Healthy Living

Why Magnesium Is Important To Your Health

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Magnesium is instrumental to many body functions and necessary for every biological organism, not just humans. Technically, it is an essential mineral nutrient, meaning it’s something the body needs, but it cannot make itself. That means it has to come from a dietary source like food or a supplement. 

This mineral plays a critical role in the brain, heart, and muscle health for humans. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you can avoid magnesium deficiency: 

What Is Magnesium? 

Magnesium is one of several minerals in the body and the fourth most abundant (the first is calcium.) It’s a functional part of muscle movement, heart rhythm, blood sugar levels, protein synthesis, bone formation, and DNA building. 

Having low levels of this essential mineral can lead to weak muscles, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. An estimated 68% of the U.S. population fails to meet the daily requirement, possibly leading to magnesium deficiency. 

Magnesium and Brain Health

Magnesium is a key player in translating messages between the brain and body. Nerves generate electrical impulses to send these messages. If the impulse is strong enough, it activates a receptor that allows it to continue to the next axon, a thin cable that carries the electrical impulses in nerve cells. 

Not all the electrical impulses that travel down an axon are strong enough to move forward, though, which is a good thing. If they were, your brain would be continuously flooded with messages that it doesn’t need. 

Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper for some of these receptors, so impulses that are not strong enough stop before they hit the brain. This way, it prevents nerves from overstimulation that might cause damage. 

Magnesium and Heart Health

Magnesium is critical for maintaining a stable heartbeat. When your heart beats, calcium floods the cells of the heart muscle to cause a contraction. It relaxes when magnesium enters to block the calcium. Calcium and magnesium are natural competitors — when magnesium is present, it blocks calcium. These actions are essential to keep the heart beating. 

Magnesium and Muscle Health

Magnesium plays the role of calcium blocker in all muscle tissue, not just the heart. When calcium enters the muscle cells, it contracts. When magnesium comes in to counteract the calcium, the muscle relaxes. Now, think about how many times your muscles contract and relax every day, and you get an idea of how vital magnesium is to health. 

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How To Tell If You Have Magnesium Deficiency 

Some symptoms of low magnesium levels include:

  • Muscle twitches and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Personality changes

There are also medical conditions sometimes associated with magnesium deficiency, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • Mental health disorders

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium varies by age and gender. On average, adults need between 400 to 420 mg. The older you get, the more you will need.

How to Get Magnesium? 

One of the easiest ways to make sure your body is getting enough magnesium is through diet. Some foods that contain high levels of this important mineral include:

  • Nuts
  • Black beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Chicken breast
  • Broccoli

Even if you eat right, you might still find that you struggle to get the proper amounts of daily magnesium. For you, the answer might be a supplement like a Multivitamin

Some people prefer to rely only on food for their nutrients. With that in mind, you can add minerals to your water using a drink mix and get the same benefits. Dietary supplementation will help you sustain energy throughout the day and the right formula can add delicious flavor to your drink! When choosing a supplement, look for something with all-natural flavors and no added sugar or colors.

Magnesium is a critical part of hundreds of cellular processes in the human body, and many people don’t get enough of it. But don’t worry, it’s easy enough to increase your intake. Simply add some mineral-rich foods to your diet, add a supplement, or both!

4 Great Protein Substitutes For Meat

Woman Enjoys Protein Substitute Chocolate Shake

Everybody needs protein, but not everyone enjoys eating meat. Fare including the usual suspects like beef, chicken, and fish, is among the best sources of protein available.

Just check out the amount of protein in a single serving of the following cooked meats and fish:

  • 3 oz of chicken breast: 13 grams 

  • 3 oz of steak: 23 grams

  • 3 oz of salmon: 21 grams 

All that protein is made up of varying combinations of molecules called amino acids, dubbed the "building blocks of life." Your body really can't function without them and relies on amino acids for everything from repairing tissue to digesting food.

So, does this mean you have to be a meat-eater if you want your body to get all the nutrients it needs to thrive? The answer is ‘No!’ In fact, whatever your reason for exploring non-meat protein substitutes, you'll be pleased to know you have plenty of alternative options. Here are a few simple ones you can start with:

  • Eggs

Like chicken, beef, and fish, eggs are considered a complete protein source. Crack just one open and you'll find six grams of protein inside. If you skip the yolk, you'll still get about 4 grams of protein from just the egg whites. 

