Tag: Veronica Wheat

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta
Chef V’s Tip: Substitute the chicken with 2 cups of your favorite grilled veggies to make this dish vegan.

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta

SERVES 2

Ingredients

  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa pasta
  • 1/2 cup Chef V’s Easy Raw Pesto

Directions

Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken (or veggies) and grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until thoroughly cooked. Cut chicken into pieces and combine with cooked pasta and my Easy Raw Pesto.

Easy Raw Pesto

This rEasy Raw Pesto is so delicious. Besides my Grilled Chicken Pasta, try this on gluten-free bread as a spread or use it as a marinade for your favorite protein or vegetables.

easy raw psto

TOTAL TIME: 15 min

SERVES 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Process all the ingredients in a Vitamix until smooth. Will keep for up to a month refrigerated.

Warm Butternut Squash Salad

Warm butternut squash: this is a delicious fall treat for those first cool days that signal the end of summer. It’s also a hit at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s very filling and makes you feel warm inside even though it’s a salad. It’s also very healthy and vegan. – Veronica

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warm butternut salad

TOTAL 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4 people

Ingredients

Warm butternut squash

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet or yellow onion
  • 1 small butternut squash,
seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups wild greens (arugula, spinach, or mixed herbs)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

Warm butternut squash: In a large non-stick pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and butternut squash. (The smaller the squash is diced the more quickly it will cook.) Sauté the squash and onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the squash is soft. Do not burn the squash or onions.

Add the garlic, nutmeg and thyme, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the butternut squash to a bowl and stir in the cooked quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool mixture in the refrigerator.

To serve, mix the dressing ingredients and drizzle over greens. Top with cooled butternut squash mix and garnish with pomegranate seeds. Serves 2-4.

Added Sugars: What You Should Not Be Eating

leaky gut

Added Sugars: the Maximum Amount Of Sugar You Should Be Eating Every Day

Stop reading this right now and go to your pantry. I want you to grab any product that has a Nutrition Facts label. After you’ve done that, come back to this article. I’ll be waiting…

Got it? OK. Now, take a look at “added sugars” in the Nutrition Facts. Last year, the FDA required that all food manufacturing companies with sales of over $10 million list “added sugars” in the Nutrition Facts label. Smaller companies had to start complying with the new rule at the beginning of this year.

To make healthier choices for yourself (and your family) I want you to really start paying attention to added sugars on the nutrition facts label. One of the reasons why the FDA wanted “added sugars” added to Nutrition Facts is because there are dozens of nicknames for sugar. Unless an ingredient says “cane sugar” it can be very easy for consumers to overlook added sugars. Dextrose, maltodextrin, molasses, dextrin, agave, evaporated cane juice … These are just a few of the 56 secret sugars food manufacturers use to artificially sweeten food.

As a certified nutritional therapist, I’m glad that added sugars is finally on nutrition labels; it’s long overdue considering the pervasiveness of obesity and diabetes. But there’s a misleading problem with added sugars. Next to the amount of grams of added sugars is listed the percentage of daily value of added sugars.

added sugars

Percentage of Added Sugars In The Diet Should Be…

And while that may seem like a good thing to know, I consider this very misleading. That’s because if you’re trying to manage weight, blood sugar and inflammation, the percentage of added sugars you should have is ZERO!!!

If you’re eating real food then you’re consuming no added sugars. I understand that we’re only human. So if you want to sweeten your coffee or tea with a packet of low-glycemic coconut sugar, which is an added sugar, I can live with that. But when it comes to buying peanut butter, salad dressing, condiments, bread and the dozens of other foods and drinks that you purchase from the supermarket, make sure that the added sugars are as close to zero as possible. Because if you don’t watch out for added sugars, your sugar intake is going to add up real fast.

leaky gut

The Dangers of Added Sugars

I’m sure I’ve written about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) before so excuse me if I’m repeating myself. But it’s totally worth hammering in your brain how dangerous artificial sweeteners like HFCS are. In a nutshell, what HFCS and synthetic sugars like aspartame and sucralose do is block your brain’s ability to get the message from your stomach that you’ve had enough to eat.

Also, eating lots of fructose causes the proliferation of compounds in the body known as advanced glycation end products. These products have a very appropriate acronym: AGE. AGE-products accelerate the ageing process in the body.

It used to be that only alcoholics developed fatty liver disease. But now, because of the pervasiveness of fructose in the food supply, the rates of fatty liver disease in non-alcoholics is soaring.

It’s important to mention that I’m not talking about fructose from whole fruit. I’m talking about the cheap, synthetic artificial sweetener.

To me, it’s a little insane that the American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of 6 teaspoons a day of added sugars for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Considering that high sugar intake leads to heart disease, you would think that the AHA would simply advise keeping added sugar intake to as close to zero as possible.

nutrition facts label

IMAGE ABOVE COURTESY US FDA

How Much Sugar Should I Have?

Hopefully, the next time the FDA revises the Nutrition Facts label, it will make it easy for consumers to know the maximum amount of sugar—keyword: natural sugars—they should eat in one day. Let’s do away with percentages because ain’t nobody got time to do the math when we’re in a rush.

So, FDA commissioner, in case you’re reading this, let’s prominently place the number of maximum grams of sugar per day that should be consumed.

And that amount is…

Well, in the past, the World Health Organization used to say that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sugar. Then the WHO realized that that recommendation was ridiculous, so they lowered it down to 5%.

The average American consumes roughly 80 grams of sugar a day. Keep in mind that’s average. There are certainly many Americans eating twice that amount. I realize that everybody is different biochemically and some people exercise more than others. But if you had to put a number on it, what is the max amount of sugar you should have?

For most healthy people, I would recommend 40 grams of sugar from whole food sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Daily Sugar Intake For People With Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should probably limit your intake of total sugars to 20 grams per day.

Also crazy if you ask me is that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes should aim to get about half of their calories from carbs. That means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 1,000 can come from carbs? What does the CDC think carbs convert into … magical unicorn fairy dust? Carbs convert into sugar. How can consuming half of your calories from carbs be considered smart blood sugar management? (It’s a rhetorical question; it’s not smart.)

In order to manage your diabetes, or even send it into remission, I recommend really upping your intake of natural, healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, organic dairy, olives, olive oil, etc…

If you have type 2 diabetes, ignore the recommendation to eat a low-fat diet. Eating fat helps stabilize blood sugars and keeps you full, and prevents cravings for empty-calorie, blood-sugar spiking foods. “Non-fat” and “low-fat” foods are not your friends, they are your mortal metabolic enemies!

The Leading Source Of Added Sugars

Beverages are the biggest offenders, accounting for nearly half of all added sugars. Obviously, soda is a big culprit. But what many people still don’t realize is how much sugar is contained in so-called “healthy juices.”

The big brand-name label juice companies that have been gobbled up by giant food conglomerates add a huge amount of sugar to their juices. And some of these juices at first glance appear healthy. They look green, loaded with green leafy vegetables. But if you take a look at the amount of sugar in the bottle, you’ll be floored.

I’m not one to name names, so I won’t throw the competition under the bus—even though they kind of deserve it because they are misleading people into thinking they are buying a healthy product when in fact it’s harming it.

Most store-bought juices contain 25, 30, 35 or even up to 50 grams of sugar per 16 oz. container!

Low-Sugar Nutrient-Dense Green Drink

If you’re looking for the healthiest juice possible, look no further than cold-blended Organic Green Drink with 7 leafy greens and only 6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar per 16 oz bottle.

Coconut Sugar: Is It Healthier Sweet Stuff?

Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar?  What do you get when you cross my 4-year-old, four-legged furry kid with sweetener? 

You get my very own sweet sugar baby – my dog Coconut!

Coconut Sugar: Is It Healthier Sweet Stuff?

Sorry for being corny—again. 

But in all seriousness, one of the most common questions I get asked as a certified nutritional therapist and creator of The Chef V Organic Cleanse is this: Is coconut sugar healthier than regular sugar?

Let’s dive in and find out what the research says…

Coconut Sugar: Is It Healthier Sweet Stuff?

What Is It?

Actually, before we follow the science on coconut sugar, let’s cover some basic facts on the natural alternative sweetener. 

It does not come from the meaty white flesh of the nuts. It’s also not produced from the husky shell. And it’s not made from the liquid within the nut (coconut water). 

So what is it made from? It’s made by dehydrating the sap contained in the flower bud of the stem of coconut palm trees. You could say that the sap is the circulating life force or the blood of the tree. And just like the blood circulating through your veins contains minerals and trace minerals that are vital for energy, coconut sap is rich in minerals. But we’ll get to that in a bit…

Coconut blossom sugar, is all-natural. Although it comes from the coconut palm tree, do not confuse it with palm sugar. Regular palm sugar is sourced from a different type of tree than coconut sugar. 

True coconut sugar resembles granulated raw brown sugar. And if you’re an animal lover or vegan, there’s one big plus about using it instead of regular table sugar. 

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), table sugar is sometimes whitened with bone char. What’s bone char, you ask? It’s charred cattle bones. Think about that next time you sweeten your coffee at your favorite diner. And according to PETA, brown sugar can also be processed with bone char. Brown sugar, which is not healthier than table sugar (it’s just as refined) is colored with molasses, so don’t get fooled by regular brown sugar. 

But coconut sweetener is a healthier brown sugar that is not refined and therefore does not get processed with bone char. 

below, bone char pills made from burning beef and pig bones

Bone char

Benefits

I found an interesting study published in Food Science & Nutrition, co-authored by researchers from Malaysia, a country thought to be the first to commercialize it for the U.S. market. 

The researchers concluded “Coconut sap could be served as a potential healthier sugar source compared with sugar palm and sugarcane as it carries more minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.”

Another reason the researchers think it is a healthier alternative to refined sugar is that it has a lower glycemic index. The GI ranks the rise in blood glucose after the consumption of carbohydrates on a scale from 0–100.  A food with low GI raises blood glucose less than that of the food with high GI. 

Coconut sugar’s GI ranks about 35, which is only 10 points higher than fructose from whole fruits. In comparison, refined sugar has a GI that’s almost twice as high as coconut sugar. 

For this reason, the researchers suggest that coconut palm nectar (another way to say coconut sugar) can be part of the solution in curtailing the diabetes and obesity epidemic. 

Vitamins & Minerals

The researchers detected vitamin C, B1, B3, B4, B2, and B10 in samples. Of those, vitamin C, B3, B4, B2, and B10 in coconut nectar were significantly higher than in table sugar. In addition, coconut sugar contained higher levels of three important electrolytes: potassium, sodium and magnesium. Many Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral that’s important for helping to relax muscles. 

By the way, you can also get the benefits of these minerals from coconut water, which is why I use both coconut sugar and coconut water in several of my recipes. 

And in comparison to regular sugar, coconut nectar is relatively high in other minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron. 

Coconut Water

For Gut Health?

Another reason to swap regular table sugar for coconut is that it contains a type of fiber called inulin. This special fiber acts like fertilizer for a type of friendly bacteria in your gut called bifidobacteria, which is a common live culture added to yogurt. 

Inulin is considered a post-biotic fiber. Postbiotics are the healthy short-chain fatty acids released by probiotics. Probiotics are essential for a healthy gut and immune system, but it’s actually the postbiotics that make the magic happen!

Is It Healthier: Chef V’s Verdict

Now don’t get me wrong … even though I think it is healthier than regular table sugar, I don’t rely on it to get my daily dose of essential minerals and trace minerals. The dark leafy greens in Organic Green Drink provide me with an excellent low-sugar source of minerals without spiking my blood sugar. 

If you have type 2 diabetes, don’t get fooled into thinking that it is a miracle sweetener. It may have a lower glycemic index than regular sugar but that doesn’t mean it gives you a free pass to go crazy with it. 

So don’t use it as a multivitamin, antioxidant supplement or probiotic. Instead, just like all other sweeteners, use it sparingly. But when I do use the sweet stuff, I reach for COCONUT and a little coconut sugar. 

A Green Drink A Day Can Support Your Mood: Research Proves

a green drink a day can support your mood

Warning: stay away from me today. I got a late start to the day, skipped my daily morning yoga routine and didn’t have my Green Drink as early as I usually do. I’m having one of those days. Yes, dear hubby, Brandon, I still love you but watch out. Don’t get too close. I may bite!

 Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels off when skipping a wellness routine. A green drink a day can support your mood. My long-time, trusted graphic designer, Jean, the one responsible for making the Chef V newsletter look like a fancy glossy magazine, told me she feels “down in the dumps” if she goes a couple days in a row without having her Green Drink. 

Well, Jean, that’s exactly why I created my Green Drink Plan, to ensure you’ll never run out! But I get it, even if you get GD delivered to your home, life can get intense and overwhelming and you can just forget the things that help you live a high-vibration life. It happens, we’re only human. 

And Jean’s certainly not the only customer that feels off when skipping GD for a few days. But what is it about the 7 green leafy veggies that after you drink it, makes you feel like you’re going to conquer the day? Do the greens serve as a catalyst for cellular energy? 

No doubt that leafy greens are beneficial for cellular health and energy. But there’s also research that shows these highly-nutrient dense ingredients support a healthy mood. 

a green drink a day can support your mood

Green Leafy Veggies For Mood

According to World Journal of Psychiatry, 12 nutrients are critical to the prevention and treatment of depressive orders: Folate, iron, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. 

The highest scoring plant foods (those with the most of the dozen nutrients) are leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. Lettuce and peppers also made the list.

Co-authors of the World Journal of Psychiatry study analyzed several foods for “Antidepressant nutritional density.” The results were tabulated in a scoring system called the “Antidepressant Food Score” or AFS. 

“The AFS is based on a nutrient profiling system devised to identify foods with the highest nutrient density of nutrients with clinical evidence to support their role in depressive disorders,” the researchers explained in the article. 

Could it be that the reason many customers feel like they’re on their A-game when they make Green Drink part of their daily routine is that the 7 ingredients are at the top of the AFS scoring system? 

That’s food for thought. Er, drink for thought…

Lettuces like green leaf lettuce, an ingredient in Organic Green Drink, has an AFS score of 74% to 99%. 

Green chard, another staple of GD, scores 90%. Parsley: 75%. Kale and collard greens score 62% and dandelion greens 43%. 

Now that’s not to say that 43% is a low score. Remember, all these ingredients in Green Drink rank at the top of the list for the best foods on the planet for supporting positivity. Evidence that a green drink a day can support your mood.

“The nutrients considered have been shown in human studies to be beneficial with regards to treatment or prevention of depressive disorders,” concluded the researchers.

a green drink a day can support your mood

Are You Eating (Or Drinking) Enough Veggies? 

Unfortunately, many foods with a high AFS are not staples of the Standard American Diet. Most adults in the U.S. don’t meet the daily recommendations for vegetables. In fact, The Healthy People Initiative, launched by the Federal Government’s Department of Health and Human Services found that only 27.2 percent of adults ate three or more servings of vegetables per day. 

I get it. Life’s busy. And that’s why I created the Green Drink Plan so you can easily consume 7 leafy green veggies that are some of the best plant foods on the planet for supporting mental health.

Here’s to feeling good!

a green drink a day can support your mood

Fresh Juice Vs. Powdered Greens: Which Is Better For Cleansing?

Fresh juice versus powdered greens

Thinking about doing a cleanse because you haven’t been eating healthy lately? If so, what’s the best way to get your daily dose of veggies: through juice or a greens powder? Here’s what the experts say….

Veggie Juice vs Greens Powder: Which Is Better For Your Health?

