Cozy Dishes to Share with Friends and Family

As the cool air begins to creep in, we know that you’re eagerly counting down the days until that first cold snap hits where you can dive into your favorite comfort foods. The hearty, often heavy, recipes that we grew up on as children—casseroles, soups, chowders, and a variety of pies.

 These foods, while warm and comforting, are often filled with unhealthy ingredients that you’ve been working hard all year to eliminate from your pantry as you bring in more greens, fruits, and vegetables to your weekly shopping list. The fall (and approaching holiday season!) can tempt you to add some of these ingredients back to your grocery cart each week. To help you stick to the fresh, nutritious meals that you and your family have been enjoying throughout the year, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite recipes to enjoy during the fall season.

 Regardless if you’re enjoying breakfast at home with your family, headed out to a tailgate and a football game, or inviting friends over for dinner, we have you covered.

Saturday Morning Brunch

When your kids are still snuggled up in the warmth of their beds under their favorite blanket, head to the kitchen to whip up a quiche that everyone can enjoy for brunch. This Crustless Tomato Quiche is a quick and easy way to start off the day. Bake it in the morning, let it cool for a few minutes, and then slice it up. Your family can enjoy it whenever they’re up and ready for their day or can even take a piece to go on the way out the door!

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Appetizer for a Tailgate

Here in the South, many weekends during the fall are spent gathering with friends around a tailgate before heading into the stadium to catch the big game. No matter what team you’re pulling for this season, having the perfect appetizer for the tailgate is always necessary on gameday. Our You’ll Be Asking for Mo’re Collard Dip makes for a great dip to share during the cooler months of the year. We can promise that your friends will be asking you for the recipe after a bite or two.

Dinner Party

Is there anything more comforting than a warm, filling soup on a chilly fall evening? We don’t think so! Our Smoked Sausage, Kale, & Potato Soup is a wonderful recipe to share with friends around your dining room table. Need to make this vegetarian friendly? Try subbing out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and leave out the sausage. Have a mixed group? Sauté the sausage in a pan on the side and let those who want to add it into their soup add it in as a topping when you serve it. This soup is delicious no matter the season, but it’s especially enjoyable during the colder months of the year.


 What recipes are you preparing this fall? We’d love to see what you are cooking up in your kitchen this season! Whether you’re sharing your shopping cart with your ingredients or your family enjoying your finished product, be sure to tag us in your photos and videos on social media with @naturesgreens and #FarmFreshGreens!

 Happy fall, y’all!

 

Fuel For Success

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Imagine you get into your car to head to work, but it doesn’t start because you put water in the gas tank. Of course, this would never happen - because you know cars require the proper fuel (gasoline) to start and run optimally. 

Now imagine you get into your car (and it starts!), and you head to work. But maybe it feels like you’ve actually boarded the struggle bus  - on your way to work you sit at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green, then your stomach is growling by 9:00, you have a headache by 12:00, and your eyes are just drooping alllll day looong….just me?! I didn’t think so. Just like our cars require the proper fuel to start and run efficiently, YOU require proper fuel to run smoothly and efficiently throughout the day. Let’s chat…  

Fuel For Success

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When I started paying attention to what I was eating and also how I was feeling in response, I noticed that I feel my best and do my best when I start the day with a nourishing breakfast - I’m talking one loaded with all the goods (carbs, fats, protein, oh my!). This combination truly keeps me running throughout the day. I know, I know - mornings are rushed and time is limited to make, let alone eat, breakfast! Trust me - I understand. I used to frequently find myself running out the door, with a piece of toast or whatever bar I could find in the pantry - and then inevitably I’d be hungry, tired, and on the verge of a headache by 9 am. 

CUE SMOOTHIES

Smoothies can easily be prepped in advance and travel well (#noexcuses). Not to mention, they are the perfect way to get in a few servings of fruits and veggies along with carbs, healthy fats, and protein first thing.  Veggies aren’t confined to lunch or dinner anymore! They’re quick, easy, and efficient. This green smoothie is one of my favorite energizing smoothies, and with the option to add some protein powder it makes also makes for a great post-workout option. Eat good, feel good - enjoy! 


This post was sponsored by WP Rawl. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Spicy Shakshuka Bites

Shakshuka. What is it and why am I seeing it everywhere?

A quick google search plus a 10 second glance, and I learned that Shakshuka literally means “a mixture”. The traditional version has Middle Eastern and North African routes, and combines tomatoes, onions and spices to make a saucy base with eggs poached on top. Despite its increase in trend factor, my inspiration was the morning struggle.

I am pretty devoted to my routine and my 5:18 alarm. I like to get up and get moving before I get working. For breakfast, I typically rotate through the same meals out of ease or convenience, and I even work at home. That got me thinking (and sympathizing) for the majority of people who have to go in to the office.

9 out of 10 times I will choose to have a savory breakfast and actually feel weird when I don’t get at least one veggie in. Some days I have the flexibility to spend more time on breakfast yet I still choose the norms because I’ll slack on creativity. I can’t help but to imagine my options would be even less if I went straight from the gym to an office. So, I thought of a nontraditional breakfast that I knew would not only be full of flavor and nutrients but could also portable. I ended up with Spicy Shakshuka Breakfast Bites.