Eggs may be a good choice for people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle or simply want to cut back on their meat consumption. Not so good of an option for people with egg allergy, however. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2 percent of kids are allergic to eggs, although most (70 percent) will outgrow the allergy by age 16. There are vegan and plant-based egg alternatives that have similar amounts of protein as well.

  • Plant Protein

Plant-based diets are an integral part of human history, but for several reasons (e.g., ethical, environmental, taste, health) they've become even more popular lately. A 2018 study found that 14 percent of Americans regularly consume plant protein sources, even though the majority of them (86 percent) do NOT consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. 

Replacing some of your calories from meat protein with plant protein can even lower your risk of heart disease and early death, according to a study from Harvard Medical School. In other words, the animal vs. plant debate isn't necessarily an all-or-none choice, and you don't have to swear off meat completely in order to enjoy the health benefits of plant protein. 

One of the most delicious ways to get your plant protein is in a convenient powder that you can mix into water, smoothies, pancakes, baked goods, oatmeal and more. Our delicious plant protein mixes have 13-14 grams of protein and 100-120 calories in every serving — that’s more protein and less calories than half of a chicken breast! 

Other top plant protein options include pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, hemp, spirulina, and quinoa. Like meat, these plants are considered complete protein sources. Additional options include rice, legumes (lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans), and other nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. 

Bowl of Healthy Plant Protein Options

  • Dairy 

Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk also earn a spot on the "complete protein" list. A 16 oz glass of skim milk has a little over 16 grams of protein, while 8 oz of cottage cheese has a whopping 25 grams. 

About 65 percent of people are unable to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy. This explains why so many of us experience uncomfortable symptoms (like diarrhea, gas, and bloating) when we eat dairy products. If dairy intolerance symptoms sound familiar to you, you may consider avoiding this protein substitute. 

  • Soy, Tempeh, and Tofu

Soy and soy-based products like tofu and tempeh are also good sources of plant-based protein. We're mentioning them separately from other non-meat protein substitutes because many people avoid soy due to allergies or other health reasons. (Keep in mind a lot of plant-based protein supplements are made with soy, so if you're trying to avoid this ingredient be sure to look at the label carefully.)

For reference, just one ounce of dried soybeans contains 12 grams of protein. One cup of tempeh (fermented soybeans) contains over 30 grams, and one cup of tofu (soybean curd) has about 20 grams.

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When meat's not on the menu, you'll need to be sure you fill your plate (or shaker bottle) with other good protein sources. Why? Because protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies must get in order to grow, repair, and stay healthy.

Remember, even if you do eat meat and other animal products, consuming plant-based protein offers additional health benefits and may even reduce your risk of certain diseases. So, in addition to non-meat protein substitutes like dairy and eggs, be sure to get more plant protein in your life.

4 Reasons To Pay Attention To Your Gut Health

Woman Taking Probiotics Celebrates Gut Health

We’ve all heard the advice to trust your gut, or listen to your gut instincts. You may have even had a gut feeling deep down inside that you should make one decision, or avoid another. People are always listening to their guts — but are they really paying attention to their gut health? 

The fact of the matter is, your gut can tell you a lot more about your overall health than you may realize. These are just a few of the reasons why your gut health is so important:

  • Your Gut Plays a Key Role in Your Central Nervous System

Often when people think of the nervous system, an image of the human brain comes to mind. However, the gut is actually home to one of the most important elements of the entire nervous system — the Enteric Nervous System, or ENS. The ENS is sometimes called the body's second brain because it contains more than 100 million nerve cells that communicate directly with the brain. The ENS primarily works to aid digestion, and a gut that’s out of balance may not have the ability to maintain a strong ENS.

  • Your Gut Contains Bacteria that Controls Inflammation

Your gut is host to a wide variety of bacteria, and on the surface, that may sound kind of gross. In reality, we need good bacteria in the gut in order to improve digestive health and keep inflammation at bay. Your microbiome, the good bacteria in the gut, protects the walls of the digestive system. When these walls are compromised, we can be at risk for a variety of short-term and long-term complications, including allergies, asthma or Alzheimer's. 

  • A Healthy Gut Results in a Happy Person

You know now that your gut routinely talks directly to your brain, but did you realize that your gut actually produces most of the serotonin that your body needs? When you actively support your gut health, you will find that your body produces more serotonin. 

Serotonin is the hormone that makes you feel happy. In fact, when your gut health is compromised, you may find that you feel more anxious or depressed than usual. Many people who include a probiotic supplement as part of their daily regimen find that they generally feel an improvement to their mood. 

