Ho Ho Ho!! It’s holiday time – which means celebrating and merriment and gift giving!
Do you have someone on your list that you really care about and want to get them the best gift ever?
What better gift is there than the gift of health?
I have rounded up some of my favorite healthy holiday gift ideas for 2015 to help you get your holiday shopping done! And don’t worry if you missed out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – several of these companies are offering special holiday deals right now!
Note: raffle has ended.
Give the gift of glowing & beautiful skin!! For someone who deserves to be pampered!
Chapter 5 of my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan encourages people to reduce the amount of toxins in our lifestyle – because toxins can contribute to stubborn weight gain & higher disease risk. One sneaky way that chemicals are getting in – are through our skincare products. So cleaning up our personal care products is important!
That is why I love Annmarie Gianni Skincare products – their products are organic and completely non-toxic, and smell great. I have been using them for about a month, and every time I wash my face – I feel like I have been to a spa. And what can I say about their coconut honey mask – it makes my skin feels as soft as baby’s bum.
Anne Marie Gianni has gifts for all budgets!
ps. Don’t forget to order something for yourself!!
Give the gift of healthy digestion, moods, and immunity.
Studies show that eating fermented foods can support a healthy gut – which is linked to many health benefits ranging from better digestion to weight balance, improved moods, better immunity – and more!
I love Kraut Source fermenting jars – because they are designed to keep the veggies under the brine which is important when making fermented foods. They also have a lot of really good recipes and videos on their site too!
Give the gift of sparkling clean teeth, fresh breath and detoxification!
Did you know that studies show that coconut oil is an effective way to combat tooth decay? Read this BBC article to learn more! Oil pulling is also a great way to detoxify – and has a rich history in Ayurvedic cleansing traditions. This uniquely formulated oil protects tooth enamel and dental fillings while it removes plaque, freshens breath, and whitens teeth, naturally. Skinny & Co also offers high quality cold pressed alkaline coconut oil for cooking and eating, and wonderfully silky and decadent coconut based moisturizing skincare items too.
Give the gift of über healthy coffee – superfood mushroom coffee!
The ‘fun guys’ at Four Sigma foods are bringing you the superfood powers of fungi (mushrooms) combined with coffee – to make a delicious superfood drink. They are in convenient on-the-go packets, so you can take your superfoods on the road with you!! Mushrooms are adaptogenic – meaning they adapt to meet our bodies needs to best support our health – such as reducing stress and boosting immunity.
For the person on your list that wants to be beaming!!
Walk into one of the 6 Beaming Superfood stores in Southern Cal – and you will instantly know that you are going to be taken care of with the highest quality clean juices, smoothies, superfood salads, soups and yummy muffins and snacks! Everything they do is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants – and also super delish! I love that their cleanses are not just juice cleanses, and they know the importance of healthy fat to manage hunger hormones and boost the metabolism. So don’t worry about doing their cleanses – you will NOT be hungry. Maybe someone one your gift list deserves a 1 day reset, or perhaps they are needing a 21 day reboot!
Give the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation!
Do you know someone that loves yoga, or has been wanting to give it a try? Or just needs to de-stress?
Give him/her the gift of relaxation, flexibility, strength and more !
The 6 in Yoga Six refers to the 6 results of a consistent yoga practice: Stronger, Leaner, Calmer, Clearer, Braver, Further. With 4 beautiful studios around the San Diego area – and more locations in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin – Yoga Six is a great place to de-stress your life and support a healthy metabolism! They offer hot yoga, flow deep stretch, boot camp, meditation, and much more!
Give the gift of (BPA free) hydration and protect the environment at the same time – with beautifully designed Mizu!
I encourage all my clients to stay hydrated throughout the day. And one key way to do that – is to carry your water bottle around with you. But I don’t recommend drinking from plastic – because plastics can interfere with hormones and is terrible for the environment. Plus – it is just way more expensive too!
Mizu makes reusable products to hold your drinks – which are designed to help reduce the over abundance of single-use plastics produced and discarded each year. Hot or cold drinks – wine, coffee, and water – Mizu handles it all with ease and beauty! Plus -their insulated bottles will keep your cold beverages cold for 24 hours! This is a practical gift – that anyone can use!
