Product Review: Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens

Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens in Vanilla - nutritional benefits, low sugar, high protein, vegan, green powders, organic

A key to the success of a healthy lifestyle is making meals and concocting snacks that are tasty and as packed with nutrients as you possible. Making your recipes work for you means you’re nourishing your body and mind without depleting your precious physical and emotional energy. One way to do this is to through smoothies, which is why you see the onslaught of smoothie recipes on this site and in our social feed.

As a nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free practice, we are always on the hunt for vegan protein without nuts or soy that can be integrated into a variety of meals and snacks, like – you guessed it – smoothies!

A veteran dilettante of vegan protein powders, we were thrilled to see the repackaged and re-formulated Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens during a foray of shopping to restock our own inventory!

Raw Protein & Greens Powder? Here’s the scoop #punintended 🙂

  • HIGH PROTEIN: 20 grams of raw organic plant protein from Organic Peas and Sprouted Organic Grains, Seeds and Legumes plus 6 organic greens and veggies
  • POST WORKOUT RECOVERY: Help your muscles recover with a clean nutritional shake powered by organic protein and nutrient-rich organic green energy
  • GREEN SUPERFOOD DRINK: This delicious vanilla protein powder is power-packed with green energy from raw, organic greens and green juices
  • PROTEIN POWDER WITH PROBIOTICS: Tasty, smooth protein shake with 1.5 billion CFU probiotics and 13 non-GMO enzymes for easy digestion
  • VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER: Organic, gluten free, vegan, dairy free, soy free, Informed Choice Certified (Trusted by Sport), non-GMO whole food protein

Our Take

The vanilla flavor is subtle and not too sweet. The smell and flavor is almost identical to the Garden of Life Raw Vegan Protein Powder we’ve grown to love with only a subtle earthy smell, attributed to the greens. The relatively high vegan protein content has additional benefits of sprouted greens and grains and is organic, as well, with low sugar (<1 gram). Even with the sprouted grains and legumes, this protein powder is gluten-free and gentle to digest for those with aversions to beans.

It’s a perfect add-in to protein pancakes or to a variety of smoothie flavors/recipes with its low glycemic index (you know how we’re off the sugar wagon!), added greens (like alfalfa, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrot and beet – yay!) and versatile vanilla flavor.

One last note: The probiotic content was not a strong selling point because we supplement gut flora with a high dose of probiotics via capsule. Because of the way we use protein powder, which includes smoothies as well as baked goods, the probiotic power is diminished significantly; even used in a smoothie, we can’t vouch for the healthy bacteria making it to the small intestine intact because we haven’t seen or performed the research. If you’re looking to increase your healthy gut flora through Garden of Life products, try probiotic capsules, like these, or explore fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, or low sugar kombucha.

Let us know how you get more from your smoothies with added greens and protein!

As always, wishing you a week of greens, grace and gluten-free goodness!

What the Health and the Keto Controversy

What the Health and the Keto Controversy - making sense of two very different lifestyles and how to make better diet and lifestyle choices

With the recent release of What the Health, aka “The Health Film That Health Organizations Don’t Want You To See,” healthy eating by way of veganism has experienced a rise in attention, specifically within certain social circles and demographics (Netflix is the primary viewing venue).

Friend groups and communities are atwitter over the science and positions explored in the film, and the conversations have incensed many due to the data revealed and what it means to their lifestyle choices or because of the confusion and frustration generated by trying to apply yet another batch of science and expert opinions to an already mixed bag of seemingly conflicting information in the world of health and wellness.

In this post, we explore two primary at-odds lifestyles and offer perspectives and guidance to empower you to follow the path that best suits you. 

First, What The Health!? and Veganism

Veganism, or the practice of eating only non-animal products, has, for years, been touted as a surefire way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and slow aging. In the Middle and Far East, for centuries, practicing veganism is common due to the moral, ethical, and spiritual pillar of the regions to “do no harm.”

Domestically, many celebrities, doctors and industrial leaders have emerged as vegans, and we, the viewing public, have observed the benefits of the vegan lifestyle as they unfolded in that individual’s life as documented through the lens of the camera, social media, USA Today, etc..

All indications point to veganism is The Way!

Here’s where it gets controversial.

Despite these incredible success stories that we’ve seen with our own eyes and the scientific findings cited by vocal vegans and What The Health, arguments that favor the veganism movement can be disproven by other science, research, medical and scientific journals and health experts.

Case in point, the ketogenic lifestyle.

Keto.

As we discussed earlier this month, is a diet globally recognized for centuries for its anti-aging, disease reversing, cancer preventing benefits (among other heroics). The foundation of the keto lifestyle includes a certain cadence of eating, which simulates fasting and subsequent benefits,  and a diet comprised of a high ratio of protein and fats and lower percentage of calories from carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet (SAD, an acronym that is both entertaining and accurate).

