Tag Archives: dark chocolate

A Health Freak’s Vacation Guide

Greetings from up in the sky!

I’m currently on my way to San Juan, Puerto Rico and am so excited to get some sun, family time, and relaxation before the new school year starts. My mother was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so I try to go there with my family every chance I get. While I love it there, the food options for me are not too plentiful—especially in comparison to New York City. In New York, I’m one of hundreds of highly health conscious individuals. In Puerto Rico, I’m one of the few health freaks on the island! But I embrace my title with pride. Here’s is how this health freak keeps her habits in a land full of platanos and lechon (fried plantains and pork).

Come Prepared

A true health freak knows that intense packing is essential, unless you know you are going somewhere that has lots of options. Whenever I go to Puerto Rico, I come equipped with the following:

Dark Chocolate: So that I’m not tempted by flan and tres leches! My favorite brand is Lulu’s, which is made up of nothing more than cacao, coconut crystals, and vanilla bean.

Portable blender: I have a small portable blender (it’s the size of a travel mug) that I always bring with me when I travel. Even if I’m on the road, I can stop at a fruit stand and blend up a shake super easily.

Green vibrance packets: a mixed blend of different greens that replaces the green juices that I normally drink at home. Warning: These taste really bad. But they make you feel great once you’re finished drinking and are essential if you are in a place where there is a dearth of leafy greens. I usually cover up the bad taste by mixing them into a smoothie with almond milk, almond butter, chia seeds, and fruit.

Gluten-Free Rolled Oats: A quick and easy meal that can be mixed with hot water anywhere!

Digestive Support: I always bring extra reinforcements for digestion—swiss kriss herbal tablets, “eater’s digest” tea, tons of digestive enzymes, cape aloe, aloe juice, and natural calm magnesium formula. Digestion is going to be harder when you’re out of your comfort zone, so it’s better to over-prepare!

Double Supplements: When I’m on vacation, my body needs time to adjust—not only to different eating habits, but also to different time zones, sleep schedules, climates, and environmental pollutants. Although your regular supplement plan may protect you at home, you may need extra protection while you’re away. Take double the amount of supplements that you normally would take. Some essential supplements to have when you’re away from home include probiotics, glutamine, chlorella, and NAC.

 

Do Your Research

Believe it or not, there are food options out there for you. Even Puerto Rico has a few great spots for vegans, celiacs, and even raw foodists. If you’re travelling with meat/wheat eaters, make sure to note down where all of the essential health food stores and restaurants are located beforehand. That way, when you happen to be the area, you won’t be interrupting your friends’ day by going to those places. If you’re in Puerto Rico, the iphone Sal app is great for this purpose and will tell you which vegetarian restaurants are closest to you. More generally, happycow.com is a good resource for vegetarians, celiacs, and raw foodists anywhere.  It allows you to check out all the nearby health restaurants in your area, along with reviews from other users on the website.

Cheat Purposefully

You’re on vacation. It’s okay to eat things that you normally would not eat. I certainly plan to eat a few tostones (fried plaintains) while staying with my grandparents. My grandmother makes them better than anyone else! However, you will not see me using this vacation as a free-for-all, where I all of a sudden down all the candy and greasy food in sight.  Stick to those food items that are unique to the place that you are visiting—whether it’s your mother’s special lasagna or a French delicacy—and fill the rest of your diet with whatever nutrient-rich foods you can find.

Get Moving

Since you’re probably going to be eating some bad things, you may as well use some exercise to burn off those extra calories. Use the extra eating as an incentive to participate in some fun local activities. Rent a bike and use it travel to all the tourist sights, take a yoga class in a new language, or go on a hike where you can experience the local scenery.

Compliment Local Food

When I am on vacation, I normally find more pressure to eat things that I normally would never touch. Often I fear offending chefs or well-intentioned friends trying to show me their favorite food or favorite spot to eat. While my family is 100% understanding of my eating habits (my abuela even experimented to create a healthy plantain soup for when I visit—recipe coming soon!) in many cultures it is considered rude to turn down food. Although I want to express my appreciation, eating certain foods wreaks havoc on my stomach. White sugar is probably the biggest irritant for me. So rather than stuffing my face with flan, I’ll take one bite before spending the rest of my time gloating over its taste or presentation. I grab my camera and take multiple pictures. I tell my friends at the table that they must try some, and continually compliment the chef. Make the center of focus on the food, rather than on your choice to exercise restraint.

I hope these tips help you on your next vacation. !Buen provecho!

Taking some chlorella on my way to the airport. Chlorella is a great detoxifier because of the similarity of its composition to human blood and because of its unique ability to bind to and sweep out heavy metals from our system.

