Hemp Seed: The New Chia Seed of 2014?

Hemp Seed the new Chia Seed of 2014

Listen up health nuts, there’s a new seed on the horizon called hemp seed!

So what is hemp seed? Hemp seeds are tiny round seeds about the size of a sesame seed and come from the hemp plant. These seeds are packed with essential fats, amino acids and protein. Hemp seed has more than double the amount of protein as chia seeds which makes it a great source for both vegans and vegetarians. One serving size of hemp seeds has 10 grams of protein compared to chia seeds which only hold about 3 grams of protein per serving. Hemp seeds also contain 50% of your daily dose of Magnesium (helps with nerve and muscle function) and Phosphorus (helps build strong bones and teeth).

Hemp Seeds

These protein packed seeds are a great addition to your morning oatmeal, afternoon smoothie  or dinner time soup! I personally like to throw them in my oatmeal, yogurt or granola for an extra protein boost in the morning to help keep me full until lunch.

What is your favorite way to eat hemp seeds?

No-Hassle Crock Pot Epazote Chicken & Salsa


After a crazy work week and busy weekend I finally have some time to share an easy, no-hassle crock pot chicken recipe I made last weekend while I was home at my parents. After taking full advantage of the grill for my lemon basil chicken, I wanted to try out some fresh produce from my parent’s garden! My mom suggested I try out an herb called epazote which is commonly used in Mexican cooking. Epazote has a mild tangy flavor which inspired my crock pot recipe: Epazote Chicken & Salsa. It is the easiest recipe in the world and so tasty! 

Crock Pot Epazote Chicken & Salsa Ingredients:

  1. 1 & 1/2 containers of fresh hot salsa
  2. 5-6 Thinly sliced chicken breasts
  3. 1-2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh epazote
  4. 1 Tablespoon of cumin

Just add all the ingredients together in a crock pot and cook on high for 8-9 hours! Easiest recipe ever…gotta love the crock pot! 🙂



Lemon Basil Chicken

After seeing the rainy forecast, this weekend seemed like the perfect time to head out of the city for a couple days and spend some quality time at my parents house in the east bay.

One of the best parts about being home (besides getting to see our black lab Jazz..I will share pictures later!) is getting to use my parents grill. There is something about BBQ grilled chicken that just puts regular pan or baked chicken to shame!  Maybe it’s those signature grill marks :).

Anyway, this weekend I decided to take full advantage of the grill and make a simple Lemon Basil Chicken. Basil is one of my favorite herbs and is actually full of health benefits!  Besides being packed with iron, basil can also help reduce stress! According to James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, basil contains phytochemicals that studies suggest help lower cortisol, the hormone secreted when we are stressed. Who knew?!

Lemon Basil Chicken Recipe Ingredients:

  • Fresh Basil Leaves (you can buy these at your local grocery story. Sometimes they come in little containers as you see pictured above)
  • 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Lemons
  • (5-6) Thinly sliced chicken breasts


Step 1: After you have cut and cleaned the chicken to your liking, gather up all of the ingredients listed above. Once you have chopped the basil and measured out the olive oil, place the chicken, basil and olive oil in a bag. Then, squeeze lemon juice into the bag and let sit for about an hour (or longer) in the refrigerator for best flavoring.


Step 2: Place chicken breasts on the grill. A little tip I learned from my mother this weekend: Don’t flip the chicken until the side facing the grill seems cooked. You will know when the time is right to flip when the chicken no longer sticks to the grill if you pull away with a fork.

Step 3: Enjoy! I always make extra chicken for the week and store in a container to use for healthy lunches and dinner.

Happy meal prep! 🙂

Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut? What’s the Difference?

Dairy-Free Milk Options

Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk… the list goes on and on. It seems like recently people are shying away from traditional cow’s milk and exploring different alternative options based on their dietary needs. Not only are alternative options equally beneficial to your health, they also tend to have a longer shelf life (score!).

So, why the switch? According to an article in USA Today, about 60% of the population is lactose intolerant (some more than others of course). People who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting lactose, which is the main sugar found in milk. Those who are lactose intolerant experience some not-so-pleasant symptoms such as bloating, nausea and upset stomach.

One way to avoid these symptoms altogether is to switch to an alternative dairy-free milk option. With so many option out in the market today I will go ahead and breakdown the four most common alternative milk products and their individual benefits.

Almond MilkAlmond milk tends to have a thicker consistency than regular milk, which people usually either love or hate. The benefits? When compared to regular milk, almond milk is lower in both calories and fat content. However, the calorie and fat content will vary across brands and type of almond milk you choose. For example, vanilla sweetened almond milk will be higher in calories than traditional unsweetened almond milk. Best part? Almond milk does not contain any saturated fat or cholesterol like cow’s milk (specifically whole milk)!