RECIPE

Yield: 12 cups

Prep-time: 15 min

Cook-time: 30 min

Ingredients:

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  • 1 lb Nature’s Greens kale greens, lightly steamed

  • 12 eggs

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ white onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 c tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 orange pepper, chopped

  • ⅓ c tomato paste

  • 1 tbsp Harissa

  • 2 tsp salt

  • ½ c fresh parsley, chopped 

  • ⅓ c filtered water

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions, orange pepper, and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until softened. 

  2. Add tomato paste, Harrisa and slowly begin to stir in water. With the pan still on medium, cook for 2 minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes and cooking for 2 additional minutes.

  3. Add more water if you find the mixture is too dry but you want it to be a bit thicker than normal. Stir in parsley, turn off heat and let sauce rest while preparing the kale.

    1. I steamed the kale using a large pot, steamer basket and filtered water for 3-4 minutes over medium/high heat.

  4. Divide kale evenly and press into the bottoms of a greased muffin pan. Next, spread a layer of sauce on top of the kale. Bake @ 350 F for 15 minutes. 

    1. I used a 12 cup silicone pan for easy removal.

  5. Remove pan and crack 1 egg into each well. Bake again for 11-15 minutes or until the egg cooked as desired. 

    1. 15 minutes was a bit too long for me and almost cooked the yolk through. I recommend under cooking or cooking until the whites have set if you plan to reheat in the future. 

  6. Let set and cool before removing from wells. Serve, store and enjoy a flavorful, quick meal at home or out the door.

This post was sponsored by WP Rawl. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Meal Prep Strategies For The Week Ahead!

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One of the easiest prep strategies for building meals that are healthful and balanced is to make the components for grain bowls, but with the portions of the greens and grains reversed. This not only allows you to fit in more veggies, but it also prevents carb overload - all while providing a generously portioned meal that is filling, energizing, and satisfying.

Ready some glass storage contains with lids to fill with your ingredients. The first step is to prep your greens, like kale or collards. Plan for at least two cups per meal. Simply chop a generous portion, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and massage, using your hands, until the greens are slightly wilted. Transfer to a large container and seal. This will be the base of your reverse grain bowl.

Next, prep some additional veggies. These can be raw, like diced tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and red onion, or shredded zucchini. They can also be sautéed, grilled, or oven roasted. Aim for at least two additional colors, and at least a half cup per meal.          

Prepare some simple grains, which include naturally gluten free options, like brown or wild rice, quinoa, or corn. Plan for a half cup cooked per meal.

Protein is next. This can include plant based choices, like beans, lentils, or chickpeas – about a half cup per meal. Or you may opt for about three ounces per meal of cooked lean animal protein, like browned extra lean ground turkey. For a time saving shortcut buy canned beans, tinned salmon, or ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken. One or two hard boiled eggs is another easy option.

The last step is a finishing sauce. This can include a healthful store bought option, like dairy free pesto or olive tapenade, a semi-premade sauce, like jarred tahini seasoned with added herbs and spices, or a from-scratch choice, like a simple balsamic vinaigrette or creamy pureed avocado sauce.   

When you’re ready to eat, pull out your containers. Fill the bottom of a bowl with your greens, add more veggies, top with your grain, then protein. You can warm some of these up if you prefer, or leave them chilled. Drizzle with your finishing sauce and you’re ready to go!   

Many of these ingredients require minimal or no prep. And taking some extra time on the weekend to cook some whole grains and fill your containers is well worth the effort. Meal prepping ensures that during the busy work week all you need to do to eat healthfully is grab your components, assemble, and enjoy!

How do you feel about meal prep? Please share some of your favorite ingredients, tips, and healthy dishes.

 

 

All Prepped and Everywhere to Be

Imagine this: after hitting snooze on your alarm for just a few more minutes of extra sleep, you wake up and hit the ground running for a busy day of activities for both you and your family. There are permission slips to be signed, carpools to school, meetings at work, soccer practice for your daughter, a play date for your son, and everything in between. You’re running late, and there’s no time to make breakfast for the family. What do you do?

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 Do you decide that a quick pit stop by a local fast food joint on the way to dropping the kids off is exactly what the morning calls for? After all, you’ve got to get you and the kids fed and what’s better than a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit with a side of hash browns?

 Or do you open up your fridge, grab the smoothies that you meal prepped over the weekend, and hop in the car to get on your way for the day?

 We know that that this first scenario is one that many families are trapped in during busy weeks. According to the CDC, between 2013 and 2016, 36% of adult Americans consumed fast food on any given day. Yes, we know that it can be incredibly easy and tempting to swing through the drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant to grab a quick meal on the go. It beats going into a restaurant and sitting down for a healthier meal and it keeps you and your family on track to making it to your next scheduled activity. But here’s the good news: you can break out of this cycle! Fast food restaurants don’t have to be your go to during busy weeks.

 You can achieve the second, healthier scenario easily with one step: meal prepping!

 Meal prepping is something that we all love here at WP Rawl. There’s no more satisfying start to a week than knowing that all of your grocery shopping is complete and that there’s going to be a healthy, delicious meal available to you and your family for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and the snacks in between, too!) Just think about how much more you’ll be able to enjoy your week and the time that you’re able to spend with your family when you aren’t worried about having to run out to the store or getting dinner going in the kitchen.

