Healthy Living

How To Eat A Plant-Based Diet On A Budget

Woman Eating a Plant Based Diet on a Budget

While just a decade ago it was tricky and costly to go vegan or vegetarian, it’s much easier today to embrace a healthy plant-based diet. Some people still hesitate to take the plunge for one reason – the myth that eating a plant-based diet is just too expensive. Don’t you need a lot of costly exotic ingredients?

The answer is no! While investing in a healthy diet is a great idea for everyone, you don’t need to buy a lot of fancy foods to sustain this lifestyle. If you strip it down to the basics, you will find that anyone can afford a plant-based diet on a minimal budget. With a little bit of know-how, a healthy diet packed with nutrients and bursting with taste will fit your budget without breaking the bank.

Here are a few affordable plant-based diet tips to get you started:

- Prepare your own food

The surest way to rack up an expensive food budget is to eat out at restaurants all the time. Most restaurants, even fast-food joints, offer plant-based options at a premium. Dining out should be an occasional treat or avoided altogether if you're on a strict budget.

Save by packing your own work lunch and keeping a stash of veggie-friendly snacks in the car so you won’t be tempted to give in to expensive cravings. Try making a vegan smoothie with our delicious vanilla or chocolate plant-based protein powder and some frozen fruit for an inexpensive and healthy snack.

- Embrace whole foods

Whole foods are plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. They are not only healthy and packed with the essential nutrients your body needs, but sometimes they can be the affordable choice too. For example, a banana is cheaper than a bag of chips and a baked potato is cheaper than fries.

These are some super-healthy and nutrient-dense foods to focus on:

  • Fruits – In-season fresh fruits are budget-friendly, so check out your farmer’s market for deals. Dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, and dates are a great, inexpensive snack that can satisfy any sweet tooth.
  • Vegetables – Leafy greens and fresh, in-season veggies are kind to your wallet. Expect to pay a bit more for organic food – they'll be less expensive when they’re in season, so buy them and freeze for later. You can even mix a drink with our Greens Blend for a blend of raw, organic grasses and mushrooms.
  • Beans and Legumes – Dried beans such as pinto, navy, black, and garbanzo are very inexpensive when bought in bulk, rather than the canned varieties. Lentils of all colors are also affordable and packed with nutrients.
  • Starches – Yams, potatoes, pumpkin, brown rice, oats, bulgur wheat, barley, millet, oats, and whole-grain pasta are inexpensive and filling. Starchy foods are an important source of energy and provide nutrients including B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate.
  • Proteins – Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans and are considered whole sources of protein. Nuts are packed with protein and are uber-portable.  For extra cost-savings, you can even grind your own tasty nut butter at home!

- Buy in Bulk

Whether you’re buying a larger family-sized package or browsing the bins at your local health food store, it can really pay off to up-size your purchases. You’ll get a much better value than smaller packages, mainly because you’re not paying for the packaging.

Check the store’s unit pricing labels to find out the exact cost per ounce, pound, or liter so that you can easily compare and find the cheapest option. Buying from the bulk bins can easily save close to half the price of a packaged product, and as a plus, you can determine exactly how much -- or little – you want to buy.

- Prepare Simple Recipes

Quick and easy vegetarian or vegan recipes are surprisingly inexpensive. Look for recipes that keep the ingredients list to a minimum – aim for 5 ingredients or less. Simple doesn't have to mean boring, though.

Start with a starch as your base and build your meal around that with flavorful ingredients, herbs, and spices. For example, rustic mushroom risotto with rice, mushrooms, veggie stock, and plant milk, or spinach, tofu, and cashew cream vegetarian lasagna. How about a spicy onion, bell pepper, tofu, and pineapple stir fry over rice?

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If you were considering making a change, these tips will get you started towards eating a plant-based diet affordably. Once you make the commitment and begin, we'd love to hear other creative ways you discover that help you stick with your healthy new routine!

4 Ways to Embrace Self-Improvement Month

Woman With Arms Raised In Victory

The myth that self improvement is difficult can lead you to put off your goals for way too long. It’s time to change that!

Given that September is Self Improvement Month, now is the perfect time, If you’re ready to focus on bettering yourself, start by making small changes. After only a month or two of attention to these new ways of life, they will rewire your brain and become habits rather than efforts.