Cons: Low in protein; not suitable for those with nut allergies

Soy Milk – Soy milk has a very similar thick consistency like its fellow almond milk alternative. Also like almond milk, soy milk does not contain saturated fat which has been linked to heart disease. Soy milk is also considered high in protein and calcium like cow’s milk.

Cons: Some studies say that soy can increase breast cancer risks in women; not suitable for those with soy allergies.

Rice Milk– Rice milk has the closest consistency to milk and is not as thick as almond and soy milk. Rice milk also happens to be the best option for those with severe allergies. Additionally, rice milk has the lowest fat content of all the dairy-free milk options. One cup contains only 1 gram of fat and zero grams of saturated fat. Like almond and soy milk, rice milk is also cholesterol free!

Cons: Low in protein; not suitable for diabetics due to high amounts of carbohydrates.

Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk is another lactose free option, but probably the least healthy when compared to almond, soy and rice milk. Coconut Milk is high in fiber, vitamins C, E, B3, B5 and B6 as well as minerals such as iron, and calcium. Coconut milk does tend to be higher in fat than most alternative options, but can be healthy when consumed in moderation.

Cons: Low in protein, high in calories, high in fat, high in saturated fat

I am also one of “those people” who has chosen to switch to alternative milk options due to a very sensitive stomach, but I still consume some dairy products on occasion. I personally prefer the taste of almond milk and soy milk… vanilla almond milk and vanilla soy milk are delicious and I happen to like the thicker consistency. Both taste great in my morning coffee or smoothies!

What is your favorite dairy-free milk option?

Asparagus to Cure a Hangover?

Asparagus to cure hangovers

We have all had one at some point in our lives: the dreaded hangover. That 4th vodka soda seems like a good until you wake up in the morning with a pounding headache, nausea and dehydration. Often times when we are hungover and miserable we reach for a piece of greasy pizza or french fries instead of whole grains and veggies, but studies have shown that asparagus can actually help out that hangover! Sound crazy? I thought so too, but let me explain.

According to Rodale News and the Journal of Food Science, Korean researchers actually discovered that extracts from asparagus increased levels of enzymes needed to break down alcohol. The goal of the study was to find any kind of diet that promoted the breakdown of ethanol by stimulating two key enzymes (alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) which have been show to metabolize ethanol into a nontoxic form. By adding the asparagus extract to liver cells, researchers found that asparagus is high in amino acids that stimulate those specific enzyme functions, ultimately accelerating the breakdown of alcohol. Deokbae Park, PhD, professor of medicine at Cheju National University School of Medicine in Korea found that volunteers in an informal trial (not part of the study) who drank a beverage containing the extract reported fewer hangover symptoms.

Mind blown? SAME. I will most definitely be reaching for a giant plate full of asparagus after my next night of indulgence!

Berry Protein Smoothie

Berry Protein Smoothie Ingredients

After my 11 mile run this morning I needed to replenish the 800+ calories I burned quick! To go along with the beautiful weather I decided a smoothie was the just the ticket! This smoothie, along with plenty of water, was the perfect post-workout drink!

Berry Protein Smoothie Recipe:

  1. 1 Cup frozen berries (I used the frozen berry medley from Trader Joe’s. Frozen berries keep the smoothie cold so you don’t need to add ice!)
  2. 1 Cup Vanilla Almond Milk (I used the light version, but you can substitute regular milk, rice milk or soy milk, go crazy!)
  3. 1 Vanilla Greek Yogurt cup
  4. 1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein powder
  5. A sprinkle of chia seeds (this is optional)

Blend all the ingredients together and the smoothie is ready to drink! Next time I might add a handful of spinach for some extra nutrients. If you don’t like vegetables, combining spinach or kale in a smoothie is a great way to hide the veggie taste, but still get those nutrients. I promise you won’t even taste it!

Berry Protein Smoothie Recipe

What is your favorite smoothie combination??

4 Ingredient Banana Oat Bites

4 ingredient banana oat bites

Evenings tend to be the worst time for sweet cravings. You have been good all day and come 8 pm, that chocolate chip cookie is really calling your name!

To avoid late night dessert indulgences I always like to come up with healthier options that will still satisfy my sweet tooth. Tonight, I decided to make banana oat bites. They have the perfect amount of sweetness to keep me from going on a sugar binge. Best part? You only need 4 ingredients and they cook in about 15 minutes!

Banana Oat Bites with Cinnamon & Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Recipe:

1. 2 small bananas (you could even add a little bit of honey!)

2. 1  1/2 cup of dry oats

3. ~1 tablespoon of cinnamon (or as much as you like!)

4. Handful of semi-sweet chocolate chip (or carob chips)

Mash up the bananas with a fork then mix in the oats, cinnamon & chocolate chips. Form the mix into small balls on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees…enjoy!

What is your favorite healthy dessert?

