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Which Fermented Food are Good for You

When talking about the fermented foods that have the most probiotics and health benefits, it’s important to understand that it’s not just about the TYPE of food, but also about HOW this food was produced.

To say in short, all types of traditionally fermented foods have enormous health benefits, and they are a true healing elixir for our gut. However, if not prepared correctly, they might not have any benefits at all, or they might even be harmful for us.

In our Healthy Cooking School we share a collective wisdom of several generations across regions about the traditional fermentation methods. Combined with our continuous scientific research, it allowed us to understand a few important things to always look at, when deciding if a particular fermented food is good for us or not.

(To see the full list of the healthy fermented foods, check out our list of 37 Fermented Foods from Around the World. If you want to understand why not all fermented foods are equal, and why some are healthier than the others, keep on reading this article)

Here is what to know about the fermented foods with the most health benefits:

Healthy Fermented Foods: made without vinegar

When thinking of flavourful fermented foods, many people imagine a taste of addictively delicious vinegary pickles on their tongue. Sadly, pickles that are made in vinegar, and ferments that are made through lacto-fermentation (i.e. without vinegar, using salt and brine), are two completely different things. 

Vinegar serves the goal of preservation and added flavour, but it doesn’t add any health benefits to the ferments, in fact, sterilized vinegar pickles have no bacteria whatsoever. It includes the absence of good bacteria and probiotics. So, when you consume vinegar pickles, usually you pretty much consume just acid, salt and sugar. While it might taste wonderfully in your burger, it can cause potential problems for your digestion, especially when consumed in large quantities. 

If you add a bit of unpasteurized raw vinegar to your ferments (like apple cider vinegar), then it will not harm the good bacteria and might even help it, but usually this is only possible with the homemade ferments – which brings me to the next point.

Healthy Fermented Foods: made at home

If you are after fermented foods not just for their taste, but also for their health benefits, you’ll inevitably have to learn how to make your own ferments at home. There are a few huge problems with the ferments produced at the industrial scale, let me explain. 

First of all, 99% of ferments sold in the supermarkets are pasteurized. In other words, they are heated at high temperatures, and often it is not even stated on the label. It’s done for safety reasons and also to increase the shelf life of ferments and make sure that they don’t turn bad unexpectedly. For the sake of killing the bad bacteria, pasteurization kills all the good bacteria as well. As the result, all the health benefits and the probiotic qualities of the fermented foods are gone, even if they still taste really good. This concerns not only fermented vegetables, but also drinks like kombucha, so if you buy kombucha in store, you might just be drinking a regular soda, and not a probiotic drink. 

Luckily, fermenting at home is really, really easy. For many recipes, it only takes 15-30 minutes of active time of preparation, and then a few days or weeks of waiting (and waiting must be the hardest part, as the ferments look so appetizing in the glass jars!).

Nowadays, you can even easily learn fermentation online: Happy Bellyfish offers an online course The Art of Fermented Foods. It breaks down 7 traditional techniques of fermentation, and shares 25 recipes, including homemade sodas and even condiments like ketchup. 

Healthy Fermented Foods: made without excessive salt and additives

Many commercially produced fermented foods have unwanted additives in them, as well as excessive amounts of sugar and salt, that are absolutely not necessary for fermentation.

If you’ve read the famous book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us”, then you know that these substances are used merely as flavour enhancers, that make us so addicted to certain types of foods. Ferments and pickles are no different: if you compare a jar of pickled cucumbers made by your granny, and a jar from a supermarket, you’ll most definitely notice the difference. Besides, the salt used for the ferments is often of questionable quality, while the only types of recommended salt for healthy ferments are local rock salt without additives, pink Himalayan salt, Celtic salt or high quality sea salt, if you don’t mind it’s sharp flavour.

Healthy Fermented Foods: made without excessive sugar

The problem of excessive sugar usually comes up in case of fermented drinks, like kombucha and natural sodas. When these drinks are made, sugars are absolutely necessary, however, most of this sugar gets consumed during the fermentation process. That said, many producers often add significantly more sugar than it’s  necessary for the fermentation process. For example, our teaching instructor in the Kombucha Masterclass recommends the amount of sugar, which is 3-4 times less than it’s stated in most of the available sources. As the person who’s been brewing kombucha for my entire family for ages, I can confirm that there is absolutely no necessity for more sugar to make a delicious, safe and healthy kombucha. The rest is just a matter of taste!

Moreover, even more sugar is often added to the fermented drinks produced on the commercial scale just before bottling, i.e. after the fermentation process, and therefore the consumption of sugar by bacteria, is complete. It’s done to make the flavor of the drink stronger and more attractive, but makes the otherwise healthy drinks as bad for us, as any other regular soda. 

(If you want to learn more about the harmful effects of sugar, you can check out our free sugar detox)

As you see, for any fermented foods, it’s not enough just to be fermented at some stage of its production process, and there are a few nuances to keep in mind. If you are really concerned about the health benefits of fermented foods and want to get the most goodness for your gut from them, it’s worth it to start a small batch of your favourite ferment at home. Start with the easy things like sauerkraut and kombucha, and then slowly take it from there!

PS. Of course, if you have a trusted supplier of fermented foods near you, about whose method of production you are absolutely sure, and who doesn’t pasteurize their ferments, just go for it and enjoy them. Unfortunately in real life these types of producers are really hard to come by, that’s why we encourage people to try making delicious and easy ferments at home.


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Top 27 Holistic Nutritionists to Follow in 2020

Holistic nutritionists are health practitioners who use natural approach to a healthy diet. When assessing individual’s health, they take into consideration their lifestyle, environment, as well as emotional, spiritual and physical state. Their core principles include “no size fits all” and the importance of balance in all areas of life. In other words, holistic approach to nutrition is not just about food, and definitely not about any diet.  

One of the best definitions of Holistic Nutrition was given by the American College of Healthcare Sciences: “Holistic nutrition requires a whole-life approach—when and where you eat, where your food comes from, and what your food ate. Holistic nutrition can also include a specific cultural philosophy—like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine—or a specific diet—such as ancestral foods, raw foods, cleansing, vegetarianism, or anti-inflammatory, for example.”

Our list features Top Holistic Nutritionists who share their valuable knowledge through blogs and Instagram. If the field of holistic nutrition interests you, or if you are looking for a solution for a specific health problem, take a look at the work they do:

1. Miriam Jacobson from Every Body Bliss

Miriam is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS). After loosing her father at 13, she went through difficult times that took a big toll on her health. She managed to heal herself through the integrative approach, and is now sharing her knowledge and experience with those who need it. According to Miriam,“wellness is not a destination, it’s a continuous process”.
Follow Miriam on her blog or Instagram

2. Taylor Marae from Peak of Panic

Taylor is a registered dietitian, who focuses on functional nutrition and mental health. She used to suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks, but managed to navigate herself out of the darkness, whereas her nutrition played a key role. 
Follow Taylor on her blog or Instagram

3. Krista King from Composed Nutrition

Krista is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist with a focus on  healthy hormones. After loosing her mother to cancer at a young age, she struggled with stress, anxiety and unhealthy habits, trying to cope with the pain. It prompted her to dive deep into her health and nutrition and she turned it into her life work. 
Follow Krista on her blog or Instagram

4. Sarah Britton from My New Roots

Sarah is a Holistic Nutritionist and a Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). She started her blog because she “wanted to set up a non-biased space for people to come and learn about how to take better care of themselves through diet and lifestyle”, as she has seen immense changes in herself “since making little, positive changes every day”.

Follow Sarah on her blog and instagram

5. Rachel Baker from 3 Sources

Rachel is a Registered Nutritional Therapist (CNHC) with  a Masters Degree in Personalised Nutrition and a Nutritional Therapy Practice Diploma. She is also the founder of 3 Sources,  an online nutrition and lifestyle consultancy, and she focuses on “ the role of mind body nutrition in chronic and degenerative disease”. Rachel has a gorgeous Instagram profile, that is a masterpiece on its own. She shares her life in a French countriside through stunning phootography and beautiful texts, while sharing lots of valuable knowledge on health and nutrition. 