If you have shied away from reusable water bottles because you don’t like the taste – Mizu uses only the highest quality 18/8 food grade stainless steel (has 18% chromium and 8% nickel) – leaves no metal taste and is durable, easy-to-clean and corrosion resistant.
For the person that wants to rock some rock hard abs – and exercise smarter, not harder!!
I don’t know about you – but I am not a fan of abdominal crunches – and neither is trainer Ben Greenfield (who I interviewed for The Metabolism Summit – coming Feb 1). Check out what his Huffington Post article has to say about crunches (to summarize – they don’t work).
The hot new trend now is to exercise smarter – not harder. So if you want to rock some rock hard abs in just a few minutes at a time – try out the Ab Carver Pro. A bonus – it also works your arms and back at the same time!
Help the athlete in your life recover better!
Also when I interviewed Ben Greenfield on The Metabolism Summit – he had just finished the Tough Mudder – which is 24 hours of extreme endurance exercise. I asked him what he was doing to recover from that, and he told me that he spent an hour that morning on a foam roller – to help his muscles loosen up and recover! The GRID foam roller is uniquely designed with a ‘Distrodensity” three dimensional surface which replicates the feeling of a massage therapist’s hands.
For the endurance athlete that needs the ultimate fuel.
Have you heard of SuperStarch? It is a complex carbohydrate (derived from non-GMO corn) that stabilizes blood sugar so you avoid crashing. It helps you perform better while using fat for fuel. It was discovered to help a boy named Jonah, who had a rare disease, where he could not store carbohydrates – so he needed to eat every 2 hours to live. With SuperStarch he can go 8 hours. It is an all-natural, slow-releasing carbohydrate that provides steady energy and blood sugar levels.
Generation UCAN helps to sustain energy, without a crash – or inhibiting fat-burning. Whether you’re running a marathon, climbing a mountain, competing on the field, or live an on-the-go lifestyle, UCAN is ideal for maintaining steady energy. Try it as a pre-workout snack, a post-workout shake to optimize recovery, between meals to control cravings, or a meal replacement shake.
Use code: HealthyHoliday to save 15%!
What better gift could you give someone that the gift of a healthy metabolism?
Okay – yes, I wrote this book. So I probably am a little biased – but wrote it because I know so many people are struggling with their weight and health – and doing everything they have been told to do like counting calories, cutting fat, exercising more and eating less – and are frustrated because it is just not working. Believe me, I’ve been there too (I share a lot of my story in the book).
But the truth is – many of these approaches to weight loss simply don’t work, and they could even be making your metabolism AND YOUR OVERALL HEALTH worse!
One tip from the book that might help this holiday season with sugar cravings – and that is to put coconut oil in tea!
Dark chocolate to satisfy your sweetheart’s sweet tooth!
One of the treats that I recommend to clients that are trying to break free from sugar addiction – without feeling deprived is dark chocolate. It is good to have especially this time of year – because you can have a square of dark chocolate when you get tempted by the cookies and treats. But don’t be fooled by beautiful packaging and expensive pricing. Check out this article written by The Food Babe about how even the most expensive chocolates can be made with cheap GMO ingredients and use artificial flavorings!
So – scurry on past the expensive brands with the beautiful gold packaging and red bows – and grab some Cocoa Parlour instead – a great stocking stuffer! Check out the ingredient list on a Cocoa Parlor bar – and you might be surprised to see just 3 ingredients for many of their bars! Unlike many of the chocolate bars on the market – these are made with simplest ingredients – and do not put any soy lethicin into their bars. They also sell raw chocolate bars – which is even better – because it is higher in antioxidants!
I have tried many different brands – and I have to tell you that Cocoa Parlour comes out on top for me. My absolute favorite is their Popped Quinoa bar. I also like their salted almond dark as well – salt, chocolate and almonds – the perfect combo.
High-quality protein-dense gluten-free snacking.
Not all jerky is created equal – or gluten free. Kiva bison jerky is gluten free, antibiotic free, contains no added hormones, is high in protein, contains no nitrates or nitrites, and tastes great.
