You may already be familiar with castor oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and many other oils currently on the market. However, one of the most widely used oils today with great medicinal properties is Nigella Sativa or more commonly known as black cumin. This plant is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia and its use can be traced all the way back to King Tut. In old Latin, it is called “panacea” which translates to “cure all.” The shrub of this plant produces fruits that have tiny black seeds that can be pressed to extract the oil. Its medicinal properties stem from the presence of thymoquinone—one of the major active chemical components of the essential oil. Thymoquinone is believed to have a wide range of medical applications and benefits we’ll discuss below. This plant has become one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines to date, and there have been over 600 scientific, peer-reviewed articles published about black seed oil benefits.
Benefits of black seed oil to consider:
- Supports liver health and helps protect the liver
- May have anti-cancer properties
- Contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron as well as both fixed oils (fatty acids) and volatile oils
- May help treat a variety of common health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis and asthma
- May be helpful in treating against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- It may help increase milk production in nursing mothers
- May act as an appetite stimulant
- May help to boost the immune system
- Rich Source of Essential Fatty Acids
What to look for when choosing a black seed oil
- Extraction: the method by which the oil is expressed or extracted from the seeds matters! Slow, cold-pressed means that no heat is used during the extraction process. High temperatures may cause rancidity or cause some of the more volatile oils to evaporate. Avoid any oils that use chemical extraction.
- Purity: the product should be 100% pure Nigella Sativa oil and not filled with additives.
- Storage: look for oil that is stored in a dark, glass bottle that will protect it from both air and light.
- Quality: Look for unrefined vs. refined oil and make sure it’s organic!
Other important tips about black seed oil
- Make sure to store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
- It can be used as a spice or preservative! In fact, the seeds have been added to many Persian foods including bread, pickles, sauces and salads.
- Do not confuse it with black cohosh, cumin, curcumin or nutmeg.
- Supplements made from black seeds are usually made up of the basic seed extract in either a crushed powder or oil form.
Homemade black cumin seed salad dressing:
- ½ cup black seed oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. Ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and mix/shake until blended together.
Whether you are looking for breakfast that will keep you feeling satiated throughout the morning, tasty afternoon snack or nutritious after-work out treat, this smoothie is for you! Protein shakes aren’t just for body builders; our bodies need protein to help make new cells and repair old ones.
This is my all-time favorite protein powder. It’s made from real, whole-food ingredients and is packed with 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving. Best of all, it takes just like a chocolate milkshake. For an extra antioxidant boost I add a dash of matcha powder, which has 10-15 times the overall nutrients and over 100 times more antioxidants than black, green and white teas. Finally, I top this nutritional powerhouse with a healthy sprinkle of bee pollen and shredded coconut. Bee pollen is considered one of nature’s most perfect foods and is rich in proteins, free amino acids and vitamins — including B-complex and folic acid. The coconut adds a healthy dose of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) and flavor. Say hello to your new favorite smoothie!
2 cups of coconut milk
1 scoop of protein powder
1 tsp matcha
5 ice cubes
1 tsp bee pollen
1 tsp shredded coconut
Combine all the ingredients together and blend for 20-30 seconds. Pour into your favorite blender bottle and ENJOY!
If you’re a habitual label reader like me, then you’ve probably spent an embarrassing amount of time poring over every ingredient in your beauty and skin care products as if hidden among the glycerins, acids and glycols was the secret to life itself, always on alert for anything synthetic or gross-sounding. Wouldn’t it be great to have that time back and to eliminate the worry and obsessing? Then why not make your own?
Not only will you know everything single ingredient that goes into your homemade product, but you can take pride in knowing that you created something totally on your own, and on the cheap, too.
This super-easy, DIY soap recipe requires no lye (a common soap ingredient that can be pretty dangerous if mishandled), can be whipped up under 30 minutes and features nothing but safe, natural ingredients. Goat’s milk soap has caprylic acids which allows the milk’s emollients to be absorbed without stripping away your skin’s natural protective oils. Honey boasts some serious skin-saving and anti-aging properties while bringing the moisture in a big way. And who doesn’t love the soothing aroma of lavender?
Add expert “soaper” – ie, someone who makes soap, duh – to your bag of tricks with this simple and rejuvenating recipe.
