healthy breakfast ideas

FINALLY! Protein and energy bars we can get behind

Had enough of the high sugar and artificial protein bars that saturate the aisles of grocery stores? Us too. That's why when we came across Shanti Bars, we were so excited that we immediately contacted the founders to find a way to spread the word to our followers. We chatted with Lauren and Ashanty to hear their story.

shanti bars

Shanti bars are vegan, raw, kosher and organic. They are packed with superfoods such as chia and hemp seeds, acai, spirulina, cacao, goji berries and mulberries.  The founders take their passion and purpose seriously, as they created this bar to provide active, busy people with real, natural, sustainable energy.

coconut shanti
shanti founders

Lauren and Ashanty are both chefs and fellow health nuts living in sunny Miami. As an outdoor cycling fanatic, Ashanty grew frustrated with the lack of healthy, natural protein bars on the market and therefore decided to put her culinary skills to work. She created the Shanti bars in her kitchen and used friends at her gym as guinea pigs.

Lauren, a fellow chef and one of the first guinea pigs, quickly became hooked and they partnered up to turn their passion into a business. They had to find a way to take these bars from Ashantyโ€™s kitchen to store shelves for the masses to enjoy. Their hard work has paid off as their partnership with Whole Foods launched just this week! 

The protein bars offer 17 grams of natural protein, which are great for a pre or post-workout snack, while the energy bars provide 7-9 grams. All of the bars are between 220-260 calories, have around 5 grams of fiber, and around 11 grams of sugar. With all natural, raw, and vegan ingredients, the nutrition label is most certainly Tovita approved! Rather than the traditional and familiar chocolate or vanilla bars, Shanti bars have unique flavors like goldenberry, coconut, turmeric, acai, cacao and goji. 

Lauren and Ashanty were kind enough to provide our clients and followers with a 15% off discount code! Order online now using our code TovitaForShanti.

We recommend getting the variety pack to try all the flavors, but our personal favorite is the cacao protein barโ€ฆ just saying!

Try them all and let us know which is your favorite flavor! 

Thanks, Lauren & Ashanty!

Berry-Mango Smoothie

Today we are featuring a smoothie recipe created by our friends at Healthsomeness, a great page to find creative and healthy smoothie recipes! This one is delish, let us know what you think!

berry mango smoothie

Ingredients and health benefits

1 cup of frozen mixed berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to be precise, all of which are rich sources of antioxidants. One particular antioxidant that they contain in large amounts is vitamin C, perhaps the most well know vitamin. It helps with iron absorption, the healing of wounds and boosting your immune system.

Numerous studies have shown that berries help to reduce mental decline, promote heart health, assist with weight management and can also help reduce cholesterol levels & blood pressure.

1/2 a cup of frozen mango: mangoes contain naturally occurring sugars, which is why they are so delicious. Their sweetness is advantageous when preparing smoothies because you donโ€™t need to add in any extra sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Mangoes, like many other orange coloured foods, are a rich source of vitamin A. This vitamin is important for eye, skin and hair health.

1 cup of spinach: it is important to get at least 3 servings of vegetables a day, and one cup of vegetables counts for one serving. Leafy greens like spinach are mainly made up of water, which is why they are so low in calories. Indeed, a cup of spinach has only 7 calories!

However with that being said, spinach is still very nutrient dense. It is a great source of vitamin K, folate, manganese and iron.

1 cup of coconut water โ€“ coconut water is super hydrating and is often used by athletes in place of ordinary sports drinks. Two electrolytes that it contains in large amounts are potassium & magnesium. The former regulates fluid balance and controls electric activity of the heart whilst the latter promotes bone and gut health.

1 tablespoon of chia seeds โ€“ when these tiny seeds are introduced into liquid, they swell up and form a thick gel like consistency. This in turn means they make you feel full faster when you eat them.

Nuts & seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet because they contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This is one of the primary reasons why they are so often recommended by nutritionists.

