Blueberry Watermelon Kombucha Slushie

written by Tamar Saskin

this is a blueberry watermelon kombucha slushie or slushy recipe

written by Tamar Saskin

Boiling hot this summer and looking for a healthy cool down that you can make in less than 5 minutes? Try this yummy summer slushy. The consistency is just like a slushy, sip it with a straw or eat it with a spoon and enjoy a treat with no added sugars or sweeteners.

Kombucha is naturally fermented, so it has a bubbly, carbonated taste that’s pretty subtle when combined with watermelon and blueberries.  We wanted to find a creative way to incorporate kombucha into this recipe so that you can get the health benefits of fermentation- it’s a great source of probiotics and gut friendly bacteria that support digestion. Some research has also been done to understand the antioxidants found in kombucha, which can help reduce inflammation and help protect cells from damage. Kombucha is a good source of B-vitamins, particularly vitamin B12 which is an important nutrient for mental health. There are so many different companies that make kombucha these days so just make sure that you read the label and choose a brand that has a lower sugar content.

We’ve also used blueberries in this slushie recipe. Although blueberries are small, they contain a large amount of nutrients, in fact they they have the highest level of antioxidants of all commonly used fruits and vegetables.   These antioxidants help protect our cells from damage, by neutralizing free radicals that otherwise could cause DNA damage. Multiple studies have shown that blueberries protect against DNA damage which helps prevent cancer. Blueberries also contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.

This slushie is delicious and requires little to no effort to whip up quickly in the blender. Let us know if you give the recipe a try!

 

Blueberry Watermelon Kombucha Slushie

2 cups watermelon, cut in cubes
¼ cup kombucha (you can use any flavor that you like)
1 cup frozen blueberries
4 medium sized ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend into a slushy smooth mixture forms. You’ll want it to be thick, so you can add additional ice cubes or frozen fruit, if needed.

this is a blueberry watermelon kombucha slushie or slushy recipe

Ginger Turmeric Tea for Immunity

ginger turmeric tea with lemon

Perfect for scratchy throats, stuffy noses, and chest congestion, this tea has a spicy kick that you'll feel.  This is our spin on the classic ginger lemon tea that we always make when anyone is sick, with the addition of fresh turmeric root.  If you can't find fresh turmeric, then you can add in some ground turmeric instead. Ginger supports your immune system, lemon provides a great dose of vitamin C, and turmeric helps reduce inflammation (ginger helps with inflammation too).   The finishing touch on this tea is a spoonful of raw honey, which is also soothing for a sore throat.  If you can't eat honey, then you can substitute in some stevia instead.

ginger root, turmeric root, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric

Ginger Turmeric Tea

large piece of ginger root (around 6 inches), sliced in thin pieces
small piece of turmeric root (around 2 inches), sliced in thin pieces
4 cups filtered water
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
raw honey, to taste

Directions:

1. Slice the ginger root and turmeric root in thin pieces.  If they are organic, you can leave the skin on, just rinse it off well.

2. Place the sliced ginger and turmeric in a pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  You'll notice that the turmeric will turn the water a rich golden tinted colour.  If you don't have fresh turmeric root, you can add in 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric.

3. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

4. Pour into a mug and add raw honey to taste (we normally add a big teaspooon).  Or, if you don't heat honey, you can add stevia instead.

ginger tea, turmeric tea, ginger turmeric tea

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free) & Why Make Sugar Free Smoothies?

smoothie bowl, banana free smoothie bowl, smoothie bowl no banana, acai smoothie bowl

The question of whether or not to eat sugar comes up a lot for many of our clients, especially when it comes to cancer prevention.  This can be a challenge when it comes to making smoothies and clients ask us if it’s okay to put sweet fruit in them.

In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October, we are going to be sharing some blog posts with important information for women...and the question about sugar is one of the things we’ll look at.   

