Here Come the Holidays!

The holiday season is great for togetherness and spending time with family and friends. For many, it can be the start of weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. Do not worry! The holidays don’t have to be a constant struggle with your health. We are here to give you tips to help you balance your food and fun while staying healthy and happy this holiday season.

1. Incorporate more greens

Add your favorite leafy greens to your mealtime selections. Use chopped greens in your morning yogurt or smoothie, add them to a lunchtime batch of soup or chili, or cut your dinner side of rice or pasta in half and fill the rest of your plate with sautéed greens.

2. Portion control

Dish your own plate and place small portions of your favorite holiday foods on it. Controlling your portion size should eliminate overeating.

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking water will keep you hydrated and curb your cravings.

4. Don't Skip Meals

Do not avoid food all day to save room for a great holiday dinner.  Starving yourself all day may cause you to overeat! Eat a good breakfast and lunch before hitting your holiday dinner party. Be sure to include protein with each meal to help balance your blood sugar and help you get through the day.

5. Be a realist

The holiday season is not the time to lose weight. Rather than try to lose weight, work on maintaining your current weight and set up healthy eating habits. The New Year is right around the corner! January will have less temptation – a great time to start setting those weight loss goals.

Let the time of togetherness be your focus this holiday season. If you overeat at one meal, do not beat yourself up. You will not gain weight from that one piece of pie –healthy eating is a process and we are here to help guide you in your Back to Fresh journey!

 

 

Let's Get Together!

For many people fall is the start of an indulgent eating season that begins with Halloween treats, and continues straight through New Year’s Eve. But autumn is also a perfect time to take advantage of the abundance of healthy fare that makes this season special. A few of my favorites are apples, pumpkins, and greens.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

Fresh, seasonal chopped apples can be whipped into a smoothie, or added to cinnamon oatmeal. Stir finely chopped apples into pancake batter, enjoy them sliced, dipped into almond butter, or sauté apples in lemon water, along with ginger, topped with a crumble made from oats, almond butter, maple syrup, and apple pie spice. Fresh sliced apples make a delicious addition to entrée salads, cooked cabbage, and stir frys. Shredded apple can also be folded into burger patties or meatloaf recipes. And for a healthy treat, try my recipe for kale and raisin stuffed slow cooker apples

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

After carving a fresh pumpkin, the roasted seeds make a healthy snack, or topping for cooked veggies, salads, fish, beans, and lentils. Fresh roasted pumpkin flesh, seasoned with coconut oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice, also makes a nutritious, satisfying side dish. And unsweetened canned pumpkin makes a perfect addition to smoothies, oatmeal, hummus, or chili.     

Greens, a year round superfood, come to life in all new ways this season. Try my recipe for super green party dip, and a variety of fresh and cooked dishes, from coconut collard crisps, to lentil, yam and kale stew, and salmon mustard greens salad. Give your green smoothie some fall flare by blending kale with ingredients like ripe pear, ginger, and maple syrup.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

Make healthy eating a priority this fall, and you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite can’t-live-without splurges, without compromising your health or packing on any unwanted seasonal pounds.

Make This Fall Even Tastier with Help from the Crock-Pot®

Life is simpler when not having to spend a long time in the kitchen putting together meals for you, your family, and friends. With the kids back in school and time being stretched even more, cooking with a slow cooker or Crock-Pot® may be your new favorite way to save time and eat great starting this September!

Check out these tips on how to take advantage of the slow cooker, and all of its wonderful benefits!

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

WAYS TO SAVE TIME AND MAKE BETTER MEALS

  • Easy, Balanced, and Wholesome Meals

The best part of cooking with a slow cooker is that you can make a full meal with very little effort.

Registered Dietitian Cynthia Sass says, “With a slow cooker you can make healthy, balanced meals with very little prep time.” Ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, then frozen or refrigerated until you’re ready to cook them. During busy weeks when you miss your grocery trip, you can still have a home-cooked meal for your family.

  • Plan Ahead

At night, jump start your meal prepping for the next day to save time. Before heating up your slow cooker meal in the morning, prepare any ingredients you will be using the previous evening.

This could entail pre-cutting veggies, trimming and thawing meats, or even measuring out simple spices that you will be adding to the pot.

  • Maximize the Flavor

Seasoning, browning, or caramelizing your meats in a skillet beforehand is a great way to make sure your get the most out of your slow cooker dishes. Sure, it may take a little more prep work, but why settle for an average tasting meal when you can make it better!