Modified keto, for example, may include a diet of 60-70% of calories derived from protein and fats (including saturated and unsaturated) with only 30% or less of calories derived from complex carbohydrates (i.e nothing processed and no sugar). Some keto’ers also shy away from grains, beans, soy, corn, etc., due to the high carbohydrate content and effect on blood sugar, which throws the individual out of a ketosis state, thus undoing the chemistry that yields the incredible benefits.

Protein and fat sources for many followers of the keto diet include animal products, yet, due to the individual’s unique metabolic make-up and how the individual metabolizes carbohydrates using insulin, many keto’ers base a large portion of the diet on plant-based eating, i.e. vegetable-heavy.

It’s Getting Hot in Here.

The conundrum we face are two very different diets, both of which tout health benefits. One is entirely animal-product free, and the other – in many cases – promotes the consumption of high-quality animal products.

You can see how these two dynamics are at odds with one another, and how the confusion and overwhelm accompanying the effort to make sense of them as a consumer can be significant!

Layer on top of any confusion the emotional charge we inject into our relationship with food and the deep ties to our identity that develop in relation to our food choices, lifestyle and the ethics, beliefs and mores therein, and you’ve got a hot button topic that triggers some internal moral dilemmas and very passionate discussions.

What’s Our Take?

As far as we’re concerned, any catalyst, be it a conversation, documentary, book, article, Ted Talk, etc. that activates an authentic, respectful conversation among communities and an inward assessment of one’s health, lifestyle and holistic wellness is a good thing.

Any proponent of a whole food, clean-eating, know-where-your-food-comes-from way of life? Also, a good thing.

Any wake-up call to ask deeper questions, fuel optimal wellness and make intentional, mindful choices? DEFINITELY a GREAT thing.

If you find yourself curious, or even enraged, by What The Health or Keto, and the science, ethics, or the arguments of each, then consider it your wake-up call.

Lean into this conversation vs. throwing in the towel. Casually explore various diets and lifestyles, and shift your mindset into thinking of it as a fun exploration. How you’ve eaten in the past may not be where you want to go in the future, and that doesn’t mean you’ve been fooled or failed! It means you now have different information you’re using to perhaps make different choices.

How to truly know what is best for YOU?

Some people’s constitution and metabolisms need higher levels of protein and fat and opt to include animal products as a manner to supplement those needs. Others have food allergies that preclude them from going all-in on a certain way of eating. Other people’s ethical beliefs trump all else, and they opt to forgo animal products or other food groups.

Every body is different, and therefore, every diet must be different, even if slightly, and that’s OK.

Select one of the diets or lifestyles that have caught your attention or that most closely aligns with you, and test it out for three to six months. Changes take time. Observe your energy levels, food cravings, blood work numbers, fit of your clothes, joint flexibility, mental clarity, emotional resilience and tolerance as indications that you’re on the right track or need to adjust your approach.

The Bottom Line

There is no one diet that – when followed identically across a population without some level of modification – is right for everyone.

Do what is best for you! Take what you can from the diets and lifestyles that you explore, apply them to yourself, observe the results over time and modify where needed. Speak kindly to yourself as you explore a new way of eating. Stay open to the experience and share what you observe with your friends and family; get them in on it, and support one another on your unique journeys to your best selves!

As always, we love hearing from you! Drop us a line to let us know which diet or lifestyle impassions you, how you found your way to better health and we’ll cheer you on! A rising tide lifts all ships, and our community is on the rise with you!

Wishing you a life of greens and grace and all the goodness!

Asian Black Rice Salad: An Easy, Elegant Favorite

Black rice with chopped vegetables and drizzled with sesame seeds and sriracha. So good and good for you!

Looking for a fast, easy and healthy dish for your next soiree? Try out this new Thanksgiving fave in our house: Asian Black Rice Salad! The subtle heat of the hot sesame oil along with the crunch of the veggies and antioxidant-rich black rice make this dish a healthy and memorable addition to any table.

 

Asian Black Rice Salad
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked black rice
  • 1/2 cup napa cabbage, chopped (substitute chopped kale, if desired)
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (substitute chopped yellow or white onion, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbl soy sauce or gluten free Tamari
  • 2 Tbl roasted sesame seeds
  • 1-2 Tbl sriracha
  • 1 Tbl hot sesame oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • Combine the rice and veggies in a large mixing bowl
  • Whisk the sesame oils, rice vinegar, Tamari, and garlic powder
  • Pour dressing over the rice and veggies and stir so you’re coating the rice
  • Transfer the dressed rice and veggies to your desired serving dish
  • Drizzle the Sriracha
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds
  • Serve

Bon appetit!Black rice, unchopped napa cabbage and varieties of bell peppers and scallions, chopped vegetables, vegetables mixed with rice

 

Out and About: True Food Kitchen, Atlanta, GA

True Food Kitchen Buckhead, anti-inflammatory dish, spaghetti squash, Buckhead restaurant, vegan restaurant Atlanta, Vegetarian Restaurant Atlanta, gluten free restaurant atlanta
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
A new addition to the Buckhead scene!