Stuff the stocking with some snack bars that aren’t too sweet.
Are you frustrated with bars that are too sweet, or have ingredients that you are trying to avoid like soy, gluten, or dairy? So was I – that is why I created the ReFuel bar! Just the right hint of sweetness (6 grams – from dates), 8 grams of vegan protein (from pea and hemp), and 9 grams of fiber (from chia seeds and a prebiotic fiber – which is food for the probiotics – keeps your tummy bugs happy and fed).
I am giving away over $600 worth of healthy holiday gift sets!!! Enter to win below!!
Would you like to be the lucky winner of one of these awesome gift sets?
The Home Spa Gift: Value $190 value
The Healthy Metabolism Home Chef Gift: $102 value
The Work Out Smarter Not Harder Gift: $110 value
The Stylish Yogi Gift: $210 value
Please note: Includes shipping within the U.S. If a winner outside the U.S. is chosen – shipping costs will need to be paid by the winner, or they may forfeit the prize. All attempts will be made for gifts to arrive before Dec. 25th, but it is not guaranteed. Must be 18 to enter.
Don’t forget to sign up for The Metabolism Summit – coming Feb 1st!!
Note: some of the above links are affiliate links – meaning Sara Vance will earn a small commission for referring you.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
Usually if something sounds too good to be true – it is. Except in this case!!
This superfood version of chocolate mousse is dairy free and 100% guilt free!! It is also rich in fiber, omega 3s, magnesium, has no sugar and whips up in minutes! I know, hard to believe – but all true! It is a rich and creamy delicious chocolatty delight!! And unlike other chocolate mousses, this one will not spike your bloodsugar. It will fill you up, and keep your hunger hormones in control and keep you satisfied for hours!
* The ice cubes are primarily to chill the mousse, you can omit if you are making it and not eating it right away. Put into the refrigerator to chill.
Note – this recipe requires a Vitamix blender that has a “tamper” – the tool that helps to process thicker recipes, stirring ingredients and removing air pockets in the blender.
Put into a container in the refrigerator, or pour into a dish and enjoy. This can make 1 large serving, or two small ones.
This is a Perfect Metabolism program recipe!
Read Cuckoo for Coconut oil to learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil.
Serve these delicious Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes for Valentines Day!
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
Melt the coconut oil gently over low heat on the stovetop, or in a Pyrex dish in a hot water bath. Then mix together all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (except the raspberries). Add the 1/4 cup raspberries and process until combined*. If using frozen, it will instantly thicken the frosting. Spoon out into a bowl and place in refrigerator to chill. Rinse and set aside the fresh raspberries for topping the cupcakes.
*Note: If you do not want the frosting to be raspberry flavored, just omit the raspberries. It will have a slight coconut taste – if you do not like that – replace the coconut oil with organic butter (this is a non-vegan option).
It is no wonder we celebrate Valentines Day with chocolate – cacao, one of chocolate’s key ingredients, contains high levels of Phenylethylamine, referred to as the love chemical, because our bodies produce it when we fall in love!
A heart healthy food, dark chocolate is perfect for February, because it is National Heart Health month. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers disease.
This recipe for CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolates takes chocolate to a whole other level, combining some of my favorite superfoods to make a super healthy chocolate!
Scroll down below the recipe for more information about the superfoods in this recipe.
CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolate
More about the Superfood ingredients in this recipe:
CACAO: Historically, cacao has been used both as medicine and as currency. Cacao is the #1 food source of magnesium, which is probably one of the big reasons it is so good for our heart – magnesium has been shown in studies to lower the risk of heart disease mortality by 50%! Cacao also contains potassium, iron, polyphenols, flavanols, theobromine, and proanthocyanidins. Cacao’s long list of health benefits include reducing heart attack and stroke, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood and brain function, protection against Alzheimers disease, lowering stress, relaxing muscles, boosting our skin’s internal SPF, and much more. I choose Sunfood raw cacao, because raw cacao has a higher antioxidant content than cocoa, and it even has a higher antioxidant rating than blueberries, acai, and even goji berries.
