The benefits of coconut oil

Coconuts are hot on the health-food scene right now, and deservedly so! They are so versatile in what parts can be used—oil, water, sugar, flour, milk, or flesh—how each part can be used, and their health benefits. Coconut oil, however, is becoming more and more popular for its cure-all properties. This healthy fat made from pressing mature coconuts is a great substitute for, or addition to, your traditional kitchen oils and fats.

 

  • Lowers “bad” cholesterol—Despite being high in saturated fat, coconut oil is an exceptional food because these fats are healthy for your body. One of the fats, lauric acid, a medium chain fat, increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood thus improving healthy cholesterol ratios.

 

  • Boosts the immune system—Rich in anti-oxidants, coconut oil can prevent heart disease and promote overall wellness. Coconut oil is also rich in anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, and studies have shown a connection between the oil and helping to prevent certain cancers.

 

  • Skin and hair care—Coconut oil can promote glowing, moisture-rich skin and hair internally and externally. The fatty acids help your skin stay youthful and clear, and your hair soft, strong, and shiny. But when applied to the surface of your skin, it can perform as a non-greasy moisturizer or anti-aging cream. It can also be a great conditioner for your hair, and can be mixed with other ingredients to make more products such as body scrubs for a natural glow. A great alternative to the harsh chemicals we find in commercial products.

 

  • Improves brain function—Coconut oil is said to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and this is because of the connection between the medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) and brain function. These healthy fats may maintain cognitive functioning and good memory as well as helping to repair neural pathways.

 

Don’t dismiss the rest of the coconut though! Coconut water is extremely refreshing and hydrating as it is high in electrolytes. Give it a try it in my Green Goddess Smoothie. Dried or fresh coconut flesh is a great low G.I snack to give you energy and it is packed with fiber. The meat also works well for cooking, like in my delicious Unbaked Creamy Corn & Coconut Casserole.  Check out these recipes and more in my book, The Goddess of Raw Foods.  

 

Happy healthy eating, all!

Foods to Lower High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, in this country is a growing epidemic. It occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high so that it can lead to heart disease. And if it is ignored it can also lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.  An effective way to avoid high blood pressure or to lower you blood pressure without relying on medication is to include these five foods in your diet.

  • Avocado—This nutrient-dense food contains heart-healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. It’s so versatile too, making it easy to incorporate into your diet! You can add it to salads and smoothies, or make it into dips and salad dressings. From my cookbook, The Goddess of Raw Foods, try the cucumber avocado salad dressing—a refreshing and healthy addition to your salads.
  • Dark Chocolate—Hurray! Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich, and packed with bioactive phytochemicals called polyphenols that are proven to protect against vascular and heart disease. This is great news for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries—These berries contain compounds called anthocyanins that protect against hypertension, and can lower your blood pressure. The Oh So Berry Smoothie from my book is perfect for a vitamin and antioxidant-rich breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
  • Unsalted Sunflower Seeds—These little seeds are jam-packed with magnesium, and make a perfect snack or an addition to salads for heart-health. Make sure you go for unsalted though; salted can be really high in sodium which will have a negative impact on your blood pressure if over-consumed.
  • Oats—A diet rich in fiber and whole grains such as oats has been proven to help keep blood pressure low, and can decrease both systolic and diastolic pressure. For a delicious and healthy start to your day, try my Rawsome Oatmeal and add berries and bananas for an extra boost to your vascular health!

Stay Healthy & Happy!

5 Tips for Eating Out as a Vegan

Eating out as a vegan can feel like a difficult task, especially in a group where you may be the only one. You probably don’t want to draw attention to yourself when ordering, but you don’t want to leave the restaurant feeling hungry. Here are a few tips to having a seamless and enjoyable outing with friends while still maintaining your healthy lifestyle.

  • Ask for a vegan menu—Restaurants are increasingly offering more options to those with dietary restrictions but may not always offer the altered menu up front. Very often if you just ask, they will deliver.  And servers are trained now to know the vegan options and the gluten-free options.
  • Order sides—If the restaurant doesn’t offer a vegan menu, get creative and order some sides; chances are you can create a balanced and nutritious meal. Make sure to ask that they hold any butter and/or cheese.
  • Plan ahead—Look the restaurant up online and read through the menu. If you don’t see any dishes that you would eat or that you can easily alter, give the restaurant a call and see what they can do to accommodate your needs. When you warn the kitchen of any alterations ahead of time, it makes it easier for them (especially on a busy Friday or Saturday night) and you feel like less of a liability.  And the chefs sometimes love the challenge or preparing a vegan meal.  So if you humble yourself and allow the restaurant to accommodate you, they usually will.
  • Choose the place—If you’re going out with just a friend or a small group, and you know they’re flexible or not too fussy then suggest a restaurant of your choice that you know is vegan or will have vegan options. Very often non-vegans are pleasantly surprised at the exciting and different flavors dishes at vegan restaurants offer.
  • Eat ahead of time—If you know there’s nothing or very little on the menu that you can order or alter, eat a meal or a snack before you go out, and order something small or a beverage at the restaurant. Going out with friends is about enjoying the company and the atmosphere; you don’t have to be hungry!

Share with us what do you do when going out to a non-vegan restaurant as a vegan!

Pregnancy and The Vegan Diet

There are a lot of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins that are essential for pregnant women to consume to maintain their own health and to produce a healthy baby. Iron, calcium, and protein are extremely important, and while these key items are typically sourced from meat and dairy products, there is a huge range of plant-based foods that offer those vital nutrients and more.

Iron—Iron is important for cardiovascular health, brain development, and the immune system. Therefore the iron intake for a pregnant woman needs to be higher because of the increase in the mother’s blood and the blood for the baby. Some plant-based sources of iron include:

  • Collard greens and other dark leafy greens
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried Apricots

From my book, The Goddess of Raw Foods, I have a recipe for collard green burritos which is perfect for an iron-rich meal as in addition to those collard greens, the recipe contains tomatoes and spinach. It’s delicious, and inexpensive and easy to make.

Protein—Protein is the building block to our bodies, and therefore essential to healthy baby growth. Some foods that are an excellent source of protein include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Hemp
  • Beans
  • Lentils

Another great recipe the hemp burger. The burger is high in protein thanks to the hemp and sunflower seeds, and is a fabulous and healthy alternative.

Calcium—Calcium is important for strong bones, and even more important during pregnancy for the mother because of the stress put on the body and for healthy growth of the baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium is also essential for healthy muscle development and function.

  • Almond butter and milk
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Figs and black molasses
  • Kale and leafy greens

In the book, My Apple Butter takes almond butter to a whole new level with flavors of cinnamon and maple. Its decadence makes it deceptively healthy, and as an added bonus is high in calcium.

And considering we are expecting our little one in December, we know that she will be off to a good start with healthy eating habits!

Are you a woman who is pregnant and wants to go vegan or is thinking about more vegan options?  Share with us your story and qustions.