Bembu Tips for Your Health & Happiness Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:09:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Worst Processed Foods You Can Eat (and What to Eat Instead) Tue, 25 Apr 2017 06:17:55 +0000 Do you know how much of the food you eat every day is processed? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, over half of the average American’s daily calories comes from highly processed food. All food goes through some form of processing — even vegetables from farms are washed and sorted. The more processing […]

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Do you know how much of the food you eat every day is processed? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, over half of the average American’s daily calories comes from highly processed food. All food goes through some form of processing — even vegetables from farms are washed and sorted. The more processing a food goes through before it gets to you, though, the worse it is to eat. That’s why so many fad diets these days actually encourage cutting out highly processed foods — the foods that go through the most processing in a factory or lab.

These foods, though they often taste great, have very little nutrition, and plenty of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat. There are healthier alternatives for all the dangerous you love to eat. It doesn’t take as much effort to cut highly processed foods from your diet as you think. In some cases, it’s just a matter of swapping one prepared form of a food for another.

Some of the worst processed foods out there are foods you eat on a regular basis.


1. Pickles

Pickles are the perfect burger or sandwich topper, giving your dinner the juicy crunch it needs. While pickles are technically made from cucumbers — a vegetable — they’re not as healthy as you think. To transform a cucumber into a pickle, you have to soak it in a solution called brine. Brine is a mixture of vinegar, spices, and salt … a lot of salt. This is what gives them their delicious, sour flavor. The excess salt in the average pickle might not be worth the taste, though.

There are about 833 milligrams of sodium in one medium-sized pickle (it varies slightly by brand and type). However, this is almost 40 percent of your daily recommended salt intake — in one pickle. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per person per day. Even if you quarter a whole pickle to fit on your sub sandwich, that’s still more sodium than one person needs in a single meal.

What to eat instead: Scoop a small amount of pickle relish onto whatever food you’d normally add a pickle to. It’s not the healthiest condiment you can eat, but it has far less sodium per serving than a whole pickle. A small amount will still give your sandwich the sour, crunchy kick you’re looking for.

breakfast cereal

2. Breakfast cereals

Eating breakfast gives you the energy you need to ace your morning routine — right? Not if you try filling up on breakfast cereal. Though TV ads try to convince you otherwise, breakfast cereals are anything but nutritious. One cup of Corn Flakes has 24 grams of carbohydrates, about 3 grams of which come from sugars. And that’s just what they include on that part of the label. Ingredient lists reveal much more: added sugars.

Added sugars are, as the term implies, sugars added to foods to enhance their flavor. Humans haven’t been eating these kinds of foods for that long. Only within the last decade have scientists started to realize how dangerous these kinds of sugars can be. According to research, eating too many foods with added sugars is bad for your heart. It’s also addicting — weight gain is common in people who eat excessive amounts of added sugar because they just can’t stop eating it.

What to eat instead: If you still need something cold and crunchy, combine raw oats, almond milk, almond butter, and cinnamon and leave them in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. It’s sort of like cereal, but much better for your heart.

TV dinners

3. Frozen TV dinners

A good way to evaluate how much you depend on processed foods for nourishment is to count how many sealed boxes and bags end up in your cart after a grocery shopping trip. Foods in packages are created to last in your freezer and cabinets, but your health never benefits from this much processed junk.

Frozen dinners are prepped, frozen, packaged, and sold to save you time — but their lack of nutrition is appalling. A chicken fettuccini Alfredo dinner from Stouffer’s alone has 570 calories, 27 grams of fat, nearly 900 milligrams of sodium, and 55 grams of carbohydrates. You can’t escape the sauce: it’s poured on top of your entree and frozen without your consent. The majority of these frozen meals are not healthy. They may be convenient, but they won’t leave you feeling satisfied.

What to eat instead: If you are short on time during the week, prepare several meals on Sunday you can “recycle” throughout the rest of the week. Some frozen TV dinners are healthier than others, but in the end, it’s always best to leave them in the grocery aisle.

ice cream

4. Ice cream

It’s the summer treat you crave even when summer’s still months away. It’s also a frozen, cream-based dessert that’s definitely not healthy just because it’s a dairy product. Dairy products in general tend to be higher in fat. This one’s a dessert, high in fat, and has the potential to be extremely addicting.

Saturated fat isn’t quite as bad as experts used to think. It’s not the major cause of heart disease studies once led scientists to believe. Ice cream is a common source of it: you’ll get only about 4 grams of saturated fat — 22% of your daily recommended amount — per 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream, which isn’t bad compared to other foods on this list. However, the same amount of ice cream will also yield 182 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids, which studies suggest should be avoided as much as possible.

What to eat instead: Start with 1/2 cup of frozen yogurt, sans toppings. This might be enough to satisfy your craving for something sweet. If it doesn’t, you can make your own ice cream, which won’t have nearly as much sugar or fat as the stuff you get at the store.

frozen pizza

5. Frozen pizza

Don’t ruin pizza night by shoveling something frozen into your oven. Frozen pizza is one of the most heavily processed foods you can find, peppered not just with cheese and other toppings, but synthetic chemicals as well.

A pepperoni pizza from Tombstone yields 20 grams of fat, 880 milligrams of sodium, and 37 grams of carbs. That’s not what makes this and many other frozen pizzas worst picks for your Italian-style dinner, though. They’re loaded with butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, which research suggests may cause cancer in humans. Though the Food and Drug Administration labels BHA as ‘generally recognized as safe,’ that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be removed from that food list anytime soon.

What to eat instead: Create your own mini pizzas using English muffins, fresh mozzarella, and homemade sauce. They won’t contain as many harmful chemicals, and they’re great for portion control due to their small size.

salad dressing

6. Bottled salad dressing

You probably don’t think about it, but it only takes 10 seconds to ruin a perfectly healthy salad. The health benefits you get from a few servings of spinach and other veggies don’t count when they’re covered in saturated fat.

Bottled ranch salad dressing is a mixture of mayonnaise, buttermilk, and a number of ingredients to add flavor. Processed dressing also contains preservatives, artificial colorings, and enhanced flavorings to make it last longer. One tablespoon comes out to over 7 grams of fat — which doesn’t seem like a lot, until you realize a tablespoon is the size of the tip of your thumb. You dump a whole lot more than that onto your side salad, and you know it.

What to eat instead: Stay away from creamy bottled dressings like french and ranch. You can also make your own basic, light vinaigrette dressing with no more than four ingredients from your kitchen.

microwave popcorn

7. Microwave popcorn

It’s family movie night, which means you’d better get that popcorn popping ASAP. Be careful which kind you choose, though — the preparation determines how dangerous it is to eat.

Popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat — if you air pop it from kernels yourself, however. Microwave popcorn, when heated, has been shown to release potentially harmful chemicals into the air. Plus, none of the butter and salt that comes in that bag is really worth the risk. Air-popped corn is low in calories and high in fiber — nearly 4 grams per 3 cup serving, in fact. Sprinkling a little salt on top won’t hurt, but keep the melted butter to a minimum.

chinese food

8. Chinese food

Fun fact: American Chinese food isn’t anything like what people eat in China. That doesn’t stop us from ordering more fried rice and crab rangoon than our stomachs can hold.

When it comes to processed food, Chinese takeout is most infamous for its monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG. Mayo Clinic notes that, like BHA, MSG is classified as a ‘generally recognized as safe’ food. However, it can cause headaches, chest pain, and a number of other symptoms in some people. Plus, you don’t just order Chinese takeout and have it in one sitting. There’s a lot of food in those containers. Too much of anything is bad for you whether you’re normally sensitive to MSG or not.

What to eat instead: If orange chicken is your takeout obsession, you can easily make your own at home. There are a number of knockoff recipes from popular Chinese restaurants across the United States — no MSG required.

macaroni and cheese

9. Macaroni and cheese

They say the longer a food item’s ingredients list, and the harder those ingredients are to pronounce, the more dangerous it is to eat. That may not be the case for all foods, but it’s definitely the case for many brands of macaroni and cheese.

The ingredients list on a Kraft Easy Mac container is alarmingly long. A variety of oils, milk fats, syrups, and salt forms to create a bowl of refined-flour noodles topped with a powder that barely contains any dairy at all (yet they still call it cheese). At least when you make mac and cheese for yourself, your sauce (hopefully) contains real cheese. At over 500 milligrams of sodium and 42 grams of carbohydrates per serving, this product has very little means of redeeming itself in the eyes of macaroni lovers everywhere.

What to eat instead: If you absolutely have to have macaroni and cheese, your best bet is to start with processed noodles and make your own cheese sauce. It’s not the healthiest dinner you’ll ever have, but it’s an improvement.

maple syrup

10. Bottled maple syrup

Go ahead, drown those waffles in syrup — if you want to make yourself sick.

By itself, syrup from maple trees is made purely of sugar. Manufacturers add all kinds of chemicals, including different forms of sugar, to be able to sell it in stores and make it easier to store. Bottled maple syrup weights in at 14 grams of sugar per tablespoon, and plenty of added fructose. According to research, eating large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, plentiful in processed maple syrup, can lead to metabolic problems and obesity, even if you’re not constantly overeating.

What to eat instead: Try using a small amount of honey in place of processed syrup for a similar yet healthier texture and taste.

potato chips

11. Potato chips

Potato chips are just as bad for you as french fries. They’re fried in oil, coated in sodium, and grossly lacking in the amount of protein and fiber you need to feel full after s snack.

The real problem with potato chips is that they don’t offer you anything of value no matter how many you eat. An 8 ounce bag of potato chips gives you 1,217 calories — over half the average person’s daily intake — 120 grams of carbohydrates, and almost 80 total grams of fat. One thousand calories of potato chips won’t give you the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients 1,000 calories of real food will. It’s not a substitute. It’s tempting to eat as many as you can tolerate at once, but you’re going to end up eating thousands of empty calories per day unnecessarily.

What to eat instead: Slice a potato as thin as you can, lay the slices on top of foil on a baking sheet, and slide them into the oven. It’s not quite the same, but there’s no temptation to devour an entire bag of chips in one sitting.

What to eat instead: 

canned fruit

12. Canned fruit

Canned fruit is appealing for several reasons. One: you can store it for much longer than you can store fresh fruit. Two: no pesky food prep required. Just open the can, grab a fork, and dig in.

However, advantages like these don’t come consequence-free. A single 1 cup serving of canned peaches has 39 grams of sugar. It has some protein and fiber as well, but not an amount significant enough to count toward your daily needs. Fruits canned in heavy syrup fall prety to the same hazards as bottled maple syrups. They’re loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other additives you just don’t need in your body.

What to eat instead: Whole fruit is the best alternative to canned fruit. Convenience isn’t really that great of an excuse, since you can eat some fruits, like apples, without any slicing or peeling beforehand. There are some fruits, like watermelon, you can slice up and keep in the fridge for several days before it spoils. Seal prepared fruit in an airtight container to make it last longer.

It’s hard to quit processed foods for good. Start by cutting back on the junk foods you eat most often and go from there. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel without so many food additives and excess nutrients hanging around in your body.

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A Guide To Good & Bad Oils (Which Should You Choose & When?) Wed, 19 Apr 2017 01:20:12 +0000 Whether you’re frying a piece of fish, drizzling it on a salad, or using it as a binding agent when baking, oil has a number of uses. While all oils make food taste great, the reality is, some oils are healthy and some are not. We take an in-depth look at some of the best […]

The post A Guide To Good & Bad Oils (Which Should You Choose & When?) appeared first on Bembu.

Whether you’re frying a piece of fish, drizzling it on a salad, or using it as a binding agent when baking, oil has a number of uses. While all oils make food taste great, the reality is, some oils are healthy and some are not. We take an in-depth look at some of the best options, and explain why some are not such great choices for your health!

Don't be afraid of oil, but make sure you're choosing the right ones...


What Is Oil?

The dictionary definition of edible oils goes something along the lines of: ‘a greasy hydrocarbon liquid substance, formed by natural resources or the breakdown of fats’. We take a look at some of the best, and worst, options for your health.

‘Good’ & ‘Bad’ Oils

We certainly don’t like to dis fat anymore in the health world, but there are definitely good fats and, well, not so good fats, to put it politely. There are many cooking and edible oils on the market, and, for many years, they were considered detrimental to weight loss. That was when fat-free everything took over the supermarket shelves when fats were considered the enemy. Lots has changed in the nutrition world since then, and, while there are unhealthy oils that are commonly used, there are also oils that come with a number of health benefits, including aiding weight loss!

cooking oil

Coconut Oil

This is the go-to oil that every health conscious person knows and loves. Touted as a weight loss ingredient, a metabolism booster, a shampoo and even a toothpaste, it is definitely flying off the grocery shelves around the world. This ‘health fad’, as it was called a few years ago, hasn’t disappeared yet and probably won’t because it really is a winner on all fronts – it’s versatile, healthy, yummy and easy to use. Like any food, you should not overconsume it, but it should definitely have a place in your pantry!

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 862
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

coconut oil

What’s So Great About Coconut Oil?

Where to begin… Lots of research has gone into this white, or, translucent when fully melted, oil recently. Some studies have found it could potentially help people lose weight because of its unique combination of fatty acids that boost metabolism, burn calories and keep you feeling fuller for longer. A study out of the University of Geneva found men who ate one to two tablespoons of medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) before meals increased energy expenditure by 5%, losing about 120 calories per day. Another two-week study found healthy men who ate a diet high in MCFAs immediately ate 256 fewer calories per day.

How To Use It

As studies have shown, coconut oil can be a beneficial ingredient in meals to keep you fuller for longer. But it also has some other benefits. Coconut oil can also be used as a hair conditioner or treatment. And, in the popular Ayurvedic tradition of oil pulling. That involves swishing the oil around your mouth when you first wake up in the morning for 10 to 20 minutes. The fats in the oil mix with the biofilm and other substances in your mouth, cleansing oral cavities and trapping bacteria. You then spit it out and rinse your mouth. Sesame oil and ghee were traditionally used in Ayurvedic culture for oil pulling, and today, people also substitute with sunflower oil or olive oil. However, a study from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland found coconut oil to be the best option because of its effectiveness in preventing Streptococcus Mutans from binding to the enamel and damaging it.


Avocado Oil

If you’re not on the avocado bandwagon yet, you should jump on it quick smart! This green fruit packs a seriously powerful nutritional punch, brimming with healthy fats, important vitamins and essential minerals. If you’re not a fan of dealing with the squishy flesh, however, you can reap the benefits from the oil.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

avocado oil

What’s So Good About Avocado Oil?

There are so many good things about avocado oil, it needs its own post to cover them all. Oh wait, we have one of those already! To summarize, it can potentially lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce arthritic symptoms and boost nutrient absorption, to name just a few of its benefits.

Nearly 70% of avocado oil consists of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. That’s where it gets its cardiovascular disease fighting powers. Oleic acid has been proven to help lower high blood pressure and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. At the same time, it can increase high-density lipoprotein, or, ‘good’ cholesterol. Moving onto nutrient absorption, and one study found the consumption of avocado or avocado oil increased the absorption of carotenoids from salad. That’s because the salad vegetables need lipids to help the body absorb their goodness. The salad on its own is low in lipids, so by adding avocado oil as a lipid, nutrient absorption was significantly increased.

How To Use It

The best way to use avocado oil is by simply drizzling it on fresh salads. However, you can also get creative and turn it into a dressing, by adding vinegar, such as apple cider or coconut, as well as your choice of herbs and maybe a little lemon juice and maple syrup. Because it has a high heating point, you can also use it to shallow fry foods and marinade food in before cooking it.