  • Your Gut Controls Your Metabolism

Your gut needs to be in tip-top shape in order to properly digest the food that you eat. When you eat  healthy and exercise, both of which promote gut health, you will be able to have a better handle on your metabolism. You will find that you feel more nourished by the food that you eat, and that you have less cravings. People who support their gut health often feel more energized by their food, and they feel more capable of leading an active lifestyle. Remember, your metabolism is responsible for fluctuations in weight — that means taking control of your metabolism and gut health can help you take control of your weight as well. 

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One way to support positive bacteria in the gut is to take a daily probiotic supplement. Of the five beneficial strains in our probiotic at Life's Abundance, one has even been shown to support overall digestive health, including bowel habits. Further, we’ve included a strain that is native to humans, rather than cows like typical supplements. 

It can be tempting to ignore that little voice inside, but when you pay it some attention, you just may feel like the best possible version of yourself!

Fresh Fruit Delivery From Our Friends: The FruitGuys

Family Using FruitGuys Delivery To Make Juice

If you’re among those who are searching for ways to help others through the tremendous impact coronavirus has had on jobs and businesses, we have a company we’d love for you to meet.

Our friends at The FruitGuys are an amazing bunch of people.  For 22 years they’ve made it their mission to do right by their customers, farmers, the environment, and the communities they serve.  Like us, they are a private Evergreen company working to make lasting change in the world. In short, we’re proud to know them.

Use our exclusive LIFE25 code at The FruitGuys checkout for a 25% discount on your order!

Here’s Where You Come In!

Home Delivery:
The FruitGuys deliver fresh fruit and snacks straight to your home.  You heard that right!  In a time when so many of us are craving fresh, healthy produce and want to avoid a trip to the store, these folks are packing an array of fresh, farm-sourced fruit and healthy snacks, and bringing them straight to you. You can also send a box of fruit to a friend or loved one who doesn’t have access to produce. They deliver nationwide from 15 regional distribution hubs with local farm and supplier relationships. 

Remote Staff Support:
If you’re an employer, consider their Remote Staff Delivery boxes for your staff who are working from home.

Nourish Our Heroes:
You can also contribute to their Fruit for Heroes Campaign, which is supplying hospitals, food banks and other charities with fresh fruit for the people who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. So far, over 111,000 servings of fruit have been donated by people just like you.

Why Now?

The FruitGuys have facilities across the United States and are certified with top scores for food safety by Primus, a 3rd party auditing agency.  In this unprecedented moment, The FruitGuys can safely pack your box of fruit for delivery so that it is both convenient and helpful to you. By trying out The FruitGuys home delivery service, you can help support farmers and staff while getting something you love at the same time!  

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“Lester (CEO of Life's Abundance) and I met through The Tugboat Institute and realized how similar our world views of businesses were.  As both an Evergreen and B-Corp business, we strive to bring delicious fruit and snacks to folks while also helping those in need and small farmers across America.  I love the care that Life’s Abundance gives to their customers and we love to bring that same spirit and support to those who order our fruit.”  

--Chris Mittelstaedt, The FruitGuys Founder/CEO

 More Reasons To Support The FruitGuys:

  • Right now many supply chains are disrupted and it can be difficult to find the fruit that you want from online grocery delivery services or at the store.

  • The FruitGuys share values similar to ours as a people-first business that is in service of your health and happiness.

  • The FruitGuys Community Fund is their nonprofit, founded in 2012, to provide annual grants to small farms and agricultural nonprofits. They fund sustainability projects that have a positive impact on the environment, local food systems and farm diversity. They are about to announce their class of 2020 grantees.

  • The FruitGuys GoodWorks Program makes sure all their excess or imperfect fruit is donated to local food banks and charities each week — they’ve given more than  15 million servings of fresh fruit since 2000!

  • Fruit mixes change each week — check out this week’s local fruit and snack mixes here.

During this time of need, we think it’s important to look out for one another when possible. The FruitGuys are an amazing company that is giving back to communities across the country and truly making a difference in the world. 

Use our exclusive LIFE25 code at checkout for a 25% discount on your order!

5 Fun Family Activities To Do At Home

Family Having A Dance Party At Home

Sometimes an unforeseen event can force you into a home office situation you might not be fully prepared for. When making the transition to working from home, some parents get caught short on one vital thing — how do you entertain the kids?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered — at least for a week! We’ve come up with five weekday activities you can do with the whole family when your kids are home from school — one for each day of the work week:

Monday: Have an ABC Day

Choose a letter and plan the day around that letter. For the letter G, you could eat Granola, drink Greens Blend, play in the Garden, and make drawings of Giraffes (you get the idea!). Set them on a scavenger hunt for things around the house that start with “G”. Keep a list of how many “G” related things you can accomplish in one day. This is a great teaching activity for parents with young ones, but it’s still a fun game for any age!

