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The NS Kitchen

Let’s look beyond stocking your kitchen. Learn why you should incorporate these Nutrition Stripped approved foods. Grab your favorite glass jarsorganize your pantry like a proand stock up so that healthy eating will be simple, delicious, affordable, and accessible.

HOW TO USE THE NS KITCHEN: Simply click on the whole food ingredient to learn more about its health benefits and nutrition information.

Fruit

Dates

Dates are chewy, incredibly sweet, rich in flavor and contain loads of minerals. Dates have an oval shape with a wrinkled deep purple/mauve flesh on the outside of the fruit with a single pit in the center. There are a couple of varieties of dates including Medjool (which are my favorite) and Deglet Noor. Dates not only taste fantastic, they’re also very nutrient dense and have a variety of culinary uses (especially in refined sugar free lifestyles).

How to use | dates are one of my favorite fruits to use as a natural sweetener and binder in my desserts. They’re also popular in chutneys, pastes, baked goods, chopped in mueslis, granolas or porridges and also great used in savory dishes such as salads and pilafs. A traditional way to enjoy dates is to stuff them with other foods such as almonds, almond butter, cheeses, or my favorite tahini! Dates add a great natural sweetness and act as a natural thickener for desserts, homemade nut milks, soups, and other dishes.

Nutrient breakdown of DATES | *based on 100g, which is about 4 dates

Protein | in 100g dates contain 2g protein

contains 23 amino acids, which is a large amount for a fruit

Fiber | per 100g contains 7g fiber

Carbohydrates | in 100g dates contain 75g carbohydrate, a rich source of carbohydrate

B vitamins | niacin, B6, B5

Calcium | 6% DV

Magnesium | 14% DV

Potassium | 20% DV

Copper | 18% DV

Manganese | 15% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | dates are great pre/post-workout for quick, easy to digest carbohydrates and simple sugars. I also store my dates in an airtight mason jar in the pantry to keep them soft and ready to use in recipes.

Grapefruit

Grapefruits come in several varieties including red, white, and pink- all taste relatively similar in my opinion, slightly sweet and bitter. Grapefruits get special attention and are in the Nutrition Stripped Pantry because I always have them on hand for a quick snack or pre-workout. I love eating these in the morning, juicing them, or slicing on a salad for a boost in vitamin C.

How to use | use as you would any other fresh fruit. I personally enjoy citrus fruits in salads, toppings on yogurt, oatmeal, porridge, or au naturale. Grapefruit juice is great in water or in sparkling water for a refreshing low calorie drink.

Nutrient breakdown of GRAPEFRUIT | *per 100g, about half a grapefruit

Fiber | 1/2 grapefruit contains 2g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1/2 grapefruit contains 11g carbohydrates (7g sugar)

Vitamin A | 23% DV

Vitamin C | 52% DV

Potassium

Biotin

Vitamin B1, B5

Antioxidants | lycopene especially in the red and pink varieties, naringenin and naringin

Phytonutrients  | limonoids

Small quantities of minerals | iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets

Tips and tricks | after using the flesh of the fruit for eating, squeeze out any remaining juice to use as a dressing, in a sauce, in Simply Infused Water, etc. for a boost of flavor and a bit of nutrition.

Note | some individuals who take prescription medications should be extra cautious when incorporating grapefruit into their diets. Grapefruit has a strong interaction with some of the most widely prescribed medications. Why? Grapefruit contains a compound called naringenin that inactivates cytochrome P450 3A4 (a fancy way of saying an enzyme in the small intestine that metabolizes some prescription drugs). This slows down the normal detoxification and metabolism in the liver and intestines, which makes it harder for the body to eliminate and breakdown the drug. Not only can grapefruit decrease the function of a drug, but it can also enhance making the drug more potent- both of these side effects are no good when you’re trying to regulate a medical condition with a prescription drug. Best advice is to do your research and ask your physician.

Fig

Figs are ripe and in season during the warmer months of the year and are great to incorporate in a variety of ways- some uncommon. Figs are part of the mulberry family and come in a couple of varieties including black mission, Turkish, kadota, calimyrna, and adriatic (black mission and Turkish are the most popular here in the US). They’re delicious, chewy, incredibly sweet, and loaded with fiber- definitely a fruit to keep in your pantry.

How to use | Enjoy fresh or dried in porridges, oatmeal, mueslis, granola, sliced into salads, blended into smoothies, desserts, in baked goods, and added to soups or sauces to act as a natural sweetener and thickeners. Nutrition Stripped recipes using figs include some favorites, Sticky Fig BBQ Sauce,Mediterranean Millet Salad Wraps, and Fig Zucchini Pasta with Hemp Seed Crumble.

Nutrient breakdown of FIGS | *per 100g

Fiber |10g fiber in 100g fresh figs

Vitamin K | 19% DV

Thiamin | 9% DV

Vitamin B6 | 5% DV

Calcium | 16% DV

Iron | 11% DV

Magnesium | 17% DV

Phosphorus | 7% DV

Potassium | 19% DV

Copper | 14% DV

Manganese | 26% DV

Figs are incredibly fiber rich, both with soluble and insoluble that help our digestive systems stay regular and keeping our blood sugars stable. Most notably with figs and their impact on lowering insulin is found within their leaves. The leaf of a fig has been shown to have antidiabetic properties. Figs are also rich in minerals such as manganese, magnesium, calcium, and potassium all of which are important for cardiovascular health, bone health, and reducing blood pressure.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers if buying dried in bulk

Tips and tricks | if eating figs raw make your mouth a little scratchy/itchy, which can be common, try flipping the fig inside out and then popping it in! Also, use figs for a great way to increase the fiber

Watermelon

There are many varieties of watermelon, even ranging in shape from oblong, square (!), round, small, large, white, yellow flesh, and of course red/pink fleshed (some with different antioxidant properties). The rich red-pink colored flesh in watermelon is a visual of the lycopene content, lycopene has been studied in great detail regarding the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds which inhibits pro-inflammatory markers.

How to use | fresh is best in my opinion! Use in salads, topped on cereals, granolas, or porridges. A couple of my favorite recipes: Watermelon Salad, Watermelon Gazpacho, Watermelon Slice Popsicles, Watermelon Cubes, and more!

Nutrient breakdown of WATERMELON | *per 1 cup fresh

Carbohydrates | 11g per 1 cup fresh

Vitamin C | 21% DV

Vitamin A | 17% DV

Potassium | 5% DV

Magnesium | 4% DV

Carotenoids |notably lycopene (4532mcg/100g serving), beta-carotene

Amino acids | notably citrulline, arginine, and nitric oxide related benefits

Antioxidants | phytonutrient Cucurbitacin E (which had many health benefits)

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks |  The key is to choose watermelons which are heavier for their size, this indicates that the watermelon has a high water content, therefore it’s more ripe, contains higher nutrients and vibrant flavor (a.k.a. more lycopene)! Watermelons grow on the ground so it’s normal and typical to see watermelons that have a flat “ground spot” on their exterior-  avoid the ones that have a white/green spot as this indicates it’s not as ripe as a yellow colored ground spot. Prior to cutting the whole watermelon, store at room temperature for further ripening. After cutting, refrigerate to preserve freshness, flavor, and nutrients as with most fruits and vegetables (although the lycopene content remains stable after cutting).

Knock-knock test for whole uncut watermelon | You’ve seen people around the grocery store or farmers market tapping watermelons to hear the sound/thud, choose watermelons with a deep, hallow, bass sound.

Purchasing pre-cut watermelon | choose the ones deepest in color with no white streaking.

Raspberries

Raspberries are one of my favorite fruits due to their nutrient content and fiber! They’re also lower in sugar than most fruits making them very friendly for most diets including diabetes or lower carbohydrate diets regarding fat loss. Raspberries are sweet, juicy, and have a slight tangy flavor to them. They’re incredible to consume fresh, but frozen works just as well in most recipes!

How to use | use however you enjoy using fresh or frozen fruit. I love adding them to smoothies, porridges, oatmeal, baked goods like muffins or cookies, pancakes, or topped on salad.

Nutrient breakdown of RASPBERRIES | *per 1 cup

Fiber | 1 cup of raspberries contains 8g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup of raspberries contains 15g of carbohydrates (5g coming from sugar)

Vitamin C | 54% DV

Vitamin K | 12% DV

Folate | 6% DV

Magnesium | 7% DV

Manganese | 41% DV

Antioxidants | anthocyanins, flavonols, flavanols, tannins, resveratrol, catechins, etc.

Raspberries are considered a low glycemic fruit due to the high fiber + low sugar content meaning it’s great for those of you watching your blood sugar or overall carbohydrate intake. A compound in raspberries may also help fight obesity by increasing our metabolism in fat cells, a phytonutrient called rheosmin (a.k.a. raspberry ketones). These ketones work by increasing the enzyme activity, which may help our bodies with overall fat metabolism and less likely to store fat, utilize fat stores, and reduce inflammatory molecules from fat cells. Although further research is needed in this area (dosages were used with rat models at very high doses). Raspberries are also a cancer fighting berry due to it’s vitamin C content, antioxidant content, and fiber.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Choose organic as much as possible when raspberries not only to reduce pesticide residue but organic raspberries have been shown to contain higher antioxidant levels than conventional counterparts.

Tips and tricks | like most fruits, raspberries tend to ripen fairly quickly. If they’re getting “too” ripe before you’re able to eat them simply freeze them for later. Add to smoothies!

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits from the berry family, a close runner-up to my all time favorite raspberry. Strawberries are bright red with an incredibly sweet flavor, especially when eaten perfectly ripe. Unlike most fruits, strawberries contain seeds on the outside of the flesh, which are edible.

How to use | Use strawberries as you would any other fresh fruit, as a snack, chop and top on warm oatmeal or porridge, stir into baked goods like bread or pancakes, or add to smoothies and salads. One of my favorite recipes using strawberries is my Simply Strawberry Banana Smoothie and Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote.

Nutrient breakdown of STRAWBERRIES | *per 1 cup raw

Carbohydrates | per 1 cup strawberries, 12g of carbohydrates

Fiber | 1 cup of strawberries contains 3g fiber

Vitamin C | 149% DV

Folate | 9% DV

Potassium | 7% DV

Manganese | 29% DV

Antioxidants galore | phytonutrients like anthocyanins, tannins, anthocyanins, flavonols, resveratrol, ellagic acid, catechins, and more.

The nutrient make up of strawberries, especially with their high antioxidant levels, have been studied regarding cardiovascular benefits, providing blood sugar stabilization due to their fiber content, anti-cancer benefits again due to their high antioxidant load (especially ellagic acid and ellagitannins). As with most fruits and vegetables, strawberries contain great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits and one of the most popular berries consumed in the US. They’re bright red-deep red in color with a super sweet taste with a juicy yet creamy texture. Strawberries are grown wild or cultivated and can be used in a variety of ways from sweet to savory in dishes. Strawberries are one of several berries high in antioxidants that have been studied regarding their anti-cancer benefits, cardiovascular benefits, improving blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammatory benefits, anti-cancer benefits, and digestive health (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s). The blend of phytonutrients found in strawberries have shown to have great positive effects on the cardiovascular system due to their ability to decrease oxidation of fats that line our blood vessels (i.e. decreases overall cholesterol but especially LDL cholesterol and decrease blood pressure by reducing ACE (angiotensin I-converting enzyme).

How to use | use strawberries as you would any other fresh fruit. I enjoy them dipped in warm dark chocolate, freshly sliced on oatmeal, yogurt, porridge, topped on Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls, in smoothies, Simply Infused Waters, or on salads.

Note: Some individuals are allergic to strawberries and may experience tightness of chest, hives, itchy throat, ears, or skin. Strawberries are also a food that’s considered a histamine liberator, meaning it releases histamine in sensitive individuals which can worsen the allergic reaction. Strawberries are also one of the most common Oral Allergy Syndrome fruits/vegetables.

Lemon

Lemons are my favorite citrus fruit without a doubt. They’re loaded with vitamin C and bring great flavor to any dish. Lemons are grown on trees and are yellow in color with a firm peel and juicy segmented flesh inside. Lemons have a very refreshing, light, slightly sweet and sour taste to them. Lemons are one of several fruits we typically don’t consume whole, lemons are normally used as a flavor catalyst or to bring an acidic profile to a dish. The sweet lemon varieties, such as Meyer lemons, do not contain as much citric acid, which is responsible for giving lemons its sour and tart taste. Lemons can be used in both sweet or savory dishes.

How to use | lemons are great to use in warm water first thing in the morning instead of coffee, added to hot tea, or cool water for a refreshing taste. Lemon zest is also great to use in cooking, baking, and in salads to give it a refreshing taste. Lemons can be used in desserts as well for a bright taste.

Nutrient breakdown of LEMONS | *per 100g, about 2 lemons

Vitamin C | 77%

Small amounts of potassium and B vitamins

Lemons mostly contain vitamin C, which is a water soluble vitamin/antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables and is responsible for many of lemons health benefits. How it works as an antioxidant in our bodies- given that vitamin C is water soluble, the antioxidant travels nicely through our bodies in both the aqueous (fancy word for water-like) environments inside and outside our cells neutralizing the free radicals. Free radicals damage our healthy cells causing oxidative stress, which ultimately can cause harm to our hormones, blood vessels, proteins, lipids, and genetic code; causing cancer, inflammation, pain, degenerative diseases, heart disease, and aging itself. Lemons may also help protect against other inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and help reduce free radical damage to fight some cancers.

Even though lemons are quite acidic, they’re actually the opposite in the body, they’re alkalizing. Potential renal acid load (PRAL) is the measurement of how much any particular food will produce more ammonium (acid) when metabolized. For example fish, cheese, eggs, meat, and grains are acidic because they have a high/positive PRAL value; whereas veggies, fruits, and lemons are considered to be alkaline because they have a negative PRAL value. There is a lot more evidence needed regarding alkaline vs. acid diets, although we can say we all can benefit from eating more alkaline foods for our health!