If you don’t like bananas it can be tough to find a good smoothie.  We admit it, even we resort to using bananas as a key ingredients in smoothies most of the time.  But, we don’t all love bananas and we get bored of their strong, overpowering flavour that seems to take over the entire smoothie no matter what other delicious ingredients we add.  

Besides the flavour, there are a lot of reasons why many of our clients limit or avoid their intake of bananas.  It’s not that they aren’t healthy, in fact bananas are actually technically a low glycemic fruit.  On the Glycemic Index scale they are rated at 51, and foods below 55 are considered low glycemic (meaning, they won’t release carbohydrates rapidly and spike your blood sugar as quickly as high glycemic foods immediately after eating). Bananas are also infamously known for their high potassium content, which is an important mineral needed for electrolyte balance.  

 

So, why would you stop eating bananas?

Bananas are still sweet and contain sugar, just as all fruit does.  However, if you are managing or recovering from a health issue, limiting sugar intake is helpful for many reasons.  Whether you are dealing with blood sugar management, hormonal imbalance, digestive imbalance, or cancer, reducing your sugar intake supports the balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract.  Too many sweet foods fuel overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast in the gut.  This in turn not only interferes with proper digestion and removal of waste, but can weaken the immune system.  70% of your immune system is found in the lining of the intestinal tract.  When the good bacteria is out of balance here, your body’s first line of defence is weakened.  

If you are dealing with insulin resistance or want to prevent that from happening, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of sweet foods (especially refined carbs like sugar, white flour, and processed foods). These foods trigger your pancreas to release insulin to help shuttle the carbohydrates into your cells.   However, if lots of sweets and simple carbohydrates are consumed the pancreas becomes taxed with producing so much insulin. And, your body’s cells can eventually stop responding to insulin (insulin resistance), which leaves glucose circulating in the blood stream. This elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance is linked with inflammation, which increases cancer risk.

 

What to do?

This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating fruit or whole grains and starchy vegetables.  Sweet potatoes and other root veggies, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains, and so many fruits are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  It just means that you want to eat these things as part of a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens, a rainbow of colourful veggies, clean proteins (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, or organic animal protein if you’re omnivore), and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 rich flax oil.  And, limit your intake of sweet foods and avoid refined products like white flour and sugar.

 

The Alternative to Banana in Smoothies

So, whether you are limiting your intake of sugar or just don’t like the taste of bananas, here’s what you can use instead to make a smoothie.  

Option 1: Pear
Pears are a bit lower on the glycemic index than bananas and taste less sweet. Add pear into your smoothies instead of bananas.  You can replace banana with the same amount of pear for a similar consistency.

Option 2: Avocado
If you’re  going completely sugar free, then avocado will provide the perfect creamy texture to your smoothie that banana normally does.  But, then you might be dealing with a smoothie that’s not sweet enough.  Berries are your best friend here.  They are low glycemic and the lowest sugar fruits. If you still need more sweet taste, then we recommend adding a few drops of stevia to the avocado based smoothie. Many healthy vegan protein powders are already sweetened with stevia, so if you add a scoop of that into the smoothie it can provide some sweetness.

 

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free)

1 pear, chopped roughly
1 cup blueberries (or you can use raspberries and/or strawberries instead)
1 acai smoothie pack (we’ve been using this Acai Roots brand)
2 to 3 Tbsp hempseeds or protein powder of choice
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)

Toppings:
Shredded coconut
Caco nibs
Mulberries (or goji berries)
Strawberries
Raspberries

Directions:

  1. Place the pear, blueberries, and hempseeds (or protein powder) in the blender.

  2. Break the acai smoothie pack into a few smaller pieces and add to the blender.

  3. Add a little bit of the milk and blend everything together.  Add the milk gradually, as needed to get everything blending.  The smoothie bowl with be thicker with less liquid added.

  4. Once everything is creamy and smooth pour into a bowl.

  5. Top with your toppings of choice!

 

References:

Ben-Shmuel S, et.al. “Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cancer: Epidemiology and Potential Mechanisms.” Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, April, 2015.