Olive Oil

Moving away from the newer healthy oil fads, and this ancient Mediterranean food staple is still one of the best options to keep in your pantry. It is full of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants and is proven to reduce the risk of a number of diseases and conditions. In fact, this golden liquid is an important and widely consumed food in some of the world’s healthiest populations.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884g
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

olive oil

What’s So Good About Olive Oil?

The monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil are considered by modern scientists as healthy, essential fats. By increasing the amount of monounsaturated fats in your diet and minimizing saturated and trans fats, you may help lower the risk of heart disease. One of many similarly conclusive studies found monounsaturated fats may regulate blood clotting and improve insulin levels, which is particularly beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes. According to research, people who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, suffer far less from chronic inflammatory-related diseases, according to research.

How To Use It

Olive oil is very versatile and can be used in simple and more complicated ways. You can simply drizzle it on salad, along with apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar or balsamic vinegar, or you can use it as a dressing ingredient if you’re making your own. You can also substitute butter with olive oil in sweet recipes, make your own homemade pesto or other dips, and, of course, use it to shallow fry foods.

olive oil pesto

Macadamia Oil

The only thing you won’t like about macadamia nut oils is the price tag! The health benefits and taste, on the other hand, will be very satisfactory. Macadamia oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and has beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratios.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 1412
Total Fat – 159g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg

macadamia oil

What’s So Good About Macadamia Oil?

Macadamia oil actually has more monounsaturated fat that olive oil, which is traditionally known for it. More specifically, it contains a large reading of the monounsaturated fat oleic acid, which, as mentioned above, has been proven to help lower high blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol. Macadamia oil also has a good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which play a role in the prevention of arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

How To Use It

Again, this is a good salad drizzle option, but, because of its subtle nutty taste, it can also be a good binding ingredient when baking, as a substitute for butter or cheap vegetable oils. You can try it in pancake batter, or healthy nut cookie recipes, for example.

nut oil

Argan Oil

This golden oil is most notably known for its skin and hair health benefits, applied topically. But its powerful nutrients are actually extremely beneficial for your health from the inside out! It has impressive levels of vitamin E, A and F, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals. Benefits range from reducing insulin resistance to fighting cardiovascular disease.

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 884g
Total Fat – 100g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 0g
Sodium – 0mg


What’s So Great About Argan Oil?

As far as health benefits go, argan oil is right up there with the healthiest oils on the planet. The problem with having it as a regular kitchen staple is its price tag and limited availability on supermarket shelves as an edible oil. However, if you use it sparingly as a drizzle for salad every now and then, it’s a great option for your pantry. Studies have shown argan oil may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Consuming the ‘liquid gold’ may protect against atherosclerosis and cancer, because of its various biological mechanisms. It helps regulate blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure because of its unsaturated fatty acids and abundance of nutrients, and it can even improve blood circulation.

How To Use It

As mentioned, you probably don’t want to go overboard with your use of argan oil, largely because of the cost involved. It is delicious and beneficial to use drizzled on salad, or as a dip for bread. You can also use it in its more known and popular form as a moisturizer or hair treatment. However, in that case, you want to go for the cosmetic version, not the culinary version. Be careful, however, not to be tricked by marketing. Make sure what you are buying is actually pure argan oil, or a quality concoction made with other healthy natural ingredients.

argan oil

Oils To Avoid

Some of the best oils for deep frying are the worst oils for your health. As a general rule, avoid cheap vegetable oils, like canola, corn and soy. Cooking with these vegetable oils at a high temperature creates oxidized cholesterol, which has been linked directly to vascular disease. There are also potential risks associated with certain herbicides used on many US crops. Roundup, for example, is used in many crops that are grown to produce vegetable oils. The herbicide has the potential to cause adverse effects on human health, according to research. One animal study found GMO corn sprayed with roundup caused cancerous tumors in rats, potentially resulting from the toxic effects of the herbicide, or the genetic modification. The study was retracted, but then republished in a different journal. The other thing to be aware of with these cheap vegetable oils is their ratio of omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. Most Western diets include the consumption of far too much omega-6 fatty acid and not enough omega-3, and by consuming too much cheap vegetable oil, you can increase that negative ratio.

vegetable oil

Take Home Message

There are plenty of healthy oils to choose from. Some, as mentioned above, are rather expensive for everyday use. Having said that, you shouldn’t be gulping cup fulls of oil daily anyway, in which case, a bottle should last you a month or two if you’re using it as a salad drizzle, for example, or using a tablespoon to shallow fry food. Certain healthy oils are packed full of healthy fatty acids, essential minerals and vitamins, and come with some disease-boosting, anti-inflammatory health benefits. You definitely shouldn’t be afraid of oil!

The post A Guide To Good & Bad Oils (Which Should You Choose & When?) appeared first on Bembu.

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Top 37 Must-Try Healthy Breakfast Foods (+ Easy Recipes) Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:13:43 +0000 ‘Oatmeal and cereals are NOT  healthy breakfast foods?’ gasped Magda, her eyes nearly popping out of her head. ‘Then should the audience stick with toast and margarine? Or fruit smoothies? Or granola bars?’ the radio host asked. If you’ve read my previous article about which breakfast foods to avoid, you know the answers to these […]

The post Top 37 Must-Try Healthy Breakfast Foods (+ Easy Recipes) appeared first on Bembu.

‘Oatmeal and cereals are NOT  healthy breakfast foods?’ gasped Magda, her eyes nearly popping out of her head. ‘Then should the audience stick with toast and margarine? Or fruit smoothies? Or granola bars?’ the radio host asked.

If you’ve read my previous article about which breakfast foods to avoid, you know the answers to these questions.

But… But… What’s left to eat then?’ Magda asked (secretly hating my guts).

If, like Magda, you’re wondering the same thing, you’ll be surprised at how many healthy breakfast foods you can try. And no, these don’t require you to become (or hire) a chef. Nor will you need to spend hours in the kitchen to get a meal that will disappear as soon as it’s ready. Bonus: There’s something for everyone.

Top 37 Must-Try Healthy Breakfast Foods


1. Cold Cereal

Crunchy, healthy cereals in a bowl of cold milk – that’s my sister’s dream come true. If you’re a huge cereal lover like her and adopted a real food diet, cereals are probably high on the list of breakfast foods you miss. But thanks to this easy peasy recipe, you’ll be able to enjoy cereals again.

Suggested modifications:

2. Honey Bunches of Paleo Cereal

Are you a honey lover? How about crunchy cereals that taste like honey? In a bowl of cold, creamy coconut milk? Sounds like a treat, right? The best part is that all these honey bunches are absolutely free from unhealthy additives.

Suggested modifications:

  • Not a fan of sunflower seeds? Just use pine nuts, pumpkin seeds or any other nuts such as almonds and cashew nuts.
  • For a chocolate version, add about 1/3 cup of raw, organic cocoa powder when mixing your ingredients.

Photo: Simply Taylor

3. Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal

Feel like a trip down memory lane? Then add these puffs to your list – the recipe calls for sunflower seed butter but, as indicated, you can also use any nut butter you fancy. My only beef with this recipe is that it lists baking powder in the ingredient list.

The issue with baking powder is that it contains corn starch which, even in tiny amounts, can cause issues for people with autoimmune conditions. Plus, many brands contain aluminum which can worsen autoimmune flares.

Suggested modification:

  • Instead of baking powder, use baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar instead. As a rule of thumb, for every teaspoon of baking powder, use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. So, since this recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, use 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda plus 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

4. Paleo Porridge

Nope, that’s not some weird egg mix or coconut flour mixed in coconut milk. This porridge will actually count towards your daily vegetable portion! Just check it out to see what I mean. And make sure to watch the video below – proper baking will ensure that you don’t end up with a mush.

Suggested modification:

  • If I were to make this porridge, I’d add ground beef or chicken instead of the peptides. I have nothing against peptides – I just need my food to have some texture.

5. Paleo Chocolate Puffs

Paleo cocoa puffs. Yep, you heard that right! And they’re gluten-free! You can now enjoy chocolaty cereal without fearing that your blood sugar levels will go haywire. This is a must try breakfast recipe for all chocolate lovers.

 Suggested modifications:

  • Can’t tolerate almonds? Use coconut flakes instead.
  • If you have some dried berries on hand, chop them finely and add to the ground almonds when making the dough.



Eggs are probably the easiest healthy breakfast foods ever. But they can get monotonous fast. Plus, there are days when you just don’t want to cook anything, right? Instead of starving yourself until lunch (or, worse, buying a donut on your way to work), why not make granola bars in advance and store them in an airtight container? They’re the perfect, healthy grab and go food.

6. Nut-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola

If you decide to use canned pumpkin puree, make sure that it is free from chemical additives.

Suggested modification:

  • Got some extra time? Why not make your own pumpkin puree? To do so, simply chop and peel a piece of pumpkin and steam it. Allow the pumpkin to cool down before blending it. Simple, right?

7. Apricot Granola

Apricots are one of my favorite fruits. Unfortunately, many dried versions contain lots of chemical food preservatives that can cause nasty symptoms like itching or swelling. If you can’t find any chemical-free apricot, you can add dates.

Suggested modification:

  • Why not try a plain granola bar and accompany it with a piece of fresh fruit?

8. Grain-Free Coconut Crunch Mango Granola

No flaxseed meal on hand? Use almond meal or coconut flour instead.



Have you ever felt a craving for healthy pancakes or waffles but just couldn’t mix up something that met your expectations? For a long time, pancakes were off the menu for me. That is until I came across the following recipes. Try them out and let me know which one is your favorite. I also made sure to include some savory pancakes since there are people (like me) who aren’t fans of sweet healthy breakfast foods.

9. Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes

We all need at least one staple pancake recipe that’s easy to whip in a jiffy. And will keep you energized the whole morning. Well, this is my go-to recipe when I don’t feel like having savory eggs for breakfast.

10. Carrot Cake Pancakes

Whether you have guests over or just want to have dessert for breakfast, these carrot cake inspired pancakes might just do the trick. Plus, they’re an easy way to get some veggies in first thing in the morning. And there’s no need to add ‘lots of maple syrup’ – doing so might zap your energy levels.

Suggested modifications:

  • Skip the baking powder and use an extra 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda plus 3/4 teaspoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
  • Instead of canned coconut milk, make a big batch of homemade coconut milk keep it in the freezer for when you’ll need it.

11. Flourless Banana Pancakes

Allergic to nuts? Then this nut-free recipe will make your day. But be forewarned: although they’re yummy, these pancakes are not very fluffy. Top with some fruits of your choice if desired.

Suggested modifications:

  • Skip the baking powder altogether. Or add 1/16 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • There’s no need to add maple syrup – the bananas will sweeten things up nicely on their own.
  • If you can tolerate coconut, add some coconut flakes to the eggs before cooking.

Photo: The Spunky Coconut

12. Curry Sweet Potato Pancakes

Pair these sweet potato pancakes with some grilled chicken or sautéed beef and you’ve got yourself a very fulfilling breakfast.

Suggested modifications:

  • There’s no need to use any fancy salt – simply use sea salt and add some dried herbs like thyme, parsley and marjoram to the mix before cooking.
  • Don’t have any curry powder on hand? Just mix some cardamom powder with turmeric powder. Or leave out the spices for a plain version of these pancakes.

13. Belgian Waffles

These waffles are tasty and fluffy. And they’re healthy! Who could ask for more? Well, me – the only way I’d eat these waffles were if they were stevia-free. You see, I’m not a fan of stevia liquid since stevia gets its sweet taste from steviol glycosides which have a hormone structure. And when you have an autoimmune disease, hormones can have a dramatic impact on disease progression.

Suggested modifications:

  • You probably guessed it: instead of using baking powder, try using 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Use organic, unbleached, raw sugar instead of stevia liquid if you really want the waffles to taste sweet. Otherwise, just pair them up with some mixed berries.

14. Blueberry and Almond Butter Waffles

These waffles alone are delicious, but throwing blueberries in the mix puts this recipe over the top! And the best thing is that this a-ma-zing healthy breakfast food can be ready in 15 minutes!

Photo: girlmeetspaleo

15. Grain-Free Buffalo Chicken Waffles

If you don’t have any cooked chicken on hand (or don’t want to get sauce all over your waffle iron pan), follow the recipe but don’t add the hot sauce, chicken (obviously) and green onions to your batter. While the waffles are cooking, sauté the onions in some butter, add some garlic and sauté until golden brown before throwing in the chicken. Once the chicken is golden, add in the hot sauce. Serve the plain waffles with the chicken on a bed of baby greens.

16. Chipotle and Chicken Waffle Sliders

Who said waffles have to be sweet? I totally dig this recipe which is why I saved the best for last. The one thing I wouldn’t use is the mayonnaise. Not for health reasons but because it might tone down the avocado’s taste.



Eggs are an almost perfect healthy breakfast food in SO many ways! But omelets, scrambled eggs and hard-boiled eggs get old. Fast. If you feel like having a delicious and different egg-based breakfast, this list is for you.

17. Pizza Egg Muffins

Do you know what attracted me to this recipe? The fact that ‘even the cat thought they smelled good’. A recipe that makes me chuckle is worth checking out!

18. Mini Quiche

Basically, a quiche is an omelet with a pie crust. These mini quiches are the perfect foods when you don’t really feel like having a super heavy breakfast. But don’t get me wrong – they will keep you full!

19. Burrito

Got leftover taco meat? Then you really should try these breakfast burritos. For some added crunch and creaminess, top with some chopped English cucumber and a few avocado slices.

Photo: Stupid Easy Paleo

20. Chicken and Sweet Potato Frittata

This sweet potato frittata is perfect for those of you who need to start the with a carb boost. And the best part is that you get your greens, protein, healthy fats and whole carbs in a single dish.

21. Vegetable Loaf Cake

Nope, that’s not the ‘sweet’ and ‘dessert’ kind of cake you’re probably expecting. This loaf is actually packed with vegetables and is like a very thick frittata.

Suggested modification:

  • Instead of using half teaspoon of baking powder, try using 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda plus 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

22. Baked Tomato & Egg

Instead of lining the baking sheet with aluminum foil, simply grease the sheet with some coconut oil or butter.

23. Baked Eggs and Avocado

What goes together like peanut butter and jelly? (Besides PB & J, of course.) Eggs and avocado, of course! I have to admit that my version is way simpler (but probably not as tasty). I simply cut an avocado in half, take out the pit and season it with some salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Then I add a sliced egg in the pit. And my healthy breakfast food is ready to eat.



You don’t have to give up bread just because you care for your health and decided not to eat traditional wheat-based breads anymore. To prove my point, here’s a list of scrumptious, healthy breads you can use for toasts, sandwiches, or just to enjoy on their own.

24. Avocado Toast

A slice of avocado on a piece of toast – what’s so special about this? I mean, it’s like everyone is going on and on about avocado toasts online. Well, think of a buttered toast. Now think of a heftier, silkier and even creamier version of a buttered toast – that’s what an avocado toast is all about. In this recipe, the traditional wheat toast is replaced by a butternut flatbread.

25. Paleo French Toast

The ingredients list in this recipe calls for nothing but real wholesome ingredients. Coconut flour is used instead of wheat so the end-product will be slightly denser than regular French toast.

26. Broccoli Toast

This colorful toast calls for five ingredients: eggs, broccoli, almond meal and ground linseed. The broccoli taste is quite mild so feel free to jazz up your toasts with some peanut butter and banana slices.

Photo: Against All Grain

27. Grain-Free White Bread

This bread looks exactly like the kind I had growing up. But I must admit that the texture is more like that of a cake.