  • Keep A Lid on It

Remember your mom telling you not to open the oven door because you would let the heat out? Well, with a slow cooker this is most certainly true. Since the point of a Crock-Pot® is to cook foods slowly, continuously taking the lid off will affect the cooking time of your meal. Also, mind your temperature. Realize how long you will be gone while cooking and make sure that the temperature you are using aligns with your schedule, and know that a little temp goes along way. 

  • Don’t Over Fill

Filling your slow cooker to the brim can cause hiccups when you are ready to eat. Some of the items may not be cooked, while others may be overcooked. Filling the cooker to only half or two-thirds full is best. Also, placing veggies close to the bottom of will help with making sure they are fully cooked.

  • Save Money

Using dried beans instead of canned ones in your slow cooker is a great way to save money and cut down on the preservatives that come in canned goods. Soak the beans overnight and they will be ready to throw in the Crock-Pot® before you leave for work!

  • Less Energy

Did you know that a slow cooker use less energy that both stove tops and ovens? Using your slow cooker can save you money on your energy bill.

  • Open Up Your Pantry

A great thing about a slow cooker is that you can throw just about anything into it. Now, we don’t suggest opening up a can of something that is two years expired from the fridge or pantry and using it. However, using canned veggies, beans, and other ingredients that you have been meaning to use will help you clean a spot for new (healthy and unprocessed) items you haven’t had a place for.

Now that we have given you some information about making the slow cooker your new best friend this fall and winter, go out and create some great dishes! Check out our website for delicious slow cooker recipes and always follow our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more great tips!

source: WP Rawl

source: WP Rawl

Simple Meal Ideas for One!

When you think of five ingredients or less meals, sodium laden processed foods probably come to mind. But with a little creativity, you can make ultra simple meals in minutes using fresh, whole foods. My rule of thumb is to always include greens, combined with another veggie or fruit, along with a lean protein source and a good-for-you fat. Sprinkle in some herbs or spices and you have a go-to meal in a jiffy.     

For example, simply sauté some canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas in extra virgin olive oil with Italian seasoning and black pepper, along with kale, and lunch or dinner is done. Or for a minimal step soup, sauté minced onions in EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat. Add low sodium vegetable broth, Italian seasoning and your favorite greens, bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add a scoop of lentils and you have a complete meal.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

For a simple dish with southwest flare, toss massaged kale with guacamole, top with pico de gallo, and add a half cup of black beans. For Asian-inspired dish, sauté frozen, pre-cooked ready to eat shrimp in low sodium vegetable broth with greens, fresh grated ginger, and wedges of seedless citrus. Love Italian? Sauté onions in EVOO with greens and fresh sliced cherry tomatoes, and toss with cooked spaghetti squash. Assemble a speedy Mediterranean salad by dressing greens with hummus, topped with a scoop of cooked quinoa and a protein of your choice (such as chicken breast, salmon, hard boiled eggs, or giant white beans), garnished with sliced almonds or chopped walnuts. Healthy and deliciously simple can go hand in hand!

For more easy breezy options check out our recipe collection for fast Back to Fresh dishes. And tell us about the quick and healthy ways you love to use Nature’s Greens®.

Oh, Sweet Kale Of Mine!

This July, we are focusing on sweets. Sweets can be healthy and nutritious too, right?  Of course!

Try to incorporate a healthy and delicious leafy green, such as kale, in your favorite sweet treat. Here are 4 ways that will help you keep your favorite desserts “Back to Fresh”.

Photo Credit: Buzz Feed

Photo Credit: Buzz Feed

1.       Use neutral tasting ingredients to cut out unwanted calories!

Sugars and sweeteners in desserts help mask the taste of other ingredients. Researchers from Idaho State University found that 8 in 10 people enjoyed fudge made with tofu just as much as they did with butter. Replacing butter with a healthier alternative is a great way to cut calories and carbs. Livestrong.com averages that one brownie of 35 grams, can have at least 20 grams of carbohydrates in it.

Kale is a great ingredient to add in desserts. The sweetness of the dessert tends to cut out the bitterness associated with the leafy green. Also, if your kids aren’t a fan of kale, try our recipe for our delicious Brownie Points, they won’t even know it’s in there.  Cutting these ingredients in half or eliminating them can go a long way in helping you cut calories while enjoying sweet treats!

 

Photo Credit: WP Rawl

Photo Credit: WP Rawl

2.       Use a puree instead of the butter, oil or shortening!

Making a puree and cutting out half of the butter, oil or shortening in your favorite sweets can go a long way and help you stay on track with your weight loss and diet goals. Using kale, beets, and plant proteins like beans and lentils are great options for the “filler puree”.  

