How Clean Is Your Juice Cleanse? Check the Sugar Content

How clean is your juice cleanse?

Most of us – at least most of us reading this blog – monitor our intake of refined sugars very carefully. We use stevia in our coffee and agave nectar in tea and lemonade, and sure, once in a while we’ll indulge in a sweet dessert. What we don’t want is our healthy diet infiltrated by sugar in sources we’d never suspect, like high-end fruit and vegetable juice cleanses.

Recently, we’ve been looking at the nutrition labels of high-end bottled juices, and we were shocked by what we found. While the calorie counts ranged between 100 to 200 per bottle (not unreasonable, depending on the ingredients), we realized that nearly all of those calories came straight from sugar!

The worst offender was one 12oz bottle of green juice which had 38 grams of sugar (that’s just under 10 teaspoons). The same amount of sugar content in 12oz of Coca-Cola. To put that in even more perspective, the World Health Organization recommends a total of 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Your Juice Diet Could Destroy Your Teeth 

Chewing whole fruit does amazing things for your teeth. An apple or carrot may contain quite a bit of sugar, but they also act as natural “toothbrushes,” scraping off plaque with each bite while stimulating saliva to wash away cavity-causing bacteria. But, when you wash your mouth in 38 grams of sugar without the saliva-inducing, plaque-scraping structure of the whole fruit, the sugar sticks to your teeth and feeds the bad bacteria responsible for tooth decay.

In most sugar-packed juice blends, apple juice – a very high-sugar fruit juice – is ingredient #1, with healthy additions like spinach, kale, carrots, ginger, and turmeric coming in near the bottom. The spoonfuls of sugar may “help the medicine go down,” but the health costs of drinking between 50 to 100 teaspoons of sugar for each of the three days of your average juice cleanse is … disturbing. You could eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have had less sugar by the end of the day than if you drank five of these juices.

Not All Juices Are Like That

A well-balanced vegetable and fruit juice can taste great without relying on sugary fruit juices as the primary ingredient! At Intelligent Gourmet, we rely on refreshing cucumber, nutrient-rich greens, alkalizing citrus, and protein-packed nut milk to create juices that are balanced and chock-full of natural vitamins, minerals, and medicinal herbs, without all that sugar.

Do you know what’s in your juice?

turmeric juice

Negative Calorie Foods and Diet Freebies – Fact or Fiction?

vegan food tampa bay

Can you eat all the fruits and vegetables you want and still lose weight?

Are there negative-calorie foods that burn more calories to digest than they contain? 

Is there such a thing as a diet “freebie”?

Some weight loss plans will tell you that vegetables are “free foods” – as in, you can have as many as you want, not count them in your daily calorie total, and still lose weight. But is that right? Kind of.

It’s true that you’re very unlikely to eat so many vegetables that you’d gain weight from them, unless you dress them up with oil, butter, cheese, or sauce. The ratio of fiber and water to calories in non-starchy vegetables means that you’ll feel full on them faster, avoiding over-eating. But they still have calories. And, even with celery, you’ll consume more calories than you burn with chewing and digesting those stringy stalks. 

No, there’s no such thing as a freebie when you’re counting calories, even if it’s celery. That said, you are likely to lose more weight if you eat lots of celery (minus the peanut-butter), because of its filling-fiber to calorie ratio. 

Can a Vegan Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Olivia Wild, Natalie Portman, and Beyonce went vegan and lost weight – and Mike Tyson lost 100 pounds with a vegan diet. More and more celebrities are cutting out the animal products with visible results, and you’ll get the same results if you adopt a vegan diet the right way.

Doing Vegan Right

  • Avoid processed foods, including pasta and sugar
  • Balance your diet with healthy fats and protein from nuts, beans and lentils
  • Treat starchy vegetables like the carbs they are, and eat them in moderation (ie. limit your intake of baked potatoes smothered in butter-like vegan spread)
  • Include whole grains in your diet, like black rice, brown rice, barley, whole rye, buckwheat, quinoa, freekeh, etc.
  • Going vegan does not give you carte blanche to eat all the fat you want. Healthy fats in olive oil, nuts, and avocado are vital to your mental and physical well-being, but you can overdo them.

You don’t have to go vegan forever, unless you want to. But eliminating red meat and processed foods from your diet will help your brain chemistry re-set, making junk food much less tempting. 