Here are four easy adjustments to jumpstart your self improvement, find greater serenity and love who you see in the mirror!

1. Clear Clutter
Believe it or not, clutter is a reliable stress indicator. The more cluttered your environment, the less likely you are to feel mentally balanced and physically healthy. If you’ve wanted to tackle clutter for a long time, start now. You’ll notice a stress decrease immediately.

A clutter-free environment will also make it easier to assess what you have and what you still want. For example, many people are surprised to discover that once they get rid of half their clothes, they quite like their remaining wardrobe! The clarity then allows you to identify what you might add to your life — a new chair, a fresh fuzzy blanket, or even a replacement set of spoons.

Narrowing down your possessions to know exactly what you have rather than simply replacing everything that’s lost in the mess allows you to be much more intentional. You’ll find that buying items that you really desire and believe in is a much more cost effective strategy. You can even take this opportunity to pursue more environmentally friendly and less toxic purchases.

2. Adjust Your Diet
One reason you might feel physically drained is due to diet, but it’s easier than you think to make adjustments that lower your sugar consumption, keep you fuller and increase your nutrient intake. Here are four changes to start with:

  • Clean out the fridge and start using clear containers. This will give you an unobstructed view of the fresh, healthy food available to you.
  • Switch out soft drinks for seltzer water — if you want to switch it up try our Minerals & Antioxidants or Greens Blend mixes.
  • Replace white bread with organic whole grain options (many of which are just as soft and even tastier than white).
  • Add a veggie to every meal, even if it’s just a small pile of spinach, a handful of cherry tomatoes or sliced peppers.

Fridge Stocked With Fresh Fruit and Veggies

3. Tackle Your Finances
It’s hard to imagine a bigger source of dread than finances, but financial wellbeing is absolutely critical if you’re to be a happy and serene person. Again, start small. Clean out that teetering pile of old bills and file them in folders or shred them. Once you “declutter” your finances a bit, start tracking your expenses, categorize your spending, and set money-saving goals.

4. Begin Exercising
Because so many people find exercising intimidating, we’ve saved it for last. Once you have other habits in place, you’ll find it less scary to start a fitness routine. First off, don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately see drastic weight loss. Research shows that you need to handle that through diet, so when you start a regimen and don’t see massive pound shedding, don’t fret.

Instead, think of exercise as a gift to your heart, blood vessels, brain and muscles. Even a 10-minute walk around the block at lunchtime or a quick evening jaunt with the doggo is a great first step. If you keep it up, you will pick up steam naturally.

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See? There's nothing on this list that you can't do, and it’s not hard to see that small changes can have big benefits. Choose one of these to start today, looking not for perfection or huge results, but rather for consistency. With a little dedication you’ll be amazed by how these changes stack up over time, leaving you with an overall greater sense of fulfillment!

6 Foods That Are Good For Your Teeth

Girl Shows Off Her Teeth In The Sunset

We often eat for our body's health — which is a great thing — but how often do your teeth and gums weigh in on your nutritional decisions?  Many of us forget that the foods that are good for your teeth.

Just about anybody can tell you that sweets aren't good for oral health. Those pesky sugars in candy, soft drinks and even sticky, dried fruits can wreak havoc in the form of cavities. But enough with this negativity! Rather than living a life of avoidance to protect your teeth, start reaching for foods that have a lot to offer your pearly whites (and the pink flesh that cradles them).

There are a lot of great foods out there that help keep your teeth clean and your smile healthy! Here are six toothsome choices that can keep your teeth clean:

1. Dairy.

No, it doesn't make your teeth whiter. It does something far better: the calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products keeps the enamel strong. Plus, a lot of dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, which is linked to lower rates of tooth decay in children. Even better, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids eat certain cheeses as a snack or after a meal. “Cheeses such as aged cheddar, swiss, mozzarella and Monterey jack stimulate the flow of saliva, clearing the mouth of food debris and acting as a buffer to neutralize the acids that attack teeth. The calcium and phosphorous found in cheese also reduce or prevent decreases in pH levels of saliva and promote remineralization of tooth enamel.” Huzzah. Pass the cheese board!

