Need an Energy Boost? Try this Chia Juice!

Chia Juice Health Benefits

Did you know that “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”? If that doesn’t deserve its own workout drink, I don’t know what does. But don’t buy one from the store – they’re loaded with sugar! Here’s what you need to know about chia seeds, including a delicious healthy recipe for a refreshing juice!

5 Fun Facts About Chia Seeds

  1. Chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram.
  2. High fiber and protein content makes you feel full longer and slows the metabolism of sugars.
  3. Nicely balanced amino acids make the protein easy for our bodies to use.
  4. Contain 4 nutrients that work together to maintain good bone health: Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein.
  5. Lowers blood pressure and inflammation.

Chia seed drinks are quickly trending in high-end health food stores, but like most mass-produced bottled beverages, they’re high in sugar. I love adding chia seeds to my juices and smoothies for their healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium since the combination keeps your blood-sugar even for hours. Hello steady energy! While you can add chia seeds to anything, I love this refreshing, ultra-hydrating recipe.

Minty-Fresh Energy Boost Juice

  • ½ lemon
  • 1 cucumber
  • Handful of romaine, arugula, or watercress
  • Handful of mint
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • ½ green apple

4 Juices to Help You Touch Your Toes Without Pain

juice for flexibility and inflammation reduction

I once heard a yoga instructor say “You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” Well, that woman was a grandmother and didn’t look a day past 40! I’d say she’s onto something. While yoga and exercise, or even chasing after grandchildren, can help your muscles stay in shape, flexibility needs more than exercise: Flexibility also relies on reducing inflammation. These four juices do just that, making your daily exercise routine feel easier, and helping you to touch your toes without pain.

Beet juice is rich in nitrates, which our bodies convert to nitrites, which dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow. The result: More stamina! Your muscles need less oxygen to do the same amount of work, making exercise feel less difficult. This is definitely the juice to drink before CrossFit!

Can’t Beet the Staying Power Recipe

  • 1 beet
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/2′ ginger
  • 1 stalk kale
  • 1 green apple

Green juice, using kale, spinach, chard, broccoli and celery, improves flexibility through its high water content and ability to cleanse acids from the body. It’s the perfect breakfast for that early morning pilates class.

Hydrating Green Juice

  • 2 red chard leaves
  • 3 kale stalks
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 apple or pear

Barley grass juice or powder contains the stretchy trifecta of beta carotene, iron and calcium which work together to improve flexibility and total body health. It’s a wonderful addition to your favorite juice, but on its own, it tastes a lot like…well, grass.

Turmeric juice, or powder, as an additive to any of your favorite juices, is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories out there. Inflammation not only reduces flexibility, but has also been linked to a wide range of health problems, from arthritis to obesity. Bonus: Turmeric also acts as an anti-depressant, giving a mood boost to your day! I like to drink this for dessert to ensure sweet dreams and a good night’s rest.

Turmeric Milk Recipe

  • 2 cups almond/hemp milk
  • 2 dates pitted
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

And yes, you can combine these four ingredients together for one incredible pre-workout drink!

How to Use Food to Rock Your New Year’s Resolutions

Broccoli,radish and feta salad with quinoa

This post is NOT about losing weight. In fact, that resolution isn’t even going to be mentioned, because you know why? I’m SICK OF IT! Aren’t you? Of course you can use food to lose weight (studies show it’s more effective to control your diet than increase exercise, if you have to choose), but let’s dig a little deeper this year and go after what we really want.

1. Resolution: Be Happier

It’s a simple one, but it’s what we’re really after with all the other resolutions isn’t it? Even when you have a great family, work you love, and live in a beautiful part of the country that hovers between 60 and 80 degrees in the dead of winter – you can still feel down more often than you’d like. Stop punishing yourself for being ungrateful – that’s not it. Unless you need to make real changes in your life (maybe you do!), these down times are chemical. And that means you can lift yourself back up with food.

There was an interesting study on PBS recently that linked inflammation with depression. Which means that an anti-inflammatory diet could significantly help symptoms of depression. Two especially powerful anti-inflammatory foods (or supplements) you can try are:

  1. Turmeric (curcumin)
  2. Omega-3 (fish, or fish oil)

2. Resolution: Be Healthier

Boost energy and fight disease this year by incorporating these 5 foods into your daily life. Yes, daily.

