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Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies

When was the last time you ate a whole bunch of parsley or spinach in one day? Chances are you never have, yet leafy greens like these pack a powerful punch of nutrition. A great way to utilize the amazing power of green leafy vegetables is with a daily green smoothie.

Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies by Jennifer Thompson

I first started Green Smoothie after several months on the raw food diet, and right away, I felt a difference! My energy levels improved even more, and thanks to the added ground flax seed in the Green Smoothie, my bowel movements became even more, well…epic! I knew that this was something that everyone could do at home, even if they didn’t want to go into a strict raw food diet. So, I started telling my Iridology and Health Coaching Clients about Green Smoothies.

Just some of the amazing stories of success I heard: Symptoms of menopause – gone; Acid Reflux – gone; Sugar Cravings – gone; Colitis – gone; PMS – improved; Digestive disorders and constipation: gone; Skin conditions – cleared; Sleep function – improved; Arthritis – gone; and the list just goes on and on!

One of my clients from Switzerland got her 86-year mother hooked on Green Smoothies and saw her digestion function and energy levels improve. Another client canceled his knee replacement surgery after he realized that the chronic pain and inflammation in his knee had disappeared after starting to drink Green Smoothies. I heard from clients who lost weight finally, after years of yo-yo dieting. I even helped a client get pregnant after 8 years on IVF just from having a daily Green Smoothie…she calls her baby a “Green Smoothie miracle!”

What is a Green Smoothie?

A Green Smoothie is a mixture of water, leafy greens and fruits. The ingredients are thoroughly blended with water in a blender. It is important to note that a Green Smoothie is a blended drink and not a juice. A blender is used to break down the cellulose structure in the greens thereby unlocking their valuable nutrients.

Green Smoothies 101: Your FAQs Answered

Green Smoothies 101

Some of the questions people commonly ask when they first enter the world of green smoothies…
When greens are liquidised in a blender, do they lose nutrients?
To break down all the fiber and cellulose in green leaves, you would have to spend several hours a day chewing and have extremely healthy teeth. In a Green Smoothie, the blender does the chewing for you, blending all the greens into very small pieces. So, a Green Smoothie can actually provide more nutrition because it’s blended, not less.

Can I use powdered greens instead of fresh?
The real benefits and healing potential in Green Smoothies lie in the fresh leafy greens, due to their fiber, nutrients and live enzymes. Powdered greens (spirulina, wheatgrass powder, kelp, green powder blends, etc.) are great to add to your Green Smoothie for even more nutritional power, but don’t forget to use fresh greens too. During travel, powdered greens are a practical and easy way to enjoy Green Smoothies on the road.

Can I use ice or frozen fruit?
Energy is required to ‘warm up’ a frozen drink, and that energy takes away from the process of digestion and absorption. Using cold water is ok, because it’s not nearly as cold as ice.

Can I add yogurt or milk instead of water?
Dairy is mucous-forming to the body and can slow down the cleansing and absorption process. You can still enjoy dairy products in your normal daily diet if you choose, but try to keep the Green Smoothie dairy-free so it is easy for your body to digest.

Isn’t that too much fruit sugar?
If you are diabetic, and you find yourself already sensitive to fruit, then use low-glycemic index fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and green apples. If you are unsure in any way, it’s best to consult a medical doctor.

What is the best blender to use for Green Smoothies?
The best blender for Green Smoothies is one that you actually use! Many people think they need an expensive Vitamix or Blendtec blender in order to make Green Smoothies, and that’s simply not true.

A standard household blender is fine, as long as you add water and fruits first, blend, and then add the greens and blend again. That way, you won’t destroy the motor and you will get many delicious Green Smoothies from your blender!

Am I supposed to eat only Green Smoothies?
No! You can eat whatever you normally eat. All you need to do is simply add 1 Green Smoothie a day to your diet.

I eat meat. Will a Green Smoothie still work?
Yes! Green Smoothies will compliment any diet or lifestyle, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan or raw food vegan. You do not have to give anything up.

Can children drink Green Smoothies?
Yes! In fact, children seem to really love Green Smoothies! It’s a fantastic breakfast for the entire family and a great start to a healthy day!

How to Make a Green Smoothie with Easy Recipes

Why Green Smoothies?

Primarily because of the health results.

Greens represent a convenient, essentially non-caloric, nutrient-dense source of otherwise hard to obtain minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese.

When the body starts to get the nutrition it needs, it will naturally start to crave healthier foods, and that’s a great weight to jump-start eating the right foods for weight loss. Eating fiber in the diet is essential for proper elimination and good colon health.

Aim to drink about 500ml (about 17 ounces or 2 cups) of Green Smoothie per day.

How to Make a Green Smoothie

1. Blend 60% fruit to 40% greens in a blender.
2. Add water and/or high-water content fruits first.
3. Then add greens, blend again.
4. Blend different fruits and greens every day.
5. Try different combinations and find what tastes best to you!

What to Use for Greens

You can try kale, spinach, Romaine lettuce, bok choy, arugula, celery leaves, alfalfa, clover, parsley, mint, coriander (cilantro), dandelion, Collard greens, watercress, beet greens, or Swiss chard.

Avoid using more than 2 different greens at a time – this will ensure smooth, easy digestion and assimilation. It is important to use variety with your greens over a period of time, so try to buy something different each time you shop.

What to Use for Fruits

Enjoy apples, pears, bananas, oranges, papaya, pineapple, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries blueberries or raspberries, depending on what you can find fresh and preferably in season. Watermelon tastes great in a smoothie. You can also use a few medjool dates just to add some sweet flavor.

Use 2-3 different fruits in your smoothie for a pleasant blend of flavors. Banana is delicious in smoothies because it adds a nice sweetness and thickness to the drink.

4 Green Smoothie Recipes

Digestive Power

– 1 Handful Fresh Watercress
– 1/2 bunch Parsley
– 2 cups Grapes
– 2 Red Apples
– Dash of Cinnamon
– 1/4 inch Fresh Ginger
– 1 T Raw Cacao Powder
– 1 T Coconut Oil
– 1 cup Water

Immune Booster

– 1 Handful Baby Spinach
– 1/2 bunch Fresh Mint
– 1 Apple
– 1 Banana
– 1 Lemon
– 1/2 inch Fresh Ginger
– 2 cups Water

Mega Omegas

– 6-7 Large Kale Leaves
– 1 Handful Celery Greens
– 3 Bananas
– 2 T Ground Flax Seed
– 1 T Whole Flax Seed
– 2 T Flax Oil
– 1 tsp. Agave Nectar, Raw Honey or Date Sugar
– 1/2 cup Water

Antioxidant Blend

– 2 Handfuls Romaine Lettuce
– 1 cup Red Grapes
– 1/2 cup Blueberries
– 2 T Goji Berries (soaked)
– 1 Pitted Date (Medjool if available)
– 1 tsp. Acai Powder
– 1/2 tsp. Spirulina Powder
– 1 cup Water

Directions

1. Carefully wash all greens and fruit.
2. In a blender, add the water, fruit and powders and blend until smooth.
3. Add the greens and blend again.
4. Drink and toast to your vibrant health!

Now on DVD: GREEN SMOOTHIE POWER!

Finally, Jennifer’s famous Green Smoothie Class is now available in DVD. Watch and learn…you will soon become a Green Smoothie Expert, ready to bless the world with your green love!

Find out for yourself why thousands of people are turning to Green Smoothies for more energy, better health, detox & weight loss! Are you not experiencing the level of energy and good health you desire? Green Smoothies could be your answer to start getting results. Jennifer’s NEW Green Smoothie Power DVD teaches you how!

here

With the DVD, you also receive 3 eBooks. Use the Quick Reference Guide eBook to get started immediately. Read the How to Make Green Smoothies eBook for inspiration and motivation. Experiment with 200 amazing recipes in the Green Smoothie Recipe eBook. You can be making your first Green Smoothie within minutes!

See how easy it is to add Superfoods to your Green Smoothies, and learn the real secret to Green Smoothie Success: How to Love Your Blender! Plus FREE EXTRAS included: 2 high-quality 100% Cotton Sprout Bags just for you!

BUY the Green Smoothie DVD and 3 eBook Kit:

Green Smoothie Power Kit

 

 

or buy the eBooks separately!

eBook: Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide

Quick Start Guide eBook

This is the condensed version of Jennifer’s famous Green Smoothie Class, complete with the most popular FAQs, benefits of Green Smoothies and how to make your Green Smoothie taste great!

Read what others had to say:

“My energy levels are much better and I don’t have cravings for sweets like before.” – Bill

“People started to comment on how well I look and my skin is so much better!” – Helen

“I feel focused!!” – Cathy

New and improved Edition!

BUY Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide eBook:

eBook: Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide (.pdf)

 

 

eBook: 200 Green Smoothie Recipes

200 Green Smoothie Recipes eBook

200 Green Smoothie Recipes are available in this great eBook. That’s 4 different Green Smoothies every week for an entire year!