Brown, Kirsty, et al. “Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease.” Nutrients, vol. 4, no. 8, 2012 Aug: pp. 1095–1119

Sears, Barry, and Mary Perry. “The Role of Fatty Acids in Insulin Resistance.” Lipids in Health and Disease 14 (2015): 121.

Simopoulos, Artemis P. “An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity.” Nutrients 8.3 (2016): 128. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

Vighi, G et al. “Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 153.Suppl 1 (2008): 3–6. PMC.


Wellen, Kathryn E., and Gökhan S. Hotamisligil. “Inflammation, Stress, and Diabetes.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 115.5 (2005): 1111–1119. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

Cherry Coconut Smoothie and Why You Should Eat Cherries

cherries, cherry, summer fruit, berries, cherry bowl

We're absolutely lovin' cherry season this year, especially since it's for such a short time, it feels extra special.  Cherries are one of the best fruits to pack for snacks during the work day, on road trips, on camping trips, and even on plane rides, because they are strong enough to stand the heat and are less likely to get crushed than softer berries and nectarines or peaches. 

The rich and bright colour of cherries is caused by a type of flavanoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and studies have found that cherries even have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries also naturally contain melatonin, so they are a good food to eat later in the day or for dessert in the evening as they are sleep supportive. 

Another reason why we recommend eating cherries instead of sweeter fruits, such as banana and tropical fruits, is because they are low glycemic and low in sugar.  Many of our clients that are dealing with cancer choose to follow a diet that is low in sugar and avoid eating desserts, baked goods and refined carbohydrates.  Studies have found that consuming sugar interferes with the function of the immune system, so if your body is compromised and dealing with a disease or even a cold, we recommend avoiding sugar and choosing very low-sugar fruits like cherries and berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are all great options as well). You'll still get to enjoy these delicious fruits while at the same time get the benefit of their antioxidant and vitamin content. 

We've added some healthy whole-food fats into this smoothie, avocado and hempseeds.  These will keep you feeling full for longer, as well as provide anti-inflammatory omega 3s. 

 

Cherry Coconut Smoothie

1 cup cherries
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
2 Tbsp hempseeds (or add vegan protein powder instead)
2 Tbsp avocado (or you can add more, if you like)

Directions:
1. Rinse off the cherries well and remove the pits.  This part can be a little time intensive, but it's worth it!  There are two ways to do this- Option 1: We cut away as much of the cherry as we can from the pit. Option 2: We poke something into the center of the cherry (like a chopstick) to make a small whole and pull the pit out.

2. Then combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

cherry smoothie, cherry coconut smoothie

 

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811821
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/28274450
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/26005400
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/23480341

Turmeric Recipe Round Up!

Turmeric is a bright orange spice that is a part of the ginger family.  This spice has been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years and has gained mainstream popularity in the last few years.

Turmeric has medicinal properties to help combat digestive disorders, liver problems, skin diseases, wounds, parasites and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, and antiseptic properties.

One thing to note is that cancer, heart disease, and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's are linked to chronic inflammation.  Inflammation and cancer are closely related in the sense that inflammation in the body can increase risk of cancer development.

Turmeric in the diet can prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells since curcumin, a component in turmeric, interferes with the DNA  of cancer cells preventing them from growing and instead potentially causing these mutated cells to die.  Turmeric prevents angiogenesis, a process that creates new blood vessels, which can form tumours and cancer cells.

Lastly, turmeric has antioxidant properties that can remove and repair damage to the cells that are caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are created through exposure to pollution and stress and wreak havoc on healthy cells.   

There are many ways to incorporate turmeric in the diet.  Here are some recipes we’ve developed that are delicious and contain turmeric.  We have a turmeric breakfast bowl, coconut turmeric chickpeas, and a turmeric latte.  The links are below!

