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Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie

Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie

Mango smoothie anyone? Mango trees are abundant down here, and it is full-on mango season in Miami. Mangoes are rather high in sugar as far as fruit goes, so as much as I love it I don’t tend to eat loads. However I’ve been gifted […]

Dark Chocolate Avocado Smoothie – Vegan Sugar-Free Recipe

Dark Chocolate Avocado Smoothie – Vegan Sugar-Free Recipe

Well it’s official – I’m on an avocado smoothie kick! After last week’s green superfood avocado smoothie, I decided to get inspiration from my own recipe and made a dark chocolate avocado smoothie. Like the avocado chocolate mousse, this smoothie is super smooth and creamy, […]

Creamy Avocado Green Superfood Smoothie Plus the Health Benefits of Avocados

Creamy Avocado Green Superfood Smoothie Plus the Health Benefits of Avocados

Avocado Smoothie for Breakfast Anyone!?

We all know avocado toast has become a favorite go-to for breakfast. It’s hard to find a good breakfast or brunch menu without it. But an avocado smoothie!?

We all know I’m obsessed with avocados. They make any meal better, adding creamy deliciousness and healthy fats to keep you satisfied. You can even make a decadent vegan chocolate mousse with it, and – yes – even ice cream (coming soon!).

But one thing I’ve neglected is smoothies – how is it that I’ve never posted an avocado smoothie recipe!? I’ve added avocado to my go-to blueberry smoothies in the past to add a little extra creaminess, and yes, those healthy fats!

Going for the Green Avocado Smoothie, and Winning

But I decided to try a full-on avocado–forward, heavy-on-the-greens breakfast smoothie and oh wow I surprised even myself! As crazy as it might sound, trust me it’s worth a try.

I wanted to avoid all fruit in this avocado smoothie to create a low-sugar breakfast option, so I wasn’t entirely confident it would be a success. But it actually turned out to be pretty delicious… in my humble opinion!

I added vanilla protein powder to give it a touch of sweetness and a chunk of ginger to give it some zing. The cucumber keeps it fresh and adds some bulk, while the spinach blends in and boosts the nutrient-density. I added some almond milk and boom – an easy-peasy delicious smoothie recipe!

You’ve gotta like avocado to like this smoothie, but with all the health benefits they pack in, this smoothie is one hundred percent worth a try. Smoothies are a great on-the-go breakfast option, and this one will keep you satisfied all morning.

The Many Health Benefits of Avocados and Why You Should Add more Avocado to your Diet

Avocados are technically a fruit – but with all the healthy fats and only 2g of net carbs per serving due to their high fiber content, they are super low-carb friendly. The soluble fiber is a prebiotic, making them good for gut health.

They are also incredibly nutrient dense. Based on RDA standards, one serving includes:

  • 26% vitamin K
  • 20% folate
  • 17% vitamin C
  • 14% potassium (more than bananas! and most people don’t get enough)
  • 14% vitamin B5
  • 13% vitamin B6
  • 10% vitamin E
  • plus small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin)

Full of Healthy Fats – and why you shouldn’t be scared of fats

People are often concerned about the fat content of avocados – but you shouldn’t be. First off, we all need healthy fats in our diet. Many vitamins – such as vitamins A, D, K and E – are fat soluble, as are many antioxidants and micronutrients like carotenoids. Eating avocado with your veggies can dramatically improve the nutritional uptake from your food (aka how much of the nutrients you actually absorb).

Plus, fats are incredibly important for our brain and cell health. Our cell membranes are made up of fats and proteins.

Furthermore, avocados contain zero cholesterol or sodium, and for those who are concerned, they are low in saturated fats. The main fat is oleic acid, the same major component in olive oil, whose health benefits have been touted for years. Oleic acid is linked to reduced inflammation and has been shown to have a positive effect on cancer-linked genes.

In fact, avocados can actually help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies have shown they can also help lower HDL levels (the bad cholesterol) and increase LDL levels (the good cholesterol).