Some of Jennifer’s Amazing Recipes:

Happy Morning, Daily Detox, Quick Cleanse, Fresh Start, Power Blaster, Digestive Balance, Liver Tonic, Instant Health, Basic Instinct, Champion Blend, Enzyme Energy, Pick Me Up, Mega Omegas, Full of Gratitude, Tweet-worthy, Natural Glow, De-Stresser, Simple Pleasure, Soul Food, Fast Tune-Up, Green Gaspacho, Protein Power, Green Kingdom, Antioxidant Blend, Divine Creation, Ab Fab, Super Dude and many more!

New and improved Edition!

BUY 200 Green Smoothie Recipes eBook:

eBook: 200 Green Smoothie Recipes (.pdf)

 

 

eBook: How to Make Green Smoothies

How to Make Green Smoothies eBook

Learn what the necessary tools are for healing and understand why you can’t get long-term results without adding more greens to the diet.

See why having greens in a raw and blended form is the superior way to get all the Power of the Greens.

Find out what kind of blender you need, the best combinations of greens, fruits and superfoods for your health and hear amazing success stories, including the reversal of grey hair from Green Smoothies!

New and improved edition!

Why wait any longer to start feeling better, looking great and losing weight?

BUY How to Make Green Smoothies eBook:

eBook: How to Make Green Smoothies (.pdf)

 

 

Article written be Jennifer Thompson for Awakenings ME Magazine.

Find out how to book an Iridology Session.

Buy Jennifer’s Green Smoothie DVD here.

Book a Personalized Detox with Jennifer today!

More on Green Smoothies:

Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies

When was the last time you ate a whole bunch of parsley or spinach in one day? Chances are you never have, yet leafy greens like these pack a powerful punch of nutrition. A great way to utilize the amazing power of green leafy vegetables is with a daily green smoothie.

Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies by Jennifer Thompson

I first started Green Smoothie after several months on the raw food diet, and right away, I felt a difference! My energy levels improved even more, and thanks to the added ground flax seed in the Green Smoothie, my bowel movements became even more, well…epic! I knew that this was something that everyone could do at home, even if they didn’t want to go into a strict raw food diet. So, I started telling my Iridology and Health Coaching Clients about Green Smoothies.

Just some of the amazing stories of success I heard: Symptoms of menopause – gone; Acid Reflux – gone; Sugar Cravings – gone; Colitis – gone; PMS – improved; Digestive disorders and constipation: gone; Skin conditions – cleared; Sleep function – improved; Arthritis – gone; and the list just goes on and on!

One of my clients from Switzerland got her 86-year mother hooked on Green Smoothies and saw her digestion function and energy levels improve. Another client canceled his knee replacement surgery after he realized that the chronic pain and inflammation in his knee had disappeared after starting to drink Green Smoothies. I heard from clients who lost weight finally, after years of yo-yo dieting. I even helped a client get pregnant after 8 years on IVF just from having a daily Green Smoothie…she calls her baby a “Green Smoothie miracle!”

What is a Green Smoothie?

A Green Smoothie is a mixture of water, leafy greens and fruits. The ingredients are thoroughly blended with water in a blender. It is important to note that a Green Smoothie is a blended drink and not a juice. A blender is used to break down the cellulose structure in the greens thereby unlocking their valuable nutrients.

Green Smoothies 101: Your FAQs Answered

Green Smoothies 101

Some of the questions people commonly ask when they first enter the world of green smoothies…
When greens are liquidised in a blender, do they lose nutrients?
To break down all the fiber and cellulose in green leaves, you would have to spend several hours a day chewing and have extremely healthy teeth. In a Green Smoothie, the blender does the chewing for you, blending all the greens into very small pieces. So, a Green Smoothie can actually provide more nutrition because it’s blended, not less.

Can I use powdered greens instead of fresh?
The real benefits and healing potential in Green Smoothies lie in the fresh leafy greens, due to their fiber, nutrients and live enzymes. Powdered greens (spirulina, wheatgrass powder, kelp, green powder blends, etc.) are great to add to your Green Smoothie for even more nutritional power, but don’t forget to use fresh greens too. During travel, powdered greens are a practical and easy way to enjoy Green Smoothies on the road.

Can I use ice or frozen fruit?
Energy is required to ‘warm up’ a frozen drink, and that energy takes away from the process of digestion and absorption. Using cold water is ok, because it’s not nearly as cold as ice.

Can I add yogurt or milk instead of water?
Dairy is mucous-forming to the body and can slow down the cleansing and absorption process. You can still enjoy dairy products in your normal daily diet if you choose, but try to keep the Green Smoothie dairy-free so it is easy for your body to digest.

Isn’t that too much fruit sugar?
If you are diabetic, and you find yourself already sensitive to fruit, then use low-glycemic index fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and green apples. If you are unsure in any way, it’s best to consult a medical doctor.

What is the best blender to use for Green Smoothies?
The best blender for Green Smoothies is one that you actually use! Many people think they need an expensive Vitamix or Blendtec blender in order to make Green Smoothies, and that’s simply not true.

A standard household blender is fine, as long as you add water and fruits first, blend, and then add the greens and blend again. That way, you won’t destroy the motor and you will get many delicious Green Smoothies from your blender!

Am I supposed to eat only Green Smoothies?
No! You can eat whatever you normally eat. All you need to do is simply add 1 Green Smoothie a day to your diet.

I eat meat. Will a Green Smoothie still work?
Yes! Green Smoothies will compliment any diet or lifestyle, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan or raw food vegan. You do not have to give anything up.

Can children drink Green Smoothies?
Yes! In fact, children seem to really love Green Smoothies! It’s a fantastic breakfast for the entire family and a great start to a healthy day!

How to Make a Green Smoothie with Easy Recipes

Why Green Smoothies?

Primarily because of the health results.

Greens represent a convenient, essentially non-caloric, nutrient-dense source of otherwise hard to obtain minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese.

When the body starts to get the nutrition it needs, it will naturally start to crave healthier foods, and that’s a great weight to jump-start eating the right foods for weight loss. Eating fiber in the diet is essential for proper elimination and good colon health.

Aim to drink about 500ml (about 17 ounces or 2 cups) of Green Smoothie per day.

How to Make a Green Smoothie

1. Blend 60% fruit to 40% greens in a blender.
2. Add water and/or high-water content fruits first.
3. Then add greens, blend again.
4. Blend different fruits and greens every day.
5. Try different combinations and find what tastes best to you!

What to Use for Greens

You can try kale, spinach, Romaine lettuce, bok choy, arugula, celery leaves, alfalfa, clover, parsley, mint, coriander (cilantro), dandelion, Collard greens, watercress, beet greens, or Swiss chard.

Avoid using more than 2 different greens at a time – this will ensure smooth, easy digestion and assimilation. It is important to use variety with your greens over a period of time, so try to buy something different each time you shop.

What to Use for Fruits

Enjoy apples, pears, bananas, oranges, papaya, pineapple, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries blueberries or raspberries, depending on what you can find fresh and preferably in season. Watermelon tastes great in a smoothie. You can also use a few medjool dates just to add some sweet flavor.

Use 2-3 different fruits in your smoothie for a pleasant blend of flavors. Banana is delicious in smoothies because it adds a nice sweetness and thickness to the drink.

4 Green Smoothie Recipes

Digestive Power

– 1 Handful Fresh Watercress
– 1/2 bunch Parsley
– 2 cups Grapes
– 2 Red Apples
– Dash of Cinnamon
– 1/4 inch Fresh Ginger
– 1 T Raw Cacao Powder
– 1 T Coconut Oil
– 1 cup Water

Immune Booster

– 1 Handful Baby Spinach
– 1/2 bunch Fresh Mint
– 1 Apple
– 1 Banana
– 1 Lemon
– 1/2 inch Fresh Ginger
– 2 cups Water

Mega Omegas

– 6-7 Large Kale Leaves
– 1 Handful Celery Greens
– 3 Bananas
– 2 T Ground Flax Seed
– 1 T Whole Flax Seed
– 2 T Flax Oil
– 1 tsp. Agave Nectar, Raw Honey or Date Sugar
– 1/2 cup Water

Antioxidant Blend

– 2 Handfuls Romaine Lettuce
– 1 cup Red Grapes
– 1/2 cup Blueberries
– 2 T Goji Berries (soaked)
– 1 Pitted Date (Medjool if available)
– 1 tsp. Acai Powder
– 1/2 tsp. Spirulina Powder
– 1 cup Water

Directions

1. Carefully wash all greens and fruit.
2. In a blender, add the water, fruit and powders and blend until smooth.
3. Add the greens and blend again.
4. Drink and toast to your vibrant health!

Now on DVD: GREEN SMOOTHIE POWER!

Finally, Jennifer’s famous Green Smoothie Class is now available in DVD. Watch and learn…you will soon become a Green Smoothie Expert, ready to bless the world with your green love!

Find out for yourself why thousands of people are turning to Green Smoothies for more energy, better health, detox & weight loss! Are you not experiencing the level of energy and good health you desire? Green Smoothies could be your answer to start getting results. Jennifer’s NEW Green Smoothie Power DVD teaches you how!

here

With the DVD, you also receive 3 eBooks. Use the Quick Reference Guide eBook to get started immediately. Read the How to Make Green Smoothies eBook for inspiration and motivation. Experiment with 200 amazing recipes in the Green Smoothie Recipe eBook. You can be making your first Green Smoothie within minutes!