Yes, adopting a vegetable-based diet is a great way to lose weight – but don’t do it for the “freebies.” Do it because it will help you look better, feel better, and live better. It’s the Intelligent Gourmet way! 

Drink More Green Juice, Build More Resistance Against Pollutants

Kale Juice

In 2012, Tampa’s air quality was graded “F” for ozone pollution – and “F” doesn’t stand for “Fun.” Some environmentalists say that Tampa has the worst air quality in all of Florida (don’t feel too bad – we’re still ahead of Los Angeles and Atlanta). But what can you do if the air you breathe is toxic?

A lot.

I’m excited about  a recent clinical trial that proves what I’ve been saying all along: Juice is a powerful way for your body to cure itself! In the study, 300 Chinese adults drank either broccoli sprout juice for three months, or pineapple and lime juice for three months. Researchers tested the urine of both groups for two harmful chemicals found in air pollution (China has one of the worst air pollution levels of any country in the world) and found that the broccoli-imbibing group excreted much more benzene and acrolein than their pineapple-sipping pals.

Yes, Broccoli Juice effectively detoxes your body of two of the most common air pollutants.

Although broccoli was the hero of this study, the same compounds responsible for detoxing are also found in kale and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy). The magic ingredient is glucoraphanin, which when eaten, causes another compound, sulforaphane, to flush out pollutants from the body.

The Best Part

The longer participants drank broccoli sprout juice, the more they excreted those pollutants – the rate of excretion of benzene increased 61 percent, and acrolein excretion increased 23 percent over the 12 week study. One of the researchers, Thomas Kensler, was quoted by NPR as saying:

“We thought the pathway might respond initially, and then the [compounds] would wear out their welcome and the body would tune out, but the effect was just as vigorous at the beginning as at the end, which suggests that over one’s lifetime, you could enhance this preventative activity in the body [with food].”

It’s official: The more green juice you drink, the more effective it is. Stock up today

 

4 Worth Trying: Natural Cures for the Common Cold

Lemon water for colds

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates

Colds don’t just hit during the winter months – no, summer colds are equally likely. Maybe even more likely, if you sit in an air-conditioned office all day, alternating between dry cold and the humid heat of outdoors. If this summer finds you afflicted, then at the first sign of symptoms, give these natural cures for the common cold a try. They just might work to head it off, or at least encourage that virus to move along a little faster!

Juice it Out

We have a wide variety of immune system bolstering juices at Intelligent Gourmet, and not all of them include OJ. In fact, one of my favorites might surprise you: Spicy Lemonade. Your body chemistry is affected by everything you eat, and if you’ve been eating a diet a little too high in processed foods and sugar, you could create an acidic internal environment that is a breeding ground for viruses. Drinking lemon juice (minus the sugar of traditional lemonade) helps swing your chemistry back the other way, creating an alkaline environment that is not friendly to sickness. My Spicy Lemonade also has chili pepper which not only feels great on a sore throat and gets congestion moving, it also jump starts your metabolism.

Supplement Your Immune System

Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc have all been lauded for their cold-soothing properties. The first two boost the immune system response, and Zinc is anti-viral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. The trick to taking Zinc is to look for supplements made with zinc acetate or zinc gluconate – studies have shown that these are more effective than zinc glycinate or zinc citrate.

Chicken Soup for the Body & Soul

Your mother brought you chicken soup when you were sick, and science backs up her home remedy. Chicken soup has cysteine, a natural amino acid released as the chicken cooks that thins out lung secretions so they don’t clog air passages, and helps you cough them up (ridding your body of infected fluid). Chicken soup also has carrots, which boost vitamin A, which helps prevent and fight infection by supporting white blood cell function. Not willing to sacrifice a chicken to the cause? Cysteine is similar to the prescription drug acetylcysteine, usually given to bronchitis patients. However, don’t just buy any chicken soup in a can – read the ingredients label! Chicken soup can be packed with too much salt, preservatives, modified starches, and even MSG. The good news is, chicken soup is easy to make at home. Cook a delicious chicken dinner the night before, and use the leftover carcass the next day to make your very own broth. You’ll need a big pot, 6-8 cups water, carrots, onions and celery, sea salt to taste, a dash of turmeric and about 3 hours minimum of boiling time. If the flavor isn’t rich enough, you can boost it with good quality organic store-bought chicken stock (but check the label!).

