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Organic California Travel Guide

Organic California Travel Guide

So excited to share my Organic California Travel Guide with you!  If you’ve been following me then you know I took a 2 week trip throughout California hitting up some of the best organic food, and eco resorts.  California has it all when it comes to living out a natural lifestyle.  Their produce is some of the best, the ocean is always a welcome calming playground and when it comes to eating out they’ve got the natural and organic menus down to a science.  Oh and they have loads of sunshine!

I wanted to outline all my favorites after traveling there for so many years and also share some of my favorite resorts and lodging accommodations with you.  Whether you’re traveling with your family, a significant other or just by yourself, I’ve got something for everyone.

I’ll be sharing my favorite places by city so you’ll know exactly where to find them.  California is one place where any organic and natural traveler can have their cake and eat it too!  They have a little of everything.  You will be sure to have the best time and come back refreshed and with a full belly.

 

Laguna Beach organic

There’s nothing like playing at the beach in your dress!

 

Laguna Beach, California

I mean what’s not to love about Laguna Beach?  Really nothing.  It’s the quintessential little beach town.  Standing on one of the highest points it almost looks like a little Italian coastal village.  The shops are all quaint and easy to access, as well as the beach area.  There’s a playground on the beach where the kids can play, volleyball games taking place and lots of sunbathing.  Everyone who lives there seems to loves it.  It feels like you step back in time a little to a slower pace.  I love how walkable the little city is.  Bottom line, if you haven’t been then you need to go- it won’t disappoint.

We had the pleasure of staying at one of the finest resorts there.  It was truly a little getaway even from the hustle and bustle of Laguna Beach.  I wanted to share my full experience as this resort is one of kind and truly special, especially when it comes to sustainability.

 

The Ranch At Laguna Beach Review

Sharing my full experience staying at The Ranch At Laguna Beach.

 

The Ranch At Laguna Beach

Check out the video below to take a peek inside The Ranch!

Where do I even begin with this gem?  It was such a treat to stay here.  If you want to feel completely relaxed, away from it all, yet still close to the action- The Ranch At Laguna Beach is it.  You feel completely carried away into the resort’s slower chill pace.  It’s between the canyon and the beach.  You wake up to birds chirping and golf games happening.  You can easily get right to the heart of Laguna Beach quickly, but it feels nice to be away from it all as well.

Trust me, you won’t get bored.  There’s a salt water pool- yes salt water, I was ecstatic to find this out.  Also, Sycamore Spa complete with facials, massage, wraps, scrubs and a co-ed infrared sauna.  You can easily get a golf cart lift to the beach where you can enjoy dining at their Lost Pier Cafe.  Of course the Ben Brown’s 9 hole golf course can keep you busy.  And don’t you worry about food, there is plenty to go around at The Ranch.  From their Harvest restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as has a full bar.  If you’re wanting a more casual feel Ben’s Pantry is a great pick, or even grab some food in your room through in room dining.

 

The Ranch At Laguna Beach

We stayed in one of the cottage two bedroom suites.

 

I love how they have Spring on The Porch Mondays- Saturdays at The Ranch.  Live music is played, corn hole games are on and the fire pits are going with toasty specials.  It feels like grown up glamping.  Plus, you can stargaze at night with their master astronomer. In between all the activities I would recommend just pulling out your favorite book and settling down on your resort rooms porch into a rocking chair- now that’s the good life!  Check out all the activities they offer here.

Of course you know I’m always looking for resorts taking it to the next level when it comes to sustainability and The Ranch At Laguna Beach is a cut above.  I was so impressed with all the efforts they take to make this resort eco friendly.  I had the pleasure of getting a tour of The Ranch and seeing their sustainability practices in action.  There are a few I wanted to highlight.

 

There Ranch At Laguna Beach

The organic gardens on site is one of my favorite things about the resort!

 

  • Glass Bottles Repurposed- Every glass bottle on The Ranch is crushed on site into sand and used to fill bunkers on the golf course, filtration in the pool and pavement repairs.  The Ranch is the first resort in America to have a GLSand glass-bottle crusher on site.  It is a compact machine that creates sand like product from glass bottles.  Pretty cool if you ask me!
  • New Eco Water System- The Ranch also installed a new water system in 2015 that uses reclaimed water for watering the resort grounds, including gold course.  This new system will save 21.2 million gallons of water annually.
  • Organic Garden- 1/2 an acre of land is dedicated to organic gardening at The Ranch.  The produce is then used in The Harvest Restaurant by the Chef for seasonal specials, seasonal drinks and for testing new recipes.  They also practice composting as much as they can.  I got a full tour of the garden and it was amazing!  Truly taking farm to table to the next level.
  • National Geographic Unique Lodges Of The World- The Ranch is the first hotel in California to be in The National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.  It is one of only 6 members in the United States alone to hold this title. Such an honor considering the criteria for receiving this recognition is showing a dedication to sustainability, unique local experiences, and superior service and hospitality.
  • Paper Staws- In an effort to reduce plastic use, The Ranch only offers paper straws for use with their partnership with National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.
  • Room Keys- Their room keys are so cool!  As a designer himself that was one of the first things my husband noticed.  Instead of plastic key cards, they are made wooden and bamboo circles.  You can keep them as a souvenir or return to the front desk.  If they do get thrown away they will just dissolve into the soil.  The Ranch estimates that around 25,000 less plastic key cards will not go into a landfill because of this small change.

 

*Check out all of The Ranch’s sustainability practices here.

 

Organic California Guide

The bathrooms were my fave!

 

I can’t forget the rooms.  They are as luxe and relaxing as you would imagine.  I had my husband and two girls with me so we stayed in the two bedroom canyon suite.  It was perfect.  It has a living area downstairs with outside porch and bathroom. Then you go upstairs and you have two bedrooms and a bathroom.  It can technically sleep six since the sofa downstairs pulls out into a bed.  The rooms upstairs are roomy and the closest spacious.  We had more than enough room with our little family.  The beds felt so soft, I slept like a baby.

