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Alive - A Natural Health & Wellness Maga.. by Janelle Lassalle And Morgan Oliveir.. - 2w ago
So, CBD is showing up everywhere …

Chances are you’ve heard about CBD, and that’s for good reason. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis. It’s rapidly gaining popularity for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, plus its promising neuroprotective and anti-anxiety effects. And even though CBD is derived from cannabis, it doesn’t get you “high” like the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis does. In fact, CBD oil can be sourced from hemp plants (which are essentially THC free).

Sounds great, right? That may explain why new CBD products are appearing all the time, despite the fact its legality is murky (at time of writing, your best bet is to do your research and know your state’s laws and where the CBD is sourced from).

CBD comes in the expected forms: think softgel capsules and tinctures taken under the tongue, or topical salves for inflammation and pain management. Other applications are more novel: think CBD face masks, teas, bath salts and even mascara!

-Janelle Lassalle

Get into medicinal mushrooms

You may have noticed medicinal mushroom products popping up everywhere from your favorite grocery store to your local juice bar as a smoothie add-in option. And with good reason! Evidence shows that, when consumed on a regular basis, medicinal mushrooms can support our health in many ways—particularly by boosting the immune system. Of course, this is nothing new in Asia, and has actually been common practice for centuries.

The secret behind the buzz lies deep within the mushrooms’ tough cell walls. Large carbohydrate-based molecules called polysaccharides found there stimulate the immune system.

So, should you run out and hop on the fungus bus? While more research is needed to fully understand how medicinal mushrooms work in the body, it’s hard to argue with hundreds of years’ worth of use. The best approach is a chat with your health care practitioner—after all, adding a spoonful of cordyceps or lion’s mane to your daily coffee makes it a true pick-me-up!

-Morgan Oliveira

Pump up the protein—pronto

Whether you’re headed back to school or just getting super busy this fall, here are some fun and fast ways to bump up your daily dose of clean, plant-based proteins!

Switch out your wheat flour for almond flour. Not only is it more moist, but it has a whopping 24 g of protein per cup! And it’s gluten free too. Triple win!

Bulk up your morning iced coffee by adding a scoop of your favorite vegan protein powder. So creamy, you can even dial back the soy milk!

As fall rolls in, so do cravings for soup and stew. A couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast mixed into your steaming bowl not only adds a flavor boost, but it also adds 6 g of protein!

Keep a container of dry roasted edamame in your gym bag, backpack, purse or glove compartment. Add the edamame to your salad or meal on the go; 1/4 cup has 14 g of protein!

-Morgan Oliveira

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@yoga_mami Why follow?

Yoga teacher Josephine Jacob makes yoga a family affair. The poses are equal parts impressive, adorable and “How does that even work??”

@shisodelicious Why follow?

Sara Kiyo Popowa builds bountiful Bento boxes. Her first cookbook, Bento Power: Brilliantly Balanced Lunchbox Recipes, is out this month!

@laceandsweat Why follow?

“Plant based” sums up Gladys Tay’s everything: from her interior design ethos to her unfussy meals to the fuel for those abs.

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There’s basically nothing more frustrating than purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables only to have them go bad before you’ve had a chance to eat them. If you follow a plant-based diet, the struggle is even more real. From avocados and asparagus to bananas and berries, one of the pitfalls of fresh produce is its speedy expiration date.

But what if you had two to three times longer to use what you bought? In a roundabout way, that’s the question Apeel Sciences founder James Rogers asked himself when he learned that the United States throws away approximately one-third to one-half of its harvested produce. Globally, 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption are wasted each year.

With the world already in danger of not having enough food for the people who will be on the planet in the next 30 years, it’s clear the current food waste situation is dire. Rogers says there are two choices: “feed more people with fewer resources, or deal with the sociopolitical issues of not having enough food.”

After some research, Rogers discovered refrigeration in what’s called the “cold chain” (temperature-controlled food storage and transportation systems) has helped drastically reduce food waste. But refrigeration isn’t accessible in some parts of the world, and it’s energy intensive.

“I wanted to extend the shelf life of produce—not just for farmers who don’t have access to refrigeration, but also at retail and all the way to your countertop,” he says. Of Apeel, where he’s now science director and CEO, he says, “We believe the simplest way to move the needle on resource savings is to use less.”

Food saves food

The idea for Apeel came from an unlikely comparison: rust on steel. Rogers considered the way oxidation creates rust that “spoils” steel by breaking it down. Metallurgists solved the problem by adding different atoms to the surface of the steel to create a barrier that would diffuse the oxygen. Rogers founded Apeel Sciences in 2012 to do the same for produce.

On a macro level, Apeel uses food to preserve food. The product is composed of plant-derived materials that employ plants’ natural defenses to create an extra “peel” around the outside of the produce (see “How it works”). This means produce can be harvested when it’s more mature and contains more nutrients—and it stays fresh a heck of a lot longer.

Produce gets Apeel

With backing from big-name investors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Andreessen Horowitz, the company has already rolled out Apeel avocados in select grocery stores. For Rogers, giving avocados the Apeel advantage made perfect sense.

“Avocados have reached internet meme status,” he says. (One popular meme reads, ‘“Not yet, not yet, not yet, eat me now, too late.’ – Avocado”) Rogers adds, “We don’t think that’s funny—we think it’s sad.”

