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Taste the Grainbow

With the wide world of grains we have access to, why have we by and large limited ourselves to rice? I invite you to join me as we experience the wonder world of grains. Rice is so yesterday, try a new grain today. Click To Tweet

 

Grains have been the central element, the star of the plate, for many cultures for innumerous years. From rice to quinoa, China to Peru, grains have nourished and sustained peoples all over the planet. If some of these are unfamiliar to you, I challenge you to try a new one this week. Many of these grains can be purchase at a health food store, food co-op, or even your commercial local grocery (though there may be a substantial markup in price). If you have access to a local food co-op, you’ll find these in the bulk bin section. If you’re nervous about trying something new, just purchase a small scoop and it will literally cost you about $2.00 or less. So let’s dive in to our wonderful world of grains.

 

Amaranth

At least 8,000 years ago, the Aztecs in Peru cultivated this tiny grain. Well, it’s actually not even a grain but a seed. It falls into the grain category because it is so nutritionally dense. It is a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids, giving it a higher protein content than most other grains, It’s a key source of vitamins and minerals and especially high in iron. Its even gluten free! You can enjoy it sweet or savory. Kick start your day by trying my breakfast preparation.

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Apples and Amaranth

 

Buckwheat

Here we find another seed commonly referred to as a grain. Studies conducted in population that consume a good deal of buckwheat have LOWER incidences of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Buckwheat is a powerful antioxidant; it’s high in magnesium, manganese and copper in addition to being gluten free. I usually eat mine raw as in my recipe here.

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Raw Granola

 

Bulgur

This is a whole grain true to its name. We read time and again to eat WHOLE grains; well this one here is 100% whole wheat. A great source of soluble fiber, manganese and Vitamin B-6, this grain is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Tabbouleh anyone?

bulgur

 

Farro

I love the chewy nuttiness of this grain. While it’s recently been making it way to chic menus lately, this grain has been eaten around the globe for thousands of years. High in iron and fiber, it makes a great replacement for rice. It can be used in dishes from soups to chilled salad. Here’s my favorite way to enjoy farro.

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Farro Salad

 

Millet

If you’ve ever seen “bird seed” you’ve seen millet but this is not just for the birds. While it’s really a seed, again this one falls into the grain category. Used for thousands of years, its even cited in the bible as an ingredient in bread. Good for your heart and insulin levels, try my modern take on a vegetarian classic.

millet

Lentil Loaf

 

Quinoa

 In the last few years, quinoa has almost become a familiar household item. In my home it makes frequent appearances. From salad to soup, I cook up a big batch, then portion out and freeze for later use. Prepared sweet for breakfast or savory as a dinner side, we love it all the same. High in protein, iron, vitamins and minerals this one really lives up to its SUPERFOOD name.

quinoa

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Cornmeal Crusted Tempeh, Sesame Snow Peas & Quinoa w/ orange sauce

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Aloo Matar: My Childhood Fav

I love my Dad for many reasons. He is wise beyond his years, insightful, resourceful and smart. He’s deeply spiritual, good humored and youthful. One of the things I appreciate most about him is exposing me to many things at a young age. As a pre-teen I was reading the autobiographies of Angela Davis and Malcolm X, in my teens The Isis Paper and Aristotle. From my youth, he took me many places he went: adult business meetings, concerts, to the harbor to skip rocks. These were especially treasured moments because in my early youth, we didn’t live together so I eagerly anticipated him coming to pick me up and take me away for an exciting adventure beyond my housing project.

 

But some of my most vivid memories are of us dining at Indian Restaurants.

 

To this date, Indian food remains my favorite. Out of my love for Indian food, I’ve read COUNTLESS Indian cookbooks and even declare I have an Indian Aunty that taught me to cook breads (though we’ve never met. I highly recommend you visit my Aunty Manjula by CLICKING HERE).

 

This is the first Indian dish I taught myself to make. It is the second meal (after spaghetti) that I taught my daughter to make when she was nine years old.

 

Aloo means potato and matar peas. This is a kid fav because it is creamy, mild and a little sweet. Aloo Matar Click To Tweet

 

Based on regional differences, some make the gravy by blending the tomatoes; some add different creams such as yogurt, ground cashews or coconut milk. So here’s my take on Aloo Matar. This dish also won me a special place in my husband’s heart. It was one of the first meals I cooked for him and to date is his second favorite meal of all time. At the time he was a serious meat eater but with this good home cooking, he soon became a vegetarian.

