Amazon: healthy things I can't live without

We ALL order from Amazon. There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t receive some box of Amazon goodies because it’s so simple to just order on line. Ya feel me, right?

The purpose of this post is long overdue because these products are some of my personal favorites (and if you are a client, it’s easier for me to post on a blog instead of writing about them in your Action Plan over and over and over again).

SO here is a very short list of some of my favorite things that I really can’t live without. Hope you enjoy - drop me a message if you have any questions or comments about something you want me to discuss here…

KITCHEN ITEMS

A high speed blender: there are two high speed fancy pants blenders. K-tec and Vita-Mix. I’m a huge fan of K-tec because it was the first expensive blender I got as a gift and it lasted me for at least 15 years. That’s amazing. Wanna know why I really love it? Because I’m lazy and it’s easy to clean. Efficiency in the kitchen is a big plus for me and the blender container is square and simple to scrub. The new wild side jar is designed so that you don’t need a tamper or anything to push ingredients down (like the Vita). UNLESS you are making a super thick smoothie bowl with big chunks of frozen produce, then it takes a bit of work. But that’s to be expected and you can add a touch more liquid to get it moving.

1. Blendtec Total Classic Original Blender with Wildside 4-side jar this is a GREAT price because I purchased my current one from Bed, Bath and Beyond (with a 20% off coupon and holiday gift certificate, thank you mother in law!) which helped bring down the $600 cost tremendously). I use my blender daily to make fresh green juice, smoothies, blended soups, pancake & muffin mixes, tofu and chia pudding, salsa and anything else I don’t want to use my food processor for (it’s a cleaning/laziness thing). I prefer Blendtec over Vita-mix because the blender container is easier to clean and blends food without having to use the tamper that pushes solid food down into the blades. I’m on my 2nd Blendtec, the first one lasted over 15 years and I worked that thing over daily.

2. Breville Milk Cafe Steel Milk Frother is definitely that kitchen piece to up your coffee, latte or hot chocolate game. While there are less expensive frothers available, they tend to be difficult to clean or worse, break in a short amount of time without a Amazon warranty (this recently happened to my neighbor and they are big coffee drinkers). So while this might be something you use more on the weekends and entertaining, it’s one of those next level kitchen appliances that once you have, you wonder why you waited so long to get it. I don't use it in the summer, but once fall hits, this baby is fired up daily for my breakfast protein hot chocolate (yes, it’s a thing!) and other hot beverages.

SUPPLEMENTS

When it comes to supplements, I’m a fan of less is more. The main difference between supplements vs. medicine is this: you take supplements for a short amount of time to correct the imbalance, then you stop. Or you might take a particular supplement, finish the bottle, take a month or so off, and do another round. Then there are some supplements that you use as needed [aka PRN]. Always check the expiration date printed on the bottle. Pregnant women and anyone taking pharmaceuticals should first consult with their physician before taking any supplements discussed in this post.

When you purchase a bottle of aspirin with 300 milligrams of acetylsalicylic acid, it will contain 300 mg of the active ingredient listed on the label. Pharmaceuticals are regulated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) so if the label ingredients don’t match the product, that spells BIG trouble for the manufacturer. The problem with supplements is that it’s the wild wild west - they are NOT regulated by the FDA like pharmaceuticals so you might think you are buying the latest and greatest weight loss supplement (please don’t fall for that trap PLEASE!) you could be purchasing very expensive parsley, or anything else they decide to put into the supplement. Which is why it is super important to do your research and purchase from reputable brands, especially if you are taking medication because some supplements CAN be contraindicative or react to your meds (either increasing the effectiveness or decreasing it so please don’t self diagnose and work with a qualified health care practitioner).

I like Himalaya because they do clinical studies on many of their products, they are herbal formulations that use ancient, native plants in their formulas using a traditional system of Ayurveda medicine (5,000 year old Indian medicine) to create their supplement combinations, most if not all of their products are Project Non-GMO verified and vegan. Additionally, Himalaya has been around for over 85 years (longer than many new pharmaceuticals on the market). My personal goal is to avoid needing medication which is supported by my dietary and lifestyle choices. However, if I had uncontrolled hypertension or blood sugar levels, I would absolutely get on medication until I was able to make the necessary nutrition and lifestyle adjustments to prevent needing the meds. Elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels can lead to serious medical complications and should not be taken lightly.