After avocados, Apeel set its sights on preserving finger limes. Sometimes called caviar limes, the cylindrical fruits contain pearl-like sacs full of lime juice. If you haven’t heard of this foodie phenomenon, it’s likely because the short shelf life has prevented widespread distribution. Apeel has a solution that’s on track to arrive this year.

“Apeel finger limes are one example of how we can increase biodiversity in grocery stores,” Rogers says. “With the longer shelf life, we can now take some of these really cool and nutritious products and bring them to new areas. This will also help small farmers grow their businesses.”

With Apeel asparagus set to arrive by the end of the year as well, the company continues to ramp up its offerings, solving the food waste problem the natural way.

“Nature has the answer to the problems we’re facing today,” Rogers says. “The idea isn’t to create something in a lab that plants have never seen. We’re simply using the solutions they’re already using.”

How it works
  • Apeel gathers plant materials like seeds, rinds, pulps or peels from sources like soup plants, wineries, farms and other food processing facilities. It can use any plant that grows above the earth’s surface.
  • It takes lipids and glycerolipids from the plants—the same materials plants use to defend themselves—and turns the lipids into powder “formulations.” The individual formulations vary. The Apeel formulation for avocados, for example, differs from that for asparagus.
  • The powders are shipped to the farms or processing plants where Apeel goes on the produce, including USDA Organic certified produce.
  • The powder is mixed with water, and the formulation is applied via a spray, rinse, drench or other delivery method.
  • When the produce dries, the formulation creates a thin, invisible and tasteless barrier on the surface that acts as an edible peel, minimizing moisture loss and reducing oxidation. By maintaining the produce’s microclimate, Apeel helps the food last two to three times longer without refrigeration.

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When you’re a mom, squeezing in “me time” between carpool pickups, sports practices and meal prep can feel more challenging than potty training your firstborn. But just because you have little ones to take care of doesn’t mean that self-care has to take a back seat—or, in this case, a car seat. To find out how you can fit a little beauty into your busy life, we tapped three mompreneurs to share their daily routines. Their collective secret? A little mascara goes a long, long way.

Courtenay Perks

“I make time for myself so I have the energy to put into my family. You can’t give what you don’t have. So I make it a priority to do things for me,” says Courtenay Perks, the blogger behind Whole Vegan Pantry. “When I feel more in love with myself, that love and energy can then go into my children and husband.”

Her skincare secret

“I use a cleanser and scrub with disposable gauze morning and night. Then I use a toner made from 1/2 cup of witch hazel and 10 drops of tea tree oil, hydrating moisturizer and eye cream. At least once a week, I have an Epsom salts bath, dry body brush and then moisturize my body with hempseed oil. I wash and leave my hair to dry on its own, as I find it stays healthier that way.”

Her two-minutes-or-less makeup hack

“Now I’m working more, I find I’m also wearing less makeup, which I’m loving—my skin feels amazing and fresh. If I wear makeup [at all], it’s only ever really quick and simple. I wear a light foundation, concealer around the eyes, a little pencil on the brows, gloss on my lips, a little blush, mascara and a simple liquid eyeliner. This literally takes two minutes max.”

Her swear-by ingredients

“Once or twice a week I do a charcoal face mask. I make it myself. It’s 1/2 tsp charcoal powder, 1/2 tsp bentonite clay powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp coconut oil and 1 tsp water. I leave it on for 10 minutes and then scrub it off. When I go to the infrared sauna, I put coconut oil through my hair and rinse it out after. My hair is really shiny and glossy after.”

Her beauty tip for busy moms

“Take care of yourself from the inside out. Drink more water; eat more plants; move every day. And it’s okay to take care of yourself first.”

Jennifer Rose Rossano

“It’s important for me to find time for self-care because it’s important to take care of yourself,” says Jennifer Rose Rossano, the writer behind plant-based parenting blog NeuroticMommy and mom of two. “It’s not perfect—I’m not sitting in front of a vanity being fanned while my hubs feeds me grapes (haha)—but I get the job done, and it’s mostly at night when the kids are asleep. It also doesn’t take me hours. I have my routine down pat.”

Her skincare secret

“In the evenings I like to wash my face, exfoliate, spray on some toner or do a face or hair mask—whatever I’m in the mood for that night. And sometimes I like to keep it real simple and just lather my face up with castor oil and call it a night.”

Her two-minutes-or-less makeup hack

“A quick tip I do every day (so I don’t look like a complete hot mess when I’m dropping my son off at school) is tinted moisturizer and some mascara. The tinted moisturizer evens out my skin while adding some brightness, and the mascara just makes my eyes pop.”

Her swear-by ingredients

“I absolutely love lavender for my skin. It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that are really soothing to the skin. It also just generally enhances your mood—makes you feel calm and relaxed. It’s pleasant all around. For my hair I love lavender too, but also peppermint as it stimulates the scalp. I like using coconut or jojoba oil for added moisture.”

Her beauty tip for busy moms

“A little goes a long way, ladies!”

Sunny Subramanian

“As an entrepreneur and single mom of two little boys, making time for self-care is essential for my sanity and well-being,” says Sunny Subramanian, the beauty expert behind Vegan Beauty Review. “Basically, how I see it is that I can’t be the best version of myself for others unless I set aside time for taking care of myself. I try to schedule ‘me time’ every single day, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour.”

Her skincare secret

“For the evening, I remove my makeup with makeup wipes or jojoba oil on a cotton round, and then I wash my face with a creamy cleanser mixed with argan or grapeseed oil. I then tone and moisturize with shea butter or beauty oils. I love having all that yummy goodness soak into my skin while I catch my zzzz’s.”