If you’re thinking about doing a cleanse or just want an easy way to get more veggies in your diet, both veggie juices and green powders have become very popular. But if you have to pick one, which is better?

I’m not going to string you along and have you wait with bated breath until the end to reveal the answer.

Nope, the clear-cut better solution for getting your daily dose of disease-fighting and weight-loss kick-starting nutrients is…. (A tiny bit of anticipation here….)

Veggie juice.

Especially cold-blended Organic Green Drinks.

Here’s why veggie juice beats powdered Greens….

fresh juice versus powdered greens - Consumer Labs

Poisonous Powder

For starters, some powders may be poisonous. According to ConsumerLab.com, which is an independent research group that tests supplements for purity and labeling accuracy, some brands are tainted with heavy metals. Heavy metal is great if you want to do some head-banging while doing a CrossFit workout. But heavy metals are something you definitely don’t want in your veggies. ConsumerLab, in 2016, found that at least 3 brands were contaminated with heavy metal. Barlean’s Greens is one of  the most well-known veggie powders on the market. ConsumerLab revealed that it contained 6 mcg (micrograms) of lead in each 8 gram serving.

If you were to purchase a powder called, “Greens Organics + Superfood Raw” you’d probably feel pretty confident that it’s a safe, healthy product. However, ConsumerLab found that this product contained even more lead than Barlean’s (6.5 mcg per serving). The third product that tested positive for heavy metals was HealthForce SuperFoods Vitamineral Green. With that mouthful of a product name, you also get 3.6 mcg of lead and 13 mcg arsenic.

One more brand of powder tested positive for poison: Naturo Science Green Food – Berry Flavored, which had almost 4 mcg of lead per scoop.

While these test results were from 2016, I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d be very skeptical about trusting these brands again.

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to green powders and assume that the vast majority of them are not contaminated with heavy metals. Take that little inconvenient fact away and is it a toss up whether veggie juices or powders are better? Nope. Veggie drinks still come way out ahead….

Actually, if I may, a final word on contaminated powders: the problem might be worse. A recent U.S. News and World Report  article says that one third of greens powders marketed as “healthy, healthy, healthy” were found to be contaminated with heavy metals. Yikes.

Fresh Is Best!

When you buy green powder, who knows how old the veggies are?

Some brands of powders freeze-dry the veggies. I don’t know about you but I never ever put any fresh veggies in the freezer, do you? So why would you want a powder of freeze-dried veggies. Can you imagine a restaurant in Italy serving pasta with freeze-dried tomatoes? Freeze-drying might be great for wild salmon. But freeze-drying veggies kills both the taste and the nutritional content.

To get a powder to taste palatable, some brands will add sugar to it. And many times, fillers such as soy lecithin or rice bran get added to powders to bulk them up. If you’re trying to lose weight and detox, the last thing you need is any bulking agents.

powdered green drink with trace poisons

And according to this article on GQ’s website, some powders include in the ingredients, “propriety blend.” Why is this a problem? The article explains that this is a loophole for the company to not have to list specific ingredients, such as a food coloring or other additive. Don’t you want to know exactly what you’re putting in your body?

But when you buy veggie juice from a reputable brand (ahem, like Chef V) that uses veggies from their own organic farm (like we have) or buys fresh produce from an organic farmer (like I do) and cold-blends the juice on site (such as in our new store in suburban NYC), thus preserving the nutrients (yup, check … we do that), you know it’s a healthy product….

Juice Cleanse Comparison: How Chef V Compares

Not all green powders are created equal. That’s certainly true of green juices as well. In fact, the healthiest green powder is better than the worst juice cleanse. That’s because many juice cleanses out there hardly contain any veggies; they are mostly all fruit juice. As Consumer Reports explains, there’s a major problem with many juice cleanse programs. First and foremost, the sugar content of many juice brands is sky high. See how Organic Green Drink–only 3 grams of sugar per serving–compares with the competition here.

And if you’re looking to do a cleanse, there’s something else you should keep in mind….

Even if the veggie juice is super healthy, you’re going to need more than juice to keep you going. It doesn’t matter if it’s as little as a 3-day cleanse. Just having juice for 3 days will likely make you feel famished. You also need protein and real food to satisfy your belly.

3 day Chef V Cleanse contents

That’s why on each day while you’re on the Chef V Cleanse,  in addition to getting 4 servings of Green Drink, you also get:

  •  2 (two) Vegan Protein Shake packet: 20 grams per serving
  • 1 (one) container of Detox Soup: Sweet Potato Curry or Carrot Ginger Zing: rich in protein and fiber, tastes like homemade because it is!

Speaking of powder vs. fresh, there are some other cleanse programs out there that include soup. But some of the ones I’ve seen are powdered soup mix. I’ll put my homemade Detox Soup against powdered soup in a taste test any day!

As for fresh protein vs. powdered, protein powder as a supplement is a different story. After all, besides adding a raw egg to your homemade smoothie or Chef V Green Drink, it’s the only way to get a major protein source. (When you’re doing a cleanse, I don’t recommend consuming raw eggs.)

Look, I get it, powdered greens you can buy at a supermarket might seem like an easy way to get your daily dose of veggies. But powdered veggies is nowhere as near as beneficial for you as fresh, organic, whole food veggies. And besides, if it’s convenience you want, convenience you shall have. I’ll deliver Organic Green Drinks, Vegan Protein Shakes and Detox Soups right to your front door (not personally, although it would be awesome to meet you).

Learn more about Chef V Cleanses here: https://www.chefv.com/cleanses/

Keep it fresh!

Love,

Veronica (aka Chef V)

Chef V and tropical green drink

Do You Have a Parasite in Your Gut? How to Kill it

gut parasites

How To Kill Parasites In Your Gut The Natural Way

Got a freeloader living in your gut? If you have been diagnosed with parasites, is it possible to kill them off with natural ingredients? Keep reading to find out…

It’s got to be one of the most embarrassing and self-deflating situations: You’re shopping in the supermarket when all of a sudden a stranger asks, “How far along are you?” 

The problem is that you’re not pregnant. But your belly looks like you could be two or three months along in the prenatal journey. 

For some of the 60 million people(!) in the U.S. that, according to the CDC, are living with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, a chronically-bloated belly isn’t the only concern. 

gut parasite

Top Signs You May Have a Parasite

Parasites can also cause brain fog, skin problems, constant fatigue, muscle pain, an itchy anus, frequent hunger and a long laundry list of digestive issues. 

Another nearly 4 million people, says the CDC, have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by another parasitic infection called trichomoniasis, or trich for short. And here’s another scary stat from the CDC: More than 14 percent of people in the U.S. are exposed to the roundworm parasite that lives in the intestines of dogs that causes toxocariasis.

Sorry, Coconut (my 4-year old four-legged furry pet child): I just don’t know if I can look at you the same way for the next couple days after learning that. But thank God for heartworm pills!

gut health - Coconut and roundworm

Parasites: Not Just A Problem in Poorer Countries

I admit that I thought parasites were mostly something people picked up by visiting a developing nation in the tropics, where hot, damp and humid conditions are rife for all kinds of creepy microorganisms. 

But clearly, there are many among us right here in the good ol’ USA who are walking buffets for parasites. Now, I’m not intentionally trying to scare you; lord knows we have enough things right now to worry about. The good news is that if you have a healthy immune system, your body will be able to prevent parasites from taking up residence in your intestines and stealing your vital nutrients. 

However, thousands of people each year succumb to parasites, mainly by eating or drinking contaminated food and beverages. 

And if that’s you, natural ingredients may help…

natural remedies dried herbs

Treat Parasites Without Medication?

Unfortunately, many symptoms of parasitic infection mirror those of digestive disorders. The only way to know for sure if you have a parasite is by getting your stool tested. Another bummer when it comes to parasitic infections is that stool samples don’t always detect parasites, even when there is one. Far and away, the best stool sample analysis for detecting parasites, says the CDC is the ‘Wheatley method trichrome staining technique.’

If you have a parasitic infection confirmed, your doctor will likely recommend taking a prescription medication for the specific parasite.

Taking medication probably is the quickest way to eradicate the infection. But they don’t always work. Parasites are notoriously difficult to completely wipe out. And if your immune system is compromised and your gut microbiome doesn’t have enough friendly bacteria, there’s a good chance the parasite could re-emerge bigger and badder than before.

Some people would rather go about treating parasites (and candida, which is an overgrowth of a yeast fungus; technically it’s not a parasite) with natural remedies. If that’s you, the best ingredients that are backed by at least some decent research include:

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
  • Aged garlic extract
  • Oregano oil
  • Black walnut
  • Clove oil

gut parasites remedies- grapefruit and garlic oils

There’s one more natural antiparasitic ingredient I’d like to mention. And that’s Pau D’Arco, which is the Portugese name for ‘lapacho,’ the bark from a tree found in South America, including the Amazonian rainforest. Pau D’Arco is actually a natural anti-bacterial.

If you have a parasite, your doctor may want you to also take an antibiotic just in case you also have a bacterial infection. But antibiotic medications wipe out all the good bugs in your gut. This weakens your immune system, making conditions more likely for the parasite to grow.

Pau D' Arco tree

Eat This, Not That … For Parasites

So what are the best foods to eat for killing parasites? Well, let’s start with the worst thing to consume if you have a parasitic infection: sugar. And I’m not just talking about the added grams that come from soda, snacks and the like. You also should avoid starchy foods that easily convert into sugar like white rice, white flour, wheat flour and high starch carbs like mashed potatoes.

According to Mount Sinai of New York, raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, beets, carrots and a mixture of honey and papaya seeds may be beneficial for killing parasites. And don’t forget to use herbal remedies such as wormwood, barberry, goldenseal, oregon grape, anise and garlic. Mount Sinai adds that homeopathic remedies may also help.

Make sure you also support your liver’s detoxification pathways. One great way to do that is with Chef V’s Cleanse or 21 Day Detox.

Conclusion

Well, I hope a parasite isn’t to blame for what’s bugging you. But if a lab test reveals that you indeed have one, don’t despair. You can kill it and come out the other side stronger than ever.

What Is Leaky Gut & Do You Have It?

leaky gut

Leaky anything never sounds good: Pipes. Faucet. Radiator. Can you think of a situation where leaking is a good thing? I can’t think of one. The worst leak of all, one that affects millions of people’s health and happiness is leaky gut. 

How Do You Fix Leaky Gut?

Fixing a leaky gut isn’t easy and it takes time. Unlike calling a plumber, you can’t call a GI handyman to fix it fast. This is especially true if you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms for many years. 

The first step in conquering leaky gut is to stop it from leaking more. And to do that, you need to stop eating and drinking things that will continue to weaken it. For this, I recommend two options. The more accurate but more expensive way is to get a food sensitivity blood test. That takes the guesswork out. If you want to go the cheaper but longer route, follow an elimination diet. That’s where you avoid all potential allergenic foods like gluten for at least 4 weeks and then reintroduce them one by one to see if you have any allergy symptoms. 

There are certain foods like bone broth and collagen protein that may actually help repair the gut lining. But you can’t just sip a cup of bone broth and continue eating allergenic foods expecting miracles. 

As a certified nutrition therapist, I wish I could work one on one with you to help repair your gut. But one recommendation I have for you—besides replacing the typical American breakfast every day with my Organic Green Drink—is working with a functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor. Through diagnostic testing and supplement recommendations, these natural health experts can help you overcome leaky gut and get you living your best life. It’ll cost a pretty penny but isn’t looking and feeling your best worth it?

Gut: Not The Same As Belly

You’ve probably heard of leaky gut but aren’t quite sure what it means. In order to understand what leaky gut is, it’s important to first understand what the gut refers to. 

Many people think the gut is the stomach or abdomen. But your belly is just a small part of your gut. Your gut, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract actually begins in your mouth. Digestion begins even before you take the first bite of food. When you so much as look at or even smell what you’re about to eat or drink, saliva starts forming, ready to soften food for transit down the digestive tract. Eventually, what you eat is eliminated through your backside, which is where the gut ends. 

So now that you have a clear definition of what the gut is, let’s focus on a specific area of the gut that heavily influences your immune system, mood and overall health… 

Your intestines are home to trillions of bacteria. It’s also here that 80% of your immune cells reside. Some people believe that in order to have strong digestion, you need a strong stomach. But actually, the part of your body that has the most influence on your health is called the intestinal mucosal barrier. 

stomach mucosa - leaky gut

The Mucosal Barrier & Gut Health

Years ago, when I first heard the term mucosal barrier, I was kind of grossed out. When you hear the word mucus what do you think of? Disgusting runny noses, right? But it turns out that mucus is one of your best friends. Your intestines are lined with a mucosal barrier. This barrier protects you from potentially-disease-causing pathogens like harmful bacteria, viruses, fungus, etc. In addition, the barrier interacts with immune cells, absorb nutrients and is also responsible for directing waste out of the body. 

Your mucosal barrier is lined by epithelial cells. A healthy mucosal barrier has tight junctions between the cells. 

Leaky Gut Explained

So here’s where we get to leaky gut. Because of several reasons I’ll mention in just a sec, the tight junction can weaken over time. And when this thin intestinal mucosal wall leaks now you have a leaky gut. What exactly is leaked? Undigested food particles, toxins and microorganisms (bacteria, etc.). 

leaky gut

What Happens When You Have Leaky Gut?

Bad things. Autoimmune disorders can arise. A weak gut lining can cause rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other imbalances in which the body attacks itself. 

Why does the body attack itself? It’s because when these undigested food particles, toxins and bacteria flow unimpeded through the bloodstream, the immune system mounts a defense and tries to destroy them. This creates a high inflammation response in the body, leading to painful joints, skin and digestion problems and more…

Why Hasn’t My Doctor Told Me About Leaky Gut?

Because leaky gut isn’t an officially recognized medical disorder. The closest thing to it is “intestinal permeability.” But in order to get diagnosed with that, you need to undergo a biopsy, in which a slice of your intestinal tissue is removed. 

There is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario with leaky gut. Did the weakening of the mucosal barrier cause an autoimmune disease or is it the other way around? 

I’m convinced that because of various factors, leaky gut causes inflammatory conditions, not the other way around. 

probiotics

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

You don’t have to have an autoimmune disorder to have a leaky gut. Other signs that your intestinal wall has gotten weaker include:

  • Brain fog
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Acne, eczema and rashes
  • Anxiety and depression

Causes Of Leaky Gut

If you have any of the above symptoms do you relate to any of the following causes? 

  • Frequent antibiotic use
  • Gut dysbiosis (not having enough friendly bacteria, having too many harmful bacteria)
  • Chronic stress 
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals like glyphosate
  • Excess alcohol
  • Consuming too much sugar
  • Eating foods to which you are allergic or sensitive, e.g. gluten, dairy. (This is also a chicken or egg question: are you allergic because of leaky gut or did leaky gut cause the allergy? Hmmm.)

There are other causes of leaky gut but these are by far the most common. 

Go With Your Gut: 3 Ways to keep your microbiome healthy

your microbiome

Scientists say that the state of our gut is vital to good health and influences our ability to lose weight. Each of us have a “microbiome” in our belly – our own set of bacteria. Staying mindful of the impact of what we eat on our gut and following a healthy diet  has a huge impact on how we feel. The good news is that most of the bugs in your gut are friendly. But when the bad ones start multiplying, that’s when your skin and digestion can suffer. Here’s 3 things you need to know about your microbiome.

