Category: Mind & Body

The Lost Art of Artisan Olive Curing

Are you a fan of olives? Do you want to know what the secret is to flavourful and nutrient-dense olives? The way in which they are cured makes all the different to the taste and flavour.

Olive Curing

Olives have to be cured because they’re unpalatably bitter when they come off the tree. If you’ve ever tried to eat them, you’ll know it’s impossible. To be able to eat them, they have to be cured in some manner. The Old World way of doing that is fermentation. A lot of people have departed from the Old World way because of time and money, though it’s making a comeback today.

Best Black Botija Olive

Old World vs New World Olive Curing

Old World fermentation is the secret to flavourful and nutrient-dense olives. The Old World method is simple. The olives are placed into salted spring water and then sealed in large vats so there’s no air. They are left there to ferment for about two or two and a half months. They are then rinsed, pitted and dried.

“Our olives come from a third generation farm in Peru where they just won’t do it any other way.” says Randy Olsen, founder, Zebra Organics. “As far as olives go, this is a lost art. There are a few places in the world that still do it, but these are few and far between.”

Nowadays the most common method of curing olives is with lye, a caustic chemical that you have to rinse out. Lye kills a lot of the good bacteria and also takes away the natural flavour and aroma.

“The reason most companies cure the New World way nowadays is because of time and money. They don’t want to spend the time on fermentation. Curing with lye only takes 12 hours. The Old World way is a huge time commitment. Many companies aren’t doing things because they’re mindful of taste, quality and nutrient value; it’s just money. They want to get the food out there fast and they want to produce huge volumes of it. They also want to keep it on the shelves for extended amounts of time but the irony of that is fermentation actually preserves the olive – or any other food. When you open up our Black Botija Olives, they don’t have to be refrigerated, unlike olives that are cured in lye. They are already preserved,” says Olsen.

Be mindful of the cans on grocery store shelves that say “Black, ripe olives.” These are likely to have been picked as a green olive off the tree and have had all the nutrients cooked out of them with chemicals. They are put into a combination of things like lye and iron salts and other highly caustic and alkaline liquids. (While people talk about being alkaline, being fully alkaline, like being fully acidic, burns though metal). Lye is one of the most alkaline (and dangerous) chemicals on the planet. The olives have to be rinsed multiple times before they’re packaged, so there’s no chance of ingesting the lye. Being extremely corrosive, you can’t get it on your skin or it will burn through it.

Zebra Organics Olives

Our Black Botija Olives offer a robust flavour. Cured in spring water, they are rinsed over a few days, sun dried and pitted. The process is all manual and there is no salt added afterwards. You can enjoy the natural texture, while tasting all the layers of flavour that is preserved via the Old World curing process.

Olives make for a great appetizer. Put these black olives out during a party and they’ll be your most popular snack and are guaranteed to not last long. Olives are also great in pasta salads and pasta sauces.

Give them a try and let us know what you think!

The Benefits of Fermentation

Fermentation has been around as long as man. As long as there’s been life on earth there’s been some form of fermentation. Popular foods like beer, bread, coffee, kimchi and sauerkraut have all been fermented. There’s no food that you can’t ferment.

Fermented foods foster gut health. Anytime you’re eating fermented food, you’re increasing the good bacteria in your system, which we cannot live without. (The bacterium that’s harmful to humans is killed during the fermentation process). As a culture, we’ve become afraid of bacteria. We’re a nation of germophobes. What’s important is that the more good bacteria we have in our bodies, the less chance bad bacteria has to grow and cause disease.

Fermented foods don’t rot or decay and are more flavourful. There’s a lot of research now that has found they regulate our mood, the chemistry of our stomach and our immune system.

Olives for Good Health

Olives have been part of the Mediterranean diet since the Middle Ages and they come with all sorts of health benefits. Did you know all olives are black? There’s no such thing as a green olive tree. (Mind blowing, isn’t it?). Olives are picked at different times of the season, depending on preference. If you let all olives ripen fully they will all be black.