Using a puree also allows for you be sneaky with adding greens. These purees help hide the taste and texture of bitter veggies that people sometimes do not enjoy.

 3.       Mix leafy greens directly into the batter!

Make sure you get your daily 5 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by adding kale or other leafy greens into your batter.

Finely chop kale and incorporate it into your dessert batters. This is a simple way to add some veggies into your baked goods, and make sure you get your daily 5 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies. Doing this makes the texture and flavor of the greens less noticeable in your sweet treats!

 4.       Use dessert recipes that accent kale aesthetically!

 We’ve talked about mixing greens into your dessert so that you cannot see them or taste them, but sometimes embracing the fact that you have added kale is not a bad thing!

Why not impress friends and family with their favorite sweets that have kale, but taste great? A great example of this is our Kale Key Lime Pie. Key Lime Pie has a strong flavor in general, so adding kale to this very tart dessert is easy and as simple as adding to the wiped filling.

Photo Credit: WP Rawl

Photo Credit: WP Rawl

Tips like these do not take a lot of time, baking skill, or effort. Making these simple changes will help you find ways to embrace starting a “Back to Fresh” journey.

Make sure to check out our website for hundreds of more great leafy green recipes. Follow along on our “Back to Fresh” journey on social media, and share your tips on dieting, weight loss, and healthy eating using the #BackToFresh hashtag!

 

 

 

 

 

15 Minute Meals

One of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating my clients encounter is time, and the struggle is real. One report found that working women spend, on average, less than one hour a day preparing, serving, eating, and cleaning up after meals. And to clarify, that’s not less than an hour for each meal – it’s less than one hour per day, for all meals combined. If you experience the same type of time crunch, one of the best tools for successfully eating well is to find a handful of 15 minute go-to recipes. With quick meals at your fingertips, and the ingredients at the ready, you can whip up balanced, satisfying, and tasty dishes, and still have time for everything else on your plate. To gear up, rely on some healthy shortcuts.

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/clear-glass-with-red-sand-grainer-39396/

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/clear-glass-with-red-sand-grainer-39396/

When you’re pressed for time, completely from-scratch meals just aren’t practical. Fortunately, there are a number of good-for-you convenience foods you can rely on to significantly slash your prep and cooking time. Some items I frequently recommend include: eggs; canned wild salmon; canned pulses (beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas); frozen vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pre-cooked shrimp; bagged ready-to-eat greens; jarred pestos and olive tapenade; nuts, and seeds.

For example, mix canned wild salmon with stone ground mustard, balsamic vinegar, and Italian seasoning, served over bagged greens, topped with avocado and a scoop of canned chickpeas. Or for a quick grain bowl, toss thawed pre-cooked frozen shrimp and frozen steamed veggies with jarred pesto, served over a bed of bagged kale, topped with thawed frozen pre-cooked brown or wild rice, and sprinkle of nuts. Eggs are another easy breezy meal option, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sauté frozen veggies and bagged greens in extra virgin olive oil with turmeric, black pepper, and Italian seasoning, add eggs to scramble, and serve with a side of frozen, thawed berries. Or hard boil some eggs to keep in the fridge, then peel, chop, and toss with bagged greens, olive tapenade, and canned white beans. 

Source: WPRawl

Source: WPRawl

Once you have a few fast meals down pat, they’ll be even easier to rely on as healthy back-ups when you’re in a time crunch. And for the nights you simply don’t have time to make anything, consider combining some items in your fridge with healthy-ish take out. For example, serve a Thai or Chinese order of shrimp and veggies over a bowl of bagged greens, with a small scoop of brown rice, instead of a larger portion or rice or noodles.

For more options check out our recipe collection for 15 minute Back to Fresh dishes, and tell us about the quick recipes you’d like to see added. We’re all about making healthy and delicious totally doable!     

BBQ Time!

The birds are chirping, the grass is green... time to break out the bar-b-que grill!  When hosting friends and family this spring, don't feel limited on the dishes that compliment your meal.  Here are great ways to keep your guests eating fresh and clean this grilling season. 

#1 Kale Slaw is a MUST!

This light and refreshing treat is a great twist to your normal coleslaw. Why not ditch the unhealthy slaw and substitute with a superfood packed with health benefits?  Find the recipe for our Gingery Kale and Purple Cabbage Slaw here.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

#2 Leafy Greens... on the grill!?