1 teaspoon of spirulina โ€“ this rich green powdery substance is an algae that is an excellent source of protein. You donโ€™t need much in order to reap its benefits, one teaspoonful is enough. Studies have shown that spirulina boosts energy, helps prevent cancer and is good for cardiovascular health.

Preparation

Pour the coconut water into a blender and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Blend well and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Spotlight On: Spirulina

spirulina

Today we are introducing spirulina. Now, unless you're like us and you opt to browse the aisles of health food stores for fun, you may have never heard of it. We'd like to change that, because this is one weird green powder that we are really into. 

What is it?

Spirulina is a natural blue-green algae that is extremely nutrient rich. While we wish we could sugar coat it (we really do), you can find spirulina in powder or capsule form, as it tastes exactly how you might imagine - like pond scum! Because of this, if you chose to try the powder form, the best way to do so is by adding it to a smoothie to dilute the taste. Are you excited to try it yet? 

Sounds gross. Why should I be eating this algae?

  • It contains 65% protein, including all essential amino acids
  • The same compound that gives it it's blue-green color is a potent antioxidant that can fight harmful free radicals 
  • It is high in omega-3's and is one of the few foods that contains GLA, an essential fatty acid known for it's anti-inflammatory properties
  • Spirulina is most famously known for its high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll has several benefits: it can bind to toxins in the body and inhibit them from being absorbed, promotes healing in the body, and may even suppress hunger and cravings
  • It offers a bioavailable form of iron, which is a great option for vegans and vegetarians looking for new ways to add protein to their diets 
  • It provides B vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc 
  • It may aid in fat burning during exercise
  • There is evidence that it may help lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and have anti-cancer properties
  • Basically: there are tons of good reasons to label spirulina a superfood 

Ok fine, I'll try it. How do I use it?

Try our Spirulina Smoothie! You'll reap the benefits without suffering the taste

Ingredients (serves 1):

spirulina smoothie
  • 1/2 frozen banana (add a cup of ice if banana isn't frozen)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup almond milk 
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Option: 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Blend until smooth and creamy and enjoy! 

Tovita Tip: Make sure to refrigerate your spirulina powder!

For more info on spirulina, check out this extensive overview by Well-Being Secrets!

Spotlight On: Eggs

Easter is right around the corner, which means pastel blue, pink, and yellow eggs are showcasing in storefronts all around us. While we do recommend to limit the amount of chocolate eggs you enjoy, we've decided to use this holiday as an opportunity to shed some light on the health benefits of our favorite household staple, the egg. 

scrambled eggs

Do eggs raise cholesterol? How many eggs are too many? Are egg whites better than whole eggs? Are the brown ones healthier than the white ones? We get these questions all of the time, so we decided to give you the 411:

  •  Eggs are a source of total nutrition. 1 egg is about 70 calories and offers 6 grams of protein
  • Every single B vitamin is found in eggs
  •  Eggs contain every amino acid, making it a complete, high quality protein source
  • Eggs are one of the few good food sources of vitamin D
  •  Egg yolks are high in choline (1 egg provides about 35% of daily need), which is important for maintaining energy levels and a healthy metabolism. Choline is especially important during pregnancy as it contributes to brain and memory development
  • Egg whites contain a protein called avidin which binds to biotin making it absorbable in the body. Biotin helps the body convert fat into usable energy and is also linked with improving hair and nail strength.

Eggs became controversial when research from the 1980's revealed that egg yolks raised LDL and total cholesterol. More recent research, however, did not find any positive correlation between egg yolk consumption and cholesterol. Researchers found the the ratio of fats (omega 6: omega 3) in the diet had a much larger role in cholesterol levels than the amount of cholesterol consumed. The research is still mixed, but if you do have high cholesterol, we recommend limiting egg yolk consumption to 5-6 per week to be safe.

Eggs are a dieter's best friend. One study compared a group of dieters who had an egg-based breakfast to dieters who consumed a starch based breakfast and those who had no breakfast. At the end of the trial, the dieters with an eggy breakfast lost the most weight and body fat overall. Who's having an omelet tomorrow morning??