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Cranberry Pecan Chickpea Salad

Breakfast is often times the most skipped meal of the day—or the one you’re most likely to run to the local drive-thru for in your hurry to start your day. So we’ve rounded up a few ideas for breakfasts or mid-day snacks that can make you feel prepped and ready to tackle the week once you’ve put them together on Sunday evening.

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"Not So Hidden Greens" Smoothie

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Superfood Lemon Blueberry Scones

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Quinoa Kale Pizza Bites

 You can make several batches of one, or make all three to mix and match throughout the week—however you choose, you know that you’ll be better prepared for the day when you’re all prepped and ready to go!

We would love to see all of the ways that you’re taking your meals on the go! Tag us in your photos and videos on social media with @naturesgreens and #farmfreshgreens.

Smoothies On The Go!

When it comes to meals on the go it doesn’t get much easier than smoothies. The right smoothie can serve as a complete meal replacement, and you can even use meal prep techniques to create savvy shortcuts, so you can get out the door both quickly and healthfully.

 To craft a smoothie that mimics a meal, be sure to include veggies. One of the easiest and most nutritious is a generous handful of ready-to-eat bagged kale. Next, choose a protein source. If you dislike protein powders, opt for almond flour, which is a pulverized form of this whole plant food. A quarter cup provides 8 grams of protein, and an almost equivalent amount of heart healthy fat. Next up is fruit. I like to use a combination of frozen blueberries and a few pre-soaked dates. Dates provide natural sweetness, bundled with antioxidants, fiber, and key nutrients, like potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure and heart function, muscle contractions, prevents muscle cramps, and helps maintain muscle mass.

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Here’s a smart smoothie trick. The pigments in greens and berries are both beautiful on their own, but they tend to clash when combined, to create an unappetizing, dull color. To brighten up your smoothie, add a peeled raw baby beet. Beet pigments overpower greens, which results in a bright, gorgeous hue. Fresh beets also add bonus nutrients, including folate, which is needed for healing and mental health, and magnesium, which improves mood and sleep. Finally, sprinkle in some all natural, anti-inflammatory seasonings, like fresh ginger root and a combo of ground turmeric and black pepper. Now your smoothie contains all of the puzzle pieces found in a well, balanced meal. The result: a quick and simple dish you can take with you and easily sip, that will leave you feeling full, satisfied, and energized for hours. 

 To plan ahead, take some time on the weekend to create smoothie kits. Gather about five freezer safe containers. If you crave variety, mimic the above formula to create mix and match combinations that include different foods from the same food groups. For example, instead of blueberries use frozen cherries, banana, or a chopped green apple, choose collard greens in place of kale, chickpea flour or sprouted pumpkin seeds instead of almond flour, cinnamon rather than ginger, etc. Fill each container with all of the ingredients that go into one smoothie except for the liquid. Seal and stash in the freezer. When you’re ready, simply grab a container, transfer the contents into your blender, add water or nut milk, blend, and you’re ready to go!          

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 A smoothie can replace breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And pre-prepping the ingredients in advance is a savvy way to ensure that in a pinch you’ll have a healthy, well-balanced meal in your hands in mere minutes.  Give it a try, and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear about your favorite combinations, and how smoothie meals make you feel!

Find the recipe for Cynthia’s Make Ahead Superfood Meal Replacement Smoothie HERE!

          

 

 

 

 

Three Delicious Ways to Enjoy Your Greens on the Go This Summer

Happy summer, everyone!

Summer is one of our very favorite seasons of the year at WP Rawl. No matter where you look, you see the color GREEN everywhere. From the green leaves on the trees to the greens that are popping up in our fields, our favorite color is all around us. It’s even in our kitchens each day as we prep and enjoy our meals.

We don’t know about y’all, but we tend to stay on the go during the summer months. The extra daylight hours have us up and out the door early in the morning and staying out later in the evenings. Combined with the warm weather, we like to spend the majority of our days outside. That can make mealtimes a little tricky in our homes as we are spending less time gathered around the table for mealtimes. Most of our meals are actually on the go.

But you know what? We’re not sacrificing nutrition despite being on the go! We’re taking our greens everywhere that we go with us this season. Vacations? Sure, we’ve got our greens there. Early morning swim practices with the kids? Yup, you can bet we have a cup full of greens down by the pool, too. Here are some of our tried and true recipes that make enjoying greens on the go very easy.

Chocolate Kale Zucchini Mini Muffins

Our Chocolate Kale Zucchini Mini Muffins are perfect to meal prep ahead of time! Whip up a batch of these on Sunday night to enjoy for a quick breakfast during the week. They even make for a great snack during the day.

Watermelon Apple Salad with Greens

Prepped and served from a mason jar, our Watermelon Apple Sale with Greens is not only super easy to eat on the go, but it’s also a cute way to enjoy a salad. Prep this one the night before or first thing in the morning before you head out the door for your day’s adventures.

Smoothie

Hands down, the easiest way to take your greens to go this summer? In a smoothie! Smoothies are cool, tasty, and exceptionally refreshing to enjoy during the hot summer months. We have an abundance of smoothie recipes for you to enjoy on our website. What’s your favorite one to enjoy? Smoothies are so easy to customize—you can take any of our recipes and tailor them specifically to your tastes and needs.

