April 26, 2013

The Season to Sip Smoothies!

Who doesn't love a fresh smoothie? If you're looking for a refreshing snack or a nice cool down during the warmer months, smoothies are a great choice for two main reasons:

  1. Great source of nutrients. All you need for a smoothie are your favorite fruits or veggies, your favorite juice, and/or some sort of dairy base (try it with soy!). Simple as that and you get to use your favorites!
  2. It's easy and convenient. All you need is a blender. Just put your favorite ingredients into your blender and watch it transform into a beautiful smoothie!

With smoothies, there are endless possibilities and it's (usually) hard to go wrong with trying out new flavor combinations. By incorporating such a variety of nutrients, they make a great snack or meal replacement. Smoothies are both refreshing and, given the right ingredients, very healthy for you. Make it a routine in your day, not only for its health benefits, but to also save you time and money that you would have spent otherwise. Have one for breakfast to kick start your day!

Here are a few of our favorite smoothies and their recipes:

For the berry lovers: Berry Good Smoothie

  • 1½ cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup ice cubes

For the “I wish I was on vacation” smoothie sippers: Tropical Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen pineapple pieces
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons coconut

For the health nut: Popeye Smoothie

  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • ½ cup cranberry juice
  • 3 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 10 blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • A few cubes of ice

And to ensure that you’re using the best fruits available this season, check out this awesome and easy-to-read list of fruits by season. Tell us what some of your favorite smoothie recipes are!

April 25, 2013

Cool Foods for Hot Weather

Everyone one has fond memories of summer - picnics, 4th of July parades, beaches, family gatherings, and of course, great food. Perhaps some of the best memories of summer are associated with food. I remember as a child we always had a large garden and one of the fondest memories is walking through the garden, picking and eating fresh veggies. My grandfather, who was a grand gardener said, "the best meal is a walk through the garden with a salt shaker".

Summer – the time of lazy days, warm weather and relaxation. But when it gets so hot that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, no one wants to sweat and cook in the hot kitchen, so what do you eat?

Eating Right in Hot Weather

It's over 90 degrees, what do you fix for a meal? When the heat turns up, your body needs to sweat in order to keep you cool. Thus, you are more likely to get dehydrated quickly. In addition to drinking plenty of water, make sure to stay away from excessively salty or sugary foods, because these will only serve to further dehydrate you, ultimately causing headaches and lethargy.

Especially in the summer when everyone is enjoying hot dogs and hamburgers at a barbeque, make sure to balance out the salt with fruit and veggies, as well as drinking more water than soda. There are many fresh summer fruits and vegetables that will not only make a great salad, but also provide you with enough water to keep you hydrated. In addition, these fruits and vegetables are all very nutritious when eaten fresh. They will provide you with crucial vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling energized and not weighed down by the heat.

Eat This, Not That!

On those days that just call for a picnic, potato salad is always a hit when it is warm outside. If your potato salad has eggs or mayonnaise, use plenty of ice to keep your food cold not only for the taste but for safety against food poisoning/botulism. Veggies and dip are also great at a picnic and are a good substitute for salty potato chips.

Some of the best foods to eat when it is hot are also the best for your health. Foods such as radishes, bell peppers, cucumber, and watermelon are all high in water content, fiber, minerals and vitamins. These will hydrate you as well as give you the nutrients and minerals you need during those hot spells. In addition, they all taste great raw with some veggie dip!

If you are near a stream during your picnic, put your watermelon in the stream and after your picnic lunch a cold watermelon tastes better than any dessert. Have fun this summer, get out and enjoy what nature has for you after having endured a long cold, wet winter.

April 09, 2013

Learning to Eat With a Restricted Diet

Nowadays, when you want a quick healthy meal, what is the first thing that comes into mind? Unfortunately quick and healthy don't always go together so easily. Many Americans think that a healthy meal means a drive for fast food or a stroll down the frozen section. As everyone knows, Americans are among some of the fattest people on the earth. Why is that? Because most Americans are on the "see food diet," meaning they are constantly eating.

This way of life is causing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, joint pain and other ailments. Add to that an autoimmune disease such as Celiac Disease and you have a real problem. What is Celiac Disease? It is when the body cannot process the gluten in wheat, rye, barley and oatmeal and causes the small intestine to not absorb what nutrients are being eaten.