  • Lemons – Anti-inflammatory, inhibits cancer cell growth, increases “good” cholesterol levels, vitamin C.
  • Broccoli – Anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting rock-star, vitamin K & vitamin C combo builds healthy bones.
  • Dark Chocolate – 1/4th oz daily reduces blood pressure & bad cholesterol, and improves your mood!
  • Salmon/Fish/Flax Seeds/Walnuts – Omega-3 fatty acids help the brain work better, reduce bad cholesterol, and reduce risk for heart disease.
  • Spinach – Anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, and eye-health-improving. Toss a handful in with your eggs every morning!

3. Resolution: Spend More Time With Loved Ones

Invite some friends over to cook a healthy meal together – and schedule these dinners as often as you’d like. We’re all so busy that if we don’t schedule in time with friends and loved ones, it never happens. So put a few dinner dates on your calendar. Here’s an idea: Make a game of it by inviting a friend to walk through your local farmer’s market with you, choose some “mystery” ingredients, and see what you can do with them when you get back!

Don’t like to cook, but still want the healthy dinner? We’ve got you covered. Just serve everyone Intelligent Gourmet!

3 Simple Creamy Vegan Winter Soups

Broccoli Soup With Cream

It’s officially the Winter Holidays! And while Tampa remains a stubborn balmy 70 degrees, we’re almost dipping into the 60s this week. If you’ve lived around here long enough, I’m sure you’ll agree: It’s hat and coat time! But not only do we crave our winter wardrobes when the weather turns chilly (read: Less than 75), we crave soothing hot comfort foods. Here are three of my favorite hot soup recipes made vegan, low-calorie, and extra delicious. Oh, and the best part: They’re all major cancer-fighters!

You’ll definitely need an immersion blender…

All recipes serve 3-4 (or 2 if they want seconds!)

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

  • 1 head of cauliflower and 1 head of broccoli, steamed
  • 1 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Add 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4th tsp grated nutmeg
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Non-Vegan options: Garnish with plain Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Directions:

In a pot, saute 1 chopped onion until well browned in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Using an immersion blender, blend cauliflower, broccoli, and onion mixture together, adding vegetable broth until desired soup consistency is reached. Garnish with fresh parsley, or non-vegan alternatives.

Vegan Mushroom Soup

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 1 Tb EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs mushrooms
  • 1 Tb dry sherry (or white wine)
  • 1 russet potato or 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • To add depth of flavor, try adding a dash of balsamic vinegar!

Directions

Saute onion with olive oil in a pot until caramelized, add garlic. Deglaze with dry sherry and add mushrooms and potatoes. Add herbs and spices. Cook down until mushrooms are deeply browned (not burnt!) and potato pieces are soft. Immersion blend until soup has reached a desirable consistency. Since mushrooms produce a lot of moisture while cooking down, you may not need any additional vegetable stock, which is why it’s omitted. If extra moisture is required, use vegetable stock or white wine. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme (yep, just like the song says!).

vegan creamy tomato soup

Vegan Tomato Soup

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours beforehand
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 14.4 oz cans stewed tomatoes (or 4.5 cups)
  • 1/4 c coconut milk
  • Fresh basil, chopped with some more for garnish
  • Sugar, salt and pepper to taste (yes, sugar!)
  • Pepitas (optional garnish)

Directions

In a pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until they are soft. In a 2-cup measure (or deep pot – whatever you have handy), use your immersion blender to blend the cashews with 1/2 cup water until it’s creamy. Add into the onion/garlic pot with stewed tomatoes, basil, and coconut milk, and blend until creamy. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garlic bread, or garnish with pepitas.

5 Potluck-Perfect Healthy Holiday Party Recipes

Healthy party food

In the early days of Pinterest (what was that – all of 3 years ago?), when you searched for “Healthy holiday party recipes,” all you’d see is a Christmas tree made of broccoli and radishes. Healthy, but lacking in the vital ingredient of party food: Fun!

healthy holiday party food

 

How times have changed. Taking inspiration from some of my favorite Pinterest finds (Check out my new Intelligent Holiday Entertaining Pinterest Board), I’ve got you covered for all of your holiday entertaining needs – from Brunch to Lunch and Dinner Potlucks.