  1. LiverCare by Himalaya: let’s chat about the liver for a minute cuz it’s one of the most important organs in the body. Your liver has over 500 jobs a day (whew!) - metabolizes nutrients like converting beta carotene to vitamin A and the inactive forms of vitamin D from your food or supplement into the active form, it converts toxins into waste products, cleans your blood (dirty blood = low energy), and is fundamental to your health. This supplement is always in stock at my house because it’s been studied in over 200 clinical trials and I like to help it out when I have big dinners out, especially when alcohol is involved (I like me some champs or tequila). According to Himalaya, LiverCare is recommended or prescribed around the world in every 8th of a second. I wish I had this during college when my poor liver took a beating, perhaps the PartySmart would have been more appropriate. Regardless, I don’t travel without this. The key feature is it helps the workhorse area of the liver, the hepatocytes, be more efficient at their job of preserving the cell wall enzymes so that they can be catalysts for the 500 jobs that hard working liver has to do. I realize our organs work well and don't “need” detoxifying supplements but personally, I feel much better when I take this and I love that it is backed by clinical research supporting hepatic insufficiency (liver damage). If you are interested in learning more about this supplement and it’s anti-aging properties and protein conversion towards the end, click here.

  2. Organic Triphala by Himalaya: another Ayurvedic herb I use frequently when my digestive system gets a bit sluggish, especially for traveling. Triphala is an Ayurvedic herb used as a colon cleanser, digestive aid, diuretic, and laxative. It has been studied and “holds potential in improving GI symptoms and may be a valuable and effective addition to standard treatment of IBS.” But that’s not all. Clinical research shows that it’s effective for several clinical uses like appetite stimulation (personally I’ve never noticed this side-effect), antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic (prevents tumors), adaptogenic (helps the body adapt to stress), chemoprotective, hypoglycemic (I wouldn’t recommend that a diabetic take this herb without discussing with their physician) radioprotective and prevention of dental carries (research here). *Triphala may affect platelet function in people taking blood thinning medication (research here), so it’s best to avoid doing the self-diagnosing on Dr. Google and work with a qualified health care practitioner, especially if you are on ANY medication. Can’t stress that enough.

  3. Enzymedica Digest Gold with ATPro: Enzymedica is a trusted and #1 selling brand when it comes to digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes promote ideal nutrient bioavailability and absorption of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and dairy products. The first time I bought enzymes I was a bit taken back by the price (you might be to). But it’s easy to feel the difference enzymes can make and then realize that it’s worth it. My sensitive belly can’t live without enzymes, especially when I eat a combination of food that is challenging for my gut to breakdown. I love to have these in my purse when I dine out because that’s when things can get sticky from a food perspective (and I like to enjoy myself). Another good research-based brand is Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes and the price might be a big more palatable. Yes, all my puns are food-related!

  4. Himalaya PartySmart Hangover Prevention: the proper way to take this supplement is before or during cocktail hour. The herbs in PartySmart support the liver’s ability to process acetaldehyde in alcohol while you’re are sleeping to reduce the morning after hangover. Why I like this brand and product: has been clinically studied in four published trials with measurable results on morning after side effects. Himalaya’s studies found that PartySmart consistently outperformed the placebo group in supporting the body’s normal response to the uncomfortable next-day reaction to alcohol consumption, both physically and in mood and energy. Himalaya tests for safety, performance, stability and effectiveness (what I am personally always looking for). PartySmart is safe for long-term use and contains no milk thistle (i.e., no Silymarin). Bonus points to PartySmart for being Non-GMO verified, gluten free and vegan friendly. I would purchase stock in this company to support their mission and I have LiverCare, Triphala and PartySmart in my pantry always, cuz my future self always thanks my current self for the thoughtfulness.

    NOTE: PartySmart will not prevent you from becoming intoxicated and while studies show quicker clearance of acetaldehyde, please drink responsibly*, and never drink and drive, even when you’ve taken PartySmart or any other supplement. Don’t be silly, just call Uber it’s sooooo much cheaper than a DUI!