My Experience:

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I thought, "Wow, what can I eat?" To my surprise, there were a lot of gluten free flours as well as cookbooks that help you in making breads as well as whole meals that are gluten free. Within three days after going off of gluten the difference was so dramatic I could not believe it, but you must be careful because one slip up with as little as a 1/8 tsp of gluten and you are very sick. So remember, separate your food from the rest of the family including butter, peanut butter or jam as well as any other item your family may share. While this may be arduous to remember at first, making the change will help a great deal.

Don't Be Discouraged

Just because your diet is relatively limited, it does not mean you will not be able to get the proper balanced nutrients your body needs. Some of the best foods come ready to eat, such as, apples, bananas, oranges, leaf lettuce, broccoli, spinach, etc. It is best to have meals that have no processed foods but are as natural as possible. The best proteins are plant based such as legumes which includes beans, peas and lentils. Lentils are low in fat and high in fiber while meat has both fat and cholesterol. They are also inexpensive in the dry form and there are a lot of cookbooks that will help you make a well balanced meal. Breakfast is the most important meal and should provide you with the highest caloric intake, gradually declining with each meal throughout the day. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.

Unfortunately, removing gluten from the diet is the only way to solve the problem, and in doing so you must read labels constantly. When reading the labels you will find that processed foods may not have gluten, but have large amounts of sodium or sugar which can be harmful as well. By being aware of the contents of your food, however, you will be more conscious of your diet and ultimately become healthier. The best way to eat proper and healthy with a restricted diet is following the saying, "If you don't know, don't eat it." I have found that when I am not sure about a food, but eat it anyway, I usually get sick. Remember you eat to live, not live to eat.

April 08, 2013

Protect Yourself While You're On the Move

Today we all live in an active and mobile society, and whether you're traveling or going about your daily routine, your body runs out of energy which leads to being tired and achy at the end of the day. In addition, the daily wear and tear caused by high impact motions, exercise, and recreation sometimes cause injury and damage to your body. Of all the physical stress our body undergoes throughout the day, our legs seem to carry a lot of that weight. Whether you are active or sedentary, your legs are constantly being affected by your daily activities. Wearing compression socks is an easy way to increase circulation in the lower legs while at work, play or traveling to prevent edema (swelling) and DVT (blood clots). Here are some tips for maintaining healthy legs while you are out and about:

Travel:

When traveling by car it is beneficial to get out of the car every hour to look at the scenery, walk around the car a couple of times taking deep breaths to clear the mind. This will keep you alert while driving. Also stop at the rest stops; besides getting a bathroom break, you can increase circulation in your legs and fill those lungs with air by walking the paths. It will keep you alert on the road and get the wiggles out of those little and big bodies. You will arrive at your destination feeling relaxed and ready for an enjoyable day.

If you are flying, try to get up every hour and walk the length of the plane. Also, while in the seat do figure eight or heel/toe exercises, which will increase the circulation as well as keep the swelling out of the lower leg.

Exercise:

Whether walking, running or cycling make sure you are visible to both foot and motor traffic. Wear those helmets, pads and reflective gear. Running compression socks have neon built in for visibility as well as increased circulation.

Walking is a great light exercise that is good for both your physical and mental health. Compression socks will increase your endurance on longer walks as well as giving you a little spring in your step. Walking with compression socks puts less strain on your muscles and being in the fresh air and sun provides you with Vitamin D; an essential vitamin for healthy skin and happy brains.

 

At Work:

While at work it is very important to wear compression socks especially if you stand or sit most of the day. The compression socks will invigorate your legs with increased circulation. It is also important to get up at least every hour, walk to increase blood flow and give you a bathroom break.


Adding compression socks to your busy daily routine enhances your legs circulation giving you longer endurance and can also prevent possible problems from swelling to DVT. Enjoy getting out this spring and summer knowing you are improving your physical and mental health.

April 04, 2013

Creating a Healthy Workplace

For the average person, a good portion of the day is spent at work. Whether your work environment is indoors or outdoors, quiet or loud, sedentary or always on the move... you're going to be there for a good chunk of the day you so want it to be a place you can feel healthy and happy. Here are some of our tips on ensuring a healthy workplace.