How are you taking your greens to go this summer? We would love to see! Tag us in your photos and videos on social media with @naturesgreens and #backtofresh.

The Mindful Eating Challenge

Mindfulness… It’s a total buzz word as of late but what does it even mean?

Mindfulness is bringing our awareness to the here and now. It’s about being fully aware of our surroundings in that particular moment in time. Here are some examples of questions you may ask yourself to become present: How deep is my breathing? What are the sounds around me? Can I release any tension I am holding onto in my bodies? 

Mindful Eating

This leads us to the topic of mindful eating. Mindful eating is about using our senses before, while, and after eating our food. For example, we can ask questions like what does the food smell like, what does it look like, what is the taste and finally what is the texture in our mouth? It’s about being aware of our hunger cues, doesn’t mean that just because its 12 noon, and we usually eat every day at 12 noon, we have to eat then. Or just because I usually practice intermittent fasting and don’t begin eating my first meal until 10 am, that I need to wait until 10 am to eat. What if our body is telling us we are hungry earlier, or later than 10 am? It’s about tuning into our body to figure what what it’s telling us, what it needs and in turn, what type of fuel we should feed it.

In the culture we currently live in, it’s totally normal to eat almost unconsciously. Most people eat at their desk while working, or eat while watching TV at home. I myself have a bad habit of eating while responding to emails. But the issue with that is we don’t get to actually enjoy the beautiful food in front of us. We don’t get to appreciate that it’s nourishing our bodies and giving us brain fuel to make it through the day. We just chew & swallow to finish the task and be able to move on to the next item on our to-do list. I mean, let’s face it, who else has finished a whole bag of popcorn or chips and thought, “oops, I wasn’t even hungry..” I know I have!

Breaking these mindless eating habits actually requires some motivation, self-compassion and practice. That’s why I have set up a quick 6-step plan on how we can steer away from these mindless eating habits and begin adopting some mindful eating habits! For the next 2 weeks, we are going to try to enjoy each meal mindfully. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Decide if you’re actually hungry. Take a moment to figure out if emotions have triggered you to begin eating (such as feeling sad, bored or lonely). 

  • Step 2: Serve your food.

  • Step 3: Smell - Take a few deep breaths in and out before you begin eating. Smell the food and get excited about the flavors about to happen!

  • Step 4: Sight - What does the food look like? What is the most gorgeous part of the presentation? Anything in particular you’re excited to taste?

  • Step 5: Taste - Take your first bite of food, chew it for quite some time. Set your fork down. Now try to extract all of the flavors and textures. What does it actually taste like?

  • Step 6: While you enjoy the rest of your meal, think about where your food is coming from, and who may have grown your food. Think about what it’s doing for your body. For example, certain fresh organic vegetables can provide our bodies with vitamins and minerals to keep our skin glowing and our digestive system working properly.

I have created a kale and pink grapefruit salad recipe for you below. It is actually a great recipe to start with because you’ll have so many different flavors and textures to examine. I love using Natures Greens because they are pre-washed and ready to consume, making it easier for me to have some more time to practice mindful eating!

Challenge

Let’s start by applying this 6-step process of mindful eating to one meal a day, yup, just one meal (I totally get it can be overwhelming to change our habits overnight). Pick whichever meal you feel it can be the most practical to start with, and give yourself a challenge of doing it every day for 14 days. Whenever you are mindfully eating, tag me your social media posts @recipes4health & I will re-share! So who’s in?

Kale & Pink Grapefruit Salad

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 10 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Salad:

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  • 6-8 cups of Natures Green Organic Kale Greens (pre-chopped & pre washed)

  • 1 large grapefruit

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans

  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tbsp 

  • 1-2 tbsp grapefruit juice

  • 1 tbsp ACV

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup 

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Using a sharp knife, chop the kale into fine pieces and add them into a large bowl.

  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the kale and use your hands to massage all throughout the leaves. Doing this will help break down the coarseness of the kale and help it be easier to digest.

  3. Next use a sharp knife to cut and peel the grapefruit, then discard. Working over a small bowl, cut between the membranes to release the segments into a bowl. Leave the juice aside to use for the dressing. Add the grapefruit segments into the bowl of kale.

  4. Slice an avocado in half, remove the seed carefully with a knife. Slice the inside of the avocado with a knife, then scoop out the insides with a spoon. Add it to the bowl of kale.

  5. Add the pecans, feta cheese and cranberries into the bowl too. 

  6. For the dressing, add all of the ingredients into a mason jar and shake well. 

  7. Add the dressing to the bowl and toss well.


5 Ways to Get Moving This Spring

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Are you moving as much as you should? Being physically active can improve your overall health. At times, we often hear so much about diet, but don’t realize that physical activity is just as important. Most people do not get enough physical activity, and everyone can benefit from being more active. 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, it is important to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Easier said than done right? Between work, school, family obligations, it can very difficult to designate time to get those minutes in daily. Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle because of its many benefits such as helping to improve blood pressure, weight maintenance, regulating blood sugars and more. It’s time to better your health by moving your body. Here are 5 fun ways to stay active.

1. Invite a friend and get hiking! Hiking is such a powerful cardio workout with so many health benefits, plus it’s fun (especially when you are doing with your loved ones or friends). Hiking can build strength in your glutes, as well as build muscles in your hips and lower legs. Hiking is also a great way to enjoy nature. Research hiking trails in your location, grab somebody, and get ready for a fun and fulfilling workout that you will enjoy!

