Celebrate Blueberry Month with Me

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Yay for blueberries! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, July is Blueberry Month. Go pick some at a local you-pick farm! Freeze a whole bunch of them and then you will have nutrient-dense blueberries to use for months ahead. Here are just some of the reasons that I love blueberries.

Blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost any other food. In fact, they help protect against oxidative damage. What’s that you ask? It’s a process that takes place every day at the cellular level; in short, it’s a fancy way to say “aging.” So, consider blueberries a great anti-aging food choice.

I have a great example of how blueberries counteract oxidative damage. In a 2007 study, 168 research subjects were instructed to drink one liter (34 ounces) of a mixture of blueberry and apple juice, every day. At the end of the study, oxidative DNA damage due to free radicals was reduced by 20 percent.

Oxidative damage to the brain creates problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s. A recent study examined elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers gave each subject blueberry juice every day. After 12 weeks, they had seen improvements in several markers of brain function

These antioxidants that I speak of also help to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, making blueberries an awesome choice for your heart health.

Also, blueberries contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin. Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain. I know so many older adults who take an aspirin a day for their heart. I think that making good food choices is the best way to protect your heart.

Blueberries are also high in lutein; this phytonutrient is particularly helpful when it comes to your vision.

Aging isn’t just marked by wrinkles on our skin; our organs age as well.

We often forget of all of the amazing things that are happening to our body on a cellular level and I think it’s so awesome that we can make good things happen to our cells with our food choices. One thing is for sure, blueberries will always be in my food repertoire!

Blueberries are a superfood choice to keep you energized and young inside and out!

 

How the Great Outdoors Makes you Healthy

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My boyfriend Greg and I have been hiking in the Adirondacks quite a bit this summer. We love Lake Placid; the restaurants cater to health enthusiasts like us with hearty, delicious, and healthy food choices and there is something uplifting about the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains.

What I truly love is that just by being outside I am taking awesome measures to take care of myself—yes, even as healthy as I am, I am improving my health. Here are

my favorite scientifically proven benefits of the outdoors.

  • Vitamin D Rocks!

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Soak in those rays for at least 20 minutes a day without sunscreen to reap the benefits. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, collaborates with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K to protect your bones, and it can even help prevent diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.

  • Super Slumber

Sweet sleep feels so amazing…and when you are outside often, you keep your circadian rhythm working the way it was meant to, helping you to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Nature has been proven to help prevent insomnia as well-an awesome bonus. See, there are psychological and physiological reasons you sleep better just by spending time outside!

  • Bright Eyes

Most of us wear sunglasses in the summer and that’s important for protecting your eyes, but even with those shades on, do you being outside helps your eyes? Artificial light and constant staring at electronic devices inside literally kills your eyesight. Get outside often to rest those eyes!

  • Maintainin’ a Healthy Weight

Being outdoors generally forces you to move your body more…and that exercise is awesome for maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t need to hike mountains like me; even a nice walk around the block is literal steps in the right direction!

  • Helpin’ my Heart

A recent study in Australia found that just 30 minutes of exposure to nature each week can reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by nine percent. Imagine if you spent 30 minutes outdoors a few times each week?!

  • Marvelous Mood

Exposure to nature has been proven to boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels! Sometimes when you are feeling blah, a step int the Great Outdoors can spark the joy we all need!

Time to pull yourself away from the electronic device, step outside, take in a deep breath, and delve into all the benefits that nature offers us!

Simple Solutions for your Morning Workout Recovery

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I know, I know. Your workouts are crammed into your already hectic life. You have finally mastered the art of getting to bed early so that you can rise with the sun and squeeze in your daily workout. But once you finish, you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate breakfast; you have to shower, shave, dress, and look your best for the day ahead!

But listen to me, after a workout, your muscles are damaged and depleted. In order to build the strength that you are seeking, you need to feed those depleted muscles with glycogen. The best way to do this is to consume a breakfast that has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. An ideal amount of protein is 10-18 grams. This will shuttle plenty of glycogen to your muscles and energize you for the day!

I hear ya! You don’t have time to calculate these numbers AND eat on top of it. That’s what you have me for! Here are my top-3, quick and easy breakfasts for workout recovery (and they’re a great way to start your day even if you don’t work out in the morning)

#1: Almond butter on whole grain toast with two types of fruit

A banana is one of my top choices and then for the second type of fruit, I usually choose something seasonal. In summer, berries are my favorite. Make sure your bread’s first ingredient is whole ground wheat or sprouted wheat; if it simply says wheat flour, it is not truly whole grain! And spread on that almond butter generously—think two tablespoons…that’s some yummy fiber, protein, and healthy fats for you!

#2: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup granola and a handful of fruit        

Nothing beats Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries! Watch out for sugar in both the yogurt and granola. I usually buy plain Greek yogurt to minimize the sugar and there are plenty of granola varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar. Muesli is a good option instead of granola as well.