COCONUT OIL: In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “Kalpa Vriksha” which means: “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, which gets burned as fuel faster (so less likely to be converted to fat). It is also one of the most beneficial oils for our heart heath. Coconut oil is comprised of about 50% lauric acid, which is immune boosting, anti viral, anti bacterial, and helpful in lowering high cholesterol & high blood pressure. Coconut oil boosts HDL cholesterol, which helps to usher out the bad cholesterol. It also helps to regulate our hunger hormones and insulin levels. Coconut oil helps the body to absorb vitamins and minerals, and it also is more stable – meaning it will not oxidize – oxidized fats promote heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases. Coconut oil has also been touted for prevention/treatment for Alzheimers disease. When choosing a coconut oil, I like to look for quality unrefined, organic cold pressed oils – such as Barleans. Because of all the benefits, I recommend to all my cleanse participants to take coconut oil every day. But not everyone is a big fan of eating straight coconut oil – so that is why I came up with this recipe for dark chocolates made with Nuttzo nut butter.
NuttZo: The best nut butter on the planet, NuttZo is a wonderful blend of 7 different organic nuts and seeds. NuttZo contains chia and flax seeds, which provide a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, which are critical for prevention of heart disease and many other diseases. It also contains Brazil nuts, which are one of the best food sources of selenium, a powerful antioxidant which has been proven to protect the body against infection, and certain types of cancer. And it has pumpkin seeds which are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic.
When there is a bit of a chill in the air, curling up on the couch with a nice cup of hot chocolate is a delicious way to warm up. My kids love hot chocolate – but I don’t love the kind made with those hot chocolate packets – each cup contains 20 grams of sugar (5 teaspoons!) and a bunch of other no-so-healthy ingredients we try to avoid. Here is the ingredients list from a popular brand:
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
Then I found the perfect solution – delicious and healthy hot chocolate – thanks to Barleans Chocolate Greens! First of all, these greens are like no other – they do not taste “greenish” or look at all green – so they are great for kids, especially picky ones. They are not grainy at all either – they stir in totally smooth into your liquid. Each serving contains more than 5 servings of vegetables, probiotics, superfood greens, and much more! So when I read that it makes a yummy hot chocolate – we decided to give it a try – and it definitely makes a delicious and super healthy cup of hot chocolate (or chocolate milk, or chocolate smoothie)!
I wasn’t expecting my daughter to like it, who is a mostly reformed, but still a little bit of picky eater, and definitely a supertaster – so when she gave it the thumbs up, I was totally elated.
There are a couple ways to make it:
Pour your hot chocolate into a mug, and serve. Optional – you could even use a mini organic
candy cane to stir – it will give it a nice minty taste. Or top with some Elyon gluten free mini marshmallows, available at Whole Foods markets.
I am not a fan of pecan pie – I find it way too sweet, and don’t like how it is kind of gelatinous. But I know it is a traditional pie for Thanksgiving. So I came up with this Dark Chocolate Pecan Tart – which just so happens to be gluten and grain free too. It also has no Karo syrup (like traditional pecan pie), or sugar (uses organic agave nectar and stevia instead). Try it this Thanksgiving, or any other time you want to impress your guests (or when you are craving chocolate)! It is a nice treat – but won’t send you off the deep end like traditional pecan pie.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
We are big drinkers in our house – smoothie drinkers that is.
We put our Vitamix to work every morning, starting almost every day with a smoothie. I find smoothies to be a great way to sneak in superfoods like chia seeds and greens powders, and also veggies too. My daughter was getting really tired of the fruit smoothies, and so for a while she was skipping her morning smoothie – so she wasn’t getting her superfoods. So I decided to make her a Chocolate Superfood smoothie one morning, and now it is her favorite (she actually prefers hers without the banana, my son likes extra banana, so it is adjustable)! If you make it without the banana, just add an extra ice cube or two to thicken it up.
Have you heard about the study that found chocolate milk to be a great post-workout drink? This drink offers all the benefits of chocolate milk, plus so much more (and by being non-dairy, it is not mucus-producing like dairy can be. And many people can not digest the lactose in milk).
This smoothie is like having a yummy chocolate milkshake for breakfast (great for a pre or post workout snack too).