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | use lemon juice to help reduce browning on apples and avocados simply by squeezing a little juice on the cut portion of that fruit/vegetable. Don’t throw away lemon peels- recycle them by putting them in your compost outside or throw down the disposal to freshen the scent of your kitchen sink.

For more a more in depth review of this nourishing food, check out my Spotlight On Lemon post.

Kiwi

Kiwifruit is one of my favorite fruit flavors, tangy and sweet all at the same time. Kiwis contain the same if not more vitamin C than an orange, and in about half the size! The green flesh inside is lined with tiny black edible seeds and overall the kiwi has a creamy texture. The taste reminds me of a banana, strawberry, pear, and melon all wrapped into one little fruit.

How to use | use as you would any fresh fruit. I love adding sliced kiwifruit to my Simply Infused Watersto add a kick of flavor without adding anything artificial. Use also on yogurt, oatmeal, porridge,  topped on Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls, in desserts, as a topping for BanaNO Cream ice cream or enjoy au naturale.

Nutrient breakdown of KIWI | *per 100g, about 1 large kiwi

Fiber | 1 large kiwi contains 3g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 large kiwi contains 15g carbohydrate (9g sugar)

Vitamin C | 155% DV

Vitamin K | 50% DV

Folate | 6% DV

Potassium | 9% DV

Copper | 6% DV

Manganese | 5% DV

Magnesium | 4% DV

Kiwis can help protect the body from asthma, cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, protect from macular degeneration, skin health, and protect our DNA. Kiwis contain unique phytonutrients, antioxidants and are loaded with vitamin C which benefit our immune system and heart health.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. When ripe, kiwis will be soft to the touch.

Tips and tricks | since most fruit will ripen fairly quickly, I store in the fridge when it reaches peak ripeness. If the fruit gets “too” ripe simply store in a container or sealed bag in the freezer to use for later. Perfect for smoothies!

Note: If you have a latex allergy, kiwis are one of those fruits (as are bananas and avocados) that contain compounds that are associated with a latex-fruit syndrome, a cross reaction. If you have a latex allergy, be mindful and cautious when eating these fruits you may have a reaction such as itchy throat/mouth/nose/ears, hives, or stomach issues.

Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the most popularly consumed berries in the US, they’re nutrient dense and taste delicious! Blueberries are small and deep blue/violet colored berry with a sweet yet sometimes tangy flavor. The group of antioxidants, anthocyanins, are responsible for their blue color and rich antioxidant levels, which gives these little berries the label “superfood”. I typically always have blueberries on hand, whether fresh or in frozen form. There are several varieties of blueberries including highbush (which is the most popular found in our local stores), lowbush (also known as “wild”blueberries) and rabbiteye.

How to use | use as you would any fresh fruit. I love adding blueberries to yogurts, oatmeal, cereal, porridge, breads, muffins, desserts, smoothies, and salads for a refreshing flavor. Dried blueberries are great additions to granola and mueslis.

Nutrient breakdown of BLUEBERRIES | *per 150g, about 1 cup

Fiber | 1 cup of blueberries contains 4g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup of blueberries contains 21g carbohydrates (15g from sugar)

Vitamin C | 24% DV

Vitamin K | 36% DV

Manganese | 25% DV

Vitamin E | 4% DV

B vitamins

Copper | 4% DV

Blueberries have been shown to help with cardiovascular health, cognitive benefits, eye health, overall antioxidant support, insulin resistance, and anti-cancer benefits. Because blueberries contain a great amount of fiber and they’re lower in sugar than some other fruits, they have a low glycemic index which means better blood sugar regulation and steady energy. Blueberries antioxidant content has also shown to help improve cognitive function, overall immune support, brain health and nervous system health. Since blueberries help reduce blood fat levels, they’ve been labeled as a “belly fat burning food”, which is also great for digestion and “debloating” our tummies due to the fiber content.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Choose berries that a rich in color, heavy for their size, free from bruising.

Tips and tricks | blueberries can ripen fairly quickly, I store mine in the fridge and if they start to become “too” ripe I put them in a container at freeze for later.

Bananas

Bananas are a starchy fruit that varies in size, color, and taste; they’re one of the largest fruits grown.! Bananas come in several varieties including red, purple, brown, yellow, green, “baby” bananas, and plantains (used for cooking). With an leathery outer peel covering the edible flesh of the fruit, bananas make for the perfect convenience food and not to mention perfect fuel pre or post-workout due to the nutrient content and starches. Bananas are incredibly creamy, starchy, and sweet- one of my personal favorites that I include daily.

How to use | use bananas as you would any other fresh fruit. I enjoy them freshly sliced on oatmeal, yogurt, porridge, frozen in my Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls, in smoothies, on salads, desserts such as BanaNO Cream, Banana Yogurt, breads, muffins, on toast with almond butter, sliced with smeared tahini or peanut butter, etc. Bananas are also fantastic for vegan and dairy-free baking to use as an egg replacer!

Nutrient breakdown of BANANAS | *based on 1 medium banana ~118g

Fiber | 1 medium banana contains 3g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 medium banana contains 27g carbohydrates

Vitamin B6 | 25% DV

Manganese | 16% DV

Vitamin C | 13.6% DV

Potassium | 12% DV

Biotin | 10% DV

Copper | 10% DV

Magnesium | 8% DV

Bananas have been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits from the potassium and fiber, anti-cancerbenefits, improve digestion and healing of stomach ulcers by providing the fiber pectin and also help neutralize stomach acid, aid in bone health, vision health, and kidney health. Bananas are also ideal for active individuals and athletes looking for a higher calorie fruit with electrolytes, carbohydrates, and convenience.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | Have too many ripe bananas? No worries! Simply peel the bananas, lay evenly on a cookie sheet or flat surface, freeze overnight, take each individual frozen banana and store in a freezer gallon size bag for later.

Note: If you have a latex allergy, bananas are one of those fruits (as are kiwis and avocados) that contain compounds that are associated with a latex-fruit syndrome, a cross reaction. If you have a latex allergy, be mindful and cautious when eating these fruits you may have a reaction such as itchy throat/mouth/nose/ears, hives, or stomach issues.

Mulberries

Mulberries are a delicious sweet fruit grown in Asia, Africa, and America (mostly in warmer parts). Mulberries are considered a “superfood” due to their high antioxidant content, mainly from resveratrol, and other phytonutrients. Mulberries come in several varieties, white, red, purple, and black- white mulberries seem to be the most popular of the varieties. If you’ve never tasted a mulberry before they’re incredibly sweet and have one of the most unique flavors. The taste is somewhat bitter yet sweet like candy, with a hint of pear, citrus, and floral. Dried mulberries also have a crumbly yet chewy texture which is especially nice in trail mixes or muesli.

How to use | use as you would any other dried fruit. I particularly love dried mulberries in granola, trail mix, Nourishing Muesli, in yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, desserts, or topped on Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls.

Nutrient breakdown of MULBERRIES | *per 1 cup, 140g raw

Protein | 1 cup of mulberries contain 2g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of mulberries contains 2g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup of mulberries contains only 14g carbohydrates (11g of sugar)

Iron | 14% DV

Potassium | 8% DV

Magnesium | 6% DV

Vitamin K | 14% DV

Vitamin E | 6% DV

B Vitamins | thiamin, niacin, B6, folate, riboflavin

Vitamin A | lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene

Vitamin C | 85% DV

Phytonutrients | resveratrol

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | I store dried mulberries in an airtight mason jar for freshness. I also enjoy rehydrating them in water before blending in smoothies, stirring in oatmeal or porridge.

Cherries

Cherries come in a variety of ways, fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, and even freeze-dried into a powder. There are also different types of cherries ranging from tart, sweet, and rainier cherries (which are the pink/yellow ones). All cherries have one thing in common, they’re high in antioxidants and rich in vitamin C making them a powerful fruit and “superfood”.

How to use | cherries can be used raw/fresh as a snack, sliced on top of a savory salad, sliced into desserts, baked into breads, muffins, cakes, or added to smoothies. You can also use fresh, frozen, or dried cherries to add variety to recipes. One of my favorite simple recipes is Tart Cherry Chia Pudding.

Nutrient breakdown of CHERRIES | * per 100g, raw

+ Carbohydrates } 16g per 1 cup serving
+ Vitamin C } 12% DV
+ Manganese } 4% DV
+ Potassium } 6% DV
+ Antioxidants and anthocyanins

Cherries have been a popular “superfood” and studied specifically for its effects on exercise-induced muscle damage, reducing muscle pain, and reducing muscle stress. Tart cherries have also been used for gout, dyspepsia, edema, insomnia, and osteoarthritis. Tart cherries also contain melatonin, the hormone that helps all of us get a good nights sleep; therefore it’s claimed to help with insomnia although there is not enough research to claim enhancing sleep quality. The role of cherries in exercise and athletic performance show consuming these food products prior, during, and post-exercise may help reduce pain, delayed onset muscle soreness, and overall provide an anti-inflammatory benefit to skeletal muscle. You may use tart cherries as the whole fruit raw, frozen, juice, or as juice concentrate prior to exercise, during exercise or post-exercise.

WHERE TO PURCHASE | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers if using freeze-dried cherries

TIPS AND TRICKS | Keep frozen cherries on hand for a quick cold smoothie and tart cherry juice for recovery post-workout!

Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic is a spice I use daily in my cooking, especially in salad dressings and skillet meals for flavor and for a boost of antioxidants. Garlic is a allium, which is in the same family as onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. Garlic has been used for centuries in cooking for adding flavor but also for medicinal reasons due to the antioxidants! The flavor of garlic resembles onions or shallots (since they’re all in the same family), but has a very distinct aroma and taste- slightly sweet, pungent, bitter, with “heat” to it especially when eaten raw.

How to use | roasted with vegetables, proteins, and other ingredients; sauteed, in soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces, garlic bread, stir-fry dishes, etc. My favorite way to have garlic is by roasting whole cloves alongside vegetables in the oven, the garlic becomes tender and almost sweet.

Health benefits of GARLIC

Antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral benefits. May help kill the overgrowth of H. pylori (left untreated causes stomach ulcers and other digestive issues).

Fights yeast, candida albicans

May help increase iron absorption (especially great for vegetarians/vegans), by eating alongside iron rich foods. Garlic contains diallyl sulfides which have been shown to help increase ferroportin, a protein involved in iron stores and availability of.

Good source of the mineral selenium, which is an antioxidant great for inflammation.

Anti-cancer protection, mainly from the sulfur-containing compounds

Sulfur-containing molecules in garlic help our cardiovascular systems by expanding our blood vessels, which may be due to the hydrogen sulfide gas produced.

Garlic has also been shown to help decrease overall cholesterol and triglycerides, by protecting the body from oxidative damage and blood vessel damage. The sulfur-containing compounds in garlic are responsible for most of the cardiovascular and cholesterol lowering benefits (some include allin, allicin, and allixin).

Anti-inflammatory compounds in garlic (1,2-DT and thiacremonone) inhibit the “messenger” molecules in the inflammatory process- both the anti-oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory compounds help the cardiovascular system.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | to release the clove of garlic from it’s skin, take the flat surface of a knife, lay flat on top, and give it a good whack (carefully!). Another trick is to place the cloves of garlic into a cup or jar and shake vigorously until the skin comes off.  Once crushed or chopped, allow it to sit for at least 1 minute, it’s been shown to increase the health benefits.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is another vegetable part of the cruciferous vegetable family (alongside broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc.), which lends itself to having tremendous health benefits. Cauliflower is white in color and grown in a “head”, which looks similar to broccoli only more dense. Cauliflower comes in a variety of colors including the most recognized white, orange, green and purple.  All of which have a slightly nutty flavor, mild, semi-bitter, and tastes close to broccoli. I love incorporating this nutrient rich vegetable in so many ways.

How to use | raw, roasted, steamed, mashed, or pureed. Cauliflower is extremely versatile and can be used in just about any recipe ranging from baking to desserts. My favorite way to enjoy it is roasted or in some of my recipes, Curry Cashew Cauliflower Soup, Cauliflower Pizza Crust, and Simply Cauliflower Rice.

Nutrient breakdown of CAULIFLOWER | *per 1 cup, 100g

Fiber | 1 cup of cauliflower contains 3g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of cauliflower contains 2g protein

Vitamin C | 77% DV

Vitamin K | 20% DV

Vitamin B6 | 11% DV

Folate | 14% DV

Manganese | 8% DV

Antioxidants |  phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, kaempferol, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, quercetin, and rutin.

Glucosinolates | glucobrassicin, glucoraphanin, and gluconasturtiian. Mainly glucobrassicin–> which converts into isothyocinate–> which converts into indole-3-carbinol (a.k.a. I3C) which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound (fancy process for saying it helps with chronic inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, and oxidative stress)

Sulforaphane

DIM (diindoleylmehtane) }a phytonutrient and plant indole found in most cruciferous vegetables, most notably studied with cancer prevention and anti-estrogenic properties for prostate, ovarian, cervical, and breast cancers.

Cauliflower has tremendous compounds involved in cancer protection, anti-inflammation, cardiovascular benefits, digestive health (sulforaphane found in cauliflower helps protect the digestive lining and prevents bacterial overgrowth such as H. pylori.), and detoxification support (phase I and phase II). Although cauliflower hasn’t been individually studied, cauliflower containing diets and the cruciferous vegetable family has been studied most in relation to cancer protection. As with most fruits and vegetables, broccoli contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | try adding chopped or steamed cauliflower to other dishes to increase the “bulk” or volume without adding many calories. It’s also a great way to sneak in extra veggies into your diet.

For more a more in depth review of this nourishing food, check out my Spotlight On Cauliflower post.

Zucchini

Zucchini is a favorite vegetable I use almost daily in so many ways for it’s versatility and nutrition content. Zucchini is one of several summer squashes with a delicious white soft flesh and sweet, mild flavor. They’re oblong in shape with a smooth and soft flesh inside covered in a yellow or green peel, both of which are edible.