Grilling leafy greens such as kale not only gives it a delicious smoky flavor, but it also removes some of the natural bitterness. Massage both sides of the leaves, place them on a piece of aluminum foil and grill them whole. Grilling makes the leaves crispy, almost like chips.

Source: Bon Appetit

Source: Bon Appetit

#3 Chips are meant to be dipped

Add a fun and unique dip to your table with our Zesty Mustard Greens Watermelon Salsa! Mustard greens are high in antioxidants, a great source of immune-boosting Vitamin C, and help lower cholesterol.  Watermelon is high in water content and delivers many other important nutrients, including lycopene and vitamin C.  

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

#4 Breakfast Me!

Ever thought about  breakfast on the grill?  Whether camping or relaxing in your backyard, the grill can be a nice change of pace to your normal routine. Try things like, breakfast burgers, roasted eggs or pancakes on the grill.  

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/G25MV730AV

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/G25MV730AV

Fooled by Greens!

When most people think of greens, salads and sautés probably spring to mind. But with a little out-of-the-box thinking you can incorporate greens into nearly any recipe, from savory to sweet, any time of the day.

At breakfast, greens can be whipped into fruit smoothies, added to omelets, egg scrambles, and frittatas, blended into pancake batter, and folded into oatmeal. If you’re scratching your head, thinking, “Really, pancakes and oatmeal?” give my recipes a try. When combined with fruit, and ingredients like coconut oil, maple syrup, ginger, and cinnamon, greens are incredibly palatable, and add color, texture, nutrients, and volume to your meals, all for very few calories. 

Another way to work more greens into your diet is to toss them to meals that don’t normally include them. For example, stir chopped greens into a yogurt, fruit and nut parfait, hummus, potato salad, homemade burger patties, a bowl of mac and cheese, or a batch of soup or chili. Crisp, chilled fresh greens also add a layer of crunch and nutrition on top of piping hot pizza.

Greens also make a perfect bed for lean protein, including chicken breast, seafood, lentils, or beans. To incorporate greens into a side dish cut your usual portion of rice or pasta in half and fill the space with a handful of chopped greens. 

And while you may not think of greens for dessert, there are delicious ways to work them in, from adding baked kale chips to dark chocolate bark, to folding pureeing greens into brownie or cupcake batter.

All you need to do is keep greens handy, and get creative. Feeling inspired? Please share the various ways you’ve incorporated more greens into your recipes and eating regime. We can’t wait to learn about your green-infused meals, snacks, and treats!  

Fool your friends and family with some hidden greens recipes! http://www.rawl.net/recipes.aspx

 

Smoothie Operator

No time in the mornings? We know the dilemma! Saving time and eating healthy does not have to mean grabbing fast food, or spending much more time meal prepping.  Between a busy life and work schedule, it is not always easy to do both. Smoothies can be a great solution for on-the-go people, just like you!

And if you are one of those amazing people who likes to get their workout in before work (we don’t know how you do it!), smoothies are lifesavers: work out, throw the ingredients in, blend and enjoy while you figure out what in the world to wear today. 

Here are a few smoothie tips that will help you get “Back to Fresh,” making 2017 healthy and delicious.

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/UZAO7L631Q

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/UZAO7L631Q

Tip #1: Use Many Ingredients

Using many ingredients in smoothies will not only enhance the flavor and taste of your smoothies, but could also add some extra good-for-you nutrients. Using a wide variety of ingredient such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and oats will give you extra nutritional value. Also adding milk, honey, cocoa, mint leaves and other natural flavors can make eating healthy delicious.

 Tip #2: Get a Head Start: Prep! Prep! Prep!

Have you heard of meal prepping? We are sure a lot of you have, but if not, it may be the best way for you to save time! Instead of going through the process of chopping up ingredients in the morning for smoothies, prepare your next day meals at night. Freezing smoothie ingredients in muffin tins, or pre-measuring out ingredients can save you added time to an already time-saving meal choice!

 Tip #3: Mix it up A little

Would you eat the same thing, with the same ingredients, every day? Some of you may, but most people like variety. Choices are good and when it comes to staying on a healthy diet, trying different smoothie’s recipes can help you stay happy and motivated to keep up the healthy choices more consistently. Don’t just use the same 3 to 5 ingredients in your smoothie every time you make one. Plan out your smoothies like you would other meals during the week. Variety will keep you loving your healthy treat and on track to your goals!

