The Fresh Challenge : Hemp

For this month's Fresh Challenge sit back, grab a spot on the couch and pack a bowl... of HEMP seeds! 

Hemp is a all around plant- based power house of nutrients that can be added to smoothies, salads, baked goods and well... just about anything! 

Protein Hit - Hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. The protein found in hemp is a complete protein and easily digestible! 

Fiber Fire - Add more fire to your belly. These little seeds are full of fiber to aid your gut health and digestion. The standard diet is lacking in this nutrient as we chips in snacks instead of fruits and vegetables, but hemp can help swing the pendulum in a better direction. 

Omega-3 Good-Good - Protect your heart and improve your brain function with a daily dose of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Adding omega- 3's to your day helps reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

The best part about this challenge? Hemp is easy to find anywhere these days from raw hemp hearts to milks you can take the challenge out of this Fresh Challenge. Just in case you need more direction when the munchies kick in, here are a few of my blazin picks. 

 

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Spirulina

Keep away from the wrath of the leprechauns and go green this month with spirulina. Spirulina is a powerful blue-green algae that will boost your daily nutrient intake, detoxify skin, improve energy and aid digestive health. With 2000% more beta carotene than carrots, 4000% more iron than spinach and 280% more antioxidant strength than berries, spirulina is the ultimate addition to your diet. This super- algae is an easy addition to smoothies, desserts, snacks or even salad dressings. 

 

Protein Boost

Spirulina is a nutrient dense algae composed of 60% protein, B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. However, what sets spirulina apart from other plant based proteins is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids our bodies require to digest and utilize for optimal cellular function. In fact, 1 tbsp of spirulina powder contains 4g of protein with only 20 calories and 2g of carbohydrates. 

Anti- aging

This algae is more than just a protein powerhouse, it has also been found to have substantial anti-aging properties due to its high percentage of beta carotene, antioxidants and phycocyanin. Phycocyanin is the active ingredient in spirulina that is responsible for its bright blue- green color. Phycocyanin is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that fights free radicals in the body while reducing the production of inflammatory molecules. Move over carrots… beta carotene levels in spirulina are 10 times more concentrated than those found in carrots, making spirulina a one-stop-shop for anti-aging from the inside out. 

Gut Health

There are countless detoxifiers and digestive aids hitting the market these days but few target the micro biome of your gut to remove toxins quickly and effectively. Well, spirulina does just that, the blue-green algae stimulates the growth and function of beneficial flora while suppressing bad bacteria in your digestive tract. This promotes proper digestion and the removal of toxins and heavy metals in your bloods stream. The stimulation of beneficial gut flora also improves digestive conditions such as constipation, candida and leaky gut syndrome. 

Energy

Lastly, spirulina’s antioxidant, protein and vitamin rich properties make it a compact energy booster. Some studies have shown that regular consumption of spirulina may improve endurance and reduce muscle fatigue among athletes. 

How to use

Raw spirulina can be found in tablet or powder form by companies such as go raw and Sunfood.  Due to the algae's strong earthy flavor is best when paired with sweets fruits such as bananas, mango, pineapple, dates or berries in smoothies or juices. If dessert is what your craving, add a spoonful of spirulina powder to raw chocolate brownies, truffles or chia pudding for a depth of flavor and boost of nutrition. Don’t have a sweet tooth, no worries. Spoon some into your oatmeal in the morning with a sprinkle of sea salt and handful of nuts, toss it with your popcorn or add it to salad dressings. 

For the purest out there, you can dissolve a tablet or spoonful of powder into a glass of water and drink it straight! But keep a glad of water handy because the dark blue-green color will temporarily stain those pearly whites if not washed down. 

Spirulina is gaining popularity among the health food scene and can be found a various prepared snacks and drinks. Check out Go Raw Sweet Spirulina Bar, GT's Multi-Green Kombucha, Roobar's Spirulina + Chia Protein Bar or Vosges Matcha + Spirulina Dark Chocolate

Monthly Myth Buster

Welcome to The Fresh Slice’s Monthly Myth Buster series where each month we will highlight a food related myth that has been plaguing our plates and cook up an understandable solution to the problem. This is a place for you to finally get the truth about what you are eating.

What food questions do you want answered once and for all? Share with me in the comments below or submit your question HERE. Soon enough, you’ll see your question answered in a future Myth Bust post!

VEGAN MISCONCEPTIONS: Part 1

vegan label

I’ve heard it all… “I could never be vegan.” “How do you live without cheese?!” “NO animal protein, NO WAY!”

Trust me I get it, removing two large food groups from your diet is no easy feat. BUT it’s also not as painful, famishing, cult-like or tasteless as many assume. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, which is why I am here to expose the biggest vegan misconceptions.

 

#1. “All vegans are apart of an EXCLUSIVE environmental, animal- loving, hippie cult.”

Vegans get a bad rap for being environmental extremists who judge everyone who consumes meat. Although it is true we love the environment and animals (let’s be honest… who doesn’t?), there is not a vegan pledge of allegiance that forces us to shun and shame those who choose a different diet. People decide to become vegan for various reasons such as, health, allergies, intolerances, toxic imbalances or environmental concerns.

Let’s turn the table… have you ever been out to eat with family, friends or strangers and been questioned for an hour about your decision to order a turkey club sandwich or 20 oz steak? Well, ordering a salad without cheese or veggie burger will have your guests asking questions like; “where is your protein?,  aren’t you hungry?,  you know, not eating meat won’t stop the industry.” To be vegan should not be a political check box or a stereotype created to shame people for reading a nutrition label before purchasing a product. The vegan community is about creating and sharing delicious, health-supportive food that will benefit you as well as the environmental community around you.  

So drop your forks and eliminate the stereotype that all vegans are drinking the same (unrefined sugar-free) kool-aid. No judgment, just food and awareness.  


#2. “So you only eat salad?”

Bowls full of fresh greens, veggies and nut cheeses? I don’t see the problem but for those of you who can’t stand the thought of eating salads daily don’t worry, following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you need to trade in your slice of pizza and Chinese take out.

Stop focusing on what you CAN’T eat and focus on the what you CAN eat. Luckily, there are still four more food groups you can enjoy including grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables. Due to the endless ways to cook and enjoy these basic food groups I am going to start from the beginning and offer suggestions for a typical day + my grocery picks when I need to get out of the kitchen.

Breakfast Options

Lunch Options

  • Vegetable Chili
  • Hummus and grilled vegetable sandwich
  • Vegetable sushi (Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s always have great options)
  • Bean burrito with guacamole (vegan burritos or burrito bowls at Chipotle are always delicious)

Dinner Options

  • Vegetable and tofu stir-fry
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce ( Get more out of your pasta with Tolerant Foods bean based vegan, gluten free noodles)
  • Veggie burger with all the fixings (My go to patty choices? Hot Dang, Dr. Praegers) 

Dessert Options

Snack Options

 

Not drooling? Check out my Pinterest feed for more inspiration and try something new, you may surprise yourself.

Look out for next month’s Myth Buster, I’ll be diving into the misconception of protein in our diets and more.