Avocados are Linked to Lower Rates of Disease and Possibly Cancer Prevention

Studies of people who regularly eat avocados have also found that they tend to have lower rates of metabolic disease (e.g. diabetes and heart disease), tended to weigh less, have a healthier BMI, and less belly fat. The caveat is that this study only showed correlation, not causation, so take these results with a grain of salt.

Furthermore, avocados have been linked to eye health. The nutrients contained in avocados can dramatically reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

While current research is limited, there is also evidence that avocados are good for cancer prevention. One study showed that the extract inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells, while another showed that they can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

How to Incorporate More Avocado into your Diet, and my favorite ways to eat avocado

Best of all – avocados are super dleicious and super easy to incorporate into your diet! Make guacamole, put it in a salad, pile it on your toast, make a creamy soup, top off your favorite savory dish…. even make dessert!

Or, blend it up to make an avocado smoothie like this one for a healthy, satisfying, nutrient-dense breakfast to keep you going all morning.

avocado smoothie green superfood recipe
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Creamy Avocado Green Smoothie

A creamy, satisfying, vegetable-heavy breakfast smoothie that packs in a nutrient-punch to start your day the right way! 

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 large cucumber optional – use a frozen cucumber
  • 1 cup spinach or a large handful
  • 1 1/2 in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup almond milk coconut milk or other dairy-free milk of choice will work well

Optional Additions

  • 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored plant-based protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp raw honey to add a touch of sweetness... start low then add more to taste
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed, chia, or ground nut and seed mix of choice
  • 1 serving adaptogens or greens potions of choice

Instructions

  1. Wash your vegetables and peel the ginger.

  2. Throw it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy! 

 

Easy Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Kelp Noodles

Easy Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Kelp Noodles

Making a vegan sun dried tomato pesto has been on the radar for ages. I just never got around to it. But I’ve been exploring some of the vegan restaurants down here in Miami and I’ve gotten oodles of inspiration. Notably, I had an absolutely […]

Mindset of Moving: Motivation, Momentum, and the Benefits of Moving

Mindset of Moving: Motivation, Momentum, and the Benefits of Moving

Moving can be stressful. Even if it’s an exciting move that goes smoothly – as mine was – it can still be exhausting. Between packing, sorting out logistics, and the actual move itself, it can be a major time, energy, and resource drain. But taking […]

Why I Moved to Miami: Channeling that Sunshine State of Mind

Why I Moved to Miami: Channeling that Sunshine State of Mind

Miami Life: Good vibes and Sunshine

So I’ve been a little quiet on here lately, because I’ve been gearing up for a major move to Miami! It all happened very quickly and with everything going on I had to put my blog on pause. But wow what a month it has been!

I was at a point in my life were I needed a change, and things just fell into place so seamlessly, and here I am, living in South Beach. So far, I’m loving every second of it.

The sun shines bright, the people are warm and welcoming, and I’m feeling motivated.

Why I Decided to Pick Up and Move to Miami

The real reason I moved? #wintermademedoit. Truly, this past winter was incredibly long and difficult for me up in the tri-state. I decided I’d just had enough. I was fortunate to come down for a little girls weekend in early March, and it was cold, snowy, and windy on either end of my trip. Literally as soon as I landed, as I waited next to the baggage claim, I thought to myself, “What on earth am I doing!?”

That very night, I started researching the logistics of a move to Miami. Miami is still very much the adult playground we all know it to be. But when I came down in March, I got a more balanced taste of the city. The wellness scene down here is big – and it’s growing.

My Initial Glimpses of the Miami Wellness Scene

Sure many people are into healthy eating and fitness because they want to look good in their bikinis. But it definitely goes beyond that. I’ve been exploring the yoga studios and wellness offerings in my local area and I’m definitely impressed. I can find organic and vegan cafés and restaurants, lots of fresh juice places, and all the matcha and smoothies I could ever want a hop skip and a jump from my place in almost any direction.