Interview: Dr. Friedlander on Collagen for Bone Health

As world-renowned physician, chiropractor, professional trainer and coach, Dr. Friedlander has a long history in the sports medicine field. We were fortunate to interview him for this blog post. Read on our listen to the interview on YouTube: Dr. Bernd Friedlander Interview – Collagen.Dr. Friedlander has been developing his current roster of products since 1990, which offer a wide range of solutions that promote health and longevity.

Q – What is Collagen?

A – Next to water, collagen is one of the most important structural substances in the body and is a major component of skin, hair, nails, muscles and joints. It is the mechanism that holds the calcium together in our bones and accounts for approximately 30% of all the protein content in the human body. I was one of the very first ones to really start using collagen for my patients in the 1980s.

Q – What led you to introduce a new brand of collagen?

A – After extensively researching the collagen on the market, I was unsatisfied with the quality of the products available and found them to be “watered down.” I conducted extensive research in obtaining the finest sources of collagen, which are largely composed of amino acids. I wanted a form of collagen that was of a very low molecular weight, low density and immediately absorbed without requiring further digestive enzymes to break it down.

My exhaustive search led what is perhaps the purest form of collagen on the market.I realized that one of the most important things in our bones, ligaments, tendons, skin, cell membrane, the lining of our arteries and spinal cord, is collagen. The principal that created all living systems that have a spinal cord and a central nervous system is called the nodo chord and is made of 100% collagen. This is the basic foundation for life.I wanted to make life simple for everybody and make sure they don’t need to take a million pills to find something that works.

Q – What sort of results have people seen from Collagen?

A – Improvement in the health of hair and nails have been reported by customers, as evidenced from using the product for only a relatively short period of time. Collagen has been proven to assist in cartilage recovery, the regeneration of hips and knees, ligaments, tendons, improve muscle definition, function and bone density and also has an anti-aging function.

Who should take collagen?

According to Dr. Friedlander, he has changed the lives of individuals from all walks of life. From bodybuilders, to professional athletes, to the frail, the elderly, exceptional results have been achieved from Dr. Friedlander’s work. Many people have said that they feel that they have had both short and long-term benefits from regular use of collagen.Dr. Friedlander has shared his products with world-class athletes; from teams that include the Raiders, Rams, Lakers, as well as athletes from across the globe that would travel great distances to seek his professional advice. Patients from a world-class sports facility located in Los Angeles were referred to Dr. Friedlander and he was able to assist in the recovery of some athletes without surgery.

Types of Collagen

Different types of Collagen and musculoskeletal supplements are available in store, depending on the results you are trying to achieve. Here are some options to consider when it comes to musculoskeletal health.

Collagen Peptide (powder) works to nourish your cells with the essential nutrition that may be lacking in the average diet.  It is anti-inflammatory, promotes wound healing, supports bone density, immune function, suppresses inflammation, repair/regeneration of ligaments, bones, tendons, skin.  Promotes gut function.

Collagen with amino acids (powder) The addition of amino acids promotes
anti-oxidant benefit, supports brain function, detoxification, wound healing and gut inflammation.

High performance coconut collagen – a proprietary formulation of collagen + colostrum + coconut milk powder and 22 vitamins and minerals. Promotes increased energy, wound healing, recovery, regeneration, and inflammation. This product was developed for those individuals that want a one stop nutritional product.  Excellent for the active individuals such as moms on the go as well as sports enthusiasts.

Ultra Blend Probiotic – supports immune function, gut inflammation, assimilation/absorption of foods and nutrients and weight loss.Note: The Team at Zebra Organics has experienced a number of products over the years but few standouts like Dr. Friedlander’s Ultra Blend probiotic powder. It sells with consistent satisfaction and enthusiasm from our customers.

MCT Oil – extracted from coconut oil, MCT oil is a fat that burns fat. Supports energy, brain function, fat burning function.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Ginseng | Zebra Organics

5 Adaptogens to Help Relieve Stress

Also known as adaptogenic herbs, adaptogens are a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress.

The idea of plants with health-enhancing properties has been around for thousands of years. Although the term “adaptogen” was coined in the 1940s, many of the herbs we know as adaptogens today were first used many generations ago in Ayurveda (one of the world’s oldest medical systems, originating in India) and in traditional Chinese medicine.