Tip #4: Use Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are not only one of the healthiest things to put in your smoothies (and body), but they also blend well with other ingredients. Fruits like bananas, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries are usually go-to ingredients for smoothies!

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

 

For great smoothie recipes and more, visit our website: www.rawl.net/recipes/smoothies

 

 

 

Snack Your HEART Out!

Daily snacking can be a smart habit. In fact, one recent report found that people with the healthiest diets snack twice as often as those with the least healthy diets. Of course, what matters most is what you reach for (and why) when you nosh. To get that right check out these four simple rules of thumb.    

Develop a snack strategy

In other words, don’t snack randomly. Plan to snack during long stretches between meals. For example, if you eat lunch and noon and dinner at 7pm schedule a snack around 3 or 4pm. A well-timed snack can keep your metabolism revved, boost energy, regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and prevent overeating later in the day.  

Eat real food

A snack is a chance to fit more nutrients into your day. To maximize that opportunity forego processed snacks in favor of fresh, whole foods. Always include produce - veggies, fruit, or both - paired with other good-for-you ingredients, including healthy fat, lean protein, and whole grains. Great choices include: cut veggies, like bell pepper and cucumber, with hummus or guacamole for dipping; a smoothie made with leafy greens, fresh or frozen fruit, chickpea flour, nuts or seeds; or hard boiled eggs, paired with avocado or olive tapenade, and veggies or fresh fruit.   

Raise your snacking awareness

Too often we munch out of habit, boredom, procrastination, or simply because food is there. Commit to becoming more discriminating about the “whys” behind your snack choices. You may discover that instead of being physical hungry you’re actually feeling anxious. Or perhaps you tend eat when others are eating, even if you don’t really need a snack. Once you’re aware of your patterns you can consciously work on making different choices, like talking to a friend rather than easing anxiety with food.

Keep healthy back-ups on hand

My new snack recipes that incorporate greens include deviled eggs, white bean dip, and spiced maple popcorn. But when you can’t get into the kitchen to whip something up, stash healthy portable options in your bag, so you’ll have them at the ready. A small banana and a golf ball sized portion of almonds will do, or an apple with pumpkin seeds. Stocking a healthy reserve means you’ll never have to go without if you’re hungry, or get stuck with a less than stellar option.         

Breakfast ME!

We have all heard it for years - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!  Eating a nutritious breakfast with fruits and vegetables helps maintain blood sugar levels, prevents binge eating and sets the tone for a healthy day of eating.

Short on time in the morning? Don't let that stop you from starting your day off the right way!

Here are some great quick tips:

1. Get a head start! Getting up 10 minutes earlier or planning out your breakfast the night before can help you get a nutritious "on-the-go" breakfast

https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-bear-child-childhood-4604/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-bear-child-childhood-4604/

2. Add fruits and veggies! Cut up fruits and veggies you can toss into an omelet, oatmeal, or whole grain cereal the next morning. 

Maple-Spiced-Kale-Oats_1050.jpg

3. Make a smoothie! Blend some fruit, yogurt, almond milk and kale for a green power smoothie to-go!

4. The key to a healthy lifestyle is PLANNING! Try to plan out your meals throughout the day starting with breakfast. This may help you control your calorie intake. (Kale Brownie Points if you are able to plan a whole week's menu on Sunday!)

https://www.pexels.com/photo/iphone-notebook-pen-working-34578/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/iphone-notebook-pen-working-34578/

In 2017, we are continuing our Back to Fresh mission with fresh, new and healthy recipes from our friend and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass.  So join us in our #BacktoFreshChallenge by eating fresh, wholesome ingredients and less of the processed stuff.

We hope that this new year, brings a new YOU! Start your journey now by making these small changes for a healthier lifestyle.  

 

Source: Fruits and Veggies More Matters

How to Balance That Holiday Sweet Tooth!

Has that sweet tooth been giving you those dreaded pangs for something incredibly sweet this holiday season? Don’t worry! We are here to tell you how to show that tooth who is BOSS and “just say no!”

1.       Keep a well-balanced diet. This can help calm your cravings! Vegetables like our beloved greens can help keep cravings at bay.

Source: https://www.legsmart.com/blogs/healthwellness/7595799-the-importance-of-a-balanced-diet

Source: https://www.legsmart.com/blogs/healthwellness/7595799-the-importance-of-a-balanced-diet

2.       Have protein with each meal or snack. A lean protein, nut or cheese can help balance your blood sugar and avoid that dreaded sugar crash.