2. Get your crunch on.

No, silly, not with chips. Crisp veggies and fruits — like celery and apples — are packed with water and fiber and do a great job cleaning as you chomp.  According to the American Dental Association, chewing stimulates saliva, which can wash away acids and food bits and keep your teeth clean. 

Plate of Greens and Mushrooms

3. Leafy greens. 

Crunchy and fibrous greens like chard, kale and spinach help strengthen our gums and teeth. These leafy greens offer the boost of vitamin C many of us are missing in our oral care regimen. Even if you're not a salad person, it's easy to slip leafy greens into your soups and stews. You can even add our Greens Blend to your morning smoothie for a delicious shot of plant power and vitamin C. 

4. Green tea.

Yes it's trendy and delicious. But did you know that green tea is super healthy for your mouth? Green tea is loaded with flavonoids, which contain compounds called catechins that fight cancer and act as antioxidants. “Catechins should be considered right alongside the better-known antioxidants like vitamins E and C as potent free radical scavengers and health supportive for this reason,” says a study from the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. “It has been suggested that green tea also promotes periodontal health by reducing inflammation, preventing bone resorption and limiting the growth of certain bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.” Drink up!

5. Raw onion.

Phew! Really? Yes, it's true that raw onions might stink up your breath but some dentists have called them a “superfood for super teeth.” They contain antibacterial sulfur compounds that kill dreaded bacteria that lurk in the mouth and cause tooth decay.

6. Shiitake mushrooms.

These mushrooms are currently being explored for their potential for oral health benefits. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mouthwash can improve good bacteria and destroy bad oral bacteria.  But are you brave enough to rinse your mouth twice a day with a pungent shiitake mushroom mouthwash?  If the idea of eating mushrooms instead is easier to swallow, try our Greens Blend drink mix.  Fortunately, it's delicious and comes complete with a 5-mushroom blend, including shiitake. 

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Keep in mind just one thing. Although tasty, one should never replace brushing, flossing and gargling with chewing a mushroom or a piece of raw onion. Your significant others will thank you!

5 Considerations When Choosing Supplements

happy-healthy-dieting-couple

There are many wonderful ways to give your health a dietary boost these days, but determining which supplements are best for you can be daunting. The choice for the perfect supplements for your needs really depends upon who you are ... your body’s unique requirements and your personal goals.

If we know anything it's that the internet is rife with unsubstantiated claims and, frankly, bunk recommendations for healthy products that don’t come anywhere near to living up to their hype. Before you start buying nutritional supplements, please carefully consider the following five criteria.

1. Medicinal Intake
Consider your current health and any medicines you’re taking because they might leech your body of necessary vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you regularly take an antibiotic, you might need a probiotic supplement to help keep your gut flora healthy. Or if you’re taking hydroxychloroquine for an autoimmune issue, you’ll need to monitor your folic acid intake. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist when prescribed a new medication to see if you need to supplement your diet during the course of treatment. Additionally, you would be wise to ask if the supplements you are already taking might be contraindicated by your medications.

2. Prevention Goals
Some of us might be worried about a specific ailment (such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) and seek a supplement that could possibly aid in prevention. If this is something you’re concerned about, do your research! Learn which supplements contain the nutritional benefits you are seeking and whether or not there’s science to back up any benefit claims. But don’t trust just anyone, make sure your decisions are based on quality information. A good place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or consult your doctor.

senior-couple-healthy-diet-shopping

3. Age
As we grow older, our bodies require additional levels of certain nutrients to stay healthy. Older women tend to experience bone loss (which can lead to an increased risk of fractures), so adding extra calcium is usually a good idea. Older men might need extra dietary fiber if Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are sources of worry. If you’re older than 50, ask your doctor or you might want to check out the National Institute on Aging for helpful vitamin and mineral recommendations (they have loads of other great nutritional information as well)!

4. Gender
The fact is, men and women have different dietary needs. Women tend to need more iron and calcium, while men are often deficient in, well, quite frankly, just about everything. So taking your sex into consideration could be more important than you think.

