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?

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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