Follow Rachel on her blog or Instagram


6. Lauren Waskewicz from  Be You Be Wholesome

Lauren is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and her method “teaches a healthy mindset for a lifetime of health and happiness”. She focuses on developIng healthy relationship with food and teaching how to provide adequate nutrition for everyone’s individual body. 
Follow Lauren on her blog or instagram

7. Lo from The Healthy Hollows

Lo is a former competitive dancer whose holistic healthy journey started after a complicated chest surgery. Now, she is dedicated to teaching those in need how to live healthier and happier lives, focusing on nutrition. She holds a Degree in Science and Psychology and a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition.

Follow Lo on her blog or instagram


8. Cory Starbird from Starbird Wellness

Cory, a certified Nutrition Health Coach, has overcome serious health problems thanks to integrative nutrition. She shares easy recipes and tips for everyday wellness. Her Instagram feed is so appetizing (yet healthy), you won’t be able to take your eyes off it!

Follow Cory on her blog or Instagram

9. Jaclyn Irwin from Holistic Foodie

Jaclyn, who credits intuitive eating for her healthy relationship with food,  teaches women to listen to their bodies, beyond anything else. Her practice is not just about recipes and food, she also gives a great importance to how her clients feel about themselves. 
Follow Jaclyn on her blog or Instagram

10. Julie Daniluk

Julie is a Registered Holistic Nutritionists who lived with a severe eating disorder throughout her early 20s, but managed to overcome it with the intuitive and conscious approach to food. She is known for her Anti-Inflammatory recipes and detox books. 
Follow Julile on her blog or Instagram

11. Beth Manos Brickey from Tasty Yummies

Beth is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a yoga instructor. She’s been 100% gluten-free since 2005, when she discovered a severe intolerance due to autoimmune conditions. Her instagram is full of extremely helpful information, delicious recipes and motivation.

Follow Beth on her blog or Instagram 

12. Joy Mc Carthy from Joyous Health

Joy is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, a published author and the creator of multiple online programs. She runs a blog with loads of useful information about health and general well-being, and she shares her family journey on her Instagram account. 
Follow Joy on her blog or Instagram

13. Ranim Talih

Ranim was diagnosed with thyroid and was supposed to spend the rest of her life on medications. She didin’t accept it, educated herself about the power of plant medicine and nutrition, and managed to heal herself. A Certified Holistic Practitoiner, she guides her clients to “self healing through holistic modalities & herbal solutions”. 
Follow Ranim on her blog or Instagram

13. Amy Gonzallez from The Holistic RD

Amy is a Registered Dietitian and a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. In her practice she integrates ”clinical nutrition experience with what is considered a more holistic approach to address the root cause.”
Follow Amy on her blog or Instagram

14. Judy Cho from Nutrition with Judy

Judy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, certified by the Nutritional Therapy Association, she also holds Psychology and Communications degree. Together with her clients she works on  “individualized solutions, prioritizing nutrient-dense foods  that are sustainable for the long term”.
Follow Judy on her blog or Instagram

15. Andrea from Balancing Andie

Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who believes that besides being healthy, food should also be fun and enjoyable. On her blog Andrea mostly focuses on recipes and lifestyle, and her dairy-free desserts are worth a look especially!

Follow Andrea on her blog or instagram

16. Unique Hammond from You’re Great

After being diagnosed with Crohn’s Unique turned to food as medicine and was able to avoid surgery and lifelong medications. Now she works as a Holistic Nutritionist and a Health Coach, helping others to take control of their own health.
Follow Unique on her blog or instagram

17. Mollie Mason

Mollie is not just a Holistic Nutritionist, but also a wellness blogger. She shares nourishing recipes and writes about mindfulness and holistic living. We especially love her article about healthy travel eats and hacks, which are truly hard to come by. 
Follow Mollie on her blog or instagram

18. Deryn Macey from Running on Real Food

Deryn is a Holistic Health Coach who focuses on a plant-based diet. Her blog shares delicious plant-based recipes, workouts and healthy lifestyle recommendations, as she follows a truly holistic approach to health. Deryn is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. 
Follow Deryn on her blog or instagram

19. Brittany Ford from Biohacking Brittany

Brittany is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist with the focus on biohacking. She healed herself from Leaky Gut, Candida and hormonal imbalances though natural methods and is sharing her experience on her blog and on other media platforms. 
Follow Brittany on her blog or instagram

20. Shanon Wittingham from Sincerely Shans

Shans is a Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in nutrition and dietetics. The core principles of her work include “mindset over meals”,  “feed your cells and soul” and “food can fuel or fight desease”. 
Follow Shannon on her blog or instagram

21. Maria Dominguez-Courian from Vitalia Nutrition

Maria is a Certified Nutrition Practitioner, who focuses on healthy metabolism. She is a Certified Metabolic Balance®️ Coach. She shares plenty of useful information on her Instagram, that helps women balance their metabolism, and achieve healthier life and boosted energy levels. 
Follow Maria on her blog or instagram

22. Ali Bourgerie from Shifting Nutrition

Ali’s goal is to help people “find balance with food and educate them on how eating real foods can produce real results”, going far beyond popular fad diets. She is a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist and serves clients from all over the globe. 

Follow Ali on her blog or Instagram 

23. Megan Kelly from The Realistic Holistic 

Megan is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, who got into the science of healing bodies with food after she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease & Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Now she works with clients with digestive and autoimmune disorders.
Follow Megan on her blog or Instagram

24. Leah Castle from Living on Roots

Leah is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist who makes following healthy eating rules really easy. She shares fantastic recipes and wonderful ideas for meal planning. 

Follow Leah on her blog or Instagram

25. Barbara Donnelly from B Healthy Eat Whole

Barbara is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, as well as a Personal Trainer and Callanetics Instructor. The recipes that she shares are not just healthy, but also feature extremely beautiful and appetizing photography, you’ll want to try them all!
Follow Barbara on her blog or Instagram

26. Ali Beck from Fresh Roots Health

Ali is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with a Degree in Food & Nutrition. Ali believes “in the power of real food as a means of healing the body and restoring balance” and she is generously sharing her knowledge about health and nutrition throough her blog. Don’t forget to check out her easy tasty recipes as well. 
Follow Ali on her blog or Instagram

27. Melissa Weatherhall

Melissa managed to transform her own health with the power of nutrition and now she is helping others to gain more energy and loose weight. She is a graduate of the  two year Advanced Holistic Nutrition Program and now practices as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
Follow Melissa on her blog or instagram

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50 Healthy Snacks Ideas for Work and School (Vegan)

Snacking is often mentioned as a challenge number one, when it comes to switching to healthy eating. Many students of our Healthy Cooking School share, that they manage to stick to healthy lunches and dinners, but craving for snacks (especially if they work in an office)  is something that they really struggle to take control of.

But, wait, is snacking really that bad at all? 

For example, Ayurvedic nutrition explains that everyone’s body is different, and hence, while snacking is the worst idea for one person, it can be not at all as bad for another. 

The problem with snacks, of course, lies not just in a snacking habit as such, but with the types of foods that we end up consuming in large quantities. Large bags of chips, waffles, chocolates, cookies, store bought crackers – all these items are loaded with salt, sugar, unhealthy fats, artificial flavours and other unwanted additives. These things are not “just” unhealthy – they are simply harmful.

What if there was a way to satisfy your snacking craving in an easy and healthy way? 

Here, we put together a list of 50 healthy snacks, that don’t require any cooking, which you can always have around, and help yourself when it is needed. 

1.Nuts, roasted or activated

Nuts are the most filling of snacks, full of protein and vitamins. Make sure to roast or soak them before consuming, otherwise they might become a little too heavy for your digestion system. 

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2. Dry Fruits

Dry fruits are a great snack for a sweet tooth. Try to buy organic dry fruits, that don’t have added oils, sweeteners or sulfites.

3. Nut Butters

Peanut butter or almond butter are two classic options They can be enjoyed on their own, or with your favourite fruits or vegetables. 

4. Popcorn

Many people consider popcorn to be an unhealthy snack. However, as long as it is homemade (preferably from organic corn) and doesn’t have extra salt and flavour enhancers, popcorn is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable snacks.

5. Frozen Green Peas, spiced

It will take just a couple of minutes to stir fry or steam the frozen green peas. You can add some garlic, salt and olive oil, or go wild with spices, to add an extra flavour boost.

6. Energy Balls

Energy balls are usually made of dry fruits, nuts and seeds. They are very easy to make and have loads of nutrition (in our Healthy Desserts Course we dedicate one whole chapter to energy balls and bars)

7. Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is the only bread you should be eating. It’s very nutritious, easy to digest, and rarely has the negative effects that we know from the store bought bread, made with commercial yeast. Enjoy it on its own or turn into a sandwich. 