Weeknight Girls Nights are always a blast, but they’re even better when they take you to a new restaurant! A last-minute change in plan brought us a new epicurean adventure: True Food Kitchen.

Many restaurants connect food with bringing people together, soothing our souls through comfort foods, or providing the backdrop for celebrations, but very few eateries put two and two together when it comes to serving foods that also empower our bodies to be strong and healthy, which is exactly True Food Kitchen’s value proposition to its patrons. All dishes are intended to support a healthy body and soul with combinations of anti-inflammatory ingredients “that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.” (In truth, I am not 100% on board with dairy being included on a menu with this rationale since dairy can cause inflammatory responses, but it’s a slight digression that doesn’t detract from True Food’s unique offerings.)

In fact, True Food Kitchen identifies so deeply with healthy, balanced living that its staff is comprised solely of active lifestyle enthusiasts. It’s a job requirement! How cool is that? And being an enthusiast myself, it was encouraging to see that the restaurant’s values resonate so strongly with us Atlantans, indicated by a full patio and bar area. Whether for young couples, retirees, rowdy gals after work, happy hour partakers, or post-workout diners, the casual allure and affordable, guilt-free fare had a wide-appeal.

Overall, the ambiance, wait staff and cuisine were delightful, and we will certainly be returning to try more of these dishes, cocktails and natural refreshers! If you’re looking for fun, laid-back dining  for your next night out, definitely give True Food a try!

Inside 1
The interior dining area is reminiscent of a European bistro with its minimalist, laid-back decor, but with a warm wooden floor, ceiling and other furnishings that add warmth and coziness for a welcoming ambiance. There are also live plants that are interspersed throughout, which add an air of freshness inside and on the patio.
Inside 2
The inside bar had a local feel with a hint of French bistro despite being part of a restaurant group with locations across the country. The blackboards with chalk designs that lined the far wall were a lovely touch to reinforce the feel of a homegrown experience.
photo 2
Although True Food does offer cocktails, the Natural Refreshments are just as popular. You have to love a restaurant with coconut water as a hangover cure on the menu!
photo 4
We had to give a few of those Natural Refreshers a try. And, of course, H2O always playing a lead role in the hydration situation. 🙂
photo 2
Pomegranate Limeade
The most interesting & talked-about Refresher was the Pomegranate Limeade of lime juice, evaporated cane, pom juice & chia seed. This mocktail is one of the most popular (as seen by multiple tables sprinkled with them!), but texture of the chia seeds certainly took the girls a little getting used to. Needless to say, they are now chia seed converts.
photo 3
AUTUMN INGREDIENT SALAD
The Autumn Ingredient salad, made of Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Squash, Mulberry, White Bean, Pomegranate with a Horseradish Vinaigrette, was delish. The vinaigrette was kicky and very clean tasting with a hint of apple cider vinegar. The pom seeds added a great texture and a nutty sweetness to the winter veggie salad we enjoyed as our first course.
Chicken, tandoori, lentils, mint, almond, roasted chicken
ROASTED CHICKEN TANDOORI
Beluga Lentil, Greek Yogurt, Sprouted Almond, Date, Mint, Turmeric & Lemon
The chicken was delicious, very flavorful and refreshing. To see lentils so closely resembling beluga caviar was new to us, and I know I certainly found them to be kind of whimsical! The dish was a table-pleaser, and the portion large enough for each of the girls to try without putting too much of a dent in Shauna’s dinner.
photo 4
SPAGHETTI SQUASH CASSEROLE
(Sans) Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Tomato & Zucchini
Although this dish does come with Mozzerella, yours truly requested no Mozz, but nothing was lacking. The dish really didn’t need it. I loved the addition of the zucchini to the spaghetti squash, which added a welcomed al dente texture to the softer texture of the squash. The sauce was basil-icious with just enough garlic to be noticed, but not too much as to overwhelm the overall flavor of the dish. (Some Italian dishes can be too garlicky, particularly lighter fare, so as to compensate for other paltry flavors. Not so with this one!)
photo 5
WILD MUSHROOM PIZZA
Roasted Garlic & Taleggio (gluten free crust available!)
According to the girls, this pizza was to-die-for, and from where I was sitting, it is no surprise! It smelled and looked absolutely divine. It had just the right amount of mushrooms to be earthy, but not too shroomy. The taleggio cheese and garlic complemented the shrooms for a rich flavor, and the crust was crisp, but still chewy. I think this dish was the fave!
The Ladies
GIRLS NIGHT OUT
All of us showing off our premier memberships in the Clean Plate Club at True Food Kitchen! 🙂