- Slice the goat’s milk base into cubes and place in microwave-safe glass container that can hold four cups.
- Microwave for 15-30 second increments until melted.
- When the soap is completely melted, stir in 3 tablespoons of honey and the essential oils.
- Pour the melted soap into the honeycomb mold, and allow to sit undisturbed until cool.
- Once cooled, carefully remove the soap from the mold.
Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t mean you have to eat yourself sick. Snack without regrets with these two healthy and delicious recipes. Swap your dairy-laden dips for a creamy avocado and kale hummus or try our cauliflower “wings” that are so good you’ll actually think you’re chowing down on chicken. Now that’s something to cheer about!
Kale and Avocado Hummus
- 2 cups chopped curly kale
- Cook kale in coconut oil until tender
- In a blender combine avocado, lemon, slat and pepper
- Rinse, drain and quarter the artichokes
- Combine avocado cream, kale and artichoke hearts in a bowl and mix well
- Store in an air tight container and can be made 1-2 days ahead of time
- 1 head of cauliflower
- For the batter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup water
- dash of sriracha sauce
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- For the BBQ sauce
- ¼ cup BBQ Sauce
- 3 Tbsp melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Cut the head of cauliflower into pieces
- In a separate, medium sized bowl, combine all the batter ingredients
- Dip each piece of cauliflower into the batter and place on a lined baking sheet
- Bake for about 15 minutes until the batter just hardens
- In another separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce
- Remove cauliflower and brush with the “wing” sauce
- Bake for additional 5 minutes
- Enjoy with celery and blue cheese
Get on the plant-based bandwagon and shed those pounds with this skinny green smoothie! It’s got fiber, enzymes and nutrients to de-bloat and feel your best inside and out! Spirulina provides a full array of micro and macro nutrients including all the essential amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12, magnesium, iron, zinc, healthy fats and vitamin A which elevates your body’s nutritional profile. Chia seeds contain fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which should increase fullness and slow the absorption of food. Take this smoothie on the go in your favorite blender bottle, along with a healthy diet and exercise and you steps closer to a better you!
1 celery stalk
1 cup spinach
½ cup frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana
1 cup almond milk
6 ice cubes
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon spirulina
Juice from one lemon
Combine all the ingredients in your Blendtec and enjoy!
This hearty soup is perfect for cold days. It can fill you up and is packed with a ton of plant-based protein. There are eight grams of protein per cup of quinoa. Chickpeas contain twelve grams per cup. And lastly, a whooping eighteen grams of protein are in a cup of lentils. Now let’s get to the turmeric, it contains compounds curcuminoids found in curcumin which have amazing anti-inflammatory affects. Also known as “queen of spices,” turmeric is a potent antioxidant. Basically, this is one healthy soup.
TIP – You can make this soup on the weekend and portion in mason jars for your lunch for the week!
1 quart of vegetable stock
1 celery stick
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon gram masala
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 cup red lentils
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat coconut oil in a stock pot
- Add celery, onion and carrots cook for 5-7 minutes
- Add turmeric and gram masala and cook for an additional minute
- Add tomatoes, stock and lentils bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes covered
- Lastly, combine with quinoa and chickpeas and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes
Winter is here which means it’s time for filling and hearty soups. And what’s easier than a crock pot dinner? This hearty combo of mushrooms and lentils will make you feel all warm and cozy inside. Mushrooms are a great low-calorie food that contain a variety of nutrients, enzymes and b vitamins. You’re also getting additional b vitamins from lentils along with minerals zinc, magnesium and iron. Add the greens and viola, dinner is done.
1 quart of vegetable stock
2 carrots diced
1 onion diced
¾ cup lentils
1 bay leaf
I cup of mushrooms sliced
2 cups of greens (spinach chard or kale)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté the onion in a pan with olive oil until translucent (about 5 minutes
- Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 5 hours
- When 30 minutes are left of cooking time add your greens
Chia seed is a superfood because let’s face it, it’s pretty super which is also it’s a great food for your little one. Even plain yogurt and squeeze pouches in the grocery store contain over 5 grams of sugar which is something you don’t want your kids to have very often. Well, why not make your own yogurty, pudding that’s gluten and dairy free with zero preservatives. This is so easy to make ahead of time and it can keep in the fridge for up to three days.