It’s kind of creepy when you think about the fact that there are about 100 trillion bugs (bacteria) in the human gut.

Imagine looking under a microscope and seeing all those critters swimming around in your belly, enjoying a buffet of the food that’s in your gastrointestinal tract.

If you think you’re human, think again. We’re actually more bacteria than we are human. In fact, your body has at least 10 times more living organisms in your gut alone than your whole body has human cells.

your microbiome - bacteria

1. Your Gut controls your health – understand it.

Think about that. All the cells that make you, well, you, including skin cells, bone cells, and muscle cells, all over your body is tiny in comparison to the number of bacteria that’s living inside of you. Scientists consider your gut so important that they call it your “second brain”.

The good news is that the majority of the bacteria in your gut is friendly. Friendly microbes play an important part of your immune system.

But because of several factors including genetics, antibiotic use and lifestyle choices (poor diet), you may have too many unfriendly bacteria.

Researchers just a relative blink of an eye ago have discovered that the bugs in your gut more than anything else including diet and exercise determine your health.

For example, we now know that obesity isn’t just linked to eating too many calories and junk food. It’s also a consequence of lacking certain beneficial bacteria. (Want to read more on this topic? Here’s a good article.)

weight and your microbiome

image courtesy Custom Probiotics Inc

The Gut Health Overall Health Connection

In addition to the examples of the overall connection between bacteria in the gut and overall health, here’s another one: joint pain.

It used to be assumed that joint pain was a result of simple wear and tear. But now, researchers believe that the bacteria in your gut can determine whether or not you develop osteoporosis and other joint disorders.

The bugs in your gut can also determine how healthy your blood vessels are and whether or not you’ll develop hardening in your arteries.

Moreover, all kinds of inflammatory disorders such as autoimmune disease and cancers of the GI tract may be caused by poor gut health.

Your mood can also be directly related to your gut bacteria. Anxiety and depression may not only be the result of circumstantial, external factors, but also because of your internal environment.

As you can see, having a diverse amount of good bacteria is perhaps the biggest influencer of  overall health. Gut health can even determine skin health.

If you spend a lot of time and money on skin care products, perhaps you need to rethink your skin care regimen entirely. That’s because poor skin, from excessive dryness to acne and other skin conditions can be traced to what’s inside your gut.

skin health and your microbiome

2. Feed Your Gut Good Stuff – Probiotics & Green Drink

But if genetics is a major determining factor in your bacteria portfolio, is there anything that can be done to change what’s inside your gut?

The good news is there are a few simple things you can do to boost the number of beneficial bacteria.

For starters, if you’re not taking a probiotic supplement, buy one today and start taking it every day. It should contain at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per serving (usually one or two capsules).

Like any other supplement, not all probiotics are created equal. If you buy a cheap one from Rite Aid it might not be effective. Do some research before you buy.

Another easy thing you can do to improve your gut health is having 16 oz of my Green Drink every morning. Good bacteria love to feast on the seven certified organic green leafy veggies in my Green Drink. The veggies contain prebiotic fibers. You can think of prebiotics as food for probiotics (good bacteria).

You can take the most expensive probiotic supplement in the world, but if you’re not feeding the good bacteria with prebiotics, they’re not going to flourish and multiply and colonize your gut.

Which is why if you haven’t been eating healthy lately, I also recommend doing a Chef V Cleanse. With a Chef V Cleanse, you get four Green Drinks per day plus a detox soup for dinner and two vegan protein shakes in between. The soup and shakes also are loaded with prebiotic fuel to stimulate beneficial bacteria in your gut.

probiotic

3. You can reset your Gut Health with a Detox

Diet is crucial for gut health. Even if you eat a large salad with organic veggies every day, if you’re also drinking beer and eating bread and other foods that are rich in either white or wheat flour, your good bacteria won’t flourish.

That’s because drinking beer and eating baked goods causes yeast overgrowth in the gut. Too much yeast results in the good bacteria not being able to do its job effective of protecting your immune system and fighting inflammation.

Bloated belly, foggy brain, chronic congestion and indigestion … all these are symptoms of poor gut health. And yeast overgrowth (especially from the species, candida albicans) is often the culprit.

If you need a longer digestive system overhaul that will keep the yeast at bay, I recommend trying my 21 day detox challenge. It’s easy to follow. I provide all the coaching and instruction you’ll need to easily finish it through, and give your gut the fuel it needs to populate good bacteria.

After your 21 day detox is over, you won’t be tempted by eating yeasty, sugary foods again. And I’ll teach you what to eat after the detox is over to ensure that your success will carry over and your good gut bacteria will thrive.

In the meantime, to boost the friendly bacteria in the gut, you can also eat foods that are rich in probiotics. Drinking kombucha is an easy way to get some probiotics. So, too, is eating fermented foods  like kimchi (Korean cabbage), tempeh and sauerkraut. If you happen to live in a town with good farmers markets, look for stands that sell fermented foods and drinks.

Here’s to your (gut) health….

Love,

Chef V

21 day detox from Chef V

How To Prevent Food Poisoning (From Food & People)

how to prevent food poisoning

The news cycle moves at warp speed so you may not remember that recently I wrote about why I don’t include romaine lettuce in my Organic Green Drinks.

In case you missed it, let me sum up: more than any other green leafy veggie, romaine is the most susceptible to e. coli poisoning.

If you want to keep your gut healthy, don’t buy store bought bagged lettuce. It’s like playing Russian roulette with your immune system. Instead, try growing your own.

But eating contaminated food isn’t the only way you can get sick. In fact, not to freak you out or anything but a recent Consumer Reports article says many people “caught” food poisoning not from the romaine, but from people who ate it.

I wanted to share with you some tips from the article on how not to “catch food poisoning.”

food poisoning bacteria

Hand Sanitizer vs Hand Washing: Which Is Better

If you’re on a cruise, definitely use hand sanitizer whenever possible. Norovirus is a disease caused by food contamination. It most often occurs when you’re shacking up in close quarters to other people.

But when you’re on land, hand sanitizers are overrated. They don’t kill all the bad germs. You’re better off just washing your hands with soap and warm water for about 20 seconds.

And definitely don’t ever use antibacterial soap. It weakens your immune system. You see, you want your hands to be clean. But not too clean. You want your immune system to “exercise” by being exposed to and fighting pathogens. Antibacterial soap also kills your good bacteria. Another concern about antibacterial soap is the potentially cancer-causing chemical, triclosan. Triclosan can also make you more vulnerable to developing allergies.

I prefer to use natural products whenever possible. That’s why I use Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer. You can also make your own natural hand sanitizer using a blend of essential oils. To make one, you’ll need a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba. A few of the best essential oil sanitizers are lemon, tea tree, and orange. You can also add some aloe vera oil.

But if you do want to protect yourself with commercial sanitizer, get one that’s alcohol-based and contains at least 60 percent alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol). Any less and it won’t kill all the bad germs.

food poisoning good bad flora

Opening and Closing Doors

Let’s say you’re a good boy or girl and you just went potty in a public bathroom and washed your hands with warm water for 20 seconds.

You’re feeling all high and mighty about your sanitary practices and open the door to go back to your table at the restaurant. But what if the person who just went to the bathroom before you didn’t wash their hands? And what if they have a food-borne illness that’s brewing but not yet fully developed? That person just grabbed the metal door handle and you just touched it.

So whenever you have to open a metal door, even if it’s right after washing your hands, use a paper towel. Even better, to be more environmentally friendly, tear off a small extra piece of toilet paper to open the door. If you have to touch a metal surface like a door handle or railing, make sure you sanitize your hands afterwards and definitely do not touch your eyes or nose with your hands before doing so.

Sorry if it seems like I’m being your mommy. I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you to wash your hands. You’re probably doing that already.

But keep in mind that 2018’s e. coli outbreak was the deadliest in decades. About 200 people got sick and 5 people died.

Some of the people who got sick didn’t eat the contaminated romaine. Rather, they became ill by somehow being in contact with people who ate the bad romaine.

Now I hope you’re not eating while you’re reading this. Because what I’m about to tell you is gross: E. coli can be transmitted through the tiniest piece of poop. All it takes is a trace amount, a microscopic, nano-poop-particle, to both become sick with food poisoning or to infect someone else.

See why I’m preaching hand washing in this post?

True, I might be slightly nagging like a good-intentioned mama. But I do care about my follower’s health and wellness….

Preventing Food Poisoning: Conclusion

Again, sorry if I seem a bit over cautious. I don’t want you to live in fear. Eat, drink and be merry! (In moderation, of course.)

But don’t forget this sage sanitary advice to prevent food poisoning.

Keep in mind the stronger your immune system is, the lower your chance of getting sick from contaminated food. Of course, if you’re on a trip to a foreign country and drink water with bacteria your system isn’t used to, you may get a touch of traveller’s belly. That’s why you should carry a potent probiotic with you.

The strain, “Saccharomyces boulardii” is a great one. It’s a tropical species of yeast that’s naturally found in lychee and mangosteen fruit. Buy it and bring it with you for overseas trips. If you get the “D word” (it’s so nasty, I don’t even like spelling it out) from eating or drinking, it can help. I actually recommend taking it as a preventative. You can take it for several months in a row without side effects.

And don’t forget to feed the good bacteria in your gut with “prebiotics.” Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers. They are what the bacteria in your gut love to chomp on.

Know what’s a great source of prebiotic fiber for your gut? Green leafy veggies. My Organic Green Drinks contain 7 green leafy veggies. It’s the perfect way to start the day and make your belly bacteria happy. And a happy belly means a strong immune system.

To your health….

Chef V

Chef V and tropical green drink

A Healthy Sandwich

A Healthy Sandwich: Fresh Fruit Jam & Raw Almond Butter

Almost everybody loves sandwiches. The problem with sandwiches, however, is most of them contain bread and toppings loaded with sugars – not a healthy snack. But my fruit jam and raw almond butter sandwich will help fill you up with minimal impact on your blood sugar level. This sandwich recipe is perfect for those times when you have a long ride in the car or for when you’re on a long plane ride. The recipe is featured in my book, Making Cleansing Easier. Enjoy!

Make your own Raw Almond Butter using my recipe.

a healthy sandwich

TOTAL TIME: 60 min

SERVES 2

Ingredients

  • FRUIT JAM

    • 4 cups fresh raspberries
    • 2 whole apples, peeled, cored, and diced
    • 1½ cups fresh apple juice

    SANDWICH

    • 2 slices gluten-free bread
    • ½ tablespoon Chef V’s Fruit Jam
    • ½ tablespoon Chef V’s Raw Almond Butter

Directions

For a healthy sandwich –
To make the fruit jam, bring all the jam ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool. Place in an airtight jar or container. Will keep for 2-4 weeks refrigerated.

Toast the bread, if desired. Spread the fruit jam on one half, the almond butter on the other, and enjoy!

Raw Cucumber + Avocado Gazpacho

Cool and creamy, soups are a great way to start a meal, but are also awesome as a main course. You can easily double or triple my recipe and have delicious leftovers. The beauty of my veggie-rich recipe is that its high water and fiber content slows how fast you eat and fills you up quicker.

raw cucumber + avocado gazpacho

TOTAL TIME: 15 min

SERVES 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 cups filtered ice water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh chopped chives
  • Cucumber slices

Directions

Refrigerate all the ingredients overnight. Peel and seed the avocado and peel the cucumber and garlic.

Place all the cold ingredients in a Vitamix and process until smooth.

The colder the ingredients are, the less foam there will be. Serve cold and top with chopped tomatoes for a bright pop of flavor.

Eat This, Not That … In The Summer

Veronica slicing cucumber

Are you stoked to finally be able to gather with friends and family this summer? You should be. After the summer of 2020 deprived many of us of pool parties, backyard barbecues and trips to the ice cream store, we should have a newfound appreciation for these favorite summer pastimes. 

I don’t blame you for celebrating life to the fullest. But before you party with reckless abandon this summer, there’s a danger posed to your health with every summertime gathering. No, I’m not referring to the C-virus; there’s already enough media attention surrounding that … you don’t need to hear it from me, too. 

The danger I’m talking about isn’t potentially lethal like the C-virus, but it can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms better left unspoken at the dinner table. And I’m not talking about the side effects of partying too much. Obviously, chugging beers by the pool under the blazing sun can make you feel like you’re dying. 

traditional Chinese Medicine

Worst Foods To Eat In Summer

What I’m talking about is a 5,000 year-old concept from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s called Damp Heat. What does an esoteric ancient philosophy from the Orient have to do with grilling it up in your backyard with friends? 

You see, eating fatty, greasy food isn’t a recent health problem. Thousands of years ago, ancient Chinese enjoyed finger-lickin’ good pork, sometimes to excess. The ancient Chinese philosophers and doctors of their day noticed that just as the air outside can be hot and sticky, eating and drinking certain things in excess can create heat and dampness in the body. 

Not to get too textbook-y here, but the basic theory of Dampness in TCM is that it occurs when there’s too much moisture or water trapped in the body. Anybody who feels like they have swollen extremities (edema) can relate. 

Unfortunately, many of the most common foods and drinks people have in the summer can create excess Damp and Heat in the body. The offenders include: 

  • Dairy (ice cream)
  • Grilled meats (barbecue)
  • Alcohol (beer)
  • Added sugars 
  • Ice-cold drinks

Am I saying you should never have ice cream? No, I’m not that puritanical of a certified nutrition therapist. But what I am recommending is that the next time you get invited to a backyard gathering, don’t have ice cream and 3 beers and 3 burgers. As always, moderation is the key. 

Another thing that Chinese medicine textbooks say to avoid in the summer is lots of raw food like salads. Wait, what? Aren’t salads super healthy and really desirable this time of year? Well, for starters, I sure eat a ton of salads and my digestion is fine. 

But the reason you’re not supposed to eat lots of uncooked veggies, according to the theory, is that it requires a lot of energy for your Spleen organ system to process. In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is the organ that’s responsible for transforming nutrients into usable energy. No double pun intended, but this is an instance where I go with my gut and throw theory to the wind.

summer vegetables

Best Foods To Eat In Summer

Yes, I’m totally throwing salads on this list, despite what traditional Chinese medicine theory says. But by all means, if you notice that after you have a big salad that your digestion is off, maybe dial it down and have a much smaller one. And start taking digestive enzymes.

Here’s some other foods I love to feast on this time of year:

  • Berries (I top them on my salads)
  • Avocado and guacamole
  • Corn (Buy organic; over 90% of the conventional corn grown in the USA is genetically-modified.)
  • Zucchini
  • Melons
  • Cucumber
  • Asparagus
  • String beans
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach and other leafy greens (I drink leafy greens every morning doing this.)
  • Apricots
  • Quinoa
  • Other low-starch grains
  • Lean fish like mahi-mahi, poke, sashimi
  • Eggplant (Want to get your barbecue on, plant-based style? Grilled eggplant is one of my faves.)
  • Mango (My go-to healthy dessert; I’m only human so sometimes I top it with whipped cream; whipped coconut cream that is!)

Any seasonal fruit and veggie should be high on your list of foods to eat this time of year. Support small family farms by shopping at local farmer’s markets. 

And make sure you don’t overdo it by eating typical summertime unhealthy foods. Not only does barbecued meat have the potential to cause Damp Heat in the body, it also produces Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products in the body. “AGE” is a very appropriate acronym because having lots of AGE products causes premature aging. 

To a happy, healthy summer!