Not to mention, I really hit the jackpot with my apartment – I’m four blocks away from Whole Foods! There’s a park half a block away, and I can walk to the beach in just ten minutes. For real I think I landed in my own version of paradise.

But there’s so much more to Miami than all of that. It’s a diverse and interesting city, big on art and chock full of culture. Fashion and design permeate the city.

Embracing the New and Going with the Flow

I was ready for a change. I arrived down in Miami on Sunday May 6, after a four day solo road trip with stops in DC, Wake Forest, Charleston, Savannah, and Reddick, Florida – stunning horse country. The road trip was an exhausting adventure in itself, but it was absolutely amazing.

green juice matcha Miami wellness

My aim was to get down here by Sunday, because arriving on a Sunday seemed like a good idea. I’d have time to settle in and get down to sorting out logistics of fun things like parking permits that week. It also turned out that it was exactly two years to the day since I started treatment. Arriving to my new life in Miami exactly two years later seemed even more appropriate.

I arrived and immediately felt at home. My new roommate helped me unpack, and neighbors and friends were in and out all week. I had just landed in a new city and had already met a whole group of new friends. I wasn’t just busy settling into a new apartment, I was busy socializing and building a new social network.

Best of all, my new roommates and their whole group of friends are really into healthy eating and fitness. The weather is warm, and so are the people.

Possibility Mindset and Openness

But I think everything has been falling into place so well because of the mindset I adopted when I decided to move down here – I’m open to possibility. I’m embracing new opportunities, saying yes to (almost) everything that comes my way, and so far it’s all been wonderful.

I moved to Miami not just because I needed to escape the Winter. I am definitely extra sensitive to the cold, and I definitely need more warm weather in my life. But really I moved to Miami because I needed a fresh start. I moved to Miami because I wanted more – more of the healthy lifestyle that I’d begun to create for myself.

And that’s exactly what I’ve found: beach, sunshine, yoga, plenty of green juice, blue skies, and a clear mind. Count me as a very happy girl right now.

Stress and my Cancer Diagnosis

Stress and my Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer Diagnosis Anniversary April is National Stress Awareness Month. It also happens to be the month I was officially diagnosed with lymphoma. It’s the month I found out I had cancer. Months of stress culminated in a cancer crisis in what apparently is a month […]

Healthy Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Bites – Sugar-Free Better Than Reese’s Eggs!

Healthy Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Bites – Sugar-Free Better Than Reese’s Eggs!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter: The Best of Both Worlds When this time of year rolls around, I get nostalgic for my childhood. The Easter egg hunts, dying the easter Eggs, the cute little Easter dresses, the chocolate rabbits, the jelly beans…. oh and those peanut […]

Keto Fail: Starting Bulletproof, Keto, and IF at the Wrong Time of the Month

Keto Fail: Starting Bulletproof, Keto, and IF at the Wrong Time of the Month

Going Keto: Learning the Hard Way

After being a vegetarian for over eight years followed by a crazy diagnosis, I’ve dabbled with different diets to see what works best for me. I can’t say I’ve tried it ‘all,’ but I’ve certainly been around the block with many of these diets. But I haven’t quite gone full keto.

I went raw vegan for a spell, then turned paleo, but perhaps a more palegan version of the paleo diet. Or pegan – aka super heavy on the plants, a little bit of animal protein. I’ve done the anti-candida no sugar no carb diet, and dabbled with keto here and there. I’ve also relaxed and ‘cheated’ on occasion on each of these diets. I’ve also been playing with Intermittent Fasting to see how that goes down.

Part of this experimentation stems from personal health motivations, part of it is out of personal curiosity, and part of it from professional predilection to research and experiment and dive in to the ‘data.’

key lime avocado mousse sugar-free vegan dairy-free raw dessert recipe

My Ketogenic Diet Experiment

I decided to put myself through a proper ketogenic diet experiment to see if I could see and feel the benefits of it first-hand. As a health coach, it helps to know beyond just theory. Plus, I’ve dabbled with it in the past and generally speaking already eat pretty low carb. So I figured the transition shouldn’t be too terrible.

