Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sugar Free and Natural Toothpaste Reviews

ToothpastesThis was going to be a review of natural toothpastes but one of the toothpastes is not natural as I first thought and probably the reason I liked it best since it seemed more like regular toothpaste than the others. So I've changed this to a sugar free and natural toothpaste review and will continue to update as I try different brands.

Most toothpastes contain toxic chemicals like sulfates, petroleum dyes and artificial flavors and sweeteners. I have been trying different mostly natural toothpastes to find one that I like the best. Some toothpastes also have the option of fluoride or not. I was getting fluoride at first until I read how that too can be harmful so I have avoided it with my last couple tubes of toothpaste.  There are reports that show an increase risk of bone cancer and other diseases and health issues related to fluoride.  Here's one good article I came across about the subject: http://www.viewzone.com/fluoride.html  The last couple times I've gone to the dentist they haven't given me fluoride treatments like they used to and I didn't bother to ask why. I figured they just forgot cuz I never liked getting them anyway.  Now if they try to give me one I will request they don't.


** Tom's of Maine (clean & gentle) - Most of the Tom's of Maine toothpastes contain SLS. The Clean & Gentle one doesn't. Be sure to always read the ingredient listings of things you buy. Even if it's something you've bought before. Companies have been known to change their recipes. This one seemed to have pretty good reviews but it was my least favorite. I'm used to having a tooth paste that has some body but it just got flat when brushing with it. It was like brushing with water. The taste wasn't bad though.

*** Burt's Bees (Multicare Peppermint) - This one was a little better than Tom's. My problem with this one is that it was messy. Every time you put it on your brush it leaves a stringy trail of toothpaste when you pull away from the brush. The taste was good though and it provided good body during brushing. Also it seemed like the there wasn't a lot of toothpaste in the tube, it ran out faster than I thought it should. Burt's claims to be 99.2% natural so it isn't 100%.

*** Jason (Powerful Peppermint) - The texture of this one is similar to Burt's Bees and it's hard to spread on a toothbrush.  The tip of the tube is small unlike the Burt's Bees so this one is easier to keep the tip clean.  There is a bit of a weird slimy kind of texture coating my teeth and tongue after using it.

**** Spry (Cool Mint) - It has pretty good body, the taste is good and it easily spreads on a toothbrush without making a mess. I didn't have any complaints with this one other than it not being natural like the others.  It contains several chemicals that most likely aren't good for you. However it doesn't contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate like so many others do.  But it does contain the following: Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Calcium Glycerophosphate, Calcium Lactate Gluconate, Carum Petroselinate, Sodium Benzoate and Titanium Dioxide. So if you're trying to avoid possible harmful chemicals this probably wouldn't be a good choice.

**** Kiss My Face (Triple Action) - This one is probably the best tasting one of those I've tried. The lather is better than most of the natural toothpastes too.  However, it does contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener and quite a few additional ingredients I've never heard of.

** Tea Tree Therapy (Whitening) - I didn't care for this one much at all. The lather was not good and neither was the taste.

***** Nature's Gate (Anise) - This one is my favorite so far. It has great lather. However the taste of the anise takes a little bit of getting used to. They do have other flavors so will be trying the mint one too.  I tried the paste but they also have 4 flavors of gel. It contains baking soda which is great for getting your teeth clean. The flavor is strong enough that you can't really taste or smell the baking soda. EDIT: I've given the mint gel a try and I do like the mint flavor better than the anise but I prefer the paste. The gel is harder to get out of the tube, it's very thick and doesn't seem to lather up as well.

**** Desert Essence (Fennel) - This one has baking soda in it and you can tell by the smell when you brush your teeth. Baking soda is great for cleaning your teeth and some people only clean their teeth with it.  The lather is very good and it is also available in ginger, mint and wintergreen.  The fennel wasn't too bad but I'd probably like a more traditional mint flavored toothpaste.