Her two-minutes-or-less makeup hack

“When I’m in a rush or just want to keep things simple, I literally just use a bit of under-eye concealer, mascara and tinted lip gloss. It’s amazing how those three products can make me feel instantly put together.”

Her swear-by ingredients

“I’m pretty much a sucker for anything with argan oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, aloe, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, activated charcoal and essential oils. I love ingredients that are all-natural and pack a punch, whether it’s for moisturizing, anti-aging, detoxing or all of the above.”

Her beauty tip for busy moms

“Two words: dry shampoo. It’s seriously life changing. Baby powder works wonders [as a] quick, emergency finishing powder or dry shampoo.”

Mom-friendly skincare ingredients

Looking for fixes that are mom tested? Check out some of our faves, care of Schweiger Dermatology’s Michele Farber, MD. (And remember: It’s a good idea to test new products or ingredients on a small patch of skin before you slather them all over your face!)

Rosehip oil is packed with antioxidants that help reduce free radical damage that breaks down collagen. Use it once or twice a day as a serum—it’s perfect for busy schedules.

Green tea is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that calms acne, so it packs a punch. Brew yourself three bags for a nighttime treat—one for sipping and two more to cool down and use under your eyes. Look for green tea-infused skincare products too.

Chamomile tea is very calming for sensitive skin, and it’s a great anti-inflammatory. Look for it in your products, or grab a hot or iced iteration to sip on the go.

Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate skincare superstar. It replenishes the moisture barrier of the skin and is important to look for in any good cleanser, moisturizer, serum or eye cream. If you need one ingredient that can do it all, this stuff is it.

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Who hasn’t fantasized about leaving it all behind and traveling abroad à la Eat Pray Love? For most of us, reality soon sets in: there are kids to care for, pets to feed, bills to pay. But for these globe-trotting families, wanderlust isn’t a distraction from daily life. It is life, with many of them spending years on the road (or water). Prepare to be inspired.

The Gifford family Living the sweet life on deck

When I reached Behan Gifford, she was sailing through the 32 islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Can I get back to you?” she asked. “We may not have internet for a week.”

She and her husband, Jamie, along with their three children, have been floating around the world since 2008. “When we sailed from Seattle, we anticipated being away for two to five years,” recalls Gifford. At the time, their children were ages four, six and nine. “I’m stunned that we’ve entered our 10th year, with no end in sight!”

On land, Gifford and her husband were very successful by traditional standards. But as they juggled careers and parenting, they craved a different life—one that was more minimalist and where their family lived in sync with nature.

“We considered other ways to rescale and reorient our lives, but always came back to nomadic life afloat,” says Gifford. “A boat is the near-perfect magic carpet for far-flung travel.”

The Giffords literally go wherever the wind blows, sometimes switching hemispheres to avoid hurricanes. “The specifics change a lot,” she says. “You can pick the date or the place, but not both!”

This has taught them the importance of flexibility, both as travelers and as parents. Take their children’s education, for example. “Homeschooling was never something I aspired to, but it was necessary,” explains Gifford. And the family’s life on sea has become a classroom unlike any other.

“Our children have views based on first-hand experience instead of the media,” explains Gifford. “They’ve heard islanders in Papua New Guinea describe how their communities are sold out to foreign companies for timber or mining. They’ve swum on enough reefs to recognize a healthy reef ecosystem, as well as one that’s overfished or impacted by climate change. They’ve gained an appreciation for how rich their options are in life, their control over their destiny and how precious and uncommon this is in the world. It’s a priceless education.”

Learn more about the Giffords’ adventures afloat: sailingtotem.com

The Kosman family Making memories from Hong Kong to Costa Rica

Charles and Micki Kosman live in Canada, though you’ll rarely find them there. Since 2003, they’ve traveled to more than 40 countries.

While they’ve made adjustments—for example, swapping out cheap hostels and rickety buses for more conventional accommodations and modes of transportation—the adventures didn’t stop when they had kids. “We knew children would complicate our travel, but we’d already met so many traveling families that we knew we could keep on doing it,” says Micki Kosman.

Their son was just three weeks old when they took him on an 800-mile road trip. By the time he was two years old, he’d been to much of North America, plus Cuba, Hong Kong and the Philippines. “There’s this misconception that travel with children is incredibly hard,” she says. “I honestly find that’s not the case.”

Their son is now in his early teens, and they have a daughter who is a few years younger. Kosman says that recently, “We spent 10 days in the Galapagos snorkeling with turtles, sharks and sea lions.”

The kids now have irreplaceable memories that span continents. “Our son still talks about boogie boarding in Costa Rica,” says Kosman.

Learn more about the Kosmans’ continent cruising: thebarefootnomad.com

Keeping up with the jet-setters

“Parenting can be tough,” says Micki Kosman. “We may as well be parenting somewhere beautiful when the challenges come!” Here are her tips to keep kids happy and parents sane while traveling abroad.

Go with medical travel insurance

Take other health precautions too. “I always have the addresses of the nearest hospitals in my phone,” says Kosman. Her husband packs an offline map of the area, and they carry a first aid kit wherever they go.

Look for kid-specific attractions

“We always find a nice outdoor space where the kids can run around and we can all relax,” says Kosman.

Involve kids in the planning

“Ask your kids what they want to do, and let them help you plan,” she suggests. “If the kids are as excited as you are, everyone will have a better time!”