Good Old-Fashioned Sunshine

When you’re coming down with a cold, you’re probably tempted to curl up on your couch and marathon through the last season of Downton Abbey. But, recent studies of the effect of vitamin D on respiratory infections indicate that fresh air and sunshine are a better cure. One study reported that people with low vitamin D levels had significantly more cases of cold and flu. The most effective way to get vitamin D is to soak up the sun – without sunscreen – for about 30 minutes a day. You can’t overdose on sun, but you can on supplements.

The Health Benefits of Fresh Herb Tea

Health Benefits of Fresh Herb Tea

Summer gardens are in their full glory. The roses are blooming, the lavender is buzzing with bees, and citrus trees are bowing under the weight of their tangy fruit. And did you know you can make tea out of all of them? No drying required. The many health benefits of fresh herb tea are well worth a foraging run into your backyard garden. It’s quick, easy, and intensely satisfying.

The Health Benefits of Fresh Herb Tea

In general, the health benefits of fresh herb teas come from their higher concentration of essential oils. When you pick the plants straight from the garden, their oils are in their purest forms, giving you greater benefits than dried herb teas. And, let’s not forget about the benefits of aromatherapy (fresh herb teas smell wonderful!). Lavender and chamomile calms, orange invigorates, lemon balm helps with mood and concentration, peppermint wakes you up, etc.

The Easiest Fresh Herbs to Use in Tea

Mint – Peppermint tea relieves muscle spasms, nausea, gas and bloating.

Chamomile – Chamomile tea helps calm mind and body, perfect for a restful night’s sleep. But did you know it’s also an anti-inflammatory? You can use it to sooth sore throats and coughing too.

Lavender – Lavender promotes relaxation, reducing anxiety, stress and depression. You can also use it to sooth indigestion and nervous stomach, and prevent gastric ulcers.

Lemon Balm – Minty and lemony in flavor, Lemon Balm helps improve concentration, and some say helps lift the spirits.

Stevia – Everyone knows stevia as a natural, no-calorie sweetener, but it also has health benefits! It’s anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-microbial, anti-glycemic, and contains anti-oxidants.

Rosemary – Rich in antioxidants, rosemary also supports digestion and increases blood circulation to the brain (helping with cognitive function).

Thyme (or Lemon Thyme) – Thymol, one of the oils in thyme, is a powerful antioxidant, and studies indicate that it can increase omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, which may help curb age-related dementia.

How to Brew Fresh Herb Tea

Fresh herbs have a more gentle flavor than their dried and bagged descendants, and for two good-sized mugs (or 4 dainty teacups), you’ll want a large handful – roughly about 1 cup of loosely gathered fresh leaves. From there, the flavor profile is only limited to your supplies and imagination. I love a mint-lavender-stevia blend, or lemon balm-rosemary-stevia, or lemon balm-lavender-stevia!

  • Place rinsed, fresh herbs into your teapot or French Press.
  • Bring filtered water to a boil.
  • As soon as your kettle whistles, pull it off the heat and pour the hot water into your teapot or press.
  • Let steep for 5-8 minutes (too long and the tea can turn bitter).
  • Enjoy as is, or try this delicious recipe for Sleepy Time Herbal Honey from TheDabblist!

Want more inspiration for fresh herb teas? Check out my new Fresh Herb Tea Pinterest Board! Fresh Herb Teas

DIY: Healthy Popsicles

watermelon bites

It’s the middle of summer and the heat is on full blast (and so is your air conditioner). A popsicle is the way to go if you’re looking to cool down. But instead of going out to the grocery store and picking out a frozen form of high fructose corn syrup, try doing it yourself and making healthy popsicles that you won’t regret later.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Freezes

These sweet-tart popsicles are great for a hot picnic or cooling dessert. Dark chocolate and raspberries are are high in antioxidants and are known to fight heart disease. Blend ¼ cup dark chocolate into 1 cup raspberries and 1 cup greek yogurt. Add raw honey to sweeten. Dish into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Dark Chocolate Kiwi Pops

This one’s easy. All you have to do is slice kiwi fruit into bite-size pieces, put them on a popsicle stick, dip them in molten dark chocolate, and freeze. These pops will knock your ice cream man’s socks off. They’re super healthy and everyone loves them. The dark chocolate and kiwi combination lowers blood sugar and builds beautiful skin.

