Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Let Food Be Thy Medicine" + What Ava Eats + GMO Video

I've had multiple friends and family members become interested in trying to make a healthy smoothie of their own but  seem a bit nervous about it when I explain to them how I make mine. 
(I just throw in whatever I feel like that day.) 

Many of them follow up with asking me, "How do you even know if your smoothies will taste good if you just put in whatever comes to mind?" 

Well, the answer is quite simple.  They are all fresh tasting ingredients, so why wouldn't it taste anything but good? 

I'm not expecting to create an ice cream sundae in there. I'm expecting to create something that tastes really fresh and has a ton of nutrition that will make me feel like I am high on life while giving me lasting energy to keep up with my child without the sugar/caffeine crash later on. 

Your homemade smoothies are always going to taste a little more "earthy" compared to a mainstream smoothie chain that tend to use sugar and maybe some other ingredients that aren't good for you. Hopefully the difference between you and them is that you will be working with a ton of greens and some fresh or frozen fruits which will be so much better for you rather than just a ton of fruit, GMO-fed cow's milk, sweeteners like sugars and syrups,etc.
My wish for my friends and family who are interested in making a healthy smoothie once in a while is that they be adventurous and purchase that new ingredient like fresh turmeric, ginger, rainbow chard, chia seeds, coconut milk, whatever it is! I list them as I learn so hopefully it will peak your interest and you won't be so afraid to try it because you'll see that I gobbled up my smoothie and it turned out delicious. When fresh things get blended together so well, it is very hard to pin point one specific thing and say "ew". I would never just break off a little piece of raw ginger or turmeric and chew on it! It would be waaaay too much for me to handle. When blended or grated/powder form for cooking, it is giving you all of those amazing benefits while masking their strong taste in with the other great ingredients. It's not so scary/intense anymore ! 
Plain and simple: what helps me to be excited about buying a new ingredient other than your typical favorite fruits and veggies is that I look it up online and read about it's health benefits. It makes me so excited to think that I'll be fighting disease and not feeding it with that ingredient. 

Because in the end, that's what we are all doing with each thing we consume: we are either preventing or creating disease. We are either filling up our insides with great conditions for disease to grow or building a really clean place that the mortgage is just way to high for disease to afford to live in. I like to think of my body as great real estate- prime property :) 
No disease is allowed to move in!  

I am going to pick on cancer for a second but this is not the only thing stemming from our "food". 
There is so much more disease and illness that we are creating with our fake food but cancer is the big one we like to point to so here we go..

It is stated by the World Health Organization that "Only about 5% to 10% of all cancers are inherited – resulting directly from gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent. "

Cancer is often thought to be a mainly inherited disease. This is not so. Some people, and related family members, have inborn high vulnerability to specific cancers. However, to a greater or lesser extent every person has innate or acquired susceptibility to many different diseases. In the greater majority of cases, such susceptibility only leads to actual disease, such as cancer, when driven by external factors. The Continuous Update Project and Second Expert Report identified body fatness as a major risk factor for cancer." (World Cancer Research Fund International

Lifestyle choices are the big factor even when it comes to cancers of all kinds and at whatever age. I don't know about you, but that is REALLY empowering to me. I think a lot of people (including myself  a while back) were under the impression that things like that were some sort of bad luck or game of Russian roulette. 

Also, the part of the year that really makes me think of this especially is when October rolls around it comes with all of these "pink washing": campaigns, walks, runs, and pink labels on cancer causing foods/drinks to draw in more business to raise money for their own gain... it makes me cringe. 

Don't get me wrong and please don't take this for me being insensitive as I have lost loved ones to difference types of cancer as well, but I think we should be doing more as a society to promote preventive measures like eating fresh foods and voting with our dollars to take cancer causing ingredients out of our food supply, deodorants, feminine hygiene products (GMO cotton), household cleaning products, etc.

I suppose it is easier to pin point raising money for a multi billion dollar business to "find a man made cure" but what about focusing on how not to get cancer at all. Much cheaper and effective for the 90% of cancer cases which are not inherited but created but lifestyle, isn't it? 


"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi is that inspirational quote that a lot of us like to live by. 
I like to think my role here on earth, besides being the best mother, wife, and daughter I can be, is trying to learn and teach others while I learn about preventing disease through lifestyle choices since we now know we have a lot of control over it than we thought. 