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2. Let’s Dance! Can’t dance? No worries, dancing for a workout is really all about moving your body, not catching the beat. Dance workouts make exercising more fun and less painful. What’s not to love about sweating away to your very own dance party and jamming? Dancing can be a great heart pounding, cardio workout. Pop in your favorite dance cardio video and get to it!

3. Take a class. Are you getting bored doing the same workouts? Well it’s time to switch it up! The good news is that there are so many fitness classes out there that can help you mix up your workout routine. It’s even more exciting when you are taking it with a friend. A few classes you can try are yoga, kickboxing, ZUMBA, spinning and many many more. Research some fitness classes in your local area and find one that works for you.

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4. Walk! Walking might be one of the easiest workouts you can do, if you are physically capable. It doesn’t require much effort and it goes a very long way. When you go out, aim to park your car further away from where you are going, to get in some extra steps. Call a friend or family member to go for a walk with you or to talk on the phone with you while you walk. You’ll be amazed at how quickly 30 minutes can fly by when you have someone by your side. You might even motivate each other to add more minutes. Spend most of your days at a desk? Aim to take multiple small breaks throughout the day to help you get active. You can set a timer on your phone to get up and go for a walk around the office. On the days you feel that you want something more relaxed, you can try walking.

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5. Use a fitness app. Oh yes... the digital age brings us so many cool gadgets almost everyday. Do you have a smartphone? Most likely you do, but awesome news is that now it can be a great workout companion. There are so many new fitness apps that include step-by-step instructions for different workouts from yoga, to strength training, running and more. If fitness apps are your thing, it can definitely be well worth downloading.

Whichever type of physical activity you choose to do, make sure it is fun and enjoyable! Don’t forget to stretch before and after to avoid tight muscles, drink plenty of water and consume a healthy meal or snack.

The right foods before and after exercise can boost your results. Your body burns carbohydrates for fuel, they give you the energy to power through that jog or fitness class. When you’re done, refueling with a combination of protein and carbs can help you rebuild muscle. For pre and post workout snacks and meals, visit Nature’s Greens!

This post was sponsored by WP Rawl. All thoughts and opinions are from Valerie Agyeman, RDN. For more of her work around wellness and nutrition, visit her website: http://flourishheights.com

Fueling Your Body for Fitness

Being mindful of what you put into your body can help you to meet your fitness goals faster, and it can also help you prepare for and recover from a run, a pickup game of soccer with friends, or a workout at the gym. Exercising is only half the battle of a healthy lifestyle—your diet plays an extremely important part, too. Everyone is different, so with all of this, it’s best to try and understand how your body specifically responds to different practices.

You can get 30 minutes of physical activity every day, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic, but if you’re not fueling your body with the right nutrition, you’re won’t reap all of the available benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Adding in extra time at the gym in the mornings before work or going on long walks with your family at the end of the day are great things to do, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be eating right in addition to the physical activity.

The Revival Smoothie. 😍

The Revival Smoothie. 😍

Before you hit the gym, make a smoothie at home that’s filled with fruit and greens. The Revival smoothie created by Tasty As Fit is a perfect one to add to your workout routine. Enjoy a smoothie like this one, or any other one filled with fruits and greens, about an hour before you plan to workout. Your body will have time to digest the smoothie before you start getting your heart rate up at the gym.

Did you know that kale is a wonderful green to eat after you complete a workout? Kale can help manage inflammation after your finish exercising for the day, per the US News and World Report. Inflammation can cause stiffness, soreness, and your body’s ability to bounce back after a strenuous workout. So go ahead—toss some kale into a post-workout smoothie or add a dark leafy greens salad filled with kale to go along with your dinner for the evening.

How are you fueling your body for your workouts and your fitness goals? We’d love for you to share with us! Post a picture or video on social media, and be sure to tag @naturesgreens and #FarmFreshGreens!

What to Eat Before and After a Workout and Why

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Sure, we know that food and exercise go hand in hand, but sometimes with all of the information out there knowing what to eat before and after a workout becomes harder than the workout itself!

Everyone’s needs are a little different depending on their goals, and type of exercise, but there are a couple of nutrition guidelines when it comes to what to eat before and after a workout that will ensure you a fueled up to perform your best and replenish your muscles properly after a sweat sesh. It’s very important to take into consideration how you feel depending on what you eat before and after a workout and how it makes you feel during it. It may require some trial and error to get it right but once you know what makes you feel your best you’ll be ready to take on any workout out there!

Even as a dietitian sometimes I don’t fuel up properly or wait too long to eat after a workout and find myself not feeling so great. It happens! There will always be circumstances that prevent us from perfect execution but the bottom line is if you can roughly follow these guidelines and prepare in advance it will not only allow you to get stronger in your workouts, hep your body recover properly and take the guesswork out of what to eat before and after hitting the gym.

Pre Workout Nutrition

Carbs are key. Prior to a workout we want to make sure our bodies have enough energy, and that energy comes from carbs. Carbs are broken down in our bodies into glucose and then stored in the muscles as glycogen. We need enough carbs to replenish that glycogen store when we’re using it up during exercise. You’ll want what you have before a workout to be mostly carbs with a litte bit of protein too.