 

 

In the Kitchen: Broccoli & Slaw Salad with Tahini Dressing

Serves 2-4 (depending on if a side item or main dish)

Ingredients:
For the Dressing:
2 tbl Tahini
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tbl water
Optional: 1/2 tbl nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper to taste

For the Salad:
One bag of broccoli slaw (can be found in the produce aisle at the grocery store)
One bag of broccoli florets or one large head of broccoli
Cooking spray or other oil of your choice (olive, coconut, sunflower, etc)
1/2 yellow or white onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1/8 c. cranberries, raisins or other dried fruits
Optional: walnuts, pine nuts, toasted pumpkin seeds

To Do:
Mix up the dressing by whisking the ingredients together or whipping them together with a fork. Put aside.

SautĂ© the slaw using oil or cooking spray with the onion, garlic, rosemary and fennel. You want the onions to slightly carmelize, and the colors of the slaw to stay vibrant, but be a wee bit softened to make the digestion easier on your digestive “tubes.”

While keeping your eye on the slaw, pop the broccoli florets in the microwave to blanche. I use a veggie steamer and usually cook them for about 2 minutes. You want the broccoli to maintain its green color and crunch, but be cooked just enough to be easy to digest.
*Helpful hint: if you break off a piece of the floret, it should give you a little bit of resistance. Too much resistance, it’s overcooked; too little, it’s too raw.

Once the veggies are cooked, place into a big bowl and toss with the dressing and the cranberries or other dried fruits. For you nut-friendly folks, feel free to toss in some walnuts or pine nuts for some extra yum! Vegans & Vegetarians, mix some nutritional yeast in to the the dressing to give it a little nuttier or cheesier flavor or throw on some tempeh crumbles for a fun twist! Mmmm!

The (Teeny Tiny) Superfood of the Week : Chia!

Courtesy of ABC News Travel
photo cred: ABC News

Chia seeds are one of my go-to favorite superfoods & add-in’s for many of my breakfasts and snacks. From smoothies to rice pudding to chia pudding to pancakes to oatmeal, I have a hard time not sprinkling them in!

Here’s the scoop: Chia seeds are an ancient superfood, touted by the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas. Listen to this: Chia actually means “strength” in the language of the Mayans, and some say, the seeds were considered “running food” because messengers could run all day fueled by these tiny little seeds.  A wee seed for strength and running? Sign me up!

Why is the Chia Seed such a nutritious powerhouse, you ask?

  • One ounce (or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains only 137 calories, but provides four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber
  • Not only are they packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and ALA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), but chia seeds are also high in Omega-3’s (higher than even flaxseed)
  • 30% of the chia seed’s oil is Omega 3 oil. 40% of its oil is Omega 6 oil. This ratio provides the nice balance for anyone looking to supplement Essential Fatty Acids (named as such because they are essential, but our bodies don’t produce them on our own)
  • The chia seed’s substantially dense percentage in alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA) also makes this seed a healthy dietary source of fatty acids. (ALA’s have been found to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and reduce levels of anxiety, stress and cortisol, which left at high levels can tax the adrenal glands, throw other hormones outta whack, contribute to belly fat, and encourage other less-than-awesome physical effects on our bodies)
  • Chia seeds are a complete source of protein. They actually have 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain and also help stabilize blood sugar (Ding, ding! Huge benefit for this girl!)
  • Chia seeds are fabulous colon cleansers, bind to toxins, and actually clear out the digestive tract so that you absorb more nutrients and eliminate waste more efficiently.
  • Chia seeds do not need to be ground to be eaten. They are relatively easy-to-digest seeds (compared with its cousin, the flax seeds, which often have to be ground for folks to digest)
  • Chia seeds can be used as an egg-substitute for the vegan crowd
Whole Foods bulk section chia seeds
photo cred: Whole Foods Market

You can find chia seeds packaged similarly to quinoa in your local grocery store, in the bulk section of natural food stores, or even on Amazon.com.

To get these little guys in your diet can be super duper easy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a scoop to your smoothie – no need to grind! I actually prefer adding the seeds after I finish blending simply for the fun texture … Gentle warning: the seeds develop a gel-like casing after sitting in liquid, which may catch you by surprise if you don’t know it’s coming
  • Sprinkle on your yogurt
  • Whip up some chia seed pudding
  • Add a tablespoon to some water or juice (if you’re a little iffy with textures, this one might not be for you)
  • Add a couple teaspoons to your pancake mix or morning oats
  • Before placing your toast in the oven or toaster oven, spray a little oil or spread a little of your butter-spread on your toast and sprinkle on the chia seeds. The butter spread will keep the chia seeds on the toast; once the bread is toasted, continue on with your usual toppings. *This one is not advised if you’re using a regular toaster; those seeds will likely fall right off!

So, how have you Chia’d today?