Turmeric Breakfast Bowl

 

 

Resources

Love, D. S. (2017, 04 16). Turmeric and Cancer: 5 Ways Turmeric Can Help Prevent Cancer. Retrieved from TTAC: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/turmeric-can-prevent-cancer/?gl=582840323

University of Maryland Medical Centre. (2017, 04 16). Turmeric. Retrieved from www.umm.edu: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Rose, Cardamom and Earl Grey Latte

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

rose, cardamom, early grey latte, ginger snap cookies, Valentine's Day, gluten free, Dairy free

With the cold, gloomy weather in Toronto, we’re naturally keeping cozy with delicious warm drinks. Wellness lattes are becoming a popular drink of choice lately, and many health food restaurants and cafes are now selling a wide array of warm superfood drinks. Chaga hot chocolate, turmeric golden milk, and matcha lattes are all really popular, but we at Living Kitchen love to experiment with new flavours. 

A while back, I was on Pinterest and came across this recipe for a rose and earl grey latte, and was inspired to make a wellness latte based around these flavours. Valentine’s Day is today and the combination of these flavours matches this holiday perfectly! After loads of testing, I finally developed a delicious, fragrant recipe for a Rose, Cardamom, and Earl Grey latte. If you’ve ever had a London Fog, you’ll love this healthy and soothing alternative! 

Earl grey tea contains bergamot, a citrus oil which is known for its uplifting properties. A 2014 study on 58 hospice patients showed that all participants who simply applied a blend of oil containing bergamot to their hands reported less pain and a decrease in depression symptoms. Every single patient reported this! Bergamot is also known to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Cardamom, another main flavour in this latte, is believed to also contain anti-depressive properties. It is also known to prevent bad breath as well as infections of the throat and mouth and mouth ulcers. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Rose, the last main flavour in this latte, has several health benefits. The compounds found in roses are the reason behind this flower’s anti-depressive and anti-anxiety properties. It carries a plethora of health benefits; it is antiseptic and antiviral, helps to treat menstrual cramps, and is also a very well-known aphrodisiac. 

This wellness latte is refined sugar free and vegan, so that everybody can enjoy it. It’s incredibly soothing, and is the perfect Valentine’s Day drink! Whip one up for yourself or special someone today!

Rose, Cardamom and Earl Grey Latte 

Serves 2

½ cup dried edible rose petals
½ cup maple syrup
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 tbsp water
2 dates (optional if you want to add more sweetness)
½ tsp rosewater (optional- leave this out if you don’t want a very strong rose taste)
3 tsp loose leaf earl grey tea, or 2 teabags
1 ½ cups non-dairy milk (We used coconut milk, but any non-dairy milk will do!)

Crushed dried rose petals, for garnish

 

Directions:

To make the syrup:

1. Combine the rose petals, maple syrup, cardamom pods and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes, until reduced by about 1/3. Strain liquid into a container, pressing the rose petals against the strainer to extract as much syrup and release their colour as much as possible.  

2. If using the dates, pour syrup back into the saucepan and add the dates. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes, until dates are very soft and begin to fall apart.  Remove from heat and pass the mixture through a fine sieve,  pressing the softened dates through with the back of a spoon. 

3. Add rosewater if desired. 

To make the lattes:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and steep the tea for 2-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. 

2. Heat the milk to just below a simmer over the stove and use a whisk or milk frother to develop a layer of foam if desired. 

3. Pour 1 ½ tbsp of rose syrup into a mug. Fill the mug halfway with the steeped tea and top with the hot, frothy milk. Garnish with crushed rose petals and enjoy!  

 

References: 

Peterson, D. (2017). Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help? Retrieved from http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

Mercola, J. (2016). The Blissful Benefits of Bergamot Oil. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/bergamot-oil.aspx

Pulsiper, C. (2013). 15 Health Benefits of Cardamom. Retrieved fromhttps://sunwarrior.com/healthhub/15-health-benefits-of-cardamom

Organic Facts. (n.d.) Health Benefits of Cardamom. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-cardamom.html

Organic Facts. (n.d.) Health Benefits of Rose Essential Oil. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-rose-essential-oil.html