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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. 
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
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
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
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
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


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 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

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
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)

How Stevia May Help Lower Your Blood Sugar

Stevia is an all-natural herb from South America that’s used as a healthier sweetener. Unlike refined sugar and other natural sweeteners, stevia does not raise blood sugar and does not contain any calories. (1)
Pure stevia in its natural form also contains no chemicals or artificial ingredients like other artificial sweeteners. The leaves of the stevia plants are 200-300 times sweeter than sugar (depending on how it’s processed into a sweetener) and contain no sugar alcohols unlike other alternative sweeteners such as xylitol or erythritol.
But is stevia all it’s cracked up to be? Apparently so, according to various research studies that shows the herb isn’t just incredibly useful for sweetening coffee and tea. It’s also pretty helpful for lowering your blood sugar levels. (1)

How Stevia May Help Lower Your Blood Sugar

A research study in Brazil found that after taking pure stevia extract every six hours for three days, individuals showed a remarkable reduction in blood glucose levels. (2)
Another study detailed by Metabolism Journal showed that individuals who took stevia after a meal had 18% lower blood glucose levels than those consuming a sweetener from corn. The authors of the study states, “Stevioside reduces postprandial blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetic patients, indicating beneficial effects on the glucose metabolism.” (1,3)
This is good news for those with diabetes looking for a better alternative than artificial sweeteners that contain harmful chemicals. Glucose intolerance is a risky health issue for anyone whether they have diabetes or not. It can lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypoglycemia, and/or diabetes. (4)
The benefits of stevia for blood sugar come from the herb’s natural compounds known as steviosides. Stevia has even been found helpful to lower blood pressure and as well as better digestion. (1)

What’s the Best Stevia to Buy?

It’s important to know that not all stevia products are the same. Many include fillers such as maltodextrin, dextrose, sucrose (sugar), or insulin, a pre-biotic fiber used as an inexpensive sweetener. You can use stevia for baking, add it to beverages and dishes of all kinds, or use it in anything you would use with another type of sweetener. It is sold in liquid form, powdered form, and in dried leaf form. (5)
Though it’s generally considered safe, not enough research has been performed on stevia to determine its long-term benefits of side effects. (5)
Sources for this article include:

Fitness Equals Better Academics in Children

Evidence is mounting that fit kids perform better than their unfit peers on a variety of learning tasks.

In a study conducted recently at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, researchers evaluated children as they performed reading and language comprehension exercises while wearing electrode caps. Fitness levels varied among the children, and these devices allowed the scientists to evaluate brain activity.

“Children who are physically fit have faster and more robust neuro-electrical brain responses during reading than their less-fit peers,” the researchers concluded.

Study author Charles Hillman, PhD, professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release, “Our study shows that the brain function of higher fit kids is different, in the sense that they appear to be able to better allocate resources in the brain towards aspects of cognition that support reading comprehension.” He added, “Now, whether that difference is caused by fitness or maybe some third variable that affects both fitness and language processing, we don’t know yet.”

More research is recommended to determine the underlying mechanisms for the links between fitness and healthy brain function.

The study appeared in Brain and Cognition (2014; 87, 140-52).
Repost from IDEA FIT

Sunday, October 19, 2014

7 Tips To DeBloat Your Belly Tonight

1) Slow Down
Eating too quickly can cause air to be trapped in your system, so chew slowly to minimize bloating caused from getting too much air trapped in your system.
2) Drink More Water
Good old H2O helps flush out toxins and extra salt (which can be responsible for that puffy feeling) from your system, so remind yourself to drink more water throughout the day. Keeping a water bottle with you at all times is a great way to ensure you're always filling up.