Back to my smoothie making!

I have yet to make a smoothie where I said, "eww can't drink this!" 
I was actually talking to the owner of 
Myapapaya | juicery + kitchen about that a couple of weeks ago...You can't really go wrong when you're using great ingredients. 

If it tastes a little strong - add something like a banana or add some almond milk to lighten it up a bit. There is no messing it up and wasting it - you just fix it with a favorite ingredient that you do know you like a lot. 

If anything, you see what you are adding in and see that you are about to get super healthy, plant based calcium, protein, antioxidants, vitmains, minerals, omega-3, etc.
It's empowering to see that you're creating your own "fuel" for your body to kick that day's butt with. 

Yesterday I used bok choy and cilantro in my smoothie for the first time. I could taste the cilantro a little and it was great even though my initial reaction to seeing others juice it was, "cilantro? In my smoothie? I put that on my taco salads..."  
Why not though? It is a plant containing chlorophyll and has tons of healthy properties that we need ---so let's do it. 

It gave it a freshness that I liked a lot along with the benefits from it's green factor :) The bok choy didn't taste any different than my usual greens: spinach, kale, rainbow chard- it is a green base to the smoothie with different health benefits. It is kind of like when people compare things to something "tasting like chicken." 
Raw greens are all pretty much a similar in taste taste but with some different benefits in each, so don't be afraid of mixing it up! 
You should switch up your greens and give your body new benefits.  That's why I am always trying to learn about new ones. 

Onto Ava news...
Here is Ava eating during lunch time yesterday:

Ava pretty much will try anything I give her. She especially wants everything I AM EATING. Of course, no mother can say no to their child with their mouth open asking for a bite...
As long as she enjoys trying new things, I am a happy camper. And if she doesn't seem to like something, I reintroduce it later on. There is no giving up on healthy foods. 

I recently started using the muffin tins to make little compartments of food for her. I notice that she feels very independent and curious to try all the colors she sees in each part. Works for me! 
My goal is to always give her mostly veggies, fruits, and sprouted grains.
 (She loves cinnamon raisin Ezekiel toast) 
Seriously though, that toast is great. I always make some for myself too when I make it for her. Try it. You'll thank me later ( You can find oraganic Ezekiel's sprouted grain breads in the frozen section at Publix and Whole Foods in FL. It's kept frozen since it doesn't have all those fake ingredients and preservatives to make it last forever. Take a slice of two as you need it and put it straight into the toaster. And you know I'm going to say my favorite food blogger Food Babe is a big Ezekiel bread lover too
Super healthy and the only bread I trust that I have regular access to. (They also make a sesame slicked bread and 
There you have it! 

And before I forget...
As I was making that smoothie yesterday morning, I saw Ava walk into her room and then it got quiet. 
Parents know that quiet = suspicious when you have a toddler. 
I walked and found her like this:
She climbed up there (her newest accomplishment) and brought some books with her. As freaked out as I get thinking about her falling off the chair, I was so proud of her "reading" all by herself.  She is the cutest.

P.S. If you would like to learn more about the dangers of GMOs in your food,  make a movie night in like we did and watch this for a little less than 1 hour. 
Fun fact: The lovely, Lisa Oz, Dr. Oz's wife is the narrator. 

OR Click below: 

This documentary ^  really helped Mark and I to understand what this was all about about 2 years ago. 

Any great food documentaries that you love? Let me know because I am always looking for more!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

An Improvement: Healthy Publix Finds + Salt Lamp Sale Check Out Code

Okay so I will start off by saying that I am not trying to "knock" the beloved Publix supermarkets but finding organic food and more than just apples and oranges when it comes to produce at my local Publix store was a big challenge for a long time until more recently. I normally go to Whole Foods for my bigger shops, but for a last minute shop, I go to the much closer, Publix. 
(Now if Publix could start carrying organic popcorn...  
*since genetically modified corn is used otherwise and I'm not giving Mark a bag of GMO corn*
 I would be able to make Mark's (and Cooper our dog's) dreams come true. The man is in love with pickles and popcorn.) 