These plants have adapted themselves in nature over time. They are grown in hot climates, cold climates, high elevations and low elevations and thus that’s how they get their name.

1. Tocos (Rice Bran Solubles) 

What it is: Derived from brown rice, Tocos is a powder that has a vanilla-like flavour. Light and fluffy, it is a delicious addition to smoothies.

How it works: Tocos is “skin food.” It fosters glowing skin and healthy hair. Rich in Vitamin E, Tocos helps support a health and beauty.

Read more about it: A Powerful Lesser-known Superfood

Ginseng adaptogens | Zebra Organics
Ginseng in its raw form. Photo by Forest Farming via Flickr

2. Ginseng

What it is: Ginseng is a root. It is one of the most well-known medicinal herbs in the world and is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.

How it works: Ginseng contains an array of health-promoting properties, from preventing and treating colds, to diabetes, an upset stomach, to poor circulation and memory problems. From improving concentration to immune function, the list goes on. The University of California will tell you more.

Maca - adaptogens | Zebra Organics
Raw, organic Maca powder

3. Maca

What it is: Maca is a root that is a relative of the potato. It is also a Peruvian superfood.

How it works: Maca powder is made from concentrated fresh maca roots. It enhances strength, endurance, fertility, libido and helps the body cope with stress.

It’s a great addition to your smoothie.

4. Ashwagandha (also known as Indian Ginseng)

What it is: Ashwagadha is derived from the root of the plant, which is the most potent part.

How it works: Well known in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha promotes vigor and strength, tonifies the immune system and reduces the effects of mental, physical and emotional stress.

View a video of the benefits.

5. He Shou Wu

What it is: Root

How it works: He Shou Wu is believed to do many different things; including supporting longevity, anti-aging, blood-building, beauty and body rejuvenation. In edition, it may help tonify and nourish the blood, hair, skin, nervous system, sexual center, spirit and help to reduce cholesterol. It may support endocrine glands, improved stamina, cold resistance, red blood cell production, and immune function and antioxidant activity.

Try this morning adaptogen elixir.

Sun Potion’s He Shou Wu is wildcrafted in the “Di Tao” Region of Origin in China. It’s so finely ground, that it dissolves nicely in liquids. Mix with Ashwaganda for a similar taste to coffee.

Sprouted Organic Food | Zebra Organics

Interview with Joshua, Founder of Living Intentions

This week we spoke with Joshua McHugh, founder of Living Intentions, a raw food company based in California. We wanted to learn more and find out what they’re up to.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, Living Intentions were among the early pioneers of the modern sprouted food movement. Over a decade ago Joshua began offering sprouted, activated foods under his Living Intentions brand. He has stayed true to his name, in both his intent to offer clean, nutrient-rich, excellent tasting nuts and seeds and to assure his customers are getting living foods via their sprouting/activation techniques.

Living Intentions | Organic Food, California

What inspired you to start the company?

Many things! I really wanted to start a food company creating innovative snacks that were healthier than the alternative out there. This really kept me on the forefront of sourcing high-quality unique ingredients and herbal extracts from other functional foods.

What are the main benefits of a raw food diet? Would you encourage everyone to try it?

I would recommend anybody try it as part of a balanced lifestyle, I really preach the 80/20 rule: 80% raw, 20% cooked. It’s all about the enzymes. Enzymes create a pathway for the body to rejuvenate and heal.

What product can you not live without?

Two items, Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds and our new Superfood Popcorn.

Tell us how you do what you do in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Well first off, 99% of the ingredients we source are organic. We also source “transitional almonds”. “Transitional” is the process from conventional to organic and all farming is done in accordance to organic methods. We have helped a handful of farms move from a conventional crop to an organic crop over the last 15 years.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced since you launched the company? 

Business is a roller coaster, and things are coming at you from all angles. I’m not sure if there is one specific challenge, however, you just have to take it as it comes and work your way through the process of learning.

Who (or what) inspires you?

I am inspired by innovation. Whether it’s food music or anything else I feel like being at the forefront of any movement takes a lot of courage, strength and perseverance. That’s what inspires me.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone that wants to make healthy food choices?