Chef V and tropical green drink

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Chef V’s tip: Most of my salads are delicious with my Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette or Creamy Avocado Dressing. Use these on any salads unless otherwise specified.

creamy avocado dressing

TOTAL TIME: 10 min

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

1 large ripe avocado
1/2 small white onion, minced or grated
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 small lime, juiced
1 tablespoon cold-pressed-olive oil or avocado oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Process all ingredients in a Vitamix until smooth and well combined. Serve immediately.

Berry Blast

Chef V’s Tip: want to get more calcium into your diet? Look no further! My Berry Blast is chock full of calcium from sources you may not know –  almonds (from my raw almond milk), chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Calcium is essential for a healthy heart, bones, blood, and more.

berry blast

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Serving Size: 1 person

Ingredients

1 cup Chef V’s Raw Almond Milk or coconut milk
1/2 Fuji apple, cored and seeded
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon raw chia seeds
1 teaspoon raw flax seeds
1 cup ice
1 tablespoon vegan protein powder, optional

Directions

Process all ingredients in a Vitamix for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth. Will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.

Creamy Berry Parfait

Chef V’s Tips: Many raw food recipes call for soaking nuts. Why? Soaking nuts (from 2 hours to overnight) improves the flavor and  nutritional value of the nuts by releasing dust, residue and tannin into the water, leaving the nuts with a softer, buttery texture and increasing their digestibility. Never use the soak water – always discard it.

creamy berry parfait

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4 people

Ingredients

Nut Mix

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 raw sunflower seeds
1/4 raw flaxseeds

Raw Cashew Vanilla Cream

1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
1/4 to 1/2 filtered water
1 tablespoon raw coconut
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt

Berries

1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions

Combine all the nut mix ingredients in a bowl. Next, process the Raw Cashew Vanilla Cream ingredients in a Vitamix until smooth and creamy.
To serve, assemble the parfait in a mason jar or clear glass:
Step 1 : Place 1/2 of nuts on the bottom;
Step 2: Sprinkle 1/2 of the berries over the nuts;
Step 3: Spoon the cashew cream over the top;
Step 4: Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the cream;
Step 5: Garnish with remaining berries.
For easy breakfast planning, my Raw Cashew Vanilla Cream recipe can easily be doubled and will keep for up to a week refrigerated.

What’s Fueling The TikTok Chlorophyll Trend?

chlorophyll

Drinking liquid chlorophyll is one of the hottest trends right now. And we have TikTok to thank for it.

The short form viral video app hosts dozens of videos showing people — mostly young women in their early 20s—sipping on green water, swearing that liquid chlorophyll cures all.

The majority of the liquid chlorophyll Tik Tok videos claim how the drops are amazing for the skin. Other TikTok users swear by it for weight loss, and pretty much every health concern under the sun.

In this post, I’ll explain what chlorophyll is, its benefits, and I’ll weigh in on whether or not I think it’s worth it to drink liquid chlorophyll…

First off, let me just say that it’s actually kind of refreshing to see young women fueling a health trend. While I’m not jumping on the liquid chlorophyll bandwagon just yet (I’ll explain why below), adding chlorophyll drops to your water is for sure waaaaay healthier than vaping, which is pretty much the only other trend I’m familiar with when it comes to late teens.

What Is Chlorophyll?

Remember learning about photosynthesis in school?

If not, no worries, I’ll catch you up to speed…

Photosynthesis is a chemical process. Plants use a green colored pigment—chlorophyll—to trap sunlight. Carbon dioxide and water are synthesized from sunlight to nourish the plants. In essence, photosynthesis is the transfer of energy from the sun to plants.

Chlorophyll helps plants create sugar molecules. Without chlorophyll, plants wouldn’t provide us with phytonutrient-rich, health-supporting food. It’s no wonder that some people refer to it as “plant blood.” In fact, chlorophyll, when viewed through a microscope, looks very similar to human red blood cells!

My sixth-grade chemistry teacher would probably give me a “C minus” at best for that clunky explanation. But that’s really all you need to know about chlorophyll. To sum up: it’s a pigment that gives plants their green color and abundant micronutrients.

If that’s the case then you should definitely stop reading this article right now and purchase liquid chlorophyll, right? Well, not exactly. I’ll explain why in a little bit.

avocados for brain health

Benefits of Chlorophyll

One plant that’s really rich in the green pigment is wheatgrass. Some people can’t stomach the taste of wheatgrass shots because, well, it tastes like grass. Chlorophyll makes up approximately 70% of the solid content of wheatgrass.

In lab studies, wheatgrass has been shown to reduce oxidative damage in cells. If there’s too much oxidation in your cells, you age prematurely. There have also been studies on people showing that wheatgrass helps reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Wheatgrass has also been shown to lessen the severity of several chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Chlorophyll-rich foods and drinks like wheatgrass may also help improve metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity.

The problem with wheatgrass, besides the grassy taste, is that you need a wheatgrass juicer at home to use it on a consistent basis. Plus, you also need to have a steady supply of the grass.

And that brings us back to the TikTok sensation…

melted cheese

Benefits of Liquid Chlorophyll

Squirting a few drops from a bottle into a glass of water is far easier than the messy hassle of wheatgrass shots.

But are the liquid drops the same as the green pigment in its natural form?

No, liquid chlorophyll is not the same as chlorophyll naturally found in plants.

The liquid drops are synthetic. (Synthetic chlorophyll is called chlorophyllin.) But that doesn’t mean that all these TikTok users are wasting their money or even harming their health.

In fact, liquid chlorophyll, just like natural chlorophyll found in whole plants, may help activate enzymes that play a role in eliminating toxins.

So could it be that the skin benefits many TikTok users are experiencing are from liquid chlorophyll?

It could be. Put it this way. If your diet isn’t exactly wholesome to begin with, adding an alkalizing, anti-inflammatory substance that’s rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and magnesium to your diet could very well seem like a miracle.

Another benefit of liquid chlorophyll is that it builds red blood cells. If you’re going, say, on a ski trip or hiking adventure to a high-altitude destination, chlorophyll drops may come in handy.

But it takes a good 2-3 weeks to build red blood cells so make sure you start using it well in advance of your trip. The copper in liquid chlorophyll drops is highly-concentrated. You need copper (and iron) to form red blood cells. Eating a salad every day isn’t enough to combat the effects of high-altitude sickness.

When it comes to preparing for a high-altitude trip (in my book that’s 9,000 feet or higher), I might consider taking liquid chlorophyll drops.

Side Effects of Liquid Chlorophyll

If green poop grosses you out, lay off the liquid drops. Aside from discoloration of stool, overdoing it on the drops can lead to diarrhea. But the only other serious concern of chlorophyll supplements is that, just like any other health supplement, it’s hard to know how much of it your body is actually digesting and absorbing.

Is Liquid Chlorophyll Worth Buying?

Aside from preparing for a high-altitude trip, no, I don’t think liquid chlorophyll supplements are necessary. Not if you’re eating plenty of whole-food green leafy veggies or having a daily dose of organic Green Drinks.

Best Natural Sources of Chlorophyll

Edible seaweed and superfood powders are excellent natural chlorophyll sources. Superfood powders often contain spirulina, chlorella, or some other combination of blue-green algae. Edible seaweeds include nori (sushi roll wraps), wakame (in miso soup), kombu (found in ramen), dulse flakes and Irish moss.

But I prefer whole foods every time, and that means eating lots of veggies, especially green-leafy ones.

Kale is one of the best sources of chlorophyll. So is parsley, collard greens, chard, and dandelion greens. Organic Green Drink contains these chlorophyll-rich green leafy veggies. And the best part is you can have it delivered right to your home. No messy juicer needed!

So young TikTokers, good on ya for doing something healthy. But make sure you get plenty of whole-food fruits and veggies in your diet. Oh, listen to me, I sound like a mom!

Chef V and kale

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing

Chef V’s Tip: Most of my salads are delicious with my Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette or Creamy Avocado Dressing. Use these on any salads unless otherwise specified. Dressings serve 4-6. – Veronica

creamy avocado dressing

TOTAL TIME: 10 min

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cold filtered water

Directions

For Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, process all ingredients in a Vitamix until smooth and well combined. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Shake well before each use.

Chef V Raw Mayonnaise

Sometimes you just need a luscious rich tasting spread – so I created this cashew-based mayo. Easy to prepare, you can use it in dressings, dips, on a sandwich, anywhere you want that mayonnaise experience – only healthier. – Veronica

raw mayonaise

TOTAL 10 minutes

Serving Size: 1 Person

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, washed and drained (pre-soaked 1 hour)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. organic sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. raw coconut sugar

Directions

Blend mayo ingredients together in a Vitamix or food processor.

Beet-It Smoothie

Go red! Research has shown that red fruits and vegetables such as beets and raspberries are nutritional superheroes. So drink up! – Veronica

ginger apple berry smoothie

TOTAL 10 minutes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Serving Size: 1 Person

Ingredients

  • ½ cup organic blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup organic raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup diced organic red beet, raw & skinned
  • 1 piece organic red chard
  • ½ cup ice
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened almond milk
  • Optional 1 serving of vegan protein powder (hemp, pea, or brown rice)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add ¼ cup filtered water if necessary. Bon Appétit!

Chef V’s Raw Almond Butter recipe

Raw Almond Butter is delicious, but not all commercial almond butters are healthy. Almonds are definitely one food that you want to purchase organic. When comparing how a crop is cultivated organically and conventionally, oftentimes, the methods are very similar. But not so with almonds. In fact, conventionally-grown almonds, the way they are processed, may pose serious hazards to your health.

In light of this, I always buy organic almonds. And if I’m at a farmer’s market that offers steam-pasteurized organic raw almonds, I go for those, even if it’s expensive. Steam-pasteurization preserves the nutritional integrity of the raw almond butter. Plus, they’re free of chemicals and pesticides.

Once you’ve tried this almond butter recipe you’ll never want to buy commercial again.  – Veronica

grinding almonds

grinding almonds

TOTAL TIME: 25 min
SERVINGS: 5

Ingredients

  • 3 cups organic raw almonds
  • High power blender (I prefer Vitamix)
  • Patience – it takes up to 20 minutes to process

Directions

Process the nuts in a Vitamix for 10-20 minutes at high speed. This is easy, but it takes patience.

After about 5 minutes, the nuts will look like almond flour. Then, after another 5-10 minutes, the oils will start seeping out of the mixture, forming a paste.

Soon after, the raw almond butter magically appears! Store it in a sealed mason jar. Your raw almond butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

That’s the simple way to make raw almond butter at home.

Apples With Raw Almond Butter, Coconut & Cacao

Take it from me, as someone who travels often, you need a healthy snack recipe to keep your immune system strong when travelling. I usually make a batch of this recipe before a long trip. This recipe is one of my go-to healthy snacks when I’m traveling on a plane….

apples with raw almond butter. coconut and cacao

TOTAL TIME: 15 min
SERVES: 2

Ingredients

  • Apples & Almond Butter
  • 1 apple (my favs are Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Gala)
  • 2 tablespoons Chef V’s Raw Almond Butter
Toppings
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao nibs

Directions

  • First, I’ll show you how I make the raw almond butter. Check out the directions HERE. The instructions show a simple way to make raw almond butter at home. Now that you know how, it’s time to make apples with almond butter, coconut and cacao.
  • Cut the apples in quarters and smear the almond butter on. Sprinkle with toppings if desired and savor each bite!

Sweet Watermelon Crunch Salad

Chef V’s tip: To blanch the broccoli, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the broccoli in for 1 minute, and then remove and cool with ice water. This will make it slightly softer without losing much of the nutritional value.

sweet watermelon crunch salad

TOTAL TIME: 15 min
SERVES: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3 cups chopped watermelon, seeded
  • 2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets, blanched and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
ZESTY DRESSING
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon or dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

Plate the greens with watermelon, pears, broccoli florets, and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Combine the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

Making The Most Out Of Your Chef V Experience

chef V cleanse

Despite the thousands of satisfied CHEF V CLEANSE customers and incredible transformation stories, we’re never going to have a 100% success rate. 

I realize that. But knowing that there’s somebody out there—even if they are the 1 in a thousand that doesn’t have an awesome experience—well, it sort of weighs on me a little bit. 

So if you’re thinking about doing a CLEANSE or just starting out, here are some tips on how to maximize your experience and undergo the health transformation you want to achieve. 

checking out Chef V cleanse ingredients

Cleanse For Success Tip #1: Set Realistic Expectations

How long has your diet been, well, let’s just say far from perfect? 

If you’ve been consuming lots of processed food for many years, you can’t expect miracles from a 5 Day Cleanse. Sure, you can lose up to 20 pounds in 5 days. 

But then what? 

Are you going to keep the results going? And if you’ve eaten unhealthy for years, is 5 days going to reset your metabolism? 

Maybe not. 

That’s why in order to keep your success going, you can’t go back to eating the same foods and drinks that cause a toxic metabolism in the first place. 

You have to keep the success going my sticking to my Organic Green Drink plan. The plan is simple really. All you have to do is replace a regular breakfast with an 8-16 oz. serving of Green Drink

Then, eat a sensible lunch and dinner with a healthy snack in between if you have to. Make sure you also give your body 12-16 hours in between your last bite of dinner and your first sip of Green Drink in the morning.

This intermittent fasting will help balance your blood sugar levels and improve detoxification.  

Everybody has different reactions to cleansing. For some people, the weight melts right off because the liver and gallbladder are in pretty good shape. These organs can filter out the bad stuff. 

But for other people, the liver and gallbladder are so sluggish that it may take more than 5 days to do the trick. 

Carrot curry soup in Chef V cleanse

Cleanse For Success Tip #2: Extend The Cleanse

If you’re not satisfied with your cleansing results, you may also need a healthy lifestyle education. That’s where 21 Day Detox comes in. 

Many people are straight-up addicted to sugar and think that doing a 1, 3 or even 5 day cleanse will cure all their troubles. This goes back to unrealistic expectations from above. But if your brain has been hijacked by sugar or salt addiction, it’s going to take longer than a 5 Day Cleanse to reset your taste buds. 

Three weeks will do the trick!I know 21 days sounds like an eternity. But think how quickly the last 3 weeks have gone by. And really, doing a 21 Day Detox is not that challenging, not when you have me as your guide.

I’ll provide you with healthy eating guides and wellness resources along with dozens of recipes to choose from. Plus, throughout the 21 Day Detox, you’ll get to eat delicious meals and snacks. It’s not a starvation diet; it’s a lifestyle adjustment and Green Drink remains the foundation of the program. 

But losing up to 40 pounds in just 21 days is not for everybody. 

Veronica and Brandon with green drink at the beach

Cleanse For Success Tip #3: Don’t Quit & Maintain Your Desire To Transform

You have to want it. You have to put in the work. It’s not that difficult. You just need to have some temporary will power in order to put the sugar genie back in the bottle. 

And if you can do it for just three weeks out of your life, you can live the rest of your life buzzing with natural energy. Your vibration will be higher. Your skin will look more youthful. In short, you’re going to feel amazing. 

Cleanse For Success Tip #3: Adjust The Taste To Your Liking

Some people who don’t get results from my cleanse complain about the taste of Green Drink, of which you get four 16-oz servings each day. Again, that’s because their taste buds have been corrupted by added sugars.

There are seven leafy green veggies in Organic Green Drink and nothing else except for a tiny bit of apple. That’s why there’s only a couple grams of natural sugar in each serving.

If you want to reset your toxic metabolism that has been making your fat cells bigger, one of the most important things you can do is resetting your taste buds. 