5. Current Diet
This is really the baseline for everything. Maybe you are strictly following a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high fat), or you’re a vegan or you eat whatever you please. No matter what foods you consume, you should keep close track of your diet for a week and then analyze it to identify any nutritional gaps. Common deficits include fiber, vitamins D and E, probiotics and fish oils. For example, one person may eat a lot of fish and white rice, but forget to add fibrous fruits and veggies. Another might regularly eat veggies and fruits, but not enough protein. This is a healthy exercise in that, once you see what you might be lacking, you can make a more targeted effort in your meal planning. Furthermore, now that you recognize your dietary deficits, you'll be much better equipped to determine which quality supplements (such as a multivitaminfish oil caps or plant protein) you need to maintain balanced nutritional intake.

online-shopping-for-supplements

Once you've had time to run through all of these considerations, you will be so much more confident that your next steps will actually be tailored to your needs. When you're ready to shop for nourishing supplements, we hope you'll keep Life's Abundance in mind to help fulfill your nutritional supplement needs!

4 Healthy Fruits & Veggies That Are Worth the Effort

How-to-enjoy-pineapple-and-other-tricky-fruits

We have to respect a fruit that can draw blood just by grazing your flesh. But once tamed, the pineapple delivers a bounty of health benefits: antioxidant vitamins A and C, copper, manganese and bromelain, which is thought to ease inflammation. Plus, buying a whole pineapple versus pre-sliced or frozen chunks can save you some cash. And it sure tastes a lot more flavorful and juicier.

But, you might be asking yourself, how the heck do I even approach a pineapple without losing an appendage? Armed with a little know-how, victory can be yours but first, the preliminaries:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before you start handling food.
  • Remove any damaged or bruised areas. If you suspect it could be rotten, toss it out.
  • Thoroughly wash the food under running water. It’s okay to scrub firmer produce with a brush.

So don’t be intimidated. Grab a sharp knife and claim your birthright:

Pineapple

What to Look For
A ripe pineapple is mostly firm but will give ever-so-slightly when you squeeze it. The color should be a consistent golden yellow (but a little green is OK), and the base should smell sweet and bright.

How to Prepare
Chop off the top and base. Next, prop that puppy up lengthwise and use a serrated knife to carefully saw off the spiky skin, top to bottom. Then you can cut it into chunks or slice it into rounds as desired.

Artichoke

One of earth’s natural diuretics, the artichoke has a reputation for fighting bloat. But this vegetable has more than one trick up its thorny sleeve. Rich in fiber and folate, it also has tons of vitamins C and K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Sure, you could buy a can of artichoke hearts but why deny yourself the pleasure of eating the leaves — or the satisfaction of conquest?

What to Look For
The leaves should be tightly packed, not loose or splayed. They also should squeak when rubbed together.

How to Prepare
If you plan to eat the whole artichoke (leaves and heart) start by using a serrated knife to cut off the tips and stem. Then use kitchen shears to snip off any sharp points on the leaves. Once you’ve boiled or braised it, be sure to scoop out the inedible “choke,” a thistle-like substance, using a spoon.

Ginger Root

Good God. Look at that thing. So gnarled. So rooty. How could something so delicious look so filthy? And yet, there it is. Still, we urge you to look past this plant’s dusty veneer and consider its benefits. Long used to calm nausea and indigestion plus, it tastes and smells divine. 

What to Look For
Pick up the hand — yes, that’s what it’s called and we think it’s creepy, too — and examine its texture. Choose a section with smooth, taut skin, which should be thin enough to nick with your fingernail. You should also be able to detect its spicy scent.

How to Prepare
Break off as much of the hand (shudder) as you need. Pro tip: If it doesn’t snap easily, it’s probably not fresh. Use a knife to pare off any dry ends and nubs, and then hack away at the larger swaths of skin with a vegetable peeler. If any stubborn bits remain, scrape ‘em off with a spoon. You’re left with lovely flesh for grating, pickling or candying.

Coconut

You may take one look at that hairy stack in the produce section and feel a strong urge to abort mission. Resist! Nutrient-rich coconuts aren’t hard to master, and buying them whole is more cost-effective. 

What to Look For
First, check for heft; a good coconut should feel heavy for its size. Next, give that bad boy a good shake. Does it sound like at least a cup of water is sloshing around in there? Great. Now examine the cluster of indentations called “eyes” for cracks, mold or wetness.

