With warmer weather comes longer days, busier schedules, and most likely, a good bit of stress management. Even though your goal may be to spend more time outdoors, relaxing and enjoying the spring and summer months, that desire can put pressure on other areas of your life—making it to the beach or the trail takes planning, coordinating, and of course, freeing up your schedule, which can mean more work ahead of time. No. Fun.

But don’t let all the work deter you from enjoying the warmth and outdoor activities. Take stress management into your own hands—and mouth—with these foods that naturally reduce stress. And bonus stress reducer: you don’t have to do elaborate meal planning or prep. Just throw them into a blender and watch your stress puree away! 

  1. Greens – A salad or a smoothie with leafy green vegetables in it at least once a day is a terrific strategy in handling stress. Loaded with nourishing vitamins and minerals, greens can provide a calming effect while also boosting energy naturally, so you’re not overwhelmed by the tasks at hand and awake enough to handle them.
  2. Bananas are a sweet, tropical treat. And their rich sources of magnesium, potassium, B6, fiber and tryptophan, help to calm and relax you while also giving you healthy energy.
  3. Chia seeds are all the rage these days for their healthy fats and protein. But they’re also great sources of magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, calcium, iron and fiber. It’s a super filling food and will certainly help to reduce your stress levels.
  4. Chocolate – Really. Truly. Chocolate. This superfood is so loaded with nutrients it will make your head spin. Cacao—chocolate in its raw form—is loaded with magnesium and tryptophan, both of which help the body to relax and feel good (which is part of why we love it so much). But don’t reach for a Snickers bar. Stick to really dark chocolate (it should say at least 70% on the label). Or better yet, reach for the raw cacao beans or powder and add to your smoothies. 

So now that you’ve got your stress-relieving foods—let them do the work of stress management in a smoothie! 

In a blender, add one banana (preferably frozen), a handful of spinach or other leafy greens, plus a teaspoon or two of dried greens like our mustHave greens, along with 2 teaspoons chia seeds and 2 teaspoons chocolate powder. Fill in with a nondairy milk like almond or coconut. Add a sweetener if you like ( a drip of honey is good) and any other fruits like berries or pineapple. If not using a frozen banana, add a handful of ice. Blend and serve!

Image: Robert Gourley 

New research reveals more about the health of honeybees and their relationship with a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

Over the last decade, honeybee populations have been declining as a result of colony collapse disorder, a mysterious condition that causes bees to become disoriented and abandon their hives.

Neonicotinoids, or neonics as they’re referred to, have been banned in the EU for their alleged connection to the condition, and now, researchers may have pinpointed another issue related to the pesticides. The bees may actually prefer plants that have been treated with neonics, which are derived from nicotine, the same addictive substance in cigarettes.

A number of conventionally grown seeds including corn, soy and canola, are pre-treated with neonics, which are coated onto the seeds before they’re planted. It’s estimated that 95 percent of corn grown in the U.S. has been treated with neonics.

In the new research, it turns out that the bees are drawn to the neonic-treated plants. When given a choice between a plain sugary solution and one that contained neonics, the bees chose the poison, which is toxic to the pollinators’ nervous systems. “It's possible that they're getting a little buzz from the neonics, similar to the way a human may get a buzz from nicotine,” reports NPR.

What’s perhaps most disturbing about the research is that the bees couldn’t taste the pesticide in the study, but preferred it anyway because of its effect, even though it meant an eventual death.

And according to NPR, another study published in the journal Nature, found that bumblebees that fed on canola plants treated with neonics were more likely to experience negative health issues including slowed growth and reproductive issues.

Scientists for Bayer CropScience, a leading producer of neonics, wrote in an email to NPR that the research "demonstrates yet again there is no effect of neonicotinoids on honeybee colonies in realistic field conditions, consistent with previous published field studies."

But it hasn’t quelled the growing concern over neonics. Lowe’s, the popular home improvement retailer, recently announced plans to stop selling neonic products.

Image: Eran Finkle

It’s Earth Day and you’ve probably already read quite a few stories about why this day matters. Maybe you’re even doing something to make the world a little greener today, like planting a tree or cleaning up a strip of beach or highway. But if you’re feeling called to make Earth Day an every day kind of commitment, here are just a few ways you can make a difference year-round.

1. Stop eating animals: Going meat free is one of the best and easiest ways to help the planet. You reduce the impact on the environment by limiting the contribution to greenhouse gases, reducing use of water, land and nutrients that livestock animals use up. Plants are a healthier, lower impact food source that’s better for you, the earth and the animals.

2. VB6: If going completely animal-product-free isn’t an option, try the Vegan Before 6 (pm) idea—eat vegan all day and then, if you want, have animal products with dinner.

3. Conserve your water usage: This can be as easy as getting better at washing dishes, transitioning to a grass-free lawn, or capturing and using your grey water. It may not seem like much, but every bit helps.

4. Switch to green cleaners and laundry detergents: Not only do green products get the job done, they’re free from chemicals known to have human and environmental health risks. Switch to natural products or make your own!

