Aside from being absolutely delicious, vanilla contains chemical compounds called vanilloids that help reduce inflammation in our bodies. Eating foods like vanilla can help remedy the damage of inflammation spawned by heavy training.

The basics:

10 minutes
Multiple servings
Vegan, gluten-free

The ingredients:

3.5 cups water

1 cup almonds (soaked for 8 hours)

3 dates, pitted

1.5 TSP pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

Place almonds in bowl and fill with enough water to cover, soaking for 8 hours, or overnight.

Discard the soak water from almonds and pour almonds into blender.

Soak pitted dates for 5 minutes in warm water to soften for blending.

Discard the soak water from dates and place dates in blender with almonds.

Add water, vanilla extract, and salt into blender and blend on high for 1 minute.

Pour blended contents through fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove pulp.

Pour yourself a delicious glass of homemade vanilla almond milk!


*Vanilla Almond Milk will keep for about a week if sealed and refrigerated.

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Sweet potatoes are not potatoes. And they aren’t yams either. The whole matter involves a series of bad translations starting back with Columbus’ expedition in 1492. But they sure are sweet! They’re always a savory and creamy carbohydrate to incorporate into your diet. In parts of the world the sweet potato is a staple food – and rightfully so, as they are a nutritionally dense vegetable.

Sweet potatoes are the tuberous roots of a plant called Ipomoea batatas. You can eat the leaves of the plant but they are nutritionally negligible compared to the roots. The sweet potato is only distantly related to potatoes. Potatoes are a nightshade and sweet potatoes aren’t. The sweet potato is actually more closely related to a morning glory.

The sweet potato originated in South America. Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating back to 8000 BC have been found. Around 700 AD the sweet potato made its way to Polynesia. These days, most sweet potatoes come from China. In the United States, North Carolina leads in sweet potato production and is the state vegetable. Of all the 1,000’s of species of sweet potatoes, only a few are grown in agriculture. Many kinds of sweet potatoes are actually poisonous.

So, is a sweet potato a yam?

Yes and no. Yes, if you are in North America and you want to get a sweet potato. No, if you are anywhere else in the world. Then a yam refers to Dioscorea, an African and Asian plant that has a root called a yam, which is completely different than a sweet potato.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other staple foods. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A and potassium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C. While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that vitamin C plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation.

Bake them!

When you bake sweet potatoes something happens on the micronutrient level that produces more vitamin C… 24% more in fact! Sweet potatoes have a boat load of vitamin C anyway, but why not get more?

Recipes!

 Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato chips

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Always have lemons on hand. Lemon can be used in almost any kind of cooking – they are like ready-made vitamin C supplement that you can squeeze on or into most foods. Having a lemon water first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day.

Lemons are the fruit of an Asian evergreen tree that is thought to have originated in the Himalayan foothills of North-East India. You can make a bonsai lemon tree.

These trees are now abundant throughout the entire world. They were brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus. Spanish conquest spread them throughout the continents. Today, the main producers of lemons are India, China, and Mexico.

The lemon tree produces fruit and a flower. Lemon is a fragrant an distinct smell, often used in aromatherapy. A study by The Ohio State University found that lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may enhance mood. 

Also, in a jam, lemon makes a great cleaning agent. It can be used as a wood cleaner and polish, where its solvent property is employed to dissolve old wax, fingerprints, and grime.

Lemon rinds can be very high in pesticides, so always try to buy organic. Plus, you don’t know where your lemons have been as they’ve made their way to your kitchen. Give them a good wash before you roll them around your cutting board, or throw into your fresh filtered ice water. Also, lemons left unrefrigerated for long periods of time are susceptible to mold. And before you throw away that lemon peel, read this.

Nutritional data

The average lemon contains approximately 3-4 tablespoons (50 mL) of juice. Citric acid constitutes up to 8% of this juice. Citric acid is a natural preservative, aids digestion, and helps dissolve kidney stones.

Lemons, believe it or not, are an alkiline food. Yes, they are tremendously acid outside of your body (full of citric acid – to be precise), but once ingested your body converts it into a base that will help your regulate your PH levels.

Recipes

Spartan Lemonade

Lemon Apple pasta salad

Lemon glazed donuts

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There is a reason why you see bananas at the end of marathons, triathlons, and obstacle races.  Simply put, you can’t go wrong with eating bananas.  Bananas are concentrated nutrition delivered direct from one raw food, fueling you up with approximate 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 422 mg of potassium.   Muscle cramping has long been documented as being related to low potassium levels.  Anyone who has had their legs lock up at the end of a long race can appreciate this, and should consider grabbing one whenever they are around.

Bananas are easy to eat and digest for the most part. They are easily chewed up and swallowed, even if one is running at 90% intensity.  While everyone manages solid food while exercising differently, the banana seems pretty universally accepted as easy to digest while exercising.

In fact, they are easy on your stomach.

Bananas have long been recognized for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. In one study, a simple mixture of banana and milk significantly reduced acid secretion. In addition, bananas also help activate the cells that compose your stomach lining, producing a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids.

So, when reaching for your coffee in the morning, reach for a banana, too.  When you are heading to workout, grab a banana to go with you for either before, during, or after your workout.  Simply put, you never know when you might need an extra dose of quality raw food calories and potassium.

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