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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greens: The Powerhouse of Nutrition

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Here are some of my favorite greens-I tend to add one or two different ones every week to add variety to my diet.  Try to buy organic whenever possible!!  

Power Greens: Spinach, Kale, Chard, Carrots

a) Spinach: Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Because it’s high in fiber and very low in calories, spinach can help you manage type 2 diabetes and is a terrific addition to any weight loss plan. It's also packed with nutrients — it's a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Spinach contains very high amounts of potassium and vitamin K, two nutrients that may help preserve bone health. The iron and B vitamins in spinach help maintain strong, healthy hair and a healthy circulatory system.

b) Kale: Kale is a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable from the cabbage family, similar to collard greens. Because it’s a high-quality carb and very low in calories, kale can help you manage type 2 diabetes and is a terrific addition to any weight-loss plan. It's also packed with nutrients: It's a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. The calcium and potassium in kale help keep your bones and teeth strong and may prevent PMS symptoms. Kale is also high in the anti-inflammatory antioxidant quercetin, which protects against arthritis and memory loss, as well as riboflavin, a B vitamin that may protect against migraines. In addition, it is a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

c) Chard: Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that tastes somewhat similar to spinach and can be prepared the same way. It is a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Swiss chard also contains magnesium and potassium, minerals involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. In addition, magnesium is also helpful for individuals who experience migraines or PMS. Vitamin K in Swiss chard may prevent bone fractures.

d) Carrots (ok, not a green, but it's in my mix, so I'll share their benefits too) Carrot is one of the most healing foods that provides the finest and highest quality in nutrients, especially from its juice. It is an excellent source of pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6.  It is rich with biotin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, organic sodium and some trace minerals. Carrot greens/tops CAN be eaten. It is very rich with potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and protein. Potassium is a key mineral in our body, thus high consumption of it keeps all the organs in our body in tip-top condition. The known phytonutrients in carrots are lutein, lycopene, anti-oxidants alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, zeaxanthin and xanthophyll. You don’t need to remember these fancy names, but just remember that phytonutrients are nature’s marvelous provision for healing of various diseases.

Watercress:

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery flavor and is often added to salads or used on top of sandwiches. It is a good source of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may prevent and manage arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Watercress is also a good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

Dandalion: Folk medicine claims the dandelion plant is a powerful healer, used to purify the blood, settle digestion and prevent piles and gall stones, among other maladies. The fact is the greens of the humble dandelion provide 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which may be the most important source of any other plant-based food to strengthen bones, but may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuron damage in the brain. Dandelion greens also give the body 112 percent of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A as an antioxidant carotenoid, which is particularly good for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. A flavonoid called zeaxanthin protects the retina from UV rays, while others, primarily carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, protect the body from lung and mouth cancers.  Dandelion greens are high in fiber, which helps your body shed waste. These greens also contain vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. Other nutrients present in dandelion greens include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.

Other Favorites:

  • Arugula: Arugula (also known as rucola and rocket) is a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable with a peppery taste and is often used in salads. It is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. Arugula may help boost memory due to phytochemicals — antioxidants found in all cruciferous vegetables. Like other salad greens, arugula is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan.

  • Collard Greens: Collard greens are a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable from the cabbage family, similar to kale. They are a good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant precursor to vitamin A that can help prevent and manage arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Collard greens are also a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures. In addition, collard greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may prevent macular degeneration.

  • Endive: Endive is a bitter leafy vegetable that is often used in salads or eaten as a side dish. There are multiple varieties of endive, including Belgian endive, escarole, and curly endive (frisée). Like other greens, endive is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan. Endive is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. It is also a potent source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.
  • Escarole: Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that can be used in salads or eaten as a side dish. Like other salad greens, escarole is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan. Escarole is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. It is also a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures. 