How to use | use raw, roasted, steamed, grated, spiralized in many recipes. Use in baked goods, skillet meals, salads, roasted with other veggies, made into “noodles”, in sushi, hummus, dips, dressings, sauces, etc. I love using zucchini in non-dairy cooking because of the versatility. It can easily be pureed to add bulk or a thick texture without using cream. Some of my favorite Nutrition Stripped recipes using zucchini include: Raw Beet Marinara and Zucchini Noodles, Zucchini Bread with Sweet Cashew Cream.

Nutrient breakdown of ZUCCHINI | *per 1 large (320g)

Fiber | 1 large zucchini contains 4g fiber

Protein | 1 large zucchini contains 4g protein

Vitamin A | 13% DV

Vitamin C | 92% DV

Vitamin K | 17% DV

Thiamine | 10% DV

Riboflavin | 27% DV

B6 | 35% DV

Folate | 23% DV

Magnesium | 14% DV

Iron | 6% DV

Phosphorus | 12% DV

Potassium | 24% DV

Manganese | 28% DV

Copper | 8% DV

Antioxidants | carotenoids including lutein, zeaxanthin

Zucchini is a delicious summer vegetable to incorporate year round, it contains loads of vitamins, fiber, and some minerals. Due to it’s antioxidant content, zucchini are great for anti-inflammatory benefits,antimicrobial protection, anti-cancer benefits, blood sugar and diabetes support, and digestivehealth. As with most fruits and vegetables, broccoli contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Purchase organic as much as possible, zucchinis are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | Here’s a personal trick I use all the time, shred or finely chop using a food processor 1-2 cups of zucchini, add this to rice, quinoa, pasta dishes, egg scrambles, etc. to add volume and bulk to a meal without increasing the calories. It’s such a great trick if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake or just want to sneak in a another veggie.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms come in many varieties, for this sake I’m going to cover all mushrooms in general here. Mushrooms have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties and immune boosting support as well as providing a more dense and “meaty” texture in plant-based diets. Mushrooms, which are technically a fungus, come in several varieties include white button, portabella, crimini, shiitake, oyster, maitake, etc. Each mushroom has their own unique taste and texture, but all mushrooms have an earthy flavor with a tender texture to them. I love using mushrooms in many of my dishes for adding nutrition and antioxidant benefits!

How to use | use raw, roasted, sauteed, or general cooking. Use in dressings, sauces, salads, stir-frys, Asian cuisines, etc. My favorite way to include mushrooms into my diet is through roasting (around 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or so until they’re tender yet firm), perfect to add to any dish for a “meaty” texture. I also enjoy portobello “hamburgers”.

Nutrient breakdown of MUSHROOMS | *per 100g, ~1 cup raw

Protein |  1 cup raw mushroom contains 3g protein

Vitamin D | 5% DV

Vitamin C | 4% DV

Vitamin B2 | 24% DV

Niacin | 18% DV

Vitamin B5 | 15% DV

Potassium | 9% DV

Phosphorus | 9% DV

Copper | 16% DV

Selenium | 13% DV

Antioxidants

CLA  (conjugated linolenic acid)

Mushrooms have been shown to help support the immune system due to the high amounts of antioxidants especially selenium, zinc, and manganese. All of these minerals are incredibly important for immune function. Mushrooms also contain unique molecules that help prevent oxidative damage on ourDNA cells and proteins (ergothioneine, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase). Mushrooms are also great for fighting inflammation in the body, such as in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Mushrooms essentially block pro-inflammatory molecules (i.e. inflammation from IL-10, IL-12, and IFN inflammatory molecules), especially those coming from crimini mushrooms.

The overall antioxidant molecules, vitamins, and minerals found in mushrooms make them great for overall cardiovascular support and have been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer. CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) is found in mushrooms and is a type of fatty acid that may bind to cancer cells lessening their ability to produce estrogen- this is particularly beneficial in hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate.

The vitamin D content found in mushrooms are those that have been exposed to UV lighting, the natural compounds in mushrooms produce vitamin D2.  Mushrooms have also been used medicinally for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more using them as tinctures or teas from soaking dried mushrooms.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers (dried varieties)

Tips and tricks | when cleaning mushrooms, wash by using a wet cloth or paper down and clean individually instead of rinsing them under water, this keeps the moisture content in mushrooms lower (they’re like little sponges!) from turning mushy or “going bad”.

Note: Some people may be allergic to mushrooms and experience an “oral allergy syndrome” where one may have an itchy throat, nose, ears, etc. Mushrooms may also be an allergen food for some and cause anaphylactic shock. The former, oral allergy syndrome, is not as severe as a an attack and can be moderately tolerable with some.

Broccoli

Broccoli (or little trees as I used to say) is a dark leafy green vegetable part of the wonderful cruciferous vegetable family loaded with nutrient density and health benefits. Broccoli is a dark green vegetable with a stalk and florets growing from it, these florets are the most enjoyable part of broccoli to eat. It’s tender and mildly flavored with a hint of bitter. I love incorporating broccoli in many dishes for the nutrition and flavor!

How to use | use roasted, raw, steamed, sauteed in salads, casseroles, skillet meals, Nourish Bowls, juice, or even add to smoothies.

Nutrient breakdown of BROCCOLI | *per 1 cup

Fiber | 1 cup of raw broccoli contains 2g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of raw broccoli contains 3g protein

Vitamin A | 11% DV

Vitamin C | 135% DV

Vitamin E | 4% DV

Vitamin K | 116% DV

B vitamins | B6, B2, B1, B5

Folate | 14% DV

Calcium | 5% DV

Iron | 5% DV

Magnesium | 5% DV

Phosphorus | 6% DV

Potassium | 8% DV

Manganese | 10% DV

Antioxidants

Similar to kale and other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains fiber compounds that bind very well to bile acids in our digestive systems, which ultimately help to lower cholesterol especially when cooked. Broccoli is also great for overall anti-inflammatory benefits in our bodies as well as providing an extra boost in detoxification support (especially from ITC’s), protection against oxidative stress,cardiovascular support, digestive support, and protection from certain cancers. Broccoli has powerful overall health benefits from their antioxidants, sulforphane, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

For cancer protection, it’s recommended cruciferous vegetables in general be consumed on average of 1/2 cup/day or 2 cups/week at minimum. As with most fruits and vegetables, broccoli contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | try adding steamed or roasted broccoli to dishes to “bulk” up the amount of food, this is also an easy way to increase the nutrient density without adding calories!

Carrots

Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables to grab for a quick snack. They’re considered a root vegetable, growing in the ground and come in a variety of colors such as purple, orange, yellow, red, and white. Crunchy, slightly sweet, and juicy, carrots are great to use in savory and sweet dishes.

How to use | use as you would any other vegetable. I love cooking carrots in a variety of ways, roasting, steaming, pureeing into soups, chopping raw in salads, slaws, and can be used in pancakes, breads, muffins, cakes, juices, and smoothies. Some of my favorite carrot recipes on Nutrition Stripped includeCarrot Cake Tahini Pancakes, Roasted Carrots with tahini drizzle, and juices!

Nutrient breakdown of CARROTS | *per 1 cup (128g)

Fiber | 1 cup of carrots contains 4g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup of carrots contains 12g carbohydrates

Vitamin A | 428% DV

Vitamin C | 13% DV

Vitamin K | 21% DV

Vitamin B6 | 9% DV

Potassium | 12% DV

Manganese | 9% DV

Antioxidants | carotenoids (alpha and beta-carotene), anthocyanindins.

Carrots contain several health benefits from their antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content ranging from anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits due to the antioxidants. Carrots have also been known for their impact on protecting our vision and overall eye health, this is due to the vitamin A and carotenoids.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | cooking and heating carrots actually increases the carotenoids found in this root vegetable. Unlike most vegetables where I would recommend eating them raw as much as possible to get the maximum amount of nutrition (especially vitamin C), carrots (and tomatoes, and some cruciferous vegetables) actually increase in nutrition when cooked.

FUN FACT | Ever turn orange from eating too many carrots? This is actually common in my fellow veg-lovin’ friends and not dangerous! It’s called carotenodermia, which happens when you eat very large amounts of carotene-rich foods that results in a yellowish discoloration of the skin- I refer this to having a golden glow. No worries though, carotenodermia isn’t associated with any health problems and clears after your slow down on eating carotene-rich foods. Side note: females who eat more carotene-rich foods are more attractive, says this study! Carrots are a true beauty food in my book.

Beets

Beets are another favorite root vegetable I enjoy on a weekly basis. They’re incredibly rich in antioxidants, fiber, and the taste is delicious! Beets are an acquired taste, they can be bitter, earthy, and strong for most people. Beets were the one vegetable I didn’t like (truthfully, the one veggie!) until I had them roasted at my families house and I was hooked. Beets are great sources of antioxidants especially those supporting our livers and detoxification system.

How to use | raw, roasted, steamed, pickled, sliced, julienne in salads, pasta dishes, in sauces, juices, smoothies, baked goods, etc. Try out Raw Beet Marinara and Zucchini Noodles for a dish using beets.

Nutrient breakdown of BEETS | *per 1 cup raw (136g)

Fiber | 1 cup raw beets contains 4g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup raw beets contains 13g carbohydrates (9g from sugar)

Vitamin C | 11% DV

Folate | 37% DV

Magnesium | 8% DV

Potassium | 13% DV

Manganese | 22% DV

Antioxidants

Phytonutrients | betalains, carotenoids (beta-carotene), vitamin C

Beets are great to incorporate into our diets for anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits. Beets support detoxification mainly in Phase 2 detoxification (there are two phases), which involves the enzyme glutathione-s-transferase a.k.a. GST. GST’s basically work to “catch” and “hook up” unwanted toxic substances in our bodies with nutrients- this allows the toxins to become water soluble and neutralized from the nutrients, therefore safe for the body to excrete through your urine or other processes.

A note about detoxification: detoxification is a daily practice and a life long habit, which I strongly practice and recommend to my clients as well. Detoxification can’t occur simply by doing a “cleanse” for one week- our bodies actually do a tremendous job at detoxifying our bodies through multiple channels if we give them the space, nutrients, proper practices to enhance, and time to do so. Beets are great to provide the body with ample amounts of antioxidants needed.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | be sure to wash and rinse beets very well, since they grown in the ground the have little bits of dirt and sand on them- unpleasant when you’re using them in a juice or recipe.

Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are definitely a kitchen staple of mine for their flavor and rich vitamin C content. Red bell peppers are sweet (not “hot” as you may think), tangy, juicy, and crunchy. They also come in a variety of colors including green, yellow, and orange, but I prefer the red varieties.

How to use | use raw, roasted, pureed, mashed, blended into salad dressings, chopped in salads, inNourish Bowls, added to homemade hummus for flavor, in stir-fry dishes, in curry dishes, or simply as a snack.

Nutrient breakdown of RED BELL PEPPERS | *per 1 large, ~160g

Fiber | 1 large bell pepper contains 3g DV

Protein | 1 large bell pepper contains 2g protein

Carbohydrates | 1 large bell pepper contains 10g carbohydrates

Vitamin A | 103% DV

Vitamin C | 349% DV far more than an orange!

Vitamin E | 13% DV

Vitamin K | 10% DV

Vitamin B6 | 24% DV

Folate | 19% DV

Potassium | 10% DV

Manganese | 9% DV

Magnesium | 5% DV

Iron | 4% DV

Antioxidants | flavonoids, carotenoids (mainly beta-carotene and zeaxanthin), and hydroxycinnamic acids

Red bell peppers may not get a lot of attention for being great sources of vitamin C as they should! They contain almost double the amount than oranges/citrus fruit. I often recommend incorporating them with iron rich foods to help increase the non-heme (or plant-based) iron sources. Red bell peppers also contain large amounts of carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C which together provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. A sulfur containing amino acid cysteine found in red bell peppers may also be responsible for having potential anti-cancer benefits, this is also due to the metabolism of cysteine rather than it containing high amounts of the amino acid. Capsaicin is an active compound in peppers which give them the “heat”, but red bell peppers do not have much capsaicin in them. As with most fruits and vegetables, red bell peppers contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Purchase organic as much as possible, bell peppers are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | the more you allow red peppers to ripen, the more vitamin C is produced and high carotenoid content. You’ll know when they’re ripe when they have a deep rich red color, are heavy for their weight, which may indicate how “juicy” they are, and also overall smooth.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are my favorite root vegetable, hands down. They’re starchy, sweet, filing, and incredible sources of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes grown in the ground, and have an edible orange peel with bright orange flesh once cut open. The entire sweet potato has health benefits that are wide ranging with the amount of nutrients. They’re slightly sweet and soft in texture making them very versatile. Sweet potatoes are definitely a staple in my pantry and a “superfood” in my book.

How to use | baked whole, cubed and roasted with other vegetables, steamed, mashed, pureed into a soup, as a “jacket” potato filled with goodies such as tahini, tempeh, beans, avocado, etc. Sweet potatoes can also be used in pies, baked goods, pancakes, cookies, brownies, or muffins. My favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is with tahini and ground cinnamon, it’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and incredibly satisfying.