The best advice is actually really simple but under utilized in today’s crazy world. Feel your food! Feel what you’re putting in your body, as it knows what’s good for you and if you can learn to listen to it, you will be a super healthy person.

“We’ve been selling Living Intentions since Zebra Organics was founded in 2007. I first tried them an Erewhon Natural Foods in LA, when they first came out over 10 years ago, and fell in love with the flavors and quality” – Randy Olsen, founder of Zebra Organics.

“I admire that Joshua and his company always have, and continue to, strive to educate people on the value of sprouted / activated / raw / living foods and the nutrient / health value of such foods.”

View our favourite products by Living Intentions here.

Learn more about sprouted foods.

Tocos | Zebra Organics Superfood

A Powerful Lesser-known Superfood

If you’ve never heard of Tocos, we’re about to open your eyes to this lesser-known superfood. Move over maca and anandamide (and any other powders and elixirs you may have in your cupboards); it’s time to make way for this nutrient powerhouse of rice bran.

The scoop on Tocos

Tocos, also referred to as tocotrienols, contains protein, minerals, vitamins and healthy fatty acids. It is derived from organically grown brown rice. (A grain of rice consists of three parts; the endosperm and the rice germ and rice bran).

Fun fact: Commercial white rice lacks the germ and the brain. They are removed from white rice to prolong shelf life.  

Rice bran is the nutritional powerhouse of the rice grain. Its nutritional density is quite remarkable. It is a super rich source of natural Vitamin E. Research suggests that Vitamin E has an array of health benefits. First and foremost, it is an antioxidant that helps to maintain healthy skin. It also helps protect against cancer and other chronic diseases (2010 study). Studies suggest that higher consumption of Vitamin E decreases the chance of developing heart disease.

More research is required to determine the complete role of Tocos.

Why you should try it

Tocos adds a creaminess and frothiness to drinks. It has a delicious vanilla flavour, similar to vanilla ice-cream. It’s like eating some kind of rich, natural protein mix.

How to use it

We recommend adding 1-2 tbsp to the potion of your choice. Our favourite way to use Tocos is to blend it into smoothies. It can be sprinkled on desserts, lattes, yogurt and cereal, and added to nut butters. It can also be used to make face masks with shea butter and raw honey. Try combining it with spirulina, acai berries and chia seeds for a great assortment of nutrients to support your health.

Remember to use a high-quality, raw form such as Rice Bran Solubles Tocotrienols.

Almonds | Brain food

Top 10 Foods to Fuel the Brain

We know it’s important to eat well to keep our bodies in shape but are we forgetting about our minds?

Our diet can impact our mood, concentration and memory. Keep your precious brain functioning at its best with these top ten foods for brain health. After all, it’s the brain that controls most of our body’s activities so it’s important we feed it the right fuel.

Blueberries | Brain food

1. Blueberries

Strong scientific evidence exists that suggests that blueberries (not to mention blackberries and strawberries as well) have positive effects on the brain and may even help prevent memory loss. Berries are packed with antioxidants, which aid brain function by simulating blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

Salmon | Brain Food

2. Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is best known for its high protein and Omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 oils are important for an array of bodily functions, from digestion and fertility, to muscle activity and brain development.

Farmed salmon is a good alternative is wild salmon isn’t available, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Almonds | Brain food

3. Almonds

Much like salmon, almonds are high in omega-3 fatty acid brain fuel. They also contain vitamin E that slows down the aging of brain cells that impact memory. A study in the American Journal of Nutrition found that almonds assist with improving cognitive dysfunctions in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Broccoli | Brain Food

4. Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as Vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene. Studies have shown broccoli and some plant-based foods may help to slow cognitive degeneration. In recent years, Vitamin K has been seen to fight oxidative stress and inflammation related to Alzheimer’s disease. Data also exists that suggests it has the capacity to influence psychomotor behaviour and cognition.

Leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale also contain the same nutrients and can fuel the brain in a similar way.

Walnuts | Brain food | Zebra Organics Health Food

5. Walnuts

Studies have proven that cognitive function is greater in adults that consume walnuts. Snacking on walnuts or tossing them into a salad or onto cereal are easy ways to include them in your diet for improved memory, concentration and information processing. Walnuts contain more antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin E than any other nut! They are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids that support brain health.