 

Aloo Matar

 

16 oz green peas

12 oz potatoes bar boiled & diced (about 3 medium potatoes)

8 oz tomatoes diced

1 large onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp grated ginger

8 oz coconut milk

½ cup water

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp chili powder

 

Aloo Matar 4

 

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger cook additional 2 minutes. Add spices and cook 1 minute. Add tomato and cook 2 minutes. Add potatoes, coconut milk and water. Cook about 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Lastly add green peas. Cook just a few minutes more. You want peas bright green and just tender so be careful not to overcook. The heat from the pot is really enough to cook the peas. Serve with basmati rice or naan or paratha.

 

Aloo Matar 5

 

Enjoy!

 

Aloo Matar 2

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!
Happy to connect and share with friends at Plant-Based Potluck

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Tips For Maintaining Weight Over The Holidays

Many reports suggest that people gain from 7-10 lbs during the holidays. How can you ensure that you don’t fall into that group? Simply follow the tips below. Honor yourself by honoring your body. Everything you consume either contributes to or detracts from your health. I encourage you to choose well. To help you in choosing well, here are some tips for maintaining your weight over the holidays.

 

First Things First

Schedule your exercise for the first part of your day so it doesn’t fall to the mercy of the extra holiday errands you’ll probably be running. Picking up food for the office party, a gift for the hostess, Christmas shopping; these extra errands can cut into your time and before you know it, the whole day is over and you haven’t exercised. Author and blogger Ann Voskamp says “Word In, Work Out, Work Your Plan” in that order.

 

Don’t Skip a Meal

Skipping breakfast and lunch so you can really throw down at dinner? No. Don’t self-sabotage. You need to adequately fuel your body for optimal energy and performance throughout the day.

 

Make it Count

If you’re consuming calories, make them count. Why waste a significant portion of your caloric intake for the day on empty beverages like alcohol, soda, cider and eggnog? I LOVE eggnog but I don’t love what it does to my body. Your average cup of eggnog has nearly 350 calories and 19 fat grams! So I have to exercise self-control and stay away from the stuff. I’ll save my calories for the small treat that I’ll allow myself to enjoy.

 

Portion Control

On most round dinner plates there is a ridge about 2 inches in from the edge. Your food should be contained within that inner circle. But most of us fill the plate to the very edge. To prevent overeating, we can exercise portion control by eating off of a salad plate instead.

 

 Be Selective

Does EVERY item present need to be on your plate? For Thanksgiving I’m going to be selective. I am indifferent when it comes to stuffing so I’m not even going to put it on my plate. Rice pilaf and mashed potatoes, well I could eat those anytime and they aren’t my favorites either so I’ll pass on those too. Again it’s about making those calories and fat grams count.

 

Beware Of The Sneaky

Oh the sneaky calories that can catch up on you when you aren’t paying attention. You are standing around chatting at a party and each time the hors d’oeuvres come past you grab some. Pretty little phyllo purses filled with goodness, fried little somethings, wrapped little somethings, cheese and crackers, all manner of spreads and dips…and before you know it, BAM! It isn’t even dinner and you’ve consumed enough fat and calories that equate to a dinner.

 

Wait Before Having Seconds

After eating it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that you’ve eaten. So before you go for that second plate, wait a while. There are also times we mistake thirst for hunger so while you’re waiting sip some water.

 

It is my prayer that by following these tips you’ll maintain your weight over the holidays and not feel the guilt or weight (no pun intended) of carry around those extra holidays pounds. If you remain steadfast, you can enter 2016 feeling great about your choices and perhaps won’t have to have the proverbial LOSE WEIGHT New Years Resolution.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been inspired to live fully.

 

Photo CreditPhoto Credit

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Thanksgiving Menu

Greetings this Wellness Wednesday Inspired Life family. Have you finalized your Thanksgiving Menu? I thought I had mine complete then my sweet hubby added a few things so my list is growing. Thanksgiving is such an exciting day in my home. My children are uber excited at the thought of eating in the formal dining room and having some of their favorites that I make exclusively for Thanksgiving. They are all laughing and squealing with delight over the “BIG FEAST” as they call it.