Pack a healthy lunch, and eat it on time

Too often, people get caught up or too busy at work and either disregard eating lunch completely or eat lunch when their day is practically over. Be sure follow a consistent lunch schedule. Lunch is an important meal of the day because around lunchtime you will probably already be feeling a bit sluggish. Reenergize your body and mind with a mid-day meal to keep you going for the remainder of your work day. If you need to, keep a healthy snack nearby for when you need that extra bit of energy during other times of the day.

Keep your work area clean

When you get too caught up or busy at work, not only are you more likely to skip or postpone your lunch; you are also likely to forget about hygiene safety. How many different things do you touch throughout the work day? From a computer keyboard to a door knob, it is unavoidable that germs are everywhere. Make sure to wash your hands regularly and disinfect your computer, phone, and desk periodically. By not keeping a clean work space, you will be making yourself more susceptible to illness (and we all know how much of a hassle it is to be sick for work). Be sure to practice clean habits in your workplace to avoid these things altogether.

Get up and move.

Keeping your legs well circulated will also help to keep your body and mind energized and healthy throughout the work day. Be sure to get up every 30 minutes or so. Take a walk around the office, walk to the printer/fax machine, or get up for a drink of water. Sitting for a long period of time can put your leg health at risk and will also cause you to feel more fatigued during your work day. You may also try doing simple leg exercises while sitting or standing for energy and good circulation or at least stretch your legs out often to keep your blood flowing. Especially if you’re one of many who have swollen ankles at the end of the day, take that as a call for help from your legs. When your legs aren't circulated enough throughout the day fluid and blood gradually pool in your ankles resulting in this swelling. Take care of your legs by stretching or exercising them throughout the day or by wearing a pair of compression stockings to help promote circulation.

Work takes up a lot of our time. Don't let yourself get so caught up or busy with work that you forget to take care of yourself during the day. Keep your mind sharp and your body energized with these tips and you'll notice a more pleasant work day (it may even go by a bit faster).

April 01, 2013

Clutter In Your House is Clutter In Your Mind

Have you ever found yourself staring at a pile of dishes, struggling to muster up the will to just get them clean? Maybe you just tell yourself you'll "let them soak" for a bit so they're easier to wash later. How about the bills, files, and paperwork that are scattered around your work space, which you have come to casually dismiss as "organized chaos"? In reality you could and probably should tidy it up, but you conjure up justifications and excuses, saying that if you needed to you could find what you were looking for. Conversely, how do you feel when you've just cleaned up your entire house and everything is organized? The answer is obvious: you feel great, relaxed, and accomplished.

The fact of the matter is simple: clutter in your life manifests itself in your mind as well, causing feelings of stress, laziness, and eventually guilt. The bad part is that this has a compounding effect; as the clutter builds, so do feelings of being overwhelmed. So how do you manage the messes in your life? Here are four simple steps to get you started:

Make yourself a weekly chore list

Sometimes it's easy to let the mundane chores slip our mind, which is why they usually end up piling up. By making a list and posting it on your fridge or in your room, you are reminding yourself to check on those things regularly. When you’re bored with nothing to do, look at the list; more times than not you will find that there is something that needs to be done.

Break your chores down into manageable chunks.

Sometimes doing multiple things at once is good, but our brains can only simultaneously process so many things at once. Trying to juggle too many tasks at a time will make you feel overwhelmed, ultimately discouraging you from accomplishing anything. Focus on no more than two tasks at a time. Many chores involve waiting around so use that down time to think about what you can do next. While you wait for your laundry to dry, maybe try to tidy up the laundry room or vacuum the area around it.

Create a system for yourself.

Organize your things in a way that is easy for you to access and remember. (But remember, stay away from "organized chaos"). Get filing cabinets and storage containers so you can label where you want to place certain items and keep them there. Streamline your daily routine so that you're not scrambling to gather your things in the morning. Think of your routine as an assembly line, and make a process that is easy for you to commit to memory. Prepare things the night before so you can grab and go on your way out of the door, stress free.