Fun fact: Walnuts are the same shape as the brain! 

Avocado | Brain Food

6. Avocado 

A recent study by Tuffs University in 2017 found that avocado consumption in older adults increases a pigment in the brain that relates to better cognition. The research revealed that adults aged 50 and over that ate one fresh avocado a day for six months experienced improved working memory and problem-solving skills.

Research also shows that the high levels of monosaturated fats may help keep nerve cells in the brain healthy by improving blood flow.

Herb infused chocolate | Zebra Organics

7. Dark Chocolate

Flavonols, a type of antioxidant in cocoa, can help to improve blood flow to the brain and heart. It’s also found in apples, wine and certain types of berries and vegetables.

Chocolate lovers should remember that dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate you can eat but it should be eaten in moderation. Here’s how it compares to milk chocolate.

Turmeric spice | Brain food | Healthy Living

8. Turmeric

Studies have proven that turmeric, a herb in the ginger family, aids with brain regeneration, helping to enhance memory. Widely grown in the tropics of Asia, turmeric has also been proven to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by eliminating a plaque buildup in the brain.

Zebra Organics Coconut Oil

9. Coconut Oil

There is evidence to suggest that coconut oil can help people suffering of dementia to regain their cognitive function. It is important to note that more research is required to determine whether coconut oil is able to improve cognitive function in normal brains.

(Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) that break down into ketones. Ketones are transported to the brain when there’s no glucose for it to burn, but only in emergencies will the brain actually use ketones as an energy source).

Coconut oil is a healthy fat with an array of health benefits and can be used in lots of different ways. Read about them here.

Green Tea | Zebra Organics

10. Green Tea

Green tea is well known for its powerful effects on the body. When it comes to brain health, the large amount of caffeine naturally present in green tea has been found to “improve performance on long-duration cognitive tasks” (National Institute of Health).

A Singapore study found that regular tea drinkers (those who drank a cup to three or more cups a day) reaped the most benefits in terms of brain health.

Learn about our top 5 herbal teas here.

We recommend making a conscious effort to include these foods in your diet. This is important not just for brain health, but because they’re packed with a whole lot of nutritious goodness.

herbal tea, healthy beverage

Top 5 Classic & Exotic Herbal Teas

Need a pick-me-up? Turn the kettle on and reach for your favourite teacup. Tea is much better for you than sodas, juices and cream or sugar-loaded coffee. A hot cup of herbal tea can wake you in the morning and relax you in the evening.

Herbal tea comes with a wide range health benefits. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, can soothe an upset stomach and insomnia and can put a troubled mind at ease. A steaming cup of herbal tea can help to relieve nausea, bloating and an array of common ailments.

Herbal tea doesn’t come from a specific plant but is rather an infusion of leaves, seeds, roots or bark that are extracted in hot water. Consuming herbal teas means were are receiving the benefits of plants in digestible form.

To ensure that you are reaping the full benefits of your tea of choice, be sure to follow the steeping directions. Sometimes steeping for 10 to 15 minutes is required to bring out all the healthful properties. Also note the temperature indicated on the tea box – with some green teas, the water should be cooler than boiling temperature.

While there are many different types of herbal tea, these are some of our favourites.

yerba mate herbal tea | healthy

1.Yerba Maté 

This traditional South American tea is brewed from the leaves of a flowering tree and is known as nature’s original energy tonic. Nutritious and energizing, it contains nearly twice the amount of antioxidants compared to green tea. It’s also rich in B vitamins and minerals that help to combat stress.

This tea is traditionally consumed in a mate gourd with a bombilla straw. Look for organic yerba mate for a smooth, clean flavour.

herbal tea, healthy beverage

2.Ginger and Lemon

Known for strengthening your immunity, ginger and lemon tea is one of the best teas you can have. It’s been used for thousands of years to help treat colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines and hypertension. Ginger is now is one of the most popular dietary condiments in the world (Surh et al. 1999).