Source: http://www.rawl.net/recipes/shrimp-pico.aspx

Source: http://www.rawl.net/recipes/shrimp-pico.aspx

3.       Trade in the typical sandwich-bread style foods or wraps for a bed of greens! Ditching a wrap and placing the contents over greens can instantly slash 200 calories from your meal, the amount in four large candy canes.     

Source: http://www.rawl.net/recipes/kale-teriyaki-chicken-salad.aspx

Source: http://www.rawl.net/recipes/kale-teriyaki-chicken-salad.aspx

4.       Trade in the high carb goodies like cookies, cakes or bagels for smoothie made with fresh greens. A nutritious breakfast can set you up for a whole day of healthy eating.  Remember: Breakfast is the most important meal of your day! 

Source: https://www.reference.com/health/teeth-hurt-eat-sweets-da7d16e340f2d27Credit: Andrew Olney OJO Images Getty Images

Source: https://www.reference.com/health/teeth-hurt-eat-sweets-da7d16e340f2d27Credit: Andrew Olney OJO Images Getty Images

Saying “NO” to sweets may be hard – but it will definitely be worth the effort! You can keep sweetness in your life, but try it in other forms… a sweet kitty, a good book or a cuddly baby. 

EAT GREENS! Your Body Will Thank You Later.

A lot of my clients tell me they just don’t like green vegetables. Often it’s because they were forced to eat them as a child, or were introduced to green veggies in unappetizing ways. Unfortunately those negative early associations can last a lifetime, but there are important reasons to overcome them, and learn to love your veggies, including greens.  

(Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/10453749/Cant-get-children-to-eat-greens-Blame-it-on-the-survival-instinct.html)

(Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/10453749/Cant-get-children-to-eat-greens-Blame-it-on-the-survival-instinct.html)

You’re probably aware that greens are nutrient rich, but you might not know just how potent they are as health protectors. Leafy greens have been shown to help fight chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease. They also protect your brain, and fend off aging. One study compared people who don’t eat green leafy veggies to those who consume one to two servings per day. The green eaters had cognitive abilities that were equivalent to folks 11 years younger. That’s powerful.

(Image Source: http://www.pnmag.com/baby-buzz/look-alive-its-national-eye-health-and-safety-month/)

(Image Source: http://www.pnmag.com/baby-buzz/look-alive-its-national-eye-health-and-safety-month/)

Greens also protect your eyes, and may reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by as much as 30%. Additional benefits include stronger immunity, enhanced energy and mood, and weight control. Replacing foods like pasta, rice, and bread with raw or cooked grains doesn’t just save calories and cut carbs. Research shows that higher antioxidant intakes are associated with leaner bodies, and greens are a potent antioxidant source.   

If you’re convinced that greens deserve a place in your eating routine but you’re not sure where to start take baby steps. Try whipping greens into a fruit smoothie- they blend right in and the sweetness of fruit overpowers any bitterness, so you won’t feel like you’re drinking a salad. Next add greens to staple meals, such as omelets or chili. As a next step make greens the star of meals, like entree salads and stir frys. If you’re adventurous you can even blends greens into desserts, and snack on kale chips or collard crisps. Just find a way to start, and if you don’t like one recipe, commit to trying another. It is well worth the effort, because this is one small eating change has the potential to lead to major quality of life results. So begin embracing greens today. Your body will truly thank you later!   

The Green Party

Not sure whom to vote for in this election?  The choice is clear: the greens party, of course!  It is often said that campaigning for any seat in office is grueling and demanding of the body.  That is why it is so important to get your greens in and stay on top of your energy!  Here is our political agenda and why you should vote for Nature’s Greens®!

1.       Stay Young: Vitamin K is critical in preventing certain age-related conditions.  Insufficient amount of greens can lead to cardiovascular disease, bone fragility, and arterial and kidney problems.  While in a demanding job, it is crucial to take care of yourself!

2.       Lowers Cholesterol: Mustard greens and kale help lower cholesterol.  High cholesterol is not good for anyone and it is especially important to maintain a healthy level when you are in a stressful job!

(image source: http://www.debbish.com/diet-schmiet/a-healthy-heart/)

(image source: http://www.debbish.com/diet-schmiet/a-healthy-heart/)

3.       Vision: Move over carrots!  Leafy greens are good sources of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help filter high-energy light that may cause eye damage.  Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce discomfort caused by glare.  This decreases the risk of cataracts and increases how far you can see!