See how easy it is to add Superfoods to your Green Smoothies, and learn the real secret to Green Smoothie Success: How to Love Your Blender! Plus FREE EXTRAS included: 2 high-quality 100% Cotton Sprout Bags just for you!

BUY the Green Smoothie DVD and 3 eBook Kit:

Green Smoothie Power Kit

 

 

or buy the eBooks separately!

eBook: Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide

Quick Start Guide eBook

This is the condensed version of Jennifer’s famous Green Smoothie Class, complete with the most popular FAQs, benefits of Green Smoothies and how to make your Green Smoothie taste great!

Read what others had to say:

“My energy levels are much better and I don’t have cravings for sweets like before.” – Bill

“People started to comment on how well I look and my skin is so much better!” – Helen

“I feel focused!!” – Cathy

New and improved Edition!

BUY Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide eBook:

eBook: Green Smoothie Quick Start Guide (.pdf)

 

 

eBook: 200 Green Smoothie Recipes

200 Green Smoothie Recipes eBook

200 Green Smoothie Recipes are available in this great eBook. That’s 4 different Green Smoothies every week for an entire year!

Some of Jennifer’s Amazing Recipes:

Happy Morning, Daily Detox, Quick Cleanse, Fresh Start, Power Blaster, Digestive Balance, Liver Tonic, Instant Health, Basic Instinct, Champion Blend, Enzyme Energy, Pick Me Up, Mega Omegas, Full of Gratitude, Tweet-worthy, Natural Glow, De-Stresser, Simple Pleasure, Soul Food, Fast Tune-Up, Green Gaspacho, Protein Power, Green Kingdom, Antioxidant Blend, Divine Creation, Ab Fab, Super Dude and many more!

New and improved Edition!

BUY 200 Green Smoothie Recipes eBook:

eBook: 200 Green Smoothie Recipes (.pdf)

 

 

eBook: How to Make Green Smoothies

How to Make Green Smoothies eBook

Learn what the necessary tools are for healing and understand why you can’t get long-term results without adding more greens to the diet.

See why having greens in a raw and blended form is the superior way to get all the Power of the Greens.

Find out what kind of blender you need, the best combinations of greens, fruits and superfoods for your health and hear amazing success stories, including the reversal of grey hair from Green Smoothies!

New and improved edition!

Why wait any longer to start feeling better, looking great and losing weight?

BUY How to Make Green Smoothies eBook:

eBook: How to Make Green Smoothies (.pdf)

 

 

Article written be Jennifer Thompson for Awakenings ME Magazine.

Find out how to book an Iridology Session.

Buy Jennifer’s Green Smoothie DVD here.

Book a Personalized Detox with Jennifer today!

More on Green Smoothies:

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: The Raw Food Valley of Longevity… or Just Hype?

Ecuador is known as a top retirement destination for Americans due to the low cost of living and ease of getting residency, but did you know that it’s also a place for raw foodists and young international families interested in a more simple, natural way of living? Some raw food friends of mine recently moved to Vilcabamba, known to many as the “Valley of Longevity,” and after years of hearing about the place (especially after Mike Adams, Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes moved there), I decided to finally go for a visit and check it out for myself.

The main road entering Vilcabamba, Ecuador aka The Valley of Longevity

My boyfriend and I spent 2.5 months in Vilcabamba. We stayed at the Meditation Center in town for the first 2 weeks until we found a furnished house available for short-term rent. We found a place with gorgeous mountain views and a lot of space (2 bedrooms, an office loft, 2 full bathrooms, a large living area and kitchen) for $900 USD per month. It was less than a 10-minute walk from the center of town. This was perfect for us because we didn’t want a car and we could easily walk to town and buy whatever we needed.

Our home for 2 months…a gorgeous mountain retreat!

Shared pool for the small gated community…it was right next to our house

Open doors in the morning for an absolutely fantastic view of the mountains…close doors 4pm to minimize mosquitos!

Most of our time in Vilcabamba was spent preparing and focusing on the 21-day water fast that we did while there. This was our main goal in renting a house for 2 months – to take a break from all the traveling we’d done through Costa Rica, Guatemala and South America, and to have some quiet time surrounded by nature to fast and rest. What better place to do a detox than in the Valley of Longevity itself?

My first meal (pureed cucumber) after water fasting for 21 days…and NO worms! 🙂

Not to start things on the wrong side, but it has to be said: there are a lot of strange expats in Vilcabamba. You will definitely notice a weird vibe when you arrive to town. It’s a small place, everyone knows each other, and clearly you are the newcomer when you get there. We experienced a lot of long uncomfortable stares from the local “gringos”, to the point where we even googled something like “why is everyone so weird in Vilcabamba” and we actually had a good laugh when we read several travel blogs that reported having the same experience as us. There is definitely a lot of conspiracy theory talk going around about…well, just about everything. It’s almost impossible not to overhear at least one major conspiracy theory conversation per day, especially if you go the the Juice Factory, the main hang-out in the town square where all the gringos converge for a juice, smoothie, salad or the ongoing end-of-the-word discussion. I even heard a story about how the Jesus on the cross was fake, and that the real Jesus was hiding under a pyramid in Egypt… Well, who knows? It could be true!

Odd conversations aside, the Juice Factory has an awesome juice, wheatgrass and smoothie menu!

Admittedly we were a bit disappointed over the lack of normalcy in the people we met. It didn’t take us long to start keeping to ourselves, putting our energy into our preparations for fasting and trying to be friendly as much as we could. Over the course of 2.5 months, we slowly started to meet more gringos who lived further outside of town or who simply kept more to themselves as well, and by the time we were ready to leave, we did actually make some really nice and interesting friends. My best advice in experiencing Vilca is to have an open mind and be patient. There are some really cool people living there; it just might take a bit of time to find them.

People aside, there are a few key practical things that bring expats to Vilcabamba to live. One is the cheap cost of living. Most people are renting houses for about $300 per month. Our house was considered to be very expensive, but we wanted to be in a gated community for safety and security. The other main attraction is the ability to grow your own organic food because there is plenty of land and plenty of water. There are also some people looking to live in a healthy and natural healing environment with a strong sense of community, and although it’s not fully there yet, this movement in Vilcabamba is definitely growing. And many people just want to be “away from it all,” living as far away as possible from the television, media, and “Big Brother” feeling in the Western world.

A 5-star view from our veranda, in Vilcabamba Ecuador

That’s the short of it. Here’s my full list of the Pros and Cons of Vilcabamba:

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Pros

1. Affordable Organic Food. This was a main attraction for me. Every Saturday there is a great organic market run by Kitzia Kokopelmana where you can find all kinds of fruits, veggies and greens at fantastic prices. Of course, if you stay longer, you would have the option to grow your own. There are many expats selling non-GMO seeds and swapping crops with each other.

Organic produce from Kitzia’s weekly market in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

2. Affordable Housing. There are many options available. Check the notice board at the Juice Factory for postings. We also really enjoyed staying at the Meditation Center in town; it has a great outdoor kitchen and very clean rooms. Bernie, the owner, is a really nice guy and he also happens to be a real estate agent in case you are looking for a home to buy!

3. Nice locals. The Ecuadorian people are very sweet and we really enjoyed speaking our broken Spanish when we could.

4. International delivery is ok. I met some people who ordered supplements from Vitacost and everything seemed to arrive ok. I had a few packages sent from USA that arrived safely (it does take longer than other places, up to 3 weeks for airmail). This becomes very important when you actually decide to live in a place.

5. Relatively Safe. More on this below, but for the most part when comparing to Central America or Colombia, I would consider Ecuador to be much more politically stable and crime-wise a safer choice.

6. Mountain views, rainbows, peaceful feeling. Aren’t we all hoping for more of that in life?

Nice rainbow view from our house in Vilcabamba Ecuador

7. Good climate. It’s not too hot or too cold year-round. You don’t need air-conditioning or heat and that means more fresh mountain air and negative ions for your health!

8. Easy to Get Residency. If you have $25,000 USD in an Ecuadorian bank or the equivalent value in property in Ecuador, you can apply for a resident visa and stay permanently. There seems to be a lots of hoops and paperwork to make this happen, but many people succeed and it’s certainly a reason why a lot of expats move to Ecuador.

9. Many Interesting Activities. Check the notice boards and ask around; you’ll quickly see that there are a lot of good workshops and activities being offered on everything from energy healing to women’s circles to essential oil lessons and much more.

Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Cons

1. Slow internet. This is true for all of Vilcabamba and can really be a problem if you work online (like me!).

2. Expensive Internet. We were shocked how much we paid for a few mice to spin us a connection….it was $84 USD per month!

3. Household items are Very Expensive. Things like pillows, sheets, kitchenware, plastic bins, shower curtains, etc. are extremely expensive in Ecuador. We were really shocked to see this because everyone told us how cheap it was! A plastic bucket could easily cost $5 or $6. That really adds up when you are buying for an entire home!

