Archive for the ‘raw foods’ Category

Allow me to introduce one of my favorite foods: celery!
It really seems so humble, but I have found myself loving it more and more everyday. It is light, refreshing, has natural sodium and minerals (that we need), is great as a snack, in your salad, in your smoothie or soup. It is known as a wonderful cleansing and “diet” food because it is low in calories and high in fiber. In fact, you burn more eating and digesting it than you actually take in. I use it a lot as a digestive aid for “denser” foods like nut butters, nuts and seeds or chicken. The high enzyme content helps to digest these foods meaning less indigestion, but also less fat storage. And the minerals and protein in cashews, for example are much easier to digest when paired with some fresh stalks of celery.

Below are some excerpts from an article from NaturalNews.com by Sheryl Waters:
“Fresh, light green celery with glossy ribs is the best for eating. Celery is truly economical; all parts of the plant are edible and one cup contains only about twenty calories. There is no waste. It’s a great food and has a number of known health benefits.

Celery can provide a sense of calmness. It can also help lower blood pressure. People with gout should be fans of celery because it lowers uric acid.

Drinking fresh celery juice is said to reduce appetite. Taken before a meal it may help with weight loss.

People seldom think of celery as a real food in and of itself. In today’s culinary world, celery is used as a seasoning, a garnish or a snack, but Hippocrates considered it a medicine and recommended it for kidney health.

High in calcium and Vitamin C, celery should be a part of your daily diet. It is an excellent finger food and best when eaten raw. Avoid the large, fibrous bottom ends and for best flavor, store celery in a part of the refrigerator where it won’t freeze.”

I have encountered some people who find celery boring or lacking in flavor. My suggestion is to pair it with more flavorful items. Fill celery ribs with almond butter and pair with an apple for a wonderful snack. They can be used for dipping sticks with guacamole, salsa, egg salad or chicken salad. Other options include pairing with artichoke dip or tapenade.

If you are fortunate enough to have a high-speed blender, blend celery, apple and coconut water for a post workout electrolyte boost.
I have even processed celery, zucchini, cilantro and garlic in the Vita-Mix or food processor, then combined it with mashed avocado for a tasty veggi-guac dip or wrap filling.



Ryder, E. J. 1979. Leafy Salad Vegetables. AVI Publishing.

Newall, C.A., Anderson, L.A., & Phillipson, J.D. 1996. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals, The Pharmaceutical Press, London.

Bartram, T. 1995. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 1st edn.,Grace Publishers, Bournemouth.


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I subscribe to the alumni newsletter sent out by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition, which is where I received my training as a holistic health counselor. This school is quite unique in their approach to health and thriving in life. While most nutrition-based programs focus only on what people eat, IIN teaches about the importance of honoring the whole person. This means considering career, environment, spirituality and our relationships. These are the parts of our lives that feed our souls and give us our light. If you are eating the most pristine diet, but lack joy, love and quality connections with others, most likely your life may feel empty and you will not be truly healthy.
It has been shown that babies who are not touched will get sick and die even if they receive enough food nourishment! This means that although we certainly need to make sure to feed our children and ourselves the best food possible, without vitamin L it may not matter.

Below is an excerpt from the IIN newsletter with some interesting evidence on the importance of love:
“A University of North Carolina study found that hugging lowers blood pressure. The University of Iowa found that cancer patients with satisfying relationships had more white blood cell activity than those with few social connections. A study of Harvard students showed that only 25 percent of those who felt loved by their parents developed a major illness later in life, while more than 90 percent of those who didn’t feel loved developed a major illness.”

So, while it is absolutely important to ask the question of “how do I choose to feed my body?” it appears the question “how to do I choose to feed my spirit and heart?” is equally vital to our wellbeing.
On an early morning walk down to the ocean the other day, I passed a church with a placard out front that read “Welcome. Are you happy?”
How simple, and yet profound! Ask yourself this question, and if the answer is “yes” keep doing what you are doing. If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, perhaps it is time to assess what you may need to change to get your “yes”. The road towards change can feel a little uncomfortable, but the rewards are generally great.