Watermelon Ice-Cubes

Who doesn’t love cold lemonade on a hot day. But ice-cubes melting in the glass waters down those sweet n’ sour sips. Try pureeing a small watermelon (without the rinds, of course), mint leaves, and 1 teaspoon agave. Then freeze overnight in an ice-cube tray and add to your lemonade. Watermelon has a surprising amount of antioxidants, vitamin A and C, and can lower blood pressure. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is healthier than normal sugar. Together, they boost the immune system and fight harmful bacteria in your body.

Vanilla Peach Popsicles

Peaches are in this month, so why not use fresh, ripe peaches in your next popsicle? Fiber, vitamin C, and potassium in peaches promotes heart health and healthy skin and hair. Blend together 3 medium, pitted peaches, ⅓ cup organic orange juice, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Add a small amount of stevia if you want it to be more sweet. Chop another peach and add the pieces into your mix. You can also add greek yogurt to the mix for a creamier consistency. Distribute the mix into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

3 Healthy Foods With Funny Side Effects

Asparagus side effects

A light snack could make your mouth taste like a penny tray, and a trip to the bathroom could turn your night out into a nightmare. Some healthy foods we eat every day can come with a few surprises. Have you ever experienced these?

1. Beets (of DOOM)

I’m dying! Or so you might think in the bathroom after a beet buffet. Don’t be too alarmed if your toilet bowl looks like a crime scene. The red color that occurs in some peoples urine and feces is caused by a chemical, betanin, in beets. If your genes allow you to break down betanin, you most likely won’t be seeing tie-dye the next time you eat beets. Aside from their bold pigment, beets have outstanding health benefits, too. Beets are a natural aphrodisiac, and they lower your blood pressure which helps prevent heart disease.

2. Asparagus brings back da’funk

Pee-eww! Ever get funky smelling pee after eating asparagus? Don’t worry, your pee isn’t abnormal; you just have a good nose. The odor is caused by a sulfur compound released when you digest asparagus – but not everyone can smell it. Again, genetics is the key to the pee. Some people don’t notice the odor when they go to the bathroom, even if the odor is present. Asparagus is the vitamin shop of the plant world: it’s packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, antioxidants, and amino acids.

3. Pine Nuts: Reason #199 to eat local

Have you ever noticed a dry, metallic taste after eating pine nuts? I love pine nuts. They’re one of the main ingredients in pesto, are the key to pignoli cookies, and they add earthy deliciousness to sandwiches. But, studies associate pine nuts from one variety of tree (the Chinese pinus armandii) with a metallic taste that can last in your mouth from two days to two weeks (it’s called “pine nut mouth”). Like most nuts, pine nuts are rich in iron which helps blood carry oxygen around the body, and they contain a number of B vitamins. The combo will give you energy and stamina.

Don’t let these side effects scare you off of these healthy snacks! They won’t harm you – they just add a little… variety to your day.

4th of July Recipe Roundup

4th of July Recipes

Not sure what to bring to your 4th of July pot-luck? Here are a few 4th of July recipes we’ve thrown together from posts of summers past.

Icy-Hot Watermelon Bites

Watermelon is a great way to cool off and stay hydrated at the beach this summer. It’s also filled with vitamins A, B-6, and C, and it’s a great food to get your body bikini-ready.

  • Watermelon, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • Mandarin oranges, sliced
  • Sweet Thai chili sauce
  • Skewers

Drizzle sweet Thai chili sauce lightly over the mandarin oranges to give the cool watermelon a delicious kick!

For more 4th of July appetizers read the rest of this post.

Tropical Island: A Smoothie Stunner

  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 2 tbs. lime juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple

Blend all ingredients together and serve (add yogurt for a creamier consistency).

Partied too hard this Independence Day? Try out The Hangover’s Over Smoothie.

Stone Fruit Summer

Peaches and apricots and plums, oh my! Summer is the best time for a juicy, ripe stone fruit with all its health benefits.  Try grilling halved peaches and add a dollop of home-made whipped cream to the middle.