4. Superfoods and Supplements are Extremely Expensive. So much for the cheap cost of living! Once you get outside of the inexpensive rent, things can start to become expensive in Ecuador. While some superfoods and herbal supplements are available at the Juice Factory, they are really expensive, up to 3x the normal price. Your best bargain at the Juice Factory is the green juice shot made from wheatgrass, kale, parsley, fennel, celery and whatever other local organic greens are in season. Dennis, the owner of the Juice Factory, is a super-nice guy and very helpful by the way. It’s simply difficult to find a good source of organic raw nuts, seeds and dried basic raw food essentials.

5. Difficult to Find Work/Make Money. This is really a problem for a lot of gringos that don’t have an outside source of income. We saw many people trying to sell homemade raw food cookies, cakes and chocolates and hippie jewelry as a way to make money. The high cost of raw food ingredients makes the profit margin for food very low. Your best bet is to arrive with money or have a way to make money outside of Ecuador.

The town’s main square in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

6. Isolated. That can be a pro or a con depending on the individual! It’s a 1-hour drive to the nearest town, Loja, where you can find a large supermarket and the bigger shops. In Vilcabamba itself, there is really nothing but a few cafes and small shops selling essential items.

Not much to do in downtown Vilcabamba…it can be good but definitely isolating

7. Weird-vibes from certain Expat Locals can bring you down. As with any small town, there is a lot of gossip, rumors and even jealousy between gringos. This has a lot to do with #6 (isolated). If you’re prepared for this, you will be fine!

8. Increase in local crime, break-ins and robberies. This goes slightly against #5 of the Pros, but there I compare Ecuador to other countries in Central and South America. You are not likely to get robbed at gunpoint in Vilcabamba, and that is re-assuring. But, burglaries are on the rise. We heard of many break-ins while we were there; most occured while the residents were out to dinner and usually laptops, electronics and cash were stolen. Just before we arrived, there were at least 2 Western women who had been raped (in different incidents). It’s important to be careful. This is one of the main reasons why we chose to pay more money to live in a gated community. Definitely look at the security of your house before you decide to rent.

Vilcabamba can still be a great place to live and a positive experience as long as you stay street-smart and take advantage of all the good things it has to offer.

A lot of people ask me what I thought about Vilcabamba. Many young raw food, vegan and vegetarian couples and families consider moving there because of the ability to live relatively cheaply and still have access to organic food (most of the health-oriented people in Vilcabamba grow their own vegetables, fruits and greens). It’s not easy to describe my experience to others because everyone has different expectations when they travel to a new country to start a new life.

The house had a main living area, 2 separate bedrooms and an upstairs office/loft

Quiet bedroom and lots of nature, ideal for a long water fast…this place was really a perfect detox retreat!

This was the upstairs loft which I used as an office. Great place for meditation or yoga as well!

I really liked Vilcabamba for the few months that I was there, but long-term, I don’t think it’s the place for me, at least not at this stage in my life. I feel a very strong need and pull to be in the mainstream still, to help people understand how to read food labels and look for hidden additives in food, to teach more about raw food and detox, and to show that you don’t need to live in the faraway mountains in order to be healthy. Maybe in a few more years this will change, maybe not. Stayed tuned for more updates, because you will know when I know!

One thing I would definitely recommend is to visit a place first and try to live there for at least 6 months before you seriously considering moving there permanently. Not everyone is able to handle the “mañana” approach in Ecuador (also known as the “mai pen rai” style in Thailand). When we take our Western mind with us, even when we want to “get away,” we may still expect the post office to deliver on time or for the store to open when it says it should or for the correct item to be ordered and delivered. Well, things just don’t happen like that in more relaxed places in the world.

If you decide to go, join the Vilcabamba Facebook page to search for houses to rent and ask any questions to the local expat community.

Top Pick for Vilcabamba

Be sure to check out Elena’s Raw Food Lunch in her private home, a monthly event offered directly from Elena and her husband Vladamir, 2 of the nicest people you will meet in all of Ecuador, and even in the world! Elena has a passion for raw food recipes like no other and every month she offers a new and unique raw food menu for lunch. It’s well worth it to enjoy her creations, and a great way to meet other local raw food people too.

Elena’s Raw Food Lunch is amazing!! Here is her raw pizza with cashew “cheese”

Elena’s raw cacao and coconut cake…this cake alone is a reason to visit Vilca!!

So is Vilcabamba a real Valley of Longevity? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. According to the book The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer by Dan Buettner, Vilcabamba did not make the cut for having a high number of centenarians (people who live over 100) because they don’t have the proper documentation to verify birth records for age verification. Personally, I didn’t see that many healthy old Ecuadorians. Sadly, many of the locals appeared to be overweight and more on the unhealthy side of life.

Beautiful mountains and vistas in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

A word of warning about the salt in Vilcabamba and all of Ecuador/South America for that matter: There is a non-caking agent in the salt called Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS) or E535 or 535. This chemical additive can cause an allergic reaction in people resulting in an extremely itchy rash, restless sleep, hot flashes and irritability. I saw many expats in Vilcabamba suffering, especially with rashes. Salt is used in all restaurants (including “healthy” restaurants) contains this additive. I found people very unaware and even ran into problems with one local expat who was selling his own “higher quality” salt that caused a terrible reaction for me; still he swore it was clean. Upon further questioning, he revealed that his product has never actually been tested. In short, do not trust homemade expat labels and check the ingredient list on all other salt. Fluoride is also added to salt in South America so most people do try to avoid buying it, but I did not meet one person who knew the dangers associated with YPS, in my opinion, the much more dangerous ingredient. Stick with Himalayan salt or buy the equivalent large pink salt from Bolivia which can be found in supermarkets in La Paz for $2 per kilo.

We have nice memories of Vilcabamba….thank you!!

Vilcabamba is definitely not for everyone, but it’s still be a good place for a raw food community, and I hope to see it thrive!

More on Traveling Raw:

Top 10 Secrets for Good Health and Longevity: How to Create Your Personal ‘Blue Zone’

If you want to know the best way to do something, you find a successful person and ask them how they did it, right?

That’s exactly what researchers have done in search of the healthiest places in the world to live, also known as ‘Blue Zones,’ a term coined by demographers who started mapping out areas of the world where people live measurably longer lives. Two noteworthy books of interest have been written on the subject: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer by Dan Buettner and Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. I’ve recently found myself drawn more and more to explore what secrets our elders hold in finding the real truth to an anti-aging diet, or a longevity diet or a ‘youthgevity’ diet…probably terms that our elders at 90 years of age and older have never even heard of!

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer

Especially in answering countless questions from workshops and talks around the world, a large portion which involve questions such as ‘what’s the BEST food for (insert dis-ease name here)’ or ‘what’s the BEST supplement I need to take’ or ‘what food will help me (insert goal here: lose weight, be happy, feel great, clear skin, gain energy, cure constipation, improve eyesight, increase fertility, reduce anxiety, etc. etc. etc.),’ I can see from a wider perspective that, well, basically, people are just not getting it! No one food creates disease and no one food cures it either! We have to start looking at the diet and lifestyle as a whole to start getting the results we want.

We all know that no one can eat a handful of watercress and become instantly cured!

I hope you can agree with me there. People don’t want to hear that they may have to make long-term changes to their diet and lifestyle in order to get long-term results, especially in this fast-fix world that’s programmed to appease all instant gratification requests. And, if you try the ‘magic pill method’ by taking every new Dr. Oz must-have supplement, after one year of watching Dr. Oz every day you will need to take 365 supplements per day in order to keep up! Clearly, that doesn’t seem like the best approach to real health!

So, what is it? How do we find the key to Longevity and Happiness?

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

Healthy at 100 discusses several of the more known but perhaps under-documented world Blue Zones such as the Hunza Valley in Pakistan and Vilcabamba, Ecuador (where I am currently staying for 2 months by the way!) and also discusses more well-documented Blue Zones such as Okinawa, Japan. When I say ‘documented,’ that means being able to prove the person’s identity and being able to verify their date of birth with local birth records, so we can say with absolutely certainty that the centenarian (a person who lives over 100) who lives there is really a centenarian.

Blue Zone vs. SAD Diet

The main difference between a Blue Zone diet and a Standard American Diet (SAD) is that the Blue Zone cultures eat no refined sugar and no refined carbohydrates; and instead eat plenty of whole grains and many vegetables grown locally and in season, and they incorporate healing foods and superfoods into their diet naturally. According to John Robbins, the author of Heathy at 100, “Vegetables play a prominent role in the Hunzan diet, particularly greens, including mustard greens, spinach and lettuce, root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, potatoes, and radishes, an assortment of beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lentils, and other sprouted legumes. They cultivate many kinds of herbs for both culinary and medicinal purposes, including mint and thyme. They grow flaxseeds, and rare is the meal that does not contain freshly ground flaxmeal in one form or another. In Hunza, a large part of the diet is eaten uncooked.”