  • Lettuce: There are various types of lettuce, but all of them are leafy green vegetables and are low in calories, making them a terrific addition to any weight-loss plan. Some types of lettuce, such as romaine, green leaf, red leaf, bibb, and butterhead, are good sources of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and quercetin, which help prevent arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Lettuce is also a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. In addition, all lettuce varieties contain vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

  • Mustard Greens: Mustard Greens are a leafy green vegetable that come from the mustard plant and have a pungent, peppery flavor. They are a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Mustard greens also contain folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, enhance memory, and improve mood, as well as vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

  • Radicchio: Radicchio is a leafy vegetable with a bitter taste. It is often added to salads or braised like cabbage for a side dish. It is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. Radicchio also contains vitamin E and lutein, antioxidants that help maintain healthy eyes and skin.


  • Turnip Greens: Turnip greens are a leafy green vegetable that come from the tops of turnip bulbs and can be added to salads or sautéed and served as a side dish. They are a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Turnip greens also contain folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, enhance memory, and improve mood.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

15 Ways to Spice Up Brown Rice

Brown Rice for Weight Loss Study 1
Replacing white rice with brown rice can have a significant impact on weight loss efforts. Whole-grain foods like brown rice have a low glycemic index, and according to a 2006 study, low glycemic index foods are most effective for weight loss. The study suggested that dietary glycemic load, and not only just overall calorie intake impacts weight loss and  blood glucose levels after eating. The researchers found that moderate reductions in glycemic load seem to boost the rate of body fat reduction.
Brown Rice for Weight Loss Study 2
In another study to determine the blood glucose response after eating a meal of ten healthy and nine type 2 diabetes participants  to brown rice in comparison to white rice, the total sugar released in vitro was 23.7 percent lesser in brown rice compared to white rice, thus decreasing the risk of weight gain. In healthy participants, the glycemic index and glycemic area were 12.1 percent and 19.8 percent  lesser in brown rice compared to white rice, whilst in diabetics, the values were 35.6 percent and 35.2 percent lesser.
Brown Rice for Weight Loss Study 3
In a study of forty overweight women between 20 and 35 years of age that were randomly divided into 2 groups who consumed meal replacements containing either white rice or mixture of brown rice and black rice, it was concluded that replacing meals with  mixed rice was superior to white rice for weight control, and improved antioxidant enzyme activity, and as such, should be recommended for diet therapy in obese women.
Brown rice is a fantastic source of magnesium, manganese, iron, selenium, as well as the vitamins B3, B6, B2 and B1. Brown rice is a great source of protein, dietary fiber, and also gamma-oryzanol.


15 Ways To Spice Up Your Brown Rice Infographic

10 Diet Traps & How to Avoid Them

10 Common Diet Traps Infographic

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How to get fit by exercising LESS

photo credit from the thegoodista.com

Here are some simple steps to get fit by exercising LESS!


1. Exercise every day.
Not 3-4 times a week. Not every-other-day. Exercise every day. If not, you’ll tire yourself out deciding when to skip and when to workout. If you commit to doing something every day, you don’t have to take that extra step of deciding “yes” or “no.”
2. Keep it short and sweet.
Thirty minutes every day? Totally achievable!
(For 30 minute workout suggestions, CLICK HERE)
3. Mix it up.
Back when we were cave people, one day was spent wandering for hours looking for berries while the next was spent sprinting away from a tiger. Hopefully you're not being chased by tigers today, but much like our cave-dwelling ancestors, our bodies are programmed to move in many different ways.
Switching up your exercise every day not only keeps you from getting bored with any one thing, it’s also totally natural.
4. Eliminate obstacles.
Even those of us with the best intentions often find ourselves distracted by everyday obstacles when it comes to daily exercise.
My solution? Set my workout clothes out the night before next to my bed, wake up, drink some water, eat a pre-made snack (or just have some fruit), and do my workout at home before everyone else wakes up or get out to the gym within 15 mins tops! No checking Facebook, emails, no laundry, no dishes, no nothing. 