8. Celery Sticks

There are a few vegetables that can satisfy your craving for something savoury – and celery is definitely one of them! In fact, celery is sometimes used as a salt replacement, so it really gives a great desired kick for your taste buds. 

9. Frozen Green Beans, Spiced

SImilar to frozen green peas, frozen green beans are a wonderful option for a comforting and even a slightly spicy snack, if you like. Just stir fry them or steam them slightly. 

10. Bananas with Nut Butters

Bananas are fantastic on its own, but if you add some nut butter, or even a bit of dark chocolate, then it takes the whole sweet snacking idea to a whole different level. 

11. Fruit Leather

If you haven’t heard about the fruit leather, you are truly missing out.  It’s a savour for those who love sweets and chewy consistency, something like gummy bears (we are teaching  it in our Healthy Desserts Course as well, by the way)

12. Hummus

Hummus need no introduction. Made from chickpea (or sometimes from other types of beans), it can even replace you an entire meal.

13. Fruit Chips

Fruit chips are basically crispy dehydrated fruits, that you can either buy or make it yourself. Fruits are so flavourful on their own, that no other additives are needed to make them enjoyable. 

14. Carrots

If you are brave enough to carry a carrot peeler around, this snack can always stay super fresh, wherever you go. It’s also lots of fun to eat the whole carrot, crunchy and orange, and it can make people around you smile, as well 😉 

15.Peanut butter

Peanut butter deserves a separate category, because there are endless ways to flavour it and eat it! It can satisfy both your sweet and salty cravings, depending on what kind of spice, flavour or sweetener you decide to add to it.

16. Chickpeas, Spiced

Boiled chickpeas can be enjoyed just like that, on their own. But it’s also very easy to give them some extra flavour with a bit of spice, fresh herbs, or maybe with a tiny bit of flavoured oil.

17. Brown Chickpeas, Roasted

Roasted chickpeas are crunchy and filling, in other words, they are a perfect snack. Brown chickpeas are even a better option for this type of a recipe.

18. Apples, Plain or with Nut Butters

Apples are the best fruit “to go” because you don’t need to peel it, and it never gets mashy (unlike bananas, for example). To make them more filling, pair with a nut butter of choice.

19. Radishes

Red round radishes will give you a refreshing crunch. Because of their vibrant pink  color they can also give you some extra energy even by just looking at them (yes, colors in your food do matter!)

20. Cherry Tomatoes

Juicy, easy to carry and to eat, cherry tomatoes are a perfect snack. THey are also a wonderful addition to other snacks, like a sourdough sandwich.

21. Frozen Grapes

Frozen grapes are an amazing treat and we really recommend to always have them in your fridge. Luckily, most offices have no fridges as well, so you can enjoy it at work, too!

22. Organic Puffed Rice

Puffed rice is very light, and can satisfy your desire to munch on something crunchy. You can roast it and combine with spices, to turn into a much more interesting snack.

23. Organic Puffed Barley

Barley is another great option for puffed cereal, which will have more nutrition than puffed rice, but it is also a little less easy to digest. 

24. Rice Cakes (plain, unsalted)

Some people call it rice cakes, but basically it’s also puffed rice, made into a cracker. Tastes wonderfully with toppings like hummus.

25. Napa Cabbage

Crunchy and non-messy, napa cabbage is a powerhouse of nutrition. It is also juicy, and is a wonderful option for those who don’t like dry snacks.

26. Rice Paper Rolls

Anything can be rolled in rice paper: your favourite vegetables, fruits and even hummus. There are no rules, just choose the ingredients you love the most, and the rice paper will hold them together.

27. Cucumbers

If you manage to get a hold of tiny cucumbers, that are also very sweet in flavour, then you don’t even need to cut them. Besides, cucumbers are also a perfect option for hydration, and suit best for those who live in hot climates.

28. Broccoli Florets

Broccoli florets are another option of no cook fresh vegetable snacks. Just beware that for some people broccoli might not be as easy to digest (Ayurvedic nutrition goes into big detail on this matter!).

29. Avocado Toast

Avocado toast must be one of the most trending breakfasts in the world, and for a good reason: it’s very easy to make and keeps you full for a long time, thanks to its healthy fat content. For the same reason, it makes a wonderful snack as well.

30. Zucchini with a Dip

You can have zucchini both raw and grilled, whatever you prefer. It goes best with creamy and cheesy dips, as well as with hummus.

31. Flatbread with a spice dip

Make flatbread yourself or find a good artisan producer, and your snack problem is set. YOu can flavour it with various spices, herbs and dips.

32. Crunchy Seaweed

Seaweed was declared to be one of the most powerful superfoods. Good news is that you don’t even need to cook it before eating.

33. Berries

A bowl of berries in season is one of the most powerful health boosters. It is best not to mix berries with anything else, that’s why they are simply a perfect snack.

34. Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Ice cream made from frozen bananas is a satisfying and nutritious snack, that is the best option you can imagine for summer. You can premake it and keep it in a freezer in your office, and avoid sweet ice cream cravings during the day that way  (this type of ice creams is covered in detail in our Vegan Ice Cream Masterclass).

35. Dates with Sweet Stuffing

Dates make a great snack on their own, but if you add some almond butter or tahini inside, then it will be even more satisfying and will keep you full for longer.

36. Edamame or Fresh Green Pea

Edamame or fresh green peas are not just delicious, they are also great fun to eat.

37. Fresh Coconut Flesh

Coconuts are one of those inexpensive nutritious bombs, that are often overlooked on the supermarket shelves. People feel intimidated because they have to break them, ut it is much easier that it seems.

38. Kale Chips

Fresh raw kale might not be enjoyed by everyone, but nicely spiced kale chips turn this health food into one of the most delicious snacks ever.

39. Stuffed Avocado

Just take an avocado, cut it in half and add lemon juice, spices, or any favourite seeds on top. You can make it even nicer with some sliced cucumber and tomato. 

40. Olives

Olives are full of healthy fats, and will help you to stay full for longer. Choose the ones that were made in salty brie or in oil, without and additives. Pair with sourdough bread or rice crackers to balance the salt.

41. Spiced Peanuts

Did you know that peanuts are actually legumes? Which means that you can enjoy the same health benefits when eating them, but literally need no time for cooking them? Add your favourite spices to make this snack irresistible

42. Roasted and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Roast pumpkin seeds with cinnamon and a dash of sugarcane sugar, and you will not ever want any sweet snack again. Add some chilli and sal again, and here you go, your unhealthy chips craving will be satisfied immediately.

43. Chia Seed Pudding

Soak chia seeds in coconut milk and add your favourite fruit on top – here it is, your snack is ready! And it can be made even at your own desk.

44. Watermelon or Melon

During hot summer season, there is no better snack than watermelon and melon. For digestion, it’s better not to ix melons and watermelons with anything else, so it’s a wonderful snack during the day.

45. Granola

Homemade granola, or handmade organic granola are some of the best snacks you can have during the day. Pair with a bit of coconut yoghurt, and it will turn into an entire meal.

46. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is crunchy and refreshing, and is a great alternative for those who are tired of cucumbers and celery.

47. Ripe Pears with Walnuts

Pears are often baked to increase the sweetness, but if you have no time to cook, just pick the ripest pear possible, top them with some walnuts or pecan nuts, and your healthy snack is ready.

48. Dark Chocolate

There is a huge difference between different types of chocolates. While sugary chocolate bars will do you no good, the true dark chocolate actually has a lot of health benefits, as long as its consumed in moderation.

49. Baked Potato Wedges or Sweet Potato

There is something satisfying about potato. Don’t reach out for potato chips or French fries, try to make some easy baked potato wedges at home, and take them with you to office.

50. Mango or Pineapple with Spices (red chilli powder, black pepper, jeera etc.)

This is a very typical snack in Mexico in India: take any sour fruit and spice it up. It is a great idea for hotter climates, as well. 


If you are ready to invest some time in meal prep, then there are also lots of wonderful ideas for healthy snacks, that you can make ahead in your own kitchen, and enjoy for many days to come. Check out the Sesame Brittle or Chocolate Tahini Bars, or take a look at our YouTube Channel for more unique ideas of Healthy Snacks.