The only real issue I had with this cake-bread is that the middle collapsed a few minutes after I took the bread out of the oven. Turns out my loaf pan was too large. And according to the site’s moderator, other reasons that could cause this to happen is if you used baking powder instead of baking soda or if your baking soda has expired. Over-mixing the egg whites will also cause the middle to collapse.

This being said, this bread lives for its toppings so make sure to try your favorites.

28. Sandwich Bread

This recipe really open the doors for a lot of gourmet sandwiches. For instance, picture some nice grass-fed beef slices topped with some mango salsa, and some grilled veggies between two slices of this bread. Mouth-watering, right? Or how about a grilled cheese sandwich if you tolerate dairy products?

29. Garlic Bread

This bread tastes delicious but it just doesn’t come close to what my mum used to make. So why would I even list this recipe? Simple: because you can tweak it.

Follow the recipe to a T. While the bread is baking, add (lots of) grass-fed butter, some cilantro and some garlic (depends on your taste preferences) to a blender; blend well until you get a smooth paste. Once the bread has cooled down, slice it and spread a generous amount of this garlic-butter paste on each slice. Top with some real cheese if desired before grilling for two to three minutes or until the bread is golden.

30. Raisin Bread

Sweet potatoes, coconut flour, eggs, butter, and raisins – you can’t really go wrong with these ingredients, right? If you feel like having something crunchier, just add some roughly chopped almonds to the dough.



One of the first things you see when you walk in most coffee shops are huge, bakery-style pastries, muffins and biscuits. While these are often mouth-watering, most of these baked goods can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and cause you to crash within a few hours. So instead of caving in and ordering an unhealthy option, why not satisfy your cravings with one of the following recipes? Your body will thank you!

But just keep in mind that although the following recipes call for healthy ingredients, they are treats – eating them daily is a bad idea.

31. Coffee Crumb Muffins

Feel like having a breakfast cake that has a crumbly sweet cinnamon infused topping on top? Then look no further – these coffee crumb cake muffins will start your day with a bang of flavor. The best part is that these muffins are naturally sweet and contain lots of healthy fats from coconut flour, almond flour and grass-fed butter. In other words, your blood sugar won’t go on a roller-coaster and you’ll feel energized the whole morning.

32. Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Muffins

Naturally rich in beta-carotene, these tangy and colorful carrot muffins will brighten up any morning with their rich and fluffy texture. And if you’re not a coconut lover; don’t worry: the almond flour, ginger, and cinnamon balance out the taste of the shredded coconut.

But again, remember that, like all healthy baked goods, these muffins are to be consumed in moderation. Firstly, that’s because flour skews our ability to perceive how much food we are eating. It is physically easier to chew and swallow (and thus eat more of) any flour or flour substitute compared to the whole food source of that flour.

Secondly, almond flour is very rich in omega-6 fatty acids which are pro-inflammatory. This is one of the reasons why nuts are excluded on the autoimmune paleo diet. However, should you choose to eat baked goods containing almond flour, just make sure to get enough anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from seafood.

Photo: Flavour & Savour

33. Chunky Monkey Muffins

Every single bite of this muffin is sheer grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free pleasure. And the banana, almond butter, dates and cocoa combo is delightful. Serve this healthy breakfast food and you’ll be surprised at how fast they disappear!

34. Onion Biscuits

Okay, these may not actually be a breakfast food per se. But let’s say you felt like having some hot soup or bone broth in the morning, wouldn’t some crunchy biscuits be the perfect accompaniment? Just a heads-up though: make sure to use hard butter or ghee cut into small pieces. If you use melted butter or ghee, your batter may remain very soft.

35. Grain-Free Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

Don’t like onions? Then try these Irish soda bread biscuits. These quick breads, traditionally used in various cuisines, contain baking soda instead of yeast as well as buttermilk. The acidity of the buttermilk is what reacts with the baking soda to help the bread rise – you’ll see nice bubbles as you mix the ingredients. So, if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, just use coconut milk with lemon juice, as indicated in the recipe.

Suggested modification:

  • There’s no need to add baking powder – simply add an extra 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda plus 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

Photo: Food Faith Fitness

36. Paleo Lemon Bars

A soft and slightly chewy topping made from lemon juice, coconut flour, eggs and honey on a oh-so-crunchy honey-coconut flour crust… This recipe is number one on my (very long and getting longer) ‘To Bake’ list. Make sure to follow the recipe to a T unless you want some lemon crumble.

37. Paleo Almond Butter Cup Donuts

I have yet to eat a Paleo donut that lives up to expectations. But hey, I know this list wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t at least one wheat-free donut recipe.

Suggested modification:

  • Instead of baking powder, use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

What are your favorite healthy breakfast foods? Share in the comments below.

The post Top 37 Must-Try Healthy Breakfast Foods (+ Easy Recipes) appeared first on Bembu.

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25 Indulgent Dairy-Free Recipes You Need To Try Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:18:24 +0000 Whether you’re one of the estimated 30-50 million Americans who suffers from lactose intolerance or you’re trying to avoid dairy as a way to improve your overall health, the following 25 indulgent dairy-free recipes will make you look forward to meal time! Why Would Someone Ditch Dairy? Along with better digestive health, ditching dairy has […]

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Whether you’re one of the estimated 30-50 million Americans who suffers from lactose intolerance or you’re trying to avoid dairy as a way to improve your overall health, the following 25 indulgent dairy-free recipes will make you look forward to meal time!

Whether you're lactose intolerant or you're avoiding dairy to improve your health, these dairy-free recipes will make you look forward to meal time!

Why Would Someone Ditch Dairy?

Along with better digestive health, ditching dairy has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as improved sinuses, clearer skin, and boosted energy levels. Some studies even show going dairy-free can strengthen your bones. I know that goes against everything you probably learned as a young child since milk is known as a great source of calcium. But according to a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers who followed more than 100,000 people in Sweden over a period of 20 to 30 years found milk drinkers actually suffered more overall bone fractures and hip fractures. This isn’t the only study to reach these findings.

What Is Dairy Exactly?

By definition, dairy products are foods and drinks that are made from the milk of mammals, such as cows and goats. Popular dairy products include milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter.

So what about eggs?

For some reason, people love to clump eggs into the “dairy” category. However, eggs are not a dairy product and can most definitely be included in a dairy-free diet. That’s great news since eggs are a wonderful source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients that benefit the body.


Dairy-Free Breakfast Recipes

1) Healthy Yogurt and Granola Parfait – As I just mentioned, yogurt is usually a no-go when you’re eating dairy-free. But, just like how there are dairy-free milk options, there are also dairy-free yogurt options. A few of them include soy yogurt, almond yogurt, and coconut yogurt. In this recipe, the creator layers coconut yogurt between fruit, hemp seeds, and chia seeds! It takes just minutes to throw together and is an easy grab-and-go breakfast.

2) Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats Overnight oats are extremely easy to prepare, you can eat them on the go, and they’re loaded with healthy ingredients. To make your own, all you have to do is fill a Mason jar with oats, liquid, some add-ins, and toppings. Pop it in the refrigerator overnight and the flavors will fuse together by the morning. No cooking required. This particular recipe is loaded with protein and fiber that will help keep you feeling full for longer. Plus, using either almond or coconut milk keeps this recipe dairy-free approved!

Photo By: LeelaLicious

3) Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins Are you someone who enjoys baked goods for breakfast? If so, these cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins are a must-try. They’re bursting with flavor and are extremely moist, thanks to the coconut oil and pumpkin puree. If you’re watching your sugar intake, you can always skip the outer coating of cinnamon sugar!

4) Banana Muffins These banana muffins are dairy-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free. Bananas and coconut flour add the bulk, chia seeds act as the binder, and several other ingredients (like honey, vanilla, and cinnamon) create a robust flavor.

5) Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Pancakes No matter what age you are, pancakes are always a fun breakfast food. Since they’re typically filled with gluten-laden flour, milk, and butter, it’s pretty fair to say that pancakes can make your taste buds want to do a little dance. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your waistline. But with a few simple ingredient swaps, pancakes are actually easy to healthify. Take this gluten-free and dairy-free recipe for example. Using bananas, oat flour, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a few other ingredients, a small stack of these pancakes is actually a guilt-free breakfast!

6) 3-Ingredient No-Bake Cereal Bars Are your mornings typically too hectic to enjoy a sit-down breakfast with the family? No worries! Whip up a batch of these no-bake cereal bars on Sunday evening so you have a nourishing on-the-go option during the work week. With just three ingredients — a cereal of your choice, peanut butter, and a liquid sweetener of your choice — it doesn’t get any easier than this!

7) No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Energy Bites Cranberries, walnuts, oats, coconut shreds, and flaxseed are all held together by almond butter and pure maple syrup. Just roll the ingredients into little balls, pop them in the fridge to set, and enjoy them on the go. Each bite offers a punch of protein, vitamins, minerals, and craveable flavor.

Photo By: Beaming Baker

8) Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt Yogurt is a wonderful breakfast or snack option since it’s loaded with live cultures, AKA probiotics, that benefit the gut. Did you know that researchers link the gut to nearly every function in the human body?

9) Dairy-Free Frittata With Spinach and Tomatoes Often times, frittatas are made with some dairy to create that light and fluffy texture. But it’s really not necessary. This recipe uses eggs, coconut milk, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and some type of meat (if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet then just leave the meat out). Pop your mixture in the oven for a few minutes and dig in.

10) Green Vegan Protein Smoothie Green smoothies are loaded with vitamins and minerals that support overall health. When you throw some plant-based protein into the mix, even better! This recipe calls for a variety of superfoods — spinach, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almond butter, and banana. Plus, keeping with the dairy-free theme, the creator used unsweetened almond milk rather than lactose-filled cow’s milk. A few dates add natural sweetness to the drink, but if you need more you can always squeeze in a little bit of raw honey.

Photo By: Root And Revel

Dairy-Free Lunch/Dinner Recipes

11) Cauliflower Fettuccine “Alfredo” This super light vegan alfredo pasta sauce is made with cooked cauliflower, olive oil, and spices! A little nutritional yeast gives it a nice cheesy flavor. It’s a win on flavor and win on texture. If you don’t want to serve it over pasta, pour it over a bed of rice or use it as a veggie dip.

12) Dairy-Free Mac N Cheese It is possible to ditch dairy and indulge in mac n cheese, you just have to get creative. The “cheese” sauce in this recipe freezes well so you can easily double the recipe and place half in a freezer-safe container. Just heat it up when you’re ready to dig in again.

13) Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Potatoes, carrots, onions, cashews, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast aren’t typical “grilled cheese” ingredients, but the end result actually tastes a lot like your childhood favorite grilled cheese sandwich.

Photo By: Vegan Yumminess

14) Mushroom and Kale Lasagna Cashews are used as the base of a creamy sauce that will make you totally forget about the cheese in traditional lasagna. With only 30 minutes to prep and another 30 minutes to bake, it’s definitely worth a try.

15) Avocado Quesadillas Cheese quesadillas are amazing. Hands down. But so are avocado quesadillas. Along with the amazing taste, this Mexican-inspired meal is actually quite healthy. Avocados are filled with healthy fats and proteins that nourish the body in more ways than one.

16) Dairy-Free Pesto While pesto isn’t usually viewed as a “dairy food,” many recipes do call for parmesan cheese. While dairy pesto is great, it really doesn’t need the cheese to please your palate. This recipe celebrates simplicity with cilantro (you can also use basil), olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper. Once you whip up a bowl of this delicious pesto, use it as a dip, spread, pasta sauce, or dressing.

Photo By: The Flexible Chef

Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes

17) Raw Chocolate Cake Often times, rich and indulgent cakes include full-fat milk and butter. Of course, I can’t forget the frosting, which usually has, even more, milk or cream and butter. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and this cake proves it! One bite of this Raw Chocolate Cake by the famous Jamie Oliver and you may be fooled into thinking it’s the real deal. Sweetened with Medjool dates, honey, and raw cacao, it’s super sweet without using any refined sugar. For the frosting, coconut oil, agave, honey, and more cacao are put on display.

18) Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake Making a dairy-free milkshake is way easier than you may even realize. All you have to do is swap out the regular cow’s milk for a nut milk. In this recipe, the creator used almond milk, but you can use hazelnut milk, coconut milk, or even rice milk if you prefer. Since many processed chocolate products do contain dairy, this recipe uses cocoa powder.

19) Healthier Dairy-Free Cheesecake This recipe is a lightened-up version of traditional cheesecake with a third of the calories and sugar … and no dairy. It combines dairy-free cream cheese with coconut yogurt, vanilla extract, a sweetener, lemon juice, and a little cornstarch. You will have to bake this one, but it’s still super simple to whip up!

Photo By: Chocolate Covered Katie

20) Vegan Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake This recipe is perfect during Fall and the colder winter months. Something about the combination of pumpkin and cinnamon just makes this healthier dairy-free cheesecake taste like comfort.

21) Yellow Cake Donuts I’m not going to sugar coat this – there is a lot of sugar in this recipe. While donuts aren’t something you’ll want to include in your daily diet, they’re certainly a fun treat from time-to-time. If you’re looking for a dairy-free version of your favorite yellow cake donut then this recipe is perfect for you. Rather than milk, the recipe calls for unsweetened coconut milk; instead of butter, it includes healthy avocado oil.

22) 3-Ingredient Double Chocolate Mousse The texture of whipped coconut cream is absolutely amazing. So it’s no wonder that by adding a little powdered sugar and cocoa powder you would create an amazing dairy-free mousse.

Photo By: Chocolate Covered Katie

23) 3-Ingredient Dairy Free Fudge This is the perfect no-bake treat. Using coconut milk, confectioner’s sugar, and dairy-free chocolate chips, this dessert will take you about 10 minutes to make and it’s sure to impress a crowd.

24) Edible Cookie Dough Is it just me or is there something addicting about cookie dough? It’s even more lip-smacking good than a baked cookie! The only problem is – since most cookie recipes call for eggs, the raw dough isn’t all that safe to consume. Enter this edible cookie dough recipe. Just make sure to use dairy-free chocolate to keep this recipe completely free of dairy.

25) No-Churn Dairy-Free Ice Cream I scream, you scream, we all scream for dairy-free-ice-cream! A bowl of this smooth and creamy treat is made from coconut milk, sugar, and just a touch of powdered gelatin. A few spoonfuls and you may be fooled into thinking it’s the real deal!

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16 Worst Breakfast Foods (Number 14 Will Shock You) Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:30:45 +0000 ‘Breakfast foods are essential.’ ‘You MUST eat heavy in the morning.’ ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!’ I cringe whenever I hear people say that! I mean, what if you’re not hungry? Should you force yourself to eat?!? What happened to listening to your body and eating when you need to? Okay, […]

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Breakfast foods are essential.’

‘You MUST eat heavy in the morning.’

‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!’

I cringe whenever I hear people say that! I mean, what if you’re not hungry? Should you force yourself to eat?!? What happened to listening to your body and eating when you need to? Okay, I should stop ranting. [Deep breath]

It’s (partly) because of black and white statements like these that we tune out with our bodies. And end up eating breakfast foods that are so unhealthy that we would have been better off not eating anything at all in the first place.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you shouldn’t eat in the morning. But that, should you choose to do so, make sure to avoid the following breakfast foods like the plague.

Could your breakfast be putting your health at stake? Discover the 16 worst breakfast foods you could possibly eat.

1. Corn flakes

Don’t shoot the messenger but you’d get more nutrients if you ate the box in which corn flakes came in… (Disclaimer: Please don’t eat the box. Have some sweet potatoes instead!)