Time to get crackin! If making eggs at home, we recommend either using 2 whole eggs, or 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites in an omelet or scramble. This way, you get the benefits of the egg yolk but reduce the calories and fat content. Don't be afraid to ask for this next time you're out for brunch! As far as brown vs white, we don't discriminate. This may be surprising, but the color of the egg depends on the color of the chicken. Unlike the case with breads and grains, brown doesn't mean healthier! We choose organic, cage-free eggs. If from a local farm, even better. How to incorporate eggs in your day? Easy.

omelet
  • Pack 2 hardboiled eggs as a protein-packed afternoon snack, or as the protein for your salad
  • Try our omelet muffins, the perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack.
  • Add a fried egg to your next veggie stir-fry or cauliflower fried "rice"
  • Make an omelet or scramble with 1 egg, 2 egg whites, assortment of veggies, few slices of avocado, and fresh herbs and spices.
  • Add a fried egg to your avo toast

Have an eggsellent day! (Had to)

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How to say "I love you" In Food

Thereโ€™s nothing that says โ€œI love youโ€ quite like homemade breakfast in bed, especially when itโ€™s in the shape of a heart. Here are our top 5 favorite heart-healthy (literally) breakfasts for Valentine's day:

1. Heart-Shaped Sunny Side Up Toast

For the Valentine's Day version of "egg in a hole", use a ~3 inch cookie cutter, and cut out a heart into the center of a piece of whole grain bread (save the hearts for the next recipe!). Lightly toast both sides of the bread. Next, place the empty heart toast in the center of a pan and carefully crack an egg into the empty heart. Place the lid on the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes until egg is fried. Pair with some berries to add more color to the plate! 

2. Love Toasts

Using a few slices of multigrain toast and your heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out a few hearts. Now get creative! You can go the traditional avocado-toast route with chili flakes, or try spreading peanut butter and bananas. If youโ€™re feeling fancy, try a layer of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with pistachio nuts and honey.

3. Flourless Love Stack

Use your heart shaped cookie cutter on the griddle! Using our flourless banana pancake recipe, simply pour the batter into the cookie cutter to maintain the shape of the heart.

4. Egg Love You

Crack 2 eggs into bowl and whisk. Pour into heart-shaped skillet (we promise you will use this again). Add veggies of choice and allow to cook through on low heat.

5. Heart Smoothie Bowl

Turn a standard strawberry-banana smoothie into a V-day treat. Add 1 frozen banana, 5 large strawberries, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon into blender. Blend until all ingredients are evenly distributed with that nice pink color. Pour into bowl and use topping of choice to form a heart! Some topping ideas include: goji berries, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, chia seeds.

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Pumpkin Overnight Oats

Turns out we all face the same morning dilemma: how to beat the rush to work and squeeze in a moment for breakfast. One of the reasons we're still riding the overnight oats bandwagon is that it solves exactly this conundrum. When you plan your breakfast the night before, you eliminate that early morning breakfast bind. Now, pumpkin season isn't quite over yet so we're milking it for all that it's worth. This pumpkin overnight oats recipe combines fiber and protein to help you feel satisfied until lunch. Not to mention anything in a Mason jar makes for a perfect on-the-go solution. 

Ingredients (serves 1):

  1. 1 medium frozen banana
  2. 2/3 cup organic pumpkin puree
  3. 1/4 cup soy milk
  4. 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  5. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  6. 1/4 cup rolled oats 
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1 teaspoon Trader Joe's pumpkin spice blend 

Directions:

  1. Combine frozen banana, pumpkin puree, soy milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, and spices in a blender. Power on high until ingredients are well blended. 
  2. Pour dry rolled oats into Mason jar. 
  3. Add blended pumpkin-banana mix into Mason jar. 
  4. Add chia seeds into Mason Jar.
  5. Mix contents with a spoon until oats, puree, and chia seeds appear evenly distributed. Close jar and place in refrigerator overnight.