So, as we contemplate and enjoy this holiday that is all about love, I invite you to consider and connect with the food that feeds your soul. Resolve to strengthen your primary relationships or create new ones.  Whether you are married, in relationship, living with friends or family, or single, reach out and let them know what they mean to you and make it a point to include this kind of nourishment into your daily life.

Quality connection (vitamin L) is our most potent nutrient!
Love heals all ills!
Share the love and be happy

A little mythical animal lore to share:

“Legend says that Hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.

Like Hummingbirds, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and celebrate the joy of everyday.

The Hummingbirds delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

Chocolate Love Dip

1 1/3 cups raw almonds (soak them 6-10 hours for a smoother consistency) or 2/3-cup raw almond butter
1 cup almond milk
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder *
2/3-cup dates, pitted

Blend nuts, almond milk, vanilla, cocoa powder and dates. Add more milk if necessary. Use as a dipping sauce for fresh strawberries, fruit slices or just your fingers. Serves 10.

For the smoothest, most luscious consistency I recommend the Vita-Mix 5200. Click here for free ground shipping and a 30-day risk free trial.

Optional, but delicious: It has been shown that peppermint has aphrodisiac qualities, especially for women. Try adding one drop (just one!) Young Living peppermint therapeutic grade essential oil to the blender towards the end. Visit http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com for info and ordering.

* Click the link below to order top quality raw cacao from Sunfood Nutrition
Organic Raw Chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Budget-minded Healthy Living

“Health is wealth”, says the old Chinese proverb, and I have to agree. When we have our health we can live vibrantly, joyfully and creatively to best draw in the abundance that we need and desire. As the current economy may be posing challenges for many, it is really an opportunity to re-evaluate unsustainable personal and global systems.
In this article, I wish to address the issue of staying healthy without breaking the bank. As you will read below, there are many ways to eat well, live, play and work within a budget. It may take a little initial effort, but the rewards will be well worth it!
One note: I packed quite a bit of information into this article, it may be something to save and reference as needed. Remember to always take one step at a time.

Explore new ways of getting your needs met.

Can you darn your socks instead of buying new ones? Can you shop for whole food ingredients instead of packaged meals? Can you prepare your own foods instead of getting take out?
This aspect really encompasses all the other subjects below. Essentially, the first step is to be open to creating new habits, new activities, and new ways of thinking that will begin to support you in better ways than the old.

Freedom, not Fear

This is another fundamental guiding principal. Keep reminding yourself that you have the freedom to make choices, one of the most critical being to choose joy/love/optimism over fear.
This takes practice and discipline especially when the media and others are drowning in doom and gloom, but there is always opportunity and light to be had. Make conscious decisions about what you listen to, whom you spend time with, etc. As I said in the first principal above, these require some rewiring and perhaps discomfort, but ultimately will lead to freedom.

Simplify your lifestyle

Do you need to have the biggest, newest TV with 200 channels (180 of which you do not watch)?
Is it serving you to try to keep up with Jones’?
Can your family survive with 1 car instead of 2, or 2 cars instead of 3?
Can you include some well-rounded vegetarian meals to cut down on the grocery bill?
Can you make your own snacks instead buying pre-packaged ones?
Can you get a home filter instead of buying bottled? (The environment will love you for this as well)
Can you take a family hike instead of paying a premium at the movie theater?
(See free entertainment below)

Enjoy Free (or almost free) Entertainment

Hiking, beach walks, dinner parties, picnics, pot lucks, games around the fire, bike rides, bird watching, borrowed books and movies from the library, connecting with distant loved ones with Skype, mealtimes with friends and family, etc. These are all free or low cost ways to not just be entertained, but be interactive and just plain active.
Studies show children are overweight and getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes by age nine. Both children and adults are losing a connection with the earth and the abundant fun to be had in our natural world. Simple face-to-face communication is weakening for many.
Why not schedule time outdoors with family and friends. Be entertained by each other, stay fit, stay healthy and save your money.
When you do just want to curl up with some good ol’ passive entertainment, most public libraries have growing collections of VHS, DVDs, video games, books, magazines, etc. Many counties will even send specific requests from other branches to your’s.