He goes on to explain, “In the summer, as much as 80% of the food is eaten in its natural state. Vegetables in season are picked just prior to consumption and almost always eaten raw. Fresh corn on the bob, for example, is never cooked. In the winter, Hunzans soak lentils, beans and peas in water for several days, then lay them out on wet cloths in the sun. They are eaten raw when they begin to sprout.”

The view from my house in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, an ‘unofficial’ Blue Zone

Exercise also plays a huge role in the anti-aging process. Every area that was researched highlighted daily exercise as an integral part of life, and the people know that this is one of their secrets to vibrant health. “So great is the recognition of the healing power of walking to visit a friend that there is a saying in Vilcabamba that each of us has two ‘doctors’ – the left leg and the right leg,” writes John Robbins.

What’s happening in the good ‘ol USA

  • How many of us numb ourselves with cigarettes, tranquilizers, drugs, alcohol, or unhealthful diets in an effort to escape how isolated we feel?
  • How many of us become chronic workaholics or become preoccupied by other unhealthy obsessions in an attempt to avoid the inner barrenness caused by the breakdown of relationships, family and community?

He adds, “Many of the traditional Okinawan proverbs about eating sound like phrases you might find on the wall of a health food stores in the West. One such proverb translates as “Food should nourish life – this is the best medicine.” And another: “One who eats whole food will be strong and healthy.” If North Americans lived more like the elder Okinawans, we would have to close 80% of the coronary care units and 1/3 of the cancer wards in the United States, and a lot of nursing homes would also be out of business.”

Hmmm, that sounds pretty good to me!

Top 5 Secrets for Longevity and Anti-Aging from Healthy at 100

    1. Eat many colors. Foods’ natural colors are not just treats for the eye but also signs of important nutrients such as antioxidants.

    2. When you crave something crunchy, try raw vegetables or nuts instead of salty chips.

    3. Avoid heating oils to the smoking point. For the fat in your diet, eat walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados and other nuts and seeds.

    4. Shun trans-fatty acids. Stay away from margarine, vegetable shortening, commercial pastries, deep-fried food, and most prepared snacks and convenience foods.

    5. Don’t pollute your body. Don’t eat junk food. Go to your kitchen cupboard and get rid of any food products that no longer serve your potential to be radiantly fit and healthy.

The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer

Now, let’s look at the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer, and see what Dan Buettner, the author, discovered after traveling to 5 current and documented world Blue Zones: Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, the Seventh-Day Adventists community in Southern California USA, and Ikaria in Greece.

“Good Years” is a Very Important Concept

In the book, Robert Kane point out that, “there are two issues here. How long can I live? The other is: How well can I live? And those are different questions. Living an extra two years on life support may not necessarily be your goal. Yes, “Good Years” is a very important concept.”

“You’ve got a bunch of people who are professing to be physicians or scientists, who are saying that they can stop or reverse the aging process. I will tell you that real scientists cannot do such a thing, so what makes the public think that these people can?” asks Tom Perls.

Things that Successful Centenarians Don’t Do

They don’t get plastic surgery or botox i.e. get unnecessary surgeries which can weaken their immune system; They don’t watch excessive amounts of television; They don’t complain, gossip or criticize others; They don’t worry or stress about the small things; They don’t overeat. In Japan, they say “Hara hachi bu” before each meal. This is a Confucian-inspired saying that means “Eat until your are 80 percent full.”

Things that Successful Centenarians Do

They eat natural, whole and pure foods high in flavonoids and natural anti-oxidants; They eat simple, non-processed local foods; They exercise as part of their daily routine, usually walking long distances (more than 2 miles and up to 6 miles) every day; They incorporate healing foods like turmeric, ginger and mugwort into their daily diet; They maintain a sense of purpose, keep a sense of humor and they have a positive outlook on life; They keep the family unit together, taking care of elders within the family even at the later stages in life (that’s the power of love!).

Top 5 Secrets for Longevity and Anti-Aging from The Blue Zones Book

    1. Eat more plants (i.e. leafy greens)! While not all centenarians are vegetarians, they all eat a very high vegetable and fruit-based diet with variety in whole nuts, seeds and grains. If they eat meat or fish, it’s only on occasion and not in the daily diet. They also eat simple meals with only whole, natural ingredients.

    2. Stay active. Get outside and walk every day. Work on a small outdoor garden. Getting regular, low-intensity exercise like daily walks appears to help reduce your chances of having heart disease and certain cancers.

    3. Have a sense of purpose and keep hard at work. Successful centenarians feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good. They enjoy physical work all of their lives (i.e. no couch potatoes!!).

    4. Drink fresh herbal teas made from peppermint, oregano, rosemary, chamomile or sage on a daily basis. Add healing foods like fresh turmeric and ginger to your diet. This helps your body detoxify on a regular basis, naturally!

    5. Take time to rest and fast occasionally. The Seventh-Day Adventists practice a weekly Sabbath or day of rest to spend time with the family and re-connect with nature. In Greece, The Ikarians traditionally follow the Greek Orthodox Christian calendar which calls for periodic fasting throughout the year.

Caloric restriction -a type of fasting that cuts about 30 percent of calories out of the normal diet -is the only proven way to slow the aging process in mammals.

How to Create your ‘Personal Blue Zone’

    1. Eat a high-raw food organic and nutrient-dense diet.
    2. Minimize stress. Laugh More. Enjoy each day!
    3. Exercise daily – get out and move.
    4. Form friendships and meaningful relationships.
    5. Have a sense of purpose with your life.

Or, as Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Your Happiness and Longevity Matters!

So there you have it! Everything this website and my life’s work is all about will help you to lead a healthy happy, long enjoyable disease-free life! Let’s keep supporting each other on our journeys enjoying good health and a happy life!

More on Longevity:

Reconnect with Nature in Guatemala with Fresh Juice, Raw Food, Mayan Ruins & Volcanoes

Guatemala is a country full of culture, colorful handicrafts, Mayan ruins and lots of nature and it’s a great place to visit for a health holiday! I recently spend 1 month in Guatemala and I’m going to share my top-picks, favorite restaurants and must-see things to do.

Central Courtyard in Antigua, Guatemala

Most people fly into Guatemala City when they arrive to Guatemala. Since the quaint, picturesque town of Antigua is only 45 minutes from Guatemala City, it’s a good idea to take a taxi or arrange hotel pickup directly from the airport to Antigua and start your adventures there (it’s about $30 for a private taxi). Antigua is the former capital of Guatemala and is full of Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets and many courtyard gardens behind the ancient walled streets. This is a good place to spend 4-5 days so you have time to take a tour, explore the local market, visit a nearby volcano or Mayan village, soak in natural hot springs, enjoy some of the restaurants and maybe even schedule a massage. Now that sounds like a holiday!

Old and beautiful downtown Antigua

Guatemalan decoration, handicraft, style, love!

Inside Pitaya Juice Bar in Antigua

My favorite morning stop in Antigua was at Pitaya Juice Bar, across from the Antigua Gym. It’s a small but very cute place and they serve fresh juice or superfood smoothies with moringa, ginseng, flax or wheatgrass, for a healthy start to the day (Pitaya Juice Bar: 6ta Calle Poniente, #26). For lunch, I frequented Sabo Rico, an outdoor garden restaurant serving salads, juices and smoothies in a gorgeously romantic courtyard (Sabo Rico: 6a avenida sur #7).

Dinners were typically made at the hostel using fresh raw foods bought at the local market and raw apple cider vinegar or coconut oil from the main health food store in town, Organica (5 calle poniente No. 6, just 1 block from the main square). Organica also has a small range of gluten-free foods for sale. Everything in Antigua is walkable which makes it very nice as a tourist.

My top picks for things to do in Antigua

Walking Tour with Elizabeth Bell

Definitely take Elizabeth Bell’s walking tour which runs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30am to 12:30pm and meets at the central fountain in the main square. Elizabeth’s knowledge and enthusiasm over all things Antigua and Guatemala is absolutely amazing, impressive and inspiring. This was absolutely a highlight of Antigua form me; the $20 was well spent for the tour.

Santo Domingo Hotel’s restaurant on the hill: Santo Domingo del Cerro

If you plan your day correctly, you can continue on your own at the end of Elizabeth’s tour at the Santo Domingo Hotel in downtown Antigua and from there, take the hotel’s free shuttle up the hill to their restaurant, the Santo Domingo del Cerro. Most likely you’ll be hungry after the tour and in daylight hours, you can enjoy all their unusual outdoor art sculptures and take in the views of surrounding volcanoes while enjoying a nice healthy salad. I had a delicious apple and watercress salad and was very happy to see that on the menu as a reasonable raw food choice. For anyone looking for a nice place to do work online (to write blog posts or update twitter feeds a-hem), the Santo Domingo del Cerro has a very nice terrace with free wifi, so you can spend the rest of your afternoon there and catch up on some work!

