Why do so many of us have chocolate cravings? My patients are wondering if it is due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Overall, chocolate is a good source of magnesium and iron. I tried to provide other (magnesium and iron) alternatives such as nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, lentils & beans, and did not find any reduced cravings of chocolate in my patients. Perhaps it is due to the mood-calming compound in chocolate that release your body’s “feel good” chemical- Dopamine and Serotonin, or just the complex, rich flavor and smell of chocolate ??.
Chocolate craving is not a nutritional concern as long as you are sticking with the less processed forms. In fact, the flavonoids in dark chocolate is beneficial to your skin and heart health. This powerful anti-aging antioxidant can help to reduce blood pressure, the bad cholesterol “LDL”, and keep your skin soft & moist.
I like the bitterness, woody taste and smooth texture in a piece of dark-chocolate (85% cocoa), a warm cup of unsweetened almond milk with a tablespoon of pure cocoa powder, or a few bits of cacao nibs in my homemade smoothie or oatmeal.
I do not recommend white chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter/caramel chocolate candy bars, or chocolate with more than 10g of sugar per 40g serving.
Last year, I posted a recipe of Homemade Protein Chew on my Instagram. I was exploring a caffeine-free version and have created this Vegan, Less Fat, Sugar-Free formula. I replaced the cocoa and honey in the original recipe with Chatfield’s All Natural Carob Powder* (naturally sweet, low in fat).
* While Carob powder is a good substitute of cocoa powder for those who are very sensitive to caffeine or watching their weights, please note that it doesn’t contain the phytochemical flavonoids. However, this product is delicious in warm, almond milk and baked goods.
Raw Vegan Protein Chew
1 Tbsp of Epic vanilla protein *
3 Tbsp raw shelled #hempseeds (@harvesthemp)
6 Tbsp Chatfield’s All Natural Carob Powder
1 Tbsp #coconutoil
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup of Almond Milk
1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. 2. Add almond milk gradually while mixing the batter.
3. Knead and roll batter into #proteinballs.
4. Place on wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.
* Reviews of Epic Protein Supplement
In celebrating National Nutrition Month, may I suggest all you beautiful people to incorporate more pastured eggs in your diet, to help get your mind and body in shape for professional and personal success?
My mom used to tell me “Eat Fish, It’s a brain food. Eat Egg, it’s the most nutrient dense food”. My typical childhood breakfast was composed of 2 hard-boiled eggs, a papaya smoothie, and sometimes a small bowl of fish congee. It was at a time when I saw chickens roaming in the backyards, eating bugs and worms.
Then, people thought eggs were bad. I learned about all the fancy labels of eggs that I didn’t know about. Some eggs are Conventional, Cage-Free, Vegetarian-Fed, etc…AKA, eggs from over-crowded chicken factory. Later, I heard about the Egg Beaters, a processed product that is fortified and supposed to “make a healthy lifestyle easier”.
Not all eggs are created equal. Let’s look at the ingredients:
Dietary intake of choline has been shown to be associated with lower plasma homocysteine levels (tHcy), which may reduce chronic inflammation (leading to cardiovascular disease, dementia, and osteoporosis). Recent studies support a protective role of choline against the development of some types of cancer. Choline deficiency may increase risk of muscle damage and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (Fatty liver is linked to obesity and insulin resistance).
Choline is an essential nutrient for prenatal and breastfeeding women. Similar to folate, choline plays a critical role in the healthy development of the fetus’s brain and nervous system. Deficiency in pregnancy may increase incidence of neural tube defects and impair cognitive function.
Although some choline is made within the liver, we require dietary source to maintain good health.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the adequate intake (AI) for choline to prevent liver damage is 550 mg daily for men and lactating women, 425 mg daily for women, and 450 mg daily for pregnant women. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults is 3500 mg/day.
Good Sources of Choline:
?Egg yolk- 147 mg per yolk
?Wheat germ- 202 mg per cup
?Beef- 97 mg per 3oz trimmed, cooked
?Scallop- 94 mg per 3oz steamed
?Salmon- 56 mg per 3oz cooked
?Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy)- 65 mg per cup cooked
?*Please note that prenatal vitamins don’t usually contain Choline, it’s important to nourish your body through whole foods.
When you crave for something warm and light, noodle soup can be a quick meal option that’s satisfying, fresh, and grease-free. Making your own Noodle Bowl at home is surprisingly easy, all you need are 4 elements: soba noodle, broth base, veggies, and protein. Soba, AKA, Buckwheat Noodles are good source of fiber, manganese and contain high quality protein (6-9g per 2 oz serving). They are uniquely rich in the essential amino acid Lysine, which is lacking in many grains. Manganese and Lysine are involved in the creation of collagen and absorption of calcium, maintain bone health. Keep your noodle portion small (1-2 oz soba) and pair it with lean protein choices (tofu, tempeh, edamame, fish, shrimp, chicken) and steamed/sauté veggies of your choice.
Ingredients (serves 4):
6 oz soba noodles
2-inches ginger, grated
6 oz Tofu Cutlet, sliced
8 pieces of shrimp wonton, boiled
8 cups rainbow veggies, steamed
3/4 Tbsp Brown Rice Miso
Boil a pot of water over high heat. Add ginger and 3/4 Tbsp of Miso.
Cook soba noodle with tofu cutlet for 5 minutes.
Top with steamed rainbow veggies.
Garnish with scallion or a dash of sesame seeds.
Smile and serve.