Shop the local farmer’s market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Farmer’s markets and CSA’s have grown rapidly in the last decade. Here on the Monterey Peninsula we are blessed with four year-round markets per week. Although I keep myself plenty busy, I schedule in my weekly visits to the markets as a way to nourish and support my health and well-being. It is a chance to enjoy some community, take in the sights and smells and get some of the best prices on the freshest organic produce around.
If time just does not allow, consider joining a CSA. This is essentially purchasing a share of a farm. In return you receive a weekly box of fresh goodies. There are usually some options around delivery vs. pick-up and different box sizes to suit household needs. Just visit http://www.localharvest.org/, enter your zip code and instantly find out what is in your local area.

Educate yourself on drug and antibiotic alternatives

Herbs, plant medicines, essential oils and good quality supplements and super foods are usually less expensive and definitely less destructive when taken mindfully and appropriately. It is important to seek the guidance of an educated professional and discuss options with your traditional or alternative health care provider.

Below is a sampling of resources to get your feet wet.

Books – Click the titles below for more information:

The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs

Asian Health Secrets: The Complete Guide to Asian Herbal Medicine

Herbs and information:

Mountain Rose Herbs (mail order bulk herbs and more) has plenty of educational books and resources
Click here

The Best Day Ever
This is a membership site run by David Wolfe, a leader in the world of raw foods and herbal healing, that includes a massive media library, a vibrant and helpful community and a panel of health and longevity experts.
Click here

Young Living Essential Oils – the most healing oils on the planet!

These are the only essential oils I recommend therapeutically. Try Abundance, Longevity or Valor just for starters.


Young Living essential oils testimonials:

Practice prevention to avoid disease – Evaluate diet, exercise, lifestyle, thoughts, environment, etc.

Rather than sticking with unhealthy habits simply because it feels easy, begin taking small steps every day to support and maintain ideal health and happiness. By making small investments now, you can save yourself from the resource depletion that serious disease or hospitalization can bring. The reality is that most disease can be avoided. It is only the catastrophic accidents that are truly beyond our control (or are they?).

Grow your own food and herbs

With a little dirt, preparation and care growing your own edibles can be a fulfilling and economical way to go. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the cost of seeds is cheap, cheap, cheap!
Do a little research into local growing conditions, seasonal crops and what is easy to plant and you can be on your way. It can help to do a communal garden to get some help.

Bring your own bags

Many natural grocery stores now honor those who bring their own re-usable bags. I have taken this to a new level and have recycled any plastic bags that make it my way for as long as I can. Once they are “dead” I will use only my cloth, mesh, silk, etc.
Whole Foods will give you a 5-cent refund (hey, every little bit counts) and Trader Joe’s will give you a ticket to enter their weekly raffle to win a bag of groceries.
In some European cities, you will be charged if you do not bring your own bags.

Buy in bulk

It is almost always cheaper to buy in bulk than in smaller amounts, especially when it comes to grains, nuts, seeds, beans, herbs, and even mail order organic meats.
At your natural foods store opt for the bulk section over prepackaged foods, although I do recommend price comparing as this is not always true. Also, check out case discounts on other items like beverages, oils, canned goods, etc. If a case is too much for your household, consider going in on a case with one or more other households.

I also find some good bulk options online and have listed some favorites below:
(Click each item for more information):

Nutiva Organic Shelled Hempseed, 5-Pound Bag

Larabar Fruit & Nut Food Bar, 1.8-Ounce Bars (Pack of 16)

Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa, Traditional, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

Quality over quantity

Opt for nutrient-dense foods, a fewer number of high-quality supplements instead of a high amount of cheap (ineffective) ones, and evaluate the “things” you really need.
Nutrient-dense foods are foods that give you a lot nutrition in a smaller volume and caloric load. Examples include raw nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables, grains, organic meats and eggs. When you fill yourself with these foods, you need less because they give your body what it needs. Consequently, you will crave less if you are eating appropriately for your needs.
I am a believer in searching out a select few quality supplements that are readily absorbed and supply real nutrition. Again, you will need less and get more. One of my newest discoveries is Moxxor, a concentrated omega 3 that is almost 300 times more potent than fish oil and processed in a sustainable manner. Please see http://www.naturalnews.com/moxxor_health_benefits.asp?ID=ana
For more info on recommended products see my recommended products page:

