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!

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A raw and vegan coconut chocolate chip smoothie recipe you’ll love

This raw and vegan coconut chocolate chip smoothie only takes five minutes to blend up. It’ll rev up your metabolism and fill your body up with great energy!

 

It’s loaded with great saturated fats like coconut and avocado, which are essential to your health. It’s also rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. The raw cacao brings a fantastic dose of antioxidants, iron and zinc, which will boost your mood.

 

Enjoy this delicious recipe!

 

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Coconut chocolate chip smoothie recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch unrefined sea salt
  • 3/4 cup filtered water (use ice cold water for a chiller smoothie)

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend on high-speed until smooth.
  2. Pour into two glasses and serve right away.

Want glowing skin instantly? Then try this carrot, avocado and orange smoothie on your skin (yes, you read that right)

I may spend days, weeks and months thinking of organic skincare solutions, and my goal is always easy-of-use and low-maintenance solutions. I mean, who has time every day for fancy skincare regimens? Not me!

 

Wherever I am, there’s a good chance you’ll catch me sipping on vegetable juice or protein smoothie. And there’s equally good chance that I used the same recipe to make a restorative face mask for myself before I left home.

 

Double duty smoothie/face mask recipes?! Yes, indeed! They’re easy (the blender only needs to be washed once) and delicious, and the active plant botanicals make these recipes of mine especially effective when applied topically. They’ll provide gentle exfoliation to your skin on the outside, while providing healthy nutrients on the inside.

 

This carrot, avocado and orange smoothie recipe is one of my favourites, and so I’m sharing it with you today. Enjoy!

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The skin benefits of my carrot, avocado and orange smoothie recipe

This smoothie is just downright delicious! It’s brimming with beta-carotenes, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, antioxidants, vitamin C and healthy fats, which will help calm your skin and keep it moisturised. Without clogging your pores, of course.

It’s perfectly suitable for all skin types. The natural acids in the berries help boost cell-turnover as well as protect healthy skin cells. The banana calms breakouts and soothes redness, while the avocado provides exceptional nourishment, even for the driest skin.

Just remember to use organic ingredients whenever possible!

Carrot, avocado and orange skincare smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot (or 6 baby carrots)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 fresh or frozen banana, sliced
  • Ice cubes

Method:

Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend on high-speed until smooth.

To enjoy this smoothie as a drink:

Pour it into a tall glass and serve immediately.

To apply this smoothie to your skin:

With clean fingers, apply a small amount of the smoothie to clean skin. Massage it in but avoid your eye area. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Pat dry your face and follow with an all-natural sunscreen like red raspberry seed oil.

Clean eating blueberry smoothie recipe

Smoothies are a great way to start off a busy morning. Breakfast is ready in two seconds flat (well, okay, maybe five minutes) and you’re out the door with a travel mug brimming with nutrients. Can’t beat that with a stick!

 

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is great because it’s deliciously fruity and super healthy! Perfect for anyone who’s jumped on the clean eating bandwagon. I hope you enjoy!

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Blueberry super smoothie recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (make sure they’re sugar-free)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (flax seeds will work too if you grind them up first)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (unflavoured protein powder will work too)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender.
  2. Blend the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.

Ten ways to boost your antioxidant intake in the morning

It’s important to eat antioxidants because they protect your cells from free radical damage which ages your body and leads to degenerative conditions and other health problems.

 

Plus, antioxidants help with weight loss, improve your quality of sleep, provide allergy relief, increase your energy levels and much more. So you can see why it’s important to add more antioxidant-rich foods to your meals – especially breakfast – the most important meal of the day! Here are some tips for doing this…

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Tips for upping your antioxidant intake in the morning

The antioxidants you eat on a daily basis come from plants. The vitamins and nutrients in fruit and vegetables, like vitamin A, C and E, offer antioxidant protection among other health benefits.

But there are many different types of antioxidants – so it’s important you eat a variety of foods and maintain a nutritional balance for the best results.