Nip it in the bud: Don't give clutter a chance to build

Sometimes you look at a mess and think to yourself "it's not that bad, I'll take care of it later." However, this is the exact mentality that leads to the compounding effect of clutter. Instead of waiting letting the dishes pile up to a 30 minute task, take 5 minutes to clean them up after every meal. Teach yourself to recognize clutter buildup and take care of it immediately. By taking care of the chores before you let them have a chance of piling up, you create less work for yourself later on, which ultimately means less stress and a more relaxing environment. After all, your own home should be the last thing that is stressing you out.

Remember, everyone has different systems and methods of handling clutter in their life. Regardless of how you do it, the most important thing to note is to not let the clutter psych you out. Your home should be comfortable and relaxing, not stressful. Remember the feeling of accomplishment and relaxation when you've just finished cleaning the house; so long as you use this as your sole motivation, you will be encouraged to never let clutter build again. What are some of your tips for managing clutter? Share them with us!

March 29, 2013

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

National Nutrition Month

The month of March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." But do you know how to eat right? Following a healthy and well balanced diet is crucial in order to supply your body with the proper nutrients it needs. In addition to taking care of your body's health, a balanced diet will also have you feeling better mentally and you’ll have an improved level of energy throughout the day.

Why is it important to have a balanced diet?

Take a look at the food pyramid. You've probably seen it hundreds of times but it's important to understand how the breakdown of the daily values contributes to your overall well-being. Food is not meant simply just to sustain our bodies until we have to eat again, but it is meant to help us develop, grow, and thrive. Our diet is a crucial contributing factor to every single facet of our health, from the very surface of our skin all the way down to our vital organ functions.

Whether you are overweight, underweight or at a healthy weight, having a balanced diet is the first step to achieving, and maintaining your overall health. Providing your body with a balanced diet and cutting out excessive fat, sugar, and salt will help you reduce your risk of disease and even injury. However, eating healthy also supports healthy mental function as well.

Eating right not only helps your body feel great, but your mind as well. When you are eating healthy, you tend to have more energy and feel less lethargic. Though it seems easier said than done, having a healthy diet creates a compounding positive effect that perpetuates itself into a healthy lifestyle. Eating right leads to more energy, more energy leads to more activity, and more activity leads to a positive, happy, healthy you.

Keep in mind, eating a healthy and well balanced diet doesn't mean you have to eat foods that are unpleasant to you. There are plenty of healthy foods available for you to enjoy. Have some variety in your diet; try cooking your foods using different healthy methods or combine your food choices to create something new! What are some of your favorite healthy recipes? Share them with us!

I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

February 27, 2013

Sleep Better, Wake Up Refreshed with A Commonly Missed Daily Ritual

Groggy

Do you find yourself feeling like this guy far too often? Wondering why you just can't sleep well? Sometimes the stresses of a long busy day carry over into your muscles which make you feel tense. The result is a bad nights rest, and a grumpy you in the morning. In addition, it's that much harder to get out of bed because now tense muscles have turned into knots and soreness. Luckily the solution is simple: stretch.

Stretch

What do stretching and flossing have in common? Many people take it for granted and leave it out of their daily routine, thinking that it won't make much of a difference. However, once you start doing it, you realize just how wrong you were initially! Here are three reasons why stretching should be a part of everyone's routine.

Stretching reduces muscle tension and decreases stress and anxiety.

In a sense stretching is a form of meditation because it causes you to focus on breathing steadily, ultimately helping you to relax. Stretch out really well for 20 minutes before bed and you will fall asleep like a baby, and wake up feeling well rested.

Stretching improves your circulation and increases mental alertness.

If you feel groggy in the morning, stretch for 20 minutes to give your body a jump start. By getting the blood flowing, your brain is ready to power up and start the day. Couple this with a balanced breakfast and you’ll be ready to take on anything.

Stretching before exercising decreases the risk of injury.

As we have been taught since grade school, stretching before exercise will protect your crucial ligaments from being strained during activity. After 30 minutes of stretching, your body is more limber and prepared for more rigorous movements performed during exercise.

Try to consciously remind yourself to make stretching a part of your entire day. Stretch right when you wake up, around the post-lunch lull, and right before you go to bed. It only takes a total of 20 minutes and will make a huge difference in sleeping and waking up. Tell us what your stretching routine consists of and what your favorite stretches are!