Wednesday at the Kawilal Hot Springs

Every Wednesday, the Kawilal Hot Springs and Spa offers a free shuttle that leaves at 9am from the Cathedral (it returns back to Antigua at 3pm). It’s a 1-hour ride to the hot springs so the free Wednesday shuttle is really the best option for tourists. The spa offers different packages with or without massage and it’s a bit expensive ($85 for hot springs and massage) for what it is and for Central American prices. For that reason, I would recommend a cheaper package using only the hot springs. The pools are still great and I fully believe in the healing powers of natural hot springs, so I personally seek them out wherever I go! This is a nice break from Antigua and a good option for a quiet afternoon soaking in the natural healing energy of thermal waters.

Outside Antigua: Tikal, Semuc Champey & Lake Atitlan

Tikal National Park

If you have the time, take an overnight bus to the northern part of Guatemala where you will find the ancient Mayan city and UNESCO World Heritage Site at Tikal National Park. We managed to find an honest tour company to book our bus tickets directly across from Pitaya Juice Bar. I don’t remember the name, but the staff wore Lonely Plant t-shirts and we received the correct price for the bus (not always an easy thing to achieve in Guatemala!). Speaking of which, be sure to book your accommodation before arriving to Flores; otherwise you will be absolutely mobbed by booking agents trying to lure you into other hotels and various park tours. We booked online in advance directly with Los Amigos Hostel, and we arranged our Tikal sunrise tour and onward bus tickets inside the hostel, at the very back, during office hours only. Flores is known for thieves operating as tour guides preying on the weary traveler arriving at 5am; we heard more than a few stories of this during our brief 2 days there. So be careful!

A great option for your first day in Flores is to rent kayaks at the hostel and paddle around the lake. It’s a wonderful feeling to get out on the water and to just glide with every stroke closer to the other side, then power-paddle back. Get to sleep well and truly early, because the the sunrise tours leaves at 4am! The tour takes you into the park to sit atop one of the Mayan temples and experience ‘the jungle waking up’ with sounds of howler monkeys, toucans and other birds. It’s great! A few more hours to explore the park gets you back to the hostel in early afternoon.

Ancient Mayan Civilization at Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park, in the jungles of northern Guatemala

Imagine the sounds of tropical birds and howler monkeys all around you…amazing!

Semuc Champey

The next day, you can head to Semuc Champey, about 6-8 hours by minibus from Flores. It’s not as comfortable to travel by minibus but there is no big bus that goes to Semuc Champey. Once you get there, you will see that it is well worth the effort! Semuc Champey is a gorgeous set of natural limestone bridges that’s located deep in a mountain gorge and covered with crystal blue-green water. You have to see it to really appreciate how magnificent Mother Nature can be. You only need one day to see the park, but many people stay at either one of the hostels for a few days just to relax and well, mainly to party. The backpacker party thing wasn’t my scene so I only stayed 2 days to see the park and do the cave tour, and I continued on my way to Lake Atilan.

Semuc Champey…simply amazing natural wonder!

Reconnecting with nature…is healthy bliss! At Semuc Champey

In awe of Mother Nature’s beauty at Semuc Champey

Save the Best for Last: Lake Atitlan

My best advice is exactly that: Save Lake Atitlan for the end of your Guatemala travels and take some time to rest, relax eat good food, or even rent a house along the lake and plan to do your own juice or water fast while there. Lake Atitlan is a popular destination for yoga, healing, raw food, meditation and spiritual retreats due to its magical energy field. It’s claimed to be one of the worlds’ energy vortexes, alongside the great pyramids and Macchu Picchu. The lake itself is surrounded by volcanoes, and when we were there, San Pedro volcano was visibly active, which was just amazing to see!

Beauty and nature at Lake Atitlan

Local fruit and vegetable market

Many of the health-enthusiast tourists stay in the village of San Marcos on the lake. In my opinion, it was a bit too hippie and we searched for something a bit more scenic and peaceful, with good views of the lake, good internet and decent sense of security. We found exactly that at Sakcari Hotel in San Pedro. While not cheap by Guatemala standards at $40 per night, Sakcari was everything we were looking for – it was quiet and on the lake with incredible views from the room and a real feeling of nature. Nearby in the village, we could get fresh fruit, fresh juice and smoothies every day. There is also a great health food store in San Pedro; it’s small but well-stocked with herbs, supplements, natural body products and some dried organic nuts and seeds. What more in life does one need?

A nice place to contemplate life, on the shores of Lake Atitlan

Fresh air, views of nature…this in and of itself is a cleanse!

Isla Verde Eco-Resort with its famed ‘slow-cooking’

We checked out some other spots and also looked at a few houses and apartments to rent on Lake Atitlan because we considered staying longer, up to 1-2 months. After a good amount of searching, there is only one place I would recommend and that’s the PasaCap property, owned by Pierre, a Frenchman living on the lake for more than 15 years. Pasacap has very modern and clean furnished apartments with perfect lake views on a secure property with a private dock to access the lake. We seriously considered renting an apartment here for 1-2 months so I could do a long water fast, but unfortunately the units were fully booked at the time and I didn’t want to wait a month for availability. I would definitely consider returning at a future date, and securing the booking in advance online. To have the chance to do a water fast on a major world energy vortex….well that’s just ‘Wow!’

There were a few other highlights on the lake for healthy eating and raw food, both in the village of Santa Cruz. The first, Isla Verde Resort, is a beautiful place with a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the lake. They are known for their ‘slow cooking,’ but we found that they may have taken this term a bit too far…by adding ‘slow ordering,’ ‘slow service,’ ‘slow preparation,’ and ‘slow to settle your bill.’ In short, the entire experience was SLOW. But, they did have some nice juices, salads and a great homemade kombucha drink that is worth waiting to order, receive and pay for!

View of Lake Atitlan from Isla Verde Resort

Mayan Cacao Energy Balls at Villa Sumaya

The other place is also in Santa Cruz, but in the opposite direction from the dock. When you exit the boat taxi, walk to the right and follow the maze of planks and boardwalks (which is really fun by the way!); after about 30 minutes you will arrive to Villa Sumaya.

Villa Sumaya is a yoga and meditation retreat center and it’s a great place to consider staying for a few nights if your budget allows. Otherwise, do what we did and visit during the day, enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie, sample their raw cacao superfood snacks and take a few raw energy balls home to nibble on later.

Whatever extra time you have in Guatemala, definitely spend it at Lake Atitlan. The views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes change with each day’s cloud formations and sun, a real-life painting waiting for you to slow down and simply enjoy its natural canvas. It’s a place that really grows on you after awhile.

Quiet time in nature is good for the soul

Safety in Guatemala

This is something worthy of noting and needs to be addressed for your personal travel safety. While absolutely nothing happened to use during our 4 weeks in Guatemala, we did meet a few tourists who had been robbed, mugged or ripped off. Some important things to remember: Do not show your iPhone or smartphone in public areas; Do not wear expensive jewelry; Carry a purse that hangs across the body from shoulder-to-hip and not on one shoulder only; Do not carry valuables at night; Do not carry a lot of cash at any time; Ask around at several travel agents to compare prices before booking anything. Again, we had nothing happen to us, but we heard quite a few stories. Personally, I always lock all valuables in my suitcase in the hotel room at all times. The temptation for a cleaning lady or other hotel staff to look around is just too great, so why take the risk? Once you get into the habit of doing that, it becomes very easy and it’s much ‘safer’ than a front desk safe where other staff may also have a key. You can definitely enjoy Guatemala without any problems if you follow these simple safety tips. With so much to see and enjoy; it’s a country worthy of a visit!

More on Traveling Raw:

Benefits of Flax Seed, How to Grind/Store and How Much to Take Daily

Flaxseed (or linseed) is a very small shiny seed with a lot of great health benefits, from reducing cholesterol to improving blood sugar levels for diabetics. The reason why it’s a Superfood is because flax is very high in dietary fiber, it’s a plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids, and a high source of lignans (phyto-nutrients possessing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).

Adequate fiber in the daily diet is key for good digestive health.

Benefits of Flax Seed, How to Grind/Store and How Much to Take Daily

You can buy flax in a few different ways – in whole seed form, already ground into powder form (ground whole seeds) or as flax seed oil. While flax oil does have many health benefits, it is lacking the valuable fiber of the seeds themselves (because the seeds are pressed, separating the fiber from the oil).

Whole flax seeds contain both the fiber and oil, giving you all of the nutritional value in one. However, flax seeds need to be ground before eating so the body can absorb their nutrients. If not, they will simply pass through the digestive track in whole form and that means their nutrients will pass through too!

Mini-food processor to grind flax seed at home

The freshest way to consume your flax seed is to buy the seeds whole and grind them yourself at home. It’s the most inexpensive way to add them to your diet too. Look for organic whole flax seeds in the bulk food section of your local health food store or in your supermarket near the cereal or baking section. You can use either a mini-food processor or coffee bean grinder to grind your flax seed into powder form. Simply add the seeds to the grinder, and grind. You should add the seeds dry and end up with a dry powder. Do not add water to the grinder. Also, be sure that your grinder is clean before you start (clean out any coffee bean residue if using a coffee grinder). For an inexpensive mini-food processor, check on ebay or at local yard sales (many people sell them as ‘baby food makers’). I usually keep about a 2-4 weeks’ supply of ground flax seed in the refrigerator at any given time; that equates to 2 cups or almost 500ml.

