Revitalive’s Pick of the Week: Sauerkraut

raw sauerkraut

raw sauerkraut


Sauerkraut is not exactly a “sexy” food in terms of taste, texture, smell and color, BUT we beg to differ at Revitalive! Sauerkraut is what we fondly refer to as a friendly ferment, or a cultured vegetable, which is rich in gut-friendly bacteria. We love cultured foods at Revitalive and sauerkraut is just one of the many friendly ferments here! Sadly as a culture, Americans have moved away from naturally fermented foods as more processed foods became readily available. However, we are remembering the benefits of probiotics and friendly bacteria.

Sauerkraut is, in fact, very healthy and very delicious. After eyeing it skeptically for the three months that I’ve worked at Revitalive, placing it on more Macro Bowls than I know, I tried it for the first time two weeks ago and I fell in love. Yes, it looks like shredded cabbage that’s been left on the counter for a few days, and in fact, that’s what it is, but that’s what makes it so great.

Cabbage has naturally occurring bacteria on the surface of its leaves, called lactic acid-producing bacteria. When shredded cabbage is combined with a small amount of salt and placed in an airtight container, a few things happen that make the cabbage even more nutritious (and well-preserved) than it was in its original state. First, the Leuconostoc species of bacteria produces carbon dioxide, which replaces any oxygen left in the container. At the same time, thanks to the juice-extracting effect of the salt, the Leuconostoc produces lactic acid by digesting the natural sugars in the cabbage juice. As the acidity increases, the Leuconostoc dies out and the Lactobacilli species continues the fermentation process. When a pH of 3 is reached, the fermentation stops, and the sauerkraut is ready to be eaten or stored.

Sauerkraut is a great source of beneficial bacteria for the gut, but one that requires only two ingredients and no dairy. Having a balanced gut flora can help support the immune system, resolve allergies, reduce symptoms of IBS, and keep yeast infections at bay. The fermentation process also produces enzymes that aid digestion, both of the cabbage itself and other foods eaten with it.

Sauerkraut is high in vitamin C and fiber, as well as vitamin U, which can help heal peptic ulcers. It also contains isothiocyanates, compounds that have been proven to prevent the growth of cancer in laboratory studies.

The sauerkraut used at Revitalive is local, organic, and unpasteurized. Being unpasteurized is perhaps the most crucial aspect of sauerkraut, as the process of pasteurization kills off the friendly bacteria that make sauerkraut what it is. Many types of sauerkraut found in grocery stores have been pasteurized, so be careful when shopping!

Sauerkraut is found on Revitalive’s Macro Bowl, along with brown rice, black beans, broccoli, and kale. It can also be placed on top of any other bowl you like! Whether or not you’ve tried sauerkraut before, and whether or not you liked it, give it a try at Revitalive! You may be happily surprised.

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Photo: http://www.sfgate.com/life/food/slideshow/America-s-favorite-hot-dog-toppings-89101/photo-6555381.php

References:
Cheese Slave: http://www.cheeseslave.com/eat-fermented-foods/
Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA281235
Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/surprising-health-benefits-of-sauerkraut
Nourishing Treasures: http://www.nourishingtreasures.com/index.php/2012/05/15/the-science-behind-sauerkraut-fermentation/
Scientific American: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/lab-rat/2014/07/26/sauerkraut-bacteria-making-food/

Revitalive’s Pick of the Week: Dates

Organic Medjool Dates

If you were to think of one ingredient common to most desserts, sugar would probably be the first ingredient to come to mind, and for good reason. Desserts are sweet, and that’s a big part of why they are such a wonderful treat! But sweetness does not have to come from refined sugars. At Revitalive Café, we sweeten our desserts with a very special type of fruit that provides more than just sweetness: organic Medjool dates.

By using the whole fruit, our desserts get much more benefit from the dates than just their natural sugar content, which supplies the body with energy. In particular, dates are high in fiber, which can prevent a spike in blood sugar, not to mention help improve digestion. Dates are also high in protein, iron, potassium, and quite the variety of other vitamins and minerals. In other words, our desserts – including our mouth-watering brownies with their date sauce spread on top beneath the chocolate sauce – are actually good for you!