There is still very limited organic fresh produce (which is annoying) but there has been an increasing number of other organic foods on the shelves. I have seen a big increase and it is all because of consumer demand. Sometimes I hear people who do not shop organic saying, "the new fad is organic food..." 
Sorry, it is no fad, friends. It is called the power of social media and people spreading the word, learning what is really in their "food", and wanting better for what they are paying their hard earned money for. 
We are learning how pesticides, genetically modified foods, and toxic chemicals in our every day household items are harming our bodies and contributing to our illnesses. How long were we supposed to go since the early 90's when GMO foods really became the norm  in our grocery stores? Not too long apparently... 
Since GMOs and the increase in the amount of pesticides on our food have been added to our 
US food supply, things like allergies, asthma, cancer, infertility, diabetes, autism, alzheimer's, and many others have sky rocketed in this country. Even aspartame in our drinks (which they even tried to add to milk to make it sweeter and more addicting like your diet sodas) was created by the same people who created GMO corn, RoundUp Weed Killer, etc. YUM. They all contribute the same illnesses because it is all poison. Don't shoot the messenger! But are you really surprised ? What did you think would happen when we put these kinds of chemicals in our bodies? I mean when I drank diet coke in college, I knew aspartame wasn't good  for me but I had no clue to the extent of HOW BAD it was. 
These kinds of things are not created in nature and so our bodies don't know what do with that, try to fight it off...that's where our side effects and illnesses come in.

Back to my local Publix finds: 

Bigger Kale bags! 

Bok Choy - not organic.
I'll be washing this in water and vinegar to take off as many of the pesticides that were  sprayed on it. Since it is a thin, leafy green I wish that it were organic as pesticide can penetrate it very easily as opposed to something like a banana with thick skin. 

The kind of pasta we buy...
 Quinoa pasta comes in all shapes. It is great. Even made my favorite blogger, Food Babe's, list: "What Are The Healthiest Pastas Available?" under the Ancient Grain Pastas section.

This is my version of fast food. It is microwaveable in 90 seconds. I am trying to use the microwave less and less but in a crunch... I will probably throw this onto some lettuce, cilantro, non GMO corn tortilla chips -  and make some sort of quick taco salad.

Yay! My local Publix FINALLY started carrying ORGANIC TOMATOES! Even local from 30 min away,  Boynton Beach, FL! (Now I am waiting patiently for organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries...) 

Another quick dinner idea = Thai night means:


Over this:
Makes this:
Mine is meatless and over a raw mushroom. This was for my " Meatless Monday " as I am cutting back on animal foods. Mark's version is made with grass fed ground beef that I spiced with cayenne, cumin, and Himalayan salt. 

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar. A kitchen staple for years and years. Probably in your grandparents home right now...

I read so many amazing things about organic apple cider vinegar that I thought it was finally time for a new Healthy Habit! Don't you worry... I'll be posting about the benefits and how I use the apple cider vinegar when it is time. 

Is your local Publix (or other grocery store) making room for more organic food? I am happy that mine is! It still has a long way to go but any improvement is appreciated! Thank you, Publix managers, for hearing out my requests and bringing in the better suppliers! 

If you would like to learn more, take 18 min and listen to this mom, the "Erin Brockovich" of food. She explains what happened to her family and what she learned afterwards. It is what jump started my interest in this way of eating. 


Himalayan Salt Lamp Coupon Code:

For those who read this post and want to purchase a Himalayan Salt Lamp for your own home or office, is having a Spring Kickoff Sale right now through March 31st. 
15% off all order totals when you enter Coupon Code: SPRING2014 at checkout. 


Oh, we have a climber now... Lord help me. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Charleston, SC: Sarah's Bachelorette Party

On Thursday afternoon, I brought Ava to her Nana's home where she stayed overnight until Mark picked her up the following day after work. 
She had a great time at Nana's house as usual. Ava gets to play with a mini kitchen set, a swing in the backyard, her red little car (above), and ton of toys.
Ava feels right at home whenever she's there. She also gets to play with her two uncles: Tommy & Luke  (Uncle Tommy is also her Godfather.)
***Thank you, Debbie (my mama in law), and the rest of the family who are always excited to get to spend time with Ava which gives me some much needed help in travel times like these. 

So around 4, I got on the road to head up to Jacksonville. There, I would stay at my best friend's house and get on the road the following morning with the best of the bridal party. As Sarah's Matron of Honor, I arranged for all of us to stay in Charleston, SC for that weekend just as she requested. 
We rented this adorable home 10min away from downtown Charleston.  It was a perfect location (and down the road from a Trader Joe's ..WOOHOO!) 