Tuesday: Grow Fruit Trees & Reuse

This simple project will encourage you to practice your green thumb while teaching kids about seed germination. Save up the seeds from your apples, oranges, or any fruit that you have in the house, along with the cardboard from your toilet paper rolls. Toilet paper rolls make excellent seed starters; they are compostable and can be directly planted into the ground. 

Instructions:

  1. Cut the toilet paper roll in half.

  2. Make four cuts in the roll, 1/3 of the way up.

  3. Fold the cut area on the bottom like you would close a box.

  4. Fill your new seed pots with a light potting soil, plant the seed and pack it down with your thumbs – it's that simple.

  5. Place outside in a sunny spot or inside a window sill and watch it grow!

 Wednesday: Spring Cleaning — But Make It Fun!

If you’re guilty of having a Pinterest board with organization ideas but no time to implement any of the tips and tricks you’ve been saving, this one's for you! Collect all reusable jars in the house and start transferring the contents of your pantry into them. Add a little fun to this project for kids or adults by getting crafty with your labeling. Use an eco-friendly cleaner to wipe down the insides of your pantry once you’ve taken all the contents out!

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Thursday: Dance Party

Create a music playlist for the family and have a dance party! Movement is important for the mind and body, and dancing is a wonderful way to have fun and connect with your family while moving. We love this activity because it’s something you can do even if you are alone — this is your chance to dance like nobody's watching! 

Friday: Start A Book Club

Start a book club with friends and schedule video chats to discuss. Book clubs promote reading, critical thinking and healthy socializing in kids. And with today’s technology, it’s easy to hop on a group video call and stay connected. Keeping up with a book club doesn’t end when they go back to school — this is an activity that can be permanently ongoing! 

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You can tackle these projects in the order your family wants to. Remember, assigning projects to kids at home is a great way to keep them engaged, entertained and finding success when they’re home from school. It also helps keep them on a schedule and gives everyone something to look forward to each day!

 

4 Ways To Support Digestion And Immunity

Woman Gets Probiotics From Eating Yogurt

Gut health has been gaining traction in the health and wellness world, and for very good reason. Gut health affects everything from your immune system, to your weight, to your brain function, so it’s really important to focus on what’s going on in your belly.

More and more research highlights the importance of the healthy bacteria that live in your gut.

Having adequate “good” bacteria has been shown to help regulate the digestive system and help support the immune system. Recent probiotic studies connect proper balances with healthy body weight and brain health too!

Here are four ways you can take steps to support your digestive health, a key to your overall well-being and immunity:

  1. Take a Probiotic daily 
    Think of this supplement as a bit of an ‘insurance policy’ to help make sure that you’re balancing the bacteria in your gut every day, no matter what. Support your digestive health and immune system with our Probiotic Supplement — it has a proprietary 5-strain blend with 25 billion CFUs guaranteed. Plus, it's made in the USA

  2. Add fermented foods to your diet 
    Try adding foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. They begin with a live active culture and are fermented, giving them the benefit of probiotics.

    Man Pours Water To Stay Hydrated

  3. Drink lots of fluids 
    Our bodies need water for skin health, immunity and energy, but also to push things along through digestion. So while we need the bacteria for gut health, we also need the fluids to keep everything moving as it should.

  4. Eat fiber
    Many fibers are considered to be prebiotics. This means that they feed the good bacteria already present in your gut. But different fibers feed different bacterium, so it’s important to get these prebiotics from multiple sources and from a variety of foods.

To ensure a healthy gut, you should take a premium Probiotic supplement for balanced gut health and a supported immune system. You can also include a serving of fermented food each day for extra measure. Once you take gut health into your own hands, you may be surprised how great you feel and become a pro-probiotic fanatic as well!

7 Ways To Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

Brother And Sister Washing Dishes With Eco-Friendly Cleaner

We should always be looking for new ways to be kinder to our planet — a great way to start is by making your own home more eco-friendly!

Having an eco-friendly home will help you contribute to a sustainable environment and also save some money. Every step you take helps reduce your own carbon footprint!