**** auromere (Licorice) - This one uses fine chalk to gently cleanse your teeth rather than the baking soda that most natural toothpastes have.  The texture is nice but I'm not sold on the licorice flavor.  The licorice flavor is not SLS free but they do make an SLS free cardamon-fennel that I would love to try.  There's also a mint flavored one which is my preferred flavor for toothpaste.  The color is a little off-putting, a light brownish tan color.

* Himalayan (Neem & Pomegranate) - This toothpaste had a different consistency than any of the others. It was very soft, like a thick lotion. Even a little water pressure makes a dent in the toothpaste.  It doesn't seem to contain any abrasive things like baking soda or chalk even though my teeth felt pretty clean maybe even more clean than other toothpastes.  However there is one big red flag.  Every time I use it I get the smell of cigarettes/nicotine.  After a few weeks of using it I finally decided to do a google search to see if I was crazy.  Sure enough there is an article that claims several toothpastes were tested to contain nicotine and Himalayan was one of them even though they say that they don't.  So be aware.  I do not want to brush my teeth with nicotine so I will not be buying this brand again.

**** Earthpaste (Wintergreen) - This is about as natural of a toothpaste you will find. If you've ever looked at the ingredients of toothpaste there is usually a laundry list of them but this one only has 7 (purified water, food grade Redmond Clay, Xylitol, Wintergreen Essential Oil, Menthol, Redmond Real Salt and tea tree oil.  They claim that the toothpaste is so natural that it is safe to eat. It says "Rinse or swallow at your discretion - either would be fine".  Seems like the perfect toothpaste for camping!  I however have chosen to not swallow it because it just seems wrong. The taste is great but the bad news is there is pretty much no lather so if you like a lot of lather you're not going to like this toothpaste. It doesn't bother me much because my teeth still feel clean after using it and it has a nice minty flavor. It comes out of the tube from a very small hole compared to other toothpastes which is a little weird but it seems to stay on the brush well and the top stays clean. It's also a brown color which I don't mind. I'd rather have brown toothpaste than have it artificially colored white. It's also available in cinnamon, lemon and peppermint.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuna Rice Casserole

This is another one from the Allergy and Candida Cooking Made Easy cookbook.  It's been a few weeks since I've made a recipe from the cookbook.  I haven't been too impressed so far with the main dishes section of the cookbook.  Most of the recipes don't have much flavor. The recipes don't have any spices other than salt and pepper so they are a little bland ok maybe a lot bland including this tuna rice casserole.

I did like that it gives you different options of vegetables to use.  I used brown rice with cauliflower and celery as my choice of vegetables.  Even though it was cooked i the oven for an hour the cauliflower stayed crunchy and gave the casserole a nice texture.  It would have been a good dish with a little extra seasonings.  Actually this recipe didn't even call for pepper, only salt but I added some pepper anyway.

Cauliflower Tuna Casserole Salad and Tuna Casserole

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Allergies

Handful of BlueberriesI've been on the candida diet now for about 3 months and have had some improvements with my dermatitis. At first It would go away for a little while then slowly come back for a while then go away and come back. It did this a few times over the first month or two but the cycle seems to have stopped and now it's always there but is mild and you can't really see it unless you look really close. It's most noticeable when I get up in the morning. A little moisturizer helps to hide it.

So I've been drinking smoothies every morning and usually put some kind of berries in them. I've been alternating between blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and occasionally raspberry.  I don't usually mix the berries and try not to eat the same berry two days in a row and usually space them out 3 or 4 days.  My doc says eating the same things every day could develop allergies.  I know there are some that disagree with that theory.  I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Since my dermatitis hasn't been going away I was thinking there might be something else I've been eating that is causing it.  I suspected blueberries and citrus, specifically lemon, since I've been eating a more than usual amount of those recently.  I was previously tested for a bunch of food and other allergies which I posted the results to here.  I decided to make an appt with my allergist to get tested for those and sure enough I tested positive for orange, lemon and blueberries.  I reacted more to blueberries than any other allergy test I've had to date so my suspicions were right.  So now I have to avoid eating blueberries, lemons and oranges for the next three weeks and my food allergy antigens were modified to include those foods. We'll see if my dermatitis improves over the next 3 weeks and then start introducing those foods back into my diet and see if I have any reactions.