How to Prepare
Guys, you get to use a hammer for this! And a screwdriver, which you’ll use to poke a hole in the coconut’s softest eye. Once you’ve pierced the eye, drain the liquid inside by either slurping it up with a straw or pouring it into a glass. Gently hammer a spot toward the center of the fruit until a fracture forms along the circumference. Pull the halves apart and pry the flesh from the shell with a butter knife.

Then, imagine yourself on a desert island and enjoy the sweet bounty.

Drinking Wine For Your Health

Wine-for-Your-Health

You know how it goes. Your doctor tells you that overall, you’re pretty healthy, but your bad cholesterol is creeping up and your good cholesterol isn’t where it should be. You already live a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising and minimizing stress. What more can you do? If you’re anything like us, you look for answers anywhere you can ...

The Discovery

… like the internet. Wine is good for the heart! It says so right there on Instagram, next to that photo of a smiling, fit, bikini-clad influencer hoisting a glass of pinot noir. She looks healthy AND happy. Clearly this is something you must investigate further.

The Deep Dive

You Google “why is wine good for your heart,” and you are not disappointed in the results. “Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.”

You choose to ignore that last sentence and create a game plan. Better health starts now.

The Field Test

A friend agrees to meet you at a local wine bar. It’s happy hour, and you’ve never been happier to embark on a new wellness regime. Two glasses of cabernet in, you’re feeling awfully good about your commitment to yourself. “Polyphenols are red compound modifiers that help your blood vessels,” you offer knowingly between sips. “Reservanoid fights blood clotting in flamingoes.”

You settle your tab, leave a generous tip and call a cab. You are warm. Content. Your body is thanking you already.

The Letdown

It’s 6 a.m., and you’ve woken up with a splitting headache. Your mouth feels like the sticky side of masking tape. And it dawns on you ... perhaps I've made an unfortunate mistake.

The Lesson

You remember the old advice: “Know your limits.” You acknowledge that perhaps three (okay, four) glasses of red wine falls well outside your limit. After you’ve guzzled two cups of strong coffee and a giant glass of water, you settle back in front of your computer. This time, you actually finish the article you glossed over before and read, “Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease.” Furthermore, they advise, “If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation."

So what does that mean exactly for healthy adults? We're so glad you asked.

  • Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
  • Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.
  • Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.

Fine. FINE. You realize that as fun as a glass of pinot can be, you really might be better off finding a hangover-free source of antioxidants. And maybe on the way home from work, you'll also buy some grapes.

Reference:

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281

Don’t Be D-Railed by Short Winter Days

sun-soaking-vitamin-d-woman

Even though the days are growing longer, we’re all coming off months of reduced time in the sun. While snuggling in the warmth of cozy dens holds appeal, there are some drawbacks to limited solar exposure. When it's colder and darker, outdoor activity is typically limited, too. Medically speaking, it also means we might start experiencing a dip in our vitamin D levels. The reason? According to the National Institutes of Health, most people need at least some of their vitamin D minimum requirements to be self-sourced through exposure to sunlight.

It's by no means a small problem. Approximately one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. This fat-soluble vitamin helps us absorb calcium, grow strong bones and maintain our immune system. Those who are deficient in vitamin D might find themselves at greater risk for such troubling diseases as rickets (especially in children), osteoporosis (especially among the elderly) and even autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D deficiency is even increasingly linked to seasonal affective disorder, that feeling of sadness or anxiety that expresses itself during the winter months.

So how do you keep your vitamin D levels ramped up even during winter? Here are three suggestions to help keep your body nourished.

1. Boost Your Diet: Vitamin D naturally occurs in very few foods. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are likely your best source, although you can also find it in smaller amounts in egg yolks, cheese and beef liver. If the thought of beef liver or mackerel doesn’t quite do it for you, and you’ve had your quota of salmon for the week, look for fortified foods on your grocery shelves. A lot of cereals are loaded with vitamin D, and dairy products started adding vitamin D in the 1930's to fight rickets. If you’re trying to figure out how to create a menu containing the 600 IU of vitamin D an average adults needs, the USDA has compiled a comprehensive list of food sources (visit https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/vitamin-d).