After resetting your taste buds, eating a handful of berries will taste amazing. You’ll be hooked on “Mother Nature’s candy” instead of empty-calorie food with added sugars. 

But you have to be realistic and give Green Drink a chance to exert its metabolic-rebooting potential. You can’t expect Green Drink to taste like a Slurpee. 

You can add liquid stevia drops to Green Drink to add some natural sweetness to it without raising your blood sugar levels. 

Do you want to know the absolute best way to reset your taste buds and conquer a toxic metabolism? 

Your 100% Happiness Is My #1 Concern

I know it sounds cheesy… (Speaking of cheese, if you’re eating a lot of it and want to transform your metabolism, give it up as much as you can after your cleanse is over!)

But it’s true. I’m obsessive about customer satisfaction. 

Remember, we’re not perfect. Sometimes shipping errors occur. And sometimes the problems are out of our hands (maybe the UPS delivery person screwed up). But I promise you we will do everything in our power to make it right for you. 

I appreciate every bit of customer feedback we get. We must be doing something right when it’s 99% positive feedback. But I always strive for perfection. Maybe that’s a fault who knows. All I do know is that I want you set up for the biggest chance of success possible!

Love, 

Chef V

Veronica and Coco with Cleanse ingredients

Let’s get Outdoors!

Veronica and Coco hiking

Stress. It impacts everything we do these days. And it has never been more important to de-stress, to find ways to relax and enjoy the good things in life.

How do I keep my cool during these times? I treat myself – and you should treat yourself too. And the treat that makes me happiest this time of year is to get outside. Whether hiking in the Arizona desert or doing yoga on the beaches here in San Diego, getting outdoors is just about the best stress reliever we have in these turbulent times.

We recently moved from the east coast back to one of the most beautiful places on the planet: sunny, temperate San Diego, where I can go to the beach. Taking an early-morning beach walk, watching the dolphins surf the waves (while sipping Green Drink, natch) takes me from stressed to blissful. Brandon and I de-stress regularly with long walks.

Veronica at the beach

What the Experts Say

The New York Times recently interviewed Julia L. Marcus, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. She says: “I think going outside is important for health… We know that being outdoors is lower risk for infection than being indoors. On a sunny, beautiful weekend, I think going outside is indicated, but I also think there are things to do to reduce our risk.”

We all know by now to socially distance and wear a mask.  Just this week, the CDC has published guidelines for going to parks and recreation areas, greatly expanding the options for going mask free.

cdc new mask guidelines

Outdoors safer than indoors

It is now well established that COVID viruses are much more likely to spread indoors than outdoors.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s health officer says that “the risk that somebody who is sick spreads this virus from coughing or sneezing outside and you walk by them very quickly, even when it is within six feet, that risk is negligible…. We always say ‘never say never’ in medicine, but the risk would be infinitesimally small.”

She emphasizes an important part of our daily routines in these difficult times. She says “going for walks and spending time in parks is important for mental health.” I agree – stress is bad for your health. We need to stay sane and calm to stay well.

veronica and coco at the pool

We’ll get through this together

Times are tough and scary but you are not in this alone. You, my customers and friends, are a blessing in my life and I am so grateful to you. Your health and safety are constantly in my thoughts and I thank you for your patronage and friendship. Know that you are not alone, we are all figuring this out together. – Veronica

MANLY Lamb Chops

When cooking for someone you love you want meals that are hearty and healthy.  Chef V makes this delicious go-to recipe when she needs a man pleasing meal.

This recipe will make a romantic meal that leaves you both feeling great!

When shopping for lamb, try to find local USDA-Certified Organic Lamb. More and more, farms offering organic meat are built around the well-being of the lamb. The animals are all born and raised on the same farm on a simple diet of grass and hay; free of steroids, antibiotics, and hormones.

manly lamb chops

REST TIME: 2 hours
COOKING TIME: 45 minutes
SERVES: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of lamb (Frenched*, 7-8 ribs each, 1.5- 2 lbs. total)
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Directions

Rub the rack of lamb with rosemary, thyme, garlic, and pepper. Place in a gallon plastic bag with olive oil and coat the lamb in olive oil. Close the bag tightly and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Bring the lamb out 2 hours ahead of time so that it can rest at room temperature before cooking. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Make diagonal cuts or slivers along the fat on top about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover the exposed tip bones with foil to avoid burning. Cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees then lower the temp to 300 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes more. Lamb should be cooked to rare or medium rare and then be removed and covered with foil.

Let the lamb sit for 15 minutes and rest to finish cooking through. Slice the lamb in-between the bones, cutting away from the bone. Serve with rice, potatoes, or anything else your Man desires!

*Most stores already sell the rack of lamb Frenched. This means the skin, meat, and fat have been removed between the tips of the rib bone, to make it look nicer and easier to eat.

MANLY Spaghetti and Meatballs

Freshly made gluten free spaghetti and hearty meatballs are covered in a tasty tomato sauce for a timeless and savory Italian dish. That’s amoré!

manly spaghetti and meatballs

TOTAL TIME: 45 min
SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 1lb. organic ground turkey
  • ½ lb. organic chicken sausage
  • 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oz. organic crushed tomatoes (divided)
  • 1 cup organic basil, washed
  • 1 box of brown rice or quinoa spaghetti

Directions

Combine raw ground turkey and chicken sausage in a bowl and mix well. Mix in 4 oz. of crushed tomato sauce, bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Start forming meatballs by grabbing a handful of meat mix and forming a ball shape. Make all the balls, to desired size. You can make all big, all small or small and big ones. Just know that bigger ones will take a longer cooking time in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a skillet on the stove with 1 tbsp. of olive oil to medium-high heat. Add 2-3 meatballs at a time, depending on how many will fit, and brown the outside of the meatballs for about 5 minutes total, turning and browning the entire outside of the ball. Once browned, move to a foil lined baking sheet and bake all the meatballs for 10-15 minutes for small meatballs and 15-20 minutes for larger meatballs. When removing, cut one ball open to check doneness. The inside should not have any pink and should be firm.

Cook pasta according to directions on the package. While cooking the pasta, heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan on medium-high. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add minced garlic and stir. Add 16 oz. crushed tomatoes and continue to stir until hot. Add chopped basil before serving. Spoon spaghetti onto plates, top with red sauce and a meatball or two. Top with additional sauce and serve with Love!

Easy Hummus

This recipe is easy and it tastes delicious! Eat it with naan, veggies, gluten-free bread or pita chips. I love Stacy’s brand gluten free pita chips, they are the best. Enjoy!

skinny shamrock smoothie

TOTAL TIME: 15 min
SERVES: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can or 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, chilled
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced

Directions

Process all ingredients except cucumber in a Vitamix for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of water if needed for better blending. Serve on cucumber slices, as a dip with your favorite veggies, or spread on a wrap or gluten-free toast. Sprinkle with paprika and sesame seeds.

Don’t be so ‘Resistant’ to Eating These Carbs

resistant starches

I used to be a carb shamer.

I mean, other than trans fats, carbs are the worst thing for health, right? You don’t have to be a certified nutritional therapist like yours truly to understand that out of the 3 macronutrients, carbs have the highest impact on blood sugar and insulin. (Eating a lot of animal protein can also raise insulin.)

Carb-phobia is why I flirted with ultra low carb diets like keto. But after feeling awful switching to keto, you couldn’t pay me enough to swear off carbs again. Life’s too short to feel miserable.

The fact is that 99% of Americans can’t live without eating grains (which are carbs). Not because grains are necessary for survival, because they aren’t. You can go the rest of your life consuming carbs from only fruits and vegetables (which are technically carbs, too). But how realistic is it to eat grain-free for the rest of your life.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about the healthiest carbs that aren’t fruits and veggies. They are called resistant carbs and I encourage you to get lots of them in your diet.

In fact, there’s one simple trick I’ll show you in just a bit that transforms one of the worst carbs for your health into a much healthier one.

So stay tuned…

What Are Resistant Starches? 

The reason why the most common grains and high-starch carbs are bad for you is that they quickly convert into glucose (sugar) in the small intestine. This drives blood sugar levels higher and causes a release in insulin. And it’s the reason why even though sushi is one of my favorite foods, I don’t get it that often. That’s because I feel like white rice gets digested too quickly. Then, after spending $100 on a sushi meal, I’m hungry a mere two hours later.

(Keep reading because the simple trick I teased above turns even white rice into a healthier carb choice!)

Unlike quick-burning carbs, resistant starches (examples below) don’t get digested in the small intestine. Instead, they pass into the large intestine where they ferment. This fermentation creates prebiotic fiber. (I just checked out my nutrition articles; can’t believe I haven’t written about prebiotic fiber. I’ll add that to my to-do list.)

Prebiotic fiber, also called “prebiotics,” have all the makings of a new health trend, and for good reason. Prebiotics are the food that fuels your healthy bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. You can swallow probiotics until you’re blue in the face and bloated in your gut.

But you can’t colonize your gut with healthy bacteria if the microscopic friendly bugs don’t have anything to feast on.

Besides, many probiotic supplements might be a waste of money. This is because the overwhelming majority of bacteria in the capsules die before reaching the large intestine. Having a healthy gut is vital for immunity, mood, digestion and basically all other functions.

Could it be that eating carbs is the answer for obtaining gut health? Maybe, but only if you’re eating resistant carbs.

apple cider vinegar

More Reasons To Be Less Resistant About Eating Carbs

When you eat lots of prebiotic fiber, it makes you feel full. Feeling full of fiber prevents cravings for unhealthy carbs (basically, anything that contains white or wheat flour) that I will still shame you for eating. (Just kidding. Do what you like. I’m not really a shamer. I just help people get their daily dose of leafy green veggies in the easiest, most affordable and convenient way.)

If you need to improve your health metrics, you’ll be happy to know resistant starches also lowers cholesterol and is associated with a lower risk of developing colon cancer.

Best Resistant Starches

If you love bagels, cookies, muffins, bread and other baked goods, sorry, these aren’t on the list of best resistant starches. However, as I promised, in the next section, I’ll reveal a way to make a couple common carbs more resistant to digestion.

Do you remember this song from your childhood:

“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you…”

You can fill in the blank yourself. The good news about beans and lentils (which are in the family of legumes) is that many varieties are high in resistant starch. Some people who have type 2 diabetes are concerned about the high amount of carbs in beans. But I think, considering the amount of fiber and resistant starch (a double dose of fiber, really), beans are perfectly healthy for those living with diabetes. Just make sure to closely monitor those A1C levels before and after meals.

The bigger concern with beans is that they contain anti-nutrients, which interfere with your body’s ability to digest and absorb minerals. A simple thing you can do to greatly reduce these anti-nutrients is soaking the legumes overnight in water.

More resistant carb sources:

  • Unripened bananas
  • Peas (especially shriveled ones; peas are also legumes)
  • Barley
  • Raw potato starch
  • Glucomannan flour
  • High-maize flour (corn)
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Corn starch (buy organic for the same reason as oats)

How To Make Starchy Carbs More Resistant To Digestion

So what’s a potato, pasta and rice lover to do? These staple carbs aren’t on the best resistant starches list….

But here’s how you can get them to be.

Simply cook them and let them cool overnight in the fridge. Then you can simply reheat them. And voila, you’ve got what otherwise would be a blood-sugar-spiking carb transformed into one that is actually good for your gut! The same goes for sweet potatoes and corn tortillas!

Cooling simple starches like white rice overnight changes the molecular structure of the carbohydrate chains. Science magic!

Of course, as the diet professional I am, I should leave you with a warning to moderate your portion sizes. But that’s how life should be lived, enjoying your favorite foods without overdoing it.

Here’s to “carb” no longer being a naughty four-letter word.

Mango Avocado Burrito Bowl

Here’s my Mango Avocado Burrito Bowl, a spin on Chipotle Mexican Grill’s awesome burrito bowls. Use my recipe as a starting point and add any of your favorite ingredients like grilled chicken or fish to make your own. You can also turn this into an easy wrap with gluten-free tortillas.  – Veronica

chia seed pudding

TOTAL TIME: 15 Min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cups mixed greens (use your favs!)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice or cauliflower cilantro rice
  • 3/4 cup cooked and cooled or 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, diced.

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the mango, cilantro, red onion, and lime juice. Plate the greens, and top with brown rice or quinoa, black beans, mango mixture, and diced avocado. Serve.

Yoga + Green Drink to Stress Less, Feel Better

yoga and green drink

I’m finding it harder to stay centered. Are you stressed out too?

Stress can have a major influence upon mood, our sense of well-being, behavior, and health. Acute stress, especially if the threat is unremitting, can damage health.

To stay centered and calm, my go-to is yoga.  Yoga can reduce stress, shift your mindset, and help you feel better.

Before coronavirus,  I made sure to do a minimum of 10-15 minutes of yoga every day. Now, I’ve increased my practice and recommending that all my friends and clients fo the same. The more stressful your day, the more you need to start your day off with yoga. To those who know me, I might seem centered but without meditation and yoga, I might be a mess.

Here are some of my favorite yoga poses for reducing stress and getting back to center. Zen out in the comfort and safety of home.

Cheers to your very best health –  Veronica

yoga - downward dog

DOWNWARD DOG

Place your hands on the ground, shoulder width apart, and stretch your feet out behind you about 3 feet apart from one another with your hips high in the air. You should look like an upside down letter “V.” Because your heart is higher than your head, this pose causes blood to flow to your brain, which calms the nervous system, improves memory, enhances concentration and relieves stress. Downward Dog also gently tones your abdomen, which stimulates digestion.

tree pose - virksasana

TREE POSE (VIRKSASANA)

Start by focusing the balance on the left foot. Lifting the right foot to the ankle, calf, above the knee or in lotus position (inside the hip joint), bring your arms to prayer position in front of your heart center. Straighten the back, tuck in the pelvis and breathe.

On an inhale, extend your arms over head into any hand mudra you desire; pinky to thumb, thumb to index finger or thumb to middle finger. Hold here for 5-10 inhale and exhale breaths.

prayer pose

PRAYER TWIST

Stand with your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Look toward your right leg as you turn your torso and your hips towards your right leg.

Bend your right knee at a 90 degree angle, keeping your left leg straight so that you are in a low lunge. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of you.

Inhale and on an exhale, twist to your right, bringing your left elbow over your right knee. Look up and make sure your elbows are facing in opposite directions with your right elbow facing up at 12 o’clock and left facing down at 6 o’clock.

Hold this pose for 5-10 inhales and exhales. Slowly release, coming back to center. Repeat on the other side.

Look toward your left side, bend your left knee at a 90 degree angle and move into a lunge by keeping your right leg straight. Inhale and exhale to twist to the left, hooking your right elbow over your left knee. Breathe for 5-10 inhales and exhales.

The twisting of the torso in this move applies pressure to your muscles, increasing toning and detoxifying powers. Fresh oxygen rushes to the area once the twist is released, which helps flush toxins within the body and improve digestion. This pose is great for balance, energy and confidence – plus, it tones your legs, hips and butt.

supine spinal twist

SUPINE SPINAL TWIST

Lay on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee, bringing it close to your chest.

Take your left hand and slowly guide your (bent) right leg over to the left side of your body. Look right and breathe 5-10 inhales and exhales.

Slowly come back to center with both legs stretched out on the ground. Reverse on the other side by bending your left knee toward your chest.

With your right hand, gently guide your left leg over to your right. This time, look to the left and breathe for another set of 5-10 inhales and exhales. This spinal twist will help to release lower back tension, open tight shoulders, improve digestion and elongate spinal muscles.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easy at first. Like all things, yoga takes time and practice to get right, but you will start feeling the detoxifying benefits right away. Just start with slow and steady breaths and the rest will follow!