Strange fact: Did you know that corn flakes were created in the late 1800s by Dr John Harvey Kellogg to prevent people from masturbating? The good doctor believed that bland, toasted corn food was and could reduce the sex drive of those who ate it!

Although the concept is totally weird, that’s not the reason why corn flakes are unhealthy.

What lurks in your corn flakes?

You see, this popular breakfast food contains:

  • Corn that is often genetically modified. It is true that more research is needed on GMO foods to make an informed decision on their safety. But that doesn’t mean that GMOs are safe to consume. Plus, if you are gluten-intolerant or suffer from an autoimmune condition, studies suggest that you could react to corn as well.
  • Added sugar (and sometimes dextrose as well – another type of sugar). With only 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein per ounce, eating corn flakes in the morning is a surefire way to cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket before nose diving. Put simply, this breakfast food is more likely to make you gain weight by making you hungrier faster and messing with your insulin sensitivity.
  • Malt flavor which is another way of saying Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG).
  • Various synthetic vitamins to make you believe you’re eating something healthy. Unfortunately, the body is unable to recognize most man-made vitamins and does its best to excrete them.

2. Kids’ cereals

What do cookies have in common with cheerios, frosted flakes and lucky charms?

According to the EWG, a single serving of these cereals contains as much sugar as 3 chocolate chip cookies!

I get it. The boxes are made to look appealing to kids. The cartoon mascots on most of these boxes promise a day full of fun and delight. But that’s a deceptive picture: what these cereals really promise is a bunch of hyperactive kids who just can’t concentrate in class.

What lurks in most breakfast cereals?

  • Grains – Since plants can’t run for their life when they see a predator, they produce lectins. Most predators (like us) cannot digest lectins. Eating a lot of lectins could therefore, cause digestive distress which would discourage us from eating the plants. (Isn’t this a fine plan?!)

Moreover, lectins could also damage the gut lining and cause the gut to become ‘leaky’. A leaky gut allows substances in the gut (such as undigested food particles, bacteria, toxins and so on) to move freely into the bloodstream. This can elicit an immune response and eventually lead to a full-blown immune response.

Soaking, fermenting and proper cooking can partially reduce the amount of lectins present in grains. But as you might have guessed, this process is lengthy and ‘has no place’ in the food manufacturing industry.

In other words, breakfast foods are most likely rich in lectins and can spell trouble for your immune system.

  • Sugar – Besides increasing the risks of chronic diseases, high-sugar cereals could encourage overeating and lead to more behavior and attention problems during the day.
  • High fructose corn syrup which has been linked to various health issues ranging from weight gain to insulin resistance to a host of autoimmune conditions.
  • Lots of genetically engineered ingredients
  • Artificial colors which can exert deleterious effects on the brain and affect behavior and attention. We feed the stuff to our kids and then when they ‘misbehave’, we give them dangerous meds to ‘treat their hyperactivity’…

Moreover, most breakfast cereals are produced using an extrusion process that treats the grains with very high heat and pressure. This process not only damages most nutrients in the grains but can also cause an insulin shock that can lead to a dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the spinal nerves.

The following video briefly explains the extrusion process and its adverse health effects.

3. Sandwiches and toasts with margarine

This is probably a shocker. After all, aren’t sandwiches or toasts with margarine low in sugar and ‘artery-clogging’ saturated fats?

Well, in the nutrition world, nothing is black and white.

What lurks in your bread and margarine?

  • Lots of carbohydrates – One slice of bread (30g) contains 15g of carbohydrates, 0.8g of dietary fiber and 2.7g of protein. What do you think will happen when you eat that slice of bread?

 Your blood sugar levels will surge.

Not only are you more likely to be hungry again in no time, but frequent large increases in blood sugar levels increase the risks of various health complications such as heart disease.

  • Wheat – I’m probably going to sound like a broken record but modern wheat is NOT a health food. Even if you don’t have celiac disease. Why? Because it contains gluten and tons of a herbicide known as glyphosate.

 Numerous research indicate that gluten could cause a staggering number of health issues such as:

– Ataxia (a group of disorders that affect coordination, balance, and speech)

– Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and endometriosis

– Autism spectrum disorders

– Depression and anxiety

– Inflammation – this can increase the risks of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes

– Schizophrenia

– Skin conditions such as dermatitis

Moreover, RoundUp  has been found to damage the DNA of exposed individuals. Put simply, it increases your risks of cancer.

  • Trans fats

Margarine is made from vegetable oil, right? How do you think this oil, a liquid, became a (soft) solid?

Simple: through a process known as hydrogenation which transforms the structure of the fat in the oil into a trans fat. And yes, these are the fats that increases the risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and many more other health issues.

It is true that margarine does not contain saturated fats (which aren’t all unhealthy by the way). But it contains fats that are even worse for your health.

4. Commercial gluten-free breakfast foods

If breakfast cereals are no good partly because of the gluten they contain, then gluten-free breakfast foods should be a healthy alternative, right?

Well, it depends. If you’re talking about having an avocado with an egg and a banana (all these foods are naturally gluten-free), then yes, that’s a nutrient-packed breakfast. (And you should give yourself a pat on the back.)

Unfortunately, commercial gluten-free breakfast foods are often nothing but ‘frankenfoods’. Next time you see a box of gluten-free breakfast foods, check the ingredient list and you’ll see what I mean.

What lurks in commercial gluten-free breakfast foods?

  • LOTS of sugar – To make up for loss of taste, consistency, and texture, food manufacturers will often add more sugar to the product.
  • Artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols
  • More carbohydrates in the form of rice flour, potato starch, corn or other refined flours
  • Food colorings since gluten-free products usually don’t become as nice and golden as the gluten-containing versions
  • Added gums to help things stick together (gluten holds this function in baked products)
  • Additives to increase the product’s shelf-life since the various ingredients added don’t last long

5. Pancakes and waffles with syrup

You’re probably starting to hate me right now but these breakfast foods are definitely bad news for your health.

What lurks in pancakes, waffles, and syrup?

  • Refined flour – Besides having a nasty impact on your blood sugar levels, flour has also been found to increase the risks of leptin resistance. Leptin is also known as the ‘satiety hormone’ – when your body becomes leptin resistant, you overeat.

Plus, most pancakes and waffles are made using wheat flour. In other words, these breakfast foods contain gluten and a nice dose of herbicides.

  • High fructose corn syrup – Food manufacturers will have you believe that high fructose corn syrup is natural. But this ingredient is actually a poison masquerading as a health food.

Think I’m being over-dramatic? Check out the evidence-based facts about high fructose corn syrup before you make up your mind.

6. Muffins, doughnuts, croissants and other pastries

Okay, nobody (I hope) considers pastries as healthy breakfast foods. But muffins?

Sure, muffins are delicious. But most store-bought muffins are nothing but small (addictive) sugar bombs.

What lurks in muffins and pastries?

  • Refined flour and wheat
  • LOTS of sugar – even more if your muffin contains dried fruits, chocolate chips or frosting
  • Vegetable oils which are known to increase inflammation and contribute to weight gain
  • Sulfur dioxide – This food additive is often added to muffins and dried foods to preserve their freshness. Although it is generally regarded as safe, lab studies indicate that sulfur dioxide could damage the DNA of rodents. Yes, we are much bigger than rodents but I’d rather not take the risk if you ask me. Moreover, sulfur dioxide could trigger asthma attacks in susceptible individuals.

7. Scones and bagels

I rarely talk about calories with my patients (except if they have HPA-axis dysfunction a.k.a ‘adrenal fatigue’).  But when it comes to scones and bagels, mentioning the number of calories they contain is an easy way to drive the following message home.

These breakfast foods may be the ultimate convenience food but they have quite a few downsides.

What lurks in scones and bagels?

  • Lots of calories – Did you that the average deli bagel can contain about 350 calories? And depending on their size, plain scones come with around 360 calories.
  • Refined flour – If those calories came from healthy fats and carbs, that wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, about 50 to 60% of the calories from these popular breakfast foods come from refined flour which contains carcinogenic bleaching agents. Plus, as mentioned earlier, wheat flour can cause inflammation and cause blood sugar surges.

The remaining calories come mostly from industrial seed oils. These are the nasty fats that worsen inflammation, prevent insulin from doing its job properly and are dangerous for the heart.

8. Commercial granola bars

You’ve heard the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, right?

Well, I think that this applies really well to commercial granola bars. With their seeds, nuts and small size, these ‘healthy’ breakfast foods are nothing but candy.

What lurks in commercial granola bars?

  • Lots of sugar and high fructose corn syrup but almost no fiber or protein. Can you guess what would happen if you ate a commercial granola bar for breakfast?

A sugar crash! You’ll be left feeling like you need a nap at 11am…

As if this wasn’t bad enough, in a study published last year, scientists reported that a single high carbohydrate meal is enough to adversely affect your immune system and overall metabolism. And by metabolism, I don’t simply mean how much energy your body burns. You see, your metabolism also refers to other essential reactions, such as digestion and hormonal balance, which occur in your body.

  • Industrial seed oils
  • Additives for preservation such as BHT
  • Artificial colors and flavors

9. French Toast

French toast consists of bread dipped in beaten egg and fried in butter. With some cheese on top. Contrary to popular belief, French toast is not unhealthy because it is fried but because of the bread.

What lurks in French toast?

  • Wheat – As mentioned earlier, gluten (and the herbicides used to spray the wheat) can cause a host of health issues.

10.  Heat n Eat Wraps

Often promoted as a healthier alternative to sandwiches, Heat n Eat wraps are kind of like pizzas with some extra veggies.

What lurks in Heat n Eat Wraps?

  • Refined flour
  • Trans fats in the form of hydrogenated fats from added sauces
  • Flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate
  • Lots of salt and additives
  • Processed meats which have been linked to some cancers

11.  Fruit smoothies

How can fruits constitute an unhealthy breakfast food? Well, the fruits themselves aren’t the issue. The problem lies in the quantity of fruits blended to make fruit smoothies.

Let’s say you use four fruits. Most people would see their blood sugar rise considerably if they were to eat these four fruits in one sitting. Now, when you blend the fruits, you’re, in fact, opening the fruits’ cells and cutting the fiber into small pieces.

In other words, your body will have less work to do to absorb this sugar.  And your blood sugar will rise even more making you more likely to eat more afterwards. The effect would be dramatic if you were to drink store-bought fruit smoothies.

What lurks in commercial fruit smoothies?

  • Fruit juices k.a flavored sugar water with loads of synthetic chemicals
  • Syrups
  • Ice cream
  • Added sugar

12. Orange juice

Whenever people ask me what I think of OJ, they immediately get in Hulk mode and go ‘But it contains vitamin C!’

What lurks in orange juice?

  • Sugar – Sure, a glass of orange juice contains some vitamin C. But a 12-ounce serving also contains a whopping 36g of sugar. Is that a lot? Well, this equates 9 teaspoons of sugar in one drink. That’s almost the same as a 12-ounce can of Coke which contains 39g of sugar…

I know that oranges contain naturally occurring sugars. And these sugars are not unhealthy. What makes OJ unhealthy (even the 100% orange juice ones) is the number of fruits that are blended to yield a 12-ounce serving.

Yes, people have been drinking orange juice for ages. But their OJ was nothing like ours. Check out this funny, but interesting video on modern OJ.

13. Low-fat milk and non-fat yogurt

‘You’re crazy!’ said one of my patients when I told her to switch to full-fat dairy products. She wasn’t ready yet to give up milk.

Contrary to popular belief, full-fat dairy products could:

According to Mark Deboer, a pediatrician at the University of Virginia, ‘it appears that children who have a higher intake of whole milk or 2 percent milk gain less weight over time compared with kids who consume skim or nonfat dairy product’.

14. Oatmeal

I never liked eating oatmeal. But then I learnt that it was a ‘health food’, and I forced myself to eat it. And I advised many of my patients to do so as well…

So, imagine my dismay when, after countless hours of research, I realized that oatmeal was just another unhealthy breakfast food marketed as ‘heart friendly’ or ‘an effective weight loss aid’.

What lurks in oatmeal?

  • Gluten – The well-respected New England Journal of Medicine reported that three brands of oatmeal tested positive for gluten. In case you were wondering, the three brands that were tested were:
    1. Quaker oats due to its popularity – each of the four specimens tested contained considerable amounts of gluten.
    2. Country Choice since it is organic – three of the four specimens tested positive for gluten.
    3. McCann’s which is milled in an oat only factory and should, therefore, not contain any gluten

15. Non-dairy creamer

People will tell you that ‘you shouldn’t drink another creature’s milk’. But this doesn’t mean that non-dairy creamers are healthier alternatives. Consuming these ‘frankenfoods’ regularly is a recipe for disaster.

What lurks in non-dairy creamer?

  • Industrial seed oils – This may come as a surprise but non-dairy creamers get their creamy look, flavor and texture from hydrogenated vegetable oils or refined palm kernel oil. In other words, non-dairy creamers also contain trans fats even if the label states that the product is trans-fat free. You see, according to the law, a product is deemed to be trans-fat free if it contains 0.5mg or less trans fats per serving. And the problem is that food manufacturers get to decide how much of a food constitutes a serving.
  • Mono- and Diglycerides – These are emulsifiers that are mostly derived from partially hydrogenated oils. Yum! More trans fats! They are added to ensure that your coffee will blend with the oil.
  • Sugar, high fructose corn syrup and sodium – These are added to improve the flavor of the refined vegetable oils.
  • Food colorings – These mimic the way cream or milk change the color of the coffee. As mentioned earlier, these can adversely affect our brain and cause mood or concentration issues.
  • Flavor enhancer – Just another name for monosodium glutamate.
  • Casein – Yes, that’s a milk protein: it’s added to extend the shelf-life of the product. So, if you’re allergic to milk, you might have a reaction with non-dairy creamers. However, if you’re lactose intolerant, it is unlikely that you will react to casein since lactose and casein are very different molecules.
  • Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate – This chemical additive is utilized to reduce the amount of fat and sugar needed in products. Unfortunately, it can also cause itching, swelling, and spasms in sensitive individuals.
  • Dipotassium phosphate – Also known as phosphoric acid, this thickener and stabilizing agent is added to creamers to prevent clumping. Regularly consuming this food additive can spell trouble for the kidneys and the heart.
  • Sodium alumionosilicate – As an anticaking agent, this aluminum sodium salt prevents the ingredients in the ‘creamer’ from sticking together by absorbing excess moisture. But ingestion of aluminum has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

16. Canned baked beans

Commonly eaten on toast, this popular English breakfast food may be putting your health at stake.

What lurks in canned baked beans?

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) – This chemical is used to line metal cans that hold baked beans. Unfortunately, BPA loves salty and acidic food and will readily leach into baked beans since commercial versions often contain a lot of salt as well as tomato paste. The problem with BPA is that, as an endocrine disruptor, it affects hormonal balance and can increase the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure and infertility.
  • Sugar
  • Modified corn flour k.a genetically modified corn flour

Wondering what to eat instead of these 16 worst breakfast foods? Then, make sure to check my next article for practical ideas and healthy substitutes.

The post 16 Worst Breakfast Foods (Number 14 Will Shock You) appeared first on Bembu.

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The Top 6 Healing Health Benefits Of Yogurt (And Are You Buying The Right Ones?) Tue, 04 Apr 2017 10:25:09 +0000 This ancient fermented product is another one of those go-to healthy snacks or breakfast ingredients that has stood the test of time. It is one of the few foods that never seem to go out of fashion in the health world, and there are some great reasons why!   What Is Yogurt? Put simply, yogurt […]

The post The Top 6 Healing Health Benefits Of Yogurt (And Are You Buying The Right Ones?) appeared first on Bembu.