One of the bedrooms upstairs had a deck off of it as well, complete with rocking chairs.  The bathroom was complete with two sinks and ample room.  Plenty of room for even a larger family.  I loved knowing we could go out and enjoy the activities, yet come back and retreat to our room if we wanted.  A true resort feel.  Check out all their accommodations here! 

If you’re in the Laguna Beach area and you’re wondering where to stay- wonder no more.   The Ranch At Laguna Beach has it all.  It is truly a sustainable resort, leading the way with their efforts.  Even though their sustainability is a hallmark for them, every other detail doesn’t go unnoticed.  You still feel like you’re staying in complete luxury.  This definitely won’t be my last stay at The Ranch, already planning a girl’s trip with my sisters!

Check out The Ranch At Laguna Beach here and book your stay! 

 

hiveXO

These gluten free and dairy free ice cream sandwiches from hiveXO were off the hook!

 

hiveXO-

A lot of you had recommended this place to me and let’s just say it did not disappoint.  They offer a ton of dairy and gluten free treats that are absolutely delicious.  I got two gluten free chocolate chip cookies between some coconut ice-cream.  Let’s just say it was a match made in ice cream sandwich heaven!  They also list all the ingredients on the label!  Pretty cool to see exactly what you’re eating.  All the ingredients are organic too!  Trust me, you need to go there.  They don’t really have a website, I had just found them on Yelp.  Check them out here!

Some other recs that we didn’t get a chance to try out but people recommended to us are:

  • The Stand Natural Foods
  • Babette’s Newport Beach- not right in Laguna but super close

 

Newport Beach

 

I love Newport Beach!  It has the ocean, fun restraints, good shopping and lots of good food.  I love the walking/biking path along the ocean.  Renting bikes there and riding along that path is seriously therapy in itself.  Feels so good.  The beach is always hopping with activity.  I love how you can walk to a lot of things too.  If you get the chance to go, do it!

Hyatt Regency Newport Beach-

 

We stayed here our first night in Southern California.  I was a little disappointed in the room size.  It felt really small and just not as nice as the photos had shown online.  I’ve learned that internet photos are very deceiving.  I did mention to you on my stories that we were bummed.  My hubs actually went and spoke with them and they ended up giving us a different room in the main hotel.  It was much roomier and the door didn’t hit the bed when you opened it.

I’m not one to complain but the hotel wasn’t cheap by any means and typically when I book a Hyatt I think I’m going to be getting pretty good quality.  Anyways, they were very sweet and accommodating about it all and even comped our parking.  I would stay there again if we were staying in the main building.  The pool was amazing and girls didn’t want to leave it.  It has a slide and water fountains for them to play in.  I also love the location.  It’s close to a lot of fun shopping and restaurants.  Check it out here!

 

True Food Kitchen

I got the seasonal chicken gluten free wrap from True Food Kitchen- so good!

 

True Food Kitchen-

I’ve gone to this True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach more times than I can count.  It’s always fun because you can sit outside.  If you haven’t been to a True Food Kitchen you need to go!  This is the holy grail of organic, local, real food.   Dr. Andrew Weil founded True Food Kitchen.  His desire was that food should make you feel better not worse.  They offer gluten free, organic, vegetarian, vegan- really however you want it.  They believe in the anti-inflammatory diet and eating food that truly nourishes the body.  I love their whole mission!  They have so many good options there.  A few of my favorites are: Herb Hummus, Kale Guacamole, Charred Cauliflower, Ancient Grains Bowl, Inside Out Quinoa Burger, Grass-fed Burger, Spaghetti Squash Casserole, and Grass-fed Steak Tacos.  For drinks I love their Kale Aide and Original Ginger “O.G.”- so much goodness there!  Check it out here.

 

Organic Newport Food

The organic açaí bowls at SEJUICED were nothing short of delicious.

 

SEJUICED-

This is a new gem I stumbled upon this last trip.  It is this superfood cafe that is just over the top!  Their standards are amazing, organic, non-GMO, plant based, and dairy free.  They offer smoothies, smoothie bowls, superfood lattes, vegan treats, cold pressed juices, and salad bowls.  I basically had to restrain myself from trying one of everything!  We got the Warrior smoothie bowls and they were delicious.  FYI you could definitely share it with someone, they are huge.  We also got the blue mojo cold pressed juice and raw almond joy bar.  They did not disappoint.  If you have a chance to go there, do it!  Check it out here.

 

Cafe Gratitude

The Black Bean Burger on a gluten free bun never disappoints.

 

Cafe Gratitude-

This is a staple I always go to when I’m in Newport Beach.  It’s an all vegan farm to table restaurant.  Side note they’re decor is always on point and so chic.  Every time I go I want to order something new.  I’m not vegan but I do appreciate eating vegan on occasion and the variety of flavors they offer.  If you can go for brunch you should make it happen- so good!  A couple items I love our their guacamole, roasted brussel sprouts, Mucho Mexican Bowl, Magical Black Bean Burger.  Their Effervescent House Gingerale is amazing as well as their Healing Chlorophyll.   You really can’t go wrong with their selections, the atmosphere and overall vibe. Check it out here! 

 

Organic California Food

Blue Bowl has won my heart for best açaí bowl!

 

Blue Bowl-

This isn’t technically in Newport Beach but they have several locations not crazy far.  I have to mention it because it’s my favorite açaí bowl place I’ve found!  What makes them so great is you can customize it to your liking.  You literally get to create your own bowl!  Sometimes I find I don’t like what’s being offered on açaí bowl menus.  So this is amazing.  They also offer unique toppings, like chia pudding or steel cut oatmeal.  I love how I can layer different things in.  Trust me, once you try them you will be hooked!  I discovered them last November and every time we are in the area we make a point to stop there.  Check them out here!

 

Palm Desert

 

We stayed in Palm Desert for a week with my mom and dad and siblings and their families.  It was so fun!  If you want some heat and sunshine the desert is the place to go for sure.  It was only an hour and 45 minute drive from Newport Beach.  We made most of our meals here since we had a kitchen.  We stocked up at Costco, Whole Foods and Sprouts.