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The Best and Safest Pans for Healthy Cooking

In this article we are going to give you an overview of best quality pans and pots that can make your daily healthy cooking much easier. The characteristics of a pan and its (non)toxicity depend on the material that was used to make it, as well as on the quality of the material. 

Even though we will focus on the frying pans, we will also touch upon the utensils that are used for baking and boiling, as almost always the same safety principles apply regardless the method of cooking.

We categorized the pans, keeping the basic principles of healthy cooking, so they have to match the following criteria: 

  • allow to cook with as little oil as possible
  • shouldn’t release any toxic chemicals into the food during food preparation
  • the cooking surface should be durable, it shouldn’t be damaged easily

Let’s take a look at the materials that are commonly used for cooking pans, and which of them a the best, non-toxic option for healthy cooking. 

The safest cooking pans: 

Cast iron pans

If you asked me to name you one, the most durable, and the healthiest cooking pan material, I would say cast iron. In fact, it’s a traditional material that’s been used in many regions in the world for centuries. It’s perfect for cooking on fire and on gas, and besides cooking in it on the stove,  you can also put it into the oven (as long as no other materials are used for handles). Cast iron pans are perfect for slow cooking as well. 

This is also a material that doesn’t leak any chemicals in your food, even if the surface gets slightly damaged. It can, however, “leak” iron into your food, though the amount is safe for consumption. In fact, some experts recommend cooking in cast iron for people that have iron deficiency, as small amounts of iron are transferred to food. 

From the cooking prospective, cast iron pans cook very fast and even, because of its weight and heat distribution.

Some cooking blogs  claim that cast iron is a non stick, but it’s not exactly true and will depend a lot on your stove. Cast iron might be not the best choice if you try to cook without oil completely, but it’s great if you want to cook with a minimum amount of fat.

Here are some recommended cast iron pans: 

Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 12 Inch (Lodge)

Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Cooker Combo (Kookantage)

Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Wooden Handle, 9.4 Inch (Carl Victor)

Carbon steel

Carbon steel is also considered to be the safest material. and it has similar qualities to cast iron. This type of material is often the choice number one by professional chefs, because it can last literally forever, and when it’s season right, it also has non-stick capabilities. Carbon steel, however, is more expensive than cast iron, and this can be seen as the biggest disadvantage of this material

Here are some recommended carbon steel pans

Carbon Steel Non-Stick Fry Pan, 9.5 inch (Mauviel)

Carbon Steel Fry Pan, 11 inch (De Buyer)

Stainless steel

Stainless steel, along with cast iron, is usually the choice number one for professional kitchens, as they can literally last forever. You will find a bit of controversial information about the safety of stainless steel, yet it will be the material most of the cooking pots are made of, including pressure cookers. 

Although the risk is minimal, poorly constructed stainless steel cookware can potentially leach a small amount of nickel into food (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284091/). So, the most important  thing when choosing a stainless steel pot is its quality, as the brand you choose should guarantee that it used a good quality material, but not the scrape metals. 

From a cooking point of view, stainless steel of course has a big downside, because without oil the surface mill become very sticky. So, it suits best for the non-frying cooking methods, including cooking with water, even if just with a very small amount. If you want to stir fry, for example, at least a small amount of oil use will be inevitable. 

Here are some recommended stainless steel pans: 

Generally safe cooking pans, but need special care:

Ceramic-coated pans

Generally, ceramic surface is very safe for cooking. Here, it’s important to note that most of the pans that are sold as ceramic, or with a ceramic coating are actually made from aluminium base. Basically,  a pan is shaped from aluminium, and then it’s dipped into the coating. It means that if the surface gets damaged (for example, scratched or cracked), you risk exposure to aluminium. If you choose a high quality pan with thick ceramic coating, of course, the risk of damage is much smaller. With this type of coating it’s very important to take a good care of the pan. Be careful when using it on an electric stove, that reach very high temperatures very fast (extreme heat can damage the surface). Wash it without a scrubber and only use wooden or silicon spatulas when cooking.

Depending o the quality of the surface, ceramic-coated pans can be used for cooking without oil, as they have non-stick properties.

Here are some recommended ceramic-coated pans: 

Granite pans

A great alternative for classic ceramic-coated pans are granite cookware, and this is the type that we use in our kitchen a lot. To be precise, “granite” pans are not actually made of granite. It’s a different type of a ceramic coating, that resembles granite by its look. 

When the surface is of a good quality, I personally found the surface much sturdier than  a classic ceramic pan. Moreover, in most cases food doesn’t stick to the surface even if you cook without oil. 

Here are some recommended granite pans: 

Enamel pans

Enamel pans are a truly traditional cookware and can be found in many grandmothers’ kitchens. This surface is safe, as long as it’s maintained in a good condition. Some enamel pans are actually made of cast iron, so this can be a good option to minimize the risks. Keep in mind that some lower-priced enamel cookware, which resembles porcelain-enamel, has an enamel finish that can be damaged very easily.

Unfortunately, the enamel pans are not the best option for cooking without oil, the surface is quite sticky. It is, however, a good choice for boiling and baking in the oven. 

Here are some recommended enamel pans: 

Enameled Cast Iron Skillet, 10 inch (CAVANI)

Enameled Cast Iron (Klee)

This was an overview of the best cooking pans with the focus on frying, cooking without oil and boiling. If you are looking for the safest materials for baking, than take a look at fully ceramic (clay) cookware and consider baking on stone. We will be covering these materials in further articles. 

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What vegan ice cream is made of, and is it really healthy?

Can Ice cream be made without dairy cream, and be healthy at the same time? Yes, it’s absolutely possible, and a growing variety of vegan ice creams in the market confirms it. But what exactly those plant-based ice cream are made of?

Ice cream is known as a creamy frozen treat, and many of us could not imagine hot summer months without it, especially thanks to our childhood memories. In old times, each region, even each town used to have ice cream vendors of their own, who were inventive with flavours, making use of local ingredients.

Before we dive into details of how modern manufacturers replace dairy in their products, let me tell you that there have always been frozen dessert varieties without any animal products. For example, famous sorbets, made from sweetened water, with the addition of fruit juice. The most famous flavours are on a tangy side, and include lemon, grapefruit or a mix of berries.

 

Orange Sorbet

Or take a look at Sicilian granita, which reminds of shaved ice, but comes in unusual nutty flavours like almond and pistachio. Or think of paletas, traditional Mexican ice creams. While some of them are indeed made with milk, many artisan producers offer flavours that are mostly made just from fruit. Paletas are traditionally made with a natural sweetener (jaggery, raw thickened sugar cane juice), and the only extra flavour you might find there is a dash of red chill pepper.

Fruity popsicles and sorbets, of course, can satisfy our craving for a refreshing sweet, but can’t really match those traditional creamy sweet ice creams, that we know from our childhood. Following the trend of plant-based and vegan diet popularity, many manufacturers started developing their own formula for a perfect vegan ice cream – let’s take a look what they are made of!

 

 

Vegan ice creams and popsicles: ingredients

First of all, keep in mind that not all ice creams with a tag “vegan” are healthy. When you buy them, take a very close look at the ingredients, to make sure that there are no preservatives and artificial flavour enhancers. Also, pay attention to the type of sweeteners that are used in the ice cream and try to avoid all types of processed sugars, corn syrup etc.  As a rule of thumb, if you know all the ingredients and all of them are coming from whole foods (i.e. not processed), then you can enjoy it without major health concerns.

You can also make many of the vegan ice creams at home, easily, and then you will be in full control of what’s inside. If you want to replicate the store bought ice cream 100%, however, you will need an ice cream machine  (if you are ready to make the investment, take a look at our list of the best ice cream machines here).

Here is the list of the most basic ingredients that you will find in the healthier store-bought vegan ice creams:

 

Cashew nuts

 

If you’ve been into vegan desserts for a while, you might know that cashew nut is one of the most common bases used for the creamy vegan desserts. Soaked and processed cashews really resemble a creamy, dairy-like consistency, and make a great base for all the traditional treats, that would normally call for heavy cream or even cheese (like vegan cheese cakes etc.). The drawback of heavy cashew nut use is that it makes the ice cream quite expensive. Besides, we tend to eat too many nuts, that are very hard to digest, in their processed and sweetened form. Besides, some people might be allergic to nuts. In other words, even though it tastes amazing and has no dairy, it might not be the very best option for regular consumption.