Organic Green Tea | Healthy Living | Zebra Organics


3.Green Tea

If you aren’t drinking green tea yet, it’s time to start now. Packed with antioxidants that help protect against cell damage, research has established that green tea features cancer-fighting, happiness-boosting and brain-saving properties. Having a cup first thing in the morning will enhance mental alertness. Green tea can be enjoyed in many ways, from matcha green tea lattes, to tea bags, or class loose-leaf versions. Green tea is most beneficial if it is steeped at a warm, not boiling, temperature.

Douglas Fir Spring Tip Tea by Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


4.Douglas Fir Spring Tip

Delight your senses with flavours of bright citrus, herbal mid-tones and earthly base accents. Harvested from the Douglas Fir tree native to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, this tree is second in size to the two California Sequoia species and grows to enormous proportions. It’s important to ensure that you are purchasing a sustainable product when it comes to Douglas Fir Spring Tip tea. Try this tea by Juniper Ridge. It is a dedicated steward of the wild lands where they ethically and sustainably source the raw ingredients that go into this tea and all their products.

We supports companies that seek to build a harmonious relationship with the land, as well as creating economically viable environmentally friendly organizations.

White Sage and Wild Mint Tea, Juniper Ridge | Zebra Organics


5.White Sage and Wild mint

Suffering from stress? This tea will help put you back into the right frame of mind. This is a cozy, complex tea that tastes as good as it smells – its scent is calming and reminiscent of winter. Its top notes are refreshing mint, herbal mid-tones and resinous base accents. Harvested from the Mojave dessert in California and Nevada, the longer you steep this tea, the more earthy tones will be uncovered.

Juniper Ridge has gone above and beyond to create tea that captures the heart and spirit of nature. Juniper Ridge products are truly unique, sourced from remote areas of the west coast of the United States. These are relatively untouched environments where plants thrive and are places we may never get to visit but we can at least experience their exquisite scents.

Hydration, Fruits, Vegetables, Healthy Diet

Top Hydrating Fruits & Vegetables

Sometimes drinking your recommended daily intake of water can seem daunting. On average, approximately 20 per cent of our daily water intake comes from solid foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Many vegetables that are more than 90 per cent water are low in calories and are easy to digest, making them a great idea for a pre-work out snack.

According to research carried out by the University of Aberdeen Medical School in Scotland, water-rich fruit and vegetables may hydrate our bodies twice as effectively as a glass of water.

Research suggests that they may be more hydrating than some isotonic sports drinks, due to their content of mineral salts, natural sugars, amino acids and vitamins lost during exercise.

“To be properly hydrated, you need to replace fluid lost from the body with one that’s similar to the body’s natural composition,”
– Dr Susan Shirreffs, exercise physiologist and hydration expert at Loughborough University.

“Watery fruit and vegetables often contain levels of minerals and sugar that mirror this, so they can hydrate you more effectively than water alone.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Cucumber
Water content: 96.7%

Cucumber has the highest water content of any solid food. Great in salads or served with hommus, it can be blended with yogurt, mint and ice cubes to make a refreshing and delicious chilled soup. A cucumber can produce similar hydration levels to twice the volume of water with the bonus of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Iceberg lettuce
Water content: 95.6%

Although iceberg lettuce lacks the fibre, folate and vitamin K nutrients found in darker greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce, it has the highest water content of any lettuce. Instead of adding it to a sandwich, it can be used as a wrap for tacos and burgers.

Celery
Water content: 94.4%

Celery’s high water content helps neutralize stomach acid and it is commonly recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux. White containing folate and vitamins A, C and K, celery’s fiber content helps you feel full and curbs your appetite.

Radishes
Water content: 95.3%

Radishes are filled with catechin, an antioxidant that is also found in green tea. They spicey-sweet flavour of radishes can be enjoyed by slicing them up and tossing them with other ingredients in a summer salad.

Tomatoes 
Water content: 94.5%

An excellent hydrating snack that is well-paired with basil and mozzarella as an appetizer.

Watermelon
Water content: 91.5%

Watermelon is one of the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Containing essential hydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, watermelon is also high in vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene, which helps protect the body from UV light.

Spinach
Water content: 91.4%

Raw spinach leaves are rich in lutein, potassium, fiber and folate. One cup of spinach will give you 15 per cent of your daily vitamin E intake, an antioxidant that fights damaging free radical molecules.