Adding whole, unrefined high fiber foods to the diet can help strengthen the digestive system, decrease toxicity in the body, stabilize blood sugar levels, clear the skin and even improve kidney and liver function. It’s a small amount of time and money invested that offers a high return: your health!

Organic ground flax seed

Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature in a container or jar. When the flax seed is open (into a powder or pressed an oil), it becomes temperature-sensitive and will turn rancid if left at room temperature. Once ground, it is important to store your flax seed powder in the refrigerator (and preferably in a glass container).

If you are reading this article and have your freshly ground flax seed stored in the cupboard, please do not just move it to the fridge and think that it’s ok. It’s best to throw it away, grind a new batch and store the newly ground flax seed in the fridge. Store-bought ground flax seed should be stored in the fridge after opening.

Flax Seed FAQ:

How much ground flax seed should I eat every day?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended daily fiber intake is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. I was admittedly impressed to read the following statement in the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010): “Most Americans greatly underconsume dietary fiber, and usual intake averages only 15 g per day. Breads, rolls, buns, and pizza crust made with refined flour are not among the best sources of dietary fiber, but currently contribute substantially to dietary fiber consumption because they are ubiquitous in typical American diets. To meet the recommendation for fiber, Americans should increase their consumption of beans and peas, other vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other foods with naturally occurring fiber.”

Ground flax should be stored in a glass container in the fridge

2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed has almost 4 grams of total dietary fiber. I recommend that you start with adding 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed to your daily diet, and slowly increase to 3-4 Tbsp. per day. Some people consume 6 Tbsp. daily and are very comfortable with their digestion, often finding relief from constipation and other digestive problems just from the simple increase of fiber in their diet.

Imagine someone consuming 15 grams of fiber per day who adds 4 Tbsp. of ground flax or 8 grams of fiber to their daily diet: without changing anything else; they are now consuming 23 grams of dietary fiber daily! It’s so easy!

What if I buy a package of already ground flax seed? Do I store that in the fridge?

You can buy flax seed already ground. Be sure to store it in the fridge immediately upon opening the package.

Is it better to buy the light brown or the dark brown flax seeds?

The best type of flax seed to buy is 100% certified organic, of course! I’ve tried both the light (or golden) and dark brown flax seeds, and I do make a conscious effort to add variety into my diet so sometimes I buy the golden brown and sometimes I buy the dark brown. When I’m feeling a bit wild and crazy, I even blend them both together and store the mixture in the fridge!

Is it possible to eat too much flax seed?

I do think that any one food eaten in too much excess is probably not a good thing. The key to good health is variety and balance in the diet. In this case, if you were eating 10x-20x the normal recommended amount of daily dietary fiber, you may be in store for some serious buffalo-sized poo! As I said before, start with 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed daily and slowly build up to 3-4 Tbsp. with a maximum of 6 Tbsp. per day. Think nice human-size poo and you should be fine!

What about the fat content in flax seed?

This question always amazes me. It’s most often asked by my female clients who have been struck with the ‘no-fat’ or ‘low-fat’ mindset. These same women will turn down such a high nutrient-dense food like flax for fear of excess fat, but continue to indulge in a daily latte or afternoon chocolate bar. I am often left very perplexed by this logic!!

According to the USDA, 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed weighs 14 grams, has 75 calories, 5.9 grams of total fat and 3.8 grams of total dietary fiber. While true that ground flax seed does contain fat (5.9 x 9 calories per gram = 53.1 calories of fat per 2 Tbsp./75 calorie serving), it’s important to keep things in perspective. If you’re eating 53 calories of fat in a 1500 calories per day diet, that equates to 3.5% of total calories in fat. Move up to 4 Tbsp. per day and you’re at 7%. Now do the math on your latte and chocolate bar and factor in their nutritional value then re-evaluate who is your friend and who is your foe. The answer: 2-4 Tbsp. of ground flax seed is not a high-fat contribution to your overall dietary intake of food.

What about the photo-estrogen in flax seed – is it dangerous?

This is another important factor to consider and a question I get asked occasionally. Remember, we are talking about adding 2-4 Tbsp. with a maximum of 6 Tbsp. daily of ground flax seed. Keep in mind too that I am recommending the whole ground flax seed, and not the oil (which would be more concentrated in phyto-estrogens). It is true that flax seed does contain photo-estrogens but there are mixed reports on whether the estrogen from flax seed alone is affecting people’s glandular and hormonal systems. I do believe if you were eating a bucket of flax seed at every meal, this would be an important issue, but we are talking about a few spoonfuls, and the other health benefits of this natural, whole and pure food are major reasons to keep it in the diet.

Keeping variety in your diet is the best way to give your body all the important micro-nutrients it needs without over-whelming it with any excess amount of anything. Of course, if you have an estrogen-related health condition or specific medical concerns, it’s best to consult with your medical doctor.

  • Add 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed to your Green Smoothie daily.
  • Sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed onto a fresh fruit salad.
  • Mix 1-2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed into a homemade salad dressing or raw food veggie salad.

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Raw Food Dessert Recipe: Cacao, Hazelnut & Banana Bliss

Raw Hazelnut Cacao Bliss

This recipe is fast and easy for a delicious raw food dessert. Have you ever tasted a fudgesicle pop? Well, if you freeze this chocolate-like creation, it actually tastes like a fudgesicle! But this is a healthy version, full of anti-oxidants and other nutrients.

Make this tasty gluten-free vegan treat to share with family and friends…they will not even know it’s a raw food! It’s also great for kids, and with this dessert…they are getting valuable nutrients in addition to a great taste.

Raw Food Recipe: Cacao, Hazelnut & Banana Bliss

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts, ground (can also use raw almonds)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 3 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp. raw maca powder
  • Water from 1 young green coconut plus coconut flesh (can replace with 1.5 cups cold water + 3 Tbsp. coconut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. raw honey (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. raw ginger, grated (optional)
  • 6 raw dried organic apricots, chopped (optional)

Healthy Bliss…yes!

Grind the hazelnuts or almonds with maca and cacao powder. There is no need to soak the nuts. Use a mini-food processor to grind the nuts to a fine powder. (You could also add 1-2 Tbsp. of other superfoods, such as acai powder, pomegranate powder or goji berries.)

In a blender, blend the coconut water and bananas. Add the ground nuts and powders and blend again. Add the raw honey and/or fresh ginger (optional) and blend again.

Pour mixture into a container. Top with chopped hazelnuts or almonds and chopped apricots. Place in freezer and let sit for 6-8 hours. Serve with love, and enjoy!

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Featured Superfood: Hemp Seed

For those of you looking to increase healthy proteins in your diet, this is the superfood for you. Hemp seeds are sold either whole or in powder form. They are perfect to add to your morning Green Breakfast Smoothie or you after work-out Fruit Smoothie Blend. You can also sprinkle them on salads or fresh fruit.

Just to be clear, there is no THC (or only very small trace levels, less than 1%) in hemp seed, and that’s the distinct difference between the hemp and marijuana seed, although they both come from the cannabis spices of plant. Hemp was used traditionally for years to make rope and natural fabric because it is known to be an excellent and strong plant fiber. It is perfectly legal to sell hemp clothes, t-shirts, bags and of course hemp seed and hemp protein powder (ground hemp seeds). Even in Dubai, I have seen hemp powder for sale at an organic health food shop.

Hemp seeds are naturally a fantastic protein source. They contain all of the essential amino acids, are highly digestible, and are one of the highest sources of complete protein of all plant-based foods. Hemp also has a very well-balanced ratio of essential fatty acids (EFAs) – Omega 3, 6, and 9 – which are excellent for cardiovascular health and promote a strong immune system (among many other benefits). A great source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium, hemp is a true superseed.

This remarkable superfood has more than 3.5 grams of protein per tablespoon in powder form. Now that’s some raw food vegan power! You can combine your raw food knowledge by adding ground hemp protein to your Green Smoothie for even more nutrition!

Green Smoothie Recipe with ground hemp protein:

Fountain of Youth

  • 1 handful Swiss Chard
  • 1 hand dandelion leaves
  • 7-8 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 mango
  • 1 cup red grapes
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp. hemp protein
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Add more water to desired consistency. Blend again, and enjoy!

Save $10 off your first purchase at Vitacost!

Looking for the best place to buy your Superfoods? Vitacost.com has top brands, 100% certified organic superfoods and FREE shipping for orders over $49. Even better, you can get $10 off your first purchase just by clicking here!

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Featured Superfood: Acai Powder

Acai is an Amazonian berry and is pronounced ‘Ah-sigh-ee.’ The reason why it’s a Superfood is because Acai is very high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants help to break down free-radical damage in the body.

Acai Powder – Superfood Bliss!

Stress, poor air quality, frequent travel on planes, toxicity in foods, chemicals in body products and alcohol and drugs can all increase free radicals in the body. Over time, these free radicals can lower the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to fight disease.