At least it is mild enough that I don't have to use any prescriptions anymore.  The diet isn't all that difficult and even though I'm eating a lot more than I used to I'm still losing weight.  I was about 115 lbs three months ago and am now down to 98.  Most of my clothes are too big and I had to do some shopping to get some smaller sizes.  I've also changed my diet a bit starting last week and am eating more good fats, mainly coconut oil and cod liver oil.  The cod liver oil is not very tasty and I may switch to cod liver oil gel caps instead.  Hopefully eating more fats will help me gain some weight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

Gluten Free Zucchini MuffinsJust like every year I have so much zucchini I don't know what to do with it all. I've already given some away to my neighbor and to Mark. I keep thinking I should keep track of how many I get in a year but always forget.  This year I planted one yellow and one green zucchini along with some pattypan squash.  For some reason the green zucchini isn't doing as well and I have only picked a couple off of it but the yellow on is going gang busters and I'm sure I've picked at least 20 and there's more on the way.

I hadn't made any zucchini bread this year yet so I figured it was about time I make some.  I searched for a gluten free and sugar free recipe and came across this one on mindoverbooty.com.  It took me a while to find one that I had all the ingredients for. I have some garbonzo bean flour that I haven't tried yet so I searched for a recipe that uses it and that's how I came across this recipe.

I pretty much followed the recipe as written but instead of making two loaves of bread I made one loaf of bread and a dozen muffins.  I added walnuts to the bread but not to the muffins.  It called for agave nectar or honey but I used both. For the past three months, I've been avoiding all forms of sugar including agave and honey.  I recently bought some to try out thinking it may be ok to start introducing a little sweetness back into my diet.  Maybe it will help me gain some of my weight back.  The recipe also gave a choice between chia and flax seeds which I had both.  I decided instead of using the whole seeds to use ground flax seeds.  It's supposed to be easier to digest than the whole seeds so I try to always use them ground.

I've made some pretty awesome zucchini breads over the years, but this one just might be my new fav.  Hard to believe a gluten free, sugar free bread could be so good but it is.  I had to stop myself from eating more than two muffins.  The batter was pretty tasty too.  Yes, I'm guilty of licking the spatula clean.  Here's the version of the recipe I made.


Ingredients:
  • 1 + 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 + 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar 
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zuc)
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
1. Grease two loaf pans or two muffin pans and preheat oven to 350 F or 325 F if using convection. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Mix all wet ingredients, except shredded zucchini until texture is consistent. Add the zucchini, followed by the dry mixture, one third at a time. Add walnuts and stir lightly just until uniform.

3. Split batter evenly between two loaf pans or two muffin tins and place in the oven. If using muffin tins you should have enough batter left over for another two muffin tins or one loaf.  Make muffins first since they cook faster.  Muffins should take 15-20 minutes and bread should take 40-50 minutes.  Check with a toothpick for doneness.  May take slightly longer if not using convection.

4. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool on a drying rack for at least an additional 30 minutes.  If making muffins, use remaining batter to fill another two muffin tins or a loaf pan and bake as instructed above.  Recipe makes 2 loaves, 24 muffins or 1 loaf and 12 muffins.

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread


Inside a Muffin

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Green Chile (Chile Verde) Recipe

I recently saw a show on Food Network called All American Festivals. This episode featured the Hatch Chile Festival in New Mexico.  They are pretty famous chiles, so famous that they showed up recently at Whole Foods.  They had a big chile roaster set up and everything.  They were selling for $2.99/lb roasted when I got them a few weeks ago. I was just in a Whole Foods in downtown Seattle over the weekend and they had them on sale for $1.99/lb.  I was tempted to get more but didn't.  I bought a couple containers of them a few weeks back and used one in a batch of green chile and the other is hiding away in my freezer. I'm not sure if I will make more green chile or find something else to do with them.