Nutrient breakdown of SWEET POTATOES | *per 1 cup cooked (200g)

Fiber | 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes contains 7g fiber

Protein | 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes contains 4g protein

Carbohydrates | 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes contains 40g carbohydrate

Vitamin A | 769% DV

Vitamin C | 65% DV

Thiamin | 14% DV

Riboflavin | 12% DV

Niacin | 15% DV

Vitamin B6 | 29% DV

Vitamin B5 | 18% DV

Calcium | 8% DV

Iron | 8% DV

Magnesium | 14% DV

Phosphorus | 11% DV

Potassium | 27% DV

Copper | 16% DV

Manganese | 50% DV

Sweet potatoes are one of my top 3 favorite carbohydrate foods, if not #1. I absolutely love them for their rich carbohydrate intake in an easy to digest and fiber rich whole food. They’re incredibly versatile to consume sweet or savory and not to mention contains heaps of nutrients, which make them another reason why I incorporate them most days. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, containing over 600% DV in 1 cup! Since vitamin A is fat soluble, I always recommend having a little fat source with them, hence the reason I adore tahini with sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are loaded with fiber which helps our digestive health and manages blood sugars. They’re a great post-workout food for all my fellow athletes out there, as sweet potatoes contain a rich source of easy digestible carbohydrates, a bit of simple sugars, fiber, potassium,

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | Baked sweet potatoes are delicious, but sometimes require a bit of time to bake (about 45 minutes), I typically will bake about 5 sweet potatoes at a time to last me the entire week (more or less), and simply reheat at the time of eating. Super simple way to have baked sweet potatoes in under 5 minutes.

Cucumber

Cucumbers are a delicious, water rich and refreshing summertime vegetable (technically a “fruit”). Cucumbers are in the summer squash family with zucchini and come in a couple of varieties including slicing, pickling, and english (seedless). Cucumbers are green/yellow, with a smooth peel and have a juicy white flesh in the center.

How to use | use raw in salads, sauces, dressings, smoothies, juices (Strippped Green Smoothie andStripped Green Juice), as a quick snack, and more! One of my favorite snacks with cucumber is withClassic Cashew Cheese dolloped on top of sliced cucumbers with a sprinkle of cayenne, dulse flakes, or cumin spice.

Nutrient breakdown of CUCUMBER | *per 100g, 1 cup

Vitamin C | 5% DV

Vitamin K | 21% DV

Potassium | 4% DV

Manganese | 4% DV

Polyphenols | lignans

Phytonutrients | flavonoids, lignans, triterpenes (cucurbitacins)

Silica

Cucumbers not only taste light and refreshing but contain unique antioxidants and polyphenols that have been studied for their effects on reducing some cancers, cardiovascular disease, anti-microbial properties, and inflammation. Lignans are responsible for reducing estrogen-related cancers by the bacteria in our digestive systems conversion of lignans to enterolignans which bind to estrogen receptors. As with most fruits and vegetables, cucumbers contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Purchase organic as much as possible, tomatoes are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | keep your water tasting delicious by adding sliced cucumbers and mint to your water. Check out more Simply Infused Water ideas using cucumber!

 

Eggplant

Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is rich in antioxidants anthyocyanins and zeaxanthins, and fiber. Eggplant comes in several varieties including japanese eggplant, pear shaped, jade green, range, and yellow-white. The most popular varieties are a beautiful deep purple color with a waxy/glossy peel and a spongy white flesh lined with seeds.

How to use | roasted, grilled, mashed, steamed, or baked. Use eggplant to add a heartiness/meatiness to any recipe, it’s also great to add into soups and stews to naturally thicken the recipe. Eggplant will take on most flavors and seasonings paired with it, making it a very versatile vegetable. Nutrition Stripped recipes using eggplant: Baba Ghanoush, Garden Vegetable Tagine

Nutrient breakdown of EGGPLANT | *per 100g

Fiber | 3g per 100g

Vitamin K | 4% DV

Vitamin B6 | 4% DV

Manganese | 6% DV

Copper

Potassium

Folate

The antioxidants found in eggplant have been shown to be true “brain” food and great for the cardiovascular system, especially with reducing LDL cholesterol and reducing free radicals in the body. Eggplants are part of the “nightshade” family, which also include tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers– alkaloids are present in these “nightshade” vegetables, which may impact nerve-muscle function and joint function. Alkaloids are destroyed by up to 50% when cooked, most of us don’t need to worry about “nightshades” and their impact on our health. More research is needed in this area, but if you’re someone who suffers from arthritis and inflammatory joint conditions, it may be helpful to limit nightshades.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. In season, spring-summer.

Tips and tricks | I often use eggplant to retain a “hearty” feel to a dish without using additional ingredients nor meat. It’s great for vegetarians, but also for those looking to sneak in an extra vegetable or two.

Celery

Celery is a vegetable grown in bunches with individual stalks, including the celery greens at the top which are edible as well; although stalks are mostly consumed. Celery just isn’t “rabbit food” or diet food because of it’s low calorie content; it’s also extremely hydrating with it’s high water content and helps with inflammation and beating the bloat!

How to use | use raw as a snack, in salads, smoothies, juices, or sauteed in soups, skillet meals, or stews. My favorite way to enjoy celery is a classic: celery sticks with almond butter smeared on top with dark chocolate chips or goji berries!

Nutrient breakdown of CELERY | *per 100g, ~1 cup

Fiber | 1 cup of celery contains 2g fiber

Vitamin A | 9% DV

Vitamin C | 5% DV

Vitamin K | 37% DV

Folate | 9% DV

Calcium | 4% DV

Potassium | 7% DV

Manganese | 5% DV

Sodium | 3% DV

Magnesium | 3% DV

Antioxidants | phenolic acids, flavones, flavonols, phytosterols, etc.

Celery isn’t just a low calorie food to consume when you’re “dieting”, but one to incorporate on a daily or weekly basis. I include celery both in my Stripped Green Smoothie and Stripped Green Juice for several reasons; the flavor, water richness, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds found within this vegetable. Celery is also a great source of vitamin C which we know helps fight free radicals and protect our cells from damage. Since celery contains a unique type of fiber, pectin, it’s great for our digestive systems by product anti-inflammatory benefits to improve our digestive health. The vitamins and minerals coupled with these antioxidants found in celery also are great for general cardiovascular health. Celery is also one of my Beauty Foods and used in my Beach Babe Guide as a natural way to beat the bloat!

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Purchase organic as much as possible, celery are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | celery is one of several vegetables that regrow once planted. Check out this how-to.

Note: Some people may be allergic to celery and experience an “oral allergy syndrome” where one may have an itchy throat, nose, ears, etc. Celery may also be an allergen food for some and cause anaphylactic shock. The former, oral allergy syndrome, is not as severe as a an attack and can be moderately tolerable with some.

Romaine

Romaine lettuce (a.k.a. Cos) is a delicious, crispy, and refreshing salad green to start incorporating into your salads if you haven’t yet. Lettuces come in a wide variety, romaine being the most popular. Butter lettuce, leaf lettuce, crisphead, and iceberg are other varieties of lettuce commonly used in salads. Romaine stands apart from the rest, especially iceberg, with it’s variety of nutrients and antioxidants, mainly vitamin C.

How to use | in salads, smoothies, on sandwiches, grill for a fun new twist on salads, or use as a low carbohydrate alternative to a wrap. The Stripped Green Smoothie contains romaine lettuce for it’s nutrient density as well.

Nutrient breakdown of ROMAINE LETTUCE | *per 100g (about 2 cups raw and shredded)

Fiber | 2g fiber in 100g raw romaine lettuce

Protein | 1g protein in 100g raw romaine lettuce

Vitamin A | 174% DV

Vitamin C | 40% DV

Vitamin K | 128% Dv

Manganese | 8% DV

Iron | 5% DV

Calcium | 3% DV

Copper | 2% DV

Folate | 34% DV

Potassium | 7% DV

Antioxidants

Omega-3 fatty acids

As with most fruits and vegetables, romaine lettuce contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | to keep romaine very crisp, wash it when you first get it and store in a large tupperware container making sure the remaining water is shaken off the leaves. This should keep in the fridge for up to a week at a very cool setting.

Kale

Kale is one of my favorite dark leafy greens to use on a weekly if not daily basis, which are incredibly important to include in our diets. Several varieties of kale exist, lacinato kale, red kale, and regular kale; my favorite is lacinato “dino” kale! Kale is a dark leafy green with a dense and hearty texture, the taste is a bitter green flavor unless cooked or “massaged” when raw.

How to use | use in salads, sauteed in stir-fry dishes, add to soups/stews, use in smoothies (the Stripped Green Smoothie), juices, kale chips, salads, Nourish Bowls, etc. Some of my favorite Nutrition Stripped recipes include Massaged Kale Salad, Baked Eggs, Fall Harvest Superfood Salad, and much more!

Nutrient breakdown of KALE | *per 100g, ~ 1 1/2 cups

Fiber | 100g of kale contains 2g fiber

Vitamin A | 308% DV

Vitamin C | 200% DV

Vitamin K | 1021% DV

Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6

Folate |  7% DV

Manganese | 39% DV

Calcium | 14% DV

Phosphorus | 6% DV

Potassium | 13% DV

Copper | 14% DV

Iron | 9% DV

Carotenoids | beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin

Flavonoids | quercitin, kaempferol

Fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, linolenic acid (0.18g/100g)

Omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid (0.13g/100g)

Kale has many health benefits as most dark leafy greens contain, but kale also has benefits coming from the cruciferous veggie family including powerful detoxification properties. Kale and cruciferous vegetables have been studied in relation to their cholesterol lowering effect due to the fiber content and antioxidant compounds. Kale also lowers risk for certain types of cancer mainly due to the ITC content (a.k.a. isothiocyanates made from glucosinolates), these ITC’s are also responsible for kales support on the detoxification system. Kale is generally an anti-inflammatory food.

Note on thyroid health | Keeping your thyroid healthy. Cruciferous veggies like kale, when eaten in very large quantities raw may impair thyroid function and if you’re someone who suffers from thyroid disfunction or hypothyroidism it’s best to keep the cruciferous veggies limited in your diet when they’re in the raw state. You can however, cook or steam to inhibit the thyroid compound found in kale that may interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis, which is very important for the overall health and function of your thyroid! People who have no issues with their thyroid should still play it safe with limiting such large quantities (I’m talking in smoothies, juices, salads, and in snacks all day, everyday), most healthy individuals are perfectly fine to it throughout the day. Also be sure to incorporate selenium rich foods such as Brazil Nuts into your diet as well, selenium is great for thyroid health.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets. Purchase organic as much as possible, kale and greens are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | the key to eating raw kale is a process I refer to as “massaging”, check out my recipe for Massaged Kale Salad to get the full process.

Spinach

Spinach is a dark leafy green high in antioxidants and minerals, it’s one of the most popularly used dark leafy salad greens. It was popularized by Popeye, with him eating spinach out of a can- although I feel raw and fresh spinach is the best option. Spinach comes in several varieties, baby spinach being the most popular and delicately flavored of them all. Spinach is a great dark leafy green to sneak into other salads without having a “green” taste to them, I particularly love spinach in smoothies or salads.

How to use | in salads, smoothies, on sandwiches, blended into sauces like marinara or basil pesto, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of SPINACH | *per 100g (about 3 cups raw)

Fiber | 2g fiber in about 3 cups raw spinach

Protein | 3g protein in about 2 cups raw spinach

Vitamin A | 188% DV

Vitamin C | 47% DV

Vitamin K | 604% Dv

Manganese | 45% DV

Iron | 15% DV

Calcium | 10% DV

Copper | 6% DV

Folate | 49% DV

Magnesium | 20% DV

B vitamins | 4-11% DV various B vitamins

Zinc | 4% DV

Potassium | 16% DV

Antioxidants

Omega-3 fatty acids

Spinach is a great source of minerals making it well known for bone health and also, as Popeye put it, to build strong muscles as well. Spinach contains special phytonutrients that have been shown to help decrease inflammation in the body as well to have anti-cancer benefits. As with most fruits and vegetables, spinach contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | If you’re cooking spinach, opt for the frozen varieties you’ll get more for your money and the nutrition after cooking will be very comparable if you started out using the raw spinach. Keep raw spinach for eating raw, using in smoothies, etc.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are technically “fruit”, but many of us (myself included) group tomatoes into the vegetable category. Tomatoes are rich red in color, lycopene an antioxidant is responsible for this gorgeous color and a myriad of health benefits. There are several varieties of tomatoes including red, heirloom, green, yellow, cherry, plum, beefsteak, campari, and grape.

How to use | use fresh in salads, juices, sauces, salad dressings, or cook with skillet meals, roasting, marinara sauces, and much more!

Nutrient breakdown of TOMATOES | *per 100g, 1 small tomato

Vitamin A | 17% DV

Vitamin C |  21% DV

Vitamin K | 10% DV

Vitamin E | 3% DV

Potassium | 7% DV

Manganese | 6% DV

B Vitamins | folate, B6, niacin, B5

Zinc

Iron

Choline

Antioxidants | flavonones, flavonols, carotenoids including lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.

Tomatoes have been studied in great detail with their relation to cancer protection due to theantioxidant content. Specific antioxidants in tomatoes protect the bones, liver, kidneys, bloodstream, and may also work to reduce the damage to fat in cell membranes or within the bloodstream (a.k.a. lipid peroxidation). Tomatoes provide overall cardiovascular support and decreases the risk of heart disease,lowers cholesterol, supports bone health, and the minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants are great for general health.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Purchase organic as much as possible, tomatoes are one of several foods on the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG- meaning foods that contain the most pesticide residue (which isn’t a good thing!).

Tips and tricks | if purchasing canned tomatoes, opt for BPA-free cans as the acid in the tomatoes help leach BPA from the plastic lining (we don’t want that). Also, the nutritional content (mainly lycopene content) actually increases/becomes more available when cooking!

Nuts

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are one of the best plant-based sources of zinc, making them a vital part in plant-based lifestyles. Pumpkin seeds (shelled) are a beautiful green color, flat and oval. These are one of my favorite seeds I incorporate into my diet weekly if not daily for the flavor and nutrient density- try them out in a couple of my favorite ways!

How to use | use  in smoothies, toppings for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk.