suns-rays-heart-hands

2. Go Outside: People who live farthest from the equator are at the highest risk of experiencing a vitamin D deficiency. That’s why it's so important that you make sure you expose yourself to sunshine every day, if at all possible. Even though we all know we're supposed to use sunscreen, doctors recommend that we all try to spend a few minutes outside without sunscreen so that those ultraviolet rays can soak into your skin, mix with your cholesterol and transform into vitamin D. You can keep your face covered, and just have your arms uncovered for 10-30 minutes a days. Healthline reports that midday is the best time to get some sunshine: “[A] study found that 30 minutes of midday summer sun exposure in Oslo, Norway, was equivalent to consuming 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D.” Be forewarned that melanin in darkly pigmented skin can act as a barrier that prevents vitamin D production. So, if you have darker skin, you might need to spend a little extra time outside. Try to schedule lunch breaks that coincide with the brightest time of day, especially during the winter months, to ensure that you're soaking up prime rays.

3. Pop a Multivitamin: Because so many people do live far away from the equator and struggle to meet their requirements with food, dietary vitamin D supplements are the best and easiest way to boost your health in this regard. Just one serving of our plant-based Life’s Abundance Multivitamin will provide you with the full recommended 600 IU of vitamin D.

Here’s to a bright and D-lightful New Year for all of us!

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4143492/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286496.php
https://ods.od.nih.gov/pubs/usdandb/VitaminD-Content.pdf
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun#sunscreen

Convenient Health Foods For Time-Strapped Eaters

convenient-health-foods-family

Most nutritionists encourage people to choose lean protein over fatty meats, and vegetables over french fries. But when it’s 6:45 p.m. and you’re staring down at a solid block of frozen chicken breast that you forgot to thaw overnight, the temptation to order pizza is strong. So strong.

Drive-through and fast-casual restaurants are in heavy rotation in many American homes. The truth is, we cook less than pretty much any other developed nation. But it’s to our own detriment, as a strong correlation exists between cooking at home and better nutrition. Among the main reasons we don’t cook? We just don’t have enough time. Fortunately, there is such a thing as a healthy convenience food! From the humble rotisserie chicken to a bag of mixed vegetables, these time-saving items are also super nutritious.

Rotisserie Chicken

Available at most supermarkets for well under the cost of a large hand-tossed Meat Lover's, these ready-to-serve birds make dinner a snap. Just add a side of vegetables and heart-healthy grains, and you’re good to go. One caveat: Some brands are heavy on salt, so either factor that into your choices for the rest of the day, or find a plain-cooked variety like those sold at higher-end grocery stores.

Frozen Fruits & Vegetables

Yeah, we feel pretty self-satisfied toting a basketful of fresh produce up to the checkout counter, too. But that quickly turns to guilt when we have to toss three-quarters of it in the trash a week later because "life happened." Chopping fruit and vegetables takes time we’d rather spend elsewhere, and the pre-prepped servings you’ll find at the store are often come with a significant markup. We’ve found our salvation a few aisles over, in the freezer section. Washed, cut and ready for action, frozen vegetables are the ultimate time-saver for stir-fry dishes, soups and sides. Or pop half a cup of frozen berries into the fridge overnight for a quick-and-delicious yogurt topper. Lest you worry that this convenience comes with diminished nutrition, know that frozen produce is processed at peak ripeness, and nowadays you can even find organic options in most supermarkets.

Prepackaged Oatmeal

We love a mason jar filled with elaborate overnight-oat concoctions as much as anyone, but when it comes to saving time and energy, there’s nothing like a single-serving packet of the instant stuff. The main advantage of traditional oats is their comparatively low glycemic index score (55 versus 70 for instant, which means they’re less likely to raise blood sugar). Whether you prepare your oatmeal the old-fashioned way with boiling water, or heat it in the microwave, within minutes you’ll have an fiber-, iron- and protein-rich bowl that’s delicious plain or with accoutrements. Just make sure to choose a brand without added sugar and sodium.

Canned Beans

Beans are near the top of many experts’ health-food lists, but by the end of a long day, the only thing we feel like soaking is our own bodies, in a hot bathtub, preferably within grasping distance of some dark chocolate. Good thing canned beans are nutritionally equivalent to dry beans, provided you choose products without added salt or sugar (or at least rinse them thoroughly to remove said salt or sugar). Canned beans make Meatless Mondays a snap. Simply mash them with a fork and spread them on a corn tortilla with melted cheese for a quick and tasty dinner. Simmer a can or two of black beans for 20-30 minutes in some pre-packaged broth along with a bag of frozen vegetables for an easy protein-filled soup. Or combine them with corn, olive oil and cilantro for a yummy side dish!