You’ll often see runners eating a plain white bagel when gearing up for a run because it’s a simple carbohydrate, which is easier to digest than let’s say a multigrain bagel with seeds (more fiber = slower to digest). Another fun fact here is that carbohydrate loading actually does not just happen the night before a race, you’re body can store carbohydrate 1-7 days in advance. Something to keep in mind if you’re a runner!

Protein is also important for muscle protein synthesis and recovery. A small amount of protein paired with the carbohydrates before a workout provides amino acids to help reduce inflammation as well as build muscle tissue.

When it comes to fat, even healthy sources of fat like avocado, nuts, and nut butter can be hard on the stomach to digest. Some people can tolerate nuts well before hitting the gym, but my recommendation is to keep consumption of this macronutrient at a minimum before the gym.

Pre-workout snack / meals ideas:

Aim for timing of consumption to be 2-3 hours before your workout. If what you’re having is more of a meal than a snack air on the side of 3 hours and if it’s getting close to workout time go for something like a banana or a granola bar.  

  • 1 slice of toast with hummus, kale and 1 slice of turkey on top

  • ½ cup carrots + ½ cup sliced peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus and 1 hard-boiled egg

  • Banana or apple slices with 1 tbsp. nut butter

  • Greek yogurt with low sugar granola + ¼ cup fruit

  • Granola bar (look for ones that have 10 grams of sugar or less if possible. Depending on the size and what’s in the bar it might be smart to have half and save half for after the workout)

  • ½ cup oatmeal with banana slices + 1 tbsp. hemp seeds

  • ½ of a wrap with turkey, spinach, tomatoes and hummus

Post Workout Nutrition

Eating after a workout is super important--your muscles are literally hungry for energy so refueling properly is crucial for replenishment, preventing muscle injury and oh yeah to keep from being hangry!

The optimal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio for this post workout nutrition is 3:1 (3 grams of carbohydrate for every 1 gram of protein). Research shows this carbohydrate-protein combination consumed within 30 minutes of exercise nearly doubles the insulin response, which results in more stored glycogen aka your body is ready and needing that energy vs. storing it as fat. This stored glycogen is then ready to fuel your next workout!

I rely on a few fool-proof snack and meals ideas that I try to always have in my fridge or in my bag so that I can refuel soon after a tough workout. Timing is also an important part of the refueling equation. Some might not be as sensitive to waiting longer to eat after a workout, but I know for me it’s key to eat within 30 minutes to an hour after a workout.

Post-workout snack / meal ideas:

Aim for timing of consumption to be within 30 minutes to an hour after a workout for the reasons stated above!  

Kale Cauliflower Power Breakfast Bowl

Kale Cauliflower Power Breakfast Bowl

  • Kale cauliflower power breakfast bowl

  • Protein smoothie: 1 cup almond milk + 1 cup kale, ½ cup blueberries, 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger, blended plus your protein powder of choice

  • Banana with 2 tbsp. nut butter and a hard-boiled egg (bananas are great before or after because of their carb content--they fuel or refuel your muscles fast!)

  • Baked salmon or chicken with brown rice or quinoa and roasted veggies

  • Kale sausage and egg muffins with toast

Hello Hydration

Staying hydrated before and after a workout is also equally as important as what you eat! Dehydration can cause muscle cramping, and overall fatigue going into a workout.

Here again, there’s no one-size-fits-all method to determining fluid needs during exercise, a good place to start is drinking about 2 cups of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise and 1 cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out. Being cognizant that you are working out that day and staying on top of your water intake (aka refilling a reusable water bottle a few times) will help ensure you are feeling good all throughout the activity.

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In the hours after exercise, people should aim for approximately 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound (0.5 kg) of body weight lost during exercise to replenish fluids. After more intense workouts consider opting for coconut water to help replenish electrolytes like potassium and magnesium lost through sweat. These minerals are also super important for proper muscle contraction and relaxation, so if you like the taste this is a smart hydration option!


This post was sponsored by WP Rawl. All opinions are from Maggie Michalczyk, RDN.

Two of My Favorite Ways to Enjoy Fresh Greens Without Sacrificing Time

Nicole Yon, RD on her family’s cattle farm.

Nicole Yon, RD on her family’s cattle farm.

If I had to pick just a few words to describe my eating style it would be “nutritious convenience.” As a registered dietitian I am well versed in what it takes to build a satisfying and healthy plate, but given our hectic schedules on the farm - I also don’t have much time to spare for elaborate and nutritious meals. Since I’m not willing to sacrifice nutrition in the interest of time, I depend a lot on simple meals and healthy conveniences such as Nature’s Greens pre-washed Greens. 

Growing up Saturday night always meant pizza night in our house. As a child my favorite flavor was Hawaiian Pizza (ham and pineapple only!) and I enjoyed helping my dad make the dough from scratch, spread the sauce, shred the cheese and dress my own pizza before peering through the oven glass watch it cook.  

These days pizza nights looks a little different in our house, but my husband and I carry on the tradition by eating pizza almost every weekend. While I still enjoy a Hawaiian pizza every now and then, we use a few more convenience items like pre-made crusts and triple washed Nature’s Greens Kale. By making pizza at home (as opposed to grabbing take out or a frozen pizza) we can control a few more of the ingredients and a healthy version of one of our favorite foods!

