Summer Travel Food Essentials

Standard

4110906418_14c2d649e2_o

How many road trips have you been on so far this summer? And how many of those trips involved low-quality food consumption? You very well may not have craved those types of foods (you know: fast-food burgers, candy bars, greasy potato chips, gas station pizza), but you didn’t have much choice in the matter. Believe me, I have been there. This summer, I made sure to not let that happen.

When my family travels, we make certain to have plenty of healthy snacks on hand; here are some of my favorites.

Instead of sugary sports drinks…

Hydration is key when traveling. Your best bet is a lot of pure water. But it can get expensive buying bottle of water after bottle of water. I recommend the Grayl water bottle! These nifty little water bottles purify in filter water super quickly!

Electrolytes are important too of course! I love Motive Pure. Motive Pure minis are these little bottles of electrolyte concentrate that you mix with water; they are sweetened with stevia and calorie-free. How awesome is that?! And they come in five great flavors; my favorites are berry and pink lemonade. You can even bring these with you on an airplane; each bottle is only an ounce. You can save a lot on Motive Pure purchases by signing up for their subscription plan. Have Motive Pure shipped right to your door and save 20 percent!

Instead of greasy potato chips…

One of my latest obsessions is Beanitos. No NOT Doritos…Beanitos! Beanitos are bean-based chips that are packed with protein, fiber, and are always free of gluten and corn. If you like your chips plain, you’d love their Original Black Bean or Simply Pinto Bean varieties. If you are a tortilla chip lover, you’d love the Beanitos alternative—Hint of Lime or Restaurant Style. If you are more of an adventurous chip consumer, you would love the Beanitos flavors that hit the market earlier this year, including: Mac-n-Cheese Crunch and Garden Fresh Salsa. The best “dipping” Beanitos chip also hit the market earlier this year—Skinny Dippers.

Instead of candy, Oreos, or any other high-fat cookies,,,

Who can resist a sweet treat every now and then? I know I can’t. So many of the packaged cookies on the market are loaded with way too many chemicals and sugar so I tend to avoid them. There are some good brands out there though. My sweet craving go-to is Enjoy Life cookies. Their wholesome cookies are so tasty and are made with allergen-free ingredients like rice flour, buckwheat and millet. You have GOT to try their Crunchy Chocolate Chip Mini cookies; they are so, so good and they come in individually-packed portion bags to help you avoid overindulging.

There is still over a month of summer, so if more travel is in your plans, consider these great, healthy, convenient snacks I mentioned. They’re great for business trips too!

“Food “for your Skin/Instead of conventional sunscreen…

And hey, let’s talk about a non-food essential item too! Sunscreen. Do you know that a lot of commercial sunscreens contain harmful parabens and other toxins? Whatever you put on your skin is as important as what you eat because you absorb what you put on your skin and it enters your bloodstream. So, please try to avoid toxic sunscreens. I highly recommend Suntegrity sunscreens! They’re free of harmful chemicals, super protective and safe for all ages…babies to centenarians.

 

Drought-Friendly Food Choices

Standard

346611781_b06f98667b_o

Read, watch, or listen to any major news source and you become very aware of the fact that we are in a drought. It’s ironic that I have been telling you to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration, while we are in a drought, right? I am not going to take those words away; it is crucial for you to prevent dehydration these scolding hot summer months. However, I will tell you some things you can do to be conscientious about the shortage in water supply when you consider your food choices. And guess what? All the food choices I recommend are healthy!!!

  • Eat less meat! I’ve said this before with the reasoning being related to the mounds of research with evidence that a primarily plant-based diet is way healthier. When it comes to a drought, eating less meat is important. It takes tons more water to produce meat than it does plants. The amount of water you use in a daily shower for six months is pretty close to the same amount of water it takes to produce one pound of beef. I was shocked when I learned that statistic.
  • Eat plants that require little water to grow; American cucumbers, eggplant, chard, and a variety of tomatoes are the examples that immediately come to mind. Mother Earth has a handy list that also included different grains and seeds that are heat tolerant.
  • Eat less processed foods. This is something I’ve said many times before for several reasons; processed foods do not keep you satiated and they pack on the pounds. In terms of our drought, keep in mind that a lot of water is used in processing the food and packaging.

Hopefully, we will get some rain showers to help alleviate this drought (ideally while we slumber through the nights). Meanwhile, try to keep my tips in mind when making food choices; they’re good for the earth during this drought and they’re good for you too!

One More Reason to Drink More Water: Weight-Loss

Standard

water

I know, I know, I’m always talking about how important it is to keep hydrated and how you should be drinking a lot of water every day. For instance, if you haven’t read it already, take a peek at my hydration blog I just wrote a couple weeks ago.

To review some of the reasons why water is absolutely essential for us to consume every day—it helps regulate circulation, body temperature, and digestion. It also detoxifies the liver and the kidneys and carries waste out of the body. Did you know that a two-percent drop in body water can cause small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and cause slow thinking?

As if those aren’t enough reasons to drink water, a new research study just came out that links weight-loss to water consumption. Dr. Tammy Chang and colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Medicine used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to look at the link between dehydration and weight in the sample of 9,500 adults. It turns out that about 33 percent of the people in the study were not adequately hydrated. And those that were not hydrated had higher BMIs than those that were.