#3: A Succulent smoothie

Mix 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder.

If you’re like me, you may not like messing with a blender in the morning, so make your smoothie the night before and store it in a mason jar of smoothie shaker cup and you can even have it on the go the next morning.

What’s the best part about these three recovery breakfast options? You can use mix and match the fruits to come up with entirely different choices every day

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

How to Protect your Pearly Whites with Nutrition

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As you grow older, maintaining healthy teeth and gums becomes imperative.  Nutrition is as important as flossing and brushing—it really is. And it’s not just about avoiding sugary food and drinks; it’s also important to eat foods that promote healthy gums and teeth. Do you want to know what they are? Here are my top recommendations!

  • Detergent foods

Am I asking you to put detergent in your teeth?  Of course not!  Dentists refer to foods that have a pretty low pH, are filled to the brim with water and fiber and have a crunchy texture as “detergent foods.”  These foods literally clean your teeth. Some great examples include cucumbers, celery, carrots, and apples. Eat them at the end of a meal to help clean those gems in your mouth!

  • High-calcium and phosphorous foods

Calcium is as awesome for your teeth as it is for your bones. Calcium and phosphorus is a dominant duo for your teeth. These two minerals can actually re-mineralize your teeth enamel. In fact, tooth enamel is almost entirely composed of calcium phosphate (Calcium + Phosphorous as you may remember from chemistry class).

Some great high-calcium/high phosphorous food choices include: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, dairy products, and fish bones (euu…gross…I know, but canned salmon is a great example…just crush the bones in it and you have an awesome calcium phosphorus action happening).

  • High vitamin C foods

Vitamin C manufactures collagen so it is an excellent nutrient for keeping your gums healthy. The best vitamin c choices include strawberries, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, and kale.

  • Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are natural anti-bacterial agents. Sautee your meat and veggies with garlic. Add both garlic and onions to soup. Red onions are delicious in salads. These two rock stars help prevent the leading cause of tooth decay, plaque buildup.

  • Green tea

Green tea is the ultimate powerhouse for your teeth. It lowers the acidity in your saliva (preventing plaque buildup), is a natural anti-inflammatory (very helpful for maintaining healthy gums), and it kills the microbes that make your mouth stink (so it’s a natural breath freshener).

There have been several studies indicating how incredible green tea is for your teeth. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology studied 940 men between the ages of 49 and 59 and discovered that the men who drank green tea regularly had far better oral health than those who did not.

Try applying at least a couple of these recommendations between now and your next dental checkup—I bet your dentist will see improvement!

 

Celebrate Cherry Season

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Cherry season is upon us in Central New York and I love it! Cherries are the perfect snack and they are a nutrition-boosting compliment to every meal. Add them to your yogurt, smoothie, or oatmeal for breakfast. Toss them in a salad for lunch or dinner. The best news about cherries is their health benefits. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Here are a few reasons why.

Cherries can help with weight-loss efforts.

Cherries are a high-fiber food, which is always good for weight-loss because fiber keeps us fuller longer. A lab study actually proved that cherries can in fact help prevent weight gain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food, rats that were given tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight as rats consuming the same diet without cherries. The cherry powder intake was associated with lower lipid (fat) levels in the blood, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat weight as well.

Cherries can help you sleep better.

We could all use some good slumber, right? Well, cherries can help with this! Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Very few foods contain melatonin. Our bodies can manufacture a little bit of it through the pineal gland in our brain—consuming cherries can give us some extra melatonin to make sure we sleep soundly.

Cherries can increase your energy levels.

Of course better sleep can help with better energy levels, but there’s something else about cherries that can help boost your energy. The natural sugar and water content of cherries along with a plethora of antioxidants will no-doubt help prevent any energy dips you might experience during the day.

Cherries can protect against Diabetes

A lot of people with diabetes deter from fruit because of the sugar content. Cherries have a low glycemic index though so they don’t sky-rocket your sugar levels. Cherries have a glycemic index (GI) of 22 compared to say grapes that have a GI of 46, strawberries that have a GI of 41 or apples that have a GI of 39.

Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Hold off on the ibuprofen please! Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that cherries helped prevent post workout pain in runners. Another study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center found that cherry consumption greatly reduced the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis.

Cherries can protect your heart.

High in antioxidants and fiber, it should come as no surprise that cherries can protect your heart. The potassium content of cherries is particularly healthy for the heart by helping to regulate blood pressure,

Get yourself to the market and get some cherries today. They’re in season right now in Central New York through the month of July! And for a special treat, dip them in dark chocolate, which is also high in antioxidants!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN

Crazy about Cranberries at Barbecue Get-Togethers

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Cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving, dear friends. There are quite a few reasons I absolutely love cranberries.