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Easy Everyday Pizza

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 Personal Size Pizza Crust (Udi’s Gluten free shown)

• 3-4 tablespoons Pesto

• 1 roma tomato, thinly sliced

• 1/8 of a red onion, chopped

• 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

• 3 to 4 ounces cooked protein of choice (shredded chicken, chicken sausage, tofu)

• 3 cups Nature’s Greens Kale Greens

• 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or pecan oil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Prep veggies by slicing roma tomato, chopping red onion and massaging kale greens with oil.

3. Spread pesto sauce on pizza crust. Follow with a layer of roma tomatos, red onion, shredded mozzarella cheese, and protein of choice.

4. Top with kale greens - (if it looks like these are taking over your pizza, don’t worry, they will cook down in the oven!)

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.

If you’re anything like me, you might love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter and you probably hate to buy an ingredient that can be only used in one dish. After making kale pizza, I like to use my leftover kale greens in smoothies through out the week! Having pre-washed Nature’s Green’s kale makes it even easier to throw together a quick and nutritious smoothie in the mornings and my favorite ones also happens to taste like chocolate and peanut butter! 

I can often feel intimidated by recipes I see on Instagram or Pinterest that require uncommon ingredients or special powders. The truth is, you can make a nutritious smoothie with a few basic ingredients and I love making “good for you” and filling smoothies by this simple formula: 3 cups green, 2 cups of liquids, 1 cup of fruit and a few tablespoons of “extras.” Extras could include peanut butter, cocoa powder, maple syrup, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, or honey! I find this smoothie to be a great option for busy mornings and might pair it with a few hard boiled eggs for a quick, on-the-go, protein packed breakfast!

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Back to Basics Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 cup frozen banana slices

• 1 tablespoons peanut butter

• 3 cups kale greens

• 1 cup milk of choice

• 1 cups non-fat plain greek yogurt

• 1-2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

1. Combine banana, peanut butter, yogurt, milk and cocoa powder in blender until smooth.

2. Add kale greens and blend until smooth.

For MORE of Nicole’s content, follow her on Instagram! @fromfarmtolabel

This blog post was sponsored by WP Rawl and written by Nicole Yon. All thoughts and opinions are hers.

Diets: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!

We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that it’s been a good new year for you so far. The beginning of the year is always full of new beginnings, fresh starts, and plenty of goals and resolutions. Did you set any New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year? Our team set quite a few for ourselves: from growing more greens for you to enjoy and bringing you more tasty recipes to try out in your kitchens, we’re on a mission in 2019.

What types of resolutions did you set? If you set a goal to lose weight and become healthier by finally trying out that diet your friend keeps recommending, we have a different goal for you to consider.

Let’s face it. Most people don’t stick with their diets for a number of reasons. They can be too difficult to follow, they can limit the types of foods that you enjoy eating, and they can cause you to cook multiple meals for dinner if not everyone in your house is following the same diet. Diets can be pretty inconvenient, and nobody has time for that! Plus, we think there are better ways for you to become healthier and potentially lose weight along the way—if that is indeed something you want.

Think about shifting your goal away from weight loss through dieting, and instead focus on becoming healthier by adopting positive lifestyle habits.

Here are a few habits that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life:

  1. Focus on eating a balanced diet—filled with plenty of greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, and more—that will leave you feeling more energized, healthier, and fulfilled.

  2. Drink plenty of water. Not only will you stay hydrated, but you’ll potentially reduce your appetite and food intake throughout the day. Start your morning with a glass and keep it going throughout the day! Tip: you should drink half of your body weight in ounces each day.

  3. Listen to your body and don’t live in guilt. Should you eat fast food everyday? Probably not. Is it okay for you to have a cheeseburger with fries every now and then because that is what you genuinely want? Absolutely. The key is to take a moment before you eat something to ask yourself if that is really what you’d like to have? If your body is telling you that it is time for leafy greens—listen! If it is telling you that it needs some chocolate, guess what? Listen! Your body is always wanting to return to balance.

  4. Add exercise into your day. Even a thirty minute walk around your neighborhood with your kids at the end of the day or a quick yoga session during your lunch hour is really beneficial.

Diets come and go, but we believe that healthy lifestyle habits can become second nature to you. Which habit do you plan on adding to your day to day life first? Share with us on social media by tagging @naturesgreens and #FarmFreshGreens!

What Does "Clean Eating" Mean?

Shutterstock #631739033

Shutterstock #631739033

The first time I heard the word ‘clean’ in relation to food was back in the mid 1990’s. Supermarkets noticed that customers were beginning to look beyond info like calories, and towards ingredient lists. Health conscious shoppers were starting to pay attention to how foods were made, and exactly what they were made from. As a result, health food stores—which stocked fresh foods and simple ingredient products—were attracting more and more consumers, and traditional grocers took note.

Fast forward to today, and clean eating has gone mainstream, fostered by people from all walks of life, who want to feel good about what they’re putting in their bodies. This includes moms, who want the healthiest, most nourishing food for their children; millennials, who value natural living; and older adults who are motivated to maintain wellness and support longevity.  