Protein Bar 101: How to Pick the Perfect Protein Bar

How to pick the perfect protein bar

Ok, first things first: Why do we need protein in our diets? Our bodies need protein to structure and regulate our bodies cells, tissues and organs. Protein is broken down into two sub-categories based on amino acids which make up a protein: complete proteins and incomplete protein.

A complete protein provides all of the essential amino acids your body needs and is found in most animal-based foods:

  1. Meat
  2. Fish
  3. Chicken
  4. Eggs
  5. Dairy

An incomplete protein is low in one or more of the essential amino acids our bodies need to build cells and are often found in plant-based foods:

  1. Grains
  2. Nuts
  3. Beans
  4. Seeds

Getting your protein intake from natural foods is of course the healthiest way to make sure you are meeting your daily protein needs, but with our busy schedules sometimes a protein bar is the next best thing! However, what you think may be considered a healthy protein bar could turn out to be packed with hidden unhealthy ingredients. When I look for a protein bar I look for the following qualities: Ingredients, taste and protein content.

Quest Bars- How to pick the perfect protein bar

Quest Bars - Protein Bar 101

Whey protein isolate is considered a complete protein and is found in many of the protein bars on the market right now. One of my favorite protein bars right now containing whey protein isolate are Quest protein bars, particularly the white chocolate raspberry flavor. If you have not tried these yet, these are an absoulte must! Not only are these the best tasting protein bars I have ever tried, they also contain mostly healthy ingredients. One bar contains 190 calories,  20g of protein (combination of whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate) 17g of fiber and are low in sugar. Although these bars are great on occasion they do contain about 3.5g of saturated fat and substitute sugars (sucralose & stevia) which we want to consume in moderation. Quest bars are a little bit more difficult to find, but can be purchased at some 24 hour fitness locations, GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

Rise Bars- how to pick the perfect protein bar

Rise Bars- protein bar 101

Another protein bar I would recommend containing whey protein and mostly healthy ingredients are Rise protein + bars. These bars contain a very short list of ingredients. For example, the Crunchy Carob Chip bar contains only five ingredients: Agave, carob powder, whey protein isolate, crisp rice. This flavor bar contains 260 calories, 17g of protein, 5g of fiber and 13 grams of sugar. This bar does contain a good amount of fat as well (15g fat, 1 gram of saturated fat), so just be mindful and consume in moderation! You can find these tasty bars at your local Whole Foods.

Feel free to comment on what your favorite protein bars are right now!

5 Energy Boosting Snacks

Watching this video inspired me to write this post about some additional energy boosting snacks that do not contain caffeine or processed sugars.

1. Apple and Peanut Butter

Apples are a great source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. The natural sugars in the apple will be sure to provide you with energy fast. The peanut butter contains a lot of protein, which will help you feel full and satisfied.

2. Popcorn

Popcorn also contains fiber which will help fill you up in between meals. However, make sure you get the fat-free kind because buttered popcorn contains a lot of saturated fat that can be harmful to your health and provides your body with zero benefits.

3. Vegetables and Hummus

Again, vegetables are a great source of fiber and provide your body with various vitamins and nutrients. Hummus is personally one of my favorite snacks (I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s brand). Hummus also has lots of protein since it is made from garbanzo beans. Red peppers, carrots, and even asparagus all taste great with hummus.

4.  Plain non-fat Yogurt and fresh blueberries

Yogurt is also a good source of protein. Opt for plain yogurt because many flavored yogurts are packed with artificial sugars.  Adding fresh fruit like blueberries will give it a naturally sweetened taste.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great source of whole grains. Buy plain oatmeal to avoid processed sugars and instead add fruit to boost flavor. Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas all taste great in oatmeal!

Why Eating Chocolate is Beneficial to Your Health


Don’t let the title of this post fool you. Eating chocolate IS beneficial to your health, but only in the form of dark chocolate (sorry milk chocolate lovers). Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, which protect the body from aging and free radicals that can be harmful to your heart. It has been proved that a small bar of dark chocolate can actually keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly by lowering your blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the bad form of cholesterol, by up to 10 percent!

Dark chocolate also has other benefits besides  helping to protect you from heart problems. For example, it contains serotonin which acts like an anti-depressant and stimulates endorphin production, which releases hormones that make you feel happy.

Now with this being said, it is important to remember that just because dark chocolate contains health benefits, it does not mean you should consume it in mass amounts. Chocolate in general is high in fat, so it is important to watch your intake. Dark chocolate contains a more bitter taste then milk chocolate, but if you choose  to switch over, I can almost assure you that your taste buds will adjust (mine did!). So, find a brand you like and eat it for dessert instead of that big bowl of ice cream. You can even add a few nuts to boost flavor and add some protein!



Photo Credit:

Photo By <a target=’_blank’ href=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/25128194@N02/4216679799/’>Janet Hudson</a> via <a href=”http://stockpholio.com/” target=”_blank”>StockPholio.com</a>