Try buying clothes and other goods from a good second-hand source if appropriate or even do swap with friends. Second hand stores can have some gems, so they can be worth visiting to do a sweep every now and again. Also, you may be sick of your sweater collection, but perhaps your friend has commented on liking what you have. If you are of similar size and taste, a swap could freshen both your wardrobes.

Cook at home

The less you eat and out and the more you prepare at home, the more you save. It is that simple. Always prepare enough for leftovers, so that you can . . .

Pack a lunch

This is just an extension of the above. You will not only save money, but generally those who pack a lunch from home make healthier choices when lunchtime rolls around.

Try a “stay-cation”, home spa day or mini-retreat

If you really set this up right, it can be quite restorative. A “stay-cation” is basically a vacation that you take at home. You carve the time out of your schedule just like any other vacation, but you do not worry about travel and arrangements. You can just plan on lounging and enjoying your home and book collection or take in the sights from an out-of-towner’s perspective. By choosing a stay-cation, you may even use the money you save to book a daily massage or other indulgence.
A home spa is like a mini stay-cation and can be done in a few ways. You may choose to purchase some products and do-it-yourself (facial, bath, body scrub, etc.), invite a friend to pamper each other, or hire a therapist to come to your home for a massage.
Another option is a one-day retreat. You can prepare your food in advance and devote the whole day to yoga, meditation, journaling, walking and relaxing. This is a very restorative, expanding and economical option.

Become a distributor or affiliate

Support your own health, share health with others and potentially earn additional income (or at least pay for your products). There are many health product companies who offer affiliate or direct sales opportunities. The one caveat is that not all the products are of a high quality. In my research, I have come across a few who have shown themselves to be of the utmost quality in products, manufacturing, business practices and environmental guidelines. Some of these I have chosen to become affiliated with and some I simply recommend. The wonderful thing about such a set-up is that you can have access to some of the top health products and if you share with others there is the opportunity to create a little or a lot of extra income. It is helping yourself through helping others.
Amazon Herb Company – http://amazon-herb.amazonherb.net/Default.aspx
Young Living – http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com
Moxxor – http://mymoxxor.com/ana

E3 Live – Click Here

Elements For Life – http://www.noblelifeelements.com/

Practice yoga/meditation/prayer

Whenever we are faced with change or uncertainty, there is nothing like connecting to spirit, our bodies and our breath. I admit that I am biased, but these are invaluable tools.

Invest in renewable resources and green businesses

I am not a financial advisor, but it would seem that to invest in the future could only give a handsome return in the end. There is a very real shift happening towards greener technologies and business practices that extends beyond just the counter culture. A worthwhile exploration at the very least.

Be generous

You cannot receive what you do not give. It is important to remember this even if you feel strapped. Remember that there are others who literally have nothing or very little. Give of your time, resources, energy, spirit, etc. There is always a return on such generosity.

Be Grateful

To be grateful for what we do have opens us up to receive more of what is working. By focusing only on lack, tends to bring more of the same. It is so simple and worth a shot

And most importantly . . .

Be Well,


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Every year at this time we as Americans generally seem to go into the usual consumerist overdrive. With economic changes taking front and center, there seems to be an opportunity to practice gratitude for all that we do have and potentially rethink the giving process.
A couple of years back I made the decision to rethink my own giving practices, and have found that tremendous freedom and joy can indeed be found amidst the holiday hustle and bustle.
When I really reconsidered what my values were and those of many of my friends and family, I realized that we could still be generous, but not wasteful. We could help others in need and yet still share the thought that counts. We could educate and experience rather than consume for the sake of consuming. We could support each other’s wellbeing and health, so that good times may be enjoyed for a long time to come.
This is the power of choice. And how we choose to spend our time, our money and our energy is profoundly important.