5. Eat organic: Yes, it can sometimes cost more, but when you start to think about the big picture—about how the lack of pesticides is better for the land and for the farmers as well as your health, eating organic soon becomes a no-brainer. Just do it.

6. Reduce, reuse and recycle: You’ll probably hear this 100 times today and for good reason! These three steps are, quite simply, really important. When we think about everything we’re using and whether or not it can fall into one of these three categories, we become more aware and more invested in protecting our planet. Not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Image: woodleywonderworks

Another Earth Day has arrived! This year marks the 45th, and in honor of tomorrow’s special day, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite quotes reminding us why we need to respect and honor our earth mother.
1. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” - John Muir

2. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” - Henry David Thoreau
3. “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” - Neil Armstrong
4. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” - Rachel Carson
5. “Waste is Criminal.” - Kristin Cashore
6. “I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime” - Neil deGrasse Tyson
7. “How can we be so arrogant? The planet is, was, and always will be stronger than us. We can't destroy it; if we overstep the mark, the planet will simply erase us from its surface and carry on existing. Why don't they start talking about not letting the planet destroy us?” - Paulo Coelho
8. “...the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” - Wendell Berry
9. “We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.” - Vandana Shiva
10. “Our love was born
outside the walls,
in the wind,
in the night,
in the earth,
and that's why the clay and the flower,
the mud and the roots
know your name.” - Pablo Neruda

Image via starmama

Now that spring is in full bloom, it’s not uncommon to want to lose a bit of weight. But working out isn’t the only way to get this done; boosting metabolism is a key factor in aiding in meeting healthy weight goals.

But how exactly is boosting metabolism done? There are quite a few ways. Here are some favorites:

  1. Workout: It’s probably the most obvious trick and for good reason. Not only does working out help build muscle, but high-intensity workouts in particular can boost metabolism and keep the calorie-burning going.
  2. Add organic greens: Foods like spirulina and chlorella may help in boosting metabolism. Their nutrient density also makes them a healthy choice when losing weight and restricting calories.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep: You may think staying up and active is a great way to boost your metabolism, but the opposite is true. The better you sleep, the better your body can do its job properly in speeding up metabolic function.
  4. Eat spicy foods: You can go ahead and add the hot sauce to your meals if you’re aiming to boost metabolism. It can fire up the digestion process and help your body burn those calories faster.
  5. Drink plenty of water: Of course, if you’re eating all that spicy food, you’re going to be thirsty anyway, but you need to drink water for other reasons. Not only does it hydrate us, but if we’re not getting enough, it can slow metabolism. So drink at least 8 glasses per day.
  6. Eat breakfast: If you’re skipping breakfast for a trip to the gym, maybe you should reconsider that. Jumpstarting your metabolism begins with a meal shortly after waking up. So don’t skip that breakfast, make sure you begin every day with a healthy meal!
  7. Coffee!: And your breakfast can include a cup of coffee or two. Coffee has been shown to boost metabolism by speeding up the heart and giving metabolism a much-needed boost.

 Image: filippo 

Organic fish and shellfish are closer to becoming reality in the U.S., but probably not in time for dinner tonight.

The USDA has announced that it will propose standards for organic farmed fish and shellfish products, but the process could take years before regulations and certifications are in place.

“Organic seafood would be welcome news for the increasing number of organic shoppers — and for retailers that have profited from their higher prices,” reports ABCNews. “It could also help the U.S. farmed fish industry find a premium as it struggles to compete against cheaper imports.”

A number of fish and shellfish varieties likely to fall under the organic fish labeling include salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams.

The European Union and Canada already have organic aquaculture programs in place; and are even exporting organic fish and shellfish products to the U.S. But retailers, including Whole Foods Market, say they’ll wait for the organic certification before labeling any seafood as organic.

“It's still unclear if U.S. standards can be successful,” reports ABC. “Many in the farmed fish industry say they expect that the requirements for fish feed may be so strict as to be financially prohibitive.”

Questions surround the diets fed to farmed fish labeled as organic and whether or not ocean cages known as net pens would be permissible. Since many fish eat other fish, creating an organic supply chain could prove to be challenging, if not impossible, for an organic fish industry.

Further conflating the issue, some environmental groups criticize the recommendations “for suggesting that at first a quarter of the fish feed could be from sustainably wild-caught — but not organic — fish,” reports ABC. “A fish can't be organic, they argue, if it doesn't eat 100 percent organic feed,” a similarly contentious issue with organic animal products.

For ocean-raised fish, the issue of contamination is a big concern. "What we're saying is this isn't organic," Lisa Bunin of the Center for Food Safety told the AP.

With the proper safeguards in place though, organic aquaculture could help consumers make safe seafood choices at a time when concern and confusion about seafood options is widespread.

Image: Mr.TinDC

Interest in organic foods continues to rise across the U.S. as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the growth of certified organic operations in the U.S. and around the world.

According to the USDA, the U.S. now boasts 19,474 certified organic operations and a total of 27,814 worldwide. That’s more than a five percent increase over the last year. “Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent,” the USDA notes on its website.

"As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "USDA tools and resources have created opportunities for organic farmers and more options for organic consumers. Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."