Hatch Chile Peppers
Chile Roaster at Whole Foods in Redmond, WA
Surprisingly, I had never made green chile before which I'm sure my family is thinking "it's about time". My mom makes it every year and sometimes sends me some from Montana. I even got her a chile roaster for her birthday this year because I know she's been wanting one. She has a decent sized garden and plants lots of chiles. She has already used it a few times and loves it.

I did some searching online for a recipe and found this Colorado Green Chile one on my favorite recipe site, allrecipes. It got 4.5 star review and sounded pretty good. I did make a few changes to the recipe. I modified a couple of the measurements and used beef instead of pork. I had planned on getting pork but accidentally bought beef stew meat instead but either one is fine to use for green chile, but I usually prefer pork to beef in my soups and stews. I added extra jalapenos and a few chiles I had growing in my garden that I thought were jalapenos but look more like serranos to the Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa that I also made from scratch using another recipe from allrecipes.  I won't post that recipe here since the only modification I made was adding more chiles. I like my chile spicy and the green chiles are pretty mild. Here is my modified recipe.

Ingredients:
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 pound cubed pork or beef stew meat
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 large yellow onion, diced
* 5 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 cups chopped, roasted green chiles (Anaheim/New Mexico)
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
* 1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa (store bought or homemade)
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 pinch ground cloves
* cilantro for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste, then place into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Once browned, remove the meat and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in the onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Return the meat to the pot, and stir in the green chiles, diced tomatoes with juice, tomatillo salsa, and chicken broth. Season with oregano and clove. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
3. After 20 minutes, remove 2 cups of the soup (ensure there is no meat in it), and pour into a blender. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree until smooth, then pour back into the cooking pot. This will create a thicker texture for your chili and will eliminate some of the chunky bits of chiles. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until the meat is very tender, at least 40 minutes more.
4. Serve as a soup in a bowl garnished with a few cilantro leaves or it can be used as a sauce over enchiladas, tamales or burritos. It's even better on the second day but if you don't plan on eating within a few days it freezes well.

Roasted Hatch Chile Peppers
Roasted Hatch (New Mexico) Chiles
Green Salsa Ingredients
Peeled Tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro
Green Salsa
Tomatillo Salsa and a Garlic Braid
Green Chile
Green Chile (Chile Verde)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Olympus E-PL2


Olympus E-PL2 + 75-300mm + EVF-2

I was recently given the opportunity to try out some Olympus gear for a couple of weeks. The Olympus PEN E-PL2, 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 and the VF-2 all pictured above.  I'm no stranger to the Olympus PEN, I have the E-P1 and use it quite often however I haven't used many of the micro four thirds lenses since I have a four thirds adapter so I can use all my other lenses on it.  I only have the kit zoom and the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 pancake in the micro four thirds line. The cameras are pretty similar so it didn't take much time to get used to.

I've never used an electronic viewfinder before and was curious how well it worked.  Everyone I know that has tried it swears by it and they seem to not be able to live without it.  I've used my E-P1 just fine without one so I wasn't sure what I was missing.  Now that I've seen it I want one too.  It fits into the hotshoe on top of the camera and also plugs into an accessory port just below the hot shoe.  Unfortunately the E-P1 doesn't have this accessory port so the VF-2 can't be used on it but there is a VF-1 but I doubt it would be as good as the VF-2.  You get a digital display in the viewfinder which is basically a copy of what you would see on the LCD screen.  So you're not just seeing what you are shooting but you also view the menu system, settings and it even flashes the photo you capture after hitting the shutter.  I love that because you can chimp your photos without people knowing you're chimping.  I have a bad habit of chimping my photos and it took me a long time to stop looking at the back of the LCD when using the viewfinder after taking a picture. Another neat thing it does is you can tilt the viewfinder. You might wonder why you would ever want to do that. I found it very helpful when shooting directly above a subject, like a plate of food, shown below.  If you have a PEN camera that can use the Olympus VF-2 I would highly recommend it. The only downfall is that it is a pretty expensive accessory, currently $226 on Amazon.  There's also a slightly cheaper VF-3 that was just recently released and is priced at $180.
 
