Why Everyone Should Adapt a Meatless Monday

Have you adopted the Meatless Monday trend? This simple lifestyle change can have drastic improvements on your overall health. Plant proteins (yes, plants DO contain lots of protein) differ largely from animal proteins that we tend to over consume. Here is just a high level list of the amazing affects of swapping out some animal protein for plant sources:

1. Increases Life Expectancy
2. Reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes
3. Reduces risk of certain cancers
4. Prevents long term weight gain

What is the major reasoning for the first 4?
Plant Protein sources contain the same levels of protein as your animal sources do, but they contain significantly lower levels of fat and no cholesterol. Plant proteins also contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals you do not consume while eating animal proteins.

5. Better for the Environment
6. Easier on your wallet

Below is a great protein packed salad recipe to make for your family. It contains one of my new favorite products; Ancient Harvest Lentil & Quinoa Pasta. This pasta has two ingredients: Lentils & Quinoa…literally that is it. It is an amazing way to add protein into your diet AND get the great taste and sensation of eating a pasta dish without the gluten and carbohydrates from regular pasta. Just one serving of this pasta contains 14 grams of protein!!

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The other ingredients in the salad can easily be swapped for other vegetables; especially as the seasons change to make a great meal all year round:

Summer Arugula Pasta Salad Recipe

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Ingredients:
– Arugula (1-2 bags)
– Cherry Tomatoes (2 cups, sliced in half)
– 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
– Ancient Harvest Lentil & Quinoa Pasta
– Onion (1/2, sliced)
– 2 tbs olive oil (plus more for dressing)
– 2 tbs minced garlic
– Parmesan Cheese
optional : 1/2 – full avocado diced in cubes

Directions:
1. Cook the Ancient Harvest Pasta as directed on the box. Once finished and drained, rinse with cold water and let cool on the counter.
2. While the pasta is cooling, turn a skillet to medium heat and add two tbs of olive oil, two tbs of minced garlic, and the sliced onion. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are cooked and caramelized.
3. Place your arugula, sliced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, pasta, and Parmesan cheese in a large salad bowl and toss. Drizzle olive oil and white vinegar and toss again. Optional: top with diced avocado.

Enjoy 🙂

Easy & Healthy Snack Recipe

Snacks are always one of the biggest struggles for people who try to eat healthy and/or are looking to lose weight. Here is an easy and very satisfying snack that can also be used as an appetizer with friends & family. This recipe contains two of my favorite foods that have amazing nutritional value; beets & sweet potatoes.

Health Benefits of Beets:

1. FULL of vitamins & minerals: high in vitamin C, fiber, and potassium just to name a few.

2. Detoxifying: contain betalin pigments which break down toxins in your blood and liver.

3. Anti-Inflammatory: contain a nutrient called betaine which helps protects cells from environmental stress, help fight inflammation, and protect internal organs.

4. Lower your blood pressure (literally, instantly): the occurring nitrates in beets are converted into nitric oxide when digested which helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes:

1. Fat free, low sodium and much lower in calories than a white potato

2. Great source of fiber and work well to aid in digestion problems.

3. Packed with vitamins & minerals: Large source of potassium, magnesium, iron, vitmains A, B6 and C just to name a few.

4. Great source of beta beta carotene and other carotenoids. These help strengthen eyesight and boost our immunity to disease. They are also known to help fight off cancer as well as protect us from the effects of aging.

5. Great source of natural sugars. These sugars are released slowly into the body during digestion which allows the body to have a great balanced energy and work to regulate blood sugar levels.

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Beet & Sweet Potato Chips

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Peel your beets and sweet potatoes to remove skin if you wish
  • Using a mandolin or a sharp knife cut the beets and sweet potatoes into small slices
    • Sometimes it is easier to boil your beets/sweet potatoes for a few minutes to soften them before cutting if you do not have good utensils
  • Spray a lined baking sheet with coconut or olive oil and place each slice down with as little overlapping as possible
  • Re-spray the tops of the vegetables with coconut or olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder, rosemary, and a little sea salt over the slices
  • Roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until crispy. You may want to switch to broil for the last few minutes to get them extra crunchy.

You can eat these chips by themselves, use them to make nachos, or add a side dip of mashed avocado or guacamole to enjoy them with 🙂

Sunshine & Superfoods Papaya Smoothie

Spring is finally here and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious papaya smoothie recipe featuring seasonal ingredients, and superfoods of course, to get you in the mood. I usually do not gravitate towards fruit smoothies, but this recipe is filled with nutrients and flavor combinations that allow you to sneak in some awesome superfoods and spices to really make it a slam dunk nutritionally. It is perfect for a post workout indulgence!

Spotlight on Papaya:

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Papaya contains high levels of Vitamin C (about 150% of your daily value in just half of the fruit) and Vitamin E, as well as a large number of antioxidants. These antioxidants are known to help fight against cancer as well as many heart related diseases. Papaya is known to boost your immune system because of its cell strengthening properties. This fruit also contains Vitamin A which is known to protect the retinas in your eyes; preventing certain eye diseases and macular degeneration.

Papaya is most widely known to help improve digestion. It contains an enzyme that helps break down proteins in your body which helps gastrointestinal issues and keeps everything moving properly.

Papaya is also known for its amazing affects on the skin. The levels of vitamins and antioxidants in papaya work to fight against skin cell damage. Many nutritionists and natural beauty experts actually rub raw papaya on their skin to help eliminate blemishes, spotting, and heal wounds.

Sunshine Papaya Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cubed fresh papaya, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk (I love Califia Farms)
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp maca powder (I use Navitas Naturals)
  • 1 scoop of plant based vanilla protein powder (I use Sprout Living)

Directions: Put all the ingredients into blender until smooth and enjoy 🙂

For another great way to use papayas check out my papaya yogurt boat recipe.

This article also appears on Women’s iLab to inspire the next generation of female leaders.