Will we choose to give to Wal-Mart or to those in need?

Will we buy more plastic or support environmental health?

Will we seek meaningful experiences or just more “stuff”?

I realize I am placing my own value judgments out in plain view, but rather than preach, allow me to simply make an offering. In this offering you may find some tremendous value, just a little bit of value or no value at all. But perhaps someone else you know would get value from these ideas. If so, please share. This is part of what I call gift recycling, which I discuss further below.

Giving the Gift of Unforgettable Experiences (and time together)

I heard about this idea on the radio and just had to share it! If you visit the website http://discovery.excitations.com/, you can do a search for your location, type of activity and price range. Discovery Experiences is a collaboration between the Discovery Channel and Excitations, and they offer “unforgettable gifts for exploration and fun”. They offer gifts as diverse as Intro to Indoor Karting and Safari Family Sleepover. You can Learn to Sail or purchase a Guided Mountain Hike. The wonderful part is that you are supporting local businesses and having fun! There is something for everyone. This is definitely worth exploring.

Gift Recycling

Okay, I know I am not the first person who has thought of this, but I think it is an idea that should come out of the closet. This is not about giving your ratty socks to your coworker, but instead passing on those items that may not quite fit your style, but are of value to someone else. Objects, just like people, get their energy from being appreciated and utilized. This can be a lovely way to lighten up your space and brighten that of another. We have all received nice gifts that we cannot use or may not be the right fit. Passing them on to someone who would really cherish them can be very rewarding to everyone involved.

Donation Gifts

This is something I began doing last year for my family on the east coast. It is a wonderful way to show your love and appreciation AND help those who do not even have enough food to eat or water to drink. Again, this may not be for everyone, but it is an opportunity to possibly educate and enlighten others about what giving can look like.
I personally like World Vision because they are a reputable company who uses a good percentage of the donations towards the actual cause. They also offer many choices and make it very easy to do your “shopping”. To see their gift catalogue and learn more click the link below:
World Vision Gift Catalogue
There are certainly many more potential organizations to do this with and you may even want to search out a local, environmental or church organization. The most important thing is that it works for you and those you love.

The Gift of Health

Of course, this is the type of gift giving I feel especially passionate about. When we can support ourselves and our loved ones in staying around for a while and enjoying an active and vibrant life, we are at the essence of life. Especially during economically challenging times, we can evaluate what is really and truly important. This can be as simple as offering to shop for healthy foods for a relative who may not be as mobile anymore, or offering to be a weekly hike partner to a friend in need of support in getting moving. These are all FREE!
If spending a little cash is in the budget, then perhaps a book, DVD, series of yoga classes or professional health support can be purchased
Please visit the Devana Health Store http://astore.amazon.com/devana-20/
for some specific recommendations on books, kitchen utensils, food products and more.
Infamous raw food and herbal enthusiast, David Wolfe, has a wonderful online health service for those looking for some information and support for themselves and others. Please visit cick here to learn more.
And remember gift certificates for all Devana Wellness services are always available: Holistic Health and Nutritional Counseling (in persona and long distance), Private and group yoga, Private and group cooking classes, Healthy Food Preparation, Detoxification Guidance.

Holiday and New Year Blessings to all of you!

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After being an avid Vita-Mix enthusiast for years, I finally decided to develop an affiliate relationship with this wonderful family run business.

Please check out the offer below, definitely excited to share this with all of you!

Happy Holidays!


Your chance to WIN a $50 Gift Card……

Vita-Mix is giving you the chance to WIN 1 of 12 $50 dollar Gift Cards to a national retailer when you purchase a Vita-Mix 5200 by

clicking here.

You’ll also get FREE SHIPPING and guaranteed delivery in time for the holidays on your Vita-Mix machine when you purchase by the contest deadline, December 15, 2008.

Winners will receive 2 BONUS gifts: a Vita-Mix apron and smoothie cup if the winner is registered as a member of the Vita-Mix online blog community, Vita-Village. 12 Winners will be announced in Vita-Village January 9, 2009. Join the Vita-Village online community at http://community.vitamix.com.