Nutrient breakdown of PUMPKIN SEEDS | *per 1 cup

Protein | 1 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 12g protein

Fiber

Healthy fats | 1 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 12g fat

Iron | 12% DV

Magnesium | 42% DV

Potassium | 17% DV

Zinc | 44% DV

Copper | 22% DV

Manganese | 16% DV

Vitamin E

Antioxidants | phenolic antioxidants

L-tryptophan

Pumpkin seeds not only taste great, but have been shown to help with general antioxidant support, most notably from vitamin E. Most diets, the Standard American Diet in particular, are low in minerals- pumpkin seeds are loaded with minerals and are great to incorporate often. Pumpkin seeds, oils, and extracts have unique anti-microbial benefits, from the lignans in these seeds. Pumpkin seeds have also been studied with anti-cancer benefits, cardiovascular benefits, decreasing blood pressure, benefits with benign prostatic hyperplasia (i.e. prostate enlargement).

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Go for raw and unsalted varieties, also unshelled varieties contain more zinc!

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a type of tree nut with loads of nutrients, proteins, and healthy fats. Walnuts are grown on trees and are encased in a protective husk and shell, both of which are inedible. The walnuts we’re familiar with are walnut halves or the edible portion of the nut. They’re soft, chewy, slightly bitter, sweet, and mildly nutty in flavor. Walnuts are known as brain food quite literally as they contain loads of heart healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids which are great for reducing inflammation in the body amongst other health benefits.

How to use | use as a plain snack, topping for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk.

Nutrient breakdown of WALNUTS | *per 1 cup chopped

Fiber | 1 cup of walnuts contains 8g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of walnuts contains 18g protein

Healthy fats | 1 cup of walnuts contains 76g fat

Thiamin  27% DV

Folate 29% DV

B6 | 31% DV

Calcium | 11% DV

Iron | 19% DV

Magnesium | 46% DV

Phosphorus | 40% DV

Potassium | 15% DV

Zinc | 24% DV

Copper | 93% DV

Manganese | 200 % DV

Selenium | 8% DV

Antioxidants

Phenols | mostly located in the skin of the walnut, don’t remove if you want the most out of the antioxidants (up to 90% of phenols are located in the skins)

Walnuts and their mineral content, antioxidants, healthy fats, and plant-based protein and fiber have been studied greatly in relation to their positive effects with lowering cholesterol, brain and behavioral health, reducing heart disease, bone health, help with blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes, anti-cancer benefits, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Walnuts have also been shown to help reduce weight, body fat, digestive health, and regulate blood sugars.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Best options are raw and unsalted when choosing whole walnuts or walnut butters.

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use. Walnuts are susceptible to going rancid quickly and when stored at high heat fungal molds may grow or release alfatoxins.

Almonds

Almonds are one of my favorite nuts to enjoy because of their delicate nutty flavor and mineral density. Almonds are oval in shape with a beautiful golden brown color, they have a tender bite to them. Almonds come in a variety of ways in the grocery stores including roasted, raw, unsalted, salted, ground, meal, flours, butters, whole, slivered, etc. Almonds are greatly versatile and incorporating them into your diet is simple!

How to use | use as a plain snack, topping for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk. Try out myWhipped Almond Butter.

Nutrient breakdown of ALMONDS | *per 1 cup whole nuts

Fiber | 1 cup of almonds contains 17g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of almonds contains 30g protein

Healthy fats | 1 cup of almonds contains 71g fat

Vitamin E | 187% DV

Thiamin  20% DV

B2 | 85% DV

Niacin | 24% DV

Folate 18% DV

B6 | 10% DV

Calcium | 38% DV

Iron | 30% DV

Magnesium | 96% DV

Phosphorus | 69% DV

Potassium | 20% DV

Zinc | 29% DV

Copper | 71% DV

Manganese | 163 % DV

Antioxidants

Almonds have been studied greatly in relation to their positive effects on lowering cholesterol, reducing heart disease and general cardiovascular disease due to their mineral content, antioxidants mainly vitamin E, healthy fats, and plant-based protein and fiber.

Almonds have also been shown to help reduce weight, body fat, digestive health, and regulate blood sugars. The components in almonds that help us beat the bulge are the healthy fats, fiber, protein, and satiety with consuming these nuts. The high mineral content found in almonds not only keeps our overall bodies healthy, but also improves our energy levels, especially from the minerals copper, magnesium,  manganese, and vitamin B2.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Best options are raw and unsalted when choosing whole almonds or almond butters.

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use. Soaking nuts may help some individuals digest the nuts better, also allowing them to soak and sprout may help increase the nutrient density.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are one of the largest nuts and a nut that I consume without fail on a daily basis for the selenium content. Brazil nuts are in the “tree” nut family and are oblong in shape with a firm yet chewy and soft texture to them, which is perfect for creating homemade nut milks, nut butters, or adding into dishes for a creamy texture sans dairy. They’re incredibly rich in selenium, healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

How to use | use as a plain snack, chopped as a topping for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk.

Nutrient breakdown of BRAZIL NUTS | *per 1 cup whole

Fiber | 1 cup of brazil nuts contains 10g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of brazil nuts contains 19g protein

Healthy fats | 1 cup of brazil nuts contains 88g fat

Thiamin  55% DV

Vitamin E | 38% DV

Calcium | 21% DV

Iron | 18% DV

Magnesium | 125% DV

Phosphorus | 96% DV

Potassium | 25% DV

Zinc | 36% DV

Copper | 116% DV

Manganese | 81% DV

Selenium | 3643% DV

Antioxidants

Did you know that just 1 single brazil nut kernel contains over 137% DV of selenium! That’s your entire days worth of selenium in one small bite- I recommend at least 1 daily, especially if you have any thyroid issues and also consume large amounts of raw cruciferous veggies.

Brazil nuts are the most rich in selenium in comparison to other nuts. Selenium is an important mineral responsible for thyroid health, DNA synthesis, reproduction, and antioxidant protection from oxidation and infections. I purposefully add brazil nuts to my Stripped Green Smoothie to balance out the amount of natural occurring goitrogens present in large volumes of dark leafy greens, especially kale which cannegatively impact our thyroids when eaten in excess or for sensitive individuals. Most of us are perfectly fine to consume dark leafy greens and veggies that contain goitrogens.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Best options are raw and unsalted when choosing whole brazil nuts.

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use. Soaking nuts may be helpful for digestive ease in some individuals.

Cashews

Cashews are a favorite nut of mine to use in my non-dairy recipes because of their delicate flavor and creamy texture when blended. Cashew nuts are a type of “tree” nut and have a unique kidney-shape to them, they’re white in color with a sweet and slightly nutty flavor.

How to use | my favorite nut to use for non-dairy and creamy desserts, sauces, or dips are cashews because of their texture. Also use as a plain snack, topping for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk. Try out my Classic Cashew Cheese.

Nutrient breakdown of CASHEWS | *per 100g

Fiber | 1 cup of cashews contains 3g fiber

Protein | 1 cup of cashews contains 18g protein

Healthy fats | 1 cup of cashews contains 44g healthy fat

Vitamin K | 43% DV

Thiamin | 28% DV

B6 | 21% DV

Iron | 37% DV

Magnesium | 73% DV

Phosphorus | 59% DV

Potassium | 19% DV

Zinc | 39% DV

Copper | 110% DV

Manganese | 83% DV

Selenium | 28%

Cashews, like most nuts and seeds contain heart healthy fats, fiber, and plant-based proteins. Consuming nuts on a daily basis is a great way to protect your heart and cardiovascular system by aiding in a good ratio of HDL:LDL cholesterol (“good” to “bad”). Cashews also contain minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper, and selenium, all of which are important for our immune system and overall health.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Best options are raw and unsalted when choosing whole cashews or cashew butters.

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use. Soaking cashews may be beneficial for some individuals digestion and can be used in nut milks.

Seeds

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a tiny brown oblong seed that’s incredibly nutrient dense and has several unique physical properties. One unique property comes from the fantastic source of fiber, mainly soluble fiber, that acts like a sponge when in contact with a liquid or water. This super absorbent property makes flaxseed ideal for vegan baking and cooking without the use of eggs or for adding additional fiber into your recipes.

How to use | Flaxseed is used as the whole seed, ground/meal. When using flaxseed as an egg replacer it’s best to use flaxseed meal. When using flaxseed in recipes such as muffins, breads, granolas, etc. for added nutrition or texture, whole seeds work great. Flaxseeds can also be incorporated into yogurts, cereals, desserts, snacks, casseroles, soups/stews, salads, and skillet meals.

Nutrient breakdown of FLAXSEEDS | *per 1 tablespoon

Protein | 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 1g protein

Fiber | 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2g carbohydrate

Healthy fats | 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 3g fat

the fat source found in flaxseed is mainly from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a type of omega-3 fatty acid responsible for heart healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Thiamin | 8% DV

B6 | 2% DV

Folate | 2% DV

Calcium | 2% Dv

Iron | 2% DV

Magnesium | 7% DV

Phosphorus | 4% DV

Potassium | 2% DV

Zinc | 2% DV

Copper | 4% DV

Manganese | 9% DV

Selenium | 3% DV

Phytonutrients | lignans, which are fiber polyphenols that have antioxidants benefits and act as natural phytoestrogens in the diet.

Flaxseeds have gained in popularity for their healthy fat content, fiber, and also benefits for the cardiovascular system, lowering cholesterol, as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits and digestive health. Flaxseeds may also be beneficial for those women challenged from menopause, by certain compounds promoting estrogen production and reducing hot flashes when taken on a regular basis.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Baking | as an egg replacer use this ratio, 1 egg = 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons of water, soak for at least 5 minutes or until “gelled”.

Tips and tricks | I store ground flaxseed in the freezer (to keep fresh and from oxidizing) and whole flaxseeds in the pantry both in airtight mason jars.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are loaded with healthy fats and minerals, like most seeds. Sunflower seeds have a nice mild nutty flavor with a firm but soft texture, which gives a great texture when added to dishes. They’re green/gray in color and are very small tear-drop shaped.

How to use | use  in smoothies, toppings for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, homemade nut butters, or homemade nut milk.

Nutrient breakdown of SUNFLOWER SEEDS | *per 1 cup, shelled

Protein | 1 cup of sunflower seeds contains 27g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of sunflower seeds contains 14g fiber

Healthy fats | 1 cup of sunflower seeds contains 69g fat

Calcium | 12% DV

Iron | 32% DV

Phosphorus | 154% DV

Magnesium | 43% DV

Potassium | 19% DV

Zinc | 47% DV

Copper | 122% DV

Manganese | 140% DV

Vitamin E | 245% DV

Thiamin | 29% DV

B2 | 22% DV

Niacin | 28% DV

B6 | 53% DV

Folate | 79% DV

Antioxidants | phenolic antioxidants

Sunflower seeds are incredibly mineral rich and contain vitamin E and other antioxidants which are great for helping the body fight free radicals that would otherwise damage our cell membranes, brain cells, and fat-containing molecules. Vitamin E also works to decrease inflammation which is the root cause of many diseases. The phytosterols in sunflower seeds also have been studied with lowering cholesterol and decreasing cancer risk. Sunflower seeds contain minerals, especially magnesium, shown to help reduce muscle aches, reducing blood pressure, preventing migraines, and reducing heart disease. Another key mineral in sunflower seeds is selenium, which helps the body support liver detoxification and cancer protection.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Go for raw and unsalted varieties, also unshelled varieties contain more zinc!

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are small seeds from the hemp plant (no, no active THC in these seeds) loaded with nutrients especially protein, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Hemp seeds are slightly sweet and nutty, they have a neutral flavor which makes them perfect for adding to dishes and recipes very easily to add nutrition. Hemp seeds are definitely a “superfood” in my book because of their nutrient density.

How to use | I love adding hemp seeds to salads for a boost in protein and healthy fats. They’re also great blended into dressings, desserts, smoothies, butters, Nourish Bowls, porridges, sauces, granola, muesli, etc. to add a thick texture to the recipe. Hemp seeds can also be made into milk, ice cream, or other creamy dishes.

Nutrient breakdown of HEMP SEEDS | *per 30g, 2 tablespoons

Protein | 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 11g protein

Fiber | 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 1g fiber

Healthy fats | 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 14g of fat 80% essential fatty acids [omega-3 (22%), omega-6 (55%)]

Iron | 16% DV

Magnesium | 48% DV

Zinc | 23% DV

Hemp seeds are a fantastic way for plant-based dieters to get a great amount of protein and healthy fats into their diet in a very small volume. They can essentially be used in any dish because of their small size and relatively neutral flavor. I would categorize hemp seeds as a protein/fat for plant-based lifestyles as one serving contains both a decent amount of protein and fat.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | store hemp seeds in an airtight container in the freezer to keep the fatty acids from oxidizing quickly.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds also known as salba grain or salvia hispanica, are native to Southern and Central Mexico and Guatemala. These seeds (derived from the whole plant/flower) were an important crop grown and used by the Aztecs for their long lasting energy, fiber, amino acids, and nutrients. You could imagine why these were so popular and widely used with the Aztecs- the small size lead to easy transportation while packing significant nutrient density to nourish and fuel their bodies for long periods of time. These tiny water-loving seeds are loaded with nutrition and deserve the title “superfood”

How to use | I recommend soaking chia seeds in water or the liquid of your choice at least 20 minutes before consuming. Chia seeds love water and will soak up any liquid around it. Add chia seed “gel” to thicken smoothies, desserts, porridge, oatmeal, or use as a vegan “egg” in baking.

Nutrient breakdown of CHIA SEEDS | *per 1 ounce

Protein | 1 ounce of chia seeds contains 4g of protein, a “complete” protein as it contains all the essential amino acids.

Fiber | 1 ounce of chia seeds contains 11g of fiber, mostly soluble

Omega-3 fatty acids | 1 ounce contains 4.9g

Specifically in the form of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). In humans, ALA is not as easily converted (in most circumstances) to EPA/DHA as from animal sources.