Sarah plays golf (and is really good might I add!) and so she wanted an argyle/golf theme Bachelorette pub crawl. 
Sarah the bride to be is in the center - light green argyle 

We had a great time exploring the charming city of Charleston.
My favorite part was probably our nice dinner at McCrady's. It was a delicious 4 course meal. Their food is extremely fresh, brought in from local farmers, and their presentation is just beautiful.

It was a great time getting to know the rest of Sarah's friends from Jacksonville. I also loved getting to see Ali (left of Bachelorette) who flew in to be there. I miss Sarah and Ali already. It always feels like we are right back at FSU when the 3 of us are together. 
Thanks, ladies for making it a memorable weekend for Sarah! I look forward to seeing you all in 2 weeks for Sarah's bridal shower! 

Then, after we all got into Jacksonville, FL from Charleston, SC (about 4 hrs), I got right back on the road 2 min later and drove the next 4.5 south to get home around 8:30PM. 
My gas station food: non GMO is not impossible - even on the road! ;) 

And today's recovery smoothie:

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! 
I had a great time in the very charming city of Charleston with my friends. I cannot wait to go back to that adorable city.  

I am happy to be home in warm south Florida though! 
This morning, Ava and I went for a run around the neighborhood after breakfast and now she is napping while I eat lunch: 
Organic chicken on some organic/nonGMO corn tortilla shells with avocado & lime. And some raw Cauliflower as my side! 

Oh! Last but certainly not least...
Ali didn't let me go back empty handed for Ava. She bought Ava an adorable Vineyard Vines dress. 

How cute ?!? I want it in my size. Thank you, Ali. We love you. See you in May for the wedding :)

And that's it for now...
I can't wait for Mark to get home tonight since last night's catching up on the porch flew by. I feel like I haven't seen him in so long! Miss my hub hub.  

Now, I need to figure out what I am going to make us for dinner... Any ideas ? 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today's Smoothie + Yummy, easy dessert!

Today's morning smoothie that I threw together and blended:
(The goji I buy at Whole foods)

How amazing do these look?! 
I would use organic almond butter and sprinkle some cinnamon before coating in dark chocolate. Yum. 

Happy Thursday! 

I'm off to Jacksonville today then on the road to Charleston in the morning for my friend's bachelorette party! 
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Snapshots Throughout the Week + Healthy & Easy Smoothies

Last Thursday: Ava and I had our weekly visit to my abuela and abuelo's house (Ava's great grandparents) in Miami. (That's her Cuban side so she gets get Spanish practice there ;) I am determined for her to be bilingual by weekly visits to see them like I had growing up. 

Ava is obsessed with phones...

 Abuela cutting abuelo's hair for 49 years. Childhood sweethearts as well :) 
Bad back and all... bless her heart. 
Ava being a squirmy worm and wanting to show them her walking skills. She is pretty much running now... 

Thursday's yummy green smoothie 

Friday: New find at Whole Foods (displayed in OJ area): 
Little snack pouches for Ava...Chia seeds! 
Hers are: Strawberry Banana & Apple Cinnamon. 
She loves them!
Chia seeds are a health powerhouse. I add them into my smoothies regularly. 

Then later on... Afternoon juice I made (it's blended but I say juice because the Vitamix pulverizes the smoothie into a "juice". 

 [FYI:the small pieces of tumeric and ginger on the cutting board were included----not the rest on the counter ]

Rainbow chard, celery, 1/2 a beet, turmeric root, ginger root, cup of water 
PLUS ( but not photographed) : a banana, 1/2 squeezed lemon, and ice =


This was my very first time using beets and tumeric!!! 
I know, I'm an amatuer! I'm learning here...
I've been reading more and more about both of these healthy heavyweights for sometime now and decided to bring them into the new Vitamix now that I know my blender can handle beets! 

Beets having {{{amazing}}} health benefits! Some include: 

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.3
The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer.4 The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.5 As reported by the World's Healthiest Foods:6
"[Betaine's]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems."
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.7
5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body's Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

Saturday: before I headed to the beach with my friends... I hydrated with 
Enjoying my mama time off at the beach with one of my very childhood best friends: Michelle!!!