3) Check Portions
The reason you're feeling full and bloated could be your portion sizes. If you find that you're constantly feeling stuffed after a meal, this may be the reason for the bloat too!  If portion control is a factor for you, try a program like the FIX

4) Skip Happy Hour
Whether it's a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail at happy hour, that drink can make you feel bloated for many reasons. Not only can the alcohol cause digestion issues, but all that sugar in your fruity drink can make you feel sluggish as well. Not only that, those drinks can lead to deep-fried decisions when dinnertime rolls around. Keep temptations away by skipping out on happy hour or sticking to noncarbonated water with lemon.
5) Skip the Dessert
 Fatty, sugary foods can cause bloating, as can foods high in artificial sweeteners. Skip the carb-heavy, sugary desserts, and go for fresh fruit, which is high in fiber and water, to help you debloat.
6) Drink a Debloating Tea
Spices like cinnamon and ginger help clear out your system, so have a mug of debloating tea before you go to bed. Mint tea can also help soothe your stomach, so opt for that if you need a refreshing end to your dinner.

7) Get to Sleep on Time
Sleep helps regulate your metabolism, so lack of sleep can make you feel sluggish in more ways than one. Keep your body working at its best by ensuring you get seven to nine hours of sleep at night.

Another helpful tool I use monthly:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Liver: Fat Burning & Overall Health

The LIVER: your most important fat burning organ! |

Proper liver function is critical for a healthy body. The liver performs over 400 functions, but the most important job being to filter toxins and waste from the blood. After the liver filters the blood, it transforms the toxins into substances to be excreted out of the body via the kidneys (urine) or dumps them in the bile duct to flow into the digestive system and out the body in feces (in a healthy liver with good bile flow).

If our liver does not have the nutrients to do its job of filtering the blood, and transforming toxins into safe substances to send out of the body, it gets backed up and sluggish. Toxins are NOT able to leave the body, and are stored in adipose tissue (fat tissue) where they will stay until liver function improves, and they can be released safely! Another common problem is sluggish/stagnant bile flow. The liver dumps toxins into the bile (bile duct is a river for toxins to move out of the body) and when it gets too thick, the toxic matter can’t flow out of the body quick enough (leading to fatigue, low energy, constipation, PMS, toxicity & disease)!
So how is your liver functioning supporting your body’s fat burning abilities? If you suffer from any of the following, your liver & gallbladder might be trying to tell you something!
  • History of alcohol/drug use or hepatitis
  • Long term prescription drug use
  • Sensitive to chemicals (tobacco smoke, fumes, perfume, cleaning agents, etc.)
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Stomach upset by greasy foods
  • Greasy or shiny stools
  • History of nausea, motion sickness, or morning sickness
  • Light or pale colored stools
  • Headache over the eyes
  • Gallbladder attacks
  • Bitter taste in the mouth (especially after meals)
  • Become sick or easily intoxicated if drinking wine
  • Easily hung over
  • Pain under right side of rib cage
  • Hemorrhoids or varicose veins
  • NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption
  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
    ***Most often liver stress is a result of a protein deficiency, poor digestion, low nutrient diet, that allows an increased toxic burden to build up.
Fat burning is not a priority for a liver under stress. Strengthen your liver to support your body’s fat burning abilities through proper nutrition of whole, unprocessed foods! 

Liver Clipart: Altered and used with permission from Microsoft.
Weatherby,  Dicken. “Liver and Gallbladder.” Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Nutritional Therapy Association, 2004. Print.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Easy Sugar-Free Pumpkin Butter Recipe (Organic & Vegan)

After trying this recipe, you'll never buy a sugar filled pumpkin butter again...WHY?  Because it's so easy, only FOUR ingredients and takes little time to prepare!


1 Can of Organic Pureed Pumpkin (Plain)
1-2 tsp Pumpkin Spice (I like a lot)
Stevia (Sweeten to your liking--may also use a mix of Stevia & Erythritol, Like Natural Made)
1/4 Cup Brewed Celestial Seasoning Apple Cinnamon Spice Tea


Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over med-low heat till boils, then simmer for 5-10 mins till it looks shiny & thickens a bit in texture.

THAT'S IT!  So simple--watch my 15 sec video below!