FUN FACT – Did you know chia contains five times more calcium than milk, three times more iron than spinach and twice the potassium content of one banana.
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chia seed
1 mashed banana
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
Mash the banana in a small bowl with a fork
Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl
Combine both bowls together in a mason jar
Leave in the refrigerator overnight so the chia can gel
Feed to baby in the morning and top with his or her favorite fruit
After celebrating my son’s first year of life, I was torn about what to make for his infant class at school. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to whip up a batch of sugar-laden cookies or cupcakes for a classroom full of babies. Luckily, I was able to pull a few tricks out of my vegan baking bag which helped me swap out junk ingredients for healthier alternatives.
Did you know that applesauce and bananas make for great egg substitutes? It’s true, they do. And they also add a hint of sweetness, which is important if you’re reducing or cutting out sugar, entirely. After making a few other modifications I was able to create a cookie that passed my test…healthy, homemade and delicious. This recipe is a daycare must-have!
With childhood allergies on the rise, you can deliver a dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, sugar-free cookie that actually tastes good. Plus, any busy mom or dad can whip these up, end-to-end, in less than an hour.
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cup of gluten free rolled oats
2 ripe bananas mashed
¼ cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
¼ cup of organic dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350
- Combine applesauce, cinnamon and vanilla in a small mixing bowl
- In a separate medium sized bowl mash bananas until smooth and creamy consistency
- Add oats, walnuts and cranberries to the mashed bananas
- Mix together the applesauce mixture with the banana mixture and let sit for 10 minutes
- Roll into balls and place on a greased baking sheet
- Flatten tops with a spoon and bake 25-30 minutes
are as nutritious as they are delicious. Cholesterol-free, which makes them heart healthy, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, phosphorus and magnesium – that’s a lot of good stuff. Their signature crunch also helps lend an enjoyable snap to salads, soups and side dishes.
Here’s some additional health benefits:
– These small but mighty seeds contain L-tryptophan which may combat depression and help resolve restless sleep issues.
– A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc and osteoporosis of the hip and spine. Pumpkin seeds are zinc superstars which make them a great weapon against osteoporosis.
– A great source of Vitamin E, pumpkin seeds contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.
The great thing about pumpkin seeds at this time of year is that there is definitely no shortage of them to be found. Instead of tossing out all of those post-carving innards, set them aside in a small bowl or mason jar and try this simple recipe on for size.
Preheat your oven to 300° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the seeds out in an even layer on the baking sheet to guarantee a nice, even roasting. The ideal way to roast the seeds is at a low temperature – to help ensure that they crunch up nicely without burning – for about 20 minutes.
Once you have these bad boys all toasty, you can try some of these delish, sweet and savory flavor combos below.
Pumpkin Seeds 3 Ways
Using 1 cup of previously roasted pumpkin seeds
Salt & Pepper
1 tsp coconut oil
Salt to taste
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp Garlic powder
¼ tsp Basil
¼ tsp Oregano
Lightly dust with some Parmesan
Cinnamon & Sugar
1 tbsp Coconut sugar
¼ tsp Cinnamon
½ tbsp. Olive oil
These delicious sweet potato balls are packed with nutrition and easy for tiny hands to hold to practice hand/eye coordination. The nutty flavored hemp seeds
give baby Omega 3 & 6 plus protein. Flax meal has lignans which, contain both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. And finally the one tablespoon of wheat germ provides your babe with one gram of dietary fiber, five percent of recommended daily value of folic acid and four percent of recommended daily value of phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
1 sweet potato
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 tbsp flax meal
1 tsp hemp seeds for topping
1 tsp cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake for 45-60 minutes
- Once cooled, place in bowl and mash together with remaining ingredients
- Roll in balls and place in a greased baking sheet
- Bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees
Nothing staves off the Fall’s early morning chills like a warm, comforting bowl of oatmeal
. But let’s be honest, it’s hard to get too excited about what is essentially breakfast’s equivalent of a favorite pair of slippers. After all, oatmeal is just some cold flaky oats and some heated water or milk, right? In its purest form, sure. But it doesn’t have to be! Add a little flair to your oatmeal game with some of these healthy add-ins.
The Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal
½ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups of coconut milk or almond milk
2 tbsp of chia seeds
Dash of salt
- Bring milk to a boil
- Stir in oats and reduce heat
- Cook for 10-20 minutes for until desired consistency is achieved
Chia seeds are a must-have add-on for your oatmeal. Plus, it’s an easy way to get your omegas in.
But don’t stop there. Have fun experimenting with some of our favorite sweet and savory flavor profiles:
Goji & Ginger – Goji berries and candied gingers give you a tart and sweet flavor explosion in your mouth.
Cranberry Walnut – dried cranberries and walnut pieces pair perfectly to make your oatmeal taste like a cookie.
Maple Pecan – Add one tablespoon of maple syrup and top off with a sprinkling of finely chopped pecans is perfect for fall.
Mango Coconut – This combo of mango and coconut will give you a taste of the tropics. You can even pretend you’re on a warm sunny beach while you eat it (just kidding.)
Supplements– flax, wheat germ, protein powder, collagen
Butter – ghee, coconut oil or MCT oil
Fall is here so it’s time to celebrate with flavors of pumpkin and spice with this easy autumn dessert. It’s gluten, dairy and peanut free which makes it perfect for a school party or just as a healthy treat.
- In a stand mixer, mix on low speed the following ingredients pumpkin puree, almond butter, vanilla, clove, cinnamon and salt
- Once combined add the quinoa flakes and oats
- Refridgerate for a ½ hour
- Using your hands roll into balls and place on a lined baking sheet. (Mixture will be sticky)
- Keep in fridge or enjoy immediately
- Health Tonic –Add two tablespoons of ACV and lemon juice with one tablespoon of raw honey to eight ounces of green tea. Drink daily for overall good health.
- Hair Rinse – Combine ½ cup of water with ½ cup ACV and add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil. Store in a spray bottle and use three times a week to replace your conditioner. You won’t believe your hair’s new, natural shine. Oh, and we promise it won’t smell like vinegar!
- Facial Toner – Fight acne and clear blackheads with a simple recipe consisting of one cup of witch hazel, one tablespoon ACV add five drops of lavender essential oil. Combine all ingredients, store in a sterile bottle and you’re good to go.
- Garden – Combine one part ACV to eight parts water in a spray bottle to form a potent, yet non-toxic, garden weed killer.
- Produce Wash – For a simple fruit and veggie wash combine two tablespoons of ACV with two tablespoons of lemon juice and one tablespoon of baking soda. So simple, so effective.
- Immunity Booster – Add one tablespoon of ACV to one teaspoon of honey, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and one cup of warm water for an immunity-boosting cold season cider. Drink it as soon as you feel a sore throat coming on, three times daily.
- Salad dressing – Combine two tablespoons of ACV with a half cup of olive oil and one cup of apple cider. Whisk together and add salt, pepper and two tablespoons of honey for a refreshing, autumnal vinaigrette. Keep in a mason jar for several days.
- Sunburn – Heal a sunburn and avoid nasty blisters by pouring some ACV on a damp wash cloth and applying to the affected areas for 3-5 minutes. Let the mixture complete dry and follow that up with a light application of coconut oil. The ACV helps dull the burn while the coconut oil hydrates the skin.
- Detox bath– Add one cup of Epsom salt and one cup of ACV for a relaxing and restorative soak.
- Wart Remover – Put ACV on a cotton ball and cover with a Band-Aid. Repeat every day for a week and save yourself a trip to the dermatologist.
Everyone wants the best for their children. When starting baby’s first foods, the doctor will usually recommend rice cereal but it’s not mandatory. For me, I did the research and learned infants stomachs produce very little amylase, the enzyme needed to break down starch which is why I decided to wait until around ten months to introduce grains. However, five to seven months seems to be a sweet spot where they have enough salivary amylase and if you give breast milk that contains amylase as well. So your little one can break down the starch. Just remember everything in moderation. It’s completely up to you to choose what foods are best for your little one.
So one of the first grains we did was oatmeal since we were beyond rice cereal and it’s less constipating. Here’s a delicious recipe to try that you can make in bulk, keep in the fridge and use for three to four days.
- Bring water to a boil and add oats
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes
- Remove from heat and add milk