February 20, 2013

Nutritious and Delicious Foods to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Heart-health

Now more than ever, people are beginning to realize that the secret to being healthy really is no secret. Stay away from the junk, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, etc. etc. It all seems like common sense, yet so many Americans are still developing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Why is it, then, that even with these life-threatening diseases we still choose the big mac over the salad? Well the truth is simple: the junk just tastes so much better. However, I urge you to step outside your over-saturated, oily, and salty confines of what tastes "good," and try to appreciate the foods that are healthy. Many times people think "health food," and they envision wheat grass shots and raw eggs in a blender. However, you'd be surprised by how great these foods can taste when you begin to incorporate them into your meals. Add these common ingredients into your diet today to keep your heart beating strong. A healthy heart is a happy heart.

almonds

Almonds: Less fat than most other nuts, contains good amounts of Vitamin E, Iron & Calcium. Pack a handful or two for a healthy snack to have during your work day.

blackbeans

Black Beans: Healthy source of protein and fiber which lowers blood cholesterol. Add some to your soup or salad of the day to support cardiovascular health.

darkchocolate

Dark chocolate: Cacao has a healthy source of natural antioxidants. Give yourself a piece of dark chocolate, a tasty yet heart healthy treat!

berries

Berries: Support brain and heart function, along with a healthy dose of antioxidants. Try out new smoothie flavors using your favorite berries. Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are some of our top choices!

wholegrains

Whole Grains: Fiber lowers cholesterol and aids in healthy digestion. Add some oats to fruit and yogurt to make a delicious partfait, or start your morning off with a bowl of oatmeal.

salmon

Salmon: Omega 3 fatty acids provide healthy, unsaturated fats. Grilled salmon makes a delicious meal. Top it with a light seasoning or your favorite marinade and a zest of lemon!

soymilk

Soy Milk: Low in calories and saturated fat. Excellent source of lean protein and calcium. Use soymilk with your Whole Grain cereal or in a new favorite fruit smoothie.

greentea

Green Tea: Improves the functions of cells lining blood vessels of the heart. During the cold seasons, enjoy a cup of hot tea during your relaxation time. When the weather gets warmer, try brewing your own iced tea as a refreshing beverage to sip under the sunshine!

leafygreens

Dark Leafy Greens: Great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Chop up some fresh vegetables to toss into a heart healthy salad with a light dressing. Kale, arugula, and broccoli are some of our top choices! Try your vegetables steamed or raw.

Remember that exercise and a healthy lifestyle all contrbution to a healthy heart as well. These are only some suggestions of foods that are great to add into your diet. Being conscious of what goes into your body will benefit you greatly in the long run; your heart will surely thank you for it. What are some of your favorite heart healthy recipes? Share them with us!

February 18, 2013

Choosing Your Favorite Cardio Exercise

cardio-exercises

Exercising should be thought of as something you want to do, not something that you have to do. There are a huge variety of great cardio exercises available so you're sure to find one that will be suitable for your taste! Cardio exercises get you heart rate going and will benefit you in terms of your muscle strength, overall health, and weight. Here is a list of some of the most popular cardio exercises!

Riding a bicycle – Especially when it's a beautiful day outside, riding a bike is one of the most refreshing cardio exercises. Challenge yourself! You'll find yourself gradually increasing your strength and stamina.

Swimming – Whether it's indoors or outdoors, swimming is a great cardio exercise that will get you heart rate going and is a great workout for a number of your body muscles.

Walking/Running – Walking or running workouts are probably the most convenient cardio exercises available. They don't require a gym membership or any fancy machinery. Create a workout music playlist and make it a regular thing to go out for a walk or run through your favorite park.

Elliptical – If you enjoy the treadmill, you will very likely enjoy using an elliptical. This is a popular cardio machine that seems to be a combination between a treadmill and bicycle. While the elliptical is typically used by maneuvering the legs forward, challenge yourself by motioning your legs to go in the opposite direction! You'll feel the burn!

These are only a few of the hundreds of cardio exercise ideas out there. The list can go on and you'll find that cardio can simply be using an exercise machine at the gym, enjoying a sport outside, or even doing regular household chores. Again, anything that gets the heart rate up and the muscles working is a cardio exercise. What are your favorite cardio exercises?