 

Coconut milk

 

One of the main features of many vegan recipes, both at home and in the commercial food production, is when dairy milk is simply replaced by plant-based milk. Coconut milk here is the top choice, because it simply has a lot of fat, and hence can get really close to the original ice cream flavour. Of course, if coconut milk is used as the main ingredient of the ice cream, the coconut flavour will be very dominant and it puts certain limitations on the way the ice cream can be flavoured by the manufacturers. For that reason in coconut milk-based ice creams usually a lot of other ingredients are used, to mask the flavour, though it’s difficult to hide it completely. We found that the best way to “mask” the coconut flavour, if needed, is the use of spices, and we touch upon it in our vegan ice cream masterclass.

 

Soy

 

Soy is used in all possible vegan products. It’s used as a replacement for milk, cheese, meat, cold meats substitutes etc. There is no surprise that you find soy or its by-products not just in vegan sausages, but also in ice creams. While it can be used wonderfully as a base, it’s often used just as an additional ingredient.

Soy is a rather controversial product, and a lot of experts call to limit its consumption as much as possible. At the same time, many Asian countries, including Japan and Indonesia, have been traditionally consuming soy products (mostly fermented) without negative health outcomes. When it comes to soy, it’s very important to know where and how it was produced, and make sure that it’s an organic and non-GMO product. And of course, as in case with most other foods, that raise health concerns, moderation is key!

 

Cocoa butter and coconut oil

Among the ingredients of vegan ice creams you will often see cocoa butter and coconut oil, and their content can be quite high. Both are being added to slow down the melting process, and of course to add some fat, in order to mimic the full fat dairy ice cream as closely as possible.  Cocoa butter is mostly added to more expensive brands, as it’s quite an expensive ingredient on its own, but taste-wise it does make the texture of the product richer and creamier. Coconut oil was recently making headlines in the media (again) for not being as healthy as it was believed to be. You can read about both benefits and risks of coconut oil here and decide if it’s the ingredient you are happy about. From our side, again, we will mention what we think is the most important: moderation is key. And remember that many traditional societies have been thriving on coconut oil for centuries, given it’s grown and produced, as well as consumed correctly.

 

Sweeteners

People who lead a full sugar-free lifestyle might argue that all types of sugars and sweets are unhealthy. Why it’s not incorrect, it should not be taken to the extreme: as long as the sweeteners are natural, and are not eaten in excessive quantity, there is nothing wrong with having them in your diet . So, look for natural sweeteners (and this is what health-oriented brands usually use), like coconut sugar and syrup, raw cane sugar, stevia. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the article, if you are looking not just for a vegan ice cream, but for a healthy vegan ice cream, a type of sweetener used is one of the main things to pay attention to.

Agave syrup is a very common ingredient, but this is something you might want to be careful with – we are talking in detail about all types of sweeteners, and why things like agave syrup are unhealthy in our Healthy Desserts Course.

 

Thickeners

In traditional ice cream production milk powder is often used to give a better texture to the ice cream. You will also see different types of thickeners in vegan ice creams. Usually, it’s different types of flours, which should not be a big problem unless you have particular food intolerances and allergies.

 

Flavours

If you buy an all-natural vegan ice cream, you will never have a question about the type and the quality of the flavours that were added. What’s all-natural is easy to understand: those kind of brands will have on their list of ingredients things like fresh fruits and berries, raw cocoa powder, pure vanilla etc. They will never have anything starting with “artificial”,  or written in numbers and letters instead of words. This is as easy, when choosing a healthy product: just make sure that you don’t need to google any ingredient that you see on the box!

Of course, the only way to have full control over what your vegan ice cream is made of, is to make the ice cream yourself, and to be frank, it’s quite simple too. We have a detailed step-by-step video guide for making simple vegan ice creams without an ice cream maker. Making it yourself will allow you to create your favourite  flavors, eat it at any time you want, and save a lot of money on expensive vegan brands.

 

 

 

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5 Best ice cream machines: prices and features

There is an incredible choice of ice cream makers available in the market, and you might spend weeks trying to choose the right one and trying to figure out, which features are important for you. These precious hours of summer, which is always not long enough, are always best spent eating the ice cream, instead of figuring out how to make it!

If you are considering to get an ice cream machine for yourself or as a gift, you came to the right place to learn all you want about best ice cream makers in a few minutes. We’d love to help you save your precious time, but still make the right choice for a type of a machine, that  fits your budget and your needs best.

First, we are sharing our general recommendations for the easier choice of the right equipment, but it you just want to see our list of the Top 5 ice cream makers, than simply scroll to the bottom of the article.

What to look for when choosing and Ice Cream Maker

Ice cream maker is an ice cream maker, it just should make the best ice cream possible, doesn’t it? Well, it’s just a tiny bit more complicated than that. There are a few features you should look at when choosing an ice cream machine, and I’m not talking just about its price and size. Here are the key points you should consider, before deciding which purchase is right for you.

Ice cream, gelato or sorbet?

All of these three options (ice cream, gelato and sorbet) have different consistency. Usually, cheaper ice cream machines have limited features and will allow you to create treats only with one consistency. Make sure that you are happy with what exactly they can make.

Can you clean it easily?

This could be an overlooked issue when it comes to the choice of ice cream makers. It can, however, be compared to juicers: one can get super excited about the result it creates, but cleaning it might become a real nightmare! Choose the machine that will not add you any extra household work.

How long does it take to make ice cream?

We won’t lie, you might need to wait a while until you can sample your final product. That said, some ice cream makers are faster than the others, with average time for churning around 30-60 minutes. It does not end there, however: many quick ice cream makers will produce a rather soft mixture at the end, that will need to spend several hous in the feezer until it starts resemble a store/bought ice crem. If you have a little more to give away, it is worth investing in a more expensive, but a faster machine.

How noisy is it?

As we know already, creating your frozen treat does take a while. So, for some households it might be really important, that thee is no continious noise for one hour straigh. Pay attention at the noise level that the ice cream maker produces, and if you can tolerate it.

How about the warranty?

If you are targeting more expensive ice cream makers, make sure that it has good technical support, or that it’s even available in your country (it might not always be the case!).

How much ice cream can it produce at a time?

Don’t rely on the pictures, but make sure that you check the exact quantity of ice cream the machine can produce at a time. If you have a big family, or hope to prepare treats for big celebrations, a possibility of creating large volume of ice cream at a time can be crucial. Remember, it can take 1 hour to make a batch, and there are only that many hours in a day.

Top 5 Ice Cream Makers

(we are partnering with Amazon, which means that if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links, we will get a tiny percentage of the sale, it is crucial to keep this blog up and running. That said, our opinion here is neither influenced nor sponsored by any particular brands, and this overview is as objective as it can be)

  1. Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

    Price: $207.99 +

    Makes: 1.5 quart

What we love about it:

  • It can make gelato, ice cream and sorbet, which means it can achieve different consistencies
  • It’s fully automatic, with a timer
  • It will keep your ice cream cool for another hour after it’s ready, even if you forgot about it
  • It’s BPA free
  • It has commercial-style compressor (meaning it can keep making your ice cream non-stop)
  • You can add toppings and extra flavours during the freezing process, without interrupting it
  • Takes only about 45-50 minutes to make it to the right consistency
  • It’s not very noisy

What’s not so cool:

  • Removing ice cream from it might be a challenge
  • It’s quite heavy and bulky
  • Cleaning some parts of it is not easy

See it on Amazon

2. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
Price: $44.99 +
Makes: 1.5 quarts

What we love about it:

  • It can make all possible types of frozen treats, including ice cream, gelato, sorbet, frozen yoghurt etc.
  • Keeps ice cream cool for up to 3 hours after it’s ready
  • Has both automatic and manual regimes, thus offers flexibility for the desired final product
  • Extremely easy to use
  • BPA free and has a child lock
  • Very reliable brand

What’s not so cool:

  • It’s quite pricey
  • It’s bulky and heavy
  • The machine is rather noisy

See it on Amazon

3. White Mountain Appalachian Series Wooden Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker, 4-Quart (PBWMIME412-SHP)

Price: $174.80 +
Makes: 4 quarts

What we love about it:

  • Gorgeous and eco-friendly design, with a stainless-steel bowl inside and a wooden bucket outside
  • Makes a really big batch of ic cream at a time (4 quarts), thus it’s pefct for parties and big gatherings
  • Very easy to clean
  • It’s an established and famous brand of ice makers, has an excellent reputation of creating a perfect consistency ice cream

