip: Blend up a nutrient-dense green juice to enjoy with your salad for an added nutrient punch!

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Tasty hemp and cabbage salad recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

You’ll need:

  • 1 small head of purple cabbage
  • 1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive or hemp oil
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • Juice of a lime

What to do:

  1. Wash, cut and prepare all of the vegetables on the ingredients list.
  2. In a side bowl, whisk the olive or hemp oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables, olive or hemp oil and hemp seeds.
  4. Squeeze the lime juice over your salad and refrigerate it for one hour.
  5. Remove your salad from the fridge, then top with sliced avocado.
  6. Enjoy immensely!

Let me know what you think of this tasty recipe!

My top three tips for aspiring vegetarians

Ever since I fell in love with the vegetarian lifestyle little over a year ago, I’ve been aspiring to convert to a plant-based way of life.

Throughout my journey thus far, I’ve encountered a couple of struggles along the way. I’ve also, of course, made a couple of mistakes.

To save any new vegetarians a ton of time, energy and frustration, take a look at the top three mistakes that meat-free eaters tend to make!

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Three tips for aspiring vegetarians

#1: Don’t replace meat with cheese

Seriously – put down the cheese! Replacing meat with cheese may seem like a no-brainer at first, but it’s a trap – just trust me on that. When I first gave up meat, I panicked and was stressed I’d become deficient in protein, so I turned to cheese to up my intake.

Initially, I thought it was fantastic – I was eating lots of delicious, cheesy things such as cheese fries, nachos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie pizzas. If a meal contained vegetables and cheese, I was on it like white on rice. And then, after about three months, I realised that I was piling on weight…

You see, cheese is a processed food and it’s very high in fat. Therefore, it offers very few health benefits. And, because the human body wasn’t designed to ingest other animal’s bodily fluids, it doesn’t quite agree with it. So when you start consuming cheese regularly, you’re pretty much just rebelling against your body’s natural process. In the long-term, this can lead to myriad health problems.

I know that cheese is awesome and hard to resist, but go easy on it!

#2: Fill up on carbs

You might’ve heard the long-standing myth that your body needs massive amounts of protein to drop weight, but this actually isn’t at all true. While your body needs protein to stay in balance, what it’s actually crying out for is carbohydrates. So I say, “bring on the carbs!” (Seriously – forget what the Atkins Diet told you)

Now, when I say carbs, I’m not talking about cake, doughnuts, bread, bagels and pasta. Rather, I’m referring to fruits and veggies, beans, nuts and rice. Such carbs are natural, derived directly from the earth, and aren’t in any way processed. In the case of white flour, it’s bleached, processed and stripped of al its beneficial nutrients. So even though flour is technically vegan and vegetarian, it’s unnatural.

I get it – white flour is cheap and versatile, but there are healthy, natural alternatives that are so much better for your body that won’t up your risk of disease and weight gain. Experiment with almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour and rice flour. They’re loaded with nutrients and are just as tasty in your favourite dishes!

Swapping out meat for vitamin- and mineral-rich carbs will keep your cravings at bay. They’ll also promote better overall health and keep your diet healthy and balanced!

#3: Stay away from frozen foods

When you first start your plant-based journey you may be tempted to buy readymade frozen veggie burgers and the like. I get that it’s far quicker and easier to do this then prepare a fresh plant-based meal from scratch, but are you aware of how unhealthy these frozen foods actually are?

That’s right – they may taste great, but just like cheese and flour, they’re processed products, which are bad for your health. And they also kind of contradict one of the main things you should be aiming to achieve by switching over to a plant-based diet. Why, you ask? Because they lack nutrients, vitamins and all the other good stuff that food directly from the garden contains, that’s why!

The bottom line: Make your own plant-based meals!

Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen – it can actually be lots of fun! Buy yourself a vegan or vegetarian cookbook and commit to making your own natural, plant-based meals. Your health (and your waistline) will thank you!

Share your top tips for succeeding as a vegetarian with me in the comments below!