Canned Fish

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends we eat at least two servings of seafood a week. That might be easily achievable if you live on one of the coasts, but affordable fresh fish is harder to come by in many communities — and potentially labor-intensive to prepare regardless of where you live. Widely available canned tuna and salmon is already cooked and ready to eat or cook straight out of the tin. It’s also often cheaper than fresh while boasting the same high protein content and omega-fatty acid profiles. Mix it with salsa for a zesty sandwich topper or stir in plain Greek yogurt for a nutritious take on tuna or salmon salad. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, whip up a quick batch of five-ingredient salmon croquettes. #Drool.

How do you save time while eating well? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Sources

https://www.livescience.com/13930-americans-cook-obese.html
https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/get-cooking-at-home
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379714004000
https://www.kcet.org/food/grocery-store-economics-why-are-rotisserie-chickens-so-cheap
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/05/17/611693137/frozen-food-fan-as-sales-rise-studies-show-frozen-produce-is-as-healthy-as-fresh
https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs#1
https://www.forksoverknives.com/why-should-we-eat-beans/#gs.oZn3KuU
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/salmon-croquettes-recipe-1952311

Tailgating The Healthier Way

tailgating-made-healthy-lifes-abundance

Fresh fall air, over-the-top team spirit, delicious food and your favorite beer — tailgate parties offer up a true slice of Americana! And this time of year, untold sports enthusiasts enjoy these gatherings every week, outside stadiums and in backyards from coast to coast.

Unfortunately, tailgating also has the potential to wreck your best-laid plans for a healthy diet. Hot dogs and lager, while some might argue to be among humankind’s great achievements, pack enough fat and empty calories to set you back several hours at the gym. Sorry to rain your parade, but it’s true.

That said, there’s no need for you to stand on the periphery of your group, forlornly choking down baby carrots while your friends inhale nachos by the fistful. No, that won’t do at all. What you need is a better game day game plan!

The Proteins

Bratwurst and hot dogs are tempting, but traditional varieties are chock full of saturated fat and sodium, not exactly heart-healthy. “Hot dogs are processed meats with a high content of salt, saturated fat, and additives including nitrites/nitrates, which may be carcinogenic,” said Jennifer Glockner, a registered nurse and the creator of Smartee Plate, on Eat This Not That.1 Resist the siren call of cured pork and all-beef products and reach for lower-fat options made from chicken or turkey. Or drive your meat-loving friends crazy with a vegetarian or vegan hot dog.2

If burgers are more your jam, opt for the leanest ground beef possible — 98% lean if you’re feeling virtuous, 93% if you want a little more flavor. Slap that sucker on a whole-wheat bun with ample tomatoes and lettuce, and you have yourself a veritable health food.

The Sides

Yes, tater tots are delicious. Yes, we know you want fries with that. Yes, you could technically eat just one. But please repeat after us: Oil-soaked potato products are not your friends. True, they’re a decent source of potassium — that’s how we used to justify eating them, too — but we’d argue that the 170-300 calories and 10-15 grams of fat in each serving aren’t worth the tradeoff. Instead of regular fries, opt for a handful made from antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes. Or if you must have chips, choose baked. Air-popped popcorn and pretzels are also imminently snackable, lighter options. You might also cook up a batch of tots made from cauliflower, the cornerstone of the low-carb diet. Loaded with vitamin C and fiber, they’ll satisfy your crunch needs without sabotaging your weight goals. And it’s always easy to bring a veggie platter with a side of hummus to a party!

The Libations

You didn’t think we’d forget this part, did you? Most regular beers have at least 150 calories in them, or as our inner grouch likes to think of it, between 10 and 20 minutes running on a treadmill. But fret not. Thanks to the wonders of science, we now have a plethora of perfectly acceptable-tasting light beers from which to choose — some with as few as 55 calories and 2 carbs per bottle. Or, you could crack open a can or single-serving bottle of dry wine and sip it s-l-o-w-l-y. We want rushing yards, not rushing blood-alcohol levels (which could lower your inhibitions in the eating department).