Check out Ava's new kicks! Michelle is the greatest. She bought then bedazzled them for Ava. She is such a great and thoughtful "Aunt" Meesh! 

Sunday: Ava's friend's birthday party to celebrate her turning 1! Happy birthday, Fern!
We had a great time!!!
Daddy & Ava at the party 

Monday morning breakfast smoothie (No greens?! I was in the mood for a change that morning.)
Super yummy! 

Monday was St. Patrick's Day so mommy&me class was decked in green! 
See Ava in the back listening to story time? Look for the green bow...

On Monday, my holistic health course also started! I willingly woke up 1.5hr early to start listening to the seminars, audio clips, and reading through slides. I am LOVING every minute of it!!!! 
I can't wait for this time next year when I will be a certified health coach! 
Looking forward to being able to maintain my #1 role as a stay at home mom while also having the flexibility to make my own hours for my new career. 

Ava and one of her buddies... Boo the Pomeranian ! The "world's cutest dog" 
Ava and Boo having tea. (Boo sleeps in Ava's crib every night with her) 

On our way back from shopping for new bedding...
Mark had our new king size Tempur-Pedic bed delivered that morning. I am in LOVE with this new bed and the memory foam pillows!!!
Ava enjoyed our shopping while being carried in the Ergo carrier. She still prefers that rather than sitting by herself in the shopping cart. Fine with me :) 
She's my little baby kangaroo. I love our Ergo. 

Tuesday evening: (yesterday)
Mark and I sit on the board for the Seminole Club of Broward County. It is a local organization that is affiliated with our alma mater - Florida State University. The club hosts: events, game watching parties, an annual golf tournament, donates scholarships to deserving local students that have been accepted to FSU, and also gives back to our local community through community service. The Seminole Club of Broward County includes hundreds and hundreds of local alumni, fans, and parents of FSU students that live in Broward County and want to be involved with their children's new school. 

 I have been Community Service Chair and Mark has been Golf Chair for 3 years now. Last football season, we started a children's book drive for underprivileged students in title 1 schools throughout our local community. During the time that I was working on my Master's Degree in Social Work, I interned at Impact Broward and learned about their Foster Grandparent Program. Active Seniors volunteer their time in title 1 schools and help the teacher in the classrooms. If a child needs some help reading a book or finishing up a project, the volunteer steps in to help and make sure that the student doesn't fall behind. 

I thought it would be a great partnership for the two organizations to collaborate. We, at Seminole Club of Broward County (aka: Broward Noles) would ask the thousands of Broward Noles in the community to donate children's books (K-grade 3 level) for the "Foster Grandparent" Volunteers to distribute during their volunteering at these schools. I learned while interning at Impact Broward, that statistically, a child that does not master their 3rd grade reading levels, has a much greater chance of being incarcerated. In fact, our own state of FL measures these 3rd grade reading levels in order to predict how many prison beds they will need to supply for future inmates. 

CRAZY, huh?! After speaking to the CEO of Impact Broward (pictured next to me in yellow) about how I am involved with the "Broward Noles," he was very excited to partner with us in order to get these underprivileged children much needed books. We not only want to help with children's reading levels, but are also, hopefully, decreasing incarceration rates in Florida's future by these preventive measures. I am so grateful that the rest of the Broward Noles graciously accepted this challenge and came together to donate hundreds of books to Impact Broward's Foster Grandparent Program. 
Great job, Broward Noles! 

Some of the Seminole Club of Broward County board members with Impact Broward, CEO John Gargotta,
representing hundreds books that were donated and the hundreds of Broward Noles members that supported these efforts. 

Today : Wednesday 

Mommy& Me class! Ava had a great time as usual. Today was a water theme so the toy seals and fish were out. 

Sorry for the LONG post... I had to catch up.

Today and tomorrow, I will be getting ready for my trip to Charleston, SC! As one of my best friend's Matron of Honor, I organized a weekend trip up there for her and the rest of the bridesmaids. We will be renting an adorable home and making the most out of our stay in the charming city for her Bachelorette Party weekend. I cannot wait!!!
Our mutual best friend, Ali, is flying in from Chicago to be there as well so I am so excited to get to spend time with my two "pandas" (That's what we call each other haha)

Hope you all have a nice Wednesday!