This approach avoids all barriers to just getting started or out the door and doing it, the most important first step you can take.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Super Busy? 8 Tips to Stay Healthy & Fit


It can be difficult with your job, family and other outside obligations to find time, but you can succeed finding that balance between family life, work life, and still stay healthy!  
Here are some ideas I've personally found useful in my own life:
1. Bring your meals with you to work and school.
This saves time, money and inches on your waist! It's only a hassle to do this the first week of starting the new routine. After that, it becomes second nature. If you've planned an evening study session with a group of other students, or have other nighttime obligations, pack go-to snacks like chopped veggies, handheld fruits, a small amount of trail mix, etc.
Bulk cook and prep on the weekends for your breakfasts and/or lunches. Having Tupperware containers full of salads and breakfast casseroles is a big win for a successful week of eating! Most foods will stay fresh for several days in the fridge. Dedicate one or two hours every weekend for bulk cooking, and you'll be thankful you did.
3. Make the crockpot your dinner date.
Whether you're single or you have an entire family at home to cook for, a slow cooker is a true lifesaver. Every single day that I go to school and work, I prepare a crockpot meal before I head out of the front door. I place pre-chopped onions at the bottom of the crockpot, layer with pre-sliced mushrooms, add a bunch of frozen grass-fed meat, add spices on top of the meat, throw in some frozen or fresh vegetables, and consider adding a can of organic tomato sauce or broth of some sort. That's it. That's the recipe to successful dinners during stressful times!
4. Consider mixing it up with smoothies and shakes for breakfast.
Tossing water, protein powder, raw kale, spinach, and berries into a blender takes all of 20 seconds. It takes 20 seconds to rinse out the blender when you're done too. I know this because I've pretty much stopped eating solid foods for breakfast these days and enjoy a quick protein shake instead. Less clean up, less time, just as filling and healthy!

5. Limit your consumption of booze.
Many people turn to alcohol to relax during stressful situations because it's the easiest thing to use for comfort besides food. Drinking on a regular basis will lead to constant brain fog, lethargy and forgetfulness. How is that helpful?
6. Schedule fitness as a priority.
At this point, you may already be using to-do lists and calendar schedules to keep everything in your life straight. Go ahead and add appointments for your fitness routines. I've personally noticed that no matter how much I enjoy working out, it's the first thing to fall by the wayside if I don't make it a priority.

7. Talk with a mentor, coach, or counselor once or twice a month.
It's amazing to have an unbiased person to help guide you in life, especially during stressful times. You might not feel like you have the time to schedule in a session to talk to someone for one or two hours a month, but believe me, you do.
It doesn't have to be someone you pay $200 an hour to see. Sharing your current stresses with someone can take a huge weight off your shoulders. In most cases, you'll also receive feedback from them on blind spots and strategies to improve your circumstances.

8. Re-evaluate your current priorities and extracurricular activities.
You can't be everything to everyone, and you're no good to anyone if you're worn too thin on time. Pick your battles wisely. This also goes for physical fitness endeavors. When you're incredibly busy, it's probably not the best idea to train for a triathlon or hike the highest mountain summit nearest you.
The time and physical energy required to do this kind of training will certainly take away from time with friends and family, and add stress to your life that you may not be capable of handling for very long. Save these adventures until school is out for the summer.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cheap Sources of Protein for the Budget Conscious