The tricky part would be the chocolate. No question, if there was something I knew might cause the destruction of this experiment, it would be chocolate.

But I dove in and got my organic pasture raised eggs and avocados all lined up. I also really wanted to experiment with a no meat, no dairy, and potentially even completely vegan version of keto. Could it be done with ‘relative’ ease?

Restricting your diet is never easy, but an extreme diet like that would certainly require a high level of diligence and dedication. Since I’m already low carb and low on the animal protein, I figured the test and transition wouldn’t be too extreme for me to try. Evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet could be a powerful way to help fight and heal certain diseases, so I figured it would be worth the experimental efforts.

bulletproof coffee

Going Keto, Bulletproof Style

I began with a bulletproof coffee in the morning. I even got the Bulletproof brand coffee (which supposedly has no mycotoxins) and I already had a bottle of the Brain Octane MCT oil that I’d purchased (on sale) a year prior in a previous half-hearted bulletproof trial run. I also had a jar of grass fed ghee in my cabinet, so I was sorted. If I was going to experiment, I might as well do it ‘right.’

I added some of the Bulletproof approved add-ins like collagen peptides, cinnamon, a little bit of organic cacao powder, and even a little cardamom to boost the nutritional benefits of the butter coffee. The idea is you replace breakfast with the bulletproof coffee and eat the rest of your daily calories within a restricted number of hours. Which is basically intermittent fasting. Since the coffee is mostly fat, it’s also a very coffee-lovers keto-friendly way to get MCT fat calories in.

Both the bulletproof coffee and the ketogenic diet supposedly help you feel more focused and energetic throughout your day. Between the lingering fatigue and chemo brain from treatment, I figured this would be an excellent thing for me to test out.

cauliflower mash vegan paleo dairy-free keto

Cauliflower Mash – Three Ways

Derailed by Chocolate – Or Something Else?

Drinking the coffee and holding off to eat until midday (the intermittent fasting component) wasn’t hard. Neither was eating low carb, since I tend to eat this way anyway. But I did experience some intense chocolate cravings – and yes it could have been the sugar itself I was craving. Day one I got a little derailed by a chocolate binge. I figured it was like my transition day – Day two would be easier. But then the same thing happened.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I was right: it was the chocolate that got in the way. But I was also actually wrong – it wasn’t actually the ‘chocolate,’ it was the underlying cause of the craving itself. The truth is, the realities of being a woman kicked me hard in the butt.

Day three I woke up feeling absolutely miserable – I literally felt like a ton of bricks. Could this be the dreaded keto flu? This was surely a piece of the overall picture. But on top of that, I got my monthly visitor, and – duh! – I realized that possible low blood sugar issues aside, this was probably the primary source of those intense chocolate cravings and why I was feeling like crap.

avocado chocolate mousseMocha Avocado Mousse: Vegan Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Keto Flu or Feminine Issues?

So I just gave in and ate my (sugar-free) chocolate avocado mousse topped with a bit more dark chocolate. But then I also began to experience chills, shakes, and – shockingly – nausea. Good lord I’ve never felt so awful before in my life due to my cycle. I have a strong stomach. I rarely experience nausea.

This was certainly more than that. Keto was clearly not helping, nor the chocolate. The combination of it all was brutal. All my body wanted at that point was a meatball. But it also felt like all it wanted to do was regurgitate the contents of my stomach. And I still had my yoga class to teach that evening.

I raided the pantry for some ginger tea and thank goodness my stomach began to settle. The class went smoothly, but yep immediately afterward I went straight to the Whole Foods hot bar and found a tray of giant meatballs. I got my meatball, paid, and immediately sat down to eat that meat.

I did feel better. But I realized this meatless, possibly even fish-free and egg-free version of keto might cause some unforeseen difficulties. Particularly since I apparently had to factor in female considerations.