 

Thanksgiving is the one time of year where I grant myself some leeway in the fat and calorie department. It’s the one time of year I use real butter and bake macaroni and cheese. Just the thought of it nearly has me salivating. So what’s on your menu? Are you making any secret family recipes? Please let me know in the comments. All of the recipes I’m making except for the Gingerbread Cake are from my head. A few I’ve jotted down and posted here on Inspired Life. For the others, I’m linking recipes that come close to what I’ll conjure up. One day I promise I’m going to write a cookbook. At least for my children’s sake, I need to move the recipes from my head to paper. One day…..

 

But for now, let the Feast begin. Oh by the way, did I mention this is a vegetarian menu?

 

Thanksgiving Menu 

 

Breakfast

 

Considering all the eating I’m planning to do later, I’m going to keep it tasty & satisfying yet light and filling all at the same time. My favorite smoothie will start the day the right way.

Apple Pie Smoothie

 

 

Lunch

 

Dinner will be around 5 but I won’t starve myself until then. Nor do I want to do too much grazing or nibbling on dinner before the actual dinner. Since I eat a salad nearly everyday for lunch, I’ll stick with my surefire routine.

Spinach Pear Salad

 

Dinner

Mmm…is all I can say. Will next Thursday please hurry and get here? The cooking will actually begin on Wednesday. Wednesday I’ll wash and chop all veggies. I’ll also make the Lentil Loaf, desserts and bake the cornbread for the dressing.

Lentil Loaf 

Macaroni & Cheese

Cornbread Dressing

My sweet Aunt Linda has entrusted me and only me with her secret recipe. I can’t divulge her secrets but here is a recipe that captures the general essence of her secret dish.

Stuffing

My 1st born who is now 11 discovered this recipe 2 years ago and she’s been making them for Thanksgiving ever since.

Maple Brussels Sprouts

Everyone in the house likes Brussels sprouts. In fact, we had Brussels for dinner last night. We just change them up a bit for Thanksgiving my adding maple and walnuts.

Orange Glazed Green Beans

Sauteed Kale

Sweet Potatoes

Whipped Butternut Squash

Cranberry Sauce

Dinner Rolls

 

Dessert

Apple Crisp

Vegan Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Every year I make one new thing. This is the 2015 new item. I’ve been happily cooking my way through Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. I wanted to make this cake sooner but decided to save it for this special occasion. I know it will have the house smelling divine. Now to be able to restrain everyone from eating it before Thursday will be the challenge.

 

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

It’s that time of year.  Leaves changing, chill mornings and frost on the grass.  So it’s only fitting to bring on the pumpkin recipes.  These are a staple in our home.  Not to mention I always have the ingredients on hand.  Bring the smell of warmth, fall and the holidays into your home by whipping up a batch of these Vegan Pumpkin Muffins.

 

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

 

2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 cup Turbinado (or other unrefined sugar)

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

1/1 tsp. Cloves

1 1/4 cups Puréed Pumpkin

1 chia egg*

1/2 cup Nondairy Milk (I use almond milk)

1/3 cup Neutral flavor Oil (I use Coconut)

2 Tbsp. Molasses

1/3 cup Golden Raisins (optional)

1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

 

*chia egg=1 tsp ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp water whisked together

Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and spices. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, chia egg, milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

(P.S. We ate the muffins so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture 🙂

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Good Health Is A Choice

Do you believe your current state of health is within your control?

 

There are those who would say no. Diabetes runs in my family. High blood pressure runs in my family. Cancer runs in my family.

 

There are those who straddle the fence and think well….hereditary and genetic factor do contribute to my health but maybe I can do a little something.

 

And finally there are those who know that their health is in their hands.

 

Possessing good health is a choice. It is God’s desire that you be in good health and prosper even as your soul prospers. And while we pray many prayers for healing, it is His desire to keep us from sickness and disease.

 

He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Exodus 15:26

 

But it is up to us to choose. We cannot serve two masters.

 

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

 

And this includes choosing Him with our food choices. When it comes to food, will we serve the God of the Universe or the god of our taste buds? Click To Tweet

 

Every food choice we make either adds to or detracts from our health Click To Tweet; a deposit or withdrawal, an investment or a loss, an advancement of health or a reversal. There is no food neutral.

Honoring the temple is a choice. And when faced with options, we constantly have to weigh and choose.