Looking for the best source of high-protein foods? The choices are easy—lean red meat, poultry, fish and organic soy are among your best bets. Throw cost consideration into the mix, however, and suddenly things become less obvious. In these tough economic times, a thick cut of filet mignon is not an everyday option for most people. You just need to find less expensive protein sources to include as a regular part of your diet. I've put together a list of protein-packed sources that won't put you in the poor house. 
EGGS
Loaded with high-quality protein and cheap, eggs certainly deserve mentioning. Just one egg provides 6 grams of protein (11% of the daily value). The composition of vital amino acids, branched chain amino acids and glutamic acid make egg protein the ultimate source for helping your muscles recover after a workout. Cost: For less than $2.00 you can get a dozen eggs, which will give you a whopping 72 grams of protein--now that's a deal. And for about a buck and a half more you can go organic for an even healthier protein option. Value: 36 grams/dollar
CANNED TUNA
If you still want your meat, (and its high protein content) but can't afford the stuff behind the seafood or meat counter, here's your best option. A single, five-ounce can of tuna yields almost 30 grams of protein. However, studies have shown that mercury found in tuna can be harmful to your health. According to the FDA you can safely eat 5.6 ounces of Albacore tuna per week and 16.4 ounces of light tuna. Cost: Tuna is definitely among the cheapest of all lean protein sources. If you don't mind the chunk light (aka dark meat) you can get it for under $1.00 a can. Upgrade to the higher quality solid white tuna and you're looking at about $1.50. Whichever you choose, you'll be sure to get to your daily amount of protein. Value: 30 grams/dollar
PEANUT BUTTER
According to the peanut institute, the peanut contains more plant protein than any other legume or nut. It may not match the amount of protein in a giant turkey leg, but at eight grams per serving it provides an economical way for those on a shoestring budget to get their fill. Cost: On average, an 18-oz. jar of peanut butter will set you back about $3.00. For an extra $2.00, consider almond butter. It has a higher-quality protein than peanut butter and is less allergenic. Value: 38 grams/dollar
WHEY
Perhaps the most cost-effective method to increase protein in your diet, whey provides the body with the ideal amino acid profile for muscle building, strength and recovery. Because whey is also fast digesting, it's well suited as a post-workout nutrition source when your body needs a quick fix of protein. However, because whey protein is isolated from whey, it contains lactose--the natural sugar found in dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, your body will likely be unable to metabolize the lactose and show signs of allergies. Cost: For the average price of $30, you can get a 2-lb. container of 100% whey protein powder. It doesn't get much cheaper than that for one of the purest protein sources available. Value: 23 grams/dollar
BEANS
Everyone knows beans are typically low in cost and high in nutritious fiber, but they're also loaded with protein. Depending on the type of bean, protein amounts range from about 15 to 25 grams per cup. So chose the ones you like and go to town. One pitfall, if you've ever seen the movie Blazing Saddles, or have been in a poorly ventilated room with a bunch of guys after a barbecue, you know the potent effect beans can have on the digestive system. Cost: Super cheap. A can of protein-rich, black beans for example goes for about a buck in most supermarkets. Add another buck if you want to go organic. Value: 26 grams/dollar

PLAIN GREEK YOGURT

With twice as much protein as regular yogurt, this European version is the smarter choice. While one eight-ounce cup of plain, low-fat yogurt will get you 11 grams of protein, the same size Greek yogurt will give you about 20 grams of protein. Plus it's richer, fattier (the good fat), more nutritious and lower in sugar. Cost: Going Greek with your yogurt is going to cost you more than regular yogurt, but for an average of $2.00 for a single six-ounce serving it's still a great deal and deserving of a spot on this list. Value: 7.5 grams/dollar
TEMPEH (ORGANIC ONLY)
Tempeh is the most nutritious of all soy products. Just 4 ounces of this fermented food provides 41% of the daily value for protein and only 3.7 grams of saturated fat. As an added advantage, the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Cost: At about $3.50 per serving it's a bit higher-priced than the other items on our list, but still a great value for a superior source of high quality protein. Value: 6 grams/dollar

Protein Winter Squash Waffle Recipe

Ingredients
1/2 cup roasted acorn or kabocha squash squash, mashed
1/2 cup egg whites
3 TB unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 scoop Vanilla Vegan or Whey Protein Powder
1 TBS PB2 Powder
1/3 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch salt
TOPPING
1 TBS roasted winter squash (kabocha or acorn)
1TBS Vanilla Whey or Vegan Protein
1 tsp. PB2
1/2 TB unsweetened almond milk
How to Prepare
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut an acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and roast squash approximately 45-60 minutes, or until browned and fork tender (this can be done in advance of making the waffles, even the day before).
2. Let squash cool and scoop out flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.
3. Combine acorn squash mash, egg whites, almond milk, and extract in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (except for topping ingredients) and blend until smooth. If batter is too thick, add additional almond milk 1 tsp. at a time until batter consistency is reached.
4. Spray a preheated waffle maker at medium-high heat with non-stick cooking spray.
5. Pour batter until the waffle maker is ¾ full. Cook until waffle maker signals it is ready. Repeat this process until all batter is used. Note: the number of waffles this recipe yields will depend upon the size of your waffle maker. Just note that the recipe nutritionals are for 2 servings.
6. While the waffles are cooking, combine all topping ingredients and mix together until smooth. Place half of the topping onto each serving of waffles. Enjoy!
Option: Sprinkle with stevia (or your preferred sweetener) for added sweetness
(Slightly modified from FitnessRx Recipe)