Cactus Grilled Skirt Steak Salad 
20mm ~ F4.5 ~ 1/60 ~ ISO 640

 The 75-300mm is an amazingly wonderful range and is only the size of a pop can.  I don't know of any other camera manufacturer that can produce something that small in that range.  The down side is the lens has a very slow F Stop range of only 4.8-6.7.  So if you want to take a photo at 300mm the fastest you can shoot at is going to be F6.7.  I found that to be too slow for my liking. The majority of photos I took with this lens ended up being at 1600 ISO when shooting in Aperature priority and Auto ISO.  I took the camera/lens combo on a couple of photostrolls with the Seattle Flickr Meetup group. 

The first stroll I went on was at Alki Beach on a nice, bright sunny day so using the 75-300 was no problem since there was plenty of available light and I was able to get close up people shots without them even knowing I was there.  I shot people having fun in the sun. I even captured a few action shots of a beach volleyball match. The lens was surprisingly sharp and had good depth of field.
 
Back Atcha 75mm ~ F4.8 ~ 1/2500 ~ ISO 200
 
Kayaking by the Beach 117mm ~ F5.3 ~ 1/1600 ~ ISO 200
 
Beach Reading - On Your Stomach 300mm ~ F6.7 ~ 1/1250 ~ ISO 200
 
Missile Radar Vessel Departs 75mm ~ F4.8 ~ 1/2000 ~ ISO 200
 
The following weekend I brought both the E-PL2 and my E-5 to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. This was my second time to the park and decided to bring two camera bodies this time so I could keep the 75-300mm telephoto on the E-PL2 and a wider lens, the 12-60mm on my E-5 so I wouldn't have to switch lenses which I remember doing a lot of last time I went. Since the E-PL2 and 75-300mm are so light it was no problem to carry around both camera systems. I kept the E-PL2 mounted to my tripod and kept the E-5 around my neck. Even though it was a bright sunny day, most of the animals were out of the sun and in the shade which meant almost all of my photos were shot at 1600mm. I admit I did do a bit of noise reduction in post processing on some of the photos since it was too much noise for my liking. Below is a photo of my E-PL2 set up and a few photos and a series of videos shot with the E-PL2 in less than ideal conditions.

Olympus E-PL2 E-5 ~ 12-60mm
21mm ~ F4.5 ~ 1600 ISO

 
Angry Bald Eagle 300mm ~ F6.7 ~ 1/40 ~ ISO 1600
 
Buffalo 75mm ~ F5.0 ~ 1/160 ~ ISO 1000
 
Lazy Coyote 252mm ~ F6.5 ~ 1/60 ~ ISO 1600 


Even at such high ISO the shots are pretty reasonable. The 75-300mm is an amazing lens and I think worth the $750 price.  If you are wanting to shoot weddings or indoor events you best look for a different lens.  You need a decent amount of light in order to get good shots from it.  I didn't take too many photos at full 300mm. I found it to be a little too close and most of my shots were 200mm or less.  Panasonic also offers a similar ranged lens, 100-300mm F4.0-5.6.  I would be curious to see how it compares.  It is slightly faster but I'm willing to bet the photos aren't as sharp.  The only other micro four thirds telephoto option at this time for Olympus is a 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 however Panasonic has a slightly longer lens, a 45-200mm F4-5.6 that is priced at only $265. My longest Four Thirds lens is a 50-200mm and if I really need the length I will use that with the adapter but having one of the lighter micro four thirds telephotos is pretty tempting.  It would be great to take on hikes or while traveling.

If you don't already own an Olympus PEN, I would definitely recommend the E-PL2.  If you already own a PEN I don't know if the additional features are enough to switch.  There are a few additional art filters but I honestly rarely ever use them. Being able to use the VF-2 is the only real big advantage to me.  The E-PL2 has a built in flash that the E-P1 doesn't have but I never use the on camera flash anyway. If I use a flash I will use my external flash in the hot shoe or trigger it off camera. I'm still waiting for Olympus to come out with a splash proof PEN then maybe I will consider getting a newer model. For now, the E-P1 is good enough for me.