 

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live Deuteronomy 30:19

 

Because my body is the temple where the Holy Spirit resides, I try to make choices that will honor my temple. But choosing well is not always easy. But the Lord is faithful. He’s given me a system that I can commit to and seems to work well for me. I have a smoothie for breakfast (sometimes I have oatmeal if I’m going to have an intense workout); I have salad for lunch and a well-balanced, nutrient dense dinner. But there are times when I don’t choose well. I’ve given myself a little wiggle room purely for indulgence. I follow the 85/15 rule. 85% of the time I attempt to eat clean, nourishing whole food and the other 15% well….And even in granting myself that grace, I try not to overdo it. I’ve also come to know the importance of identifying and heading off triggers for eating poorly. If I’m stressed, overwhelmed or haven’t eaten and go to a place where unhealthy food is being served I’m apt to slip. That’s why we have to be proactive in warding off the slips by knowing our triggers.

 

And guess what? Last night I slipped. I ate 3 chocolate chip cookies. That was a huge indulgence for me. And I know why I ate them. It was totally a case of emotional eating. I was tired, not feeling well and just wanted comfort. Oh friends, that I would turn to CHRIST not cookies for comfort the next time. We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength if we just look to Him.

 

Having the right information is just one step in helping you make better choices. Check out these posts for tips on choosing the right foods:

 

Healthy Eating On The Go

Get Them To Eat Right

10 Keys Eating Right

 

Coupled with the right information is then exercising our will and making the right choice.

 

“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.”

~Alfred A. Montapert

 

I stand here in your RaRa section, cheering you on as you choose well. Good health is a choice.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Photo Credit

Vegetable Fried Rice

Leftover Rice? CHECK.

 

Odds and Ends of Veggies? CHECK.

 

Looks like you’ve got most of what you need to quickly prepare a batch of this tasty fried rice. So save yourself a trip to the Chinese Takeout and make your own at home.  Pair this with my Broccoli In Garlic Sauce for a satisfying meal.

 

Vegetable Fried Rice

 

3 cups cooked brown rice

2 TBSP grapeseed oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 onion peeled and diced

1 bunch scallions chopped

1 cup peas and chopped carrots (lightly steamed)

1/2 cup broccoli chopped

1 cup cabbage thinly sliced

2-3 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP ginger grated

 

Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Add grapeseed oil in the wok. Add onion and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add cabbage stir fry 3 minutes. Add broccoli, peas and carrots and stir-fry 2 minutes more. Add the ginger. Add sesame oil then the rice. Next add the soy sauce. Stir to combine flavors. Top with scallion and serve.

 

This recipe is super flexible.  Add whatever veggie you have on hand.  You can also add any protein you desire.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Happy to connect with Plant-Based Potluck Party

Health Benefits That Pack A Punch

Warm

 

Peppery

 

Tangy

 

The backbone of any good curry.

 

Used for centuries as a dye.

 

TURMERIC

 

Turmeric, the yellow root with a jab and hook that can knock inflammation right out of the body, is powered by curcumin.

 

Curcumin, the chemical compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, packs a POWER punch.

 

Anti-inflammatory

 

Anti-oxidant

 

Anti-free radical

 

From a boil to a toothache, turmeric has been used for years to treat many conditions.

 

When paired with ginger, turmeric makes beans more easily digestible. When paired with pepper, curcumin’s power is more readily available for the body to use (bioavailability).
 

In studies its been proven to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

 

Studies continue to be conducted to determine its effectiveness in treating diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

 

In its fresh root form, it can be hard to find depending on what part of the world you live in. In the US, occasionally Whole Foods carries it. I’ve also seen it in Asian supermarkets.

 

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I generally take my turmeric in powder form. I purchase organic turmeric powder from my local food co-op. I place the powder in empty capsules or I added the powder to my smoothies. I also cooking Indian food at least once a week and turmeric is in there for sure.

 

Try your hand at this Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie and release turmeric's power to do its thing. Click To Tweet These are health benefits that pack a punch.

 

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SMOOTHIE

 

1 Cup Coconut Water

4 Ice Cubes

½ Mango peeled and diced

½ Cup Pineapple

2 Leaves with stem Bok Choy

½ in X ½ in piece Ginger

¼ tsp turmeric  

 

Blend all ingredients in HIGH SPEED blender until smooth.

 

Enjoy!

 

Anti-inflammatory smoothie

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

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Healthy Kids Lunches

Tater Tots

 

Fries steamed in a plastic bag with wholes in it

 

Rubbery hamburger

 

Beefy Mac

 

Sloppy Joe

 

Pizza

 

Fruit cups

 

Cardboard tasting chocolate milk

 

This is what I remember about school lunch. Then in high school I moved with my vegan father and began packing my lunches daily. Tempeh sandwiches and wraps became my new favs.