The basic principle of clean eating is to let ingredients guide you. While it’s not realistic to never eat anything that comes out of a jar, box, or bag, it’s important to choose packaged foods with all natural, recognizable ingredients. For example, chickpeas from a can would be considered ‘clean’ if the only ingredients are chickpeas, water, and sea salt. The same is true for bagged greens with the only ingredient being kale, or frozen blueberries with no additional ingredients.

The idea is to slash your exposure to artificial additives and chemicals used in highly processed foods, as fillers, preservatives, flavor enhancers, colors, and the like. Recent research has shown that exposure to these man-made ingredients can harm health, from taxing immunity, to fueling inflammation, and possibly even contributing to obesity.     

But clean eating is also about how the foods we buy impact the health of the planet, and our ability to support an eco-friendly and sustainable food supply.  All of these vital issues are why clean eating is not a trend, but rather an important consumer movement.  

In addition to seeking out foods with ingredients you easily recognize, clean eating involves putting them together to make nutrient-packed meals and snacks. Some simple swaps to trade processed fare for fresh, clean food include: eating oats or a smoothie made with fruits and veggies for breakfast instead of a muffin or danish; snacking on nuts and fruit or veggies and hummus rather than chips; or whipping up a veggie-packed stir fry instead of microwaving a frozen entrée.

There are dozens of tasty recipes on www.rawl.net to guide you, and you’ll notice that many use simple, all natural ingredients—like extra virgin olive oil instead of margarine, and whole quinoa or beans in place of refined starches. That’s a big part of our Back to Fresh philosophy.

Tell us about the clean eating changes you’ve made and your favorite whole food-based recipes and meals in the comments or on social media @naturesgreens!

Pregnancy Nutrition: Eating Healthy While Pregnant

by Dr. Sonali Ruder (@thefoodiephysician)

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Pregnancy is truly a life-changing experience.  During pregnancy, your body goes through profound changes and certain nutrients are needed to fuel those changes.  Following a well-balanced diet rich in nutritious, whole foods is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy.  It helps increase your chances of having a smooth pregnancy and also gives your developing baby the healthiest possible start in life.  Basically, a healthy diet helps make a healthy baby!

During pregnancy, you need to consume more calories and protein than before you were pregnant.  You also need to consume more micronutrients including folic acid, iron and calcium.  These are essential for the proper growth and development of your baby as well as for your own health during pregnancy.  It’s recommended that pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps.  But did you know that you can get these nutrients from foods such as leafy greens? 

One cup of chopped turnip greens provides a whopping 107 micrograms of folate, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.  It also provides 105 milligrams of calcium, which is 10% of the recommended daily amount.  Other greens like kale, collards and mustard greens all provide these nutrients as well, in varying amounts.  In addition, leafy green vegetables also provide an array of other important nutrients including fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese and copper. 

Folate is one of the most important vitamins needed in pregnancy.  It’s essential for the synthesis of DNA and for proper cell division.  It’s especially important for the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord.  Folate is found naturally in foods like leafy green vegetables, lentils, asparagus, and beets.  Folic acid is a form of folate that is used in dietary supplements and foods.  In the United States, breads, cereals, flours, pasta, rice and other grain products are supplemented with folic acid. 

Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues as well as to your baby.  During pregnancy, you need much larger amounts of iron to support the growth of your baby and placenta.  Like folate, many grain products are supplemented with iron.  Leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard greens and spinach also provide iron.  However, the type of iron found in plant-based foods (non-heme iron) is not as easily absorbed by our bodies as the iron found in meat, seafood and poultry (heme iron).  A simple way to increase the amount of iron absorbed from vegetables is to eat vitamin C-rich foods with your meals.  Vitamin C greatly increases the amount of iron your body absorbs.  So the next time you’re sautéing some kale or mustard greens, sprinkle some lemon juice on top or throw in some bell peppers, which provide a good amount of vitamin C. 

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies.  Although 99% of it is stored in our bones and teeth, calcium serves many vital functions including maintaining a normal heartbeat, contracting muscles, transmitting nerve impulses, and clotting blood. It’s important for pregnant women to get enough calcium, especially during the third trimester when your baby’s bones are rapidly growing and their teeth are forming.  If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will withdraw calcium from your own bones to supply your baby’s needs.  Kale, collards, turnip greens and mustard greens are all a very good natural source of calcium. Calcium is also added to many foods like orange juice, plant-based milks, tofu, cereals and bread.

So how can you incorporate more leafy green vegetables into your diet?  Leafy greens can be added to a wide variety of dishes to add a boost of nutrition.  You can enjoy them raw in salads or add them to dishes like soups, stews, pasta sauces, and stir-fries.  Smoothies are another great way to incorporate greens into your diet.  During pregnancy, there may be times when you don’t have much of an appetite and cold drinks may be better tolerated.  To make a delicious smoothie, simply toss a handful of chopped greens to a blender along with your favorite fruit (like mango, pineapple, apple or watermelon) and some Greek yogurt or almond butter for a boost of protein and healthy fat.  Add ice and blend away!

More information and recipes can be found in my cookbooks, Natural Pregnancy Cookbook:  Over 125 Nutritious Recipes for a Healthy Pregnancy and Natural Baby Food: Over 150 Wholesome, Nutritious Recipes For Your Baby and Toddler

www.thefoodiephysician.com