Dates grow in clusters on the date palm, an ancient type of tree first cultivated in North Africa, the Middle East, and South West Asia. They have been used not only for the fruit they bear, but also to provide shade and to provide materials for buildings as well as baskets and mats. The date palm, or Phoenix dactylifera (a pretty awesome Latin name, meaning date-bearing phoenix) has been greatly respected throughout history in many cultures. Muslims consider the date palm to be sacred. The ancient Hebrews called the date palm the “tree of life.” The Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for a year is the date palm. The ancient Greeks based their design of ionic columns on the shape of the date palm. This list goes on…

Many of our desserts use dates, mixed with other great ingredients like almonds, cacao, and coconut. So next time you’re feeling guilty about craving dessert, think again, and come pick out a treat at Revitalive made with the fruit that so many ancient cultures revered and that modern nutrition thinks pretty highly of too!
raw vegan desserts
References:
The Date People: http://www.datepeople.net/date-palm-data
SF Gate: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrition-medjool-dates-5371.html
SF Gate: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Seed-of-extinct-date-palm-sprouts-after-2-000-2628668.php
Photo: http://www.produceclerks.com/2013/04/medjool-dates-fresh.html

Organic Compost

Revitalive Process of the Week: Composting

Organic Compost

Organic Compost


We couldn’t decide what to write about this week. Should we choose a vegetable? An ingredient in our raw desserts? A “superfood”? A well known but underrated ingredient? A food with a color we haven’t yet covered? (Blueberries?)

Unable to settle on one of these, we decided to cover all of them for this week’s post by talking about a very important process in which they all may play a role.

Almost all of the ingredients used at Revitalive (everything except seaweeds and algae) come from soil, so any leftovers can be returned to the soil. Even the utensils, cups, and many of the containers at Revitalive are made from plant material, making them compostable. Any containers we use that are not compostable are recyclable. In fact, nothing you buy from Revitalive needs to be thrown in the trash!

Revitalive Café has both a recycling bin and a composting bin for your use, which we bring out to the Tannery’s larger bins at the end of each day, along with the scraps we produce in our kitchen. Behind the scenes, we have pulp from juiced produce, avocado peels, and lots of crumbs caught in the sink drains. We do our best to compost all of these.

The Tannery’s compost bins are collected by Black Earth Compost, a company based in Gloucester that turns food waste and certain paper products into compost, which is then used at local farms. These farms may be the very o

Organic Compost

Organic Compost

nes that Revitalive sources some of its produce, so we’re talking full circle with our ingredients! Compost is rich material that naturally fertilizes soil, and by reusing waste like this, we’re diverting loads of material from landfills, where it will simply take up space, doing more harm than good.

The Revitalive team invites you join us in our efforts to produce as little waste as possible by being mindful of how you dispose of your leftover food and paper products. If you finish your meal at the Tannery, please use the designated bins in our café or elsewhere in the Tannery to throw out any food scraps and compostable or recyclable containers.

Please be aware that non-compostable items placed in the composting bin are not removed or filtered out at any point, so they will instead become pollution in the soil of a farm. There is a list of compostable and recyclable items above each of our bins, and the products themselves say whether or not they can be composted. Please help a local farmer, and check before chucking!

Next week, we return to our regular scheduling.  Thank you for reading, and happy Earth-saving!

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Photo: http://www.ways2gogreen.com/CompostGoingGreenWithBlackGold.html

Parsley Blog

Revitalive’s Pick of the Week: Parsley

Parsley Blog
Before starting off this week’s post, let’s welcome back Quinoa Taboule to the Grab & Go section at Revitalive! Quinoa Taboule is our gluten-free version of the traditional Middle Eastern salad, with red quinoa instead of bulgur wheat, and with a wonderful mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lemon, and – you guessed it – parsley.

Parsley originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe (likely in Greece and/or Italy) and has a history one would not expect from such a flavorful, popular, and healthy food. Ancient Greeks used parsley, but not for food; they associated it with death, believing it sprang from the blood of the god Archemorus, “the forerunner of death.” They used it to decorate tombs and as crowns for the victors at funeral games (which celebrated the lives of those who had recently passed).

Contradictorily, Hippocrates of ancient Greek times may have been one of the first people to use parsley as medicine. Since that time, parsley has been used for digestive and urinary tract problems, for rheumatoid arthritis, to build blood, to bring on a late menstrual cycle, to reverse baldness, and as a poison antidote. An interesting mix of treatment options!

It may not have been until Charlemagne’s time in the Early Middle Ages that parsley became popular as a seasoning, and Catherine de Medici is said to have introduced it to France in the Late Middle Ages.

Now, parsley is one of the most popular herbs in the world. It is often used to garnish dishes, but like in taboule, it can also be used as a main ingredient. Parsley is super high in vitamin K, which is important for bone health, has three times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, and has double the iron of spinach. It is also a good source of vitamin A and folic acid.

Beyond vitamins, parsley has flavonoids with antioxidant effects, and its oils may help prevent cancer and protect against chemotherapy’s side effects.

The potential benefits of eating parsley include:
• Improving digestion
• Stimulating the appetite
• Relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
• Promoting urination
• Bringing on a late menstrual cycle
• Freshening breath (by chewing the fresh leaves)
• Reducing gas and bloating (by chewing the seeds)
• Preventing cancer
• Protecting against the toxic effects of chemotherapy

Parsley can be found in the following salads and juices at Revitalive:
• Lean Green juice
• Spicy Green juice
• Kale Caesar salad
• Quinoa Taboule

The ancient Greeks sure knew a lot, but we’re happy that their superstitions about parsley are not true. Come in to try one of these salads or juices to find out what they were missing!