What’s not so cool:

  • Extremely noisy

See it on Amazon

4. Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
Price: $65.99 +
Makes: 2 quarts

What we love about it:

  • Great price
  • Made from stainless steel, BPA free
  • Very easy to use and to clean up
  • Very fast: takes only 25 minutes to make the ice cream

What’s not so cool:

  • At times ice cream comes out significantly softer than you’d like it to be for serving

See it on Amazon

5. KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment
Price: $44.99 +
Makes: 2 quarts

What we love about it:

  • Price! If you have KitchenAid already, this is a great machine if you are looking for a budget option
  • It will not take much extra space in your kitchen (once again, given that you own a Kitchen Aid at this point already)
  • Takes just 20-30 minutes to make the ice cream
  • It’s really easy to clean

What’s not so cool:

  • To use it you’ll need to have Kitchen Aid already
  • Some people reported earlier that the blue gel leaks during the churning processMight need additional equipment to achieve the perfect result

See it on Amazon

After seeing all the options you might feel that an ice cream maker is too much of an investment, or  may be that your kitchen is packed enough already to add one more gadget to it. In this case, take a look at our No Churn Vegan Ice Cream Masterclass, which gives you great techniques and recipes to make frozen treats without an ice cream maker. Everything we cover in the Masterclass is also dairy-free and refined sugar-free. Even though these are not your conventional ice creams, they are much healthier and easier to make, and they are packed with nutrition too!

Related Article: What Vegan Ice Cream  is Made of?

 

 

how-to-make-vegan-ice-cream

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What is Kombucha and is it Really Healthy?

 

The kombucha has taken popular culture by storm, with people buying stacks of it at supermarkets. If you walk down a crowded street in a big city, you can probably spot 10 people with kombuchas in their hands within a span of 10 minutes.

 

But what is kombucha? Why are people going crazy over it? Does it really help you? Is it bad for you? How much of it can you drink? All these questions and more will be answered in this article as we give you all the basics of kombucha and its production, along with the health benefits and side effects.

 

What Is Kombucha

 

Kombucha is a drink made up of fermented green, black, or white tea, mixed with sugar. It is a key component of ancient Chinese medicine and has been around for a long time. Due to the fermentation of the kombucha through the use of a symbiotic culture known as scoby, which sort of resembles a mushroom, the drink starts to produce new compounds such as Vitamin B, probiotic enzymes, antioxidants, and cellulose.

 

All of these are great for your gut and your body in general. But, along with these healthy components, the fermentation also builds up small amounts of alcohol and other acidic components.

 

Health Benefits Of Drinking Kombucha

 

There are tons of people online and in real life who criticise kombucha and try to discredit its amazing health benefits, but a lot of these benefits have been scientifically proven to be true. For instance, a study conducted on mice in 2012 found that kombucha helps the gut microbiota in mice that have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is just one of many scientific pieces of research conducted on kombucha that cement its health benefits. Here are a few other benefits of kombucha:

 

  1. Rich Source of Probiotics – Since kombucha is fermented through the use of a scoby or ‘mother’, they produce acetic acid and other acidic compounds, along with alcohol, making the drink carbonated. Along with this, there is also a large amount of probiotic bacteria that is created during the process of fermentation.
    Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria and make your gut healthier, along with improving many different aspects of your health including digestion, inflammation, and weight loss.
  2. Contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – Kombucha is high in antioxidants (polyphenols), that are known for decreasing inflammation, the root cause of many chronic diseases. It also contains small amount of B group vitamins, minerals and organic acids, that fight against bad bacteria.
  3. Provides the benefits of Green Tea – Green Tea contains a lot of benefits and beneficial compounds such as polyphenols, which are a powerful antioxidant. Other benefits of green tea include improved metabolism, lowered blood sugar, increased weight loss, etc. Green tea has also shown the capability to reduce the risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancer. Kombucha that is made from green tea contains all of these benefits since they contain the same plant compounds.
  4. May reduce risk of Heart Disease – A study published in 2015 showed that rats that consumed kombucha showed improvement in the two markers of heart disease, LDL and HDL cholesterol in as little as 30 days. Green tea drinkers have been found to have 31% less risk of having heart disease, and since a variety of kombucha is made from green tea, this benefit applies to the latter as well. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death all over the world, drinking kombucha can help keep your heart healthy and safe from disease.

 

Health Concerns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although kombucha has many incredible health benefits, such as the ones we mentioned above, if not made properly or stored in the wrong way, it can be harmful to your health. Here are a few of the health concerns related to kombucha, that are often mentioned by the health experts, and the reasons why they might be not as big as they sound:

 

  1. Sugar – Kombucha is made with sugar, and it logically raises concerns among those who lead a sugar-free lifestyle or have blood sugar level problems. Here, it is important to understand that the sugar is consumed by the culture, and the ready drink doesn’t have the same amount of sugar that you put during its preparation. To be precise, one glass of kombucha will contain app.roximately 2-6 grams of sugar (vs 13 grams in natural orange juice, for example). That said, people with high blood sugar levels or diabetes should avoid drinking processed kombuchas since manufacturers add a lot of sweetening ingredients to it.
    In other words, sugar is a big concern in a store-bought kombucha, as it’s impossible to control the amount and the quality of sugar used during the manufacturing process. If you make kombucha at home, however, the type and amount of sugar can be reduced to its minimum, yet it will not compromise on the quality of your drink. At home, you can also use healthier alternatives to white sugar, like jaggery (evaporated cane juice).
  2. Alcohol – fermentation process of kombucha involves the breakdown of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Normally the level of alcohol in kombucha doesn’t exceed 0.5%, as in case with any other fermented drink (including kefir etc.). It was reported that homemade kombucha can reach up to 3% of alcohol, mostly due to inappropriate storage and prolonged fermentation process.For this reason, it is often recommended to pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems to proceed with drinking kombucha with caution.
  3. Caffeine – Kombucha is made with tea, and hence the final drink has caffeine content as well, which can be of concern to people who choose not to consume caffeine. The amount of caffeine, however, is reduced during the fermentation process and is not the same as in the amount of tea used, coming up to not more than 10 mg per glass (vs 100 mg per glass of coffee).

 

While some health concerns are associated with kombucha, the health benefits of this ancient drink by far overweight its risks. Moreover, usually, they can be avoided by consuming properly prepared and stored homemade kombucha, when the high quality and healthier ingredients are used (green tea instead of black tea and jaggery instead of white sugar). Kombucha is an incredibly healthy drink that also tastes delicious, just don’t forget the golden rule for any kind of food and beverage, even the healthiest of all: moderation is key.

 

 

Check out our upcoming online courses:

 

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15 Tips on How To Start Cooking Healthy – From Nutritionists and Cooks

Healthy cooking often means a drastic change in eating habits, and as habits are our second nature, it might be just one of the most difficult things in the world to do. Many students in our Online Healthy Cooking School say that the most difficult thing for them was to start, to make that first step towards the healthier kitchen and better habits.

So, what do you do, where do you begin in that ocean of information about what is right and what is wrong on your plate? We asked 15 nutritionists and healthy cooks to share their best tips on getting started with healthy cooking. Here is the list of their practical advice, that can be helpful even if you are not a novice in healthy eating anymore.

1.Think “plus one” each time you are preparing a recipe or a meal

This reminds you to add at least one additional non-starch vegetable or beans to the meal or dish.  This simple technique is fast and can really help you boost your intake of vegetables that provide important micronutrients, feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiome, and fills you up on healthy foods. The great thing is it’s inexpensive, quick, and can easily be done with items you probably already have on hand if you’re trying to eat healthier.

Lisa Garcia  (MS, RDN, LD) is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She uses a coach approach and personalized, actionable steps to enable clients to address weight and gut health issues while still enjoying their lives and eating (follow Lisa on Facebook)

 

Easy green beans recipe:

2. Start with plant-based complex carbs and use the right oil

Start with a single-ingredient plant-based complex carb; my favorites include beans, legumes, potatoes, or any minimally processed grain such as barley or farro. Consider swapping butter and lard for liquid oils – my favorite being Avocado Oil, which allows for a high cooking temperature, and thus contributes a great deal of heart-healthy unsaturated fats!