(image source: http://www.dancingdogblog.com/2013/10/fido-google-glass-for-service-dogs-serious-pet-tech/dog-w-glasses/)

(image source: http://www.dancingdogblog.com/2013/10/fido-google-glass-for-service-dogs-serious-pet-tech/dog-w-glasses/)

4.       Body Fuel: Just like cars, our bodies run out of steam.  Greens will give you energy that will sustain your body and get you through the day!

 5.       Bone Health: Not a milk fan?  Greens can help you get to the 1,000 milligram per day calcium goal.  This is especially important for preventing diseases like osteoporosis.

6.       Colon Cancer Prevention: Greens are part of the nutrient-rich Brassica family.  A higher intake of these vegetables has proven to decrease the risk of colon cancer. 

We hope you will vote for us this November and forever!  We will bring a fresh change to your life and you will be very happy with the outcome.  We are Nature’s Greens® and we approve this message.

(image source: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/poetry-sunday-the-poem-that-became-the-song.htm)

(image source: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/poetry-sunday-the-poem-that-became-the-song.htm)

KALE for all your BASIC Needs

Oh beloved kale. Seemingly overnight you morphed from a discarded, disregarded garnish to today’s “it” superfood. We’ve all seen devotees pay homage to their beloved kale on t-shirts, hats, mugs, and countless Instagram pics. And get this: Kale can boast an astonishing 400% surge on restaurant menus. So just how did this little known veggie suddenly jet into the limelight?  

Nobody knows for sure, but it seems to have started when chefs, who are always reinventing food, adopted kale as a darling. Celebrities then began publicly sharing their kale love. And you may recall that kale gained widespread media attention when a t-shirt maker, who produced an Eat More Kale silkscreen, was challenged by Chick-fil-A, who felt the slogan was too similar to their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.

When the big kale buzz began, nutritionists like me were over the moon. Leafy green consumption had been pretty flat for over three decades, and most Americans were far short of the recommended minimum intake of three cups of dark green veggies per week. Filling that gap immediately ups the intake of several critical nutrients, including vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and fiber. Plus, kale is loaded with antioxidants and tied to anti-inflammation. This member of the cruciferous veggie family (along with its relatives broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) helps fight heart disease by protecting the bends and branches in blood vessels; areas that tend to be the most prone to cholesterol build-up. Kale’s natural detoxers have been shown to deactivate cancer-causing substances and stop or slow the growth of existing cancer cells. Additionally, recent research found that eating just one and a half extra servings of leafy greens a day lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%.

Eating more kale is also a savvy weight loss strategy. In addition to being filling and low in calories, published research has tied higher antioxidant intakes to leaner bodies. Plus, the chewing kale requires ups satiety, to help decrease hunger levels and naturally curb eating. One recent study found that just adding green plant membranes to the diets of overweight women resulted in weight loss, smaller waist measurements, and a reduced desire to eat. Pretty powerful stuff!

 

So regardless of how kale became hip I’m thrilled that it’s not a fizzling fad. Being a regular kale eater (or drinker) is one of the most impactful ways you can protect your health. It’s also one of the easiest. You can enjoy kale in a smoothie or frittata at breakfast, salad at lunch, or sautéed at dinner. Kale chips are an easy breezy and satisfying snack, and you can even bake kale into desserts. Few veggies are as versatile and simultaneously nutrient dense. So I say, “Kale yeah” to this nutrition trend. America, let’s keep on kaling on! 

    

 

Brain Food 101

Summer is almost over, but don’t be discouraged! August begins the fun challenge of fueling our brains. With kids heading back to school and family summer vacations coming to an end, now is the time to focus on building brain power. How to do this you might ask? Well, starting with the perfect foods to get your brain cells pumping is just the ticket!

Here is our quick guide to Brain Food 101:

#1 Dark leafy greens

Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E, vitamin K, lutein and folate. Studies have found that vitamin k, lutein and folate are helping keep the brain healthy.

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Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150330112227.htm

#2 Beets

This root vegetable boosts brain power according to Scientists at Wake Forest University. Beets can increase blood flow to the brain thus improving mental performance.

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Source: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/11-best-foods-your-brain

#3 Eggs

Eggs, but more specifically the yolks of the egg are the leading source of choline. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in helping you remember things like where you left the car keys. Eating protein-rich foods like eggs for breakfast can improve overall cognitive performance, according to Swiss researchers.

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Source: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/11-best-foods-your-brain

#4 Fish

Fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  In the brain, tends to be very important for the normal functioning of neurons.

