Nicobella Lifestyle Blog

Ingredient Spotlight: Maple Syrup Posted on 13 Sep 17:35 , 0 comments

The warm and rich flavor of maple syrup offers several unique nutritional benefits, unlike most sweeteners which have little to no nutrient value.


Maple syrup, as one of the least processed sweeteners, is recommended above others. It is a naturally occurring sweetener with a lower glycemic index compared to other granulated sugars or syrups. Mayple syrup also contains a complex carbohydrate, inulin, which serves as a prebiotic to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, ultimately aiding in gut health and digestion.  


In addition to helping your gut, maple syrup can help with your immune system, as 1 tablespoon provides 6% of the daily recommended intake of zinc and 33% of the daily recommended intake of manganese. Maple syrup also contains inflammation reducing antioxidants, similar to those contained in molasses and brown sugar, whereas refined sugars and agave nectar do not. Also, make sure that you are purchasing 100% pure maple syrup, and organic if possible. Maple Syrups that are not labeled as pure often contain unwanted additives and filler sweeteners that decrease this spectacular sweetener's power! 


Next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, chose maple syrup, the sweet treat with benefits! You can also experience its flavor and benefits in our very popular Maple Nut Munch!

Addie Dulaney Majnaric, RDN graduate of West Virginia University, where she received her dual Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and Human Nutrition and Foods and minor in Strength & Conditioning. Addie recently finished her supervised practice rotations, and passed her licensure exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is very excited to begin helping people reach their happiest and healthiest selves through a vegan diet!

Ingredient Spotlight: Coconut! Posted on 09 Aug 18:18 , 0 comments

 

Coconut has gotten a lot of publicity lately, whether it be from its oil form or water. This tropical food can be classified as a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Coconut is packed with options, as it can be eaten in various ways.   

    Coconut meat can be eaten raw or dried, and is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, fats, and other micronutrients.

Coconut water is excellent for hydration as its rich in potassium and other electrolytes. The water also contains beneficial antioxidants, enzymes, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese and zinc. And to top it all off, coconut water is a perfect low calorie and low sugar beverage!

And last but not least, is the controversial coconut oil. Coconut oil went from being highly promoted to now demonized for its saturated fat content. So what is really the truth?  Coconut oil does contain a high percentage of saturated fats. But unlike many saturated fats from animals, coconut oil has mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which have the potential to raise your good cholesterol, otherwise known as your HDL. But remember, there is still saturated fat, which when eaten in excess can increase your bad cholesterol, your LDL. So like most foods, moderation is key! Another positive aspect of coconut oil is that it is considered a stable oil, which means it is a good fat to cook with because it can be heated to high temperatures without forming harmful by-products like animal fats and some vegetable oils can. Try to remember that fats are not bad, and in fact needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins. It is the amount that you are eating and the kind that can be detrimental to your health.

    To sum up the benefits, when you eat coconut you are getting:

  •      Hydration
  •      Healthy fats needed for vitamin and mineral digestion &                    absorption
  •      Benefits for skin, hair, and nails
  •      Whole food, plant-based energy
  •      HDL improvement potential when eaten in moderation

    And not to mention…. We LOVE to use coconut in its various forms in our truffles, munches, and power bites!! Grab some today and enjoy yet another healing, plant-based ingredient!

 

 

 

 

 


Ingredient Spotlight: Ginger! Posted on 12 Jul 18:00 , 0 comments

The saying of “not judging a book by its cover” surely applies to this peculiar looking root!! Ginger is a mysterious source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Ginger also contains several inflammation fighting antioxidants such as gingerols, beta-carotene, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin and salicylate. A study conducted at the University of Georgia even saw that the consumption of 2g of ginger root per day reduced exercise induced muscle pain/inflammation by up to 25%! Consuming ginger is also a long known remedy for nausea, with its phenolic compounds responsible for its ability to relieve GI irritation, and promote healthy digestion.

 


While its medicinal qualities are impressive enough, Ginger is also a favorite spice of many cultures  and used in a variety of recipes. Ginger can be eaten raw, made into a soothing tea, or consumed in its powdered or oil form. It is a delectable component in many Asian dishes, used in chutney, salad dressings and sauces. Ginger pairs perfectly with carrots and sweet potatoes, and of course … spices up your dessert game quite nicely too! 

You can experience the powerful flavors of ginger for yourself in our Ginger Green Tea Truffle and in our new Apple Crisp Power Bites

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Addie Dulaney Majnaric is a recent graduate of West Virginia University, where she received her dual Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and Human Nutrition and Foods and minor in Strength & Conditioning. Addie recently finished her supervised practice rotations, and will be sitting for the RDN licensure exam this summer. She is very excited to begin helping people reach their happiest and healthier selves through a vegan diet!