5 Potluck-Perfect Healthy Holiday Party Recipes

1. Artichoke-Dip Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust (Brunch)

Ingredients

  • Olive oil.
  • 3 Sweet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds (1/8th”) – May need more sweet potatoes or less depending on their size.
  • 5oz blanched spinach (or frozen spinach, thawed). Squeeze out excess moisture.
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (in water), chopped.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced.
  • 1 Cup parmesan.
  • 1 Cup low-fat cottage cheese.
  • 4 eggs.

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate with olive oil and line it with a single layer of sliced sweet potatoes, placed so they overlap. Brush the tops with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce oven heat to 375.

Whisk together eggs, parmesan and cottage cheese. Stir in artichoke hearts, garlic and spinach. Pour into deep-dish pie plate. (There may be extra filling)

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is puffy and lightly browned.

2. Christmas Tree Cucumber Tea Sandwiches (Lunch)

Using your favorite bread – sqaw, rye, or pumpernickel work great! – cut into tree shapes with a cookie cutter. Blend light whipped cream cheese (or your favorite vegan substitute) with chopped dill, a pinch of salt and fresh-ground pepper, and spread lightly on the bread. Cut a cucumber in half lengthwise and slice thinly (1/8th”), and arrange on the bread like the boughs of a Christmas tree. Finish with a light squeeze of lemon.*

*This works well with pita bread triangles, avocado hummus, and diced red pepper too!

healthy holiday party recipes

3. Skinny Grapefruit Margarita (Drinks)

For one cocktail, combine: 1 shot of blanco tequila, 1/2 shot Triple Sec, 5oz grapefruit juice, and a twist of lime. Sweeten if necessary with agave syrup.

4. Omega-3 Bites! (Dinner Potluck)

You can call them smoked salmon-avocado bites, but I love these good-fat, brain-fueling appetizers. Lay out 1×3″ strips of smoked salmon and spoon mashed avocado and finely diced cucumber (sprinkled with a little salt and pepper – dill too if you like) into the middle. Fold salmon over the filling and spear with a toothpick. Top with a tiny wedge of thinly-sliced lemon.

5. No-Bake Pomegranate Chocolate Clusters (Dessert)

Ingredients – makes 20

  • 1 pomegranate worth of seeds, rinsed and thoroughly dried (not like a raisin – just not wet to the touch)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Mini muffin pan & mini muffin liners

Put chocolate chips into a heavy-duty ziplock bag and heat in the microwave at 15-second intervals, kneading after each, until the chocolate is liquid. Snip off a corner of the bag, and drizzle a small amount of chocolate into a liner. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds onto melted chocolate, and drizzle more chocolate on top, topping with a pinch of shredded coconut. Repeat 19 more times, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Don’t feel like cooking this holiday season? Come by the store and check out our Holiday Menu!

Intelligent Gourmet’s Top 5 Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving apple pie

Need to know the best way to brine a turkey, or find healthy vegan side dishes? I’ve got you covered. Here’s a roundup of my favorite Thanksgiving posts.

  1. 3 Ways to Boost Your Willpower Before Thanksgiving – Because sometimes you really don’t want that second slice of pie.
  2. Smart Appetizers – Thanksgiving appetizer recipes that won’t ruin your dinner, or your waistline.
  3. Aromatic Brined Turkey with Cider Gravy - The main event at many tables is the turkey, and this is my favorite way to prepare it.
  4. Wild Rice Dressing - The dressing that is delicious and good for you.
  5. Smart Sides: Feel Good Green Bean Casserole – A mood boost in a casserole dish.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Linda

A Zen Guide to Surviving the Season with Superfoods

Stress Busting Foods

All you want for the holidays is for your niece to get her two front teeth, for it to be white (but not polar vortex white), and to be as Zen as a yogi while wearing cute yoga pants. Well, I don’t have a direct line to the Tooth Fairy or Mother Nature, but I do know something about maintaining inner harmony using the power of food.

Add these stress-busting, energy-fueling superfoods to a meal or enjoy as a mid-gift-shopping snack and stay mentally balanced while maintaining your fab yoga figure.

Avocados For the Win

You can’t go wrong with a few slices perfectly ripened avocado. The texture is a mix between buttery and heavenly, and the heavy dose of vitamin B they offer perks up your alertness while taking down your anxiety levels. Try half of one with breakfast.

