Happy Belly Tangerine Blueberry Smoothie

Introducing the "Happy Guts Tangerine and Blueberry Smoothie." And of course my dog, Luna, stretching in the background. She knew there was a photo shoot afoot, and decided to steal the spotlight. Ham. This week we have a plethora of greens in our farm share, so I decided to use them up via smoothie. In an effort to soothe my digestion (I've been misbehaving on the diet home front), I used some kefir (massive dose of probiotics!) as the base to promote healthy gut flora, with a splash of coconut water to calm any internal digestive inflammation. Top it off with an optional sprinkle of probiotic powder and two drops of tangerine essential oil, and voilá! You have a lightly sweet, tangy smoothie to soothe your digestion and keep you sated for hours to come.

On an interesting side note, there has been a recent uprising amongst the "green juice" and "green smoothie" community, wherein some folks claim that drinking such greens-laden beverages can be hazardous to your health. Their reasoning is that most greens are high in oxolates, which wouldn't be a big deal except that in mass quantities (like every day forever) they can manifest into oxolate stones (think kidney stone...ow.). But when consumed in moderation (they are found in lots of foods including spinach, peanuts, peppercorns, etc.) are probably just fine...Not to mention that you are benefiting from the other nutrients found in said foods. So, jury is still out.

As always, do your own research. Don't embrace a food fad until you know the basics. Probably anything (with the exception of crystal meth and elevator music) in moderation is just fine for your mind, body, and soul. Just don't overdo it.

Happy smoothie-ing!

Ingredients:

1 Cup organic berry-flavored Kefir (or you can make your own, which I haven't YET tried)

1 Splash coconut water

1 Large handful organic spinach

1/2 Cup organic blueberries

1-2 Drops doTerra Tangerine Essential Oil

*Optional: Can add a little sprinkle of additional probiotic powder, but ONLY if you have a good one. I like Jarrow-Dophilus.

*Note-if you don't have kefir, add 1/2 cup yogurt, 1-2 pitted dates, and use 1 cup of coconut water instead.

Method:

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend to smithereens (1-2 minutes)

*NOTE: Not all essential oils are created equal. I only use doTerra because their oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, which is suitable for internal, external, and aromatherapeutic consumption.

*NOTE: All doTerra Essential Oils are extremely potent. I’d recommend 1 drop per dish. Otherwise, just know that you will have a VERY strong-tasting meal!

Click here to learn more about doTerra Essential Oils.

Benefits:

Blueberries: These berries should get their own cape. They are a superfood, packed with antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, meanwhile protecting your nervous system and brain health. They're rich with manganese, and Vitamins K and C, and are also a good source of dietary fiber. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Coconut Water: Coconut water is perfect for replenishing simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals within the body. It contains cytokinins with significant anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic properties, and is very soothing to the digestive tract. But there's so much more! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Kefir: This fermented dairy beverage abounds with healthy probiotics to promote healthy gut flora, and is packed with protein, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D, as well as folic acid. It's also a good source of calcium, iron, and iodine. Some say that it is also easier for many to digest than regular cow's milk. It's tasty too! But be forewarned, the flavor is not for all palates. See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Tangerine Essential Oil: DoTerra's Tangerine Essential oil is an extremely powerful blood purifying agent, digestive aid, anti-septic, and relaxant. It can help improve blood circulation, and reduces internal inflammation. The neurological benefits abound as well. See here for a full description and uses for this amazing oil, and click here if you’re interested in purchasing any doTerra essential oils.

Best Chicken Salad I Ever Ate...

This batch fed a roundup of hungry ladies at a baby shower brunch, served with buttery croissants. Yum.

...Meanwhile the meat/no meat debate continues...

Ah, the endless debate: If you are a true yogi, can you eat meat? That is for you to decide. But I will say this: the concept of "ahimsa," or unconditional love for all beings (as defined by Nischala Joy Devi in her heart-centered translation of the Yoga Sutras) must be applied to oneself too. Yes, it makes my being writhe to think of animals being abused and "dispatched" for human consumption. But if your body is in need of certain sustenance that only animal flesh can provide, and you prepare and eat it with love and gratitude in your heart, then I personally think it is ok in moderation. Granted, there are likely yogis, vegetarians, and vegans who would vehemently disagree. And that's ok.

My best advice is to listen to your own body and soul's inherent wisdom. But if you decide to go for it, try this recipe. The extra time it takes to shred the chicken meat is totally worth the effort. It's nutritious and delicious, and can be made in large enough batches to feed the masses...as long as they're not vegetarian. (In which case make any of the other recipes on this site.)

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken (about 1 3/4 pound)

*Note: 1) If you use breasts and thighs it tastes even better! 2) If you shred the chicken rather than cut it, it tastes even better-er! 3) Make sure chicken is completely cooled before mixing with other ingredients to make it taste the better-iest!

*Note: This is a GREAT way to use up leftover chicken and/or turkey meat.

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

1 cup chopped fennel (can sub celery if you don’t have/like fennel)

3 sprigs finely chopped green onion

2 cups halved seedless purple grapes

1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use homemade Paleo-nnaise if that’s your bag, baby)

½ cup Greek yogurt (can use all Greek yogurt if you don’t like mayo)

2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint or 3-4 Tbs. dried

Hefty dash tabasco sauce

Hefty drizzle honey (1 Tsp.-ish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well. Can be served immediately, but is even yummier if allowed to sit for a few hours or even overnight.

Can be served solo, in sandwich or wrap form. This chicken salad is heavenly on a fresh croissant, but is also tasty when served in lettuce wraps or radicchio leaves if you’re doing the grain-free thing.

Health Benefits:

Chicken: If you're looking for a good source of protein that's also low in fat try an organic chicken breast. The thighs have a richer (read: fattier) flavor, but both are great sources of tryptophan, selenium, and vitamins B3 and B6. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Fennel: In addition to its abounding phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. It also has a unique licorice-like flavor and a ton of crisp crunch. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Grapes: Grapes are packed with vitamin C and manganese and contain a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and resveratrol (think red wine!). These tasty little jewels are thought to help support the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and nervous systems. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of "regular" yogurt that boasts high protein, healthy bacteria which support healthy gut flora, and is a good source of calcium. It's a versatile addition to your diet and can replace higher fat dairy products. See here for more about the nutritional info and health benefits of yogurt.

Pecans: Pecans protect your brain, heart, and body. They're high in vitamin E, oleic acid, vitamin B1, thiamin, magnesium, protein, and an array of other vitamins and minerals. They are also great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (read: good fats), and are very low in saturated fat. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.