 

How to Give Up Coffee

Coffee–it is delicious, energizing, and gives you that warm feeling that helps you get up in the morning. But addiction doesn’t come without a price. Coffee leaves you dehydrated and can often come with a crash. In addition, it is taxing on the liver, highly acidic, and often made from pesticide-infused beans. However I, more than anyone, know how difficult it is to go without it. Up until a year ago, I was drinking at least two cups a day–which is something I had been doing since the age of fourteen. After my consumption had risen to about four cups, I decided it was time to stop. Here’s how I did it.

Drink Something Else in the Morning 

Part of coffee’s appeal is the simple habit of drinking it. After drinking it every day, you get used to it, and can’t imagine a day without it. So why not replace it with a more natural and energizing drink? If you want something hot in the morning, try drinking a cup of rooibos tea or–if you’d prefer to slowly wean yourself off caffeine–a cup of black or green tea. If it’s the sweetness of coffee that appeals to you, try drinking a fruit smoothie (but make sure you make it yourself–Jamba juice does not count). You can also try several other bottled drinks –celebrity news personality Guiliana Rancic,  drinks yerba mate and kombucha instead of coffee.

Keep Some Energizing Snacks on Hand 

The best way to beat the 2:00 slump that makes you dive towards the coffee machine is to instead opt for snacks that give you energy. These are some snacks that will help you feel energized throughout your day:

Apples and almond butter: Apples give you just enough natural sugar to stimulate your brain, while almond butter helps to keep steady blood-sugar levels.

Dark leafy greens: Greens like kale, chard, and spinach are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fibers that will keep you full and energized. Have them either in a salad or in a green juice mixed with apple and ginger. Yum!

Walnuts: Walnuts are filled with omegas that help your brain to stay more alert. Eat about 10 as a 2:00 pick-me-up.

Avocados: Avocados have plenty of good fats that help you to feel full. You can eat them with crackers or scoop it out alone with a spoon!

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate–when consumed in moderation–has various positive benefits. It can help reduce the effects of aging and is good for your heart. It has some caffeine though, so make sure you don’t eat more than one or two pieces. Always opt for brands that are dairy free and have organic/raw sugar.

Eat a Light Lunch

After a big lunch, you feel tired and sluggish. This is because your digestive system takes up the majority of your body’s energy, so the more you put it to work, the more tired you will feel. That sluggish feeling will tempt you towards the coffee machine! The best lunch is always a salad or a light wrap. Make sure you eat slowly and are conscious of not overstuffing yourself.

I know getting off coffee is not easy. But once you are completely weaned off, you will see amazing benefits in your health, energy-level, and skin. Good luck!

ALANA’S FEEL-GOOD COCO MOCHA

 

When the summertime hits, sometimes all I want is a sweet chocolatey milkshake. But there is no need for me to run to the next hormone-filled, mucus forming concoction available at the nearest diner or Starbucks. No, no. I’ve got something better. I call it the Feel-Good Coco Mocha because it tastes like a Java Chip Frappucino but has an extreme amount of feel-good nutrients that will leave you with a feeling of awesomeness instead of a sugar crash. Perfect for a post-workout or for when you just need a pick-me-up. I promise—you will be hooked!

Ingredients

1 cup of coconut water (if you want to make a larger portion, add regular water or almond milk as well)

2 tablespoons of chia seeds soaked for 10 minutes

1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter

¼ avocado

1 heaping tablespoon of raw cacao/carob powder

1 pinch of vanilla extract

1 pinch of liquid stevia (optional, if you want a little more sweetness)

Ice (optional)

Throw it all in a blender and hit blend!

What’s Great About the Coco Mocha

Coconut water: Coconut water is extremely hydrating, and contains the electrolytes potassium and magnesium. Magnesium is extremely helpful for reducing stress and belly fat, whereas potassium is great for rehydration.

Chia Seeds: I know I talk about chia seeds all the time, but that’s because they are AMAZING. The tahamurara tribe drinks water with chia seeds to fuel up for 3 day, 50 mile runs (check out the book “Born to Run” if you want to learn more about them).  The seeds absorb water, giving the smoothie a thicker texture and making it more filling.

Cacao: Cacao is a nutrient-rich superfood. Who would’ve though chocolate could be so good for you?  Cacao also has magnesium, along with serotonin (which is often deficient in those suffering from depression). In addition, it has more cancer-fighting antioxidants than green tea, red wine, and goji berries combined!

Carob: Although not as nutrient dense as cacao, carob powder is a great source of calcium and has less caffeine and calories than cacao. Both forms of chocolate have excellent cancer-fighting properties.

Avocado and Almond Butter: Tons of fatty acids to keep you satisfied and to keep your skin glowing and radiant!

Not to mention, its absolutely DELICIOUS, if I do say so myself. ;) Enjoy!