Rachel Fine (MS, RD, CSSD, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, a nutrition counseling firm in NYC

(follow Rachel on Instagram)

 

3. Swap your ingredients for healthier recipes

For starters, cooking healthy does not need to be boring nor complex. One super easy swap is to start cooking with gluten free ingredients to make your dishes more nutritious. Swap out regular semolina drum wheat pastas for legume based pastas such as red lentil or chickpea pasta for increased protein intake, as 1 serving can have up to 14g protein. You can then add in your favorite vegetables and protein to make it a more well-rounded dish such as broccoli and grilled chicken. For flavor, you can whip up a plant based sauce in under 5 minutes such as a vegan pesto or a vegan cashew sauce.  Incorporating dairy free ingredients into your cooking such as using coconut milk or vegan cheeses have added nutritional benefits as these are anti-inflammatory and also a good source of healthy fats and proteins. You can use coconut milk as a swap for regular milk when baking or making pancakes, and swap out butter for coconut oil in all recipes as well.

Melissa Eboli AKA Chef Via Melissa is a certified Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE), Nutritional Chef and wellness counselor based out of NY. Her services include event catering, dinner parties, cooking classes and recipe development (follow Melissa on Facebook and Instagram)

 

Gluten-free Strawberry Pie Recipe:

4. Start with sheet pan meals

People often overcomplicate cooking in their minds and when you add in a ‘healthy’ twist, it becomes even more daunting. From my experience, as a Food Business Owner and Health Coach, the best way to start is with whole food ingredients, prepared simply. And, don’t be afraid to take shortcuts to make it easier on yourself. For example, purchase pre-cut vegetables or mini-versions, like baby carrots and baby potatoes. This makes it so much easier to get food prepped and into the oven. I love sheet pan meals – where all the ingredients are cooked together on one sheet pan, making clean-up a breeze too. One of my favorites is organic chicken thighs with roasted baby potatoes and baby carrots. Use simple spices like salt, pepper and garlic powder to season the chicken, potatoes and carrots. Drizzle some olive oil on the pan and cook all ingredients at 400 F for 30 minutes. It’s easy to change up this simple meal with different proteins, vegetables, herbs and spices, like rosemary, sage or turmeric, for variety. You’ll be amazed at how simple this meal is to prepare and wow your family and friends!

Elizabeth Girouard is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Workplace Wellness Ambassador. She is also the Founder of Pure Simple Wellness and Zing Meals

(follow Elizabeth on Facebook and Instagram)

 

Baked potato wedges recipe:

5. Master 10 flexible recipe techniques

The best way to get started with healthy cooking is to first make a list of all the whole foods you love today (i.e., vegetables, grains, beans). It’s common to get in a food rut and forget about all the whole foods you already like. It’s best to start incorporating these “Personal Best” foods into your current meals before introducing new foods into your diet. The second tip is to make a list and master ten flexible “Recipe Techniques” that are aligned to your eating style and can easily incorporate whatever ingredients you have on hand. For example, a stir fry over quinoa or zucchini noodles, simple pasta dish, a frittata with meat and/or veggies, a vegetable soup with chicken or beans, and a meat/veggie chili are good examples of this. Keeping ingredients you love on hand and using simple but flexible recipes is a great way to get into healthy cooking one bite at a time!

Marissa S. Costonis H.C. is a health change guru and author of the Amazon bestseller, Change BITES, 5 Change Management Strategies to Transform Your Health

(follow Marissa on Instagram and Facebook)

 

6. Make half your plate fruits or vegetables at every meal

The recommendation for the general public is to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with a serving equivalent to about 1 cup of produce. Most Americans find this difficult to do, but if you cook each meal so that half of the plate is filled with fresh, frozen, or canned fruits or veggies, you’re guaranteed to improve your health. Typically, you should shoot for 2 servings of fruit, as these are higher in sugar, and 3 servings of non-starchy veggies per day. Don’t count the starchy corn, potatoes, beans, or peas towards your vegetable servings. While they do provide nutrients, like fruit, they’re high in sugar and can make your liver work overtime to release insulin. Focus on the “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables to get all of your vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This means eating greens, reds, oranges, whites, and yellows throughout the week, as each color contributes a small portion of your micronutrient needs.

Colleen Wysocki-Woods (MS, RDN) is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a private practice in Colorado called ZEST Nutrition

(follow Colleen on Facebook)

 

7. Use as few ingredients as possible

Healthy cooking doesn’t need to involve all day meal prep, batch cooking and complicated meals or soggy dinners. Forget the idea of meal prepping and cooking for the entire week. This can get old, plus its tedious it involves a lot of work.  Focus instead on 5 ingredients, 20 minute meals, that involve little to no prep. Think pre-chopped veggies, fresh pre-made guacamole and sheet pan dinners!

Mariana Dineen is a Registered Dietitian and the founder of Pretty Nutritious, a virtual private practice and social media platform with a mission to help women find the confidence to ditch unrealistic diet rules and live a fun and delicious life

(follow Mariana on Instagram)

 

Two Ingredient Rice Bread Recipe:

 

8. Start with breakfast

Start small and pick one meal to transform at a time. Start with breakfast. Breakfast is easy to meal prep with homemade, healthy, and nutritious options, instead of all the processed sugar-filled junk, or worse, skipping breakfast all together before you run out the door.Easy options like overnight protein oatmeal, pancake bites, freezable waffles, vegan frittata bites, or classic baked goods like healthy muffins and quick breads.

Options that can be made ahead, freeze well, transport well if you do need to eat “on the go” and work for everyone in the family will make your morning less stressful, fueled with nutrition, and lead you to have an easier time making healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.

Rebecca Pytell is the founder, content creator, and celiac disease and food allergy coach behind Strength and Sunshine, a gluten-free & allergy-free food and recipe website

(follow Rebecca on Facebook and Instagram)

 

9. Buy the rainbow

When going grocery shopping, try to buy produce in a variety of colors or choose a different fruit or vegetable every time you shop- think rainbow. This will offer a wide range of health-promoting nutrients because each fruit or vegetable is packed with its own set of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Many of the pigment compounds in these fruits and vegetables also act as antioxidants, which defend against cell damage. With the help of a bit of oil and seasoning, you can easily roast or sauté a mixture of vegetables and incorporate them into entrees or meal preps. Fruits can be sliced into salads or enjoyed as desserts. Having a variety of produce on hand gives you options when it’s time to cook, helping keep your meals interesting.

Ysabel Montemayor is the lead Registered Dietitian at the meal delivery service Fresh n’ Lean,

the largest organic ready-to-eat meal delivery service.

 

10. Choose healthy oils for cooking

From my clinical experience, what we input to our bodies through food choices has a massive effect on “mental illnesses” (Anxiety, depressive disorders). It’s important to remember that a majority of our serotonin is located in our guts, that’s our neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness, so we first need to make sure our gut health is OK. My best tip is to start making manageable steps towards changing how you cook and eat. If you’re cooking with anything other than coconut, olive, or avocado oil, please change that now. Try new ways to roast veggies and always make your own sauces. They’re so much yummier and most likely always better for you. Here’s a healthy dressing recipe for honey mustard dressing: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, black pepper & Himalayan sea salt, a tsp (or less!) of pure maple syrup or agave.

Erica Basso (MA, AMFT) is a Holistic Psychotherapist, who uses the power of food to heal and connect

(follow Erica on Instagram)

 

11. Add more pulses and vegetables to your diet and cook them with spices

If you want to get started with healthy cooking, you may want to incorporate more plant-based ingredients in your diets such as beans, pulses, vegetables and tofu. When cooking with these ingredients, I would really recommend stocking up on some spices and herbs as they add so much flavour which will make all the difference. One of my favourite easy ways to make something healthy is to make a curry using chickpeas or lentils and lots of vegetables. Using spices such as curry powder, cumin and turmeric and herbs like cilantro (coriander), paired with some creamy coconut milk will transform the beans and vegetables into a comforting, flavourful curry that you won’t be able to stop eating!

Rhian WIlliams has a food blog where she posts easy, undetectably vegan and gluten-free recipes, focusing on healthy comfort food and naturally sweetened desserts using plant-based ingredients

(follow Rhian on Instagram and Facebook)

 

Mung Bean Soup Recipe:

12. Plan ahead and invest in slow cooker

Make a plan and keep it simple! One thing I love recommending to beginner cooks is investing in a slow cooker. We have all been there; coming home from a long day at work and don’t have the energy or time to cook. Start the day off right and throw something into the slow cooker! It is very hard to burn, and the entire meal is already done before you get home. Bonus: Check your local grocery store to see if they have any slow cooker meals already prepped for you.