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Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20434658,00.html

#5 Avocado

A rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E, avocados are also high in vitamin C which is associated with lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

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Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20434658_5,00.html

#6 Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries help put the brakes on age-related cognitive deterioration and help rid toxic proteins associated with age-related memory loss.

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Olympic Fuel

Source: https://colorlib.com/wp/all-olympic-logos-1924-2016/

Source: https://colorlib.com/wp/all-olympic-logos-1924-2016/

I love that the Olympic games inspire many people to become more active and eat healthier. As a sports nutritionist who works with professional and competitive athletes, I know that nutrition is a key piece of the athletic puzzle. Healthy meals and snacks fuel exercise, and support recovery from the wear and tear training puts on the body. But the same principles that apply to Olympians hold true for everyone; even people who are just starting to become active. 

Whether you like to walk, hike, bike, swim, take fitness classes, or play a sport, like tennis, you need energy to move your body. That’s why what you eat before you’re active is so key. A too heavy meal, an unhealthy one, or food that’s difficult to digest, can leave you feeling sluggish. But eating too little can leave you feeling weak. To properly fuel up and feel invigorated during exercise the best strategy is to reach for nutrient-rich carbohydrates, your cells’ preferred fuel source. Great options include a banana, a small bowl of oatmeal flavored with a touch of honey or maple syrup and cinnamon, or a baked sweet potato.

Source: http://www.mythirtyspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VegFruits.jpg

Source: http://www.mythirtyspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VegFruits.jpg

Protein is a building block of muscle, so after being active be sure to include a protein-rich food for recovery. An ideal post-exercise meal should also include good fat, which is also needed for healing muscles and joints. Plenty of produce is another important element to replenish nutrients and provide antioxidants. One quick option is a smoothie made with leafy greens, fresh or frozen fruit, avocado, nut butter or nut milk, and protein powder or Greek yogurt.  Take Nature’s Greens Kool Kale Smoothie here for a test drive! For a savory meal whip up an omelet made with veggies and avocado, with a side of fruit, or a gingery veggie and citrus stir fry, paired with salmon, shrimp, or chicken, and topped with nuts or seeds. 

To stay hydrated as you work up a sweat follow this general rule of thumb: drink at least two cups of water two hours before exercise, another two cups fifteen minutes prior, and a half cup every fifteen to twenty minutes during, and a few cups afterwards. If you’re sweating heavily be sure to use a sports drink or electrolyte replacer, since plain water alone won’t replenish electrolytes.

Making healthy eating a priority can motivate you to be more active, and help you get the most out of any activity you engage in. And the combination will deliver a healthier, happier, fitter you. So this summer chant “Go USA!” and “Go me!”

 

 

Traveling Greens: Helpful Tips to Store Green Meals on the Go

Ever feel like your snacks while traveling are just plain old junk?  With summer approaching, we look ahead at convenient ways to store greens on-the-go.  Out with the chips and in with the green.  Keep your nutrition on point while out and about and you won’t miss a beat.  Here are five ways to bring your greens with you:

 

1.       Make your green meals ahead of time and put them in a storage container.  Here is a great salad to make for your next travel day that will get you on the Mason jar trend!

 

2.      Double your batch of smoothies to store as a good morning or afternoon snack.  Put it in the freezer at work for those 3 pm hunger pangs or in a cooler in your car.  Find our many smoothie recipes here!

3. Got a flight to catch?  Worried about eating peanuts, pretzels, and snack boxes?  Try packing good-for-you snacks for your flight that will keep you energized and your nutrition in shape.  Slice up some goodies that can last outside of the refrigerator like bell peppers, cucumbers, or fresh fruit.  Almonds and kale chips are also a good option.  Pack them in your carry-on and enjoy your flight.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xlibber/4676723312

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xlibber/4676723312

4. Going to the beach or park?  Pack your cooler with tasty and healthy summer treats.  Opt for fresh fruit and chilled lean proteins.  You can even make this easy salad ahead of time to keep in the cooler.

5. Whether you are prepping for the work week or your meals for a trip, this is the most effective way to keep your nutrition on point.  Check out companies like Fuel Food for inspiration on how to make and what to put in your meal kit.  We've made it easy for you to prep your meals.  Just follow the steps below! 

BTF-FBinfo-meals.jpg

Spring into Action: 3 Ways to Lose Weight and Keep the Pounds Off

Spring into Action: 3 Ways to Lose Weight and Keep the Pounds Off

We searched and navigated our way through the best tried and true tips from the pros – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – to bring you information from the nutrition experts including our very own partner and registered dietician, Cynthia Sass.