This ancient fermented product is another one of those go-to healthy snacks or breakfast ingredients that has stood the test of time. It is one of the few foods that never seem to go out of fashion in the health world, and there are some great reasons why!

Check out these incredible health benefits of yogurt... Hint: It's not just the gut-friendly bacteria!


What Is Yogurt?

Put simply, yogurt is a thick, creamy fermented milk product. Most yogurts are white, but commercial brands with added flavors often have added colorants as well. It has a sour taste and is made by adding live bacteria to milk and allowing it to ferment. The word ‘yogurt’ comes from Turkey and loosely translates to ‘tart, thick milk’. However, it is unknown whether yogurt spread from one origin or was invented by several cultures, because it can be traced back many years in a number of different regions around the world. Researchers suggest it was likely that people who kept animals for milk discovered yogurt in similar ways.

Making yogurt

Nutritional Information (100g natural whole milk yogurt)

Calories – 61
Total carbohydrate – 4.7g
Total fat – 3.3g
Sugar – 4.7g
Fiber – 0g
Protein – 3.5g
Sodium – 3% of RDI
Vitamin A – 3% of RDI
Vitamin C – 1% of RDI
Vitamin D – 2% of RDI
Vitamin B1 – 2% of RD
Vitamin B2 – 11% of RDI
Vitamin B12 – 15% of RDI
Calcium – 12% of RDI
Iron – 1% of RDI
Magnesium – 3% of RDI
Phosphorus – 14% of RDI
Potassium – 3% of RDI
Zinc – 5% of RDI
Copper – 1% of RDI
Selium – 4% of RDI

Yogurt nutrition

How Is Yogurt Made?

Yogurt is made by leaving fresh milk in a container with friendly bacteria. During a fermentation process in the container, the milk thickens and develops yogurt’s sour taste, producing a lactic acid at the same time, which acts as a preservative. That’s why yogurt lasts so much longer than most other dairy products.

Health Benefits Of Yogurt

From its incredibly powerful gut-healing probiotic powers to its immune-boosting abilities and bone strengthening nutrients, yogurt is a food you’ll want to keep in your fridge all-year-round for a daily health boost. Add a tablespoon to your smoothies, enjoy with oats instead of milk, bake with it, or try it with some fruit, nuts and seeds as a snack, and allow the gut-healthy friendly bacteria-rich food to heal your body.

benefits of yogurt

1. Yogurt Provides A Good Dose Of Protein

One cup of whole milk yogurt contains about 8.5 grams of protein, consisting of both casein protein and whey protein. Water-soluble milk proteins are called whey and insoluble are called caseins. Both are high quality proteins and rich in essential amino acids. About 80% of the protein in full fat yogurt is casein. Some of its benefits include an increased absorption of minerals, including calcium and phosphorus, and an ability to help lower blood pressure. The whey in yogurt accounts for about 20% of its protein content, and comes with a string of important amino acids, including valine, leucine and isoleucine.


2. Yogurt Can Keep You Fuller For Longer

Yogurt is very high in fat, so don’t get the idea here that you can eat large quantities of the delicious creamy meal and suddenly shed pounds. What it can be, however, is a high quality snack that helps you feel fuller for longer. That means, you can eat a small amount as a snack with some nuts and fruit, for example, and it will reduce your hunger until the next meal. You can also eat it for breakfast, with, for example, oats, seeds, nuts and fruits, and it should keep you nice and full until lunchtime.  A study from the University of Washington in Seattle compared semisolid yogurt, liquid yogurt, a peach-flavored dairy drink and peach juice, testing hunger, fullness and calorie consumption at the next meal. Each snack was 200 calories and the research was conducted using men and women. Although calorie consumption was the same for each participant, the group that ate both types of yogurt had lower hunger ratings reported being fuller than those who consumed the other snacks. Further, whey protein had been found to potentially aid weight loss, meaning yogurt can be included in a weight loss regime. By adding a dollop of Greek yogurt to a smoothie, for example, will give you a dose of protein and keep you fuller for longer.

yogurt for weight loss

3. Yogurt Is A Probiotic

Yogurt is one of those fermented foods famous for its probiotic benefits. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are known for their ability to improve gut health. They assist in the maintenance of digestive health, and ability to restore balance in the intestinal flora. But they actually have a number of other health benefits that aren’t so well known, including aiding fat loss, enhancing heart health, and even reducing depression. Regular consumption of probiotic yogurt with bifidobacteria may also lessen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

4. Yogurt May Boost The Immune System

The science around the impact probiotics have on the immune system is still new and largely untapped. However, early studies suggest certain strains of the gut-friendly bacteria have some immune-boosting benefits. Recent findings show a number of genes and specific compounds derived from probiotics can mediate immunoregulatory effects. Studies in the latest review found probiotics to have therapeutic potential for immune-response related diseases, including allergies, eczema and viral infections.


5. Yogurt Can Benefit Your Bones

Bone deterioration is a particularly common health problem in post-menopausal women. However, feeding your bones healthy and strengthening vitamins and minerals is important throughout your lifetime, whether you are male or female. Calcium is a particularly important for growing and keeping bones strong and healthy, but you need vitamin D as well, in order for your bones to absorb calcium. Luckily, yogurt has both! That means it can benefit your bones and potentially help lessen the risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition, common in older women, that involves weak, brittle bones. Osteoporosis makes broken bones more likely if you fall and injure yourself. Dairy in general has long been considered an ingredient for healthy strong bones, and that is not just because of the calcium, but also because of the protein found in milk. Bones are largely made up of collagen, which is a protein. The body needs protein in the diet in order to rebuild and maintain bone density.


6. Yogurt May Help Lower Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, yogurt may assist in lowering it. A study from the University of York found that probiotic fermented milk, namely yogurt, may possess blood pressure lowering properties. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to determine yogurt’s blood pressure lowering abilities and found it did lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive subjects. However, it is not just yogurt that has been found to benefit people with hypertension. Other studies have found other milk products have similar benefits.


Beware The Fake ‘Healthy Yogurts’

The biggest thing to be aware of when choosing yogurt is to make sure it’s a natural, unsweetened version. There are plenty of popular brands that come in all sorts of (delicious) flavors and colors, but they are full of sugar and other additives. The best option is to choose a natural, good quality plain or Greek yogurt and add your flavors in yourself. Try it with some chopped berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, for example), along with chopped nuts, seeds and a small drizzle of maple syrup. Similarly, though, make sure you get 100% pure, natural maple syrup, because maple flavored syrup is full of added refined sugar! If berries aren’t in season, go for some stewed fruits, or frozen berries. Or, you can add some dried fruit instead, like blueberries, goji berries, cranberries or apricot.

And, frozen yogurt can be just as bad, with huge amounts of added sugar, flavors and colors. It is often not a great quality yogurt either, or has other major ingredients added to the base, rather than being 100% yogurt. So, either read the label of ingredients and nutritional information, or make your own frozen yogurt!

The post The Top 6 Healing Health Benefits Of Yogurt (And Are You Buying The Right Ones?) appeared first on Bembu.

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15 Delicious Ways To Use Coconut Milk + Proven Health Benefits Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:28:03 +0000 With its super rich and velvety texture, coconut milk is often considered as a fattening, ‘artery clogging’ villain that should be avoided at all costs. But the truth is that real coconut milk is (amazingly delicious) and jam-packed with health benefits. If you’re not convinced, check out this article to learn about how coconut milk […]

The post 15 Delicious Ways To Use Coconut Milk + Proven Health Benefits appeared first on Bembu.

With its super rich and velvety texture, coconut milk is often considered as a fattening, ‘artery clogging’ villain that should be avoided at all costs. But the truth is that real coconut milk is (amazingly delicious) and jam-packed with health benefits. If you’re not convinced, check out this article to learn about how coconut milk can benefit your health and the best ways to use it. You’ll also discover how to save money by making it at home and instances when this delightful liquid may be more of a foe.

Discover the impressive health benefits of coconut milk and how to avoid unhealthy brands.

What exactly is coconut milk?

Naturally dairy free, coconuts do not contain any milk in the sense that we normally think of it. In fact, coconut milk is traditionally made by prying the coconut meat from the husk, grating and pressing the coconut flesh before mixing it with water.

There are various grades of coconut milk:

  • Thick coconut milk also referred to as ‘full-fat coconut milk’ and usually simply labeled ‘coconut milk’ on cans and cartons. This type of coconut milk is the first liquid obtained from the squeezed grated coconut milk. It typically contains between 20 to 22% of fat.
  • Thin coconut milk is labeled ‘light coconut milk’ or ‘low fat’ since it contains only 5 to 7% of fat. Thin coconut milk is produced by soaking the grated coconut that remains after thick coconut milk is produced.

Note: To reap all the health benefits of coconut milk, never use thin coconut milk (which is tasteless anyway).

coconut milk nutrition

Coconut milk nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient database, a quarter cup (60g) of raw, unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk expressed from grated milk and water contains:

  • 138 calories
  • 37g of protein
  • 3g of fat which includes 12.7g of saturated fats, 0.61g of monounsaturated fats, 0.16g of polyunsaturated fats and 0mg of cholesterol
  • 32g of carbohydrate which includes 1.3g of dietary fiber and 2.0g of sugar
  • 158mg of potassium
  • 60mg of phosphorus
  • 22mg of magnesium
  • 10mg of calcium
  • 9mg of iron
  • 55mg of manganese
  • 15mg of copper

health benefits coconut milk

Proven health benefits of coconut milk

About 60% of coconut fat is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and most of the impressive health attributes of coconut milk can be traced back to these MCTs. That’s why you want the full-fat version of coconut milk.

You see, MCTs are very different from other types of fats. Unlike longer chain fatty acids, MCTs can be passively absorbed by the body without the need for bile salts. When you consume a food that contains MCTs, these MCTs travel directly from the digestive tract to the liver. Once there, the body either immediately uses the MCTs for energy or converts them into ketone bodies instead of storing them as fat.

coconut milk anti-inflammatory

1. Helps tone down inflammation

Did you know that chronic inflammation is often (if not always) the root cause of most chronic diseases?

Sure, you could pop anti-inflammatory pills. But these come with loads of nasty side effects. So, wouldn’t it make sense to eliminate dietary factors that cause the inflammation in the first place? And, in parallel, increase your intake of foods that naturally tone down inflammation?

Well, researchers suggest that the various antioxidants present in the fats of the coconut may help lower inflammation. In a lab study, arthritis was induced in rats. These rats were then given some virgin coconut oil. The researchers reported that the antioxidants in the oil helped decrease the production of inflammatory molecules and facilitated healing.

Take home message: Consuming full-fat coconut milk can reduce symptoms and health complications caused by inflammation.

coconut milk weight loss

2. Promotes muscle growth and facilitates fat loss

You’re probably thinking ‘What? A high-fat food can help the body burn fat?’

Yes. In fact, in a 12-week study, researchers gave women 30ml of either soybean oil or coconut oil. Both groups were instructed to eat less and walk for 50 minutes per day. At the end of the study, both groups had lost weight. However, the participants given coconut milk had lost visceral fat (fat around their organs). That’s the type of fat that increases the risk of chronic diseases. On the other hand, those who consumed soybean oil gained visceral fat!

You see, the fat in coconut milk is not just any type of fat. Research suggests that the MCTs in coconuts can help:

  • Rev up your metabolism (the amount of energy the body uses when it is at rest). In one clinical study, MCTs were found to increase energy expenditure by 5% or around 120 calories per day. Put simply, MCTs can help your body use more energy even when you’re resting. (Now, I’m not saying that you should pour yourself a tall glass of coconut milk and then sleep the whole day. Coconut milk is not a magic food but it can facilitate body fat loss if your overall lifestyle and diet are healthy.)

muscle soreness recovery

  • Nourish muscles and speed up muscle recovery after exercise. As part of a healthy lifestyle, coconut milk can make it easier for you to increase your muscle mass. This will, in turn, increase your metabolism and facilitate loss of excess body fat.
  • Make you feel full faster and longer. As mentioned earlier, the liver can produce ketone bodies using the MCTs from coconuts. And guess what? Researchers speculate that these ketone bodies can considerably reduce the appetite. Plus, MCTs help balance hormones that control the appetite.
Take home message: When consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, the MCTs in coconut milk can facilitate loss of excess body fat.  MCTs help your body burn more energy while regulating hormones that make you hungry.

coconut milk heart health

3. Protects the heart & improves insulin resistance

Despite what many people say, coconut milk and oil will not clog your arteries. Nor will it cause you to die from a heart attack. In fact, did you know that countries with the highest intake of coconut oil have the lowest rates of heart disease?

It is true that the saturated fats in the coconut will increase your cholesterol levels. But, that’s not the whole story. As a dietitian, I always tell my patients that high cholesterol levels only become an issue when the following occur together:

  1. The LDL particles are small and dense – this type of particles can triple the risk of heart disease.
  2. Triglyceride levels are high. These fats increase when the diet is high in carbohydrates but low in healthy fats.
  • Inflammation levels are high.

And guess what?

Research has found that, although the fats in coconuts are about 40% saturated, consuming coconuts can help:

  1. Increase HDL-cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that can protect the heart
  2. Decrease triglyceride levels
  3. Lower levels of small, dense LDL particles
  4. Reduce inflammation which increases the risks of heart disease
  5. Improve insulin resistance – this further protects against heart disease
Take home message: A cheeseburger contains saturated fats. So do coconuts. But the saturated fats in coconuts are very different. Saying otherwise is like saying that the carbohydrates in broccoli are like those in a cookie.

coconut milk nutrition

4. Can speed up ulcer healing & reduce risks of stomach cancer

Many people still believe that ulcers are caused by stomach acid ‘eating away the stomach’s walls’. But that’s a myth. Helicobacter pylori is the unfriendly bacteria that causes ulcers and increases the risks of stomach and intestinal cancers.

People with ulcers are often told to avoid all fatty foods including coconuts. And that’s not necessarily good advice since the major fatty acid present in coconut milk is lauric acid. Studies suggest that lauric acid possesses antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Scientists explain that MCTs can break down the walls of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria which die when exposed to lauric acid.

Take home message: Coconut milk can help reduce stomach ulcer size by about 56% thanks to its antimicrobial properties.

coconut milk natural energy boost

5. Can help combat fatigue

Since MCTs can be used easily by the body, they provide a rapid source of energy. Moreover, coconut milk is also a good source of magnesium which is famous for its anti-fatigue properties. One of my patients, a teenage athlete, reported recovering faster after swimming competitions when he fuels up with raw coconut milk and raw honey before events.

Take home message: The MCTs and magnesium in coconut milk can rapidly boost your energy levels without causing any energy crash afterward.

6. Can improve gut function & reduce intolerances

Besides helping to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, MCTs in coconut milk promote:

  • Gut healing by helping the body replace worn out or damaged cells in the digestive tract.
  • Mucus production – this is terrific for gut health since mucus helps protect the lining of the digestive tract against stressors like harmful bacteria.

Plus, coconut milk is a good source of zinc which is known to boost the immune system. And that’s not all, by helping to increase the activity of diamine oxidase, the histamine-clearing enzyme, coconut milk could help offer some relief against histamine intolerance.

Take home message: Coconut milk can help enhance immune function and promotes healing of the digestive tract.

Ready to buy yourself a few cans of coconut milk? Wait, before you do, be sure to read the rest of this article.

Coconut milk side-effects

Could coconut milk be bad for you?