Here are seven ways you can put your home on an eco-friendly track:

  1. Save Water

    It’s time to get serious about saving water! Installing a water meter, checking your place for any leaks, and even just cutting down on shower time are ways to be conscious of your water consumption. A low-flow showerhead can save over 2,000 gallons of water per person each year! Remember: Use only what you need when it comes to water.

  2. Compost Food Waste

    Don’t waste your leftovers — turn your kitchen scraps into compost. Consider investing in a compost bin or building your own to start composting food waste. After breaking down kitchen scraps you will be left with rich fertilizer for your garden and a lot less food waste. Plus you’ll make insects such as worms very happy!

  3. Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

    Harmful chemicals are not only bad for the environment, they can be dangerous if you have pets or kids in your household. Luckily there are eco-friendly cleaners designed with kid and pet safety in mind. Check out our eco-friendly cleaners that are safe for the whole family, including our Bio-Base Floorwash and Bio-Base Biodeodorizer Spray.

    Man Mops Floor With Eco-Friendly Floorwash

  4. Proper Insulation and Ventilation

    If you are a homeowner, maintaining the temperature inside your house is crucial to energy management. The latest in insulation and ventilation helps keep your home’s temperature steady during all seasons, eliminates energy waste and saving you money in heating and cooling costs each year.

  5. Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

    This is a simple one — investing in energy efficient light bulbs isn’t very costly and they use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer, which means you don’t have to replace them as often. It’s a no-brainer — save some cash and energy at the same time!

  6. Buy Recycled Items

    Try to buy recycled products whenever you can. From toilet paper to paper towels and napkins, you can find almost any paper-based household product made with recycled materials. You can even buy recycled technology, such as cell phones and video game consoles.

  7. Install Solar Panels

    While it’s a long-term investment, solar panels are an essential feature for an eco-friendly home. Solar panels provide clean electricity — and in many cases you can generate enough energy to sell some back to the electric company. Deciding to install solar is a long-term financial investment. The big upside here is that at a certain point you will break even and be free from continuing to pay your utility every single month. Hands down, solar is one of the best ways to make your home eco-friendly.

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Here at Life’s Abundance, we are focused on reducing our own carbon footprint everyday. Our Florida headquarters is solar powered, our Texas warehouse will be powered by wind, and we’re constantly implementing more sustainable practices throughout our business. Thanks to these initiatives along with our tree planting program we are a climate positive company. Customers are a big part of this impact too. For each skin care product purchased another tree is planted!

Do you have other great ideas for eco-friendly living? Share them in a comment below.

Bored of Water — Stay Hydrated With These Tips

Little Girl Drinking Healthy Juice

Do you know someone who says, “I’m tired of drinking water!” Maybe you even feel that way yourself. Getting past your taste buds can be a challenge, especially if you're not sure where to turn for healthy alternatives.

Whether we like the taste of water or not, hydration is an essential part of our health. Many people experience symptoms of dehydration and have no clue their body is craving water. Here are some telltale signs that you may be suffering from dehydration:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dark, yellow urine

While these are the first signs of dehydration, they can get worse over time. If your dehydration is not addressed, you may experience more serious symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, sunken eyes, fainting, dry skin and lack of energy.

Woman Bored of Drinking Water

How to fight dehydration

While flavored waters can be appealing, typically they include undesirable ingredients like artificial colors, flavors, and sugar.

A tasty way to enjoy water is with our Minerals and Antioxidants mix. Instead of a sugar crash from other “healthy” drink brands, our mix delivers a delicious boost of sustained energy from a blend of superfruits and sea vegetables with no added sugars, flavors or preservatives.

Here are some other foods you can try out that will help keep you hydrated:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Oatmeal
  • Juice
  • Soup
  • Coconut water
  • Yogurt
  • Popsicles

Don’t let the taste keep you from proper hydration. Without it, you won’t be able to function at 100% and it could even impact your long-term health.

Staying hydrated is a simple but important step to putting your health first. Put some of these healthy and tasty solutions to work for you and benefit from their nutritious qualities!

Popular 'Fruit' Drinks For Kids Found To Be Unhealthy

Girl Shares Unhealthy Kids Drink With Woman

Parents around the country are always trying to make sure their children are eating a nutritious diet — that’s why it was so shocking when an eye-opening new study revealed their kid’s favorite seemingly-healthy drinks are loaded with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Researchers analyzed 34 sweetened kids' drinks and found that two-thirds contained no juice, but images of fruit appeared on 85% of the packages, according to a new report from the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Packaging with pictures of fruit and other nutritional claims have left both parents and kids thinking these drinks contain fruit and sources of nutrition. In reality, many kids end up consuming more than the recommended amount of daily added sugar.