Laurel Deininger is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator located in St. Petersburg, Florida who loves cooking, yoga, and her dog, Reagan.

(follow Laurel on Instagram)

 

13. Keep frozen vegetables at hand

Getting started with healthy cooking can be intimidating, so I suggest starting with small changes instead of trying to go all-in at once. You’ll need time to build your cooking skills and for your body to adjust to the new way of eating. A great way to start incorporating more healthy ingredients into your meals is to keep frozen vegetables on hand. Items like frozen broccoli florets, spinach, peas, or cauliflower can be tossed into many recipes, like soups, stews, casseroles, and quick pasta dishes for an instant nutritional boost. Plus, they’re already washed and chopped, which means less work for you. And perhaps the best part, you don’t have to worry about frozen vegetables going limp in the back of your fridge if you don’t use them right away.

Beth Moncel has been creating simple, satisfying, balanced, and budget-friendly meals for ten years through her blog, BudgetBytes. She loves teaching people how to cook and watching them discover the joy and independence that come with cooking at home

(follow Beth on Instagram)

 

Savoury oatmeal with frozen veggies recipe:

 

14. Start slow and add one change at a time

So often people try to do too much as one time, cutting out entire food groups or macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat). Start by focusing on adding more veggies to your day and consuming protein at each meal.  Look for easy ways to make healthy swaps; one’s that take little to no effort. For example, instead of wheat pasta, try zucchini noodles or House Foods Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti. Instead of regular gnocchi, try a cauliflower based gnocchi. These are a few sneaky ways to increase your vegetable and protein intake, both of which keep you fuller for longer.

Lauren Cadillac is a Manhattan-based Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer, who’s approach focuses first on feeling good; improving mood, sleep, digestion, energy, performance in the gym and at work

(follow Lauren on Instagram)

 

15. Gradually build your healthy cooking habits

When getting started with adopting a healthy cooking regimen, the key is to start simple by choosing one meal that you want to focus on. From there you can start to seek inspiration and recipes from Pinterest, Instagram accounts or cookbooks for that one meal.  For example, if you want to start to cook healthier dinners, you can make a goal to cook one new healthy recipe a week. As you build up this habit, you can increase to two or three healthy recipes a week, until it some becomes a sustainable lifestyle. Then you can move on to looking at other meals or snacks to start cooking healthier options.  Don’t overwhelm yourself, take it one healthy meal at a time.

Allison Tibbs is a certified Personal Trainer & Healthy Lifestyle Coach who advocates for women to use fitness, nutrition, and self-care as a way to create more peace, joy, and balance in their lives

(follow Allison on Instagram)

 

Feel inspired? Check out our online healthy cooking classes:

Kombucha at home online course
Beans and lentils online course

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Food Cultures and Health with Tamara S Melton

In this episode we are talking with Tamara S. Melton, co-founder of Diversify Dietetics, about the importance of cultural diversity when it comes to nutrition, what impact traditional foods have on our health and what a healthy diet really means in the modern global context.

Interview Highlights and Quick Links

3:50 What cultural diversity means in the context of nutrition

7:15 How understanding of other’s food cultures can help improve eating habits

11:35 Why cultural diversity in food and nutrition is crucial for better healthcare outcomes

14:00 Why Quinoa and Kale is not the best choice for everyone

16:10 Why food diversity is so important

19:30 What makes certain cuisines so flavourful

21:00 Why you should always look at locally produced foods first

23:45 The role of geneticist food intolerances

26:35 What to look at in meat and dairy substitutes

28:00 The problem with popular diets (Keto, Paleo, vegan etc. )

31:00 What healthy eating really means – for everyone

33:05 What Diversify Dietetics stands for

About Tamara S Melton

Tamara S. Melton is a Registered dietitian nutritionist and a Director of Health Informatics for Morrison Healthcare. She is the former Inaugural Program Director for Health Informatics at Georgia State University (GSU). Tamara is the co-founder of Diversify Dietetics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the nutrition and dietetics profession. “As an educator and administrator, I have seen the difference that a supportive community and access to resources can make in the success of a student. As a professional, I’ve seen that diverse teams lead to better outcomes for the patients and clients that we serve. I’m excited to create and participate in a space where we can improve diversity and strengthen the nutrition profession!”

Follow Tamara S Melton on Social Media:

Diversify Dietetics Website

Diversify Dietetics Instagram

Tamara’s Instagram

This video was recorded live, as a part of Happy Bellyfish Video Podcast “Healthy Eating Unbiased and Simplified”. In these interview series we bring nutritionists, doctors, farmers and activists to share different prospectives on what healthy eating is.

To watch LIVE EPISODES EVERY TUESDAY AT 8 PM and ask your questions directly, join our facebook group here

 

Check Out Our Online Programs:

sugar detox free program
Pregnancy Meal Plan Iron Deficiency
healthy desserts recipes
spices online class

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8 Best Meal Planning Online Courses: Meal Prep Ideas and Beyond

Meal planning online courses can be a great help for those who want to embrace healthy eating, but have little time for daily cooking and shopping. Usually, they include meal planning templates, calendars and different tools to ease the process of meal preparation.

Online programmes from our top list offer different approaches to meal planning. Some of them focus on building your personal meal plan from scratch, giving special attention to its nutritional value. Some give you ready-made solutions for weight loss and muscle building, and some simply offer necessary cooking skills and hacks. Regardless of their focus, all these online courses offer great solution that will make your life in the kitchen easier and your diet healthier.

1. Nutrition Masterclass: Build Your Perfect Diet & Meal Plan

This best-selling course can be especially interesting for those who are interested in meal planning for weight loss and muscle building. The instructor Felix Harder, a Health and Fitness coach, teaches his students to create a meal plan of their own. He also introduces healthy dieting and explains common dieting trends.

2. Meal Planning and Food Prep for Real Life

This course is the best solution for those who want to introduce meal planning into their every day life. You will learn to plan, shop, portion and package food in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Instead of teaching what exactly you should eat, the instructor covers practical skills for meal planning and preparation.

3. Meal Planning Masterclass: Create Your Own Meal Plan

One more best-selling course for those who are into muscle building and weight loss, offered by a bodybuilder. It teaches to design a meal plan around your schedule and lifestyle, without excluding your favourite foods. As a special bonus, it even includes cheat meal tips and strategies.

4. Internationally Accredited Diploma in Diet Planning

If you are looking at meal plans from a professional point of view, this might be just the right program for you. Upon completion you can earn an Internationally Accredited Diploma Certificate in Diet Planning and Weight Management’ certified by CPD Certification Service. It offers 72 lectures and almost 4 hours of video materials that teach all you need to create perfect diet and nutrition plans.

5. Vegan Nutrition: Build Your Plant Based Diet & Meal Plan

If you are following a vegan diet, then this course might be just what you are looking for. It will help you understand the fundamentals of vegan dieting (calories, protein, carbs, fat, vitamins & minerals) and create a plant-based diet that is perfect for your needs and lifestyle. This course also focuses on fat loss and muscle building.

6. Paleo Dave Method: Techniques to Master Weekly Meal Prep!

This course is not taught from a perspective of a nutritionist or a health coach, it is taught from a perspective of a professional chef. The instructor will share with you real kitchen secrets to make your meal preparation easier and more efficient. This program focuses on Paleo Diet.

7. The Mediterranean Meal Plan – Never Say DIEt. LIVE it!

The mediterranean diet is believed to be one of the healthiest in the world and many centenarians (people who live over 100 years) are found in the Mediterranean region. This course explained the concept of the Mediterranean Diet and teaches ways to follow it in your every day life.

8. Quick and Healthy Make-Ahead Japanese Meals and Side Dishes

This course derives inspiration from the Japanese cuisine, which is known for its healthy dishes. It focuses on easy make-ahead meals and is full for wonderful ideas for any healthy kitchen.

Do you follow any particular meal plans? Share with us in the comments!

 

Check Out Our Online Programs:

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sugar detox free program
Pregnancy Meal Plan Iron Deficiency
healthy desserts recipes
spices online class

Read More