Chef V and kale

What’s The Best Plant-Based Burger? A Comparison Of The Most Popular Brands

chlorophyll

Plant-based burgers are having a moment. It seems that every time I hit the supermarket, there’s a new veggie burger brand. Even food-industry giants like Tyson Foods, Cargill, Nestle and Perdue Farms are having veggie burger FOMO. They’re hopping on the plant-based burger wagon, launching meat-substitute products.

But is this a good thing?

Before I answer that question, I reviewed the ingredients list in 7 of the most popular brands of plant-based burgers. Here’s what I found:

impossible burger

Impossible Burger

Along with Beyond Burger (listed below), Impossible Brands’ Impossible Burger has fueled the plant-based burger revolution. I wrote extensively about the Impossible Burger in a previous post. I’ll sum up what I wrote: Probably the best-tasting plant-based burger on the market. There’s a good reason why Burger King chose it for its wildly-successful Impossible Whopper. It looks just like a meat burger, drips blood-red juice just like a real burger and tastes pretty much like a beef patty. What’s not to love?

The bad news is that it contains two highly-processed forms of soy, one of which is a new genetically-modified version called Soy Leghemoglobin (“Heme” for short).

I’ve had a couple friends tell me that after eating an Impossible Burger, their next trip to the bathroom did not go well. Plus bad cramping.

Could it be that because Heme is basically new to human stomachs, our bodies don’t know how to react to it? Could it be that in some people, Impossible Burgers can trigger autoimmune reactions?

Time will only tell. I’m all for eating plant-based REAL food, but a soy that’s been grown in a lab? I don’t care how much it tastes just like the real thing, I’d rather eat a 100% grass-fed burger once a year that’s sourced from an organic, small family farm.

And one more concerning thing about the Impossible Burger: it’s made with coconut oil. The problem with coconut oil is that saturated fat comprises up to 90% of the total fat. For some people with a family of heart disease, coconut oil could be a ticking time bomb. (If you eat a lot of coconut oil, get your cholesterol levels checked once a year.)

beyond burger

Beyond Burger

Like Impossible Brands, Beyond Meat, maker of Beyond Burger, has scored some fat paychecks in the form of venture capital. Bill Gates invests in Beyond Meat (he also invested $50 million in Impossible Brands) and that huge seed funding (no pun intended) is the reason why Beyond Burgers can be found in virtually every single supermarket in the country.

Beyond Burger claims to be GMO-free. So that’s a good start. It also tastes similar to the Impossible Burger. So if I had to choose between these two fake meat giants, I’d go with Beyond, based simply on the fact the company does not use soy heme.

For proteins, instead of soy, Beyond uses pea protein isolate, beans and brown rice. Pretty good so far. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, pea protein isolate does not contain whole pea’s carbohydrate compounds that can support anti-inflammatory gut bacteria. But let’s not split hairs (or peas), because when you’re craving a burger, you know you’re not exactly eating a salad between two buns.

A couple things to watch out for: Beyond Meat also uses coconut oil as well as canola oil. I’m not crazy about canola oil. But again, when you want to sink your teeth into some fake meat, every once in a while, it won’t kill you. At least the canola oil is expeller-pressed, which means no harsh chemicals like hexane are used to extract the oil from the rapeseed plant. (Yes, canola oil comes from the rapeseed plant but don’t let that name spoil your appetite.)

I also like the fact Beyond uses beet extract to make its burger appear blood-red, unlike the lab-produced soy heme of the Impossible Burger.

Dr Prager burger

Dr. Prager’s California Veggie Burger

The godfather of the plant-based burger world, Dr. Prager’s California Veggie Burger hit the shelves in 1996. Fun fact: The brand was launched by a heart surgeon, Peter Prager, who died in 2012 at the age of 66. But don’t let his early death cloud your judgement of the California Burger. His obituary hinted his death could have been caused by prostate cancer.

Anyhoo, how does this relatively ancient brand of fake burger compare to Impossible and Beyond? In terms of taste, there’s no comparison. Dr. Prager’s tastes nothing like a real burger. But nutritionally speaking, I think it’s one of the most superior ones.

The ingredients list is not perfect. There are two ingredients I’m not thrilled about. Can you guess which ones they are in the list?

Carrots, Onions, String Beans, Oat Bran, Soybeans, Zucchini, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Peas, Broccoli, Corn, Soy Flour, Spinach, Red Peppers, Arrowroot Powder, Corn Starch, Garlic, Corn Meal, Sea Salt, Parsley, Black Pepper.

I already mentioned I’m not crazy about canola oil. But that’s how veggie burgers can stay relatively inexpensive. If they used avocado oil, each patty would cost a buck or two more probably. The two other ingredients that as a certified nutritional therapist bother me somewhat are soy flour and cornstarch. Soy can drive estrogen levels too high in younger women. It’s also one of the most common triggers of food allergies. As for cornstarch, while it’s a great ingredient for body powder, it’s basically just high-glycemic sugar. But all in all this is one of the best, ingredients-wise.

But the texture of Dr. Prager’s and almost every fake burger is crumbly. You definitely don’t get that true burger experience. So what I do is rather than eat it as a true burger, I chop it into pieces and top it on a whole grain or salad for a filling meal.

Morning Star Farm Burger

MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Burger

If Dr. Praeger’s is the godfather of fake meat, MorningStar is the great grandfather. It hit the shelves in 1975. Even I wasn’t born then, haha!

Let’s jump right into the ingredients:

Water, carrots, onions, soy flour, egg whites, mushrooms, whole grain oats, wheat gluten, water chestnuts, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), green bell peppers, calcium caseinate (from milk), cooked brown rice (water, brown rice), red bell peppers.

Good stuff, except for the same soy problem? There’s more bad news I’m afraid. Vegetable oils are terrible for your health. They are a major contributing factor to inflammatory-related diseases. Also, oats are a major source of glyphosate residue. Glyphosate is a herbicide used in the weed killer, Roundup. It’s been blamed for causing cancer in more than 125,000 lawsuits.

Considering the crumbly end-product and the fact that it’s nowhere-near-close to tasting like the real thing, I’ll pass.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Burger

I love the vibe at Trader Joe’s. But do I love sinking my teeth into a quinoa burger? Once in a blue moon, I do. I like the fact that it contains 13% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. And it’s also a great source of fiber (6 grams; 24% DV).

Here’s the ingredients list:

Cooked tri color quinoa (tri blend quinoa, water), red peppers, cooked black beans (black beans, water), bread crumbs (wheat flour, sugar, yeast, salt), expeller pressed canola oil, roasted corn, onions, potato flakes, arrowroot, tomatoes, olive oil, jalapeno peppers, tomato paste, egg white powder, roasted garlic, white vinegar, salt, cilantro, chili powder (chili pepper, salt, garlic, cumin, spices), onion powder, coriander, black pepper, garlic powder, chipotle powder, lime juice powder.

Pretty much all good stuff. Just cook it much longer than the instructions say. And if it falls apart, who cares, it still tastes good in my opinion.

Sunshine Burger

Sunshine Burger

I admit to as of yet not having tried this Wisconsin-based brand, but I do love the ingredients of their garden herb alternative meat patty:

Organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic chives, sea salt.

Simple, organic, real-food ingredients. It’s on my list to try…

Amy's All American Veggie Burger

Amy’s All-American Veggie Burger

I used to love Amy’s veggie burritos back in the day. But I’m not all too crazy about the veggie burgers, mostly because of the soy issue. Here’s the list of ingredients:

Textured soy protein, organic onions, organic soy fiber, organic mushrooms, organic bulgur wheat, wheat gluten, filtered water, organic celery, organic carrots, organic walnuts, organic oats, organic bell peppers, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic sweet rice flour, sea salt, organic potatoes, spices, organic tomato purée, organic cane sugar, organic garlic, organic apple cider vinegar, organic blackstrap molasses, stoneground mustard (distilled vinegar, water, ground mustard seeds, salt, spices), hickory smoke flavor, black pepper, clove oil.

Again, mostly good stuff, but all it takes is a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. Besides the soy protein and soy fiber, I don’t like the wheat gluten or the vegetable oils.

But again, if you like the flavor of it and it’s a once in a while treat, go for it.

Best Plant-Based Burgers: Conclusion

I’m not going to tell you which plant-based burger I think is best. Now you’re armed with the nutrition facts. Plus, taste is such a subjective thing. What I can tell you is that plant-based burgers are most often not the healthy alternative to meat you might think it is. Are veggie burgers in general better for you than fast food burgers? Definitely. But is eating lab-produced GMO-soy better for your health than eating a grass-fed burger that was sourced on a sustainable, organic farm? That’s up for debate.

Chef V and kale

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is great for breakfast, and kids love this recipe. Chia seeds are tiny superfood heroes. They come in either white or dark brown/black and have a huge nutritional profile. The contain Calcium, Manganese, and Phosphorus, and are packed with fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 fats. They are basically tasteless so you can add them to nearly any kind of dish.  – Veronica

chia seed pudding

TOTAL TIME: 30 Min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups Chef V’s Raw Almond Milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw coconut nectar (I like Coconut Secret)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optiona
  • Pinch sea salt

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
Fresh fruit, dried fruit, shredded unsweetened coconut, raw nuts

Directions

Place all of the ingredients except for toppings in a bowl and stir until well combined.

Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then stir with a fork. Repeat this process every 5 minutes for about 30 minutes, or until the chia seeds have soaked up all the liquid.

Chill pudding for 2 hours before serving. Top with your favorite garnish and dig in.

Glyphosate: Should You Panic If It’s Not Organic?

glyphosates

Weeds drive every gardener, landscaper, groundskeeper and farmer crazy. Besides looking bad, weeds rob ornamental plants of nutrients like nitrogen and potassium (plants need potassium, too!), making them susceptible to diseases and becoming infested with insects. For farmers, weeds are a threat to their livelihood, harming both livestock and crops.

But in pursuit of eradicating weeds from the Earth, are we unwillingly poisoning ourselves? Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in the world’s most popular herbicide: Roundup Weed Killer.

Over 125,000 people have sued the Monsanto Corporation, inventor of both glyphosate and Roundup, alleging that the weed killer causes a particular type of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (Monsanto is the inventor of another deadly herbicide used during the Vietnam War that killed hundreds of thousands: Agent Orange.)

Sales of Roundup Weed Killer skyrocketed in the mid-1990s, after Monsanto, through genetic engineering, created Roundup-ready crops. Roundup-ready crops such as soy, corn and cotton, are resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto, the evil corporation that also engineered seeds that don’t reproduce after the first growth. That means most farmers have to buy seeds from Monsanto every year and apply more Roundup Weed Killer to their crops.

Round Up

Glyphosate Contamination In Food

What does this mean for you even if you’re a klutzy green thumb like me and can barely manage to keep a succulent alive? Well, you do eat, don’t you? And unless you’re eating organic 100% of the time, you definitely have glyphosate in your system. Almost every food is contaminated with glyphosate, which was listed in 2015 as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency on Cancer Research, (IACR) which functions under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Only three out of the more than 125,000 Roundup lawsuits have gone to trial. All three trials were wins for plaintiffs, including the case of Dwayne “Lee” Johnson. Johnson was a former groundskeeper in the San Francisco Bay Area who used Roundup on the school grounds where he worked.

One day, Johnson claims he spilled the weed killer on his body. This incident, and the fact that he used it for many years, caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. Johnson was the first plaintiff to take Monsanto to court. His initial award of $289 million (twice reduced to the current sum of $20 million) opened the floodgates for people to sue Monsanto.

But the crazy thing is, despite the IACR’s designation of glyphosate as probably carcinogenic and the over 125,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits, herbicides with glyphosate are still for sale in the U.S. That’s right, a chemical that one of the leading cancer research groups in the world concluded most likely causes cancer in humans, is still on the marketplace. And you’re being exposed to it everyday even if you’re not a farmer or landscaper.

glyphosates in foods

Foods With Glyphosate

It would be easier to list foods that don’t contain the toxic weed killer. That’s because it’s pretty much pervasive in the entire food supply. If you need yet another reason to avoid heavily-processed and packaged food, add glyphosate to the list. Foods high in calories, salt and sugar, and low in nutrients are made with the two most heavily-sprayed crops: corn and soy.

Speaking of soy, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think more focus needs to be placed on glyphosate contributing to disease in women. There’s no conclusive evidence to link glyphosate with breast cancer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it at least contributes to it.

Soybean oil is a cheap vegetable oil (like canola) that food manufacturers use, adding hydrogen to it to preserve the shelf life of the packaged food. Consuming lots of foods with soy can cause estrogen dominance, which is linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

So it might not be the glyphosate itself that causes female cancers. It could be that too much soy is the problem.

But it stands to reason that glyphosate, which is sprayed on every non-organic soy crop, just may be contributing to breast cancer.

Besides soy and corn (and corn’s derivatives like high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin), glyphosate is in oats, rice, almonds, sunflower seeds, granola bars and cereals.

shopping bag of veggies

How To Avoid Glyphosate

You can’t completely avoid glyphosate. But you can minimize your exposure to it by not eating chips, crackers, cereal, and other processed foods.

A few years ago, there was a big news item about organic produce not being more nutritious than non-organic fruits and vegetables. While it’s true that an organic orange might have the same vitamin C content as its non-organic counterpart, comparing organic to non-organic is like comparing apples to oranges. One of the biggest reasons to buy organic is that when you do so, you’re consuming a fruit or veggie that hasn’t been sprayed with a pesticide or herbicide (glyphosate is considered both!). Ingesting foods that have been sprayed with toxic chemicals every single day for years on end … well, I’m no scientist, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s not good for your health.

Sure, it may cost more to purchase organic produce, organic grains, and organically-grown nuts and seeds (and organic nut milks). But isn’t your health worth a few extra bucks?

As a small business owner, getting organically-certified is an expense well worth it. I want to give my Organic Green Drink customers the comfort of knowing that when they consume the 7 leafy greens every morning, the health benefits from the produce aren’t diminished by toxic pesticides.

Brain Health: Keeping Sharp With Chef V

brain health with Veronica and Brandon

Feeling foggy brained lately?  Did you forget where you put your phone — for the tenth time this week? Are you forgetting names more often? Now is the time to get serious about brain health.

Socially distanced, locked down people are finding themselves fuzzy brained and distracted. Learn how my Green Drinks and Cleanses can help you stay focused. And even if you’re sharp as a tack, here’ s how you can stay that way well into your 90s and beyond…. Plus, a vegetable with proven brain benefits – avocado.

Mom Was Right (And So Am I): Eat Your Veggies!

There are simple ways you can boost brain health and radically improve your thinking and reasoning skills.

First and foremost: exercise. Start a daily yoga practice. If you absolutely hate yoga or exercising at home, just walk in place for an hour at night while you’re watching TV. Just be active almost every single day for the rest of your life.

Just as important as exercising is diet. Now, I admit, when I came up with my Green Drink recipe several years ago, I didn’t realize it could play a big part in preventing dementia.

As it turns out, the seven certified-organic green-leafy veggies do just that. In fact, if you want to keep your brain younger than your chronological age, green leafy veggies are the best for doing that.

Don’t take my word for it. According to this CBS news article  adults who consume a cup and a half a day of leafy greens have lower risk of developing memory deficits associated with dementia. This is based on a study of almost 1000 people over the course of five years. Those people who ate the most leafy greens were 11 years younger in brain age compared to those who ate the least.