First of all, studies show that they’re great for my heart. Turns out, the bioactive compounds found in cranberries may help maintain a healthy heart by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Secondly, cranberries are a natural way to help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are perhaps the most uncomfortable health ailment a woman (or man) can face and I never want to experience one. If you have a history of UTIs, try consuming more cranberry products – juice, sauce, dried, fresh – you pick.  Results from a large clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, showed that cranberry juice reduced symptomatic UTIs by almost 40 percent in women with a recent history of UTIs.

Last but not least, I love that cranberry products, including cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries and sauces, offer the same health benefits of fresh cranberries.

Given cranberries’ unique health properties and cooking versatility, I have created some ways for you to enjoy cranberries no matter what time of year – starting right now, with grilling season! Here are a few barbecue recipes to get you started!

Summer Salad:

Toss some dried cranberries into a salad. I love a simple salad of greens, diced Granny Smith apples, sliced red onion, walnuts, and a whole lot of dried cranberries.

Summer Spritzer:

Summer is a time for cocktails, but they don’t have to be alcoholic. I love mixing 3/4 cups of cranberry juice cocktail with a cup of seltzer water for a big, delicious summer spritzer.

On the Grill

You read that right—I love using cranberries on the grill. It takes one recipe, a cranberry barbeque sauce! This may be time-consuming, but it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator, so you can reuse it. I have also provided a simpler recipe for the busy bees out there; a cranberry glaze. You can slather either on almost any meat choice and impress your guests. They’re especially yummy on chicken and pork tenderloin. So sweet and delicious!

Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

Ingredients:

– 6 cups of frozen cranberries

– 2 cups of water

-1 cup of vegetable broth

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1 teaspoon of Paprika

-1 tablespoon of tomato paste

– 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

– 1/2 cup diced onion

– ½ cup apple cider vinegar

– 1 ½ tablespoon of garlic salt

– 1 teaspoon of minced ginger

– 1 teaspoon of orange zest

Directions:

Boil all ingredients but the last two in a stock pot for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3. Use an immersion blender to blend or place in small batches in a standard blender. Strain the puree through a mesh strainer. Stir in the ginger and orange zest and voila! Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and use whenever you’d like!

Cranberry Glaze

Here’s my recipe for busy bees! Grill chicken breasts or meat of choice simply sprinkled with salt and pepper. While meat is grilling, whip up this glaze.

Ingredients:

1 can of jellied cranberry sauce

– 2 teaspoons of cumin

– 2 tablespoons of lime juice

– 1 teaspoon of sea salt

– 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until you have created a smooth glaze. If you would like some heat, you can add a diced jalapeno pepper to this recipe!

There are a couple other ways you can incorporate cranberries into your summer barbeques as well.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

To learn even more about the health benefits of cranberries, visit the Cranberry Institute.

 

Get your Engine Revin’ with Nutrition

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Yogurt I would have to say, weight-loss aside, the number one complaint I hear from my clients is tiredness. So many adults feel as though their energy is absolutely zapped. If you are sleep-deprived, of course you need to address that! Here are some nutrition-add-ons that can also help!

1.) Breakfast should be your heartiest meal of the day.

You have heard this time and time again; EAT BREAKFAST. When you have a breakfast that includes healthy fats, protein, and perhaps some complex carbs; this will help you sustain energy. It sets a great foundation for your day. Here are some ideas:

  • Omlette with some roasted potatoes (roast them the night before to save time)
  • Greek Yogurt with granola
  • Whole grain toast with avocado
  • Even pb + J on whole grain bread.

2.) Watch the sugar and caffeine consumption!

Keep an eye on how much sugar you intake. Sugar depletes nutrients and can result in low energy! Caffeine may increase your alertness, but definitely try to refrain from caffeine after 2:00 p.m. It can cause insomnia…and may even decrease REM sleep. In other words, it can affect your sleep even if you don’t realize it.

3.)Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

I can’t emphasize this enough. Water actually boosts your energy. It is crucial in the production of energy molecules. I often tell caffeine addicts to try a glass of water before reaching for their third cup of coffee of the day! If water bores you, consider infusing it with lemon, lime, or mint!

4.) Ditch the Diet.

Some people get confused hearing a dietitian advising not to diet. I’m all about eating REAL foods, NOT depriving yourself of foods. When you deprive yourself, your energy drops drastically and when your energy drops, guess what? Your body’s natural reaction is to grab something that will boost your energy rather quickly (sugary, refined foods usually) and those create a major dip in energy soon after…it’s a downward spiral!

5.)Beware of Booze!

Many people, myself included, like a nice glass of wine. For others, it may be a cocktail or a couple of beers. However, if you consume too much, it will cause fatigue. It can interfere with REM sleep just like caffeine. Alcohol also inhibits absorption of energy-boosting  B-vitamins.

Get some sleep, apply these tips, and watch your energy soar! When you feel more energetic and alive, everything in life seems brighter. Energy is essential in order to enjoy all life has to offer!