The USDA says its committed the organic community of growers and distributors with the proper resources to aid in further category growth. “Along with programs to support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and integrated pest management, USDA administers organic certification cost share programs to offset the costs of organic certification for U.S. producers and handlers nationwide,” the agency explained on its website. “Now, USDA is using funding from the 2014 Farm Bill to develop the Organic Integrity Database, a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis.”

According to the USDA, the upgraded system will make it easy for anyone to confirm the organic certification status of a product by using the online tools.

The Organic Integrity Database will launch in September.

Image: USDA.gov 

If you haven’t fallen in love with kale chips yet, prepare to have this kale chips recipe change all that for good. Loaded with good-for-you ingredients (they’re kale chips after all!), this recipe gets a superfood burst with powdered organic greens. 

This recipe uses our very own mustHave greens (which has dried kale in it!)but you can use any dried greens in this recipe, or leave them out entirely if you want a more traditional tasting cheesy kale chips recipe. But if you do want to make this snack as healthy as possible, we do recommend using the greens. 

Makes about 6 servings 


1 large bunch curly green kale
1 cup cashews soaked in water for at least 5 hours (save soak water)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon mustHave greens or other organic greens powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
*optional 1 teaspoon cayenne powder if you like spicy


If baking in oven, preheat to 275° F.

Wash and dry kale well. Chop into large 2 –inch pieces and set aside.

In a blender, combine all other ingredients except for the cashew soak water. Add water a little at a time until the mixture resembles a cheese sauce like consistency.

If baking, spread kale pieces onto lightly oiled baking sheet and spoon cheese sauce onto each “chip.” You can be generous here; a thick coating will hold up and bring a lot of flavor to your chips. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, flipping the chips about halfway through.

If using a dehydrator, assemble the kale onto the dehydrator trays and spoon the cheese sauce mixture over the kale as stated above. Dehydrate at 130° F for about 10-12 hours or until crispy.

 Kale chips image via julesstonesoup 




Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of GOOP, the upscale lifestyle website, has taken on the Food Bank NYC food stamps challenge presented to her by chef Mario Batali. 

For one week, Paltrow will only eat what she can purchase with her food stamps equivalent in funds. It comes out to about $1.38 per meal ($29 for her for the whole week).

If it seems like a gimmick, it certainly is, but for an important cause: Paltrow, like Batali, aims to bring attention to the SNAP program, which millions of Americans rely on daily to not only feed themselves, but their families, too.

Paltrow has started documenting what she’s eating, which, not surprisingly, includes inexpensive foods such as eggs, beans, rice and a variety of vegetables and fruits including jalapeno peppers, romaine lettuce and limes.

Her efforts though have been criticized, mainly because the A-list actress is a multi-millionaire who can certainly afford to buy and eat whatever she wants (and will presumably do so after the challenge ends), but she can also afford to feed quite a few families as well, without it making a big dent in her bank account.

But is her move a slap in the face of SNAP subscribers or is it helping to deliver an important message to other Americans? Anyone, celebrity or not, can take the Food Bank NYC Challenge and live off of the $29 a week. According to the rules, you can use coupons when shopping, but you can’t eat food given to you by others or eat food you already have in the house before the challenge started.

“For one week, walk in someone else’s shoes,” chef Mario Batali said in the Food Bank challenge video. “Knowledge is power, and by truly understanding what our friends are going through, we will be better equipped to find solutions.”

Image via yausseur

Spring is here and that means stepping out from the dark, dusty den you holed up in over the winter and getting some fresh air. It also hopefully means being more active than you’ve been in a long while. But don’t reach for the coffee to boost your energy. Grab the green foods, especially those loaded with spirulina benefits.

Spirulina may sound like the name of a Disney princess, but it’s actually an algae. While that probably doesn't sound as glamorous as wearing ball gowns and crowns, it’s actually quite an exceptional food, worthy of royal treatment.

Per a three-gram serving, spirulina can contain 3900 percent more beta carotene than the same amount of carrots, 2300 percent more iron than spinach, 300 percent more calcium than whole milk and 375 percent more protein than tofu. All in a little green algae! No wonder it's one of the featured ingredients in our mustHave greens!

A serving of spirulina has more than 30 times the antioxidant potency of blueberries and more than 60 times the potency of spinach.

Granted, it’s not going to taste as yummy as a handful of fresh blueberries, but spirulina can actually taste pretty great. You can mix a serving of spirulina into a glass of juice, nondairy milk or even water, or blend it into your favorite smoothie recipe for a grassy, fresh taste. It’s also great in other recipes like raw brownies or energy bars.

Spirulina’s benefits and nutrient density makes it a perfect energy food without the crash of sugary or caffeinated food products. 

According to Dr. Oz, spirulina boosts energy “by unlocking sugar from your cells so it does not get stored as fat.” So, not only does that make spirulina a healthy energizing food, it appears it’s also an excellent weight loss food as well! Dr. Oz recommends mixing one teaspoon of spirulina with 12 ounces fresh lime juice and freezing in ice cube trays. Then you can add the frozen energy cubes to juices, water or blend into smoothies.

 Image via land_camera



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