Go Bananas

Pair your morning cereal, organic pb and honey, or kale smoothie with a banana. Their mega-dose of potassium pumps up your energy while simultaneously reducing your blood pressure. Feeling wild? Try a fruit salad with both bananas and avocado (avocado isn’t just for guacamole anymore!).

More Milk, Please

There’s something to the tradition of hitting the hay with a glass of warm milk after all. High in tryptophan, milk is a natural way to calm down and yes, fall deeply into zzz’s. Or of course, drink it fresh from the fridge – either way, it’s soothing.

Carbs (Not Simple, Complex)

Tantalized by toast or riveted by rice? Don’t worry – we all are. Stick with complex carbs like whole-wheat bread and brown rise to raise serotonin levels and keep you happier than Dean Martin sipping eggnog and slurring carols.

Tuna, Salmon and Arctic Char

Consider eating these fish to take you to your adrenaline-free zone. The omega-3s in these fatty fish make staying calm easy. Yes, even when the printer biffed your holiday cards and your mother-in-law is writing Facebook posts about how she’s clearly been cut off of mailing lists.

Do You Cashew?

Zinc does a body good, and cashews are full of it. Blessed with the power of relieving stress and fighting off infections, a handful of cashews are almost as deserving of the title “savior” as someone else whose name comes up this time of year.

Orange You Glad…

When you’re stressed out (whether from debating about Pound Puppies vs. Pound Purries for your best friend’s kid, or from trying to cook the perfect holiday meal), your vitamin C levels drop. Grab one of these pulpy beauties to fight stress, and thus infections.

Dessert of Champions: Dark Chocolate

Sing it with me now: serotonin! I don’t expect you to skip sweets and treats – just do so wisely with anti-oxidant rich, mood-boosting dark chocolate. Try drizzling it over orange slices for a decadent mid-day pick me up or delectable dessert.

When you’re running full-steam ahead to make the Holidays happen, be sure to give yourself the gift of healthy food! Come by Intelligent Gourmet for a quick pick-me-up any  time you need it.

 

 

 

The Do’s & Don’ts of a Pre-Thanksgiving Juice Cleanse

Thanksgiving Dinner

With the holidays looming around the corner, many of us are scheduling hair cuts (and colors), picking out our Hostess with the Mostest party dresses, getting our mani-pedis in, and perhaps a facial. But what we really need is stamina – holidays are hard work! – and that can only come from a healthy diet (no, not an IV drip of pumpkin spice lattes). At Intelligent Gourmet, it’s my mission to help us look better, feel better, and live better, all of which you can kickstart with a pre-Thanksgiving juice cleanse. But, don’t just drink any juice, because the wrong juice cleanse can send you into Thanksgiving craving the WHOLE PIE! Here are the do’s and don’ts of an energizing pre-holiday cleanse.

How clean is your juice cleanse?

Don’t…

Drink juices that are high in sugar. Many of the store-bought, mass-produced juices we’ve found have more sugar than a can of Mountain Dew in every bottle. If you drink 6 of those per day, you’ll feel energized alright – it’s called a sugar high! – but will come crashing down. And, your body’s insulin levels will skyrocket, making you crave real food to soak it up. That is not how you want to sit down at the turkey (or tofurky) table.

Do…

Drink juices that are lower in sugar and balanced with protein. We balance each day’s juice plan with some veggie-heavy juices that are lower in sugar, and some nut milk juices that are filling and satisfying. That way, you avoid sugar-high spikes, crashes, and the cravings that come with them!

Creamsicle orange juice

 

Don’t…

Jump in to a cleanse without proper preparation. While it may be tempting to start a cleanse the day after that Holiday Cookie Bake, shifting from unhealthy eating habits straight to a juice cleanse can result in some uncomfortable gastrointestinal moments. Ease in to your cleanse with a few days of a fruit, vegetable and lean protein diet – and ease out of it the same way.

Have you tried our latest seasonal juices? Come by to see what we have in store for the holidays!

 

 

3 Healthy Halloween Pumpkin Recipes for a Spooktacular Party!

Healthy Pumpkin Recipes

If there are two things I know in life, it’s these: How to throw a spectacular party, and how to stock it with food that is healthy, delicious, and unforgettable. While Halloween is a holiday best known for its candy, there are so many health Fall options out there for entertaining! Here are my favorites, from sweet n’ simple pumpkin seeds to pumpkin butter, and curried pumpkin soup recipe that will blow your mind.