More of my photos from these two photo strolls along with a few other photos I've taken with the E-PL2 can be found in my E-PL2 Flickr set.  I also put together a how to video on removing cilantro leaves from the stems using the 14-42mm kit lens which can be viewed on Youtube.

 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Gluten Free Pancakes

I've been playing around with various gluten free flours and grains lately. You would think I work for Bob's Redmill if you looked in my fridge and cabinets.  I'm sure I easily have at least a dozen bags of their flours and grains.  I haven't had pancakes in months so thought I would try one of the pancake recipes in the Allergy & Candida Cooking Made Easy cookbook.

One thing I like about this cookbook is they give multiple recipes using different flours/grains. There's 6 cracker, 5 biscuit, 5 muffin and 5 pancake recipes to choose from.  I decided to go with the Rice-Oat Pancakes which is made with a combination of brown rice flour and oat flour.  It's also got a bit of ground flax seed which I ground myself.

I didn't use the recommended toppings in the cookbook for the pancakes but instead made my own syrup using water, blackberries and blueberries.  I heated the berries and water in a saucepan for about 10-15 minutes and mashed them and the result was a nice berry syrup.  I thought it was great but Mark would have preferred something sweeter like good old maple syrup.  He can have his maple syrup next time and I'll stick with the berries.  There's also a recipe for teff pancakes which sounds interesting. I will have to try those next time. Gluten Free Pancakes

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Gluten Free Vegan Lasagna

This was my first time making gluten free pasta as well as my first time making pasta with herbs mixed into the dough.  This pasta was made with soy flour and the herbs were basil and oregano.

The recipe in the Allergy & Candida Cooking Made Easy cookbook did not mention using a pasta maker but I tried it out anyway.  Turns out it didn't work very well.  The dough was just too sticky even though I added a lot more flour than the recipe had called for so I rolled it out by hand using a rolling pin which took for ever, much longer than I had planned so dinner ended up being a bit late.  I had to flour the dough after each roll of the pin.  At least there were only 4 5x10 sheets that I had to roll out.

Once the dough was done it didn't take long to put the dish together, layering the sauce, tofu, noodles and spinach.  The sauce was made from scratch too and had lots of chunks of green peppers and zucchini.  Again the recipe called for eggplant but since I have so much zucchini I used it as a substitute.  The sauce turned out very runny and wished I had more time to let it reduce some.  The recipe called for letting the sauce simmer for an hour covered but with it covered the liquid didn't have any room to evaporate. Despite the runny sauce I thought the lasagna turned out pretty good considering it had no cheese or meat.

Gluten Free Herbed Pasta Gluten Free Vegan Lasanga

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Fiber Shake Recipe

Fiber ShakesFor the past few months I've been drinking fiber shakes every morning for breakfast.  I change up what I put in it each day but I thought I would share one of my favorites along with some of the benefits of the ingredients I use.

For the base liquid ingredient I will use water (coconut or distilled) or a milk (usually almond or hemp).  You can add more or less to get to the consistency you like.  My shakes are usually a little on the thicker side and usually need to use a spoon.

I use some kind of "green" component, currently chlorophyll or Sun Chlorella but will be trying HealthForce's Vitamineral Green, an organic green superfood powder, starting next week. It contains Chlorophyll, spirulina, grasses, kelp, green vegetable juices, enzymes, probiotics and a bunch of other stuff.  It sounds like pretty great stuff. It supports blood sugar, detoxification, the immune system, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, colon, regularity, circulation and longevity.  I am also going to try HealthForce's Earth, a "healing food".  Earth contains sprouted flax and chia seeds, milk thistle seeds, vegetable roots,  barks, blossoms, herbs and spices.  Earth is said to soothe colon, support blood sugar, colon health detoxification, immune system and longevity.