Fig Lemonade

It’s summer and I see lemonade stands on every corner. Try adding figs to your fresh squeezed lemonade to give it a peachy color and an extra health boost.

Vegan Friendly 4th

Barbecues, barbecues everywhere. 4th of July might not be the easiest holiday for a vegan to endure. Check out our recipes for some red, white, and vegan cuisine.

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Trade Gatorade for Coconut Water?

Raw coconut water

Coconut water has come a long way from being a tropical novelty enjoyed only on seaside vacations, peddled by sketchy looking vendors on the sand. It’s the newest health trend, and you’ll see it on store shelves and in your local gym. What’s the appeal? The combination of nutrients and minerals make coconut water uniquely suited to hydrate your body, better than most sports drinks (and much healthier!).

What is coconut water?
Coconut water is often confused with coconut milk. The two might come from the same place, but they are very different. If you break open a coconut (you have a machete handy, right?), coconut water is the clear liquid sloshing around on the hollow inside. Coconut milk, on the other hand, comes from the grated white meat of the coconut. Coconut water has a sweet, silky taste and is packed with natural carbohydrates, electrolytes, and minerals. Coconut water is also low in fat and calories, making it a better alternative than your sports drink. I prefer it to the artificial flavor of gatorade.

Exercise Minerals
As a health and fitness enthusiast, I know how important it is to provide your body with the right nutrients for post-workout recovery. Coconut water contains two key minerals for this, sodium and potassium, which can relieve your body after a strenuous workout. In fact, coconut water has far more potassium than a sports drink, making it ideal for long, mid-paced workouts. But, if you’re planning a vigorous exercise that makes you sweat a lot, a sports drink still might be best because of their higher levels of sodium. Sodium and potassium are both great if you’re recovering from an exhausting workout, but for a light workout, water is still your best bet to stay hydrated.
CocoBonus: Potassium and sodium in coconut is very effective at relieving hangovers too!

Better than regular water?
Better tasting for sure. Coconut water is a sweet way to stay hydrated since it’s full of minerals and natural carbs and under 40 calories for every 8 ounce serving. However, while coconut has its benefits, nothing takes the place of plain water.
CocoBonus: Coconut water is a great soft drink replacement – just put a little lime in the coconut!

Fresh or Bottled?
Breaking open a coconut is a little easier than it looks, but not much. You can use the pry-bar side of a hammer to tap a circle around the top until it cracks open. Coconuts are on the small side, and that’s a lot of work for a drink – but at least you don’t have to check the label! Bottled coconut water, on the other hand, tends to be filtered and sometimes contains added ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Super Hydrating Coconut Water

Ingredients
1 cup coconut water
¼ cup watermelon cut into cubes
¼ cup grapefruit juice
2 teaspoons honey
mint leaves for garnish

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients together and chill

Salads Optimized: Super Food Pairings


Tomato Olive Bruschetta

Like a healthy couple, food pairings can work together to improve each other, boosting the effectiveness of the individual ingredients. It’s the dietary equivalent of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. These super food pairings not only add some kick to your kale – they’ll also boost the nutritional value of your salads.

Italian Caprese Salad

Pairing tomatoes with olive oil and mozzarella cheese can significantly improve the health benefits of each. Tomatoes contain cancer fighting Carotenoids that are fat soluble, which means that eating tomatoes dressed with a healthy oil-based vinaigrette (like olive oil and balsamic vinegar) allows your body to access the Carotenoids more easily. Don’t forget the basil!

Red Bell Peppers and Lentil Mix-ins

Crisp bell peppers are a crunchy way to zest up your salad, while repairing and strengthening your immune system with vitamin C. Vitamin C also assists in the absorption of Iron, which lentils are full of. Iron is a key component in hemoglobin, a molecule in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen throughout the body, boosting energy.

Salmon Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette

Both salmon and garlic strengthen your immune system, counteract inflammation, and lower bad cholesterol. Putting these two foods together creates a double-whammy of positive effects on your body.

Bone Strengthening Cobb Salad

An all-time favorite, known for its abundance of tasty toppings, the Cobb Salad is often overlooked for its superfood pairing of cheese and egg. Egg yolks are filled with vitamin D that allows calcium from cheese to be easily absorbed.