Omega-6 fatty acids | 1 ounce contains 1.6g

Calcium | 18% DV

Phosphorus | 27% DV

Manganese | 30% DV

Zinc | 7% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | if using ground chia seeds and you have leftovers, I suggest storing these in the freezer to help keep them fresh. Also, since I purchase in bulk I always keep some in the pantry for everyday use and the rest in the freezer.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are one of the best tasting nutrient dense seeds, in my opinion. My favorite way to incorporate these teeny-tiny seeds is via tahini. I adore tahini! Tahini essentially is what peanut butter is to peanuts, ground sesame seeds in a thick and creamy paste. Sesame seeds have been used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines to add a strong nutty flavor with a crunch. They’re perfect to adding to dishes where a little extra nuttiness or crunch is needed without having to use a large volume.

How to use | use in my favorite way tahini (which is pureed sesame seeds). Also use in smoothies, toppings for oatmeal, porridge, in granolas, muesli, sprinkled on salads, baked goods, in trail mixes, roasted as a snack, salad dressings, sauces, or homemade nut milk.

Nutrient breakdown of SESAME SEEDS | *per 1 cup, shelled

Protein | 1 cup of sesame seeds contains 26g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of sesame seeds contains 17g fiber

Healthy fats | 1 cup of sesame seeds contains 72g fat

Calcium | 9% DV

Iron | 53% DV

Phosphorus | 100% DV

Magnesium | 129% DV

Potassium | 16% DV

Zinc | 67% DV

Copper | 105% DV

Manganese | 108% DV

Selenium | 209%

Vitamin E | 13% DV

Thiamin | 70% DV

Niacin | 44% DV

B6 | 30% DV

Folate | 43% DV

Antioxidants | phenolic antioxidants

Sesame seeds as with most seeds, are loaded with minerals which are incredibly important for our bodies. Sesame seeds in particular are great sources of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, and selenium! Copper has been shown to help relieve inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Other minerals found in sesame seeds such as magnesium, calcium, and zinc have been shown to help with colon cancer, prevent migraine headaches, PMS, reduce bone loss and support general bone health, support respiratory and heart health and reduce cholesterol!

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Go for raw and unsalted varieties, if purchasing tahini opt for raw and unsalted varieties as well.

Tips and tricks | If purchasing seeds in bulk, store half in the freezer to keep from going rancid and keep the rest in the pantry for quick use.

GF Grains

Oats

Oats are most definitely a staple in my pantry for a variety of reasons and recipes. Oats are a hearty, naturally gluten-free grain filled with fiber, minerals, and starchy goodness. Oats are incredibly versatile and can be used from morning porridges, cookies, cakes, breads, pancakes, and much more. Oats are also very soothing on the skin and have been used for centuries to calm sensitive skin (oat baths).

How to use | oats are incredibly versatile, I love using them as a hot cereal, in Nourishing Muesli, granola, breads, muffins, cakes, brownies, desserts, truffles, smoothies (as a thickener), overnight oats (a.k.a. a cold cereal), or as a gluten free breading. My favorite recipes are Simply Oat Pancakes, Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread, and Coconut Ginger Cookie Crisps.

Nutrient breakdown of OATS | *per 1 cup dry, 81g

Thiamine | 25% DV

Folate | 6% DV

Iron | 19% DV

Magnesium | 28% DV

Phosphorus | 33% DV

Zinc | 20% DV

Copper | 16% DV

Manganese | 147% DV

Selenium | 33% DV

Oats have been known and studied for their cholesterol lowering effects due to their fiber content, mainly in the form of beta-glucan (soluble) fiber. Studies have shown that consuming this type of soluble fiber helps reduce overall cholesterol (especially LDL), decreases the risk of heart disease, and aids in digestion! Oats also help maintain stable blood sugars to keep your energy nice and steady. Fiber isn’t the only key player in oats, antioxidants also have been shown to help with the cardiovascular benefits and immune health along with oats magnesium content, which aids in secretion of insulin and glucose (among enabling many other enzymatic functions) . Oats and whole grains in general are overall heart healthy for all groups of people including those with celiac disease (just be mindful of the processing center and be sure it’s certified gluten free).

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | Try oats in a new way! Soak overnight in almond milk versus cooking them on the stove, for an easy breakfast that takes care of itself while you sleep. The almond milk soaks into the oats for a nice porridge consistency.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a gluten free grain, technically a seed, and is one of my favorites from the gluten free carbohydrate family. Amaranth is an incredibly small seed about the size of the tip of a pen or pencil, and is yellow in color. It’s full of fiber, protein, lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and most importantly contains higher amounts of lysine (an essential amino acid which is typically lower in plant based proteins). Not only is amaranth nutritious, it’s also versatile and tastes great.

How to use | Amaranth is great to use for a healthier version of cream of wheat or grits since amaranth is a very small seed, after it’s cooked it resembles the texture of grits. Each amaranth seed melts together to form a chewy textured mixture and the seeds are not able to be individually picked apart like quinoa for example. Amaranth is great to use in sweet porridges for a hearty breakfast, in soups or stews as a thickener, popped similar to popcorn or used in granolas/mueslis, or a simple side dish with roasted veggies and protein.

Nutrient breakdown of AMARANTH | *per 1 cup

Protein | 1 cup of cooked amaranth contains 9g protein

Rich in the in the amino acid (i.e. building blocks of protein) lysine compared to other grains, which is normally one of the lacking amino acids in plant proteins. Lysine is an amino acid important in growth, converting carnitine, which helps break down fatty acids into energy and plays a role in cholesterol, helps the body absorb calcium, and supports collagen growth.

Fiber | 1 cup of cooked amaranth contains 6g fiber

B Vitamins | folate and B6

Calcium | 12% DV

Iron | 40% DV

Phosphorus | 36% DV

Potassium | 9% DV

Zinc | 14% DV

Copper | 18% DV

Manganese | 105% DV

Selenium | 19% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores in bulk bins, and online retailers.

Cook | 3 cups water: 1 cup amaranth, boil  water, add amaranth, simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes until soft, fluff with a fork. Option to cook longer and add more water to develop a grit-like texture. Popped option is to add dry amaranth to a large pot and shake/stir continuously until all the amaranth has popped (be careful, it burns quickly).

Quinoa

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a gluten free grain, technically a seed, therefore referred to as a psuedo-grain. It’s a small round seed found in several varieties/colors such as red, black, and yellowish-white. Black quinoa has a firmer texture after cooking and a sweet earthy flavor, red quinoa has a tougher texture than white quinoa and less that of black quinoa, white quinoa is the softest of the three varieties with the mildest flavor. White quinoa is referred to simply as quinoa as it’s the most popular variety found in stores. Quinoa also can be found as a flour or in flake form. It’s one of my personal favorites that I will make on batch cooking day for the week ahead.

How to use | all quinoa varieties can be used as any other grain would be such as a side dish, a base for roasted/stir-fry veggies with protein, topped on salads, used for making grain-based salads (which I recommend using black or red for these), or using the quinoa flour for gluten free baking. White quinoa is great for softer porridges for breakfast.

Nutrient breakdown of QUINOA | *per 1 cup cooked

Protein | 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 8g protein

Fiber | 1 cup cooked quinoa contains 5g fiber

B vitamins | thiamin, riboflavin, B6, folate

Vitamin E

Iron | 15% DV

Magnesium | 30% DV

Phosphorus | 28% DV

Zinc | 13% DV

Copper | 18% DV

Manganese | 58%

Omega-3 fatty acids | ALA (linolenic acid)

Antioxidants | quercetin and kaempferol

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Cook | 1 cup dry quinoa: 2 cups water. Simply boil for at least 20 minutes, and fork to fluff. Yields about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

Millet

Millet is a gluten free grain, technically a seed, but used as a grain. The most popular variety found in stores is yellow although in nature millet is found to be red, white, grey, and yellow. Millet is typically used in bird feed, but there’s no need to keep this nutrient dense just for the birds- it’s fantastic for our health as well.

How to use | you can use millet just as you would any other grain. It’s great for a side dish, used as the based of a meal topped with your favorite stir-fry veggies, roasted vegetables or proteins, and topped on large salads for a boost in carbohydrates, fiber, and plant-based protein. Another great way to enjoy millet is by blending and creating a “mashed” texture similar to mashed potatoes. Millet is also great in a sweet variation in a morning porridge (simple add cinnamon, maple syrup, and almond milk with berries).

Nutrient breakdown of MILLET |

Protein |  1 cup of cooked millet contains 6g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of millet contains 3g fiber

B vitamins | niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, B6, folate

Magnesium | 19% DV

Manganese | 24% DV

Phosphorus | 25% DV

Copper | 31% DV

Zinc | 11% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, local farmers markets, grocery stores, and online retailers.

Cook | 2 cups water: 1 cup millet, boil  water, add millet, simmer for 25 minutes until soft. Fluff with a fork.

Tips and tricks | when using millet, soaking can be beneficial to reduce the cooking time and allowing for the phytic acid content to decrease.

Fats

Olives

Olives are a great addition to any meal for a chewy and salty flavor. Olives have a fantastic chewy, soft, tender, and “meaty” texture, perfect to add to dishes to give them a unique bite and distinct flavor. Depending on the type of olive, the flavor will vary amongst the several varieties of olives including green, kalamata (my favorite), black, and also vary from the region where they’re grown. Olives are very popular in Mediterranean diets and have been associated with healthful benefits!

How to use | use chopped in salads, on pizza, stir into pasta dishes, millet, quinoa, wild rice, and other carbohydrates; use in dips for a salty and rich flavor (such as hummus or tapenade). I love incorporating whole pitted olives in an appetizer or small plate or tossed in salads.

Nutrient breakdown of OLIVES | *per 1 cup

Healthy fats | monounsaturated and a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids

Copper | 38% DV

Iron | 25% DV

Vitamin A | 18% DV

Vitamin E | 15% DV

Anti-inflammatory nutrients, phytonutrients | terpenes, flavones, anthocyanidins, flavonols,

Olives have been shown to help decrease cholesterol (LDL), and improve the LDL:HDL ratio (“bad” to “good” cholesterol), which lends to lowering the risk of heart disease. Olives also contain a great amount of antioxidants from vitamin E and trace minerals zinc and selenium, all of which provide protection from oxidative stress. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in olives have also been shown to help protect against cancer.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | I love adding olives to a platter or small plate for an appetizer alongside gluten free crackers, hummus, roasted veggies, or add your favorite “small plates”

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the edible oil extracted or pressed from the mature coconut meat. This oil will be solid at room temperature and melts around 76 degrees F. When possible always choose organic cold pressed oil and stay away from any coconut oils that say hydrogenated. Not only is coconut oil great for cooking and eating, but you can also use it in several other ways in your beauty routine.

How to use | use as a cooking oil, for roasting, stir into warm quinoa, pastas, roasted vegetables (it melts great!), use in desserts, add to smoothies for healthy fat and an easy way to sneak in calories (if that’s your goal). Also great to use for those who have sluggish digestion or suffer from malabsorption. To use as a beauty product: use in hair as a deep conditioner (you’ll need to wash it out after) or as a skin moisturizer.

Health benefits of COCONUT OIL | *for specific coconut sources and their nutrition information check out this great chart resource

Fat // saturated fat (65% MCT, medium chain triglycerides)

Fatty acids in coconut // 49% lauric acid, about 18% mysteric acid, 9% palmitic acid, capric and caprylic acid at 7-8% respectively, 5-6% oleic acid, about 3% stearic acid, and 2% linoleic.

Much more data and studies needs to be carried out with coconut oil and it’s effects on health, in general a couple of things noted from studies show coconut oil may help with fat loss, weight control, increasing metabolic rate (i.e. metabolism), antimicrobial properties, digestion, improving skin and moisturizing skin, and tastes great!

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers ( Trader Joe’s, Nutiva, and Artinsana)

Tips and tricks | since coconut oil is a saturated fat, it’s composition is solid at room temperature, unless it’s a warm room then the oil will be melted. If you need to use coconut oil for a recipe and it’s in the solid state, simply run the jar under warm/hot water until the coconut oil starts to melt (it doesn’t take that much heat to start melting). Store in your pantry for quick use.

For more a more in depth review of coconut oil, check out my Spotlight On Coconut post.

Avocado

Avocado also known as alligator pear, is technically a fruit and used traditionally with savory dishes due to it’s high fat content and creamy texture. Avocados are lime green/yellow when sliced in half and contain one large seed. Avocados are cultivated in many varieties, in the states we’re mostly familiar with California or Florida types. These fruits are truly a beauty and “superfood” due to their vitamin E, fiber, and healthy fat content.

How to use | think outside of the box when it comes to avocados. The thick and creamy texture is perfect for non-dairy lifestyles. Use them in ice creams, mousses, desserts, smoothies, topped on salads, use instead of mayo in sandwiches and salads, and eat plain on toast. Some of Nutrition Stripped recipes with avocado: Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse, Mint Chocolate Chip Green Smoothie, The Body Book Green Smoothie, and Veggie “Sushi” Rolls.

Nutrient breakdown of AVOCADOS | *per 100g, half of 1 avocado

Protein | 1/2 avocado contains 2g protein

Fiber | 1/2 avocado contains 7g fiber

Healthy fats | 1/2 avocado contains 15g fat

Vitamin C | 17% DV

Vitamin E | 10% DV

Vitamin K | 26% DV

Folate | 20% DV

B6 | 13% DV

B5 | 14% DV

Magnesium | 7% DV

Potassium | 14% DV

Copper | 9% DV

Manganese | 7% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets

Tips and tricks | After slicing an avocado in half, squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice and wrap tightly in wrap to keep the avocado from oxidizing quickly (store in the fridge).

Note: If you have a latex allergy, avocados are one of those fruits (as are bananas and kiwis) that contain compounds that are associated with a latex-fruit syndrome, a cross reaction. If you have a latex allergy, be mindful and cautious when eating these fruits you may have a reaction such as itchy throat/mouth/nose/ears, hives, or stomach issues.