Isn’t that an amazing finding?

There’s no easier–and smarter–way of getting your daily dose of green, leafy veggies than drinking at least 16 oz. of Green Drink every day. Combining Green Drink with my soups and protein shakes, a detox has a profound positive effect on your health.

avocados for brain health

Having Trouble Concentrating & Focusing While Working at Home? Ditch the Sugar

Most juice cleanses are way too high in sugar. (Learn how Chef V compares to the competition.)

And it turns out that if you have high blood sugar levels, to the point that you develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, your brain health will suffer.

What’s the connection?

According to this article people with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for memory problems. Furthermore, older adults who have diabetes and high blood sugars perform worse on memory tests at the start of the study and show a greater decline in memory by the end of the study, in comparison to older adult without diabetes.

Can you see why it’s so important to not go overboard with your sugar intake? The good news is you don’t have to ditch dessert for the rest of your life. You just need to eat treats that are low in added sugars. Take my recipe for Raw Avocado Chocolate Mousse for example.

melted cheese

Avocado: It’s Brain Food!

Speaking of avocado, it’s one of the healthiest foods for brain health. Along with blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, beans and some other superfoods, avocado has long been praised for its positive effect on gray matter.

Here’s how avocado is good for your brain….

Even though it’s high in fat, the fat it does contain a lot of is the monounsaturated kind. The Mediterranean Diet, one of the healthiest ways of eating on the planet, is rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats contribute to healthy blood flow and lower blood pressure. Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cognitive decline.

So eat up to half an avocado a day to boost brain power!

Getting Enough Sleep Prevents Brain Fog

One of the toxic proteins that contributes to foggy memory is amyloid plaque. There’s more and more research showing that consistent good sleep can help prevent memory loss. What does this have to do with bad plaque in the brain? Good sleep is like a diligent janitor. Sleep sweeps away the plaque.

If you’ve let your healthy routine go to sh*t, staying up until midnight or later and not getting at least 7 hours, you’re putting yourself at risk for forgetfulness.

Not getting enough sleep? Eating too much sugar? Just feeling heavy and groggy and dragging around the house?

Then it’s time to do a Chef V Detox.

My 21 Day Detox programs will help reset your taste buds so that you won’t be tempted by sugary and junk foods. Your organs will also be working in better shape to help your body detoxify, and your blood sugar levels will go down. You’ll have more focus and better energy throughout the day; you won’t need that late afternoon sugary pick-me-up. As a result, you’ll sleep like a baby.

Look, I can’t guarantee that if you exercise, follow my healthy eating guidelines and get enough sleep you’ll be 100% guaranteed to have a sharper brain.

But the odds will be much better in your favor….

To your health!

Love,

Chef V

Grilled Artichokes with Two Sauces

Grilled artichokes, precooked and finished at the picnic. They’ll love these on the barbecue. Serve with my two vegan sauces:  Raw Horseradish Mayonnaise, and  Vegan Herb Aioli.

grilled artichokes

TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes – 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1 large fresh artichoke
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a stockpot.

Trim the thorns from the artichoke leaves with scissors. Cut the artichoke in half vertically and remove the fuzzy center. To the boiling water, added the artichoke, garlic, and onion. Boil, covered, for 45 minutes – one hour, or until the leaves pull out easily. Transfer the artichoke halves to a paper towel cut side down or drain the water.

Heat a grill or grill pan. Place the artichokes cut side down on the hot grill or grill pan and char for 2 to 3 minutes, until you get good grill marks. This will add a nice smokiness. Plate the artichoke halves cut side up. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and vinegar, drizzle over the artichoke, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and serve with Vegan Herb Aioli or Raw Horseradish Mayo.

Vegan Herb Aioli

Aioli, a traditional Mediterranean sauce, is just right for dipping veggies or drizzling over toasted baguette. It makes a delicious accompaniment to my Grilled Artichokes. – Veronica

vegan herb aioli

TOTAL 10 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 2 People

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, washed and drained (pre-soaked 1 hour)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. organic sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. raw coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic

Directions

Blend mayo ingredients together in a Vitamix or food processor.

Raw Horseradish Mayonnaise

Sometimes you just need a luscious rich tasting spread – so I created this cashew-based mayo. Easy to prepare, you can use it in dressings, dips, on a sandwich, anywhere you want that mayonnaise experience – only healthier. Add raw horseradish to make a zippy dip for my Grilled Artichokes. – Veronica

raw horseradish mayonaise

TOTAL 10 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 2 People

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, washed and drained (pre-soaked 1 hour)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. organic sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. raw coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish

Directions

Blend mayo ingredients together in a Vitamix or food processor.

AGE-ING Gracefully: Eating a Diet Low in Advanced Glycation End Products

Did my post from last time on PFAS change your mind about eating fast food, even if it’s only once in a blue moon? In case you missed it, I’ll sum it up for you: the burger wrappers that are used in fast food restaurants contain a harmful fire-retardant toxin that absorbs in your tissues and organs. 

And for this post, I have another bummer for you if you eat lots of meat: there’s a substance called Advanced Glycation End Products. If your diet is high in AGE products, you won’t age gracefully.

What Are AGE Products? 

If you love barbecue and grilled meat, compounds called Advanced Glycation End (AGE) Products can form as a result of the cooking process. 

Nothing wrong with enjoying some barbecue every now and then. But if you are cooking meat at high temperature fairly often, you may be at risk for exposure to these harmful compounds.

What are the Side Effects of AGE Products?

When your body accumulates a high amount of these compounds, inflammation can occur. To be sure, there’s no guarantee that if you have high AGE levels, you’re guaranteed to die an early death. However, high AGE levels have been linked to cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, as well as metabolic disorders (diabetes, obesity), and organ dysfunction such as heart disease and kidney failure. 

If ever there were a perfect opportunity to pitch my Organic Green Drink, this would be the moment. Allow me to explain. You see, your body has lots of natural antioxidants, including glutathione and superoxide dismutase. 

These internal antioxidants can help neutralize AGE compounds. However, if you eat lots of grilled animal protein, your natural antioxidants can become overwhelmed. That’s where my Green Drink comes to the rescue. 

The 7 certified organic green leafy veggies help boost your body’s production of natural antioxidants. (Even though I’m a certified nutritional therapist, don’t take my word for it; check out this study.)

Foods High in AGE That Can Lead To Premature Ageing

In addition to blackened and high-temp grilled meats, here are some other foods that can raise your AGE level:

  • Cheese
  • Fried Eggs
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fried food
  • Margarine
  • Processed food

Let’s say you love cheese. Am I suggesting that you should completely give it up? Heavens, no. Just try to moderate your intake of cheese and other sources of dairy. When it comes to butter, choose grass-fed. 

But check out the other foods on this list. Most of them are terrible for your health anyway. I should mention that nuts and oils can also be high in AGE compounds, so keep your consumption to a minimum. Oils and nuts are high in calories anyways, so you’re probably not eating too much of those to begin with.

melted cheese

Keeping AGE-ing To A Minimum

There are a few ways to keep your body’s levels of AGE compounds relatively low. Obviously, eating foods that are low in AGE compounds to begin with is a no-brainer. 

Think: green leafy veggies (my Organic Green Drink is the easiest way to get your daily dose), and all other low-starch veggies; low-glycemic fruits such as berries; and low-starch whole grains. (Need to lose weight and don’t know what to eat? Try my 21 Day Detox.)

But even if you’re eating foods high in AGE compounds, such as grilled red meat, there’s a couple clever ways to lower the amount of AGE compounds you’re consuming. 

First, squeeze a fair amount of lemon juice over the meat. The acidity will neutralize some of the AGE compounds. Vinegar can drastically lower the amount of harmful substances as well. 

And secondly, just go slow. Using a slow cooker instead of a propane grill reduces AGE-ing. So does boiling, steaming, stewing and poaching. 

Want another easy way to “AGE” well? Exercise. Studies show daily activity reduces harmful AGE compounds.  

You probably didn’t need another reason to avoid eating too much meat and processed foods. But maybe it’s the “Anti-AGE-ing” factor that resonates with you. Here’s to AGE-ing gracefully…

To your health,

Veronica
Founder, Chef V

Tasty Lettuce Cups

Chef V’s Tip: For more protein, add 1 pound ground chicken. Raw coconut aminos are a fabulous replacement for soy sauce.

tasty lettuce cups

TOTAL 30 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 5-6 People

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cups diced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut aminos (I like Coconut Secret)
  • 5/6 lettuce cups (iceberg or boston lettuce leaves)

Optional toppings:

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw cashews

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté onion in coconut oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add mushrooms and veggies (or ground chicken) and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in coconut aminos and cook for 2 minutes more.

To serve, spoon mixture into lettuce cups. Top with cilantro and cashews.

Grilled Mango Salad

My Grilled Mango Salad is perfect for a hot summer day. It combines the hearty flavor of black beans with the luscious richness of mangoes and avocado, all in a healthy salad, perfect before or after a Chef V Cleanse.

Chef V’s tip: Add grilled chicken or fish for more protein!   – Veronica

ginger apple berry smoothie

TOTAL 30 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4 People

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 mangos, peeled and cut into thick slices
  • 4 cups mixed greens (use your fav!)
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled or 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup Chef V’s Cilantro Lime Dressing

Directions

Preheat a grill or grill pan on a stove over medium-high heat. Place the mango sliced on the grill rack or pan and cook for 1 minute, or until grill marks appear. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the grilled mango into smaller chunks.

Plate the greens and top with grilled mango, red onion, and black beans. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

BBQ Salmon: A Man Pleasing Meal

Man pleasing meals!

When cooking for someone you love you want meals that are hearty and healthy. Chef V founder, Veronica Wheat, has created this delicious go-to recipe for when she needs a man pleasing meal.

BBQ salmon

TOTAL 45 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2 People

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillets (6 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut nectar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with coconut oil cooking spray. Combine lemon and coconut syrup together.

Place salmon on baking sheet and cover with syrup and lemon juice mix. Mix all dry ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over the top of each fillet.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until desired doneness. Serve with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and a tasty veggie or serve over a nice salad.

PFAS: Why Fast Food is Worse for you than Ever

TESTING FOR PFAS

Sample Code

above, testing water for presence of PFAS

Fast Food: It’s Worse Than You Think!

Now why would I start off stating the obvious that you should avoid fast food? Because I just read an article in National Geographic that made me sick to my stomach. The article actually remade me think about my position on fast food that as long as you’re following my Healthy Eating Guidelines 90% of the time, it’s ok once in a blue moon to get your In ‘N Out on. Now, after reading this article, once in a blue moon is one blue moon too many. 

Here’s why….

what are PFAS

There’s a group of toxic substances called “PFAS.” PFAS is found in fire-resistant household items. What’s the connection to fast food? The toxic compounds are prevalent in fast food packaging. The PFAS substances leach into the burgers and nuggets. 

A new study analyzing PFAS in the body doesn’t conclude the threshold of how much of this class of chemicals is too much in the body. But it would seem obvious that even a trace amount of PFAS is too much. So not only are the preservatives, hormones, excess sodium, and lack of nutrients from fast food doing us harm, so is the packaging. 

The study compared levels of PFAS in people who ate fast food versus those who ate homecooked meals. After a 24-hour period, those who had eaten fast food consistently showed an increase in the amount of PFAS in their blood. 

detox tips for success

I realize we live in a world in which we can’t shield ourselves all the time from toxins; we don’t live in a bubble. However, the bad news with eating fast food is that unlike other common contaminants, which the liver can process relatively quickly, PFAS can remain for years in the body.

Chew on that next time you’re tempted to pull into the drive-thru.

Ginger Apple Berry Smoothie

This ginger apple berry smoothie not only tastes great but is loaded with antioxidants to fight free radicals and reduce inflammation. 

Antioxidants are substances that may prevent cell damage. Berries are great natural sources of antioxidants.

Enjoy this popular smoothie in the morning after your 16 oz. of Organic Green Drink.

ginger apple berry smoothie

TOTAL 10 minutes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Serving Size: 1 Person

Ingredients

  • ½ Fuji apple
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 small pieces organic red chard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced (I use a garlic presser)
  • 1 cup ice
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • Optional: 1 serving of vegan protein powder (hemp, pea, or brown rice)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add ¼ cup filtered water if necessary. Bon Appétit!

30-Day Green Drink Challenge: Improve your Health

30 day green drink challenge

There’s never been a more important time to stay healthy. Whether we are stuck at home or able to start getting out and about, we need to do everything we can to eat healthy and get all the nutrients we need.

There’s a simple way to feel energetic, focused, healthy – and even slim down: replace breakfast with my Green Drink or Tropical Smoothie for 30 Days. I invite you to take the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge. (It’s actually not that challenging but if you complete the challenge you’ll be amazed at your health.)

added sugars

How it used to be: your alarm clock springs you into fight or flight mode at the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. so you can get to work or school in time. You shower, get dressed and devour a donut, bagel, muffin, or toast, and wash it down with orange juice.

And then, a couple hours later, you start yawning because the sugar rush from your high-carb breakfast has worn off. Thank God for coffee, right? Otherwise, there’s no way you’d be able to make it through a whole day of work. That’s why God also invented cup numbers two and three of coffee…

How it is now: you get up when you want and have breakfast at home. Starbucks is a memory and you are making your own breakfast every day.

If you can relate, the truth is I can’t cure Conronavirus and get you out of your house. But what I can do is show you how to easily boost your energy in the morning and lose weight by doing just one thing:

Skipping breakfast.

Instead of eating breakfast, drink it.

If you skip breakfast and for 30 days replace it with my Green Drink or Tropical Smoothie  you are going to experience an amazing transformation in your physique and overall sense of wellness.

Are you up for the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge? Order your Green Drink Plan and we’ll get started together.

When you start a Green Drink Challenge, you sign up for a Plan and choose your bottle size. A green drink Plan gives you 112 oz a week in 16 oz bottles or 128 oz in 64 oz bottles. That extra 16 oz comes in handy when you want a bonus burst of health! Whichever you choose, you are in for a superb experience!

Chef V green drink

Why Breakfast is Overrated

Wait a sec … isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?

The answer is, yes, breakfast is super important. But only when you break your fast with with tons of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and prebiotic fiber, which is great for your gut bacteria.

My Green Drink contains seven certified organic green, leafy veggies. All seven of these veggies contain these nutrients.

Compare that to the donuts, etc. that are all part of the SAD (Standard American Diet).
There are few acronyms more appropriate than SAD! (Can I get an “amen” on that?)

For years, maybe you’ve been eating breakfast that’s loaded with empty calories and lots of sugar. Very few people break their fast with, say, steamed spinach and cauliflower. Some people may have fruit in the morning, which is certainly healthier than cereal and other high-starch carbs. And sure, eating a handful of blueberries or an organic apple is healthy.

But the reason I created my Green Drink several years ago is to provide people with a quick, on-the-go, mega-dose source of nutrients.

And I guarantee you that if you ditch your bagel, toast, cereal, and other typical breakfast foods for Green Drink, and do so for 30 days, you will have:

  • less cravings (for empty carb snacky foods)
  • more energy
  • more focus and concentration
  • looser-fitting clothes.

Below, check out K.I.’s success with Green Drink.

nutrition facts label

The Challenge of the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge

If going 30 days without eating food for breakfast sounds challenging, I have some advice for you that should put your fears to rest….