If you want to try flavor soba noodles like this one, check the ingredients to make sure it is made with real green tea matcha and not food colorings. Hime’s Green Tea Noodles are light and fragrant, and a sneaky way to add a dose of antioxidant into your pasta.
Try to consume at least 2 cups of veggies in each meal. Pick a rainbow selection (at least 4 colors) of seasonal vegetables and serve them on the side of the noodle bowl.
I will have Steak & Eggs… Oh I mean Mushrooms & Eggs for Brunch! Portobello Mushrooms are meaty and versatile, rich in fiber, selenium, copper and niacin. Adding mushrooms into your diet may prevent coronary heart disease and cancer. To make it a protein-packed breakfast, serve this side dish with this protein-rich Green Tea Noodle Bowl.
1 clove garlic, minced
2 portobello mushrooms (large, not flat)
1 sprig of thyme, chopped
1 sprig of watercress, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Lemon pepper to taste
Olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Clean mushrooms with a dry cloth. Remove stem and scrape gills out with a teaspoon.
Lightly spray both sides of the mushrooms with olive oil spray and placed on baking sheet.
Crack an egg onto each mushroom.
Divide the garlic, balsamic vinegar, thyme, watercress between the mushrooms.
Sprinkle with lemon pepper to taste.
Place mushrooms in the oven. Bake until the egg whites are set, about 20-25 minutes.
While I love to experience local foods and new restaurants, cooking at a Rustic Mountain Cabin Kitchen can be fun and easy. Keep dinner simple with a sautéed vegetarian entree, a few simple salads/fruits and root vegetables grilled over charcoal. If you don’t have access to a local garden/farm close to your cabin, simply buy fresh ingredients ahead of time and pack the perishables in an insulated cooler with extra ice packs.
Here are some of the dishes I made at my recent mountain cabin retreat.
8 oz Nagoya Organic Teriyaki TofuBaked (32g Protein, Non-GMO)
2 oz Gimme Lean Meatless Sausage
1/2 large Yellow Bell Pepper
1 large Orange Bell Pepper
6 oz Baby Bella Mushroom
8 spears of Asparagus
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat skillet with a light spray of coconut oil. Form meatless sausage into two bite-size patties. Cook Tofu and Patties for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan.
In same pan, heat 1/4 cup of water or a spray of coconut oil over medium heat. Cook veggies until softened (3-5 minutes), stirring often.
Generally speaking, you are likely getting enough protein if you fuel your body with balanced, real, whole foods on a daily basis. It is unnecessary and can be harmful to strain on your kidneys and waistline with excess amounts of protein intake (especially animal protein). While I advocate nourishing your body through whole foods whenever possible, a high-quality protein powder can be a convenient choice under certain circumstances (ex.midnight cravings, pre-workout boosting, quick workout recovery, vegan bodybuilding). However, I’m pretty picky in choosing a high quality plant protein powder. I stay away from artificial sweeteners or coloring, and I favor products with 100% organic, high quality amino acid profile, and added super foods (ex. Probiotics, Digestive enzymes, Goji berries) that are delicious, easy to dissolve and swallow.
I’m really Happy with Epic Protein. This superfood-enriched protein powder has the cleanest ingredients I have seen. It’s nutritious, non-chalky, and delicious. The primary protein sources in Epic are Sprouted Brown Rice, Yellow Pea, and Sacha Inchi. Together, This high quality powder is an excellent choice for muscle growth, energy and endurance boost.
100% plant-based, organic, non-gmo, raw, gluten free and hypoallergenic
high protein content (19-26g per serving)
Great source of iron
Rich in antioxidants
O grams of fat, sugar, sodium
No additives, “natural” flavoring
Complete amino acid profile with a balanced ratio of BCAAs for optimal protein synthesis
Creamy and Delicious
Sweetened with Stevia leaf
Sprouted Brown Rice-The sprouting and fermenting process activate the enzyme activity between the amino acid bonds (similar to protein hydrolysates), which may increase protein content and aid better absorption, excellent for muscle repair.
Yellow Pea– Hypoallergenic and easy to digest, which is not likely to cause bloating or gas. It is high in BCAAs (branched chain amino acid), great for muscle building.
Sacha Inchi- AKA SaviSeeds- provides 8 grams of complete protein per ounce. This superfood is rich in vitamin E and ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which may promote abdominal fat loss, reduce cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease.
While EPIC powder is fine enough to dissolve in water and have a full-bodied sweetness flavor by itself, I like to mix it with organic no sugar added coconut water or homemade soy milk. Each flavor supplies all of the essential amino acids and an exotic blend of nutritious superfoods. My favorites are the Original, Green Kingdom, and Chocolate Mocha.
26 grams of protein per serving
Rich in phytochemicals and prebiotics from Jerusalem Artichoke
Contain antioxidant rich Cranberry Seeds that help fight free radicals
20 grams of protein per serving
Creamy texture, rich real flavor and full-bodied sweetness with no ‘fake’ aftertaste
Exotic blend of land and sea greens including kale, indian moringa and spirulina
Spirulina, an antioxidant-rich algae with protein, B-vitamins, calcium, and iron. Packed with Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which may regulate blood sugar and prevent cravings.
19 grams of protein per serving
Creamy texture, rich sweetness with no ‘fake’ aftertaste.
Packed with antioxidant-rich cacao and adaptogenic maca root.
Raw cacao contains living enzymes, rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron
Contain Ceylon Cinnamon- a natural sweetener and powerful antioxidants that may help regulate blood sugar levels
Epic Proteinis the current plant-based protein powder I recommend to my clients and friends. If you would like to learn more their products and give it a try, please visit www.sproutliving.com