I will alternate between using flax seeds and chia seeds.  Since these are both contained in HealthForce's Earth I will probably discontinue adding these to my shake. Flax and chia are a great source of Omega 3.  They are good for your heart and are said to reduce your risk of hearth disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.  They also contain antioxidants (more than blueberries), increase brain function and make you feel more energized.

I will also add hemp protein.  There are a lot of other proteins you can choose. I avoid soy, rice, egg and dairy proteins since I have a mild sensitivity to those.  Both whey and casein are dairy products so that left me with hemp protein.  Yes it does come from the cannabis plant, the seeds, but it doesn't contain any psychoactive compounds.  Not only is it the only one I'm not sensitive to, it also contains a lot of health benefits.  It contains all 8 essential amino acids, it's easier to digest and has a more balanced ratio of essential fatty acids than other types of protein.  It's said to be the only food that is capable of sustaining life in the absence of any other food sources.

I recently started adding a bit of coconut oil to my shakes.  Yes it is a fat but it's a good fat and it won't make you fat.  It's good for your hair, skin, stress relief, cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, digestion and metabolism, bone strength, relief from kidney problems, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.  I have also been cooking with it more instead of using vegetable oils.

I always add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt.  You are probably aware that yogurt is good for you but are you aware of all of it's benefits?  It has many. One that I recently became aware of is that it may help to prevent osteoporosis which happens to run in my family so gives me even more incentive to eat it.  It also may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, helps gastrointestinal conditions and may discourage vaginal infections.  One important thing to check before purchasing a yogurt is to make sure it contains active live cultures.  Check the ingredient label and it will tell you if it does or not.  I've been using Stonyfield Organic Plain yogurt, which contains 6 active live cultures.  I bought a yogurt maker so I can make some of my own yogurt but I've yet to try it out.  To make your own yogurt all you need is milk and a little bit of yogurt with active cultures.

I add a bit of psyllium husk which is most well known for reducing constipation.  But it actually has a lot of other health benefits.  It helps lower blood sugar levels and not only does it help with constipation it also helps with diarrhea. It also reduces pain and discomfort from hemorrhoids, lowers cholesterol and aids in weight loss.

One last thing I consistently use in my shakes is Vitamin C.  I have been using ascorbic acid crystals.  I'm a little confused at this point on what the best type of Vitamin C to take is.  I originally thought this was the best form but after some research I'm finding it may not be.  For one thing it appears much of it is not absorbed and just goes right through you and if you take too much of it you will get diarrhea.  HealthForce has a Vitamin C powder in the form of acerola berries.  It's non-toxic in low or high doses and is highly absorbable.  The benefits of Vitamin C are also many.  It protects your body from infections, bacteria and viruses, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood lead level, increases blood flow which also helps to fight cataracts.

Then the last thing I add to my shakes is a mix of fruits/berries.  I usually add frozen berries either strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries.  I will usually only choose to add one at a time and not use the same one two days in a row to decrease the risk of developing an allergy to them.  They say eating the same foods every day could cause you to develop an allergy.  Berries are good sources of antioxidants, especially blueberries.  Antioxidants promote health and protects cells from premature or abnormal aging.  I also will occasionally add a green apple or avocado.  Avocado gives the shake a very smooth texture. I will also occasionally add a bit of almond butter.

Below is one of my favorite recipes that I put together and had for breakfast this morning.  This is enough for 2 servings.

Ingredients:
10 oz. water or milk
1 tbsp chlorophyll
1 tsp Vitamin C crystals
2 tbsp hemp or other protein
2 tsp psyllium husk powder
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
handful frozen berries

Directions:
Add all ingredients to blender, liquid ingredients first and frozen berries last.  I use the smoothie button on my Blendetc.  If you are using a different blender, start out on low speed and slowly increase to highest speed until smooth. Makes 28 ounces.
Morning Shake
I didn't mention the Zeoforce Zeolite, pictured on the right, before because I'm only using that temporarily for 3 weeks while doing a heavy metal detox.  I've only got a couple more days left of using it along with cilantro pesto.  I went through two of these bottles in three weeks.  It is good for removing heavy metals and toxins.
Blender