    *According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. It is not recommended to save up your daily limits to binge drink on the weekends. I understand why parents want to, it’s just not recommended for optimal health and wellness. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and see if PartySmart works for you. I’m a fan of taking LiverCare + PartySmart if champagne is involved, but that’s just me because I have a sensitive system.

  5. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotic Once Daily Prenatal (20Billion): I like prenatal formula’s because they tend to by very clean (no one wants a lawsuit involving a pregnant woman, right?) AND this is the probiotic that works for my super sensitive system so I’m a big fan. I’ve tried fancy medical grade probiotics (Prescript-Assist) that are only sold by health care practitioners and was constipated for 3+ days. #bigfail! Ugh that is NOT what probiotics are supposed to do. This is my go-to probiotic and I like to take this in the morning or at night on an empty stomach away from food. I will take a bottle then take a couple week or a month off and start taking again when I feel like my gut might be out of balance (usually during the holiday season when more sugar, rich foods and alcohol become more prevalent in my diet). The other reason I like this is because it looks like a FODMAP safe probiotic since it doesn't contain FOS or inulin.

  6. Four Sigmatic Organic Mushroom Ground Coffee, Matcha and Latte Mixes: I love this idea of adding adaptogenic “superfood” mushrooms to coffee, tea and latte’s because they are without a doubt, true plant-based healers. Whatever ails you, there is a mushroom to help that condition. Need focus, energy, or to chill out? The mushrooms have you covered. I love that Four Sigmatic has blended these drinks with one of my fave brain boosters, lions mane! I usually cook with Lions Mane because it’s spectacular for the brain and supports creativity, focus and productivity. I mean, who doesn’t want that? If you need a get up and go juice in the morning and love coffee, why not give the Dark Roast Ground Mushroom Coffee Mix with Lions Mane and Chaga Mushroom a shot. You get the benefit of having the beneficial effects of two mushrooms in your cup o joe.

    Unfortunately, I can’t do coffee cuz it makes me feel way to jittery especially on an empty stomach. But matcha is my jam and you can drink it for breakfast or in the afternoon when you need a brain boost without the crashing side effects. The Mushroom Matcha Drink Mix is a blend of matcha (high in antioxidants & a touch of caffeine + a relaxing amino acid called L-theanine) with lions mane (hello mushroom brain booster) plus ginger (digestion + zingy flavor) for a nice afternoon steady pick me up without crashing. Another option for a breakfast boost is the try the Lions Mane Mushroom Elixir Mix which supports brain performance without me feeling all jacked up on caffeine and then crashing. This provides a steady energy that doesn’t spike and crash like the stock market. After working on my mindful eating skills, creating a balanced and smooth approach into the day works best for my sensitive system without throwing my adrenal into a panic like coffee does.

    Maybe you want to chill at night and Reishi mushroom is perfect for that. What better way to wind down at the end of a stressful day than having a bedtime treat of hot chocolate (!)that helps you sleep? HOLLA! Reishi is awesome for reducing stress without negative side effects and anytime you can add a little chocolate into your life it seems to make it better. For me anyway… if this sounds like your cup of tea, check out the Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix and chill out with some reishi magic. Yes, these elixirs are a bit on the pricy side, but these beverages are my medicine and I’m worth it! Try a box and see if they make sense for you…. remember, plants can heal the body. PS: did you know that 80% of pharmaceuticals are plant-derivatives? Yeah, it’s true.

  7. Naturealm Sacred 7 Mushroom Extract Powder: is a blend of seven unique, powerful mushroom species including lion’s mane (my fave), chaga, cordyceps, mistake, reishi, shiitake and turkey tail. I love that this company is a small-run family business who cares about product quality (USDA organic, Good Manufacturing Practice/GMP certified, and third party tested for purity so there is no heavy metals like lead, pesticides, bacteria, yeast or mold. Additionally they have a high regard for their customer’s health and our planet (I support companies who truly care about Mother Earth which is one of the main reasons that I purchase and support organic farming). Their mushrooms are cultivated on small rural farms in greenhouses exposed to natural sunlight, fresh air and rain water; grown organically on hardwood logs or sawdust to mimic their natural growing conditions. This maximizes the potential for a high concentration of beneficial compounds called beta-glucans. Add a teeny scoop to your coffee, tea, smoothie, soups or other foods for a nutritional boost. Mushrooms are incredibly healers - just watch this Ted Talk from Paul Stamets to learn more and truly appreciate these gifts from the plant kingdom. If you like chocolate then you can try the chocolate version, but my recommendation is to purchase the original version which costs a little more BUT you will get your money’s worth if you add your own quality cacao powder to the original version (I love cacao powder from Thrive Market).

    Why should you consider incorporating mushrooms into your diet? The healing potential of medicinal mushrooms is exceptional. Are you taking pharmaceutical drugs? A large percentage of the worlds medications are derived from fungus aka medicinal mushrooms. But don’t confuse these with the fun ones you may have experimented with in college- these have been revered by ancient cultures for thousands and thousands of years.

    Lion’s mane is one of my faves and is one of the only well-established medicinal mushrooms to enhance cognitive abilities by regenerating nerve growth in your brain (research here and here), reducing anxiety and increasing mental clarity. No doubt, we all want to prevent neurological deterioration like Alzheimers, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Which is why I love to cook with lion’s mane but also because it mimic’s lobster and crab in vegan dishes without killing those cool sea creatures. After I went scuba diving in Roatan, Honduras and saw them in their natural habitat- I just couldn’t eat them anymore.

    Reishi is a #bossmushroom that’s been given the title of the “mushroom of immorality” due to it’s ability to promote longevity, modulate the immune system (ps: important of the holiday season) AND increase vitality. Research indicates it may help with colorectal adenomas (research here) and others. Go reishi, go!

    Chaga is the bomb anti-aging mushroom loaded with anti-oxidants that can assist detoxification of the liver while decreasing the aging process (holla chaga!) and research indicates potent anti-tumor properties (research here) and could be used as a natural remedy for cancer suppression.

    Maitake is another healthy mushroom that can help to naturally decrease blood pressure, blood sugar and stability cholesterol levels while modulating the immune system and may fight tumor growth as well (research here).

    Turkey tail are showing some promise for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) with certain cancers, the benefits depend on the cancer stage (research here) including breast cancer in women (research here) and may help reduce the common cold or flu.

    Cordyceps is perhaps the first mushroom extract I started to work with in the gym to boost my energy without caffeine (I’m super sensitive to it). I read about Chinese Olympic athletes who used cordycepts to boost their metabolic threshold that winning edge, and if my lion’s mane enhanced memory serves me right, gymnastics was the sport. A small pilot study showed enhanced aerobic performance in twenty healthy elderly subjects (research here).

    Most medicinal mushrooms have a positive impact on the immune system which is why they can help with the common cold or flu and show promise for reducing cancer growth.

PROTEIN POWDERS

Without a doubt, protein powders are definitely a matter of taste. I’ve educated my taste buds and refined my palate to appreciate and prefer the taste of healthy ingredients. BTW they used to prefer McDonald’s french fries, but alas, I have no taste for fast food. If I need a laugh, I ready the 1-star reviews on Amazon for protein powders: “smells like cat litter (lol!)” or “tastes like dirty socks + grass”. So again, protein powders depend on the palate and what you are mixing it with.

  1. Sprout Living Chocolate Maca Protein powder (5 lb bag) when I find a product that works for my digestive system, I purchase it in bulk to save money (but I do sell this protein in the 1 pound bags at my office if you want to try before investing in a big 5 pound sack!) This is my go-to protein powder for protein smoothies, hot chocolate, and chocolate protein pancakes (that are delicious with walnuts or fruit like banana or strawberries, btw).

  2. Orgain Protein Powders (variety) this line was created by doctor Andrew Abraham and I love how picky he is about ingredients and I felt confident recommending them to my plant-based organic bariatric weight loss clients before and after surgery. The Orgain website offers coupons if you order from them but Amazon is so easy to purchase from for me. One person complained that the chocolate protein was too sweet but then wound up mixing the unsweetened protein with the chocolate and it turned out perfect for her taste buds. Sometimes I create a suicide mix with my Sprout Living flavors because I’m crazy like that when it comes to food and experimenting. If you are picky about ingredients or have a sensitive belly, Orgain might be something you want to experiment with.

  3. Orgain Collagen Peptides (1 lb) I know collagen peptides are all the rage but I tend to stay away from trends. However, there are a lot of people asking for collagen so this is a brand I have used and trust. Plus I like the fact that they are not gauging you on price like the other very popular brand that is on sale at Whole Foods every other week (vital). I want to try the marine collagen, but my GI does good with Sprout Living and I purchase each flavor by the 5 lb bag so I’m good for awhile and probably won’t experiment with collagen until next year. Part of my hesitation: I was vegan for over 13 years and collagen was something I always avoided so this is just a personal mental thing.

  4. Vega Sport Performance Chocolate Protein powder (30 oz) this is a premium plant-based sports recovery formula for those who need a quick post-work out shake and want to decrease the amount of animal products they consume. Sometimes I mix this with water or coconut water + ice in a shaker cup OR add to a recovery smoothie when I hit it hard in the gym. If you are new to Vega products this is a good sample pack to get your feet wet and try several products without a big investment.

  5. Tone It Up Vanilla Protein powder (12 oz) some clients swear by this protein but I find that protein supplements really are a matter of taste because another client said she’s not a fan. So it really is a matter of taste and in that case, it’s better to use for baking protein muffins and pancakes instead of adding to smoothies [please, don’t throw out expensive ingredients or products - discuss your situation in appointments and I have creative ways of using foods that don’t work for you!] If you prefer chocolate this one might be for you.

OILS

  1. Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Unrefined Hemp Oil: I am a big oil snob. Once I learned about the role of fats in the body, I just can’t eat crappy ones anymore. Well, I will treat myself to french fries on vacation, but that is not the norm. I will spend a little more money on good oils that I make food with. My pantry is filled with coconut, olive, almond, walnut, sunflower, and when I splurge, pumpkin seed oil. My grandmother Memaw told me to spend my money on good food because health is wealth and I totally agree!

    My favorite way to use hemp oil is in salad dressings using a 1:1 ratio of oil to vinegar (like coconut vinegar or balsamic) with a squirt of mustard and some liquid sweetener like maple syrup, honey, or agave (but since I default to low FODMAP foods for digestive reasons I default to maple syrup and usually purchase by the quart). Always store hemp oil in the refrigerator and use by expiration date. It’s not as sensitive as flax oil, but I like to ideally use this within 6 months after opening. It’s a gorgeous healthy green color and I just love the fresh, nutty taste but the nutrition profile is what I fell in love with. Aside from avocado, walnut and pumpkin seed oil, hemp might be my favorite oil when it comes to aligning with the body’s health needs like an anti-inflammatory and helps with arthritis and autoimmune disorders (read more here from Dr. Andrew Weil). Bottom line is I don’t like to run out of hemp oil.

  2. Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil (unrefined): in full disclosure, we go through this at an alarming rate. No, I didn't stop eating coconut oil when it was all over the news about being an unhealthy oil. The reality is food is a BILLION+ dollars industry and very political. Unfortunately when it’s big business and big money, the ethical lines get really blurry. What I don’t do is ONLY eat coconut oil because it’s lacking in essential fatty acids (EFA’s), the fats your body can’t make on it’s own. Hence the name “essential”. A proper diet is balanced and that means the types of oils you nourish your body with should be too and include a variety like avocado, coconut, hemp, grapeseed, flaxseed, walnut, sesame, and olive.

    And I’m SUPER SUPER picky about olive oils because you want to talk about some scandal in that industry? Oh I just LOVE a good whistle-blowing food scandal! And you are not (HNAT) always getting what you pay for with olive oil, the industry is tainted and a lot of fraud extra-virgin olive oil is sold in the states because it’s just too easy (and lucrative) for unethical companies to mix lower quality oils with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). If you want to learn more about it read here to educate yourself and be a savvy shopper. Because of all the EVOO fraud, I expanded my plant-based oil collection, experimenting with other delicious oils based on the cuisine or flavor profile I’m shooting for.

While this current list is short (there are SO many more products I love), I plan on creating my TOP 50 products so stay tuned!

Legal disclaimer for all supplements: these statements have not be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Nutrition Atlanta and Jennifer Hnat RDN are not responsible for any misuse of the information contained in this article or website.

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