Giving In but Not Giving Up

So I’m taking a couple days off of the full-on keto plan to let my body do it’s thing, and then I’ll regroup. Day four I was consciously off keto, yet still more or less doing IF. I still stuck to an overall low sugar, higher fat diet. But I woke up that morning bloated and throughout the day a substantial headache kicked in – another extreme rarity for me. I slept well after Day four, yet Day five I’m still feeling pretty tired.

The reality is, keto aside, my hormones still seem to be a bit out of whack. My body is still re-regulating. It seems I am overall just extra sensitive now. So keto at this time was definitely not a great idea. But I’ve heard and read that once you go keto, it can actually help your hormones regulate.

balance balanced chick

Lessons Learned

To be sure, I have considered that maybe keto isn’t actually right for me. But at this point I’ve hardly given my body a chance to transition, so I still don’t have a fair read on how it impacts me. Low carb seems to work pretty well for me, but full on keto is a different ballgame. And the potential benefits of keto are certainly alluring. The jury’s still out, but I’ve learned a few things already:

  • Planning is key. Yes, going to the store and buying the right food and planning your meals is a key component of doing keto – or any dietary shift – right. But, planning any attempt to shift your diet, particularly keto, into your overall life schedule is equally important. As much as you might hear people say things like ‘the best day to start is today,’ certain things in life – especially diet and lifestyle change – do require a transition. You can’t/ shouldn’t do an extreme diet like keto from 0-100 overnight because it’s more likely you’ll fall off the wagon and/ or experience very unpleasant side effects. And if you’re sensitive or have health considerations, you’ll need to be extra careful. Most people do experience the keto flu in the first couple days, or up to a week, as their bodies transition into fat burning mode, so don’t try to go keto right before an important day or event in your life! Finally, ladies, don’t try to go keto right before your period! Hormones have a real impact. Don’t mess with them.
  • Bulletproof coffee is energizing. While I have only a couple days of full on keto under my belt, I’ve been doing the bulletproof coffee for closer to a week. I honestly feel like the one cup does keep me revved all day. Is it necessary to consume it in this precise form to still reap the benefits? I’m not sure. I’m going to keep playing with that one.
  • Your body is the leader. The expert. The King. The Queen. Ok, so this is a lesson I’ve learned before, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating. No matter what health quest you might be on, you must always listen to what your body needs. To be clear, there is a distinct difference between what your body wants and what it truly needs. Chocolate cravings like mine mean more than ‘sugar.’ They mean ‘iron’ and ‘magnesium’ and other such nutrients like antioxidants, and even serotonin needs as monthly hormone cycles come into play, so learn the proper swaps to feed your body what it needs without falling back on what you think it wants. And what works for one person might not work for you, so when making any dietary changes tune in and let your body lead the way.
  • Optimal health is a moving target. As is diet. As humans, we are constantly changing and evolving; that goes for our health too, and diets along with it. Metabolism changes, and health situations may alter the way we react to a food, or how sensitive we are to particular ingredients. Life changes, circumstances change, we change; what we need may likely change in turn.

Stay tuned for more updates as I continue to report on my keto experiments. And if you’ve had experimented with the keto diet I’d love to hear your experiences – good and bad!

For some keto-friendly, plant-based recipes, check these out:

 

Spring and My Cancer Diagnosis Anniversary

Spring and My Cancer Diagnosis Anniversary

Not-So-Springlike Lack of Sunshine Killin My Vibe Happy Spring! Or at least that’s what the calendar tells me I should be saying. Reality: maybe not quite yet. I don’t know what winter’s deal is this year, but it definitely isn’t moving on without a fight. […]


Life in Progress

My One Year Cancerversary

My One Year Cancerversary

The Preliminary C Diagnosis: Looking Back

A year ago today I received a call when I was at work. It was the director of the Lymphoma center at Columbia. I went into the bathroom to take the call. Gently but without mincing any words, he informed me that the preliminary results of my needle biopsy were in: I had lymphoma.  (more…)