Legumes

Lentils

Lentils are a type of legume/dried bean that is round in shape and about the size of a #2 pencil eraser. They’re found in a variety of colors and textures such as red, brown, and green. Brown lentils are a bit more firm than the other two, red being the softest texture of the three. Lentils have an earthy semi-neutral taste to them, which makes it perfect for using these in a wide variety of ways. In comparison to other types of dried beans/legumes, lentils are fairly easy and quick to cook.

How to use | can be used as a side dish, in soups/stews, in curries, blended into thick soups, made into vegetarian patties/burgers, or used in any other way you enjoy using beans.

Nutrient breakdown of LENTILS | *per 1 cup

Protein | 1 cup of cooked lentils contains

Fiber | 1 cup of cooked lentils contains

Molybdenum | 330% DV

Folate | 89% DV

Copper | 56% DV

Phosphorus | 51% DV

Manganese | 49% DV

Iron | 36.6% DV

Zinc | 23% DV

Potassium | 21% DV

B vitamins | B6, thiamin, and B5

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores and in bulk bins, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Cook | 3 cups water: 1 cup lentils, boil  water, add lentils, simmer for 20-30 minutes until soft.

Tips and tricks // Lentils do not require soaking because they’re relatively quick cooking, but rinsing and washing is needed before cooking (just to make sure they’re free of small rocks or other debris). You may however, enjoy soaking and sprouting lentils for added digestive ease and a bit more nutrition.

Peas

Peas are small round, green pulses. Pulses is the official name for the category of beans and legumes. There are a couple varieties with peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and garden peas. With both garden and snap peas, the peas are encased in a pod that holds the individual round peas you see above. Snow peas are flatter and more translucent than the other two varieties; all of these variations are similar in flavor with the actual pea.

How to use | use in a variety of ways! Fresh or frozen are great to use in salads, as a dip, hummus, soup, spread, in stir frys, whole in salads, or simple to snack on. Try my favorite pea recipe Spring Green Pea Soup that highlights the flavors of peas.

Nutrient breakdown of PEAS

Fiber | 9g per 1 cup of peas

Protein | 9g of protein per 1 cup peas

Carbohydrates | 25g of carbohydrates per 1 cup peas

Vitamin K | ~40z DV

B vitamins | B1, B2, B3, B6

Vitamin C | 26% DV

Manganese | 36% DV

Magnesium | 14% DV

Iron | 12% DV

Zinc | 15% DV

Copper | 27% DV

Potassium | 11% DV

As with most fruits and vegetables, broccoli contains great amounts of fiber which help our digestive system moving, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time, and releases a steady flow of energy into our bodies.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or grow your own!

Tips and tricks | Frozen peas are just as great to use as fresh peas; they’re convenient, nutrient dense, and affordable. Just be sure whenever you’re purchasing frozen peas or vegetables that the only ingredient in the bag is peas, nothing added!

Superfoods

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast used as a food, it’s light/golden yellow in color and most popularly found in flakes. Basically, yeast is cultured  and grown typically on a glucose medium like molasses or sugar cane. When the yeast has grown, it’s killed with heat, processed, and dried- this process leaves an inactive nutrient rich yeast. I consider nutritional yeast a “superfood” because it contains heaps of B vitamins, protein, and fiber in a very small volume. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor and the taste is similar to a rich sharp cheddar cheese, hence why it’s so popular in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles- it makes the perfect cheesy substitute sans dairy.

How to use | I love using nutritional yeast sprinkled on my salads, Nourish Bowls, mixed with quinoa, rice, potatoes, popcorn, roasted veggies, and in recipes such as my Classic Cashew Cheese, secret sauce with Veggie Sushi Rolls, and Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

Nutrient breakdown of NUTRITIONAL YEAST | *per 2 tablespoons

Protein | 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains 8-10g protein (depending on brand), a “complete” protein

Fiber | 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains 4-5g fiber (depending on brand)

Carbohydrates | 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains only 5-9g carbohydrates (depending on brand)

Thiamine (B1) | 640% DV

Riboflavin (B2) | 570% DV

Niacin (B3) | 280% DV

B6 | 480% DV

Folate | 60% DV

B12 | 130% DV

Zinc | 20% DV

Magnesium | 6% DV

Manganese | 6% DV

Copper | 6% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores (bulk bins), farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | don’t confuse with regular yeast- nutritional yeast is NOT used as an active yeast to make bread or baked goods rise, it’s simply used for nutrition and flavor content.

Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs is the cacao bean that’s been chopped and broken into very small pieces. These nibs contain high amounts of theobromine which has similar effects like caffeine. Nibs can be eaten as is or ground to a thick paste to be used in chocolates. I love adding cacao nibs to smoothies and desserts for a boost of rich slightly bitter chocolate flavor and crunch. Cacao nibs are always in my pantry due to their flavor and also the great source of magnesium they contain.

How to use | use in smoothies, desserts, truffles, raw truffles/balls, baking, muffins, cakes, breads, etc. I love sprinkling cacao nibs on top of Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls, or some of my favorite dessert recipes: Raw Chocolate Malt Brownies, Raw Chocolate Nib Brownie Bites.

Nutrient breakdown of CACAO NIBS | *per 1 ounce

Fats | 1 ounce of cacao nibs contains 13g fat

Fiber | 1 ounce of cacao nibs contains 9g fiber

Magnesium

Iron

Flavonols, antioxidants

Theobromine | acts as a mild stimulant

Anandamide | the “bliss” molecule known to give you that feel good feeling when eating chocolate

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores,  or online retailers (Healthworks, Nativas Naturals).

Tips and tricks | I typically store raw cacao nibs in an airtight mason jar to keep them fresh (if you buy in bulk, I recommend freezing the extra).

Maca

Maca (mah-cah) is an adaptogenic root vegetable (from the broccoli family) grown in Peru. It’s been used for centuries by the South American cultures for hormonal balance, aphrodisiacstamina, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, physical strength, endurance, and mental focus/clarity. Although the scientific evidence for the claims of maca are at times not at a significant level, the pure mineral and vitamin rich content justifies this root to be a “superfood”. Maca is one of my favorite “superfoods” I use very often because I love the malty, nutty, and rich flavor; and of course the rich mineral nutrition.

How to use | maca is a fine powder that can be added and used in anything from breakfast oatmeal, granola, cereals, desserts, smoothies, and baked goods. The powder is easily mixed into anything you choose and you don’t need a large volume to get the desired taste.

Nutrient breakdown of MACA | *per 100g (about 7.5 tablespoons)

Protein | 14g per 100g, contains amino acids

Fiber | 7g per 100g

Vitamin C | 475% DV

Vitamin B2 | 21% DV

Vitamin B3 | 29% DV

Vitamin B6 | 57% Dv

Calcium | 25% DV

Iron | 82% DV

Potassium | 57% DV

Copper | 300% DV

Manganese | 39% DV

Fatty acids

Where to purchase | health food stores or online retailers (Organic Burst).

Tips and tricks | Try: 1 teaspoon and gradually increasing- check here for more on serving sizes

Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of blue-green micro-algae grown and harvested from very alkaline water sources. It was long used by the Aztecs as a food source because of it’s potent nutrient content, hence the reason it’s known as a “superfood”. Spirulina is commonly found in several forms; tablets (which are chewable), fine powder, flakes, and pills or capsules (I personally prefer to use spirulina freeze-dried powder). Spirulina tastes unique as if nutty flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and slightly sweet seaweed were mixed together.

Not only do I love the nutrition punch spirulina provides, but it also has an array of other health benefits such as: antioxidant content, anti inflammatory properties, boosts immune function, protects the liver, reduces allergic reactions, improves muscle endurance and oxidative stress, reduces oral cancer, and may also help fight infections and antibiotics related illnesses.

How to use | add into smoothies, desserts, fresh juices, or water for a boost of nutrition. I use spirulina in several recipes including Spirulina Energy Globes.

Nutrient breakdown of SPIRULINA | *per 100g ~less than 1 cup

Protein | 50-70% by weight of bioavailable, easy to digest protein- per 100g contains 57g of protein (!)

Amino acids | contains all amino acids, including essential amino acids, a “complete” protein

Healthy fats | mostly in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids | linolenic acid, 0.8g/100g

Omega-6 fatty acids | linoleic acid, GLA 1.2g/100g

Vitamin B12 | Special Note: the form of B12 found in spirulina is a psuedovitamin B12, therefore is not a reliable source of B12 for humans as it’s inactive. The B12 is considered an analogue, which does not have the same bioavailability as animal sources of B12.

Vitamin A | 11% Dv

Vitamin C  | 17% DV

Vitamin K | 32% DV

Vitamin E | 25% DV

B vitamins | B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), folic acid, B5

Carotenoids | beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin

Chlorophyll

Copper | 305% DV

Calcium | 12% DV

Iron | 158% DV

Magnesium | 49% DV

Potassium | 39% DV

Manganese | 95% DV

Zinc | 13% DV

Selenium | 10% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers (Organic Burst, here, or here) .

Tips and tricks | When purchasing spirulina, keep in mind to purchase only organic varieties that are processed at very low heat (to retain the maximum nutrition). Since spirulina is grown and comes from water, free toxins floating in the water and more susceptible to contamination of heavy metals surround it. These toxins, called microcystins, can be mostly be avoided by purchasing from a trusted brand who grows it organically. Notice I say mostly, there are some studies (and here) that show some less than beneficial characteristics of spirulina.

Also, I recommend storing spirulina in the freezer in a dark glass or dark area to keep optimally fresh. For more information and review of this nourishing food, check out my Spotlight On Spirulina post.

Goji Berries

Goji berries are one of my personal favorite “superfoods” and I use them on a weekly if not daily basis. Goji berries also known as the wolfberry, are small red berries grown in south of China and luck for us they’re available in most stores. Goji berries have earned the title “superfood” because of their nutrient density and antioxidant content packed in a small volume. If you’ve never tried a goji berry they taste like a raisin and a cranberry mixed together.

How to use | use as you would any dried fruit such as raisins. Enjoy them on oatmeal, porridge, in salads, in smoothies, re-hydrated in water and pureed in a smoothie/juice, use in trail mix, desserts, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of GOJI BERRIES | *per 100g ~5 tablespoons

Protein } contain 18 amino acids (11 essential amino acids, making them a “complete” protein as well)

Fiber }

Healthy fats } 5 unsaturated fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid

Vitamin C } 35-163% DV

Vitamin A } 7mg per 100g of beta-carotene

Vitamin B2 } 100% DV

Calcium } 10% DV

Zinc } 18% DV

Selenium } 91% DV

Iron } 100% DV

Potassium } 24% DV

Phytochemicals } such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and contain polysaccharides

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks // If you enjoy goji berries and consume larger amounts of them, I suggest purchasing them in bulk for a more affordable option. I store my gojis in airtight mason jars in the pantry for quick access.

Mulberries

Mulberries are a delicious sweet fruit grown in Asia, Africa, and America (mostly in warmer parts). Mulberries are considered a “superfood” due to their high antioxidant content, mainly from resveratrol, and other phytonutrients. Mulberries come in several varieties, white, red, purple, and black- white mulberries seem to be the most popular of the varieties. If you’ve never tasted a mulberry before they’re incredibly sweet and have one of the most unique flavors. The taste is somewhat bitter yet sweet like candy, with a hint of pear, citrus, and floral. Dried mulberries also have a crumbly yet chewy texture which is especially nice in trail mixes or muesli.

How to use | use as you would any other dried fruit. I particularly love dried mulberries in granola, trail mix, Nourishing Muesli, in yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, desserts, or topped on Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls.

Nutrient breakdown of MULBERRIES | *per 1 cup, 140g raw

Protein | 1 cup of mulberries contain 2g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of mulberries contains 2g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup of mulberries contains only 14g carbohydrates (11g of sugar)

Iron | 14% DV

Potassium | 8% DV

Magnesium | 6% DV

Vitamin K | 14% DV

Vitamin E | 6% DV

B Vitamins | thiamin, niacin, B6, folate, riboflavin

Vitamin A | lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene

Vitamin C | 85% DV

Phytonutrients | resveratrol

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | I store dried mulberries in an airtight mason jar for freshness. I also enjoy rehydrating them in water before blending in smoothies, stirring in oatmeal or porridge.

Spices

Ginger

Ginger is a spice I use weekly for the strong, aromatic, spicy and slightly sweet flavor and health benefits. Ginger is a root that looks similar to a tree brand with all it’s “nooks and crannies”, it has a light yellow/golden peel with a yellow/white flesh inside (ginger also may be seen in red/brown skinned roots). Ginger has been used for centuries for it’s digestive relief especially with morning sickness is pregnant women. I love using fresh ginger root in my Stripped Green Smoothie or Stripped Green Juice for adding digestive benefits and for the “heat”.

How to use | fresh ginger root is great used in teas, recipes, baked goods, desserts, smoothies, juices, Asian and Indian cuisines, and especially great to use when you have an upset stomach.

Health benefits of GINGER |

Gastrointestinal/overall digestive relief. Ginger is great for stimulating digestion and helping aid in digestion, but also ginger has been shown to help prevent and decrease motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, and seasickness.

Ginger is a safe alternative to prescription medications for pregnant women who are experiencing nausea or morning sickness.

Ginger relaxes and soothes the digestive tract which makes it great for de-bloating our intestines of excess gas.

Supports the immune system by warming us up from the inside out, sweating has been found to be helpful with colds and flu’s.

Supports ongoing detoxification-as I noted earlier I love using ginger for the “heat”, that same heat/warming effect from ginger makes us sweat. Sweating through our largest detoxification organ, our skin, is a great way to aid in our detoxification.

Protects from certain types of cancers due to anti-inflammatory compounds (gingerols), especially with ovarian and colon cancers.

Contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which has ve been shown to help fight inflammation with disease such as arthritis, muscular pain or swelling, and joint pain.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or farmers markets.

Tips and tricks | use a spoon to peel the ginger root without wasting the precious ginger flesh, trust me it works wonders!