Addie has been vegan for 5 years, and promotes her recipes, love for animals, and nutrition journey on her blog: https://beansandblessingsblog.wordpress.com. In her free time, Addie enjoys running, creating vegan meals and baking, spending time with her husband Nathan and her best friend and sidekick, Kimba the rescue German Shepherd! 


Spring Truffles Are Here! And Have You Pledged for Veg Week Yet? Posted on 23 Mar 10:43 , 0 comments

VegPledge

Have you pledged to Go Veg?


There are 52 weeks in the year so why not try eating entirely plant-based for just one week out of the year? VegWeek is a nationwide campaign that empowers thousands of people to pledge to choose plant-based foods for at least seven days. It's a great way to discover the many benefits and flavors of plant-based eating and feel good knowing you are improving your health, the environment and saving animals.

When you sign up to take the 7-Day VegPledge, you’ll receive lots of deals, discounts — and you might even win prizes — from companies like Beyond Meat, Follow Your Heart, Herbivorous Butcher, Brewing Good Coffee Company and yours truly, nicobella organics.

lime basil dark chocolate truffleslavender mint dark chocolate truffles

Lavender Mint and Lime Basil Truffles are back for a limited time! Today is the last day to take 10% off your purchase with discount codespringtruffle. Grab them while they're available! Discount code ends Sunday, March 26 11pm PST. 

Make sure to look for nicobella munch and power bites at these fine stores:

  • Kroger (in select Georgia stores)
  • Whole Foods Market (throughout the southeast)
  • HomeGoods (Northeast, Midwest and coming soon to California!)

Chocolate Makes Happy Babies Posted on 09 Mar 09:19 , 0 comments

Does eating dark chocolate during pregnancy create a happy baby? Maybe! 

Scientists in Finland questioned 300 women during pregnancy before and after birth. The women were asked to rate their stress levels and the amount of chocolate they ate. The same women were then questioned six months later about their baby's behavior. The moms who ate chocolate during pregnancy reported that their babies laughed and smiled much more, and also had higher activity levels, than the babies of moms who didn't eat chocolate during pregnancy. 

They also rated stress levels in babies who were born to stressed moms. They found that the stressed moms who ate dark chocolate during pregnancy had babies that were less fearful than stressed moms who did not consume dark chocolate during pregnancy. 

The scientists believe that the happy baby outcome was due to the chemicals (specifically, phenylethylamine) found in dark chocolate that increase seratonin and dopamine levels. Others are skeptical saying that it may have been solely due to mom's satisfaction after eating dark chocolate. Nonetheless, the babies of chocolate-eating mamas were happier.

Expecting moms, as long as it's organic and dark (not milk) chocolate and limited portions, feel free to indulge in your 1-1.5 ounces during pregnancy. Not only will you be happier but perhaps you're make your baby happy as well. 

What does 1-1.5 ounces of dark chocolate look like? It's equivalent to one bag of nicobella munch or any of our three truffles. Shop here.

Journal reference: Early Human Development (vol 76, p 139)


DIY Chocolate Exfoliating + Moisturizing Facial Posted on 03 Mar 07:56 , 0 comments

Who doesn't love a DIY cacao facial scrub! It's a scrub that is good enough to eat. Had a bunch of cacao beans on hand and ran out of exfoliant so it was time to make a DIY super charged antioxidant cacao scrub.
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Ingredients
  • 1/3 c cacao beans or 1/4 c cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup raw oats
  • 2 springs rosemary, de-stemmed
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • squeeze of 1 lemon
  • 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (I used peppermint since peppermint + chocolate smell delicious together😋)

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Grind the cacao beans or nibs, oats and rosemary in a grinder. Melt coconut oil. Add the coconut oil, lemon and essential oil to the cacao mixture and stir. Once blended place the whole food based exfoliant in your favorite mason jar and enjoy as a scrub or mask for your face and hands.
 
Ingredient Highlights
  • Lemon for skin lightening
  • Chocolate for circulation
  • Coconut oil for moisturizing
  • Rosemary for antioxidants
  • Oats for exfoliation
Your face will feel like a smooth baby's bottom after just one use!

 

Take 15% off this weekend with discount code skinhealth! Offer expires Sunday, March 5 11pm PST. 

 

Have a winter cough that won’t go away? Chocolate can help! Posted on 23 Feb 18:14 , 0 comments

I know you’re probably thinking we’re lying just to sell more chocolate, but I promise the science is there. Around this time of year a tingly cough seems to make its way around. It doesn’t seem to be followed by the cold or flu, but also won’t always disappear with some over the counter medications.

There is actually a chemical in chocolate that has been shown to suppress the vagus nerve and coughing. What’s your vagus nerve? The vagus nerve is one of your twelve cranial nerves and is actually the longest. This nerve helps you breathe and perform other basic body functions but can also affect things like coughing.