What could be wrong with a food that has such an impressive nutritional profile?

In a nutshell, it depends on what’s in your coconut milk and your physiology. So, here are a few things to consider before you try coconut milk.

Do you react to coconuts?

Although very rare, some people may not be able to tolerate coconuts or coconut milk (even the homemade version). This could be because they are reacting to:

  • Either the sorbitol (alcohol sugar) naturally present in coconut flesh.
  • Or MCTs – in very rare instances, these fatty acids can promote the secretion of IgA antibodies in the gut (specifically in the Peyer’s patches which are involved in the development of immunity to antigens).

read food labels

Ingredients to watch out for

1. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Since the 1950s, the chemical BPA has been used in various consumer goods including reusable drink containers and in the lining of most metal cans used for canned foods. In a way, BPA acts like a nasty copycat. It mimics the estrogen (a hormone) in our body and disturbs the delicate hormone balance.

In fact, research suggests that it could:

  • Disrupt the hormone system and increase the risks of cancers of the breast and reproductive system
  • Increase the risks of infertility
  • Cause early puberty
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Cause neurological issues (adverse health effects on the brain especially in children)
  • Lead to behavior changes and developmental disorders
  • Cause asthma

Unfortunately, BPA exposure is very common – a CDC report found BPA in the urine of 93% of adults. You see, this chemical loves fatty, salty, and acidic foods. That’s why BPA leaches considerably in:

  • Coconut milk (the canned version ranks number one on the list of canned foods with the highest level of BPA!)
  • Peeled and pureed tomatoes
  • Preserved vegetables

how to choose coconut milk

So, you could simply get a certified BPA-free coconut milk brand. Right?

Not necessarily. Have you ever wondered what is replacing the BPA in BPA-free cans and cartons?

Unfortunately, most of the companies I contacted either told me that the linings they used were a trade secret… Or that they would contact me once they’ve heard from their supplier. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath!

It turns out that BPA has a few evil siblings including:

  • Bisphenol-S and -F (or BPS and BPF) – these chemicals don’t leach in foods as much as BPA but they still mess with our hormones.
  • Titanium dioxide – Exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide could reduce nutrient absorption in the small intestine and thus weaken the immune system. This chemical has also been linked to organ dysfunction, certain cancers, inflammation and Crohn’s disease.
Verdict: Whether you have health issues or not, stay away from any type of bisphenols and titanium dioxide.

coconut milk additives

2. Guar gum or gellan gum

This food additive is derived from the guar bean, also known as the Indian cluster bean that grows in India and Pakistan. Some studies indicate that supplementing with guar gum could improve blood sugar control and reduce insulin requirements in insulin-dependent patients. However, guar gum also causes gastrointestinal side effects like increased bloating and gas. Plus, people with soy allergies can react to this additive.

Verdict: Avoid guar gum if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, a very delicate digestive system or soy allergy.

3. Cellulose gum

Food manufacturers usually add cellulose to coconut milk in order to thicken and stabilize it. Sounds good so far. But do you know what cellulose usually refer to?

Well, cellulose gum is obtained from cotton, wood pulp, or saw dust. Some people might tell you that cellulose from celery is no different than cellulose from wood. Yes, I know that cellulose is the insoluble substance that makes up the walls of plant cells. But the issue with cellulose as a food additive is the way it is chemically processed before being used as a thickener.

You see, to make it soluble, the cellulose will be treated with sodium hydroxide. Yes, that’s the very same caustic soda or lye, that is used to make soaps… It is then treated with chloroacetic acid – short-term exposure to this substance can cause:

  • Severe damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes
  • Depression of the central nervous system in humans.

how to use coconut milk

That’s not all. According to a study published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, “[carboxymethyl cellulose] is an ideal suspect to account for the rise of IBD in the 20th century.” The scientists explain that cellulose:

  • Promotes massive bacterial overgrowth
  • Inflammation in the gut
  • Damage the protective mucus barrier of the small intestine

Beware of the other names of cellulose gum:

  • Carboxymethyl cellulose
  • Microcrystalline Cellulose
  • MCC
Verdict: Avoid especially if you have a delicate digestive system.

coconut milk desserts

4. Sodium metabisulphite

This salt acts as a preservative and prevents discoloration of the coconut milk. Seems harmless enough… except that there are many people who react to added sulfites.

 Verdict:If you can hunt down sulfite-free versions of your favorite munchies, why not go the extra mile for coconut milk?

5. Carrageenan

Extracted from red algae, this thickener and stabilizer is often found in boxed coconut milk. Traditionally, seaweeds that contained carrageenan were used in food manufacturing due to their gelling properties. And that was fine. However, the refined and highly processed carrageenan used nowadays has been linked to:

  • Increased intestinal permeability
  • Inflammation in the gut
  • Ulcerations
  • Colitis-like symptoms
  • Increased risks of cancer
Verdict: The jury is still out on this one since more studies are needed. However, since this food additive has questionable adverse effects, just avoid it to be on the safe side.

What are you supposed to use instead? Keep reading to find out.

Homemade coconut milk: A worthwhile pursuit

Next, she’ll tell me to produce my own food and make my own butter!

New patients always have this look on their face when I advise them to skip store-bought coconut milk and make their own instead.

I know, making coconut milk from scratch may sound like a daunting task. But, as you’ll discover in the video below, homemade coconut milk is super easy to make. Plus, the homemade version is so much tastier than the store brands. In fact, I’m quite sure you won’t even want to go back to commercial coconut milk once you’ve tasted the real thing.

Bonus: Making coconut milk at home will help you stretch your budget!

If you have access to fresh coconuts, use these instead of the shredded version: the milk will be much tastier.

Fun fact: I live on a tropical island. And yes, we have loads of coconuts but I get mine from the market. Climbing coconut trees is a fun option but sadly, I don’t have the necessary skills.

Should you throw away the coconut pulp that’s left?

Definitely not: just use it to make coconut flour. Or you could also leave the pulp in the milk (that is, no need to strain). I rarely strain the milk and use it (with the pulp) to make my smoothies, puddings, and gravies more filling. Or you could also strain the pulp and add it to soups, sauces, and desserts as needed.

And how should you store coconut milk?

Preparing some homemade coconut milk? Just make a big batch – I typically make coconut milk using five coconuts in one go. I then keep some in the fridge and the rest in mason jars. If you opt for mason jars, remember to keep room for expansion – about one-third empty will do. Trust me, it’s very sad to have to throw this nutrient-packed liquid just because it expanded and caused the jar to crack open.

I also keep some coconut milk in ice cube trays – once the milk has frozen, I just add them to a baggie. This way, I have little pre-measured portions of coconut milk (instead of having to defrost a whole jar) to add to my morning coffee or smoothies.

15 absolutely delicious ways to use coconut milk

One the things I like the most about coconut milk is that it adds a magic, creamy tropical touch to almost any dish. Not sure what I mean? Check out the following recipes.

Note: Most of these recipes call for store-bought coconut milk – use homemade instead if possible.

Photo: My Natural Family


Tropical Green Smoothie

Tip: Avoid ingesting essential oil unless you’ve done so before without any issue.

Paleo Crepes

Tip: If you tolerate grass-fed butter, use that instead of coconut oil. The crepes will be much tastier.

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Tip: Avoid using oil sprays – just brush the pan with some melted coconut oil instead.

Dark Chocolate Mint Mocha

Tip: Choose a brand that contains no alcohol or propylene glycol if you have autoimmune or gut issues.


Photo: Nikki’s Coconut Butter


Coconut Lime Baked Chicken with Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

Tip: Use tapioca starch or arrowroot flour instead of cornstarch.

Sesame Salmon Balls with Ginger Tahini Dipping Sauce

Tip: Can’t tolerate sesame seeds? Use chia seeds instead.


Photo: Food Faith Fitness


Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

Tip: Use tapioca starch or arrowroot flour instead of potato starch.

Red Cashew Coconut Curry Cauliflower Rice

Tip: For a complete meal, serve with some leftover beef strips or sauté some chicken before adding the cauliflower.

Cauliflower Soup with Coconut Milk

Tip: Use full-fat bone and vegetable broth instead of (tasteless) fat-free vegetable stock.


Photo: Noshtastic


Blueberry muffins

Tip: We don’t have any blueberries here so I used some ripe mangoes and the muffins were ter-ri-fic!

Paleo Magic Cookie Bars

Tip: I found these bars to be a bit too sweet so I used only half the amount listed in the recipe.

Coconut Flour Shortcake Recipe

Tip: If you don’t have any coconut cream, just use some coconut milk. Or you can just skip it altogether.

Coconut Milk Orange Creamsicles

Photo: Naked Cuisine


Coconut Orange Creamsicles

 Tip: Add a pinch of cinnamon powder for a different twist on this recipe.

Simple Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse

Tip: Add a teaspoon of chopped frozen raspberries for some natural sweetness.

Paleo Baked Pears

Tip: The coconut sugar is optional.


Now I’d like to hear from you – what’s your favorite way of using coconut milk? Share in the comments below or on Bembu’s facebook page.

The post 15 Delicious Ways To Use Coconut Milk + Proven Health Benefits appeared first on Bembu.

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The Top 8 Relaxing Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep Thu, 16 Mar 2017 22:14:09 +0000 Many of us have experienced those restless nights, where those things that stressed us out during the day have somehow become a thousand times worse in our heads by 2am. Anxiety and insomnia can be completely debilitating, and cannot be ignored. There are many ways to deal with severe anxiety, from medication and counselling to […]

The post The Top 8 Relaxing Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep appeared first on Bembu.

Many of us have experienced those restless nights, where those things that stressed us out during the day have somehow become a thousand times worse in our heads by 2am. Anxiety and insomnia can be completely debilitating, and cannot be ignored. There are many ways to deal with severe anxiety, from medication and counselling to meditation and exercise. Whether you suffer from crippling anxiety or simply can’t switch off at night, these eight yoga poses will help you drift off. However, if you do have a severe case, be sure to seek professional help.
Use these yoga poses to help you beat stress and insomnia for an easy night's sleep...


The Impact Of Stress & Insomnia

Stress, anxiety and insomnia are common emotions that plague some people more than others. Certain circumstances, levels of health, and environmental pressures like work and other commitments can accelerate it. Yoga can be particularly beneficial in helping to ease the mind and relax the body, which are crucial for deep sleep. The physical asanas (postures) of the ancient practice, mixed with breathing techniques and meditation, can calm the mind, bring perspective and help you deal with anxiety-related insomnia for mental clarity and inner peace.

bound angle

Anxiety and insomnia don’t just affect your mental state. There is a physical response to stress within the body that can actually cause physical health problems. And, everyone knows that not getting enough sleep has a detrimental impact on physical health and functionality. Our response to stressful situations comes from an automatic ‘fight or slight’ instinctual trigger, which releases a surge of adrenaline. This protected our ancestors from life-threatening danger, and remains a common reaction of chronic worriers. When the body issues this response, stress hormones, such as cortisol, are released by the sympathetic nervous system, which would be used as fuel in an actual ‘fight or flight’ scenario. The hormones boost blood sugar levels and blood fats. For people with chronic anxiety, night time can be a particularly challenging time, because when you are in bed and there is silence, your mind can run wild, and often takes you to those dark terrifying places. When you have dealt with chronic anxiety and insomnia for a while, it can even become a feeling you have, without an actual thought in your mind. Even bedtime can start to trigger that uneasy feeling when you’ve struggled to drift off to sleep for a while, because the body and mind knows you are going to be fighting with your conscience for the next few hours.


The short-term physical effects of stress can include difficulty swallowing, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, an increased heart rate, headaches, muscle aches and tension, lack of concentration, shortness of breath, sweating and hot flushes, trembling, nervous energy, and the thing we are concentrating on here, insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep. When the hormones and reactions continue on a repeat basis, more long-term health problems can actually develop. These include a weakened immune system, digestive problems, short-term memory loss, premature coronary artery disease, and potentially even heart attacks. If ongoing insomnia and anxiety is left untreated, it can lead to depression and suicidal feelings.

yoga sleep

How Yoga Can Help You Relax

Yoga has many benefits beyond relaxing the body and helping you sleep. It aids with weight loss, improves circulation, increases flexibility and boosts respiratory function. When it comes to stress reduction and aiding with sleep, not all yoga poses are created equal. Some sequences are better for waking you up in the morning and increasing energy, such as heart opener postures. If you practice a morning heart opener class before bed, it could actually hinder sleep, rather than helping.

child's pose

Yoga Poses To Practice Before Bed

There are a few particularly beneficial yoga poses for relaxation, winding down and restoration. Depending on what is keeping you up at night, some are more beneficial than others. For example, if you do tend to become anxious at night, breathing techniques and tension relieving poses can really help. Here are eight poses to try before bed. You can do all of them, or pick three or four each night.

Yogic Breathing

But, before we get into the actual poses, it’s a great idea to relax and practice yogic breathing, or, ujjayi breath, beforehand, and you can then carry that through the poses. By slowing the breath, you can slow down your heart rate and draw focus away from racing thoughts in your mind.

Child’s Pose

Next, move into this restful, comforting, restorative asana. Child’s pose is designed to ease the mind and evoke a feeling of relaxation. It is a soothing posture that gently stretches the back while helping to calm feelings of stress and anxiety. Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-distance apart. The tops of your feet should be touching the floor, rather than the toes or balls of your feet. Take a long inhale and then, as you exhale, slowly lay your torso down on top of your thighs, stretching your arms out in front of you. Place the palms of your hands down and relax, allowing your hips and buttocks to rest as close to your heels and the ground as possible. Your forehead should be touching the ground, or you can use rest your head on pillow if it doesn’t quite reach. Close your eyes and relax for about 10 to 15 long, slow breaths, releasing tension and stress with every exhale.

child's pose

Bound Angle

This pose has a number of benefits, as well as releasing tension, including increasing flexibility around the hips and groin, especially if you have tight hips. Tension and stress is often stored around the hip area, so any work you do to stretch and release that area helps melt that stress away. Start by sitting up straight with your legs out in front of you. Fold your knees out to open your hips and place the soles of your feet together so that you’re making a diamond shape with your legs. Bring your heels in as close to your groin as you can without arching your back. Take hold of your ankles, or your feet and start to gently and slowly flap your knees up and down like a butterfly to help release any tension you might be holding. You can also sway from side-to-side, gently pressing your elbows into your inner thighs. If you can, move your chest towards the ground, leading with your heart, to get a deeper stretch around your hips. If you are particularly flexible, you can also walk your hands out in front of you and rest your forehead and chest on the mat, but don’t force this – it will come with time and practice!

bound angle

Equestrian Pose

This is another pose that has benefits for flexibility and strength as well, but because it focuses on stretching and opening that hip and groin area again, it also comes with relaxation and tension-relieving benefits. Step your right leg back as far as possible, bending your left knee. Place the right knee down on the mat and place your fingers or palms down either side of your left foot. Sink your pelvis and groin forwards and downwards towards the ground and breathe through the tension for at least five breaths. Repeat on the other side.

equestrian pose

Wide-Legged Forward Fold

This pose stretches the backs of your legs, decompresses the spine and opens the hips, stretching that inner thigh and groin area again. Folding forward also helps melt away tension and relax the body. Have a yoga block ready in front of you in case you can’t reach your head to the ground, because it’s important to relax in this pose.