1. Simply Sweet Pumpkin Seeds

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Rinse fresh pumpkin seeds (leftover from all the pre-party pumpkin carving!).
  • Melt 1 Tb butter or coconut oil in a bowl, and toss in pumpkin seeds, stirring to coat. If you have the seeds from several pumpkins, you may need to increase the butter/oil to coat properly.
  • Stir in 2 Tb cinnamon, 1 Tb Stevia, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Spread evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even toastiness.

2. Coconut Curried Pumpkin Soup with Naan Toast

Brush naan with olive oil on both sides, and toast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Soup Ingredients:

  1. 2 tsp olive oil
  2. 3 cloves garlic
  3. 1″ fresh ginger, diced
  4. 1 shallot, diced
  5. 2 carrots, chopped
  6. 1/4th cup brown sugar, or honey to taste
  7. 4 tsp curry powder
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  10. 3 cups vegetable broth
  11. 1 cup coconut milk
  12. salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large soup pot, heat first 5 ingredients until sizzling and lightly browning. Add curry powder and cinnamon, stirring until fragrant. Then add your brown sugar or honey, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients carefully (don’t spatter!), and finally, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in small “taster” bowls, garnishing with a slice of toasted naan, and maybe sprinkle some fresh cilantro or parsley on top for color.

3. Healthy Pumpkin Butter

Serve this pumpkin butter on pumpkin bread, use it as a filling for mini-tarts, or use in place of jelly as the gooey center of thumbprint cookies. Hey, I said the pumpkin butter was healthy, but I’m not responsible for what you do with it!

Yield: 28 Servings

Ingredients:

• 3 1/2 cups of fresh pumpkin cut in small pieces
• 3/4 cup apple juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2-1.5 teaspoons ground ginger (depending on your liking)
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 3/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
• 1- 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Note: You can adjust the sugar and seasonings to your own taste, of course.

Preparation:
1. Boil or Bake raw pumpkin until soft, drain well and measure out the 3.5 cups, or use 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan except lemon juice, mix well.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover loosely with lid ajar (slightly offset). Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer, in the same manner for an additional 40 minutes, stirring frequently. This mixture may bubble and splatter if not careful.

4. Remove from heat and let it sit for 15 minutes before removing lid.

5. Adjust sucanat or sugar to taste if necessary, then stir in lemon juice.

6. Cool completely, and put in an airtight container like a large mason jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

To find out just how good pumpkin is for you, check out The Health Benefits of Pumpkin: So Good, It’s Scary!

The Secrets to Happiness Revealed – and one is Broccoli?

Health benefits of broccoli

Two new studies came out recently on foods that make us not only healthier, but happier human beings. And yes, one of those foods is broccoli! We’ll get to the other one in a minute.

Eating broccoli, along with other fruits and vegetables, has been linked to “eudaemonic well-being” – also known as feeling a sense of purpose and engagement with life, as well as curiosity and creativity. Researchers in New Zealand found that study participants who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables reported higher levels of creativity, curiosity and what they called “psychological flourishing.” Participants scored higher in these areas when they ate more vegetables, and lower on days that included more fried foods and desserts.

The real question is: Do healthier diets create a sense of engagement and positivity? Or, does being engaged and positive lead to eating better?

Try it yourself and see what you think!

The other dietary staple making the recent news is yogurt.

Recent scientific evidence indicates that the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts influence our emotions and even behavior. Depending on what types of bacteria are growing in your gut, you may crave more sweets or more fat, or even feel depressed.

In 2011, a study on depression was conducted to see if taking probiotic supplements reduced depression – it did. And, in 2013, UCLA produced a study reporting that women who ate yogurt every day experienced changes in the parts of their brains that process emotion.

It’s a little too early to say with certainty that you can toss your anti-depressants in favor of lactobacillus, but if you need a good-mood pick-me-up this week, try yogurt! And eat your vegetables.

Interested in other Good Mood Foods? Here are our previous posts on the topic.

Six Good Mood Foods to Chase Away Everyday Crankiness

The Best Diet & Fitness Regimen for Happiness

Foods to Give Spring to Your Step

Carbs, Comfort, and Cauliflower