A chemical found in cocoa – theobromine could actually suppress this vagus nerve and at the same time…suppress that tingly winter cough. Many studies have been done and although some have mixed results, if you have that winter cough that just wont go away, why not add in a little dark chocolate to your diet and see what happens?

dark chocolate mocha munch

References

 

Martã­nez-Pinilla, E., Oã±Atibia-Astibia, A., & Franco, R. (2015). The relevance of theobromine for the beneficial effects of cocoa consumption. Frontiers in Pharmacology,6. doi:10.3389/fphar.2015.00030

Vagus Nerve. (2015, April 15). Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/vagus-nerve

Guest blogger, Carli Barbo, is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in dietetics. She is currently a dietetic intern and graduate student at Georgia State University with hopes to eventually become a registered dietitian. In her free time she likes to try out new recipes, play with her puppy, Sampson, and scoping out Atlanta for new restaurants to try!


Dark chocolate can lower cholesterol? Say What?! Posted on 16 Feb 10:06 , 0 comments

We all know the news is riddled with fad diets, life changing foods, and often false information. Well I’ve got some good news and some more good news. Dark chocolate can have positive affects on cholesterol levels AND there’s science to prove this! I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of a scientific study, but through a double-blind placebo controlled study (what is this? only the gold standard of research studies), research dietitians found regular consumption of these cocoa flavanol dark chocolate bars led to a decrease in total and LDL serum cholesterol. On top of these dark chocolate bars affect on cholesterol, researchers also saw a decrease in systolic blood pressure.

So, what does all this mean? In short, it means you can have your dark chocolate and eat it too. Incorporating dark chocolate into an already healthy diet can have positive affects on your cholesterol and blood pressure. 

How? When? Where? Incorporating dark chocolate into your diet it easy! As long as everything is kept in moderation, you can find dark chocolate at all major and local grocery stores or online here at nicobella!

dark chocolate coconut munch

References

Allen, Robin R., LeAnn Carson, Katherine Kwik-Uribe, Ellen M. Evans, and John W. Erdman, Jr. "Daily Consumption of a Dark Chocolate Containing Flavanols and Added Sterol Esters Affects Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Normotensive Population with Elevated Cholesterol." The Journal of Nutrition 138.4 (2008): 725-31. Web.

 

Guest blogger, Carli Barbo, is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in dietetics. She is currently a dietetic intern and graduate student at Georgia State University with hopes to eventually become a registered dietitian. In her free time she likes to try out new recipes, play with her puppy, Sampson, and scoping out Atlanta for new restaurants to try!


Chocolate Flirtation: 9 Reasons You Should Be Enchanted by Dark Chocolate Posted on 14 Feb 10:21 , 0 comments

Chocolate has been an ancient tradition in many cultures for centuries and is often associated with love. One of the first links between chocolate and falling in love was established by the Mayans, who discovered a ritual beverage made from cocoa mixed with water, black pepper, vanilla and spices. Mayan brides and grooms shared the mixture during marriage ceremonies. This eurphoric elixir is also said to be associated with their god of fertility.

Although it’s always “sweet” to receive a delicious box of chocolates from the object of your affection, this treat also has many health benefits. Here are nine reasons why you and your honey should share a little dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day.

  1. Boost brain power: Dark chocolate contains the same type of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea, which have both been shown to boost brain activity. Researchers have found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.
  2. Increase circulation: Epicatechin is a flavanol which has been shown to reduce hypertension, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. How? Epicatechins stimulate nitric oxide production within the body, which dilates blood vessels and reduces blood clots. Researchers have shown a direct relationship between the amount of flavanol-rich dark chocolate and epicatechin levels in the body. More epicatechin equals more antioxidant power.
  3. Eliminate winter cough: Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to relieve cough symptoms by suppressing vagal nerve activity. A cousin to caffeine, but not as potent, theobromine can also help you feel more alert and awake. (Contrary to popular belief, the caffeine content in chocolate is quite low with approximately 26 mg per 1.5 ounces of chocolate compared to 160 mg per 8 ounces of coffee.)
  4. Lose weight: In one research study, those who enjoyed dark chocolate ate 15 percent fewer calories compared to those who ate milk chocolate, and reported feeling fewer cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. Love what you eat and lose weight!
  5. Experience healthy, glowing skin: Flavanoids, natural antioxidants found in cacao, help protect plants from environmental toxins and repair damage. When we consume flavanoid-rich chocolate, those same benefits help our body fight toxins, free radicals and oxidative DNA damage. Chocolate facial anyone?
  6. Alleviate PMS: Craving dark chocolate during certain times of the month? There may be a reason. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral that may help alleviate PMS symptoms, including cramps, water retention, fatigue, depression and irritability.
  7. Lower LDL cholesterol: Studies have shown that subjects who ate about 1.25 ounces of dark chocolate a day had lower LDL levels compared to those who did not. The researchers attribute this to dark chocolates’ potent antioxidant content.
  8. Decrease Stress: Swiss researchers found that subjects who ate dark chocolate when feeling stressed were able to significantly reduce their stress hormones. (By the way, grabbing ice cream or milk chocolate when stressed doesn’t count!)
  9. Make happy babies: Really? Possibly. Women who ate dark chocolate during pregnancy reported that they were better able to handle stress than those who avoided dark chocolate. One Finnish study claimed happier babies of moms who ate dark chocolate during pregnancy.