Choco-Banana Super Smoothie
Makes two smoothies (approx. 5 oz. each)
Put everything into blender except ice and frozen banana. Blend to combine well. Then add frozen banana and ice, blend well. Serve immediately.
This smoothie has so many benefits:
So give it a try at home and let me know what you (and the kids) think!
I love black beans – they are excellent for our digestion, and are high in a kind of fiber called resistant starch – which helps to make us feel fuller and can travel all the way through our digestive tract without being digested. Resistant starch has been shown to help promote weight loss. Recent research has linked consumption of beans to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer. The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society–all recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health. Beans also contain antioxidants, and flavinoids.
Another food that is heart healthy is dark chocolate. Studies have shown that daily consumption of a small amount of dark chocolate can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by over 30%. Also high in magnesium, read I Heart Dark Chocolate to learn more health benefits of dark chocolate.
So dark chocolate black bean brownies are a much healthier way to get your chocolate fix than traditional brownies. But when I was researching black bean brownies a while back, I tried a few recipes that I found online – and there was something missing – they were too mushy and dense.
So this recipe fixed the mushiness by adding coconut flour (high in fiber, gluten free) and xantham gum (helpful in gluten free baking). And these brownies have one other benefit – they contains chia seeds – which are high in omega 3s, and also an excellent source of fiber.
I used to use canned black beans to make this, but now I make my black beans from scratch – read why.
THE BEST Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies!
Servings: 20 small squares
These dark chocolate brownies are a great alternative to traditional brownies – if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t guess that the main ingredient are black beans. In addition, the chia seeds add fiber and Omega 3s, the coconut flour is gluten-free and a high fiber food. And dark chocolate is a superfood with antioxidants.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease with butter or coconut oil an 8×8″ or 9×9” pan and set aside.
Puree the black beans in a food processor or blender (must be a powerful one like a Vitamix). Add a little water if needed to puree. Melt butter and dark chocolate chips on a double boiler or carefully in microwave (do not overheat). Allow to cool slightly. Crack eggs into a glass measuring cup, and whisk, then add sugar and agave nectar, and soaked chia seed – whisk all together well with a fork. Put the melted butter & chocolate, pureed black beans and all other ingredients into the food processor and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Optional – top with additional dark chocolate chips (mini chips work best).
Bake approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing and serving. Store in refrigerator or air-tight container. Enjoy!
One of nature’s perfect superfoods – coconut oil has almost endless uses and is definitely on my must-have healthy shopping list! In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “Kalpa Vriksha” which means: “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” When choosing a coconut oil, I like to look for quality unrefined, organic cold pressed oils – such as Barleans. Each & every Barleans coconut is sourced from the Phillipine isles and hand selected and picked fresh from the tree at it’s peak of flavor, aroma & nutritional value.<
1. A Healthy Fat:
Many people think because it is a saturated fat, that it is not good for you. But that could not be further from the truth!
2. Ideal Cooking Oil:
3. Great for Skin & Hair:
4. Boosts Immune System
Homemade dark chocolate is one of the easiest things to make, this recipe has only 5 ingredients and is ready in no time.
Dark chocolate is shown to lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers. Cacao gives dark chocolate it’s flavor and also is high in minerals and antioxidants, read I Heart Dark Chocolate to learn more about the many health benefits of cacao. In this recipe, I also use coconut oil, which offers many health benefits – including Alzheimer’s disease prevention, and potentially even reversal, according to this article. It is estimated that as many as 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is also linked to Alzheimers and other disorders like ADD, muscle aches and osteoporosis, read article from Natural News. This homemade dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy way to get a daily dose of heart health benefits and Alzheimers protection – so enjoy a square of this dark chocolate without any guilt!
Homemade Dark Chocolate
Melt the coconut oil (I like to use a double boiler on simmer), allow to cool just slightly, then put all ingredients into a bowl – whisk together to combine well. Pour into a mold (I like the Tovolo ice cube molds), and put in freezer. They should be ready in 15 mins!!
They taste a little like a Mounds candy bar. This recipe has to come with a warning – you will find it hard to buy dark chocolate at the store ever again after trying this! Best kept stored in freezer.
© copyright 2016 Sara Vance