Put a stop to travel stress

“Once a child reaches their breaking point, no one will have any fun,” warns Kosman. “Keep your days shorter, don’t pre-plan every second of your journey and spend a few more minutes playing in the park and a few less walking through museums.”

The Jones family Creating a community of wanderers

Libryia Jones always wanted to travel, but the world kept throwing obstacles in her path. She was offered a year-long internship in China, but the school wouldn’t let her bring her daughter. Then she tried to join a group that took people abroad for a year, but they also banned children.

“I got tired of continuously getting knocked down for something I’d been dreaming of,” she says. So Jones did it herself. She started Wandering Moms with a friend. It’s a community of more than 10,000 traveling women, most of whom are single moms.

“These moms literally give their children the world!” exclaims Jones.

Jones also started a company that offers an immersive experience called “My Wander Year.” Participants live in four revolving locations for three months at a time. Recently that included the Czech Republic, Thailand, South Africa and Colombia.

She says the notion that a child’s stability requires a North American lifestyle is a misconception. “Their stability comes from their parents,” says Jones. “If they’ve got us, they’ve got stability. The routine could be the standard: school, homework, dinner, bed, repeat. Or it could be that we head to another country every three months.”

Traveling with a teen brings its own challenges, like giving them the friends and independence so many adolescents crave. “I made it a point to get her onto soccer teams in each location,” says Jones. “It was helpful to have her around girls her age.”

Jones adds, “It also helped that she had much more independence.” She notes that many countries are safer than North American cities. In Prague, her daughter would ride the tram by herself. In Thailand, she’d call an Uber to go to soccer practice.

Education can also be a challenge with an older child. Jones recommends researching the options available. “There are homeschool curriculums, unschooling and even virtual schools,” she says.

For Jones, the benefits outweigh any difficulties. “You turn things most children only learn in books into real-life experiences,” Jones says. Two of her daughter’s most memorable experiences were visiting Anne Frank’s hiding place, and standing where Nelson Mandela stood when he gave his first speech after being released from prison.

“At any time in your life, you’re able to choose the life you want,” says Jones. “Your children aren’t a hindrance to that. In fact, they should be a catalyst. Do you want to teach them that they can do anything they want with their lives? Who best to learn that from than you, and how best to teach them than by example?”

Learn more about Jones and her will to wander: wanderistlife.com

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There’s no denying protein is having its moment. Seems every time we turn around, there’s a new protein powder or energy bar on the market. Still, if there’s one question those of us following a plant-based diet hear often, it’s not “Which is your favorite?” More like “How do you get enough?”

Thanks to Kathy Freston, these questions are coming to an end. A passionate vegan for years, as well as a bestselling author and media favorite who has appeared on shows like Ellen and Good Morning America, she’s on a mission to clear up the protein confusion once and for all.

Her latest book, Clean Protein: The Revolution that will Reshape Your Body, Boost Your Energy—and Save Our Planet, co-authored with Bruce Friedrich, tackles myths surrounding different proteins, revealing how certain foods really affect both humans and the planet we live on.

Not only do the authors set the record straight on how to get enough protein, but they also explain the importance of choosing “clean protein.” These proteins are mostly whole plant foods. They’re easy to find and affordable. They’re also free of harmful chemicals. In a nutshell, they’re not just better for your body; they’re better for the planet too.

It’s about the ‘protein package’

According to Freston, “Clean protein is protein that’s free of contaminants and health concerns.” She says this goes beyond just looking at the protein itself. It means also looking at the entire protein package—for example, “how much cholesterol or saturated fat is embedded in your protein of choice, and whether or not it causes inflammation in the body.”

Freston says that when you incorporate clean sources into your diet, your body is fueled for optimum performance. Ever considered switching to a hybrid or fully electric car to reduce reliance on dirty fossil fuel energy? Switching to clean protein does the same thing for the body, while also having positive effects on the environment.

She says, “Think about experiencing all the benefits of a typical high-protein diet—stronger muscles, healthy hair, glowing skin—without any of the heart disease, diabetes and increased cancer risk. Same protein performance, but cleaner. That’s clean protein.”

A clean protein revolution is what our planet needs too. “The world’s population is rising. The demand for protein is growing, and the current system of raising animals for food is quite simply not sustainable,” Freston says. “The land and water cannot bear the burden—nor can human health.”

Plant-based sources of clean protein

What are these magic clean proteins, you ask? Think vegan protein powders, tofu and nuts, and you’re on track. However, Freston adds, don’t forget the everyday food staples that are likely in your pantry or kitchen already.

Imagine enjoying a lunch bowl of spinach and brown rice topped with a legume of your choice, along with an olive oil dressing, unlimited spices and seasonings like mustard, tahini or miso.

Just 1 cup of cooked spinach equals 5 g of protein, while 1 cup of cooked brown rice equals 5 g of protein and 1/ 2 cup of chickpeas equals 7 g of protein.

Put them all together, and you’ve got a delicious, easy-to-make (or order at most restaurants), protein-rich meal that also comes with fiber, vitamins and minerals. (Compare this to chicken or beef sourced from farms using antibiotics and hormones. Neither provides fiber. Both contain saturated fat and cholesterol.)

Clean it up!

Clean Protein: The Revolution that will Reshape Your Body, Boost Your Energy—and Save Our Planet (Hachette Books, 2018) by Kathy Freston and Bruce Friedrich demystifies clean protein and includes recipes to help you cook with it.