Kale Caesar Salad

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Parsley-Lemon Photo: http://spoonwithme.com/2012/08/13/fresh-summer-tomato-pasta-with-lemon-garlic-and-capers/

References:
Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/REM00044/Parsley-Dr-Weils-Herbal-Remedies.html
VeraVeg.org: http://www.veraveg.org/Veg%20History/Veg%20History%20Italian%20Parsley.html
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-792-PARSLEY.aspx?activeIngredientId=792&activeIngredientName=PARSLEY
West Virginia University: http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/herbs/parsley.htm
World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=100
World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=112

flax seeds

Revitalive’s Pick of the Week: Flax Seeds!

flax seeds
At Revitalive Café, we offer a delicious menu of smoothies, which are made fresh when ordered. You may have tried our Berry Bliss smoothie, the classic Evergreen, or our rich Maca Mocha. But we also have a variety of options of smoothie boosters to give an extra kick of protein, flavor, antioxidants, energy, omega 3’s…you name it! Flax seeds, one of our smoothie boosters, provide several of these benefits.

Flax seeds have a unique and powerful combination of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. They are also a great source of protein! By themselves, these nutrients have a number of health benefits, and acting together, they are capable of even more. Lignans, the lesser known of these, have antioxidant effects, and flax seeds are the best source of them in human diets. Flax seeds have seven times the amount of lignans as sesame seeds and over 300 times the amount as in sunflower seeds!

Flax seeds are also one of the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

The fiber in flax seeds is a combination of both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber, which work together to keep things moving in the digestive system, not too fast and not too slow. Flax seeds are especially known for their soluble fiber content, called mucilage. Mucilage can improve the body’s absorption of nutrients by forming a gel that slows down the rate that food travels from the stomach to the small intestine.

Together, the nutrients in flax seeds may have the following benefits:
• Reducing inflammation
• Protecting against cancer, especially breast, prostate, and colon cancers
• Improving cholesterol ratio
• Regulating digestion
• Lowering blood pressure
• Preventing of heart attacks
• Increasing absorption of nutrients

If you buy whole flax seeds, it is best to grind them before using them; if swallowed whole, they will go undigested through the digestive tract, preventing you from gaining any of their wonderful benefits.

Next time you’re getting a smoothie at Revitalive this summer, try out flax seeds as a booster or try one of our many other nutritious options!

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Photo: http://naturalremediespocketguide.com/8-tips-balancing-cholesterol-levels-without-drugs/

References
SFGate: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-ground-flaxseed-smoothies-5332.html
University of Maryland Medical Center: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/flaxseed
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/

Watermelon

Revitalive’s Pick of the Week: Watermelon!

Watermelon
This week’s post is about a fruit that we’ll all likely be enjoying this weekend: that steadfast summertime treat, watermelon!

Lucky for us, watermelon is beneficial for more than just our taste buds. It is a good source of vitamin C as well as lycopene, a nutrient with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Lycopene gives watermelon its red color, so the riper a watermelon is, the more nutrition it has. (Also, the sweeter it is!) When buying a whole watermelon, its ripeness can be judged by its weight; the water content increases with ripening, so a heavier melon is more nutritious. With cut watermelons, look for ones with more of a rich red hue than lighter pink.

Watermelon is also a great source of citrulline, an amino acid that our bodies use to produce a compound that can relax muscles and lower blood pressure. In one study, athletes who drank watermelon juice before working out had reduced heart rates and a reduction in muscle soreness the next day.

Even the rind and seeds of watermelon are beneficial, despite being cut out, spat out, or never even there if a seedless melon is bought. The seeds are a good source of protein as well as essential minerals including iron and magnesium. Just an ounce of them can provide between 10 and 35% of each of these nutrients and other minerals. It might take quite a few pieces of watermelon to eat this many seeds, but seeds can also be dried or roasted and eaten as a separate snack.

Interesting Facts: Watermelon as a Kidney Cleanse

Watermelon is one of the best natural remedies known for kidney stones mostly because they contain the highest water content (92%) of any food. Watermelons are also diuretic, meaning they help to increase urine flow, which helps flush kidneys when dealing with kidney stones. Watermelons are also extremely high in potassium which assists your body in dissolving kidney stones. Potassium can also help lower blood pressure, essential for kidney health. Watermelons are also high in nitric oxide and lycopene (as mentioned earlier) which aid in maintaining kidney health.

It’s not just the watermelon fruit that supports your kidneys; the black seeds of watermelon are also useful for cleansing both the bladder and the kidneys helping remove stones.