 

Organic California

We loved staying at the Wyndham Indio Resort!

 

Club Wyndham In Indio-

We stayed at Club Wyndham in Indio, California.  It’s a little over a 20 minute drive from Palm Desert.  I absolutely loved staying here!  They are condos.  So you have a full kitchen and washer and dryer.  We stayed in a 2 bedroom unit with 2 bathrooms.  We had plenty of room.  The pool was the highlight for sure! Or I should say pools.  They have a main pool that is quite large and offers a lazy river and kiddie/toddler pool, plus hot tubs.  The lazy river was so fun!  You pick up a tube and just plop down and float around the river.  I didn’t want to leave.  They also have another pool and kiddie pool in a separate area of the resort.  The kiddie/toddler pool was so nice!  It is so shallow you didn’t even have to worry about the kids as much and they loved playing in there.  I was kind of surprised how much they liked it.  They also have 2 tennis courts, game room, tons of outdoors grills, fitness center, and playgrounds.  If you’re looking for a family friendly place to getaway, I would definitely recommend it!  Check it out here.

 

Organic California food

This organic dairy free ice-cream hit the spot!

 

Nitroinfusions-

One night we went out for ice cream to Nitroinfusions.  They actually make the ice-cream right in front of you- pretty cool.  All the kiddos liked that!  All their ice cream is organic and not made with any additives or preservatives since it’s made right in front of you.  They also had some dairy free options that I was excited about.  I got the dairy free chocolate made with coconut milk.  So good!  If you’re needing a sweet treat, check this out here.

 

Organic California Guide

These were some tasty açaí bowls!

 

Bowl Of Heaven-

This açaí bowl and smoothie place is super yummy.  My hubs and I both got the Almond Butter Bowl.  This was our dinner one night- super filling and refreshing.  Great after a long day in the sun too!  Check them out here!

 

Organic California Guide

The little shops and streets are so charming in Santa Barbara.

 

Santa Barbara

This was my first time in Santa Barbara and I must say I was smitten with all the charm.  It’s so cute.  Seems very European with it’s architecture and close shops.  I love the old world feel it has.  It’s right along the ocean.  Making it fun for outdoor activities.  But they also have so many fun shops I wanted to check out too.  The vibe feels laid back and easy.  We were only there a night, so definitely need to go back to check out all that it has to offer!

 

Organic California Guide

These bikes were the cutest at Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara.

 

Hotel Milo-

We stayed at Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara.  I was drawn to it by it’s charm and closeness to the beach.  You literally cross the street and the beach is right there.  I loved looking out and seeing the water.  It’s a boutique hotel.  They have table and chairs outside the rooms where you can sit and eat.  Also, the cutest basket bikes that are complimentary as part of your stay.  It didn’t work for us to use them on this trip but I could see just my hubs and I going back and taking them for a spin.  They offer daily wine tasting from 4-6 pm. I loved how close it was to everything.  I don’t know if I would go there with a group of girls, as the bathroom was really small.  Might make it a little tricky.  But then again maybe not.  Just something to think about.  Check out Hotel Milo here!

 

Viva Modern Mexican-

This was so good!  My hubs and I both wanted Mexican food when we were there.  Viva offers cauliflower tortillas as an option and organic ingredients.  I ordered the filet mignon tacos and my hubs ordered the steak fajitas.  SO good!  The food tasted fresh and had such a good flavor.  Check them out here! 

 

Organic Santa Barbara Food

Loved everything about Lilac Patisserie!

 

Lilac Patisserie-

This was also delicious.  A lot of readers had recommended it to me.  Their whole menu is gluten free, which is amazing and their fruit was all organic.  I got the vegetable quiche which was amazing!  I don’t remember the last time I had quiche!  Typically they aren’t gluten free, so this was a real treat.  My daughter got the homemade gluten free granola with oat milk.  My hubs got the breakfast sandwich and then we got a bowl of organic berries. It was all so good and tasted fresh.  It’s so cute in there too!  You feel like you’ve been transported to a french cafe- not that I know what that feels like haha but it’s what I imagine in my head.  If you get the chance to go there, do it.  Check them out here.

 

Green Table-

We also made a quick stop at Green Table.  They offer vegan and gluten free food.  I wished we had stayed in Santa Barbara longer but since our stay was so short we just couldn’t eat as much as we wanted- first world problems!  I did want to stop and just check them out.  Their smoothies and juices looked amazing, as well as their matcha menu.  They also had so many salads, and food creations that looked so yummy.  I had to get a little sweet treat while I was there after checking out there raw and vegan desserts.  We all shared a raw matcha mint brownie and a flourless raw chia chocolate-cupcake.  They were tasty to say the least!  Check them out here.

 

Northern California

We stopped at a couple places on our way down from Washington in Northern California and on our way up from Southern California.  It’s amazing what you can find when you’re looking for healthier food and eco lodging options.

 

Organic California

The views from Costanoa Lodge of the ocean were amazing!

 

Costanoa Lodge

I was so excited to stay here!  I had heard great things about them and it sounded like the perfect place to share some special memories with my family.  It is definitely a family friendly place and one of the reasons I was drawn to it in the first place.  It’s right on the coast of northern California.  It’s liking camping but you’re really glamping.  My kind of camping!  They have a variety of options for accommodations.  You can stay in the lodge, the cabins or tent bungalows.  The cabins offer different options depending on your needs. We chose the Coastal Studio RV.  They can accommodate up to 5 family members.  They offer a queen bed, two bunk beds, sleeper sofa, full bathroom with amenities, two flat screen TVs, full refrigerator, microwave, coffee station, front porch, and outdoor picnic deck.  For us a bathroom was important to have in the unit.

 

Organic California

The Coastal Studio RV was perfect for our family of four!

 

I was so impressed with how clean everything felt and well maintained!  Even my hubs commented.  I love that all the floors were wood and there was no carpet.  Just felt easy to keep clean.  The bathroom was roomy and nice too.  I also loved having a partial kitchen in the unit.  They had two stovetop burners where you could cook something on.  I want to go back and stay there with my extended family.  It would be the perfect blend of nature, yet still having modern conveniences.  They had playgrounds, fire pits, tons of biking and hiking trails, kayaking, horseback riding, and even yoga.  They even offer guided bird watching tours, stargazing, the-dye workshops, and wine tasting events.  Plus, a spa that offers a variety of massages.  Great after all your outdoor activities. You can even  have group meetings there and weddings.  They were actually setting up for a wedding when we were there.  Check out all their activities here. 

 

Organic California lodging

The bunk beds were a hit with my girls!

 

I have to tell you about my experience at their Cascade Restaurant and Bar.  It was over the top amazing!  The food is farm to table and they are committed to organic produce and practices.  They source from local farmers but also have an organic garden that they use for the dishes as well.  I mean how cool is that?!   My husband and I said it was the best meal we had our whole trip.  I wish I had met the chef because I wanted to thank her for all the deliciousness.  We ordered the Deviled Green Eggs and Ham for an appetizer, Rib Eye Steak and the House Salad.  Everything tastes so fresh and bursting with flavor.  It was the best steak ever- clearly my hubs and I are still talking about it!  Sometimes simple foods are the best foods.  I can’t recommend the Cascade Restaurant enough.  They are open for brunch and dinner. Plus, they have a full bar as well.

 

Organic California Guide

The Cascade Restaurant at the Costanoa Lodge was the best meal we had all trip.

 

I can’t forget the general store on site.  I was so impressed with their offerings!  Most of the time stores on site can be lacking in the organic food department but not this one.  They offered a lot of local and organic food options.  Especially for packaged goods.  They even had wine you could buy as well.  It was nice knowing if I needed something quick or was in a bind I could make a quick trip there to get it.

 

Organic California Guide

The deviled egg appetizer was legit at the Cascade Restaurant.

 

I have been raving about Costanoa since we stayed there!  It feels like a truly relaxing getaway especially in today’s fast paced technology driven world.  Hearing the ocean, smelling the salt air and being surrounded by the ones you loves is definitely a recipe for a good time.  Costanoa offers it all.  Check them out here! 

 

Organic California Guide

The cauliflower pizza at Pieology was really good.

 

Pieology-

We ate at this pizza place in Sacramento.  Its not organic but sometimes you just have to do the best you can when you’re on the road.  This is a prime example.  What I liked about it, is they offer cauliflower pizza crust and gluten free pizza crust.  I also avoid meat at places I’m not sure of the sourcing.  For me meat is one I’m picky about.  I got a cauliflower pizza crust and it was great!  All the toppings seemed fresh and I love that they bake it right when you order it.  If you’re needing something kid friendly, and semi-quick this is a decent option.  Check them out here!

 

Organic California Guide

Nature’s Pantry hit the spot for an off the freeway lunch spot in Yreka.

 

Nature’s Kitchen-

I was so impressed with this restaurant find!  It’s organic and uses fresh ingredients.  It proves if you do a little digging you really can find so many fun treasures!  We stopped here in Yreka for lunch on our way down through Northern California.  They have an organic menu with vegan and gluten free options.  They also have a small health store attached to it.  I even found my favorite stevia sweetened ginger brew there by Brooklyn Crafted- score!  It’s more of a breakfast, late lunch spot.  They don’t serve dinner.  I got the chicken sandwich and salad.  They had this gluten free bread that was amazing!  I wished I would have asked the server if they made it.  Check them out here!

 

Roots Juice Bar-

We also stopped at Roots Juice Bar in Redding, California.  One of my good friends from college lives there and we met up there.  She knew I would love it and she was right.  All organic ingredients, they have smoothies, juices, açaí bowls, wraps, and shots.  I got the Popeye Smoothie and added cashews and chia seeds to it- so good.  Definitely worth going!  Check them out here.

 

That sums up my Organic California Travel Guide.  I hope you found it helpful!  What are some of your favorite organic food and sustainable resorts in California?

 

Organic California Guide

Sharing all my favorite organic and natural food and lodging in California.

 

How To Make The Best Green Smoothie

How To Make The Best Green Smoothie

It’s summer and I want to share with you how to make the best green smoothie recipe!  I LOVE smoothies- especially if they have greens in them or are packed full of veggies.  As a busy mom a green smoothie has been a must.  It keeps me full, is quick to make, and works for on the go.  Plus, I’m getting a serious nutritional punch!

So many of you have asked me for my green smoothie recipe- I had to share with you!  I always typically have my smoothie in the morning, but you can make your smoothie whenever it works for you.  Let me first explain how this green smoothie inspiration got started!

How to make a the best green smoothie by Gurl Gone Green

How to make the Best Green Smoothie that tastes good and packs a nutrient punch.

I was making smoothies for a while, I mean years but I never thought of my smoothie how I do now, until reading Kelly Leveque’s book, Body Love: Live in Balance  This book changed my life and thinking about food in general.  But it also changed my whole mindset on smoothies.  I had been reading things here and there about smoothies and how they weren’t necessarily the best.  People were saying you need to eat meals and the nutrients were so much better.  I was bummed because I LOVED my smoothies!  It was such a convenient way for me to get a quick meal in and feel satisfied.  I don’t know about you but as a mom cooking every single meal can seem daunting.  Fortunately, I read Body Love: Live in Balance and the negative smoothie connotations had quickly been debunked by Kelly.  Hurray!

Now that I was back on the smoothie train I was so excited to learn about her smoothie method and how it was different.  With her smoothies, there are 4 components that create the perfect smoothie nutritionally, fat, fiber, protein, and greens.  Having all these components in your smoothie is going to give you the perfect ratio for your body to stay full, not raise your blood sugar and give you all the nutrients you need.  It makes so much sense!  I had never heard someone explain it as she did in the book.

How to make the best green smoothie!

Green smoothie love!

FAT-

A lot of times I would feel hungry within an hour or two after drinking my smoothie.  Looking back I can see I was missing some good fat in my smoothie.  Fat is your friend and so good for you!  It helps you feel full and keeps your blood sugar in check too.

Healthy Fat Options- 

  • Coconut Oil
  • Cashew Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Avocado
  • Coconut Butter
  • Sunflower Seed Butter
  • MCT Oil

FIBER- 

Another ingredient I didn’t think about before was fiber.  I would include fiber often with chia seeds but I didn’t understand the amazing benefit in can have besides good omega 3-‘s.  It also helps keep you full, aids in healthy digestion and it also helps to slow the release of blood sugars into the blood stream.

Healthy Fiber Options-

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seed
  • Psyllium Husk Powder
  • Hemp Seeds

The best organic/natural protein powder for green smoothies.

The Best Organic Protein Powder. A clean protein that doesn’t make you feel bloated.

PROTEIN POWDERS-

I always added a protein powder.  This is one that I knew I needed!  If I didn’t have the protein my smoothie would often be just carb heavy.  My favorite clean protein powder is Activ Whey Protein Powder.  The protein powder comes in a vanilla or chocolate.  Instead of cow’s whey, it’s a goat’s whey.  It makes smoothies taste SO good!  I always add 1 serving.

*Protein Tip- Always blend all your smoothie ingredients first and then add your protein last.  If you add it with all the other ingredients and blend it for a while it will expand, causing the smoothie to get huge and may cause you to have an upset stomach.  Throw it in after everything is blended so you only have to blend it for a few seconds.

Healthy Protein Powder Options-

*I also have a podcast with my naturopath on protein powders and what to look for here.

GREENS-

Finally let’s talk greens.  You know the leafy vegetables that are SO good for you!  They offer good fiber, and a serious nutrient punch.  Greens are going to give your skin a glow, revitalize your cells and just feed your body pure health!  Plus, what’s a green smoothie without some greens!

  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Bok Choy
  • Romaine
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Beets(though not technically green they offer a nutritional punch)
  • Really any veggie that you like.  Some go better in smoothies, some don’t but at the end of the day you are the one drinking it.  If you like it then throw it in!

This last one is the fruit portion!  A little fruit goes a long way in adding flavor to any smoothie.  You just don’t want to overdo it though.  Kelly Leveque explains in her Body Love book so well the downsides of adding too much fruit- which is essentially sugar.  Your blood sugar spikes and you can be left with excess sugar that makes you feel wired initially but then makes you want to take a nap an hour later.  Not too mention, if there is too much fruit in your smoothie your body will end up turning storing it as fat.  Her book explains it in further detail. Highly recommend you get it.

Bottom line: you don’t want to overload your smoothie with excess fruit!  Fruit isn’t bad it’s all about moderation.  I’ve also found most protein powders are flavored(naturally) so you don’t need a ton of fruit really since you get flavor from the protein powder.  Kelly recommends about 1/4 cup of fruit.  I’ve seen recipes that say 1 cup- which is crazy!

FRUIT-

Below you’ll find some fruit options to put in your green smoothie.  I typically do a half of a frozen banana. Bananas I’ve found offer creaminess and thickness to my smoothie, plus a great flavor.

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches

How to make the best green smoothie

A green smoothie filled with all the greens!

Ok, so now that you know what makes a powerhouse smoothie, let’s talk about some other ingredients.

  • Nut Milk- I love adding some coconut milk, hemp milk in mine.  You can also use almond milk or whatever nut milk you like.  This will add some creaminess to your smoothie. I also love making my own nut milks with my Almond Cow nut milk maker!  Seriously makes the creamiest nut milks and it’s so easy to use!  It’s been a game changer for making nut milks without a nut milk bag. Save $15 off your Almond Cow and free shipping when you use coupon code: gurlgonegreen. Shop here!
  • Water- If you don’t want to do any nut milk, you can just use some water for the liquid.
  • Fresh Ginger- A great addition to any smoothie. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, good for the heart and gives smoothies a bite with it’s punchy flavor.  Add a little chunk or lot depending on your flavor palette.
  • Fresh Tumeric- Another good addition to smoothies.  It’s also anti-inflammatory- pretty much an all star food! Add a 1/2 inch cube.
  • E3Live- This is a wild grown blue-green algae.  I’ve been taking this for over a year and can’t recommend it enough!  It really is a nutritional rockstar.  It helps with energy, immunity, and focus just to name a few.  I add a tablespoon to each smoothieClick Here to check out all that E3Live has to offer!
  • Cinnamon- A great addition for flavor but also is anti-inflammatory, lowers blood sugar, and is loaded with antioxidants.
  • Herbs- I know I mentioned herbs above but wanted to also mention mint!  A favorite of mine for flavor but also because it’s a calming and soothing herb.
  • Super Greens Powder- There are a lot of super greens powders out now. Obviously do your research and make sure the powder you have is a reliable resource and clean.  This is a great addition to even more potent greens!
  • Superfoods- So many superfoods you an include.  From maca, camu, spirulina- all come in powder form and you just add a teaspoon typically.  Be sure to understand why you’re adding them to your smoothie and talk to your health professional.
  • Collagen Powder- It is a protein, but I also consider it an additive.  Great for hair, skin and nails and joints.
  • Toppings- I love a good topping on my smoothie.  From cacao nibs, coconut flakes, granola, goji berries, bee pollen, nuts or seeds- the list is endless!

Can you see how having a smoothie packs a serious punch of nutrition?!  Your body will literally be glowing, you’ll feel good and you won’t feel hungry!  Plus, when you are blending up the greens or veggies it makes it so much easier for your body to digest them because they’re already broken down.

Also, a couple things to consider.  If you like your smoothies thick, freeze your fruit, and veggies.  This will give your smoothie that creamy consistency and have it be more like soft serve ice-cream versus liquid.  I prefer my smoothies thicker, so that’s what I do.  It also makes it easier to eat your toppings on your smoothie if they’re thicker as well.  Another thing to consider is to make smoothie packs and keep them in the freezer.  That way you have everything you need in one spot and all you have to do is add some liquid.  This is great when you’re in a hurry!

BLENDERS-

This is a meaty topic and I have no intention on swaying you on a blender either way!  I just want to give you a few tips.  I’ve had a Blendtec Total Classic Original Blender for 4 years and love it! Not to say I wouldn’t love a Vitamix too.  I think any higher powered blender is going to be amazing.  I have a friend who has a Vitamix and loves it, another who has a Nutri Ninja Blender– a little more affordable option.  I even have a friend who has a KitchenAid Blender and Loves it too.   I just encourage you to shop around and find what might be best for you.  The Blendtec has been great for me.  They even offer a smaller jar you can get for an additional cost that can make nut butters in minutes and sauces.  I actually use it to make my smoothies.  It’s called a Twister Jar.  I can’t recommend it enough.  A high powered blender really is going to make a difference when making a smoothie.  It will ensure all the ingredients are blended up well and smooth.  You don’t want to be drinking your smoothie and get a chunk of ginger!

I love taking my smoothies in mason jars!  I have some mason jar straw lids from the mason bar company that makes it so easy to just pop a straw in.

I would love to hear how you make your green smoothie!  Tell me your favorite ingredients!

Want my tried and true recipe for making the best green smoothie?

Then hit the button below to get access to my two recipes and where I get all the ingredients!

 

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How to make the best green smoothie

Top Healthy Food Bars

Top Healthy Food Bars

Ok, so who would have thought 20 years ago that bars would be such a big food group!  As time goes on it seems our already fast paced world gets even faster.  People don’t have time to make a nutritious snack or meal so they grab a bar.  Unfortunately, the market is saturated with a lot bars that aren’t real food.  Some of them should really fall into the candy bar category.  Then we have the bars that are filled with chemicals and junk.  It’s easy to get sucked into thinking a bar is actually good for you by all the marketing ploys of companies these days.  From catchy words like, natural, whole ingredients, plant protein, and even organic.  These companies are catching on to what consumers are looking for.

Here are a list of ingredients I avoid in bars:

Folic Acid(synthetic form- often an added vitamin or mineral, you want folate)

Cyanocobalamin(synthetic form of Vitamin B-12 that contains cyanide-a poison)

Soy Protein(especially if it’s not organic. I try and avoid soy as it’s in so many foods already and unless it’s organic or says non-gmo it likely is a GMO)

Soy Protein Isolate(Processed soy and same as above for soy protein)

-Soy Lecithin(Helps keep things together, but again soy)

-Whey Protein Isolate(causes gas, bloating and diarrhea, wreaks havoc on the gut flora)

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Sucralose(artificial sweetener)

Inulin(Most Inulin used in food bars is extracted from chicory root and can cause a lot of problems- upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea)

Brown Rice Syrup(Often it’s found at the top of an ingredient list in bars and is used instead of sugar.  People think it’s better but be careful because it can contain high levels of arsenic from the brown rice)

-Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil(it’s processed to separate the liquid from the oil. It can be used a lot for chocolate coating on bars.  And results in higher saturated fat content)

-Natural Flavors(may come from a natural source but then they are manipulated in a lab. It’s hard to really know what’s in a natural flavor)

Carageenan(You can often find this ingredient in protein bars)

-Sugar Alcohols(these tend to be hard to digest and can make you feel bloated even though the calorie count is low. Watch out for maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol)

-Hydrogenated Oils(trans fat)

*Keep in mind this is just a small list.

Tips When Shopping For Bars:

  • Look for short ingredient lists– If the ingredient list looks overwhelming and contains words you can’t pronounce or aren’t sure what they are, then move on.  Chances are the bar is full of more chemicals than real food.
  • Avoid Cheap/Synthetic Ingredients- If you see a lot of soy(really cheap ingredient), isolates, folic acid, etc. (basically any of the above ingredients I listed) then keep walking. If a company skimps in one area, they are probably skimping in other areas too.
  • Avoid Sugar Bars- If sugar is the first or second ingredient you can bet it’s more of a candy bar than a health bar. Look for bars that add sweetness as naturally as possible.  Think dates, coconut nectar, etc.
  • Look For Marketing Tactics- Don’t assume a bar is healthy or good because it has the organic or non-gmo symbol on it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a bar that has the organic symbol on it thinking it would be good, only to find it contained a lot of cheap ingredients, folic acid and Cyanocobalamin.  So disturbing!  Sometimes your best bet might not be organic, but at least it only has 7 real food ingredients and you can recognize each one of them.

Favorite Bar Picks:

Skout Backcountry Organic Trail Bar-

I discovered these bars not too long ago and instantly became hooked!  I mean they’re so good!  My first thought when eating one was how it reminded me of no bake cookies-yes you heard me!  The chocolate coconut one specifically.  They also have an almond blueberry flavor, apple cinnamon, and chocolate peanut butter. Made with only 7 ingredients, these bars are organic, gluten free, non-gmo, vegan and free of refined sugar.  These have oats in them, but are still gluten free. Plus, I love that they’re just sweetened with dates.  My daughter loves them too!  These are more of a snack bar in my opinion since the protein isn’t super high.  A great pick for kid’s lunch boxes or after school snack.  To make them even more protein dense I like adding a little nut butter on top!  Skout Backcountry has been so kind to offer 25% off using code: GONEGREEN. Shop here on their website!

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RXBAR

These bars are one of my very favorites!  They are a protein bar and great for grabbing when you need something substantial quick.  They literally only have 6-8 real food ingredients per bar.  They are dairy, soy, and gluten free. They also are considered paleo friendly and Whole30 approved. I love the texture of these bars.  They are chewy and satisfying.  Plus 12 grams of protein per bar!  My favorite flavor hands down is Maple Sea Salt- try it and thank me later.  I also like the Mint Chocolate flavor.  You can find these at Trader Joe’s(Usually just a couple flavors) and other health food stores.  They often have sales or different promotions, so follow them on social media.  Check out RXBAR! 

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Perfect Bars-

These are hands down my daughter’s favorite.  They are a protein bar but made with 20+ superfood ingredients.  They aren’t chewy but more dense and soft.  All the flavors are gluten free, soy free and non-gmo.  There is one flavor that is vegan and that is Vegan Almond Coconut. Most bars are certified organic but some don’t have the symbol because not every ingredient is organic-although most of them are.  They include superfood ingredients like, kale, kelp, carrot and spinach-just to name a few.  These are definitely a fill you up kind of bar in my opinion.  My current favorites are Blueberry Cashew, and Coconut Peanut Butter. You can find these at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and a lot of conventional grocery stores. You can also by them at Costco!  They are in the refrigeration section at the grocery store. Shop the full selection here!

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Go Raw Grow Protein Bars-

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen me share these in my stories.  I love that they use organic raw sprouted watermelon seeds as the protein source!  A completely vegan bar with 12 grams of protein and made with only 8 ingredients.  These aren’t super chewy but more like a granola bar texture but denser.  The bars are also organic and non-gmo.  These bars are nut free too-a great option if you or your child is allergic to nuts! Which is sometimes hard to find when it comes to health bars.  If you can do nuts these are great dipped in some nut butter or even sunflower seed butter.  I really like the Mint Chocolate flavor and Cinnamon Spice.  Use Coupon Code: RAW25 for 25% off your purchase online.  Shop here!

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Thunderbird Real Food Bars-

These bars are so good!  They have a Fruit and Nut Bar selection and then a Nut and Seed Bar selection.  The Nut and Seed collection is more for those wanting a little more substance and a little less sugar.  I love the chewy texture and the flavors.  They use a variety of real food ingredients in their bars.  Everything from pecan meal, quinoa, pecan butter, carrots, hemp seeds, buckwheat groats…are you getting the picture?  I love the variety!  The flavors are so good too!  I haven’t tried all of them but my favorite so far is Pecans+Goji+Pistachio from the Nut and Seed collection.  All the bars are gluten free, vegan, non-gmo, soy and refined sugar free.  Some bars have more protein depending on ingredients.  These aren’t organic but they all only have a handful of real ingredients, which is pretty hard to find nowadays.  I get these at my local Co-op PCC.  These are also paleo certified.  Shop all their flavors here! 

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Square Organics Bar-

These honestly taste like a candy bar but without the chemicals!  All of them are chocolate coated with a different flavor on the inside.  I love that they’re dairy, soy and gluten free.  They sweeten them using coconut nectar and use a plant based organic protein.  They are vegan as well and of course organic and non-gmo. My personal favorites are the coconut and mint.  I ate these a lot after having my second baby girl.  They were quick energy when I was nursing like crazy!  They  hit the spot for those sudden hunger urges.  If it’s been hard for you to find a protein bar that tastes good and has decent ingredients, then check out Square Organics- you won’t be disappointed.  You can find these at Whole Foods and a lot of other health food stores.  Also, use coupon code: gurlgonegreen for 20% off a box! Shop here.

SQB-00309-5

Two Mom’s In the Raw Soul Sprout Granola Bar-

These bars are just so nutrient dense!  They are raw obviously and filled with sprouted nuts, sprouted seeds, sprouted oat groats, sprouted buckwheat groats and fruit.  They are organic and non-gmo and sweetened with coconut syrup.  Also, they are soy, dairy, and gluten free and vegan.  These are thinner and more like a slightly crunchy granola bar.  Again, I love spreading mine with some nut butter!  They aren’t a super heavy bar at all, with only about 3 grams of protein and only 6 grams of sugar per bar.  I buy these on Thrive Market but they also sell them at Whole Foods in the granola bar packaged section.  You get them in a package of 6.  They also sell nut bars that are a little more protein packed, truffles and crackers that I haven’t tried yet but want too!  Also, if you enter your e-mail on their website you’ll get 20% off your first order!  Shop the full product line here!

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KIT’S ORGANIC

These are a great option if you just want to be able to run to the store and get a good quality bar.  You can find these at most conventional stores as well as health food stores, and even Thrive Market carries them.  They just have a handful of real ingredients and are sweetened with dates.  They taste similar to a Lara Bar but are organic.  They are soy, dairy, and gluten free as well and non-gmo.  My daughter really likes these too!  They are more of snack bar in my opinion since they are lower on protein. I’ve been known to dip these in some nut butter though for a little extra substance! Our favorites are the Dark Chocolate Walnut, and the Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut. Shop KIT’S ORGANIC !

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That concludes my favorite healthy bar round up!  What are your favorites?  Did you see any you want to try?

5 Facts You Should Know About Chocolate

5 Facts You Should Know About Chocolate

A collaboration post between Healthfully Hannah and GurlGoneGreen

Have you ever walked down the chocolate aisle at a grocery store? It can be downright overwhelming if you’re a chocolate lover! Do you want dark, milk, or white chocolate? Do you want a candy bar, chocolate covered nuts, mint, or raspberry with it? Sound familiar? Contrary to popular belief, not all chocolate is created equal. Chocolate lovers can still rejoice though, because we’ve given you a few simple guidelines to ensure you’re buying the best of the best!

It’s true – chocolate can provide multiple health benefits, when it is high quality. But before indulging, here are a few things to consider about chocolate (some may surprise you!)

  1. Cacao vs. Cocoa – There’s a Difference

Maybe you’ve seen both and assumed they were the same, but there are several important differences between cacao and cocoa.

Cacao

All chocolate actually starts as cacao, from the cacao bean (which are technically seeds). When you see “cacao”, that means it has been processed at low temperatures and usually has fewer additives.

You can get all the benefits from cacao by consuming raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, or chocolate bars with a high % cacao. In fact, raw, unprocessed, cacao has even been associated with improving a variety of health conditions.

*See below why cacao is important to buy organic.

Cocoa

Cocoa on the other hand is processed at extremely high temperatures, which destroys some of the beneficial nutrients. This is what we find in mainstream chocolate products like hot cocoa, cocoa powder, candy bars, chocolate desserts, and other chocolate products. If consuming cocoa, be sure it does not contain additives like milk, high fructose corn syrup, soy, oils, artificial flavors, and dyes (as it often does!)

  1. Chocolate Should Always Be Dairy-Free

Cacao naturally contains polyphenols (a compound that has antioxidant properties) but when it contains dairy, we’re not able to absorb the health benefits of the chocolate. Milk protein inhibits absorption of these beneficial polyphenols.

This is why dark chocolate is a much healthier option. The higher the percentage of cacao, the better (at least 70%).

  1. White Chocolate Isn’t the Same

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. It doesn’t contain any cocoa solids, which is where the health benefits come from. The polyphenols and flavanols, found in cocoa solids, function as antioxidants to fight free radicals. Unfortunately, white chocolate usually contains more sugar and little fiber, making it inferior on many levels.

If you do choose white chocolate make sure you read the label. Always look for low sugar, organic milk ingredients, and a high cocoa butter content. Companies often use a lot of unhealthy fats (linked to inflammation) and a very small amount of cocoa butter – which eliminates the health benefits found in dark chocolate.

  1. Fair Trade Is Extremely Important

Did you know that the majority of American Chocolate companies (think Mars, Hershey, Nestle) use child labor to grow their cocoa? Most of these farms are in Africa in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  The children have little clothes on their backs, their faces scarred from the machete they use to cut down the cocoa and even worse they are being exposed to hazardous chemicals through the pesticides they spray on the crops.

“The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery.” (Source)

*Due to these factors, Hannah and I carefully choose companies that do not participate in these inhumane practices.

What can we do? First, stop supporting these companies with your purchases. As we like to say often, vote with your dollars. Then, purchase chocolate products from companies that offer Fair Trade. It is expensive for companies to receive the fair trade labels and some simply cannot afford it. Others terms to look for are “Bean to Bar”, and “Direct Trade.”

Here are the fair trade symbols to look for on your chocolate:

Keep in mind that the higher the percentage of cacao, the better. We like to stick with 70% cacao or higher.

  1. Next time you’re picking out chocolate, make sure it is:
  • Dairy free (If you’re consuming a little chocolate every day it’s best to avoid dairy to make sure you are able to absorb the antioxidants it offers but of course there are times when you really want a little dairy in your chocolate which is fine-got to a live a little!)
  • Fair Trade
  • Free from additives like GMOs, soy, added sugars, artificial colorings, and more organic if possible (Did you know cacao is often heavily treated with pesticides?)

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Brands We Love & Our Favorites From Them-

Wei of Chocolate

  • Organic
  • Fair Trade
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Dairy Free, Gluten Free, and Soy Free

Our favorites: It’s hard to choose a favorite, but you can’t go wrong with Wei Beautiful, the perfect mix of chocolate and peppermint. We’re also huge fans of their Wei Inspired, a mix of himalayan sea salt and dark chocolate.  Use code: LOVELY, good till 2/28/17 for15% off one-time purchases, and 20% off on-going subscriptions.

Eating Evolved

  • Paleo
  • Vegan
  • Refined Sugar Free
  • Soy Free & Gluten Free
  • Dairy-Free

Our favorites: Huge fans of the Crunchy Caramel Bar and the Almond Sea Salt.  As well as the Caramel Sea Salt Cups and Mint Cream Cups.  Oh and if you’re really into chocolate spreads then check out their Toasted Coconut Chocolate Spread-it might change your life!

Theo Chocolate

  • Organic
  • Gluten Free & Soy-Free
  • Fair Trade
  • Vegan

Our favorites: A staple is the Salted Almond 70% Dark, the Mint 70% Dark and we can’t forget about the Coconut 70% Dark too. We also really love their Baking Bars for baked goods. We like breaking them into chocolate chunks to use in cookies.  They aren’t dairy-free but they are one of the few baking bars that is soy free and organic.  Plus, this is something for a special holiday than to use every week.

Alter Eco

  • Soy Free
  • Mostly all Fair Trade Certified
  • Non-GMO
  • Organic

Our favorites: Their chocolate does have dairy in it but we’re ok with that once in awhile as we mentioned earlier.  Sometimes chocolate needs to just be an indulgent treat!  That being said their truffles are amazing-a serious treat. We also love their Dark Brown Butter Bar-it may also change your life!

Enjoy Life

  • Dairy-Free
  • Free from top allergens (milk, soy, wheat, eggs)
  • Non-GMO

Our favorites: Love the mini chips for baking, especially cookies!

Heavenly Organics

  • Only 3 ingredients in each chocolate pattie
  • Non-GMO
  • Fair-Trade
  • Dairy Free
  • Organic

Our favorites: The Mint Chocolate Patties and the Almond Chocolate Patties are both amazing!  

Equal Exchange

  • Organic
  • Up to 88% Cacao
  • Soy-Free & Vegan
  • Fair Trade & Worker Owned

Our favorites: We love their 55% and 70% dark chocolate chips for special treats and baking.  

Giveaway! We’ve teamed up to giveaway a box of Wei of Chocolate on Instagram, so stay tuned to enter to win.

What are your favorite chocolate brands? Did you learn something new about cacao or cocoa? Share below!

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Hannah is the founder and educator of Healthfully Hannah, a blog empowering others to live healthfully through Clean Eating, Natural Beauty, and Nontoxic Living.  She discovered the power of real food and natural living through her own health journey and is passionate about sharing it with others.  In addition to her research and blogging, Hannah is pursuing her Masters Degree in Functional Medicine and Nutrition, and plans to use this knowledge to identify and address health concerns naturally through a whole-body approach.

You can find all the latest on Hannah through her blog: Healthfullyhannah.com

 

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