BONUS RECIPE | McKel’s Anti-inflammatory Tea: 1/2 inch fresh ginger root + 1 cup boiling water + 1 tablespoon honey + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder + 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + juice of 1 lemon. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a hot, spicy, “warming” red spice from the capsicum family. Used in recipes to create a warming sensation and spice, also used for a variety of health reasons. I love incorporating cayenne on a weekly if not daily basis.

How to use | use as a spice for all cooked dishes/recipes. I love adding a bit of cayenne in my Stripped Green Smoothies for the metabolism boosting and “warming” effects. Pairs very well with rich chocolate dishes as well, try out McKel’s Hot Chocolate for this combination.

Health benefits of CAYENNE PEPPER |

May help reduce pain, although cayenne is “hot” and can be painful to taste due to the “heat”, it actually help relieve pain.

Cardiovascular benefits

Boosts metabolism slightly due to the heat production from the spice- studies have shown the effect of this lasting for 20 minutes after eating cayenne.

Despite cayenne peppers “heat” and bad reputation of causing stomach ulcers, it actually does the opposite and helps prevent ulcers. Again, due to the “warming” effects of cayenne, it stimulate the digestive system to release buffering juices which help protect the stomach lining from ulcer formation. If you have GERD, cayenne may irritate it, but this is an individual basis.

Clears up congestion and mucus in the body, which is great for detoxification. Cayenne is a “warming” food which works to break up mucus and congestion in the body- a must have during cold and flu season.

Fights inflammation in the body, mainly from the capsaicin which also inhibits a neuropeptide in the inflammatory process. Since cayenne works to fight inflammation it may be helpful for conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes neuropathy, and other pain associated with these inflammatory conditions.

A good source of vitamin A, including beta-carotene.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | adding spice to dishes may help reduce appetite and is also a great alternative to bring a unique flavor and taste to dishes without the need of salt.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice I use daily, even just a dash into my Stripped Green Smoothie for the added nutrition and anti-inflammatory benefits. Turmeric really is the golden spice! It’s a beautiful rich golden yellow color, fragrant, and has been used for centuries in flavoring food but also medicinally.

How to use | use as a seasoning in curries, on roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, dash in hummus, use in broth/soups, sneak it into your Stripped Green Smoothies, juices, Turmeric Milk, Curry Cashew Cauliflower Soup, or even as a natural food dye. Season roasted vegetable

Health benefits of TURMERIC

Why turmeric rocks?  Turmeric has powerful medicinal properties due to it’s high amounts of nutrients, antioxidants, anti inflammatory compounds, and phytonutrients that have been studied in depth especially for cancer prevention. The attention should be on curcumin. Curcumin in the main component found in turmeric that responsible for the medicinal benefits//properties. Turmeric and curcumin have been used in studies: improving IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease),Crohn’s disease, immune health, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancer prevention // inhibits cancer cell growth (andhere and here), prevention of colon cancer , pancreatic cancer/tumor growth, prevention of prostate cancer (when teamed up with our friend the cauliflower), reduce risk of childhood leukemia (and here), improve liver function, diabetes, cardiovascular benefits//protection, cholesterol (and here), wound healing, and Alzhiemer’s (and here and here). Wow, now you can see (and read the studies) carried out regarding the powerful benefits of turmeric//curcumin.

As with most studies, active compounds and components of food are studied in large doses, so how do we make this applicable to daily life? Most of the research studies use anywhere from 2-7g of curcumin to test, this would be a lot of turmeric to eat (especially when pure turmeric is comprised of about 3.14% by weight of curcumin). I recommend using it daily if you like (and checking with your trusty physician in case you’re on certain medications), but again, I understand this is may be a new spice to use in your cooking so use as you see fit.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | be careful when using turmeric, it will stain your clothes, hands, and countertops (trust me, I’ve learned the hard way)

Baking

Rice Flour

Rice flour is a popular and widely used gluten free flour. It’s simply made from milled/ground brown or white rice and is popular due to it’s similarities between regular all purpose flour. Rice flour can be found in white or brown varieties, I tend to use brown more often than white. Both are great for gluten free living in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.

How to use | in breads, pastries, muffins, cookies, cakes, and as thickeners for liquid dishes, gravies, thickening agent, etc. I find using brown rice flour beneficial in brownies, cookies, pancakes, and other baked goods.

Nutrient breakdown of RICE FLOUR | *per 1 cup (about 155-160g)

Protein | 1 cup of rice flour contains 11g protein

Fiber | 1 cup of rice flour contains 7g fiber

Carbohydrates | 1 cup rice flour contains 121g carbohydrates

Niacin | 50% DV

B6 | 58% DV

Thiamin | 47% DV

Pantothenic acid (B5) | 25% DV

Vitamin E | 9% DV

Iron | 17% DV

Magnesium | 44% DV

Phosphorus | 53% DV

Potassium | 13% DV

Zinc | 26% DV

Manganese | 317% DV

Copper | 18% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or online retailers.

Baking | use as you would regular flour

Tips and tricks | I store rice flours in airtight mason jars in the pantry, if I purchase in bulk I find storing in the freezer keeps it the most fresh.

Almond Flour

Almond flour is a great gluten free flour used for baking cakes, breads, muffins, desserts, or used as thickeners in savory dishes. Almond flour is one of my favorite gluten free flours to use due to it’s high nutrient content, flavor, and texture which is very moist in baked goods. Almond flour also has a naturally sweet and nutty flavor that helps contribute to baked goods overall taste.

How to use | I store almond flour in an airtight mason jar in the pantry, if I have larger amounts I’ll keep the rest in the freezer to extend the use of it. Use in baking cookies, breads, muffins, pancakes, breads, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of ALMOND FLOUR | *per 4ounces

Protein | 4 ounces of almond flour contains 8g protein

Fiber | 4 ounces of almond flour contains 4g fiber

Healthy fats | 4 ounces of almond flour contains 12g fat

Minerals

Vitamin E

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, or online retailers (which I prefer due to the price).

Baking | 1 cup of blanched almond flour = weighs about 4 ounces

Tips and tricks | Almond meal is different than almond flour- almond meal is simply ground up whole almonds whereas almond flour is ground almonds with no skins, blanched. They’re different in texture!

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is the flour made from coconut meat, dehydrated. It’s a white/off-white colored flour, light in weight and great for gluten free/grain free baking. Coconut flour acts as a sponge in comparison to many other flours, when mixed with liquid it’s highly absorbent. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you have enough water or liquid for the coconut flour to absorb. This unique property also makes for a moist bakery good with a light texture.

How to use | great used in cakes and muffins because of the light texture of the flour. I also enjoy using coconut flour as a part of breads and pancakes to give it a light and fluffy texture with loads of added nutrition (fiber and protein especially). I love using it in my Coconut Flour Crepe-cakes, Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread, and more.

Nutrient breakdown of COCONUT FLOUR | *per 1 ounce

Protein | 1 ounce of coconut flour contains 5g protein

Fiber | 1 ounce of coconut flour contains 11g fiber (!)

Carbohydrates | 1 ounce of coconut flour contains 17g carbohydrate (net 7g)

Fat | 1 ounce of coconut flour contains 4g fat in the form of medium chain triglycerides

Minerals

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Baking | 1/4 cup of coconut flour = 1 ounce, when measuring coconut flour in a cup it can yield less due to the fluffy nature. Also note, liquid is important with coconut flour, try using this ratio as a rule of thumb: 6 eggs per + 1 cup of water / 1 cup of coconut flour

Tips and tricks | After use, I store coconut flour in airtight mason jars in the pantry.

Sweeteners

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup is a delicious, thick, and sticky syrup made from the sap of a maple tree (a variety of maple trees). It has a rich brown color with a tint of red which varies from the different food grading of maple syrup. In the states, we grade maple syrup into either A or B. Grade A can be divided into three other categories (light, medium, or dark amber) and typically has a lighter taste than Grade B. Grade B is rich, thick, and has a bold maple flavor and is typically used in baking or cooking (I prefer to use Grade B for all use for personal taste preference).

How to use | I love using maple syrup as a natural source of sweetness. Use maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, baked goods, oatmeal, porridges, in desserts, raw truffles, granolas, cookies, cakes, etc. It’s also great for a “binder” in vegan desserts such as truffles!

Nutrient breakdown of MAPLE SYRUP | *per 100g ~5 tablespoons

Carbohydrates | 100g of maple syrup contains 57g of carbohydrates

60g of sugar the types of sugar found in maple syrup are sucrose, glucose, and fructose.

Zinc | 28% DV

Manganese | 165% DV

Potassium | 6% DV

Calcium | 7% DV

Iron | 7% DV

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Rule of thumb | 1 cup of white sugar = 3/4 cup maple syrup in baking

Tips and tricks | When measuring maple syrup in a measuring cup, spray non-stick spray or grease to allow for a more accurate measure without leaving any sticky maple syrup behind in the cup!

Stevia

Stevia (steve-e-ah) is truly an all natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant. The stevia plant is also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf in addition to stevia due to it’s obvious sweet taste. Several compounds in stevia called glycosides make stevia taste sweet, the most popular of those glycosides is Reb A (rebaudioside A) which is used most commercially. Reb A has the least bitter taste in comparison to other isolated glycosides in stevia.

How to use | stevia comes in a variety of ways, raw ground, powdered, and extract. The raw ground stevia is still green as no additional processing besides mechanical grinding has been done. Powdered stevia found in most stores is powdered stevia that undergoes water extraction processing and possibly other fillers to give it a “powdery” texture. Stevia extract undergoes processing that extracts the oils and sweetness from the leaves to make into a liquid- this can be done by water or alcohol. You can use stevia to sweeten anything from desserts, oatmeals, cereals, puddings, smoothies, juices, teas, coffee, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of STEVIA |

Contains zero sugar, zero calories, and zero other macronutrients.

Up to 300 times sweeter than sugar

Has been studied in relation to increasing insulin sensitivity, although it would be wise if much more studies were done on humans

One study showed in comparison with sucrose and aspartame (artificial sweeteners) stevia helped reducepostprandial (after eating) insulin in the body.

May induce insulin secretion, but also increases insulin sensitivity and reduces blood glucose (i.e. what insulin is supposed to do in our bodies).

Important note: As with most sweeteners, artificial or natural, the body responds to the taste of sweet in the same way by increasing the amount of insulin released from the body to “take up” the glucose that the body is interpreting is present. Let’s break it down a bit; when we smell food our digestive system gets moving and starts secreting enzymes to get ready for the incoming food. Whatever you taste, whether it be sweet, bitter, or spicy (especially sweet foods) our bodies release insulin. The amount of insulin released is different depending on the quantity of food you’re consuming- in this case with using stevia it may be a very small amount. Even so, this small amount stops glucagon (opposite of insulin) and your body won’t burn fat as quickly since you’re not converting glucose from glucagon/stored body fat, you’ll also end up with lower blood sugars.

This “trick” on your body with the absence of food, can actually make your body a bit hypoglycemic (meaning you end up with low blood sugar), which can mean more hunger, cravings, and less energy. Some studies show consuming artificial sweeteners in general can cause appetite to increase due to this low sugar response. What does it all mean for you? I do recommend stevia instead of other sweeteners, but still in moderation as it ultimately has the same effect as other sweeteners.

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers. Be sure to purchase high grade, good quality stevia as the taste and compounds will be best.

Rule of thumb | 1 cup sugar = 2-3 teaspoons of powdered stevia. This will depend on the type and harvest of your stevia, taste testing always helps! I’m unsure on how stevia replaces sugar in baking- haven’t attempted!

Tips and tricks | grow your own stevia plant, which is quite easy to grow in abundance, you can harvest the stevia before the first frost, hang to try for about a month and create your own powdered stevia or stevia extract!

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar also known as coconut palm sugar is the sugar made from the sap of a coconut palm tree that’s been dehydrated. Coconut sugar is golden brown in color and typically is found in a coarse grain similar to brown sugar with a caramel flavor. Coconut sugar is least processed than most other sugars, especially white sugar.

How to use | simply use as you would white sugar, in baking, cooking, desserts, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of COCONUT SUGAR | *minor nutrients

Amino acids | from the coconut sap contains 16 amino acids

Iron

Zinc

Calcium

Potassium

Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6

Carbohydrates | 70-80% sucrose, 9% fructose and remaining glucose

Where to purchase | health food stores or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | I store coconut sugar in airtight mason jars in the pantry to avoid getting any moisture trapped inside. Note, coconut sugar is sugar! Coconut sugar should still be used in moderation, I rarely use coconut sugar in my baking, but if a recipe does call for a bit of sugar I enjoy using this for the taste and a bit more nutrients than white sugars.

Honey

Honey is the sweet syrup made by bees from the nectar of flowers and has been used for centuries in common Ayurveda medicine for treating sore throats, colds, and wound healing (although these have not been studied with solid evidence). Just as maple syrup has different food grades, honey does as well and is graded into A, B, or C. Grade A is the best quality and reflects not only the texture, but also the flavor of floral and sweetness. There are many varieties of honey due to the variance in bee harvesting, location, and type of flower the bees are collecting the nectar from.

How to use | simply use as you would maple syrup for a lighter more floral flavor. Great for a touch of sweetness in hot tea, desserts, salad dressings, oatmeal, porridges, etc.

Nutrient breakdown of HONEY | *minor nutrients, per 100g ~5 tablespoons

Carbohydrates | mainly fructose (38%) and glucose (31%)

Anti-microbial properties } microorganisms don’t grow as easily on honey due to the low water content

Antioxidants

Vitamin C

Zinc

B vitamins

Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers.

Tips and tricks | Note, honey is sugar! Honey should still be used in moderation, I enjoy using honey for the light flavor or adding a bit of additional sweetness to dishes. My favorite type is raw honey, comb honey (honey still in the comb), and creamed honey.

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Avocado Love t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The boxy crop tee doesn’t show the tummy, just slightly when you raise your hands.

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