Drop it like it’s hot
  • 17% lower levels of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions result from a predominantly plant-based diet (compared to a nonvegetarian diet).
  • 29% lower mortality rate has been reported for people who eat mostly or entirely plant based versus nonvegetarians.

How much protein do we really need?

According to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, the current recommendation for adult protein intake is approximately 0.8 g per kg of body weight per day, or 0.36 g per lb. A 130 lb woman should consume around 45 g of protein each day, and a 180 lb man should aim for 65 g. Growing kids need more protein for development—starting with 1.5 g per kg each day when they’re infants and gradually decreasing to 0.85 g per kg in their teens.

Does this mean we have to get our calculators at every meal? “Not at all,” says Freston. “Protein is a natural component of vegetables, beans, grains and fruits. As long as you are getting enough calories, you will get enough protein. And if you’re an athlete, you’ll naturally eat more food, and protein comes along with it.”

How to shop like a pro

Along with stocking up on the basics (like dark leafy greens, nuts, legumes, grains, tempeh and beans, for example), Freston likes nabbing new vegan options like pea protein-based vegan sausages and burgers, almond-based cheeses and plant-based yogurts.

She says, “These are excellent transition foods for people moving away from animal foods. They are often high in protein and fiber, while lower in saturated fat.”

She acknowledges that while they’re not whole foods, they still have their place.

“True, they may not be as ideal as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds,” she says, “but they make moving away from the old, traditional proteins much easier! I am a believer in progress, not perfection, so I highly recommend exploring the grocery shelves.”

Clean protein tips for the kids

For families looking to eat more clean proteins, Freston offers a wide variety of tips.

Choose foods that kids like—for instance, pasta made from chickpeas or lentils. There are also “chick’n” nuggets, pizza made with veggie sausage and nut butters for yummy sandwiches.

Make smoothies your best friend! Try blending some peanut butter, chia seeds and bananas into nondairy milk for something sweet and nutritious. You can also add your fave vegan protein powder and blueberries (the berries make everything purple and fun to drink).

Let your kids play an active role. Include them on your shopping trips and ask for their help in the kitchen. Your kids will feel empowered and more likely to enjoy their food. Plus, they’ll become more aware of the importance of treating animals well and keeping the environment clean, so they will likely feel excited about making clean choices.

So … next time you’re asked how you get enough protein? The short, easy answer might just be “Through hybrid sources for my health and the health of the planet. What’s in your meat?”

How planet-warming is meat protein production? Let’s put it this way: someone who bikes everywhere but eats a meat-heavy diet can generate nearly as many greenhouse gas emissions as a Prius per mile. Meanwhile, a vegan cyclist eating clean protein generates less than one-third of a Prius’s emissions per mile.

Snack on this: Kathy Freston’s favorite smoothie

Freston says, “If I have this smoothie, I feel set for the day no matter what else I eat or don’t eat. I’ve gotten my protein fix along with my fruit and veggie fix. And I’ve gotten a ton of omega-3s and fiber from the chia and flax.” Don’t forget her tip to make it a beautiful purple hue: add blueberries!

Blend together

  • 16 oz (or more) coconut water or water
  • 1 scoop plant-based protein of your choice (look for ones naturally sweetened with stevia to avoid added sugars or artificial ingredients)
  • Large handfuls of frozen strawberries, pineapple and broccoli
  • 1 Tbsp (or more) natural almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (mix in after the blend so the smoothie doesn’t turn to sludge!)

The post Protein vs. Planet appeared first on alive.

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Three-year-old Sebastian Romero has no shortage of soccer balls and baseballs around his house. Like the fruit in the fridge and the green juices he often helps make, they’re a familiar, healthy presence in his family’s home. He’s not pushed to play with them; they’re simply available.

Sebastian is the son of Kara Lang Romero, 31, a retired professional and Olympic soccer player for Canada who is now a holistic nutritionist, and Ricky Romero, 33, former MLB pitcher and 2011 All-Star player. With passionate, wellness-minded parents who are a true athletic power couple, there’s little question young Sebastian is destined for healthy greatness. The threesome, who live in the Blue Zone-designated seaside city of Hermosa Beach in L.A. County, provide plenty of inspiration for healthy, happy living—and they invited alive over for an intimate look at their home life.

Fueled by nature

For starters, they’re plant fueled and eat healthy. For Lang Romero, the decision came during her teens. “I made the connection that not eating McDonald’s and not drinking soda could enhance my performance,” she says, a revelation brought on by hearing players on a team she looked up to talk about giving up fast food. (For the record, Sebastian has never tried the stuff.)

Since going vegan at 17, Lang Romero has been passionate about the lifestyle that drastically improved her endurance and recovery, allowing her to train even harder. Post-soccer career, her plant-based diet carried her through a second career as a sports broadcaster. Now, as a mom, she credits her diet with keeping her energy levels up to meet Sebastian’s, sans naps.

Romero, of Mexican descent, was later to convert. He’s now 80 percent plant based, which he has realized helps him sleep better and feel stronger. He has even tried to inspire his extended family to make little changes, like switching to almond milk.*

“When I met Kara [in 2012], it all changed for me as far as nutrition and taking care of my body,” he admits. It was a perfect meet-cute: she was filling in during baseball spring training in Florida for Sportsnet (she usually covered soccer), where she interviewed her future husband. “He asked me out to dinner after that,” she says with a laugh. Conveniently, they both lived in Toronto at the time.