For Full contest rules click here.

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cherry loveWe are upon on of my favorite times of the year – late spring, early summer – the time when berries, and most importantly cherries, come into seasonal abundance. For me there has been something incredibly magical and seductive about the cherry. Like asparagus, their season is short, but oh so sweet!
Normally, I begin to get anxious about 2 or 3 weeks before their arrival at the farmer’s market. Finally, I am driven to inquire, “how are the cherries coming along?”. My anticipation is temporarily satisfied with a date of arrival. Then, the arrival! Being one of the more expensive purchases I make at the market, I reign myself in from giving it all up for a frenetic cherry feast. I tell myself that if I can keep it under ten dollars I am still getting my fix without breaking the bank. Each cherry then, has inherent value, treasured like a precious jewel.
This year I was blessed with some cherry magic. A gift I am now seeing as pure cherry medicine. A physical, spiritual and emotional healing that could only be experienced with this enchanted fruit.
I received a call from a yoga friend and apparently he had some cherries to share. My heart went “thump, thump” and I nearly stuttered my acceptance. Visions of living on cherries alone began to dance in my head.
“How many would you like?” he inquired.
“Well . . . ” I paused, as the greed monster struggled to take hold of my vocal cords.
“Whatever you would like to give.” Yes, that sounded fair and reasonable.

Fast forward twenty-four hours later and I am about eight cherry pounds richer. Initially, I eat them just out of hand, the way I always do. Then, realizing my enormous supply, the creativity begins. Cherry smoothies of all variations, cherry pie, cherry jam . . . never straying too far, of course, from the true and perfect nature of this gem.
The feeling was akin to winning the lottery after being broke. I was gradually becoming accustomed to spending money (or eating cherries) freely without counting every penny. And of course, the ability to share with reckless abandon is just sheer cherry joy!

Cherry Medicine
What makes these little berries so miraculous?
Cherries are rich and sweet (as long as they are not the sour variety), but never cloying.
No peeling, just pop and enjoy.
People travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles to see the fleeting blooms of the cherry trees.
They are one of the few fruits that are warming in nature.
Cherries increase vital energy and tone the spleen-pancreas, liver, and kidneys.
They are one of the few fruits that are truly alkaline.
Cherries assist with blood stagnation, making them invaluable for gout, numbness in extremities, rheumatic pain and paralysis.
They are an indulgent treat with chocolate.
Cherries are a safe treat to be enjoyed by diabetics as they actually help lower blood sugar levels.
Cherries are an excellent source of iron and contain some phosphorous, potassium, calcium and vitamin A.
You cannot be depressed while eating cherries!
Life is like a bowl of cherries.
Cherries contain queritrin, a flavonoid found to be one of the most potent anticancer agents.
They contain ellagic acid, which some researchers say may be the most effective cancer preventative.
Cherries also contain a compound (perillyl alcohol) shown to be powerful in reducing the occurrence of all types of cancer.
Eating 20 sour cherries (or the equivalent in juice concentrate) has the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving power of aspirin or ibuprofen, without the negative effects.
They contain specific antioxidants shown to slow down the aging process.
Cherries anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties help eliminate migraines.
Cherries are rich in melatonin, which can assist in improving your body’s circadian rhythms and help with sleep.

These berries are truly worthy of worship.

Cherry Bliss

My gift to you is my latest cherry creation. YUMMMM!

1 cup fresh (or frozen) organic cherries, pitted
½ ripe medium avocado or 1/3 cup soaked raw cashews

1 scoop chocolate or vanilla Dream Protein (http://GreensFirst.com/4550)

½ cup vanilla or chocolate unsweetened almond milk

Make it special:

add 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
add 1 scoop green powder (see my recommended products)
add 1 teaspoon bee pollen
add a dash each cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
add extra stevia if you like it sweeter
add a squeeze of lemon if you like a zing
add crushed ice if you like it cold and thick

Place all the ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth.

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