Revitalive uses organic watermelon (flesh, rind, and seeds!) in its Minty Melon juice. Try some today to kick off this Fourth of July weekend!

Prevention

If you have already experienced kidney stones, or are otherwise at risk due to dietary choices, eating watermelons regularly can help prevent the formation of stones. Drinking watermelon juice several times a week is a great way to prevent stones without any side effects. Also, if you are ever experiencing a tight, painful sensation in the kidneys, even just subtle, you may be experiencing kidney stress. Watermelon juice is a great remedy even if the sensation is mild, in order to bring things back into balance.

Did you know that watermelons are the best foods to juice, since there is so much juice yielded per fruit? At Revitalive we add both limes and mint to increase both the taste and the cleansing benefits of the juice.

Vitamin C, lycopene, citrulline, potassium, protein, minerals, and more… watermelon is more nutritious than you thought! But that’s not what you were wondering about, was it? You knew it probably had some good stuff in there – it’s a fruit! Your real questions have still gone unanswered. What about the sugar content? It’s so deliciously sweet that the sugar must cancel out the benefits! And is watermelon a GMO? You’ll be happy to hear the answers:

Q: Since watermelon is so sweet, am I eating a lot of sugar?
A: Despite watermelon being so sweet, a regular serving size would not have that much sugar. Because watermelon has such a high water content (over 90%), you’ll probably start feeling full (or will be going back for a second hamburger/veggie burger) long before that point.

Q: Are seedless watermelons genetically modified?
A: Seedless watermelons are actually not genetically modified; a genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal that has been crossbred with the DNA of bacteria, viruses, or a different species. Seedless watermelons, on the other hand, are a cross between two types of watermelon plants. This is called hybridization.

Cold-pressed minty melon juice

Cold-pressed minty melon juice

Credits:
Watermelon photo: http://blogs.kcrw.com/goodfood/2013/06/vegetarian-recipe-2/

References:
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riva-greenberg/gl-and-gi_b_863126.html
National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130820-watermelon-nutrition-health-food-science/
Non GMO Project: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
Self.com: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3147/2
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/31/AR2010083102643.html?sid=ST2010083102729
World’s Heathiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31

Matcha 1

Revitalive Pick of the Week: Matcha

Matcha 1

Matcha, found in Revitalive’s new Matcha Berry Tea, is a unique form of green tea. From the way it is cultivated, to the way it is processed, to the way it is prepared, it seems to gain more and more health benefits as it travels from soil to mouth. One of the main differences is that matcha is made by grinding up tea leaves into powder, which is then mixed into the hot water. This way, the tea drinker benefits not just from leaf-infused water, but from entire tea leaves!

All types of tea (non-herbal) are actually derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. (Herbal “tea,” on the other hand, can come from any plant other than the tea plant.) Once tea leaves are picked, they begin to oxidize and dry out, which turns their color from green to black and changes their nutritional profile. Allowing this to happen on its own is part of the process of creating black tea, but heating the leaves immediately after picking them stops the oxidation and creates green tea.

Although both black and green teas are high in antioxidants, preventing oxidation preserves one particular antioxidant compound called EGCg that has been found to protect against cancer. Matcha has over 100 times more of this compound than other types of green tea!

Matcha is cultivated differently from other forms of green tea. Several weeks before harvest, the leaves are shaded under cloth, which increases the amount of chlorophyll and l-theanine in the leaves. L-theanine, an amino acid, is the property of matcha that gives the tea drinker a sense of calm and relaxation. It balances out the potential jittery effects of the tea’s natural caffeine (it has about half the amount as in coffee) to create an energizing but not overly-stimulating effect. This is likely the reason that Zen Buddhist monks drank matcha before hours-long meditation sessions. Matcha is also the tea of choice during traditional tea ceremonies.

Matcha tea japan

This photo shows one of the steps taken during a traditional Japanese tea ceremony: A bamboo whisk is used to mix the powdered matcha with hot water.

The long-term benefits of drinking matcha tea can include:

• Reducing the risk of various types of cancer
• Slowing down the aging process
• Improving cholesterol ratio
• Preventing cardiovascular disease
• Increasing metabolism
• Reducing hypertension

We hope you’ll try out some of our new Matcha Berry Tea to give a little zen zing to your summer day!
revitalive-matcha-berry-tea
Credits:
Matcha photo: http://www.sarahbesthealth.com/the-top-12-health-benefits-of-green-tea-and-the-best-kind-to-choose/
Tea ceremony photo: http://www.now-zen.com/blog/category/tea-ceremony/

References:
Boston Magazine: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/11/13/matcha-tea-health-benefits/
DoMatcha: http://domatcha.com/health/
Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02050/Matcha-Tea.html
Harvard: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea