Is plastic safe for the microwave?

Vegan Sushi

No Heating Required – Vegan Sushi

Food spatters in the microwave, leaving a mess. So we do what everyone does – we cover it. But what we cover our food with can leach into it and damage our bodies.

No, no deaths have been reported as directly caused by plastic chemical leakage. But breast cancer, obesity and early onset puberty are more prevalent in developed countries, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Phthalates, the chemicals that make a plastic container flexible, can be absorbed by food when it’s heated. These chemicals have been related to hormone imbalances and birth defects, and are “present in measurable levels in the blood of nearly every person in the developed world,” according to the doctor cited in this Wall Street Journal article.

You’ve probably heard of BPA, which is increasingly being removed from baby bottles and water bottles. That chemical originally began as a potential estrogen replacement. Low doses of BPA have been linked to birth defects of reproductive systems in laboratory animals, according to the Environmental Working Group. Even though S.C. Johnson, the makers of Saran Wrap, says it doesn’t use BPA in its products, that’s not the only chemical out there.

Heating food in plastic is taking an unnecessary risk, and one I would rather avoid. Just eat raw food! Problem solved! Right? Okay, if you’re not quite ready to commit to quit cooking cold-turkey (pun intended), here are some more palatable solutions:

  • Use unleaded glass or ceramic bowls with lids instead of plastic containers or plastic wrap.
  • Paper towels make great – and safe – covers!
  • If you must use plastic to re-heat, make sure it’s new and in good condition, and avoid reheating creamy, buttery, and fatty foods (they absorb more chemicals).
  • Don’t keep plastic water bottles in your car for drinking later.

The Juice is Loose! The Rising Popularity of Juicing

Fresh Juice, Intelligent Gourmet

For something that is essentially cold, juice is hotter than ever. Juice shops are springing up on every corner, like Starbucks in the ‘90s. A New York Times article, “The Juice-Bar Brawl” says it best:

“Half a decade ago, most people who were found guzzling and gushing about juice – not grocery store O.J., but the dense, cold-pressed stuff that is made by pulverizing mounds of ingredients like kale, beets, ginger, spinach and kohlrabi – were either zealots from the raw-food fringe or Hollywood celebrities who believed that a ‘juice cleanse’ would nudge their toned bodies even closer to radiant perfection. But along the way, more people started drinking it. And for consumers and entrepreneurs, a realization took hold: juice did not have to be part of a challenging, expensive cleanse. It could simply be lunch.”

Yes, the industry is booming. And for every boutique juice shop like ours, there are more and more conveyor-belt chains popping up like dandelions in a fresh bed of wheat-grass. We like dandelions (they’re delicious additions to salads), but we also like our ability to create a variety of juices that are high quality, constantly changing with the seasons, and customizable to what our clients need and want. We also don’t think there’s a mass-produced substitute for our years of expertise in the field of health, nutrition, and making healthy foods taste delicious.

What Sets Our Juices Apart

Our juices don’t just include fruit juice, they’re carefully balanced with natural nutrients like hemp protein, turmeric, or almond milk, to give you the foundation for mind and body balance. There are some things you can’t quite achieve with a conveyer belt.

But we are thrilled that more and more people are finding out about juices. We love them. Come in and try one of our 16oz fresh-made juices for just $12.50. Like the New York Times says, “it could simply be lunch.”

SuperFood Breakfast Parfait

superfood parfait

Behold: The Breakfast of Champions! I’m serious! Whether you’ve got a tough day of work ahead of you, or you’re about to take final exams (or the LSAT), or you need a little extra fuel for your morning cardio workout, this quick and easy parfait has everything you need to rock your morning. Let’s take a close look at what’s in here –

While we love our Greek Yogurt (and what its pro-biotics do for our digestive systems), sometimes we make our parfaits with almond milk and hemp protein powder. Of course, you could do all three, but our vegan customers appreciate the flexibility of going without the dairy. Almond milk is packed with Vitamin E, protein and magnesium, and is derived from one of the healthiest nuts in the world, but is low in calories. For additional protein, one of my favorite additives is hemp protein powder because it contains all of the essential amino acids (which you can easily find in meat, but less easily with protein alternatives).