Other fruits and vegetables to note are the star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, baby carrots, green peppers, cauliflower and cantaloupe, which are all more than 90 per cent water.

Beans, healthy food

Top 10 Sources of Plant Protein

What is Plant Protein?

By now, we’re all getting used to the idea of protein coming from sources other than meat. It’s found in legumes, vegetables and whole grains and we don’t have to be vegan to prefer it.

Without reeling off big words in physiology, plant protein is just that: protein from plants. Your body doesn’t mind whether you nourish it with protein from steak or nuts, so you’re not losing anything by choosing plant protein. In fact, by reducing your meat intake, you are lowering your risk of heart disease and you will get the satisfactory feeling of knowing you ate your veggies. You’re choosing a sustainable and healthy option!

“I think that the U.S. is one of several developed countries that have just made it seem like protein is so pivotal to our health when in other countries their base diet is plant protein, beans and grains. I think it’s just evolved to be a cultural thing”
~ Dr. Michael Greger, internationally-recognized lecturer and physician

You do not need to combine a plant-based protein with a meat protein for it to become a “complete protein.” This is a myth. Plant protein is made up of essential amino acids, which our bodies can’t produce so they must come from our diet. All essential amino acids come from plants.

Top 5 Sources of Plant Protein

If there’s one thing you take from this post, is should be which foods are rich in plant protein. Dr. Leslie, registered dietitian and instructor at University of Hawaii, explains ideal sources of plant proteins:

“Any type of whole grain, beans (including tofu and edamame and soy milk), and nuts (including peanut butter). In terms of vegetables – primarily from the dark green leafy vegetables, so broccoli, spinach, kale, all of those have protein and a lot of people don’t realize that.”

Here’s our Top 10 List:

(1) Lentils

Lentils are affordable and easy to cook. From soups to curries and salads, lentils are a versatile ingredient that make for a great meat substitute.

Beans, healthy food

(2) Beans

Beans, especially soy beans, are a great source of protein. Beans are great for salads, tacos, chillies, or simply baked and seasoned on their own. If you buy dried black beans, remember to soak them for a few hours minimum, and then simmer them over heat before eating them. 

Source: Ruby Ran/Flickr

(3) Hemp Hearts

Hemp hearts have a sweet and nutty flavour. Sprinkle them on salads and cereal, add them to smoothies and baked goods and blend into stews and soups to thicken.

chia seeds, healthy food

(4) Chia Seeds

Similar to hemp hearts, chia seeds have a mild natty flavour. Sprinkle them on cereal, sauces, vegetables, yogurt or rice dishes. Add them to a glass of water and they will expand and create a gel-like texture.

quinoa salad, healthy grain, healthy food

(5) Quinoa

Quinoa is similar to couscous and is as versatile as rice. It can be served as a side dish with butter or oil, salt and pepper or other seasonings. It goes very well in veggie burgers, tossed in salads or mixed into stews. If you’re looking for a warm, hearty, flavourful breakfast on a cold day, you can’t go past a quinoa breakfast bowl. Trying mixing quinoa with dried or fresh fruit, cinnamon, almond or coconut milk and honey.

Sesame seeds, plant protein, healthy food

(6) Seeds

Protein-rich seeds include hemp, flax, chia, sesame and sunflower. Sprinkle seeds on salads and mix them into desserts and snacks.

Nuts for protein, healthy food

(7) Nuts

Protein-rich nuts include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios and brazil nuts. Nuts can be blended into smoothies, mixed into salads, yogurt and can be enjoyed on their own as a snack.

edamame, vegetable protein, healthy food

(8) Edamame

If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant you’ve probably enjoyed edamame as a snack. Edamame are fresh green soybeans. To cook edamame that’s still in the pod, boil the pods in water with some salt, or steam them. They can be eaten hot or cold and can be added to risottos, stir frys or salads.

chickpeas, healthy legume, protein rich

(9) Chickpeas

Chickpeas are incredibly versatile. You can eat them hot or cold, canned or dried. They can be roasted and added to salads, used as a substitute for croutons in soup, or simply seasoned with salt and eaten on their own. They are best known for being turned into hummus.

tofu, protein rich, healthy food, plants

(10) Tofu

Derived from soya, tofu is a staple ingredient in Chinese and Thai cooking. Tofu is an excellent source of not only protein but amino acids, iron and calcium. It’s best enjoyed stir fried or in noodle bowls.