Lang Romero, in her third career as a holistic nutritionist, brings lots of knowledge to her family’s kitchen, where she prepares well-spiced “really good bowls,” says Romero, comprising 80 percent veggies. Sebastian attends a no-sugar Montessori preschool and is hardly exposed to candy, but he doesn’t want for sweet treats—he’s allowed all the antioxidant-rich, fibrous whole fruit he wants. “He knows where everything is in the fridge already, and he comes out with fruit, and mom is really excited,” says Romero.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, good choice!’” says Lang Romero, adding that “not keeping junk food in the house is big—if it’s not around, your kids won’t ask for it.” To that end, they don’t buy or eat anything they wouldn’t want him consuming.

Raising veggie-loving kids: Yes, it’s possible!

Here are Kara Lang Romero’s top tips for getting children on board with all things green.

  • Slip veggies into homemade vegan smoothie pops—think steamed spinach and cauliflower with mango and blueberries. “I’m not too worried if Sebastian happens to not eat all his vegetables at lunch if he has a popsicle for a snack that’s got kale and cauliflower in it,” says Lang Romero. “He’s excited about this popsicle that he thinks is a treat, and it’s half veggies. I stress less.”
  • Pair greens-heavy meals with “treats” like vegan chicken nuggets, which Lang Romero calls Sebastian’s “junk food.”
  • Get kids involved in the prep and cooking process—safely. “When he feels like he’s had a part in making it, Sebastian’s much more eager to drink it,” says Lang Romero of green juices (kale, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger or turmeric) he loves helping make. “We told him it makes him strong, so he drinks it and flexes his muscles.”
  • Start at the beginning. Eating cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale) while nursing may help increase milk production and set your baby up to eat more veg when they start on solids.

Kara Lang Romero answers top pre- and postnatal nutrition questions

Through KLR Wellness Works, Lang Romero offers holistic nutrition services. She specializes in plant-based transition and works with pre- and postnatal women (and anyone looking to improve their diet, overall health and well-being or athletic performance).

[Q] Can I still be vegan when I’m pregnant?

[A] Absolutely. A whole food plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes [creates] a totally healthy and ideal environment for growing a baby. Protein needs to be jumped from 45 g a day to 70 g a day, and some people find that daunting, but if you spread it throughout your day, it’s a lot easier.

[Q] How do I choose a prenatal vitamin?

[A] Do your research and compare the amount of nutrients in the vitamins, because there are actually huge discrepancies. A lot of pharmacy brands have much lower levels of B vitamins. You want calcium citrate, not carbonate; the citrate form of minerals like zinc and copper; and methylfolate, not folic acid. And look at the fillers, because some have ingredients I wouldn’t even want to clean my countertops with.

[Q] What can I eat to improve my milk supply?

[A] Drink as much water as you can, meet your caloric needs (there’s a reason you’re more hungry when you’re nursing) and incorporate lactogenic foods like almonds, barley, oats and mushrooms. Cruciferous vegetables are hugely important because they’re full of vital estrogens and have been shown to positively affect milk production.

Balance is everything

Lang Romero stepped back from her travel-heavy role as a soccer analyst after having Sebastian, opting to work only every four years covering women’s soccer during the World Cup and Olympics. Seeing clients at her home gives her a flexible schedule that includes lots of family togetherness. But she also makes time for herself.

It’s her best advice to moms who want to balance work with family. “Prioritizing your health is number one. My biggest trick is waking up before the rest of my house and having that quiet time to myself before I’m needed, because moms are always needed when someone’s awake.” She cherishes her early a.m. opportunity for yoga (she’s a certified teacher), meditation or getting a workout in. (Sebastian practices yoga too—at school. “He’s always excited to show off his downward dog,” she says.)

Lang Romero’s routine ensures there’s no resentment and she can give of herself for the rest of the day. “It’s so I can, as I say, fill my cup before I have to fill anybody else’s,” says the mom. “That’s been a game changer for me.”

Go play outside

Screens aren’t a big part of Sebastian’s life—in fact, devices are an emergency-only option on airplanes. “We don’t put an iPad or iPhone in front of him in the car,” says Romero. “We don’t let him watch it at home. He’s very observant, and ever since he started forward facing in the car seat, he’s in love with all the different stuff [he sees]. He’s always pointing out trucks. It keeps his head on a swivel.”

The super active boy spends at least half of each day playing in real life. “Ricky and I grew up spending most of our time outside, and we live in an area where the weather is beautiful year-round, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be outside,” says Lang Romero, who allows her son to watch limited TV only while she prepares dinner.

When it comes to competitive sports, they’re doing as their parents did: not pushing. “We played sports because we loved them, and we hope that’s how it’s going to be for Sebastian,” says Lang Romero. “If he doesn’t love organized sports, then we’ll just encourage him to be active.”

The pair has been asked to privately coach other children, but they refuse. “Everyone raises their kids differently,” says Romero, “but when you force your kids, they’ll lose their love for the game. And at the end of the day, the only reason they should be playing is because they enjoy it.”

Relationship goals

He and Lang Romero prove the couple that trains together stays together. A majority of their alone time is spent doing something physical. When they get a babysitter, it’s for weekend morning “dates” to hike and brunch at a vegan restaurant. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, no matter what, they work out in tandem at Poise Fitness, where HIIT classes involve one-minute rotations on the treadmill, strength training and functional movement, helping prevent injuries and correct imbalances.

“It’s one of the best workouts I’ve ever done,” says Lang Romero, “and I’ve tried absolutely everything you can imagine. I love it.”