Although there is no recommended ‘dose’ for dark chocolate, it’s perfectly fine (and, in fact, good for you) to eat a daily 1-1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day. (Remember, choose dark, organic and dairy free as milk protein binds to the healthy components in cacao).

One ounce of dark chocolate from nicobella looks like this:


 


Three of Our Fave Spices for Healing: Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cayenne Posted on 09 Feb 16:59 , 0 comments

Okay, guys, you better get the cinnamon turmeric spice truffles while they last. Not only are they only available for a limited time (from October through March), but I tend to take a secret stash home with each batch that we make. (Yes, like a chocolate dealer who steals from their own stash and loses the profits.)  The ingredients in this super high anti-oxidant truffle were specifically curated to work synergistically to warm, energize and heal you. In addition to the healing benefits below, dark chocolate and cayenne are natural aphrodisiacs making them the perfect pair this Valentine's Day. 

Turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne and chocolate could individually have their own spotlights due to the many healing compounds found within each one. Here are our top three favorite healthy aspects of each of these superfood ingredients:

Turmeric 
Curcumin, the compound in turmeric that gives it its beautiful bright hue, is also responsible for the spice's medicinal properties. 
  • Help prevent Alzeimer's disease-turmeric contains natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaque that slowly obstructs cerebral function in Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alleviate arthritis-Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different compounds that inhibit the enzymes that promote pain, swelling and inflammation. Studies are showing that turmeric supplements may even replace pain medication through its pain-relieving results.
  • Help prevent cancer-There are more than 200 studies showing the anti-cancer effects of either the turmeric or curcumin extract as being just as effective as pharmaceuticals to help interfere with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread.
Cinnamon
The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, containing a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is also the substance responsible for its healing properties. 
  • Regulate blood sugar-Cinnamon has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin regulates blood sugar when working efficiently, and cinnamon helps insulin do its job. 
  • Lowers blood sugar-Cinnamon has also been shown to lower blood sugar after a meal by interfering with the sugar absorption from the digestive tract to the bloodstream, as well as mimicking insulin at the cellular level, creating greater glucose uptake by your cells.
  • Help reduce fungal and bacterial infections-Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection. Cinnamon oil has been shown to fight respiratory infections, bacterial infections, tooth decay and bad breath. (Ditch the Listerine and chew on a cinnamon stick!)
Cayenne
The ultimate metabolic booster, you only need a pinch to get its full effect. Cayenne peppers have a high concentration of capsaicin - the substance that causes their fiery hot sensation.
  • Anti-inflammatory-Capsaicin inhibits substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammation and pain, which is why you may find this ingredient in a lot of topical analgesics used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriasis, and shingles. 
  • Increase Thermogenesis-Cayenne pepper can promote cardiovascular health by stimulating the circulatory system. It may also help to suppress the appetite and increase the burning of body fat. 
  • Boost Immunity-Cayenne is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants. It's abundant in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and vitamin E, which are all powerful antioxidants that can help prevent free radical damage and support immune function.
Dark Chocolate
Okay, you know we can go on and on about our greatest love of all. But we will limit it to three. :)
  • Boost brain power: Dark chocolate contains the same type of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea, which have both been shown to boost brain activity. Researchers have found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t. 
  • Get healthy, glowing skin- Flavanoids, natural antioxidants found in cacao, help protect plants from environmental toxins and repair damage. When we consume flavanoid-rich chocolate, those same benefits help our body fight toxins, free radicals and oxidative DNA damage. Chocolate facial anyone?
  • Increase Nitric Oxide-Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that dilates the arteries, resulting in reduced blood pressure and increased blood flow. It’s not found in food, however certain foods can stimulate nitric oxide production within the body. Cayenne pepper, dark chocolate and beets may all stimulate nitric oxide production. For a pre-workout energy boost, try eating some nitric oxide producing foods.

You can get all of these stimulating, healing and energizing ingredients in one tasty and delicious cinnamon turmeric spice truffle! But since they contain only 45 calories a piece and are power packed with healthy nutrients, we suggest three :).