Start by standing with your legs wine in an upside-down ‘V’ shape. Slightly pigeon-toe your feet to internally rotate your thighs. Place your hands on your hips and lift your collarbone and chest upwards to lengthen your torso on an inhale. As you exhale, slowly fold forward, keeping your core strong and engaged, and your back straight, leading with your chest. Once you are halfway down, release your hands from your hips and black them on the block in front of you or on the mat. As you exhale, fold a little deeper, releasing the back, head and neck towards the ground, stretching and decompressing the spine. Rest the crown of your head on the block, or on the mat if it reaches, but, again, don’t force this – you are going to stay in this pose for a while and if it’s too intense, your body won’t relax and release its tension. Close your eyes if you feel balanced and hold the pose for 10 to 15 long, slow breaths. When you’re ready to come back out of the pose, engage your core, look forward, place your hands back on your hips and lift your upper body back up on an inhale with a straight back.

wide-legged forward fold

Seated Forward Fold

For seated forward fold, start in staff pose, sitting with your torso up straight and legs out in front of you. You can have a yoga strap ready if you are quite stiff to help you relax into the pose. Point your toes to the ceiling, lengthening the backs of your legs. Inhale, straightening your back and then as you exhale start to fold forward, leading with your chest. Slide your hands along your legs as you bed forward and either take hold of your strap, looping it around your feet, or, if you can reach, take hold of your feet. On your next exhale, release your head and neck so that your spine stretches and relax in the pose for 10 to 15 breaths. You can close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.

forward fold

Pigeon Pose

This pose is perhaps the best thigh stretch and hip opening posture you will find. It melts away tension and anxiety, relieves sciatica and improves flexibility around the entire hip area. Although it feels very intense while you’re in the pose, when you move out of it, you should feel more relaxed in general! Because it is a particularly strong pose, you need to make sure you are not cold when you move into it, so just make sure you’re in a warm room, or you’re warmed up from a shower or a bath. If you’re a beginner, have some folded blankets or cushions handy to prop you up. Start in tabletop position and bring your right leg forward in between your hands. Set the outside of your leg down on the mat with your lower leg crossing in front of your groin and opposite hip. Your right knee should be behind your right wrist and your right foot should be behind your left wrist. Depending on your level of flexibility, your leg might be on a bit of an angle back towards your groin. Never pick your leg up and force it to create more of an angle – again, it just takes time and practice. As you exhale, start to move your other foot backwards, getting your groin and pelvis closer to the mat. If you are falling to the right, place your blankets or pillows underneath your right glutes to ease the pose a little. Take long slow breaths and if the pose is particularly intense or uncomfortable, concentrate more on your inhales and exhales, imagining the oxygen reaching all the way down to your gluteus muscles on every inhale, releasing the tension from that area with every exhale.

pigeon pose

If you feel comfortable at this stage, you can start to walk your hands forward, leaning your torso over your front leg and place your forearms on the ground. Hold here or keep walking your hands forward so that your arms are outstretched in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat in front of your leg and start to relax into the pose, taking long, slow breaths. Stay here for at least 10 to 15 breaths, or more if you can manage it. Repeat on the other side.

Restorative Child’s Pose

Restorative poses are fantastic for melting away stress, slowing breath and preparing for sleep. We’ve already looked at child’s pose, and this one is similar, but uses restorative props. You can either use a large bolster, a small beanbag or some pillows and yoga blocks. Regardless of what you have available, you still practice the pose in the same way. Place either the bolster, beanbag or blocks and pillows in front of you and straddle them with your legs. On an exhale, lay down over your prop, resting one cheek on the pillow or prop. Take a few active but slow inhales and exhales and then let go of your breath, relaxing and releasing deeper into the pose. Stay here for about one-and-a-half to two minutes and then gently lift your head, relaxing down onto the other cheek for the same amount of time.

restorative yoga

Corpse Pose

At this stage, you can lay in bed to practice corpse pose, or stay on your mat. Corpse is a meditative pose tat unwinds the whole body, calms the mind and relieves stress. It can also reduce headaches, fatigue and insomnia, as well as potentially lowering blood pressure. From restorative child’s pose, remove all your props and lay flat on your back. Give your body plenty of room, keeping your arms a little away from your body and about hip-distance between your feet. Allow your feet to flop out to either side and face your palms to the ceiling. Close your eyes and relax into the pose, taking long, slow breaths. You might drift off to sleep after this, or you should hopefully at least be relaxed enough to turn over a fall asleep.

corpse pose

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Coconut Flour Health Benefits and How to Use It Tue, 07 Mar 2017 07:17:32 +0000 Have you ever felt frustrated or disheartened after checking out gluten-free cookbooks? I know I have – way too many recipes call for an odd mix of starches, various flours, thickeners, and gums. And a staggering number of gluten-free recipes contain hefty amounts of nut flours that can be pro-inflammatory. That’s why I almost always […]

The post Coconut Flour Health Benefits and How to Use It appeared first on Bembu.

Have you ever felt frustrated or disheartened after checking out gluten-free cookbooks? I know I have – way too many recipes call for an odd mix of starches, various flours, thickeners, and gums. And a staggering number of gluten-free recipes contain hefty amounts of nut flours that can be pro-inflammatory. That’s why I almost always use coconut flour when I bake. The only issue with coconut flour is that it can be quite tricky to use. So before you start using this flour with impressive health benefits, check out this article. Bonus: You’ll also find a list of mouth-watering recipes at the end of the article.

Check out this article before you buy coconut flour.

What is coconut flour

Highly prized in the Paleo community, coconut flour is not your traditional ‘flour’. It contains absolutely no grains and no nuts. Although the name may be confusing, the coconut is not a true nut but a one-seeded drupe. And pure coconut flour is simply coconut meat that has been dried and ground into a powder or flour.

Coconut flour is typically manufactured using one of the following methods:

  1. Dry process. In this method, the coconut meat is first ground and dried before most of the oil (about 88%) is extracted.
  1. Wet process. Manufacturers who use this method will first extract the coconut milk from the meat before drying and grinding it into coconut flour. About 52% of the oil will be extracted from the coconut meat in the wet process method.

Nutrition info for coconut flour

According to the USDA Food Composition Databases, 1 ounce (about 28g or a 1/4 cup serving) of coconut flour contains approximately:

  • 120 calories
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 16 grams of carbohydrates
  • 10 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of sugar

coconut flour nutrition

Coconut flour vs. other gluten-free flours

Let’s see how coconut flour compares to other popular gluten-flours.

Per 1/4 cup serving size:

  • Almond flour contains 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber.
  • Amaranth flour contains 110 calories, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber.
  • Buckwheat flour contains 94 calories, 3.5 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 20 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber.
  • Chickpea flour contains 110 calories, 6 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber.
  • Hazelnut flour contains 180 calories, 4 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber.
  • Rice flour contains 145 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fiber.

Health benefits of coconut flour

Coconut flour: the exotic flour with impressive health benefits

1.    Gluten-free

One of the most appealing characteristics of coconut flour is that it does not contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale.

You’re probably thinking ‘not much of a health benefit since only individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should go on a gluten-free diet’. 

Well, not exactly. You see, research has linked gluten with a shockingly broad spectrum of symptoms and conditions including:

  • Ataxia
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and endometriosis
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Depression
  • Inflammation – this can increase the risks of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Schizophrenia
  • Skin conditions such as dermatitis

So, even if you don’t have celiac disease and aren’t gluten intolerant, you might want to try a gluten-free diet for a month to see how you feel without gluten. Since many gluten-free products are nothing but processed foods, make sure to eat REAL FOODS. You may find the list of recipes at the end of this article pretty useful.

coconut flour allergen-free

2.    Unlikely to cause allergies

Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashew nuts are relatively common. And because of the ‘nut’ in coconut, many people mistakenly believe that they’ll also be allergic to coconuts if they are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. However, as mentioned earlier, the coconut is not a true nut. As such, coconut flour should be safely consumed by most individuals, even those with a diagnosed tree nut allergy.

This being said, although extremely rare, some cases of coconut allergies have been reported. So, if you suspect an allergy to the coconut, don’t try any recipe containing coconut flour before talking to your physician.

3.   Can improve your metabolism

When most people think of their metabolism, they think of their body weight. Or how many calories they can eat without increasing the number on the bathroom scale. Well, metabolism is so much more than that. In a nutshell, the metabolism refers to the essential biochemical reactions (such as digestion and production of hormones) that regulate how our cells use and store energy.

Coconut flour nutrition

In a way, you could picture the metabolism as an ongoing ‘discussion’ between your brain and the cells throughout your body. So, when your metabolism is working optimally:

  • You’ll find it easier to maintain a healthy weight because your body is efficiently using energy
  • Your hormones will be more effective – this includes leptin and ghrelin, the hormones that help control your appetite
  • Your immune system will be stronger
  • New cells will be generated at an increased rate to replace old ones (hello beautiful skin!)
  • You’d be at lower risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease

Health benefits of the MCFAs in coconut

  • Compared to long chain fatty acids, MCFAs are way less likely to be stored in the body’s fat deposits
  • MCFAs enhance the body’s ability to burn fat as energy (improved metabolism)
  • Studies suggest that MCFAs can help regulate appetite
  • MCFAs have been found to possess anti-coagulating effects which could reduce the risks of atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of the arteries)

coconut flour blood sugar control

4.    May enhance blood sugar control

Although coconut flour is high in carbohydrates, it can improve your blood sugar levels since:

  • Most of these carbohydrates come from the flour’s high fiber content – coconut flour is 60% fiber and can, therefore, slow down the absorption of sugar in the body
  • MCFAs have been shown to improve insulin’s function, making it more sensitive

However, do keep in mind that coconut flour is not a magical food.  Dumping loads of sugar, honey, maple syrup or fruits in your batter will cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket.

5.    Naturally rich in fiber

The fiber in coconut flour is 56% insoluble and 4% soluble. Research suggests that the high levels of fiber in this flour do not impede mineral absorption. When we eat foods that naturally contain soluble fiber (but not foods with added fiber), the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract will feed on (and ferment) these fibers to produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. These fatty acids have been found to:

  • Tone down inflammation which, if left unchecked, can lead to a host of health complications like heart disease
  • Improve insulin sensitivity and thus enhance blood sugar regulation
  • Reduce the risks of neurodegenerative diseases like
  • Ameliorate resistance to stress
  • Improve the body’s immune response

Note: Coconut flour can prove to be an amazing addition to your diet provided you eat slowly and mindfully.

how to choose coconut flour

Choosing the best coconut flour

To reap the most health benefits from coconut flour, go for a high-quality product that is:

  • 100% raw, almost beige in color and has a rich coconut scent – coconut flour that isn’t 100% raw will be deodorized and bleached and will, therefore, have a bright white color and barely any nutty smell.
  • Organic
  • Certified non-GMO
  • Free from added sulfites or preservatives

Is coconut flour for you?

As unsatisfying as it may be, the answer is: it depends on your physiology. After all, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to nutrition. Although most people tolerate coconut flour well, there are some aspects you need to consider before deciding whether to experiment with this flour or not.

coconut flour contraindications

1.    Eggs, eggs, and more eggs

Most recipes that list coconut flour as the only flour will almost always require eggs. And a lot of them since the eggs provide structure and act as binding agent in coconut flour baked goods. You could use chia or flax eggs as a substitute for eggs but, from experience, these egg replacers aren’t effective options in 100% coconut flour products. So, if you’re allergic to eggs or are on the autoimmune paleo diet, make sure that you can tolerate all the ingredients listed in any recipe calling for coconut flour.

2.    Coconut flour tastes like coconut meat

If you really dislike the coconut’s taste, you might be reluctant to taste anything that contains coconut flour. However, the nutty flavor and coconut taste is very subtle so give it a try. In fact, the taste is so mild that coconut flour works great in both savory and sweet recipes. In my experience, you’ll barely taste the coconut flavor if you’re using it in recipes that call for cocoa, cheese or other ingredients with strong flours. But keep in mind that if you use coconut oil and coconut flour together, the oil will bring out the coconut flavor.

coconut flour uses

3.    Coconut flour is suspected to be a high FODMAP product

Monash University hasn’t tested coconut flour yet but FODMAP Friendly, another FODMAP testing company; found that coconut flour was high for sorbitol at a three-tablespoon (20g) serve. Moreover, since sorbitol can bind to GLUT5 transporters (the proteins that act as ‘doors’ and allow fructose to be absorbed), it can increase the risks of fructose malabsorption especially if you are using fructose-containing ingredients in your baked product. So, if you are (or suspect you are) sensitive to either fructose or sorbitol, you may want to go easy on coconut flour.

4.    Coconut flour may contain too much fiber for some people

Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, can exacerbate symptoms in individuals with an inflamed digestive tract (such as those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). Since coconut flour is rich in insoluble fiber, it may not be a suitable option for people with these health conditions. You see, consuming lots of insoluble fiber when your gut is all inflamed would be akin to rubbing a sandpaper against an open wound… Now, this does not mean that you should need to forego coconut flour completely if you have any of these health issues. The trick is to listen to your body – you may find that you can easily tolerate up to 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut flour per day.

what to know before using coconut flour

What you need to know before using coconut flour

  • Coconut flour is not equivalent to wheat flour or other grain-based flours – What this means is that you cannot substitute coconut flours for these flours at a 1:1 ratio when baking. A little coconut flour goes a long way so make sure to stick to the amounts listed in the recipe or, trust me; you’ll end with a product that’s extremely dry and hard to swallow. For instance, you’ll generally need to substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour for 1 cup grain-based flour.
  • When baking with coconut flour, it is crucial to remember that this flour absorbs A LOT of liquid. This property will yield a product that is dense and soft so long as you don’t use too little liquid or too much coconut flour. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to use 6 eggs and a cup of liquid per cup of coconut flour.
  • Coconut flour is dry – Besides using plenty of eggs to increase moisture, you can also add pureed, mashed or cooked fruits and vegetables to your coconut flour batter to reduce dryness.
  • Coconut flour tends to clump – Make sure to add the flour slowly to your wet ingredients and beat thoroughly. This will help produce a fine-textured product.

coconut flour in soups and gravies

  • Coconut flour can be used for frying or sautéing – To do so, simply use coconut flour in an amount that is equivalent to wheat flour.
  • Coconut flour is great for thickening soups, sauces, and gravies – Again, remember that this flour is VERY absorbent so you may want to add one teaspoon at a time (stirring constantly to avoid lumps) until you reach the desired texture.

How to make your own coconut flour

Most well-stocked health food stores and grocery stores will usually carry coconut flour. But this product tends to have a high price tag. So, if you’ve got an adventurous soul, you could try to make coconut flour at home using the guidelines in the video below.

If you don’t feel like switching on your oven just to dry some coconut, you could dry the coconut fiber (obtained after making coconut milk) in a large skillet over low to medium heat. I find that this gives a nice roasted taste to the flour. Or, if you live in a hot country, you could place the coconut fiber on a large metal tray, cover it with a very thin cloth and leave it a few hours under the sun.

Or you could just buy it in bulk here – it could be more cost and time effective.

How to store coconut flour

Although coconut flour is rich in fats, these fats are saturated which means that they will withstand heat and light much better than nut or seed flours. I live on a very humid (and hot!) tropical island and keep coconut flour in an airtight container or large mason jars without any issue.

But you can also keep your flour:

  • In the refrigerator for about 6 months.
  • In the freezer for at least 12 months.

For best results, bring the flour to room temperature before mixing in other ingredients.

This being said, if your coconut flour starts tasting bitter or smelling funny, it has probably gone bad.

Tip: If you find that you only use a few tablespoons of coconut flour per month, you might want to keep a week’s worth of coconut flour in an airtight container and the rest in the refrigerator or freezer. This should help extend the freshness of the coconut flour.

storing coconut flour

Explore the world of coconut flour with these 13 mouth-watering recipes

I personally love creating breads, muffins, and cakes with coconut flour – it isn’t that hard once you’ve tried a few established recipes first. To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite recipes (just click on the recipe’s name to check out the full recipe). Give them a try and share your experience on our Facebook page.

Note: Remember that coconut flour is very filling. Since you may not feel full while eating a product containing coconut flour, it is very easy to overeat. So keep indigestion at bay by taking the time to really savor each bite.

Breakfast ideas

  1. Sweet Potato Bread

If you’re like me and don’t have much of a sweet tooth (or you feel like having some gluten-free croque monsieur with butter and lots of cheese), simply omit the maple syrup. Another modification I did to this recipe was to add the egg yolk and whites separately.  To do so, add the egg yolks to the batter before whipping the egg whites into soft peaks and folding these gently into the batter – this should make the bread less dense.

  1. Coconut Popovers

coconut-flour-popoversPhoto:Healthy Recipes Blogs

Although these popovers are soft all over (instead of crunchy outside and soft inside like wheat popovers), they are an absolute treat to have for breakfast. It does call for milk, however. So, if you don’t consume milk, just use regular coconut milk. For a different twist on these popovers, add some minced chicken and mixed herbs to the batter before popping the ramekins in the oven

  1. Chocolate Coffee Banana Donuts

I haven’t tried this recipe but I know how much people like donuts. So here’s a healthy version – the coffee is totally optional.

Lunch & dinner ideas

  1. Grain-free Coconut Tortillas

As the author suggests, avoid using non-stick pans or griddle for cooking since these emit toxic fumes when heated. If, for whatever reason you do need to use non-stick pans, just make sure not to preheat the pan on high heat and to use low heat throughout cooking.

  1. Easy Paleo Pizza Crust Recipe (Dairy-Free)

coconut-flour-bbq-chicken-pizzaPhoto: Paleo Spirit

For a different twist on this recipe, add some mixed dried herbs and a dash of cayenne pepper to the flour before adding the other ingredients.

  1. Five Spice Paleo Lamb Meatballs

These meatballs pair amazingly well with the coconut flour tortillas above and some homemade guacamole.

Snack ideas

  1. Apple Carrot Banana Bread

This recipe can easily be made into muffins and frozen for later.

  1. Gluten-free, Grain-free Cheese Crackers

As the name of this recipe suggests, these crackers are not dairy-free. You could omit the cheese and butter if you’re allergic to dairy products but since these ingredients a

  1. Coconut Spice Cookies

Instead of adding the raisins in the batter, you could scoop the cookie on the cookie sheet and then add different fruits (such as chopped dates, apricots, cherries or blueberries) to individual cookies. This way you’ll have a variety of cookies in a single batch.

10. Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double-Chocolate-Chip-Coconut-Flour-CookiesPhoto: Ditch The Wheat

This recipe calls for quite a large amount of sugar and, as the author suggests, reducing the sugar would yield a very bitter cookie. To prevent blood sugar spikes, you might want to add some Ceylon cinnamon powder to the batter.

  1. Onion Herb Coconut Biscuits

The thing I like the most about this particular recipe is that it uses chopped onion and garlic instead of powders. And of course, they taste amazing! Tip: make a big batch and let them cool completely at room temperature on a rack before placing them on a tray in the freezer. Once the biscuits are frozen, simply keep them in a zip-lock bag. To reheat, just use a skillet.              

Muffin recipes

  1. Raspberry Almond Muffins

Baking powder often contains aluminum which can be a real problem for individuals with autoimmune conditions. So, sub the baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1½ teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.

  1. Banana Cinnamon Bun Muffins

Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk (preferably home-made or a BPA-free brand) to reap all the health benefits of its MCFAs. You can also omit the maple syrup to make the muffins less sweet.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What do you think of coconut flour as a substitute for regular wheat flour? Do you have any tips to share.

The post Coconut Flour Health Benefits and How to Use It appeared first on Bembu.

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36 Beautiful Smoothie Bowl Recipes To Nourish Your Mornings Mon, 27 Feb 2017 23:15:38 +0000 Beauty, color, texture and fun. Smoothie bowls really are a step up from regular old smoothies. While they can be enjoyed at any time of the day, they are that quintessential breakfast option that will put a smile on any health-conscious person’s face. Here are 36 of the most vibrant, creative, and, of course, nutritious, smoothie […]

The post 36 Beautiful Smoothie Bowl Recipes To Nourish Your Mornings appeared first on Bembu.

Beauty, color, texture and fun. Smoothie bowls really are a step up from regular old smoothies. While they can be enjoyed at any time of the day, they are that quintessential breakfast option that will put a smile on any health-conscious person’s face. Here are 36 of the most vibrant, creative, and, of course, nutritious, smoothie bowl recipes going around…

A step up from plain old smoothies, these colorful, vibrant bowls make a fun, nourishing start to your day!


Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Butternut Squash Smoothie Bowl – This gluten-free, vegan smoothie option is packed full of nutrients. It is rich in powerful beta-carotene, which is a provitamin that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene has a range of health benefits, from strengthening immunity to improving eye and heart health. This smoothie bowl is made with banana, mango, apricots, butternut squash, unsweetened almond milk and either lemon or orange.

Tropical Smoothie Bowl – This is another vibrant, sunny breakfast smoothie bowl to kick start your day. It is made with bananas, mangoes, pineapple, almond milk and shredded coconut. If you like pina coladas, this has a similar tropical, coconuty taste – ideal for summer!

Tropical smoothie

Chocolate & Strawberry Smoothie Bowl – Simple and elegant, this pretty in pink smoothie bowl is another great summer option, when strawberries are in season, but you can also freeze your strawberries in summer and enjoy this recipe all-year-round. After all, chocolate and strawberries works any time of the year! It is made with strawberries, plain yogurt (try natural Greek style), unsweetened vanilla almond milk, honey and a range of delicious, nutritious toppings, including cacao nibs, sliced strawberries, granola, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Anti-Inflammatory Blackberry Overnight Oats Smoothie Bowl – This is a chunkier smoothie bowl variation, because it is not blended. However, if you’d rather it smooth, you can simply blend the ingredients. Otherwise, you can follow the recipe, which involves preparing it the night before and allowing the oats to soak up all the goodness, ready for the morning! The recipe calls for blackberries, unsweetened almond or oat milk, dates, cinnamon, wheatgrass, rolled oats and chia seeds. It also comes with a list of tasty and nutritious topping ideas, including pomegranate seeds, wheatgrass powder, hemp, flax or chia seeds, berries and nut butter.

Loaded Strawberry Smoothie Bowl – This ice pink smoothie bowl is super simple, quick and easy to make. Start with strawberry yogurt, but you can make your own healthier version by blending strawberries and natural unsweetened yogurt. The recipe also calls for almond milk (again, go for unsweetened), fresh strawberries and crushed ice. You can then decorate with assorted fruits, nuts and granola.

Loaded Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

Red Velvet Smoothie Bowl – This beautiful deep red smoothie bowl is naturally dyed and naturally nutritious. It is made with banana, beet, vanilla Greek yogurt or Icelandic yogurt, cacao powder, coconut milk, and toppings, including strawberries, raspberries, coconut cream and cacao nibs.

Spirulina Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl – This smoothie bowl looks complicated, but it is actually very simple, calling for just four base ingredients! They include the incredibly powerful spirulina powder, bananas, peanut butter (make sure you get 100%), and coconut milk. Then you can add any toppings you like to it – some healthy and handy go-to toppings include berries, nuts and granola.

Strawberry & Banana Smoothie – This classic flavor pairing of banana and strawberries never fails to please. With the added benefit of being a protein drink, it is a great option to start the morning with. It is especially beneficial if you are vegetarian or vegan, to give you a good hit of protein first thing in the morning. The recipe calls for milk of your choice, such as almond or soy, frozen strawberries, banana, ice cubes, protein powder, agave nectar (but you can substitute with honey or maple syrup if you’re not a fan of agave), and toppings, such as berries, banana, granola and coconut flakes.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Nice Cream Breakfast Bowl – This vegan but creamy tasting smoothie bowl is a beautiful lavender color. It has vitamin-rich ingredients, fiber-rich chia seeds and plenty of minerals and antioxidants to boot. The recipe calls for frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, coconut milk, granola, chia seeds and nectarines or peaches.

Four Smoothie Bowls – This video shows you how to make four delicious, nutritious and very different smoothie bowl recipes to suit your different cravings and the different seasons.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Smoothie Bowl – You’ll definitely want to click into this recipe and check out how beautifully the blogger has presented this smoothie bowl! Picture-perfect, but actually very simple to make, the recipe includes frozen bananas, frozen raspberries, coconut cream, coconut sugar and coconut milk powder, plus toppings.

Beetroot & Raspberry Smoothie Bowl – You can imagine the stunning, rich color beets and raspberries make in a smoothie, can’t you? This very healthy, wholesome breakfast includes frozen berries, frozen banana, raw beets, agave syrup (but you can substitute with honey or maple syrup), and cashew rice milk, plus, of course, toppings of your choice, like granola, extra berries, coconut flakes and nuts.

Tropical Smoothie Bowl – This is another tropical smoothie bowl, but with different ingredients for a slightly different take on a classic. The recipe calls for passionfruit pulp (make sure it’s a natural one), honey, banana, pineapple, water, strawberries, kiwifruit, mango and coconut flakes. Note: when a smoothie bowl recipe calls for water, you can always substitute for coconut water to get that extra little dose of nutrients.

Tropical smoothie bowl

Mocha Nut Winter Smoothie Bowl – People usually think of smoothie bowls as a summer breakfast, but this coffee and chocolate-filled recipe is just the kind of pick-me-up you need in those dark winter months. The recipe calls for frozen bananas, almond butter, cocoa powder, coffee, ice cubes and maple syrup. Topping options include slivered almonds, shaved chocolate, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, coconut milk, cocoa powder and rose petals.

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Bowl – This nutrient dense smoothie bowl is vegan and gluten-free. It is a beautiful lilac color and calls for just two ingredients – purple sweet potato and milk! Go for unsweetened almond milk or hazelnut milk. You can also add a spoonful of coconut yogurt if you want a little extra flavor.

Pink Passion Probiotic Smoothie Bowl – As the name suggests, this smoothie is very beneficial, with probiotic drink kombucha and mineral-rich maca. As well as those two ingredients, the recipe calls or pitaya, a dragon fruit smoothie packet, red berries and banana. Topping suggestions include raspberries, strawberries, chia seeds, cacao nibs and coconut flakes.

Pink Passion Probiotic Smoothie

Chai Smoothie Bowl – This smoothie includes a chai tea infusion, which is both delicious and cleansing. The recipe calls for unsweetened non-dairy milk, like almond, hazelnut or coconut, a chai tea bag, frozen banana, dates, nut or seed butter, protein powder, pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Topping suggestions include banana, granola, seeds, nuts and cinnamon.

Pitaya Smoothie Bowl – This pretty hot pink smoothie bowl is made with frozen pitaya, frozen raspberries, Greek yogurt, almond milk, granola, chia seeds, pomegranate seeds and fresh raspberries. It has a bit of protein, plenty of fiber, some probiotics and a whole lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to fuel your morning.

Raspberry & Nutella Protein Smoothie Bowl – Okay, so we know Nutella is not the healthiest thing in the world, but everything in moderation. Alternatively, you can make your own healthy Nutella, which calls for hazelnuts, almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract, or similar. There are a few different variations floating around the internet, and they are very easy to find if you want to try that! Other than Nutella, this recipe includes unsweetened almond milk, frozen raspberries, ice cubes, protein powder, honey and toppings, such as fruit, granola, chocolate chips or extra Nutella. Note: depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have, you might not need to add the honey into the smoothie bowl, because the Nutella and raspberries add plenty of sweetness.

Nutella Smoothie Bowl

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl With Chia Seeds – This recipe is bursting with colors and flavors, and is packed full of nutrients. It is made with nourishing natural ingredients, perfect all-year-round. They include milk of your choice, frozen strawberries, blueberries (frozen if they’re not in season), dates, vanilla extract, kiwi, granola, strawberries and chia seeds.

Chocolate & Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl – This has all the makings of a decadent dessert, but it’s incredibly nourishing and nutritious – perfect for when you feel like indulging but don’t want to get a sugar high. The recipe calls for unsweetened almond milk, frozen mixed berries, frozen banana, cocoa powder, maca, chia seeds, unsweetened roasted coconut butter, and cacao nibs and fresh berries for topping.

Orange & Arugula Smoothie Bowl – This is a very powerful smoothie bowl that includes vegetables – one being a dark leafy green. The recipe includes orange, arugula, banana, Greek yogurt, cauliflower florets, parsley, lemon juice, chia seeds and water.

Green Smoothie Bowl – This mean, green, immune boosting machine is made with chia seeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, flaked almonds, cinnamon, maple syrup or honey, bananas, avocado, mango, spinach, milk, almond butter, mint leaves, and toppings of your choice.

Mango Smoothie Bowl – Back to sunny yellow to brighten your mornings, this tasty mango-flavored smoothie bowl is a summer favorite. The recipe calls for peaches, honey, mango, coconut water, lemon and ginger.

Raw Raspberry Buckwheat Porridge – This pretty lavender colored smoothie bowl is about as superfood-rich as you can get. It is made with buckwheat groats, frozen raspberries, unsweetened almond milk, almond butter, dates, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, hazelnuts, frozen berries, mulberries, goji berries, hemp seeds and nut butter.

Raw raspberry buckwheat

Cranberry & Orange Smoothie Bowl – Oh, so vibrant, this vitamin C-rich smoothie bowl is ideal if your immune system is feeling a little weak. The recipe calls for cranberries, frozen banana, oranges, vanilla, cinnamon, yogurt, pomegranate arils and paleo granola dust.

Three Smoothie Bowl Recipes – This blog includes three delicious nourishing smoothie bowls. The first is a banana and vanilla flavored bowl, which is made with almond milk, raw cashews, banana, flax meal, vanilla powder, pomegranate, dried strawberries and blood orange. The second calls for banana, protein powder, almond milk, chai tea, tahini, dried turmeric, cinnamon, flaxseed, and dried vanilla. And the third is made with buckwheat groats, oats, coconut, flaxseed, banana, peanut butter (100%), cacao powder, cinnamon, dates, almond milk and muesli.

Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie Bowl – Fuel your mornings with a good dose of protein! This smoothie bowl is made with unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter (again, make sure it’s the 100% stuff, not blended with cheap oils), frozen blueberries, ice cubes, protein powder and granola.

Peanut butter smoothie bowl

Matcha Smoothie Bowl – Matcha is the strongest form of green tea, which means this smoothie bowl gives you massive hit of powerful cleansing antioxidants that are great for you – inside and out (particularly your skin!). The recipe calls for banana, kale, mango, matcha powder and coconut milk.

Raspberry Licorice Smoothie Bowl – If you need a little help getting your bowels moving in the mornings, then this licorice smoothie is just want you need. Simple to make, it includes hulled hemp seeds, lemon juice, banana, frozen raspberries, plant milk and raw licorice powder.

Purple Protein Smoothie Bowl – Last, but definitely not least, this pretty purple smoothie bowl has lots of flavors and nutrients, including protein, fiber and vitamins. The recipe calls for banana, protein powder, frozen blueberries, spirulina, coconut water, almond milk, pumpkin seeds, coconut, granola and peppermint extract.

The post 36 Beautiful Smoothie Bowl Recipes To Nourish Your Mornings appeared first on Bembu.

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