Adding high anti-oxidant superfoods to the diet can help to strengthen immune system, decrease signs of aging, prevent disease and even improve liver function. It’s a small investment to make with a high return: your health! People with cancer especially should be eating foods like Acai Powder. Acai is great for a powerful anti-cancer or detox diet. You can add 1 Tbsp. to your green smoothie daily. Easy!

Save $10 off your first purchase at Vitacost!

Looking for the best place to buy your Superfoods? Vitacost.com has top brands, 100% certified organic superfoods and FREE shipping for orders over $49. Even better, you can get $10 off your first purchase just by clicking here!

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Spirulina: 60% Complete Vegetable Protein Green Superfood

Superfoods are getting more and more popular these days, and it can start to get overwhelming to decide which ones you need and what is most important to add to the diet. Without a doubt, spirulina is a superfood that I would definitely recommend because it has so many nutritional benefits, it’s easily available and it’s not that expensive. What more could you ask!

Spirulina Superfood

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in fresh water. It is cultivated, dried and sold either in powder, tablet, capsule or even ‘crunchy’ form. You can easily add the powder to your daily smoothie, but if you prefer you can simply take one tablet daily.

Dr. Morton Walker in his book The Chelation Way, explains the nutritional benefits of spirulina:

‘This fresh water algae has the highest conversion rate to sunlight – 8% – as compared to other plants (3 to 5 percent). Thus, spirulina brings you the most potent form of nutritional benefits derived from photosynthesis of the sun’s light. It is a complete vegetable protein and is the source of practically all the vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, trace elements, cell salts and chlorophyll your body needs for almost perfect nutrition.

Essential minerals in spirulina include iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and others. It also contain B complex, especially B-12, so that spirulina could be an important food supplement for vegetarians. One tablespoon has one and a half more niacin than a half-cup serving of brown rice. This plant is so packed with power, in fact, that the authority says you could actually live on just two to three tablespoons a day. It is concentrated nutrition.’

According to the nutritional information supplied by Spirulina Planet, ‘Spirulina has 60% easy-to-digest complete vegetable protein without the fat and cholesterol of meat. Spirulina is also the richest source of natural beta carotene, ten times more concentrated than in carrots. It is also the richest source of B-12, richer than beef liver!’

Spirulina is known to be an excellent source of iron. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also a very good source of chlorophyll, known to be a natural cleanser for the blood and a natural detoxifier.

If you are already making a daily fruit or green smoothie, it’s very easy to add 1-5 grams (1 Tbsp. is ok) to your smoothie. A simple recipe would be:

Green Smoothie with Spirulina

In a blender, blend:
2 cups water
1 handful fresh spinach
1 medium banana
3 fresh peaches or nectarines, cut into slices (no seeds)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. spirulina powder

Spirulina Crunch

One of my favorite ways to enjoy spirulina is in the ‘crunch’ form. You can find these at spirulinaplanet.com or online at different raw food websites. It is so delicious and the crunch doesn’t have any ‘pond scum’ taste.

My friend Anita Cheung at i-detox.com showed me how to make a great trail mix using the spirulina crunch. She mixes dried goji berries, raw pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and spirulina crunch for a superfood snack extravaganza. My preference is to mix dried raisins, dried goji berries, raw pumpkin seeds and spirulina crunch. Yum! What a great snack to take on the road for the day or while traveling! Just a little bit fills you up too!

I also like to sprinkle some spirulina crunch to salads occasionally just for something different.

If you decide to use spirulina powder, you can add 1 Tbsp. to a sweet fruit smoothie and the taste is usually hidden. An example is 1 Tbsp. spirulina, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 1 banana, 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed blended in a blender.

You can even add spirulina to plants or home vegetable garden as a way to mineralize the soil and give more nutrients to the plant. Once a month, add 1 tsp. or 1 spirulina tablet to the soil near the base of the plant. Water the plant or garden normally.

Save $10 off your first purchase at Vitacost!

A good brand of spirulina powder to try for yourself is the Hawaiian Spirulina at vitacost . It’s offered at a discounted price, both in powder and tablet form…and if this is your first purchase at vitacost, you can receive $10 off your order (just click the link here).

Imagine all the good you are doing for your body just by adding this one superfood to your diet. Your body will thank you with more energy and power to get you through a healthy raw food day!

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Featured Superfood – Green Powder Blend Vitamineral Greens

High-Quality Organic is a ‘must’ with Superfoods!

Did you know that low quality superfoods can legally use cheap ‘fillers’ and low quality ingredients? Especially when buying Superfoods, beware of low quality green food products. There is not currently a lot of regulation on these powders. Many superfood companies are taking advantage of that, offering high-priced products with lots of cheap fillers and very small amounts of pure ingredient. Watch for added fillers such as rice powder, bran, oats, apple pectin, barley malt, large amounts of lecithin or added sugar. This is an example of when 100% organic really does make a difference. Be sure your superfood is 100% certified organic!

Vitamineral Greens Powder Superfood

I recommend Health Force Nutritionals Vitamineral Green as an all-over high-mineral high-quality superfood to add to your Green Smoothies. The quality is superb – 100% TruGanic (beyond organic), 100% pure Super foods. Nothing added, No fillers, not Diluted. No synthetics. Just like we like it! You don’t have to be Raw or Vegan to experience the benefits of this product.

A green powder blend is a great addition to any diet because it helps you to build your mineral reserve, increases the variety of green you are getting on a daily basis, provides extra chlorophyll in the diet, adds a good source of vegan protein and helps to maintain a healthy alkaline pH.

Some people even claim to have a reduction in sugar cravings when adding high-mineral green powder blend to their diet. Read this testimonial:

‘I have used this product with great results. After one week using 1 tablespoon per day, I noticed a huge drop in cravings. I didn’t crave sweets or junk. I was just simply not hungry. This can probably be attributed to high mineral content within the product. I have read that constant food cravings are related to mineral deficiencies. Maybe its mind over matter. Either way it works.’

Now for sale at www.healthforce.com. They ship worldwide!

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Raw Food Breakfast: A healthy start = a healthy, harmonious day!

Here’s a yummy raw food breakfast I made recently while traveling:

Raw Food Breakfast Bliss!


1 chopped apple
1 chopped pear
1/4 cup fresh chopped pineapple
1 orange peeled and chopped

Put all fruit in a bowl.
Sprinkle ground flax seed and ground hemp powder on top. Squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice. Add soaked goji berries (can soak overnight or for 1 hour minimum). Drizzle the goji berry water onto the mixture as well. Top with 1 chopped strawberry.

Give love and gratitude to your food during preparation. Sit and eat consciously.

Watch and experience as a beautiful, energized day unfolds!

Be creative with your breakfast and get out of the Western ideas of what breakfast foods are and aren’t. Un-teach your body away from the unhealthy, poorly food-combined standards of fried eggs, toast and bacon and learn a new way with a new high vibration of raw foods for your body’s inner harmony and joy.

Chopping your fruit and eating it with a spoon makes it feel like a meal and can be much more enjoyable than eating fruits from hand-to-mouth. Take the time to chop into small pieces so that it is easy to eat. Try different combinations and use different superfoods to bring variety into your diet.

Have several ideas for breakfast so you don’t get bored. Try a fruit salad, green smoothie, fruit smoothie or even a raw vegetable salad. Why not?

Variety in your diet will exercise your colon. Having different color vibrations in your food balances out the chakra energies inside. Many reasons not to have cooked, de-vitalized, low vibration white toast. What can your body do with that besides go back to sleep!

Affirmation for the Month Ahead: ‘I am putting effort and love into my breakfast giving my body the best possible start to every day.’

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Raw Food for De-Stressing – The Natural Way!

Top 5 Raw Food Superfoods or Herbal Supplements for De-Stressing:

Raw Cacao - Food of the Gods

Raw Cacao – High in magnesium, anandamide and tryptophan, the raw cacao bean is know to enhance one’s mood and induce a feeling of well-being and happiness. You can use it in powder form to add to a smoothie or try the raw cacao beans on their own.

Maca Powder – Maca is a root that comes from South America and has a taste like chicory, similar to coffee. But unlike coffee, it doesn’t contain caffeine. It is known to regulate the hypothalamus gland’s production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Maca is also well known to be a potent aphrodisiac…and for that alone can relieve stress!

Yerba Mate – This Superfood is brewed as a tea and is known to produce clarity of mind and provide smooth and sustained energy. It is a great healthier alternative to coffee. Improvement in mood, especially in cases of depression, often follows drinking this tea.

Kava Kava – Kava is a native to the Pacific Islands and is known to be the best natural plant for relieving anxiety (with the exception of opium). It has natural relaxing qualities as well as mood-elevating and pain-relieving effects. I personally use Kava Kava for long-haul flights; it gives me a nice happy feeling and is a much healthier alternative to alcohol!

Dark, Leafy Greens – Edible greens such as kale, spinach, bok choy and watercress can also help reduce stress. The natural green color in these foods helps to balance the heart chakra. Remember that natural color vibrations have a healing effect on the body too! Greens are also high in Vitamin C which is a natural anti-oxidant. Did you have your Green Smoothie today?

I now offer one-on-one Raw Food Coaching for Raw Food Success. Contact me today!

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