Cacao: The Superfood for Chocolate-Lovers


Trying cacao beans in Bahia

Sugar cravings are a real thing. The more sugar we have, the more we crave. It becomes a cycle that’s hard to break out of.

One way to fight those sugar cravings is by eating foods that are high in chromium and magnesium, minerals that help to promote more stable levels of sugar–and combat sugar cravings.

One food that’s high in both of those minerals is (raw) cacao, a superfood that has 40 times the amount of antioxidants of blueberries and:

  • Is the highest plant-based source of iron
  • Is full of chemicals like seratonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine, natural mood-enhancers which help to fight depression
  • Is a natural aphrodisiac
  • Contains flavanols, an antioxidant that helps to reduce “bad” cholesterol, protect the heart and reduce the risk of stroke
  • Helps to burn fat and suppress appetite
  • Increases energy and decrease fatigue (thank you again, magnesium)
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Detoxifies the liver and pancreas
  • Improves the skin and protect against skin cancer
  • Improves cognitive function and prevent against Alzheimers

The list goes on, but I figure you get the picture. This superfood is pretty amazing.

Oh and just to clarify here, I’m not saying that you should be going out and eating a bunch of chocolate. Most chocolate actually has a very small amount of cacao in it and is loaded with a bunch of additives and sugar.

Instead, buy raw cacao in powder form and try adding it to your smoothies or drinks (I add a spoonful to my coffee in the morning).

I just made a cacao smoothie at home for the first time and it was so delicious that I felt compelled to write this blog post. I even felt energized after, almost as if I had just had a coffee (I’m telling you, those benefits are real!).

Here’s what was in it:

  • Two bananas
  • Several large spoonfuls of raw cacau powder
  • A few dashes of cinnamon
  • Dates
  • Two spoonfuls of sugar-free peanut butter (although I recommend the healthier alternative, almond butter)
  • Almond milk

You literally won’t be able to taste the difference between that and a chocolate shake. Guaranteed.

Now, here’s my question: why on earth would you ever have a chocolate shake again when you can have something that tastes exactly like it but is actually healthy? No, correction: is a superfood. 

See ya, sugar cravings.


7 Ways to Make Kale Taste Good

As I’m sure you know by now, kale is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  One of the major benefits of this superfood is its cancer-fighting properties – glucosinolate phytonutrients help to inhibit the formation of tumors and ward off enzymes that are affiliated with cancer.

Kale’s antioxidants also help to prevent cancer from forming – its antioxidants remove free radicals from the body  (free radicals are hazardous to the body because they accelerate aging and lead to diseases like cancer).

In addition to lowering the risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostrate cancers, kale also improves cognitive function (who knew that there was a food out there that actually made you smarter??), supplies cardiovascular support, improves blood glucose control in diabetes, lowers blood pressure…and much, much more.  An added bonus? It also helps to promote healthy skin, hair and bones.

Unfortunately, in it’s raw form (eaten alone), it is not so good. Here are a few simple ways to make it not only edible, but actually taste good:

  1. Make a smoothie. Mix it with fruit and blend it into a smoothie.  My go-to recipe is pineapple, banana, spinach, kale (duh), collard greens and flax seed.  You won’t even taste the greens! But you still get all of the benefits of them.

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2. Sautée it with other veggies.  You should note that (like most vegetables), some of kale’s benefits are lost when cooked. The plus side? It actually tastes pretty good this way. This was what I made last night: sauteed (organic) kale and spinach, cooked with olive oil, herbs and sliced almonds; organic broccoli cooked with olive oil and sliced almonds (again); combine it all together and top it off with feta cheese and pesto sauce. Put the spinach and kale blend on whole grain toast or eat it with the broccoli. I promise – it’s delicious! You can also substitute the broccoli with asparagus, or any other veggie of your choosing. I find it amazing how just a bit of cheese/pesto/almonds can make a vegetable go from so-so to delicious.


3. Make chips.  After rinsing and drying the kale, chop it up, drizzle it with some olive oil and salt/herbs (maybe even some parmesan) and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 300 degrees F.


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4. Make soup. I like this recipe from Olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, salt, garlic, vegetable broth, kale, cannelloni beans, black beans, black paper, red wine vinegar and rosemary.

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5. Mix up a salad. Blend some spinach, kale and whatever other ingredients suit your fancy (personally, I like a lot in my salad: edamame, corn, raw broccoli, tomato, onion, walnuts, avocado, chickpeas, cucumber, celery, feta cheese…tossed with some lemon/olive oil). Yum!


Photo credit: Gimme Some Oven

6. Add it to your pasta. First sautée the kale a bit in some olive oil. Then add it to some whole grain pasta, along with organic tomatoes, almonds, pesto or tomato sauce and some feta cheese.


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7. Sweet potato it up. I eat sweet potatoes several times a week – mainly because when I get home late from work/yoga/etc, I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, but still want to eat fresh, healthy food. Sweet potatoes are super healthy and also taste good on their own. After baking them in the oven (they generally take close to an hour to fully cook), top them off up with some sauteed kale; goat cheese or ricotta; and garlic.


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Veggie Stir Fry

I made it tonight…and it’s delicious!


Here are the ingredients I used:



-A few chopped garlic cloves

-1 red pepper

-1 hot green pepper

-2 celery sticks

-Organic tofu (found at Trader Joe’s )

-Tossed on a pan with some olive oil, herbs and soyaki sauce (makes all the difference)

And…voilà, c’est fini!

10 Tips for Growing Out Your Hair

long hair

I normally don’t write about beauty, but today I felt inspired (perhaps it was the two inches I got cut off earlier today – a massive haircut for me!).

I often get asked how I have grown my blonde hair so long and kept it healthy, while still getting my hair colored every few months or so.  Many women tell me that they are frustrated because they cannot grow their hair past a certain length  – while there may be some truth to that (especially for  colored and blonde hair, which is naturally more difficult to grow long) – I think people have more control over the length of their hair than they think they do. I’m no hair or beauty expert, but here are a few things I have learned are important for healthy hair (and the healthier your hair is, the more likely it is to grow) over the many years of having long locks (and no – I do not have extensions!).

  1. Regular scalp massages


Many people see (or hear) me doing this and ask me what the hell I am doing to my hair – yes, it may look strange – but who cares! My best friend’s mom taught me this trick nine years ago and I now swear by it. Hair growth starts from the root (so despite what many people may tell you, getting trims is NOT going to help your hair grow! It will only prevent split ends.  Giving scalp massages will, however. See #9.)

Massaging your scalp increases blood circulation, thereby stimulating the hair follicles, strengthening the hair roots and encouraging growth.  I recommend doing this multiple times per day, for at least a minute – or until your hands start getting tired.

2.  Healthy diet and lifestyle 


This one is obvious but what you put in your body is going to have a huge effect on the outcome of your skin and air.  Maintaining a diet rich in fruits and veggies (think: brussel sprouts, spinach, avocados, nuts, berries, salmon, oats etc.) is crucial to hair growth and healthy hair.

I hesitate to state the obvious, but exercising, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep and not stressing are also important. I have definitely heard stories of people who are so stressed out that their hair starts to fall out! Don’t let it get even close to that point.

3) Biotin supplements 


I take one Biotin (a form of Vitamin B) pill per day, which is supposed to help maintain healthy nails, hair and skin. I’m not sure how much it really does, but can’t hurt, right?

4) Be gentle with your hair

I prefer combing (not brushing) my hair (from the bottom up) when it’s dry – first I use a wide tooth comb and then a narrower tooth comb. My hair gets super tangly easily, but I try to do this every day, so more tangles do not accumulate. If you are going to use a brush, be sure to brush your hair only when it’s dry (and less vulnerable to damage) and use a wet brush.

Do not tear at your hair – or you will only increase breakage! Comb (or brush) gently.  And again – start at the bottom (roots) and work your way up.

Use hair clips or ties that will be gentle on your hair, like the ones below:

hair tie

5) Don’t wash your hair every day

I wash my hair once or twice a week – and I have finer hair, so if I can do it, so can you! Washing your hair too much depletes it of the natural oils that I believe are essential for hair growth. Some people say that they have to wash their hair every day otherwise it will be greasy – I say, it’s all about what your hair is used to. If you stop washing it every day, your hair will adjust and over time, not be so greasy every day. If you have to, you can also use dry shampoo as an alternative to washing.

When you do wash your hair, be sure to wash it with lukewarm/colder water – hot water dries out the hair.

6) Go easy on the blow-drying/straightening/curling etc.

I also only blow dry my hair about once a week – only if I am going out or feel I need to. It’s important to let your hair dry naturally – and, it’s common sense that using excessive heat on your hair will lead to breakage.

If you are going to blow dry, be sure to invest in a good blow dryer. A hair stylist once told me that using a cheap blow dryer will lead to more breakage (because hotter air than normal comes out, which, needless to say, is not good for the hair). Also, use the little top that sticks on the end (whatever they are called!) – those decrease breakage as well.

7) Use a water filter for your shower 

water filter

Get this: showers do not use filtered water. Which means that you are washing yourself in chlorine-infused water (albeit, not that much…but still) – gross, right? Luckily, there is an easy solution. You can buy a shower filter for as little as $30 on Amazon.

Here’s why this is important: Unfiltered shower water leads to rougher, drier skin and hair – and also strips blondes of their color.  Many people say that as soon as they use a shower filter, they have found their skin and hair to be softer – and blonde highlights do not disappear right away! Good news all around.

8) Invest in quality products 


This means no Pantene Pro-V, Herbal Essences etc.  Be sure that you are using high quality products (I prefer sulphate-free products), like Kerastase, Bumble & Bumble, Loreal Professionnel, MoroccanOil, Pureology etc. I like to switch it up but I am currently using Redken for color-treated hair shampoo and conditioner and Kerastase chromo rich hair mask once a week.

Using a hair mask once a week will help to prevent breakage and keep hair healthy.  Again, quality is important.  I have used cheaper hair masks and find that my hair feels no different after. While I may spend more money on Kerastase, my hair feels silky smooth after – at least I know it’s getting the job done! Trust me, it’s worth the investment. Also, since you only need to use it once a week and a little bit of product goes a long way, one small bottle should last at least six months or so.

Color tip: I also shampoo once a week with Joico purple shampoo.  Purple shampoo is important for color-treated blondes to keep their highlights looking bright and not brassy.

9) Trim your hair less

I have heard numerous people (even my hair stylist!) tell me things like “I get trims all the time, I don’t know why my hair won’t grow!”

Many people seem to think that more trims are better.  But if you trim your hair every six weeks or every 2 months, how do you ever expect it to grow? On average, hair grows half an inch per month –  so if you are trying to grow it out, I would trim it only half (or quarter of an inch even) every three months.  If you take good care of your hair, you might even be able to wait longer.  I normally get it cut when I feel it is necessary. I got a trim a month ago and another trim today because I felt my hair was looking stringier than normal. But I normally wait at least three months between trims.

I agree that trims are important – and it’s definitely much better to have shorter, healthier-looking hair than long, stringy hair – but don’t be too trim-happy or your hair will never really grow (or if it does, it will take half a lifetime to get super long).

Remember, trims do not stimulate hair growth/do not make your hair grow any faster- they DO help prevent and get rid of split ends, which will keep your hair healthier – but hair growth starts at the root, so if your hair stylist tells you that trims help your hair grow, that is simply false.

10) Protect, protect, protect! 


If you are using heat products, be sure to use heat protectants beforehand so there is less damage done. If you are going outside in the sun, wear a hat! Just as they aren’t good for the skin, UV rays are not good for the hair either. If you are going in the pool, wear a swim cap – or wet the hair beforehand and it will soak up less of the chlorine.


GREEN smoothies!

Last post, I wrote about my addiction to acai smoothies.  My new favorite drink (as of today) is HOMEMADE (of course) green smoothies.  Until today, I’ve always bought these at juice shops…until I realized that that is a waste of money  – because they are super easy to make at home! Plus, I learned that juicers take out a lot of the nutrition – so it’s best to use a blender.

There are so many different recipes that you can use with greens as a base, but here is the one that I used tonight:

-kale greens

-spinach greens

-collard greens

-1 mango

-handle of blueberries

-1 banana

-1/4-1/2 of a pineapple

-1 squeezed lemon

-ginger (go easy on the ginger! a little goes a long way)

-flax seed

Voila! I blended the greens with some water first (since they take up so much room in the blender) and then slowly added in all of the other ingredients.  The end result is pretty tasty (I confess that I was too lazy to lay out all of the ingredients for this photo/post….but those are some of the greens I used…). I swear it tastes better than it looks!


Homemade Acai

Acai was one of my favorite things to drink in Brazil. Acai is one of the healthiest foods you can eat – in it’s purest form. It’s loaded with antioxidants. The only problem is that, wherever I found it in Brazil, it was always loaded up with sugar (or guarana, a favorite soft drink in Brazil).  I once ordered it without sugar or guarana and it was…not good. Barely drinkable. That is the last time I did that!

For those who want all of the health benefits of acai, minus the sugar, plus something that actually tastes GOOD – this is the recipe that I use:

-1 packet of pure acai (which you can buy at Whole Foods in the frozen foods section)

-1 banana

-Blueberries, blackberries and chopped strawberries




That’s it! I put it all in a blender and mix it and the result is quite tasty. I’ve found that the mango is a key ingredient, since it naturally sweetens the acai and gives it a bit more flavor.  If you want it frozen, pop it in the freezer for 40 minutes or so and you will get that slushie-like texture.


A Hearty Breakfast

I am a big breakfast person. On the weekdays, I only have time to have some cereal before I run out the door to work. On the weekends, my new ritual is making omelettes. It is super easy – only takes about 10 minutes total.  I used to not know how to make them – every time I would try to make an omelette, I would end up frustrated because it would end up a runny mess – more scrambled than anything. I found out the trick to making it an actual omelette.  Here is how I do it…


-2 eggs

-Chopped onion, cherry tomatoes and spinach

-Chopped avocado

-Two pieces of toast

I mix up the two eggs on a pan with olive oil (making sure the olive oil is spread evenly throughout the pan).  I then add in all of the ingredients (minus the avocado), with some garlic and herbs, turn on the stove to a higher heat and let it all sit for about 5 minutes. By that time, it should have all solidified (you can tell by flipping up just a corner, if it’s still runny or if it’s solid).  I used to overeagerly try to flip it over too soon, which is why it would end up a scrambled mess, not an omelette. The trick is letting it sit for a good few minutes.  I then turn over half of the omelette so it becomes a half circle.  Then flip it over once more to the other side.

Once it’s done, I top it off with some avocado, hot sauce and himalayan sea salt and plop it on two slices of toast. This is what mine came out like..


Tasty, huh ?