 

back to school lunch bags

 

When I had just 2 children, their lunches were Pinterest worthy. They had bento boxes laden with artfully decorated food.  I used molds, animal toothpicks and cutters. Well, 3 children later, I’m just looking to get something healthy in their bags that they won’t throw away. For more on getting kids to eat right, check out one of my most popular posts by CLICKING HERE.

 

So PBJ’s aside, here are some of my go to healthy kids lunches for my tribe of 5.

 

Beverages are limited to water and rarely chocolate almond milk. I used to give 100% organic juice but stopped that to cut down on sugar.

 

Burritos

Leftover Chipotle At Home comes together in a tortilla for a quick and easy lunch.

 

Burrtios

 

 

Pita pizza

I always keep whole wheat pitas in the freezer. This is a lunch the children can make and pack themselves.

 

Pasta salad

Make one big bowl and the family can eat this for a few days. The variations are endless. HERE is an easy one that my children enjoy.

 

Corn muffins w/ string cheese & carrot sticks

Use THIS vegan Corn Muffin Recipe

 

Taco Salad

I can remix this from some of the above Chipotle At Home ingredients. Or you can try THIS recipe.

 

Side Bites

Fruit

Mini cucumbers

Carrot sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Hummus

Nuts

 

Snack

Make THESE healthy bars to replace sugary granola bars

Popcorn

 

 

I’m always looking for inspiration. What are some of your favorite healthy kids lunches?

 

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As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

Eat Your Water

Since water comprises 60% of your body weight, you can’t live without it. The body goes through a constant cycle of losing and replenishing that water. Water helps your organs function as designed, eliminate waste, regulate body temperature, aids in digestion and more. Ensure you keep hydrated and supply your body with this necessary fluid.

 

We’ve been taught to drink 64oz of water a day. But drinking water isn’t the only way to get your water intake. Water intake varies for each individual based on height, weight, environmental conditions, health and more. We’re accustomed to drinking our way to hydration, but let’s add eating to that equation.

 

Eat Your Water

 

Fruits

 

Watermelon

About 92% water per volume.

High in lycopene and highly alkaline this fruit is a summer staple. So refreshing and cooling on a hot summer day, it’s a fan fav at BBQ’s and summer parties.

 

Strawberries

About 92% water per volume.

High in antioxidants and vitamin C, also a good source of vitamin A, manganese and potassium, these sweet, succulent berries are best when consumed in season. Their softness, ripeness and sweetness in season can’t compare. One cup of strawberries contains 160% of your daily value of vitamin C. And you were always told to eat oranges for C. Eat these and get your C and water in one swoop.

strawberries 1

Grapefruit

91% water per volume

When eating grapefruit you not only hydrate but also burn fat and control cravings. Now who doesn’t want that?! And grapefruit are encouraged for heart health.

 

Cantaloupe

90% water per volume

One serving will not only hydrate you but also give you 100% of your daily value of vitamins A & C. One of my favorite ways to enjoy is having cantaloupe/sweet potato juice.

 

Vegetables

 

Lettuce

95% water per volume

While iceberg gets a bad rap, it is the lettuce with the highest water content. Other lettuces have slightly lower water but are more nutrient dense. Most lettuces have are high in vitamins A & K and high in folate. From salads to smoothies and juices, lettuce has many uses.

 

Zucchini

Over 95% water per volume

A good source of vitamin C and potassium, this versatile vegetable can be added to nearly everything. From raw noodles to juicing, when these are plentiful during summer, make full use of them. You can even shred one and add to pasta sauce to up the nutritional value.

 

Celery

95% water per volume

High in water and very low in calories rich in vitamins A, C and K. It hasn’t always been one of my favorite vegetables because its flavor is so strong but I always keep it on hand because I know how good it is for me. From soups to juices, celery is a household staple.

 

Cucumber

96% water per volume

High in vitamin K and powerfully fighting free radicals this vegetable is also an anti-inflammatory food. Research even shows that drinking watermelon or cucumber juice after a workout is twice as effective at hydrating the body than water. So post workout grab your watermelon/cucumber juice and drink up. (And it isn’t surprising their so hydrating. They belong to the same botanical family as two above items: zucchini and melons).

 

For more on water, check these out:

8 Benefits of Lemon Water

Life Water {Coconut Water}

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!