The two are reliable support systems for each other too. Romero proudly talks about his wife’s induction into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. “I don’t care who you are—that’s a cool accomplishment to be called a Hall of Famer,” he boasts. When their son was six months old, Lang Romero began studying holistic nutrition, a path that took a lot of reinforcement from her hubby while she worked.

And they’ve grown together. Since becoming parents, they’ve learned patience (him) and loosening control (her). “Learning not to worry and to be present is huge,” says Lang Romero, “because every day is like a little miracle with a baby, and we learn so much from Sebastian because he is so present. He literally stops to smell every rose we pass. It’s an amazing reminder to see how in awe of everything he is about these little things we take for granted.”

*Feeling inspired? Milk that feeling for all it’s worth. Check out our ultimate guide to plant-based milk to learn how to choose the best one for your fam.

Here’s why Kara and Ricky’s yoga/HIIT/hiking-filled lifestyle is a winning one for a young family: active parents have active kids. In fact, kids whose moms are active are twice as likely to be active! Yet another upside to your downward dogs, mamas.

photography / Carla Coffing

The post The sports stars next door appeared first on alive.

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Store shelves are bursting with nondairy milk options made from nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and more. How the heck do you choose? Don’t worry. We got you. Here’s a breakdown of some—though by no means all—popular plant-based milks. You may want to make a little more room in the fridge and pour an extra bowl of cereal …


Studies have found that whole soy foods, including soy milk, may promote good health by keeping cholesterol levels in check, increasing bone mineral density and easing menopausal symptoms.

The abundance of isoflavones (an estrogen-like plant compound) found in soy is often credited with soy’s multitude of health benefits. In the past, concerns have been raised about isoflavones and cancer risk; however, eating a moderate amount of whole soy foods as part of a well-rounded diet does not appear to increase cancer risk, and actually appears to have a protective effect.

Containing about 8 g of protein per 8 oz cup, soy milk can naturally compete with cow’s milk in terms of protein content. And soy protein contains all essential amino acids, making it one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein.

Soy milk is also a source of many minerals, including selenium, copper and magnesium.

The verdict: Soy milk can be a good choice for children over two years old, people with nut allergies and those looking for high protein content in their milk.


Made from the seeds of the hemp plant, hemp milk has a distinctive nutty taste and creamy texture.

Like soy, the protein found in hemp milk contains all essential amino acids; however, there tends to be less protein in hemp milk than in soy milk (but more than in many other plant-based milks).

Hemp milk contains omega-3 fatty acid in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease. Hemp milk is also a good source of iron.

The verdict: Hemp milk can be awesome for those with soy or tree nut allergies, as well as people looking to up their intake of essential fatty acids.


For most purposes, you’ll want to choose a fortified coconut milk beverage, not the rich canned milk. Coconut milk beverages can be a good source of magnesium, calcium and vitamin D. They’re generally low in protein.

Coconut milk beverages tend to be higher in saturated fat than other milk alternatives, making them good candidates to replace cream in some dishes. A moderate amount of saturated fat is essential for brain development in children and can boost the immune system.

The verdict: Coconut milk can be a good option for those with soy allergies—especially those looking for a naturally creamy, sweet-tasting milk (say, for coffee). It’s generally safe for those with tree nut allergies, but speak with your allergist first.


With its low glycemic index, unsweetened almond milk has little impact on blood sugar levels, making it a good choice for diabetics. It’s also low in calories (clocking in at about 30 calories per 8 oz glass).

Almonds are a good source of bone-building calcium, and almond milk is often fortified with even more of this nutrient. Plus, almond milk contains plenty of vitamin E (up to half the recommended daily value in just one cup!). In addition to having antioxidant properties, vitamin E may help to widen blood vessels, preventing blood clots.

The verdict: People with soy allergies and those watching their caloric intake can benefit from choosing almond milk.

What about iodine?

A recent British study pointed out that plant-based milks contain far less iodine, a mineral essential for fetal brain development and thyroid health, than cow’s milk does. Dairy is often a primary source of iodine in the American diet.

To ensure everyone in your family (born or unborn!) gets the right amount of iodine, speak with your doctor or health care practitioner about vegan iodine supplements (available at most natural health retailers).


With its sweet, buttery taste and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), cashew milk is one deliciously healthy option. The best part? Cashew milk often contains fewer calories than comparable milks—about 25 calories per 8 oz cup of an unsweetened variety.

Research suggests diets that favor MUFAs in moderation over other fats may protect the heart by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, improving blood vessel function and helping with blood sugar control.

Like almond milk, cashew milk is a fantastic source of vitamin E.

The verdict: Cashew milk can be a high-five-worthy choice for people with soy allergies and those watching their caloric intake—particularly those looking for a creamy, rich-tasting beverage.


A relative newcomer to the plant-based milk ranks, this drink does not come from green peas, but from yellow ones. The manufacturing process for pea milk is unique because it retains the peas’ high protein content.

Pea milk also contains a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and iron.

Another pro for pea milk: it’s much less water-intensive to grow yellow peas than some other popular plant-based milk ingredients, like almonds.

The verdict: Pea milk is suitable for those with soy and nut allergies, and it’s fab for environmentally minded folk and people who want a high-protein option.

So wait … which plant-based milk is best? That honestly depends on what you’re looking for. Your safest bet is to keep several plant-based milks on hand. The ideal one for coffee may not be the one the kids should be guzzling by the glass. With plant-based milks, as with so many dietary choices, variety is king.