“Labels on drinks are confusing and misleading, causing parents to think they are providing their children a healthy drink when in actuality they are not,” said Natalie Muth, MD, pediatrician and representative of the APP. “The American Academy of Pediatrics is alarmed that children consume so much added sugar.”

According to the study:

  • Sugary drinks make up about one-half of all added sugar consumed by children.
  • Fruit-flavored juice drinks with added sweeteners are the most common sugary drink consumed by young children, toddlers and preschoolers.
  • One serving of 11 of the top fruit drinks had more than 50% of the recommended amount of daily added sugar for children.

“I know that parents want their children to be healthy, but the sweetened drink market is just incredibly confusing to parents,” said lead author Jennifer Harris, the principal investigator for the study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Unhealthy Drinks For Kids On Production Line

Many popular kids’ drinks in the country contain 0% juice while plastering images of fruit on their labeling and advertising. Making a switch to something healthy seems like a simple choice, but kids will be demanding a flavorful alternative beyond the pediatrician-recommended options of water and milk.

If you are looking for a tasty replacement for the sugary drinks in your family’s life, look no further than our Minerals & Antioxidants drink mix. Meant for use as a dietary supplement, it’s packed with electrolytes, amino acids and other nutrients from a blend of nutritious sea vegetables and superfruits. With delicious Cherry and Tropical Fruit flavors, the kids will never know! As with all Life’s Abundance products, it does not contain any added sugar or artificial flavors. There are even fun recipe ideas to try, like Mango Tropsicles. As always, consider talking to your family physician before introducing new supplements.

The next time you are in the ‘juice’ aisle at the store being bombarded by vibrant packaging and maybe even your kid’s pleas, remember this study and feel confident in your decision to skip the sugary kids' drinks.

Creating Healthy Comfort Food With Added Nutrition

Family Making Comfort Food Together

For years, parents have been figuring out ways to sneak nutrition into meals, creating healthy comfort food for a generation of kids who didn’t know their brownies had actually been spiked with veggies.

And that’s a good thing! Food doesn’t have to necessarily taste healthy in order for it to be good for you. From gooey side dishes to decadent desserts, we all have our go-to dishes when we just need a little comfort.

Here are some popular meals that adults and kids agree are delicious — with a few tricks to boost their nutritional content:

Mashed Potatoes

We all know there’s nothing better in the world than a pile of velvety-soft mashed potatoes, layered with butter, milk and perhaps, a bit of sour cream. But you don’t have to take out any of your favorite ingredients. Instead, try adding mashed cauliflower to make some healthy comfort food. Cauliflower blends smoothly with the flavor of the potatoes and is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Casseroles

Lasagna, green beans, cheesy hash brown breakfasts — there are so many delicious casseroles out there! The only problem with them is they tend to be weighed down by a lot of cheese, carbs and fats (of course, that’s what makes them comforting and delish).

But did you know that you can doctor up your casseroles with plenty of healthy ingredients to make them both palatable and healthy? Some examples include using steamed fresh veggies instead of canned, brown rice instead of white, whole-grain pasta and low-fat sour cream or milk.

“A casserole gives you an opportunity to mix a whole bunch of cancer-protective foods in a single dish,” said Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research to WebMD. “It’s a way to combine beans, whole grains and vegetables.”

Healthy Dinner Casserole

Ground Flaxseed Meal

An easy way to get a little more fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet is by adding ground flaxseed meal to your food. There are plenty of ways to add a teaspoon here and there — try putting it in your meatloaf, baked goods or oatmeal.

It also tastes great (and by that, we mean undetectable) in an old lunchbox staple, the peanut butter sandwich. Just plop a spoonful in the peanut butter, stir it up … and voila!

Desserts

There’s many ways to make desserts a little more nutritious without losing the treat factor. Have you ever tried adding pureed carrots and spinach to a brownie mix?

One simple way to add protein to your dessert is to slip in some vanilla or chocolate plant-protein powder. You can add this to a milkshake, pumpkin pie or a batch of cookies for a sweet flavor boost that’s as good for you as it tastes.

We’re always sharing recipes for sweet, nutritious treats. Check out our recipes for Vegan Berry Nice Cream, Angel Food Cake, and Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies at home today!

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Remember — watch your serving size, eat a variety of foods and remember that treats, even comfort foods, should be enjoyed and not fully avoided. The key is moderation. Bon appétit!