weight loss

CooCoo for Coconut Oil

These days, coconut oil is as much of a household staple as peanut butter (or is that just among us health freaks)? Though there are good reasons why coconut oil is awarded the title "world's friendliest fat," we still understand why some people have been hesitant about jumping on the bandwagon. It is a saturated fat after all, and we have been taught to avoid those at all costs. It's also energy dense, about 117 calories per tablespoon. So why are we singing coconut oil's praises? 

coconut oil

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, indeed. However, it is a plant source meaning it does not have any link to increased risk for heart disease or raising cholesterol. In fact, lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) in coconut oil, has been shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), improving overall cholesterol ratios.

These MCT's you may have heard about are miracle fats. They are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids, which are found in most fat sources. They are sent directly from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are either used immediately for energy or converted into ketone bodies, an energy source for the heart and brain during fasting or low carbohydrate intake. Long-chain fatty acids on the other hand are more likely to be stored. The MCT's have been shown to boost metabolism and help break down stored fats. 

spectrum coconut oil

We also love the fact that coconut oil has several beauty uses. Aside from its culinary purpose, it can also be used as skin lotion, lip balm, eye-makeup remover, to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, as a frizz-fighter, or hair mask! Our personal recommendation? Saturate (no pun intended) your hair in about a teaspoon of oil and let it sit overnight. Wash it out in the morning with shampoo. We just saved you the cost of your next deep conditioning treatment, you're welcome. We bet a tub of coconut oil could replace a lot of those products you have taking over your bathroom cabinet!

Remember, coconut oil is high in calories and fat, so while there are many health benefits, we do not recommend consuming more than a tablespoon per day. 

Spotlight on: Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

We love foods that have multiple uses and health benefits and apple cider vinegar is certainly one of them. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made in a two step fermentation process transitioning from apple cider-->alcohol-->vinegar. Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar brands (like Bragg's) also have added proteins, enzymes, and probiotics. The murky "blob" (for lack of a better word) in the ACV bottle is known as the "mother", or cloud of all the healthy bacteria and proteins. 

ACV was originally used as an antibacterial agent, cleaning and disinfecting less glamorous problems like nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections. It was also used to prevent food spoilage by inhibiting food borne pathogens from growing. Along these same lines, ACV is one of the best natural skin care products. It can be used to prevent acne by killing bacteria on the skin, and also removing dark spots. The vinegar contains powerful alpha hydroxy acids that remove dead skin revealing newer, fresher skin underneath. 

The next benefit of ACV is stabilizing blood sugar levels. This is important for both diabetics and non-diabetics. ACV improves insulin sensitivity and can lower blood glucose. One study showed that 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4%. 

braggs apple cider vinegar

Newer studies have shown that ACV may help with weight loss by improving satiety and curbing cravings. Studies showed that having 1-2 tablespoons of ACV with high-carb meals could increase feelings of fullness. Participants in the study ate 200-275 fewer calories the rest of the day. 

Finally, ACV can help with digestive discomfort. Because it is a fermented food, the probiotics help maintain gut balance and aid in digestion. Vinegar contains malic acid which can help with constipation or acid reflux. Drinking vinegar stimulates the valve at the bottom of your throat to close shut, keeping stomach acid down where it belongs. 

How to use it? For the more hardcore health nuts, you may try taking a "shot" of ACV first thing in the morning. We recommend putting a tablespoon or two in eight ounces of warm water with lemon. Drinking this combo first thing in the morning will wake up your digestive tract and get things moving.   If that doesn't sound so appealing, simply try replacing balsamic vinegar with ACV for salad dressings or cooking. 

Post for Zola: Healthy Zoodle Recipes for your Spiralizer

In case you haven't heard, Zola is an innovative wedding registry site that is transforming how couples and guests share, buy and ship wedding gifts. This week we collaborated with the Zola team to provide some healthy zoodle recipes for their blog readers who need some inspiration for how to put their new spiralizer to use. 

Read our fave zoodle recipes below!

Green Goddess Zoodles

This recipe is a Tovita favorite. It’s a new way to get your greens on when you just can’t eat another salad. The edamame adds a plant-based source of protein to help keep you satiated, along with the high fiber content with the mix of veggies. The almonds also have a bit of protein and add a nice crunch factor. If this recipe looks a little overwhelming, you can take the shortcut and buy store-made pesto, we promise we won’t tell!

kale zoodles

Ingredients:
For Kale Pesto:

  • 10 kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • Β½ clove garlic, chopped
  • ΒΌ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

You will also need:

  • Large bowl of water
  • Ice cubes

For Zoodles (serves ~3)

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Β½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup kale leaves
  • Β½ cup sliced almonds

Directions:
For Kale pesto:

  • Fill a large bowl with ice and water
  • Wash the kale and remove the ribs.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Blanch the kale for about 3 minutes, remove and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain, place the leaves on paper towels and blot away the moisture.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, put the kale, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan
  • and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil and continue to pulse until the kale pesto reaches the desired consistency.

For Zoodles:

  • Defrost the edamame and broccoli
  • Wash the zucchini and spiralize into noodles.
  • Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chili powder
  • Add the zoodles, broccoli and kale and saute for 2 minutes or until tender
  • Add the the edamame, season with salt and pepper and saute for another 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, toss the zucchini noodles in the pesto until it’s evenly coated
  • Top with almonds and enjoy!

Chicken Zoodle Soup

As sweater and soup season approaches, we want to give you an easy and healthy way to warm up. Take it from us, bringing a loved one a cup of chicken zoodle soup will win you major brownie points, especially with our gluten-free friends. Replacing noodles with zoodles slashes the carbs and calories of your traditional childhood favorite. This dish will warm your soul while watching your waistline.

chicken zoodle soup

Ingredients (serves ~4):

  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup of baby carrots, sliced into ~1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup celery, sliced into Β½ inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dash of salt and pepper (to your liking)
  • Β½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (~3 oz per serving)
  • 4 medium zucchini

Directions:

  • Heat chicken stock over medium heat with onions, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
  • Season soup with salt and pepper and parsley.
  • Run the zucchini through the spiralizer to make β€œnoodles.” Chop them in half to make them more manageable
  • Add chicken and zucchini to the broth and heat through.