The questions you’ve got to ask

Because choosing the right milk isn’t just a matter of knowing which plant it comes from.

  • Is it sweetened or artificially flavored? For maximum health benefits, opt for plain, unsweetened varieties (heads up: an “original” flavor label doesn’t necessarily mean “unsweetened”).
  • Is it fortified? Check the label to make sure your plant-based milk has been fortified with substantial vitamin D and calcium, especially if the beverage will be consumed by children (this shouldn’t be difficult: many plant-based milks actually have more calcium and vitamin D than cow’s milk!). Amounts of other micronutrients vary from milk to milk; you’ll have to compare them an on individual basis.
  • How much protein does it have? Protein content varies widely between plant-based milks. Plant-based milk intended for children should contain at least 6 g of protein per 8 oz cup. (FYI: Pea and soy milks generally have the highest protein content.)
  • Which emulsifiers and stabilizers does it contain? For example, some plant-based milks contain carrageenan, a thickener that’s been linked to inflammation and GI troubles in preliminary research. Fortunately, many plant-based milk manufacturers are now side-stepping this ingredient (hurrah!).

Still concerned about your kids’ calcium intake—even with fortified plant-based milk on the table? There are a ton of other calcium sources you can tap into, like calcium-set tofu and fortified plant-based yogurts. Whole plant foods have calcium too: kale, okra, dried figs and almonds, for example, have decent amounts. (More like calci-yum, amirite?)

The post Which plant-based milk is right for your family? appeared first on alive.

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Eat your broccoli. One more bite of cauliflower. No dessert until you’ve tried the daikon.

Getting kids to eat their veggies can be a lot of things: a request, an order or even an ultimatum. And if veggies are at the center of your family’s diet, that gets old super fast. But if you focus on your child’s likes beyond the realm of food, rather than their dislike of certain vegetables, you just might make veggies enticing enough to avoid plea bargains over peas. At the very least, you’ll have fun creating these veg-filled edible art projects together.

If your kid loves dinosaurs …

(pictured above)

… make dino kale chips. Black kale goes by a few names: lacinato, Tuscan and—most promisingly for Jurassic Park fans—dinosaur kale. Show your little paleontologist the dark green, pebbled leaves: they really do look reptilian.

Wash, dry, de-stem and tear up one bunch of this kale. Spread the pieces on a couple of parchment-lined baking sheets, lightly drizzle with olive oil and mix with your hands. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and vinegar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 300 F.

Lay out an after-school feast for your child and their long-necked/three-horned dining companions (make sure they can all reach—this is very important). And yes, you should absolutely call this green kingdom The Land Before Snack Time.

If your kid loves puzzles …

… build a roasted veggie Rubik’s Cube. According to Cornell researchers, kids like to see six different colors on their plates, as well as fun shapes. A Rubik’s Cube has it all. Plus, roasting makes veggies’ natural sugars caramelize, and kids tend to like sweeter foods. Win-win-win.

Cube colorful root veggies like beets, yams and carrots. Toss them with a splash of olive oil and roast at 450 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Roast a few whole bell peppers and zucchini chunks too if you want a more vibrant palette, and cube them after they’ve come out of the oven. Then stack the veg (you might want to do this around a block form for stability). If you’re feeling ambitious, use folded pieces of seaweed snacks to create the black grid lines of the Rubik’s Cube.

If your kid loves nature …

… bake forest floor flatbread. Turn a whole wheat flatbread (using dough you’ve made or dough you’ve bought) into a scene of fallen leaves and toadstools for your budding botanist. This is a great opportunity to remind outdoorsy kids that while eating mushrooms at home is good, they should never eat mushrooms they encounter in the wild.

Before you bake the bread, scatter chia seeds and black sesame seeds on the lightly oiled dough to create soil, plus fresh rosemary for pine needles. Poke mushrooms and little asparagus spears into the dough, and scatter torn Swiss chard and radicchio leaves across the scene. Make a pinecone by pressing sliced almonds into a dollop of vegan cream cheese. Top whole almonds with small mushroom caps or dried berries to transform them into acorns.

Once the bread comes out of the oven, use a toothpick to poke a few small holes in it. Stick fresh chives and pea shoots in the holes for grass. Scatter with fresh greens (baby kale is particularly leaf-like!).

The post If your kid likes that… appeared first on alive.

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Here’s the thing about fall: people love to talk about the crisp days and the nip in the air and the scarves you’ll need to wind around your neck the second September arrives. But the truth is, in most parts of the country, it’s an in-between kind of season—the weather is all over the map. One day is crisp and cool. The next is a warm, sunny throwback to summer. Sometimes we need to banish the chill with a steaming bevvie. Sometimes we need to slam an ice-cold concoction.

The one constant? We’re always looking to add functional foods to our drinks and transform them into tonics. (You too? Cool.)

That’s why we hit up Renee Byrd of Will Frolic for Food, a blog where self-care, creativity and the most nourishing (and pretty) food and drink abounds. Read on for her delish ways to drink two of our favorite ingredients, matcha and reishi, in two ways: hot and cold. (Because she really gets fall.)

Matcha served cold Mermaid Lemonade (aka Iced Green Matcha and Spirulina Lemonade)

Matcha served hot Hot Minute Matcha Green Tea Latte

Reishi served hot Cozy Tahini Reishi Latte with Herbal Coffee

Reishi served cold Frozen Adaptogenic Coffee Latte with Reishi and Maca

The post Hot and cold superfood tonics appeared first on alive.

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