Don't drink alcohol? No problem! Although purified water is always a good choice, you could kick it up a notch by adding sliced fruit or cucumber. Or perhaps you’d like one of the gazillion flavored seltzers on the market, most of them with no calories and little sodium. Green and black tea, both excellent sources antioxidants, are another great choice.

The Sweet Stuff

No one expects you to bring a bag of grapefruit slices to the party. That’s ridiculous. But we also can’t give you license to chow down on gooey, football-size cookies, some of which contain a full meal’s worth of calories in one pillowy serving. Tough love mandates a compromise. Ginger snaps are big on flavor and smaller on calories and fat. Not a fan? Look for options with more than a gram of fiber, which fills you up, aids in digestion and also helps control blood sugar.3 Fig Newtons, anyone?

If you’d prefer candy, break off a few squares of dark chocolate, which has loads of antioxidants and enough flavor that a little goes a long way toward satisfying your sweet tooth.

What are your favorite tailgating health foods? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And may the best team win!

REFERENCES:
1. www.eatthis.com/healthy-tailgating-foods-for-weight-loss
2. www.wired.com/story/in-defense-of-the-vegan-hot-dog
3. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

Red, Green or Cooked: It’s Apple Season

kids-at-the-orchard

There’s been a lot of ruckus lately about the decline of the Red Delicious. For the past 50 years, the Red Delicious apple has been number one in America. But according to the U.S. Apple Association, its reign has been usurped by Gala — and it seems there are many people out there who are pretty pleased by this news. “It’s the beginning of the end,” apple historian Tom Burford crowed to The New York Times. “How are you going to market a tasteless apple when the consumer has tasted so many good apples?”

Amen to that. Forget those waxy mealy red orbs you can find in every grocery store, gas season or public school cafeteria. It’s apple season, and anyone who has ever been apple picking knows there is a whole world of flavor out there in those orchards. Some apples are crisp with a honeyed bite; some are juicy and tart; and some taste like earthy brown sugar.

But did you know that just as every apple has a distinct flavor profile, each variety has varying levels of healthy properties? In other words, not every apple will necessarily keep the doctor away.

According to a 2009 study, researchers determined that the 800-year-old Pendragon apple has the highest levels of health-promoting plant compounds. The Pendragon’s rivals in the study were 12 organic apples and three conventional ones, including the Golden Delicious, Royal Gala and Cox. “Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained seven of the eight kinds of healthy components at the highest levels,” study author Michael Wakeman told the Telegraph. “In contrast, the non-organic apples consistently had low levels…in both the flesh and the peel.”

Because the top apples in the study were grown organically, Wakeman surmised that they naturally had more phenols to protect against infection. Many studies have shown that polyphenols — a type of antioxidant — in apples help fight inflammation.

apple-tree

So, more antioxidants in organic apples — especially the elusive Pendragon, which apparently you can only find in a small courtyard in England — are a good thing. But there’s another reason to only buy organic apples. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues [and] 80 percent of apples tested contained diphenylam, a pesticide banned in Europe.”

Yuck. Even worse — those apples were all washed.

This fall, stick to organic apples. Try out a local farmer’s market and taste the variety. And even if you can’t find the Pendragon, remember that the average organic apple is loaded with fiber (which helps with weight loss), vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants. According to Medical News Today, apples have been credited with reducing the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Just remember that if you’re baking your apples, they’ll lose a bit of their phytochemicals. Oh! And if you’re worried about whether to choose green or red — don’t worry about it. The differences between the two (slightly more antioxidants in red, slightly less sugar and more fiber in green) are negligible.

No matter which variety you love, be sure to enjoy your pickings!

HELPFUL TIP: For those times you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, you can get antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients from our premium supplement line.

REFERENCES:
http://usapple.org/after-50-years-red-delicious-falls-to-2-as-most-grown-u-s-apple-gala-takes-1-spot/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6151010/800-year-old-apple-healthiest-to-eat.html
https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290.php
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/16/is-there-a-nutritional-difference-between-red-and-green-apples_a_22088567/