And now for the tips…

  • Drink a small glass of fruit or vegetable juice: To balance your nutrients, drink a variety of juices throughout the week. For example: Orange, grape, cranberry, pomegranate and carrot. Make sure the juice is 100% fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugars or sweeteners. You can even combine different juices and create your own breakfast blend.
  • Top your cereal with fresh fruit: Fresh slices of banana, peach or strawberry are a divine addition to any plain old bowl of cereal.
  • Add veggies to your eggs: Sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, onions or tomatoes are all great options for filling an omelette. You can also enjoy sautéed veggies like these with scrambled eggs.
  • Add dried berries to your oatmeal: Dried cranberries or goji berries (even raisins, in fact) are great for adding to a warm bowl of oatmeal. I especially love dried berries with nuts like pecans or almonds in my morning oatmeal!
  • Make your own breakfast smoothie: Perk up in the morning with a refreshing smoothie made of ice, frozen fruit, low-fat yoghurt, nutmeg and honey. You can even enjoy it on the go!
  • Drink black or green tea: Tea is the best source of compounds called catechins, which are potent antioxidants. Green tea contains the best antioxidants because it has three times as many catechins as black tea.
  • Spice up your tea: Add antioxidant-rich ground cloves and cinnamon to your tea. It’ll taste delicious, and the smell can be like morning aromatherapy!

How to tell if your food is rich in antioxidants

I’ve already explained the importance of taking in a good amount of antioxidants each day through healthy meals.

 

And now, I’m going to teach you how to tell if the food you’re eating is a good source of antioxidants…

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Ask yourself these questions to determine if your food is rich in antioxidants

Does the food item contain fresh, frozen or dried fruits and/or vegetables? Read the ingredients list on food labels. If a product contains these ingredients, it’s very likely that it contains antioxidants. Also note that fresh fruits and veggies are richer in antioxidants than frozen or dried ones.

Does the food item contain real, natural fruit and/or vegetable juices? Many juices actually contain more artificial flavourings and sweeteners than real, natural. This is why it’s important you read the label to ensure you’re getting the real thing, along with all the natural antioxidants and nutrients.

Does the label say “whole grain”? Whole grain products contain higher antioxidant values and more nutrients than refined grain products like white bread and pasta. Eat whole grain products to get the best antioxidants to boost your health.

I hope these tips help you make better food choices!

Five antioxidant-rich foods to enjoy at breakfast

Does your breakfast consist of just oatmeal, eggs or cereal? Or – even worse – do you often skip breakfast?

 

If you answered yes to either of those questions, here’s a reality check: Your diet is lacking vital antioxidants. The kind that your body needs for optimum health.

 

Get your day off to a healthy start by eating more antioxidants at breakfast. Here are some of the best ones to enjoy that are sure to kickstart  your metabolism and boost your energy levels…

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Five foods with great nutritional value to enjoy at breakfast

#1: Apples

Turns out that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away! And apple juice is no exception. Drinking apple juice with your breakfast will help protect you from the fattening foods you eat. This is because apple help stop fats from turning into cholesterol. Not a big fan of apple juice? Then I’d suggest trying a green apple and spirulina smoothie bowl or a heart bowl of oatmeal topped with apple and cinnamon.

#2: Blueberries

When they’re in season, fresh blueberries are the richest sources of some of the very best antioxidants. Evidence shows that the natural chemicals in these berries may reverse memory loss because they increase the amount of fluid in the membranes of your cells that are responsible for sending signals to your brain. When out of season, frozen blueberries are a good substitute. Whether fresh or frozen, I think blueberries are always a great addition to a morning fruit smoothie!

#3: Carrots

Carrots contain beta-carotene that assists your immune system. Studies suggest that carrots may also guard you against stroke. If you’re not a big fan of raw or cooked carrots, try juicing them. I love carrot juice! For a delicious cup of juice packed with some of the best antioxidants, juice a couple of carrots, an apple, a stalk of celery and half a lemon.

#4: Dark chocolate

If you’re a chocoholic like me, you’ll be delighted to know that dark chocolate is brilliant for your health – especially your heart. It’s one of the richest sources of antioxidants compared to other foods. Just keep in mind that “a little dab will do”. Just a couple squares a day are enough to reap the benefits. Alternatively, you can add dark chocolate to a peanut butter and banana smoothie.

#5: Nuts

Nuts are a convenient, antioxidant-rich snack. Eating as few as three Brazil nuts per day will give you an incredible antioxidant boost. Try a mix of Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews for a healthy on-the-go snack. I also suggest trying nut milks if you haven’t already. They’re super healthy and are oh so delicious! I love nut milk in my oatmeal or cereal in the morning. They’re great in tea, too!

I hope I’ve inspired you a little to build better breakfasts from now on!