How much is enough?

You don’t have to spend too much time worrying about your protein consumption, provided you eat an array of grains and vegetables.

According to Harvard Medical School, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That is the bare minimum you need to eat to prevent getting sick. This is calculated by: Weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended daily protein intake (grams).

A sedentary young woman that weighs 155 pounds should be consuming 56 grams of protein per day.

Further reading:

If you’re curious about the risks associated with animal proteins such as meat and dairy, this article by the the University of Hawaii will be of interest to you.

Herb infused chocolate | Zebra Organics

Why you Need to try Herb-Infused Chocolate

Are you a chocolate lover looking to take your passion to the next level? Herb-infused chocolate will take you there. Prepare your palate for flavourful bliss with the combination of herbs and chocolate. For the first-timers out there that haven’t tried this type of chocolate before, here’s why you should:

  • It’s delicious: herbs in chocolate have a mild and balanced flavor and enhance the chocolate.
  • It has a unique flavor: Compared to milk, white and dark chocolate varieties, herb-infused chocolate will leave a unique lingering flavor on your palate. Mint may be one of the most pronounced flavours you will find, but there are many different types available.
  • It contains more nutrients: adding herbs, means adding nutrients. Learn more. Don’t forget that the right kind of chocolate is good for you. Read our blog post to learn more: 7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Chocolate.

Herbivore, a farm run by Gabrielle Gaul on the outskirts of Palm Springs, supplies us with fresh-cut organic aloe leaves that are harvested on a weekly basis, as well as herb-infused chocolate.

Located on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, the farm grows an array of herbs, including rosemary, mint and basil, as well as aloe. Once harvested, the herbs are slow-dried for 5-7 days (depending on their moisture content) to preserve and enhance their flavors. In this day and age, slow drying herbs is a lost art. Most big companies abandoned this process a long time ago and replaced it with rapid heat drying, to cut costs. This has negative side-effects, as it results in dried herbs that are almost devoid of taste and nutrients – not the case with Gabrielle’s herbs. Once they are fully dried, they are blended into the chocolate mix.

One of the things that sets Gabrielle’s organic herb farm apart from most others, is her clean, chemical-free, loving growing methods in this pristine high desert area where GMO is not even a thought.

Herbivore-Gabby

We asked Gabrielle a few questions:

What’s your favorite chocolate flavor, or would it be more accurate to say one of your favorites?

My favorite is Salted Pecan & Sage. I’ve always had a thing for the sweet / salty combo.

What made you think of making herb-infused chocolate?  How did you come up with the idea?

The idea struck me when I had a chocolate craving at the farmer’s market. I thought, “I wish someone sold chocolate here… Hey! I could do that!” When I pitched the idea to my market managers, we agreed that it would be have to be a healthy artisan chocolate, utilising the herbs from my farm.

What do you love about the farming and chocolate making, and your business in general?

There are so many things I love about my business. It’s difficult to name just one. To plant a seed, care for it, harvest it and then share it is very satisfying. To share a creation of your own is very satisfying. Working with nature on a small scale, rather than mass producing is very satisfying. To educate folks on the difference between real food and processed gunk is satisfying. Not promoting GMOs, waste, animal cruelty or harm to the environment is very satisfying. Working WITH nature, rather than trying to improve upon it, is the most satisfying.

Zebra Organics was the first ever to give Gabrielle and Herbivore a platform to sell her products, outside of the local farmers market, where we met her many years ago. We are proud to support our friend and passionate artisan farmer/chocolatier Gab and her efforts to produce a quality of chocolate that is rarely seen these days. Her chocolates are a real treat, rich with flavor and texture that surpasses gourmet expectations.

We are happy to help support Gabrielle and Herbivore by bringing her chocolates to your door. Order Herbivore Organic Chocolates from zebraorganics.com

Herb infused chocolate