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Goji Berries: Healthy for Everyone, Vital for Vegetarians

Sometimes the best things come in the smallest packages! What am I referring to? The tiny goji berry, which is one of nature’s most nutritionally complete foods.

goji berry

Never heard of it? Goji berries are referred to as “red diamonds” in their native Himalayan China and Tibet. The bite-size super foods contain 18 different amino acids, aka the building blocks for protein, including 8 of the 9 essential food-based amines that our body cannot produce on their own. This makes them especially crucial for vegetarians and vegans who are not eating complete animal proteins like eggs, fish, and meat products.

Goji berries are sold around the world and are usually packaged as dried berries. (They kind of look like pink raisins.) You can find them in most health food stores and increasingly in regular grocery stores too. The berries are pretty sweet in taste, but they’re also pretty complex tasting overall because of all the nutrients and minerals they deliver.

History of Goji Berries
Goji berries have always played an integral part in Chinese medicinal practices since ancient times, dating back as far as 5,000 years! They are still prescribed for their eye, liver, and kidney-supporting properties and they are also believed to boost “chi”, or invigorating life energy, in those who eat them. There are many well-documented claims that daily consumption of goji berries played a key role in unbelievable longevity: one man even claimed to have lived 252 years! (I’m not convinced of his math, but still!)

Super Food Superpowers
Here’s a cheat sheet on the benefits you can expect from go-go-goji berries:

  • Contains 21 trace minerals like zinc, iron, copper, calcium, and phosphorus
  • Richest source of carotenoids of all known foods on earth. Way more than even carrots! 
  • 500x more Vitamin C than oranges by weight 
  • 8 of 9 essential amino acids, almost a complete protein
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Food Blogger Spotlight: Laura Theodore from The Jazzy Vegetarian

jazzy veg 1Laura Theodore wants to show you how simple it is to introduce plant-based choices into your everyday diet. Gearing up for season 3 of her cooking show, The Jazzy Vegetarian, on the Create Channel, Laura is a high-energy host who even appeared on The Talk with Julie Chen and Sara Gilbert.

Recently, we spoke to this busy chef/host/singer, about her food blog and allll those other irons she’s got in the fire.

Why did you start your food blog? I was inspired to create my cookbooks, blog, television show and radio podcast to make delicious, plant-based recipes available to anyone looking to prepare tasty vegan meals in their own home. My mission is to make recipes available to dedicated vegans, and omnivores alike – with a jazzylicious twist, of course!

How would you describe your approach to eating/health? I focus on the plant-based approach by incorporating whole foods like veggies, fruits, beans and whole grains into my recipes and daily menu plan. I strive to stay away from overly processed foods as much as possible, while using vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans) grains and some nuts and seeds as the base ingredients for my recipes.

Have you always had an interest in healthy food or did it come later in life? I have been interested in healthy eating for over 20 years. For me, plant-based cooking is like singing jazz: making creative and spicy improvisations with a delicious twist! As a jazz singer, I love scatting a new phrase to enhance a classic song, so when I cook, I savor the process of improvising new, healthy versions of traditional recipes, depending on what’s in my kitchen or available at the local market.

What is your favorite ingredient to use in the kitchen? I love reduced-sodium tamari! Sounds so simple, but it really adds taste and depth to so many recipes. Tamari helps to produce a rich “meaty” flavor and it has a more complex flavor profile than ordinary soy sauce. The reduced-sodium version has about 25 percent less sodium than regular tamari. I always buy tamari that has been made with GMO-free soybeans, is MSG-free, and contains no artificial preservatives. Reduced-sodium tamari is great used as a flavor enhancer in sauces, casseroles, pasta dishes, vegan gravies, steamed vegetables dishes, and in soups. It adds great flavor to both sweet and savory marinades for tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, or squash.


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Food Blogger Spotlight: Abby from The Frosted Vegan

Abby from Frosted VeganMy favorite place is over the Kitchen Aid, covered in flour/powdered sugar/batter in yoga pants or a favorite pair of too fancy shoes while trying to keep the kitchen from looking like a bakery exploded.  ~Abby The Frosted Vegan

People, I have five words for you: Cinnamon. Raisin. Loaded. Almond. Butter. This is just one of the many recipes that has me adoring The Frosted Vegan this week.

In the past, if you’ve avoided vegan websites because you thought they were all about 101 ways to cook tofu, think again. Abby has been in the kitchen helping her Dad and Grandma since she was old enough to reach the countertop. Her blog is loaded with delicious recipes, vibrant photos and stories about the inspiration behind each dish.

Recently we asked Abby to tell us a bit more about The Frosted Vegan.

Why did you start your food blog? I have always wanted to start a food blog, but I finally decided to take the plunge last year after I moved away from my hometown and I wanted to share dessert recipes with my dad. I honestly wish I’d started sooner, but already so thankful for the community I’ve become a part of, food bloggers are pretty awesome people.

How would you describe your approach to eating/health? I eat a primarily vegan/plant-based diet, occasionally eating cheese or dairy in baked goods, but I try to stick to whole foods as much as possible. I believe in indulging in moderation and that nothing should be “off limits”, if you want it, have it! I connect more with how I feel after I eat something, if I feel bad after, I probably won’t eat much of it again.


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Food Blogger Spotlight: Camila of Como Come Cami

The first thing you notice when you visit Como Come Cami is the text. Unless you’re lucky enough to be bilingual you might not understand at firstComo Come Cami but don’t panic, just scroll. Scroll down the page and you’ll find the Spanish text has been translated to English so you won’t miss a thing. Born in Argentina, Como Come Cami founder, Camila Jurado started traveling when she was 10 years old. She’s lived in Honduras and Buenos Aries but she graduated from a college in Savannah, Georgia. I’d love to know if her Spanish accent took on a southern twang.

Camila created her vegetarian-inspired blog to connect with other vegans and share the creative recipes she’s gathered from her travels. More about Camila and Como Come Cami:

Why did you start your food blog? I always liked cooking but became more passionate about healthy foods and ingredients once I became a vegetarian. I started this site with the idea of sharing healthy recipes and travel with a vegetarian approach. I love traveling, discovering new ingredients, buying vintage plates, reading cookbooks and taking photos.


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Food Blogger Spotlight: Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious

If you thought Michael Natkin’s popular blog, Herbivoracious, was a quaint little site about basil and thyme, boy are you in for a surprise. This chef, blogger, cookbook author and busy father of two wants to expand your mind about the world of meatless dishes. From his website: “I love to draw inspiration from cuisines around the world, and stay abreast of the latest developments from the best chefs, then apply all of those ideas to create vegetarian dishes that you can rock at home.” With 400+ recipes to his credit, Michael has definitely been busy creating inspiring dishes for his readers.

Hey, Michael, it’s Father’s Day, put your feet up and let the kids cook for you!

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Why did you start your food blog? Honestly, I started the blog out of pure frustration. I wanted to be a restaurant chef, but five years ago wasn’t the right time in my life to quit my day job and make that leap. I have young kids and a wife with chronic fatigue syndrome, so it just didn’t work. I also have this unstoppable passion for food, and needed to find a way to share and connect with the larger culinary community. Food blogs were just starting to become popular, and I thought that “Hey, at least this is something I can do.”


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