We’ve also included blackberries, rich in cancer-fighting, cell-renewing anti-oxidants, and walnuts. There are some foods that are so packed with health benefits, it’s better than taking a daily vitamin. Walnuts, in my opinion, are one of these true SuperFoods.

Walnuts have been linked to protecting against heart disease, strengthening the circulatory system, increasing sperm count in men trying to conceive, and – their age-old claim to fame – helping the brain function better with Omega-3s. Added bonus – walnuts have also been linked to helping people lose weight. In fact, this article calls it “the king of nuts,” because “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”

Really, we could have packed the cup with walnuts and called it a day. Just kidding!

Combined, these superfoods give you the slow-burning energy you need to feel fantastic, at least until lunchtime.

Carbs, Comfort, and Cauliflower

Intelligent Gourmet imageWhen you’re feeling down – whether because of hormones, a bad day, or too little sleep – you’ve probably noticed that you go straight to the carbs in your cupboard for comfort. For me, it’s pasta and wine. For you it might be cookies, or bread, or chips. Emotional eating is hard to curb because, well, it works. At least in the short term (you won’t be feeling so hot the next morning!).

Here’s why it works.

In the Psychology Today article “The Antidepressant Diet” by Dr. Judith Wurtman, she makes the case that we crave carbs to help regulate our emotions because carbs are integral in creating serotonin – one of the body’s feel-good chemicals (one with the added bonus of curbing food cravings and suppressing appetite): “Serotonin makes you feel emotionally stable, less anxious, more tranquil and even more focused and energetic.”

The best combination, according to her studies with her husband Dr. Richard Wurtman, is eating protein and carbs together. Protein is rich in tryptophan, necessary for serotonin production, and is absorbed best when there are carbohydrates in your system at the same time.

But there are carbs like pasta and sweets – and there are carbs like cauliflower. One is stripped of nutrients, the other helps fight cancer. Which would you rather have? Okay, probably still the pasta and sweets. Let me make a case for that cauliflower though.

Cauliflower is an incredibly flexible vegetable. Steam it in the microwave, add a little garlic and cottage cheese, then use an immersion blender and you have fantastic “mashed potatoes.” You can use it to make Gluten Free flatbreads, and I found a recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Bites on Pinterest this morning (check it out on my Intelligent Appetizers board).

Yes, I am giving you an excuse to give in to your emotional eating – but do it wisely. Your body is craving a protein and carb cocktail to make you feel better. By using Cauliflower as your carb, you won’t just feel better now, you’ll feel great tomorrow morning in front of the mirror too!


Crunchy Chicken Tacos – A Balanced Lunchtime Treat

Crunchy Chicken Tacos

Sometimes what you really need is a good, emotionally satisfying CRUNCH! Not from carrots, celery, or lettuce either. That crunchy goodness in the photo is gluten-free, and you can achieve the same result at home by baking pita bread (gluten free or regular) in the oven at 400F for 7 minutes. Brush it with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic salt for a little added zing.

But it’s not just the bread I want to talk about, it’s the whole picture. The bigger picture: How Protein, Carbs and Fat work together. In our Crunchy Chicken Tacos, we have chicken breast, avocado, lettuce, and salsa – with a squeeze of lime – together for a reason. Studies show that eating a balanced meal of lean protein, carbs, and good fats (ie. not pizza!) creates less inflammation in the body, reducing risk for heart disease and cancer, and can help you lose weight.

Lean protein and good fat (rich in Omega 3s) work together to help you digest the carbs in your meal more slowly, which means you stay feeling full longer. But it goes a step further than that. By eating small portions of lean proteins and good fats with carbs, you’re keeping your insulin levels low, which means your brain isn’t yelling at your body to grow and store fat NOW! Best part? Eating more protein causes your pancreas to release glucagon, a fat-burning hormone that stabilizes blood sugar levels by releasing stored body fat for energy.

I know there are many diets out there that require eating all fats and proteins, or all carbs (ie. fruits, veggies and legumes), but there’s a lot to be said for having a balanced meal. We need carbs for energy. We need protein for our muscles and glands. And we need fats for healthy brain function – including hormones and nervous systems. That’s my kind of food pyramid.