It’s true that if your diet contains lots of white and wheat flour, your gut bacteria (especially candida albicans yeast) will tell your brain to feed you more of it.

It might be challenging for a couple days to ignore your junk-food craving gut bacteria. But if you can wrap it around your head that it’s not true hunger your experiencing, only a message from your bad bacteria, you will feel more empowered to ignore the message.

And drinking a 16-oz. serving of Green Drink will feed your good bacteria with the prebiotic fiber needed to overpower and quiet the bad bacteria.

The good news is that if you want to eat solid food as well in the morning, you can do it with my healthy breakfast eating guide.

The healthy breakfast guide contains recipes for my Easy Healthy Cereal, Avocado Toast, and Smoked Salmon. It also has several low-sugar smoothie recipes if you want to switch things up. Check out my most popular smoothie, the Ginger Apple Berry Smoothie.

What Can The 30 Day Green Drink Challenge Do For You?

The 30 Day Green Drink Challenge is a new concept. My intention in creating the challenge was to introduce people to healthier habits without having to do a 3, 5 or 7 day cleanse or the 21 Day Detox.

You can certainly do the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge as well as a cleanse or detox. (If you’re doing the 21 Day Detox, having Green Drink for 9 more days will be easy peasy; you’ll crave it!)

But just replacing your normal breakfast for Green Drink for 30 days is one of the easiest things you can do to transform your health.

(And if you combine the 30 Day Challenge with Intermittent Fasting you might lose so much weight you’ll need to buy new clothes!)

But don’t take the benefits of Green Drink only from me. Here are a few satisfied Chef V customer’s opinions about Green Drink on our Yelp profile.

“I’ve been buying Chef V Green Drink and I love it.  My husband has started drinking it, too. Like me, he enjoys drinking it and also it is helping him with his stomach issues.  Initially,  I did the “21-day challenge obsessive” and I lost weight.  Then,  bought a weekly subscription.”— Lal C

“What can I say – I love Chef V’s green drink! They use the best of best ingredients (trust me, I have been in their kitchen) and their delivery service is superb. The cost of their products is very affordable. I used to make my own green drink, but once I did the math, it was clear to me that I was spending more by making my own then by purchasing from this company. I have had a monthly green drink subscription and I have completed a few of the their 3 and 5 day cleanses – the results of speak for themselves.” — Allison I.

“I absolutely love my Green Drink, it tastes amazing and the health benefits are real. I take a medication that causes high cholesterol, and six months of drinking one every day has normalized my cholesterol! I appreciate the single serving too, so easy to drink!” — Heather D.

Reset Your Metabolism & Banish Sugar Addiction

I hope you’ll accept my invitation to do the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge.

If you have a sensible lunch and dinner, there’s no easier way to give your digestive system a reboot and end your cravings for sugary snacks once and for all.

Good luck on the 30 Day Green Drink Challenge!

(You won’t really need it; it’s that easy.)

To your health….

Love,

Chef V

Awesome Mac & ‘Cheese’

Chef V’s tip: This is my gluten-free, dairy-free version of macaroni and cheese. – Veronica

super smoothie

TOTAL 10 minutes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Serving Size: 1 Person

Ingredients

  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup Chef V’s Raw Almond Milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked and drained
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice elbow pasta
  • Freshly ground pepper, optional

Directions

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and cook the butternut squash for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft. Process the cooked squash, almond milk, garlic, cashews, lemon juice, and salt in a Vitamix until smooth. Combine the ‘cheese’ sauce and cooked pasta, season with black pepper if desired, and serve.

Good Morning LALALand Interview

Veronica Wheat, Chef V, was recently on Good Morning LALALand, a live-streaming daily talk show with over 100 million impressions, based in Southern California. 

Click below to watch Veronica’s interview.

Good Morning LaLa Land is the first, live-streaming daily talk show, allowing viewers to consume, digest, and share their entertainment experience across multiple, distributed social media platforms simultaneously and available on APPLE TV + ROKU on the EVERTALK TV app. With over 3000 guests, and 100 million impressions, Good Morning LaLa Land is leading-edge, digital media at its very best, empowering their audience to make a major shift happen in their personal, financial, relational ,and emotional lives… so they can live their best lives starting today!

Vitamin D for a healthy Immune System

Vitamin D and Covid

We’re taking our health seriously in these uncertain times – and maintaining a healthy immune system may be the most important way to protect ourselves against Covid-19. Before all else, we need to eat healthy and stay active. After that, according to the experts, Vitamin D, the “Sunshine Vitamin”, can help.

Vitamin D: What is it?

Vitamin D is a substance naturally produced by our own bodies after exposure to sunlight. Our ability to absorb calcium depends on it – for strong bones, we need plenty of Vitamin D. Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D regulates the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It protects against influenza and and is possibly a factor in protecting against Covid-19.

How much do I need?

Adults need 600 IU of Vitamin D each day, increasing to 800IU per day if you are over 70. Everyday Health says: “very few foods have enough Vitamin D to reach recommended daily intakes, and sunshine can be unreliable in certain climates. Men and women relying on sourcing Vitamin D through diet alone typically don’t exceed 288 IU a day on average.”

Have you had your Vitamin D level tested recently? It might shock you. Nearly half of people tested for it were deficient in a recent study. A “good” level of Vitamin D in lab testing is a serum concentration of 25 ng/ml. In your lab results, anything under 20 is considered low, and 35-55 ng/ml is considered optimal.

If you don’t know your Vitamin D level and want to make sure you are getting enough, should you take supplements? The NHS suggests taking 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day, But getting vitamins from food is preferable for most of us.

Vitamin D foods

What foods have Vitamin D?

If you don’t want to take a supplement, you can get Vitamin D from certain foods. Vitamin D is found in oily fish (like salmon and sardines), in red meat, liver, egg yolks, and foods that are fortified. If you are a vegetarian, you can find yogurt, oatmeal, and some cereals that are fortified with Vitamin D.

I’m pretty much a vegetarian, but I occasionally enjoy healthy fish like wild salmon. Try my Salmon Carpaccio  and Ginger Glazed Salmon Recipes. And read my article: Benefits of Wild Salmon (and The Best Recipe).

wild salmon

The Vitamin D – Covid-19 Connection

Vitamin D keeps our immune systems at their best, and new studies find that not only does it keep your immune system healthy, it may protect against respiratory illnesses, possibly including Covid-19.

Researchers at Northwestern University have found that Covid-19 patients with Vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to get more severely ill and to die. And the researchers also found that normal levels of Vitamin D have a beneficial effect on patient outcome.

According to Dr Vadim Blackman, “Vitamin D will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are effected”. He continues: ““Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half,” Blackman said. “It will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus, but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected.”

As you might expect, numerous studies of Vitamin D and Covid-19 are underway. Here are a few of the most promising:

  • A recent study cited by the NIH: “Vitamin D might induce antimicrobial peptides to reduce Covid-19 replication”.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7175848/
    More simply stated, it might keep the virus from multiplying in your body. And that’s a good thing.
  • A study of older people showed that Vitamin D has protective effects from influenza. “…vitamin D has been shown to have protective effects and the researchers concluded that vitamin D appears to be a safe strategy to protect against acute respiratory infections. ”
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28202713/
  • A former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, proposed using Vitamin D to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent news interview. He said: “Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza. A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms – a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body – which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Adequate Vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations.”

Where do we go from here?

First and foremost, we continue to drink our Green Drink, eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Unhealthy habits and food deficiencies hurt your immune system and make it harder to fight off disease-causing bacteria, viruses and toxins. Getting tested for your Vitamin D level is a good idea, I’m doing that. And most important, stay calm, stay focused, and stay safe.

Chef V and kale

Warning: Sunscreen May Be Doing Your Body More Harm Than Good!

sunscreen

I hope you are going to have a relaxing summer, healthy and serene. Now that we have a facility in in the NYC-metro area, I’ve experienced record high temperatures, the through-the-roof UV index  – and the sizzling rays of the sun. And as the heat increases, millions of people are slathering sunscreen, thinking that they are protecting themselves.

Sunscreen may indeed protect you from getting sunburn. But most people don’t realize there are a few harmful and dangerous consequences of using conventional sunscreen.

After reading this, my hope is you’ll think twice about using most sunscreens that are sold in stores….

Reason #1 NOT to use Sunscreen: No Protection Against Skin Cancer

Wait, what? Doesn’t sunscreen protect you against skin cancer, not to mention sunburn?

Yes, sunscreen can protect you from getting sunburn. But I’ll share with you in a little bit a couple better ways to avoid sunburn.

As for skin cancer, the shocking truth is that sunscreen isn’t protecting you against it like you think it is. In fact, check out this review from the European Journal of Dermatology. (If you don’t feel like it, I’ll summarize the key deets for you….)

The review looked at 29 studies involving over 300,000 participants (not mice or rats; actual people). Here’s what the researchers concluded: “The use of sunscreen is a key component of public health campaigns for skin cancer prevention, but studies have raised doubts on its effectiveness in the general population.”

The review of all the studies, said the researchers, did not show a significant association between skin cancer and sunscreen use. Using sunscreen, at least for the over 300,000 people did not offer protection against melanoma (malignant skin cancer) or non-melanoma skin cancer. “This review does not confirm the expected protective benefits of sunscreen against skin cancer in the general population,” concluded the researchers.

Nonetheless, millions of Americans spray themselves silly with sunscreens that contain chemicals that are toxic to your health.

Which brings me to the second reason to think twice before you slather or spray sunscreen on your bod….

sunscreen and sunburn

Reason #2 NOT to use Sunscreen: Bad for Your Hormones

Almost every mainstream medical organization recommends using sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. But what do these health experts and institutions such as the American Cancer Society have to say about the synthetic chemicals in sunscreen? Can they actually be doing more harm than good?

I checked out the American Cancer Society’s website. Here’s what they say about the safety of sunscreens:

“The FDA checks that active ingredients in sunscreens do not cause serious problems including cancer, reproductive harm, or endocrine effects. But the FDA does not test sunscreen products themselves….”

[Chef V’s takeaway: Great, so how do we really know they are safe. The answer: we don’t!]

“In Europe, there are different requirements for regulating and marketing sunscreen products. The FDA says it is working on ways to recognize some of these other ingredients as safe and effective.”

[Chef V’s takeaway: Great, so how do we really know they are safe. The answer: we don’t!]

Oxybenzone is one of the common active ingredients in sunscreens that are sold in the US. The FDA says it is safe. But some environmental and health groups single out oxybenzone as potentially unsafe for some people and the environment. This is because some studies have shown oxybenzone can cause skin allergies. In addition, studies in animals and in human cells in laboratories show that oxybenzone can interfere with how some hormones work.”

[Chef V’s takeaway: Dear FDA, so how is that if your organization has yet “to recognize these ingredients as safe and effective,” can you conclude oxybenzone is safe? In my opinion, the health of millions is at risk and oxybenzone should not be callously regarded as safe.]

sunscreen summer

Sunscreen: Bad For The Environment?

Here’s another reason not to use sunscreen; at least one that contains oxybenzone: The American Cancer Society on its website points to evidence  that the chemical damages coral reefs. (Which is why starting in 2021, Hawaii will be the first U.S. state to ban the use of sunscreens containing the toxic ingredient.)

Now, I’m not going to go as far as other blog articles I’ve read that claim using conventional (non-organic) sunscreen can actually cause cancer. But I will conclude this section on the health risks of using them by referencing the Environmental Working Group. (Check out the EWG’s Skin Deep research database to see if the sunscreen you use is considered safe.)

Here’s what EWG says: “The FDA has put the entire sunscreen industry on alert by proposing that in just two instances do we have enough safety information about ingredients to determine whether they’re safe and effective: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. For 12 other ingredients [including oxybenzoate] the FDA has said there isn’t enough data to determine whether they’re safe.”

[Chef V’s takeaway: if you’re going to use sunscreen, use a mineral-based one with zinc or titanium.]

sunscreen

Before You Apply, Fry (Not Really, But It’s A Nice Rhyme)

Let’s say that there’s absolutely no way you can avoid having your body be exposed to the sun for a long time. I get it, I used to like frying in the sun. But as I’m getting (just a tad) older, I don’t like baking in the sun like I used to. However, if I do use sunscreen (of course, it’s organic and mineral-based), I let most of my skin get exposed to the sun for at least 10-15 minutes.

If you use sunscreen before you even step outside, your body will not be able to synthesize vitamin D from the sun.

And as much as I went off above about the FDA saying sunscreens are totally safe when there’s absolutely no proof of that and even evidence to the contrary, not getting enough vitamin D might even be worse for your health.

In fact, there’s no doubt that lack of vitamin D increases the risk of certain cancers, not to mention bone fractures and diseases. 

Vitamin D also is a precursor to your sex hormones (the 3 estrogens as well as testosterone, which women also need an adequate amount of to stave off excess belly fat). The sunshine vitamin also helps form healthy cholesterol, which provides structure to your trillions of cells.

I could go on and on about how important vitamin D is for your health. But let me just conclude by strongly advising you to let your skin feel the rays of the sun, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Try to expose about 70% of your body, such as your arms, legs and back.

If you’re concerned about age spots on your face and hands, then go ahead and apply your mineral-based organic sunscreen. Just make sure the rest of you gets some sun. If you’re really fair-skinned and fry easily, try to get sun exposure even if it’s only 5 minutes. You may also want to think about taking a vitamin D supplement if you spend much of the day indoors, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

sunburn

Easiest Ways To Avoid Sunburn

If you’re deathly afraid of the sun because of sunburn risk, here are a few easy things you can do that may prevent frying:

Eat tomato paste

That’s right, canned tomato paste (make sure it’s organic; what else would you expect me to say 🙂 ) can help prevent sunburn. The antioxidant in tomato paste, lycopene, is what gives tomatoes their red pigment and also help protect the veggies from the sun. It turns out that lycopene also protects humans from sunburn. Just a spoonful a day of tomato paste may help keep the doctor away.

Wear long sleeves

This might seem like a “duh” recommendation. But I’m amazed at how many people walk around in the summer totally exposed to the sun with visible sunburn, wearing hardly anything. If you’re going to stay outside and even if you do apply sunscreen, I think it’s best to completely cover up after a while. So what if it’s super hot out? Today’s moisture-wicking synthetic materials are so lightweight; you hardly notice them. Personally, I love wearing sarongs. (I fell in love with them while on vacation in Bali.)

Keep cool in the shade

Another piece of “totally obvs” advice. But it’s one worth remembering; in the summer we want to spend time outdoors. Get a few minutes of direct sun exposure and then chill with a good book under a tree.

Green Leafy Veggies

If I were a shameless self-promoter, I would have included my last recommendation to you at the very top of this article. And that is: have 16 oz. of my Organic Green Drink every day!

What do the 7-certified organic green, leafy veggies in my Green Drink have to do with preventing sunburn, not to mention skin cancer? I’m glad you asked.

The answer is: the antioxidants such as retinol, vitamin C, and vitamin E, in green leafy veggies, protect against the damaging effects of solar radiation on the skin. In fact, there’s at least a 20 percent reduced risk of melanoma if you get enough retinol in your diet. And Chef V can easily deliver fresh, organic Green Drinks right to your front door this summer.

The takeaway: ditch the conventional, non-mineral sunscreen. Expose a good chunk of your skin to the sun’s rays for about 10 minutes before you apply sunscreen. Drink Green Drink. Every day.

Here’s to a fun and healthy summer!

Love,

Chef V

© 2020 Chef V, LLC.