Getting thirsty yet? Seriously, how much water should you drink? The general rule of thumb is to at least drink half your body weight in ounces. If you are very active, you will need much more!

 

Boost your Energy with Crickets

Standard

5934902383_9bf38d4421_b

Shhh…I have a secret to share. I eat bugs! Yes, you read that right. I eat bugs! Before you get all grossed out on me, let me present some fascinating facts.

I’ll start with protein. Here’s what Dr. Josh Axe unravels about cricket flour:

  • By dry weight, a single cricket ranges between 65–70 percent pure protein, while beef is only 17–40 percent protein.
  • A 200 calorie serving of cricket flour contains about 31 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, 1.8 grams omega-3, 7 grams fiber.
  • A 200 calorie serving of beef contains about 22.4 grams protein, 11 grams of fat, 0.04 grams omega-3, 0 grams fiber.
  • A 200 calorie serving of eggs contains about 19 grams protein, 15 grams of fat, 0.1 grams omega-3, 0 grams fiber.
  • To get one pound of protein, about 2,500 gallons of water is required for cattle, 800 gallons for pigs, 567 for chickens and one gallon for crickets.
  • Crickets require about six times less feeding than cattle, four times less than sheep and two times less than pigs to produce the same amount of protein.

Crickets also amazingly contain all nine essential amino acids like chicken, beef, pork, and fish!

So, you see, crickets are a good protein source and a smart choice for sustainability as well.

Wait, there’s more! Crickets are a great way to obtain magnificent minerals. A serving of cricket flour has five times more magnesium than a serving of beef. It seems like more research about the benefits of magnesium hits the peer-reviewed journal every month. For example, a recent Harvard study review suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent; also, according to researchers in Japan, magnesium could help you lower your risk of type-2 diabetes by more than 30 percent.

And then there’s the iron factor. I know some people who specifically eat beef for the iron. Well, get this, cricket flour has more iron than beef! Iron ignites energy, boosts muscle function, and keeps your cognition healthy. Consuming enough iron is also very important for women who are pregnant.

Curious about how you can give cricket flour a try?

Check out Exo protein bars. You know how I always emphasize how important it is to have healthy snacks on hand? These are the perfect examples Exo makes nutritious, tasty, and sustainable food products from cricket flour. Formulated by a three-Michelin-starred chef and created with premium ingredients. Exo currently produces cricket flour protein bars in five flavors: PB&J, Banana Bread, Cocoa Nut, Apple Cinnamon, and Blueberry Vanilla. All bars are free of gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugars.

 

 

Beat the Heat with Hydration!

Standard

water

It’s been HOT lately so the topic of hydration couldn’t be any timelier. Hydration is a popular topic in sports nutrition; they need to be concerned that they replenish their electrolytes as so many are lost through sweating.  Hydration is not just important for athletes though; it is important for everyone who gets out in that hot summer sun!  You can become dehydrated by an hour stint of gardening for example.

Did you know that 2/3 of your body weight is water? Water is critical to all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body.  A two percent drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking.

If you are dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work that much harder to make it circulate more efficiently. As a result, the brain becomes less active, more fatigued, and leads to exhaustion. This is precisely why you feel so tired after a day in the sun, but guess what?!

Water alone is not going to cut it when it comes to preventing dehydration in the summer. You need ELECTROLYTES! Some people think that electrolytes are simply salt, but there are actually seven different electrolytes and they are: sodium (“salt”), chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.

I like to have coconut water as my drink of choice when I am out in the sun; it contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Some of my favorite hydrating foods are cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes. Your craving for salty foods may increase as you become dehydrated, but don’t reach for chips; instead choose something like GimMe Seaweed Snacks; they’ll fulfill that salty craving; they are so healthy for you, and the bonus is that they are loaded with electrolytes!

So how do you know if you are dehydrated?

Check out your urine! A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

You can also use the pinch test! Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is that you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

I beg you to please protect yourself from dehydration all the time, but especially in this heat; the side effects are brutal! You’ll overheat, which feels even hotter than the intense heat that the sun is already emitting! You’ll also want to watch your alcohol and caffeine intake because both are naturally dehydrating.

Have fun in the sun, the healthy way!

 

 

 

 

 

Red, White, and Blue Healthy Food Choices

Standard

blueberries-2

I love getting into holiday spirits. With Independence Day just a couple of days away, I have been thinking about my favorite red, white and blue foods and why I love them so much. I cannot resist sharing them with you, so let me get this secret out.

My Favorite Red Foods

If you have already read my strawberry blog, you know that I love strawberries. Jam-packed with vitamin C, I love having them in my smoothies, salads, and as a simple, healthy snack.

I also love cherries and cherry juice.  I recommend cherries to endurance athletes often because research has shown that they can reduce muscle soreness after intense cardiovascular workouts. Cherries also reduce inflammation and pain for those who have arthritis. High in potassium, cherries are also useful for regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. The phytosterols in cherries help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels so all in all, cherries are awesome for your heart!

I’m not done with my favorite reds yet. I love beets! Beets have antioxidants that are great for detoxification. If you have a juicer, they’re a great veggie choice to use. One of my favorite detox juice combinations is beet, celery, cucumber, ginger, and apple. They also have a high amount of folate, which is great for boosting energy levels. Their antioxidants are also known to help reduce inflammation.

My Favorite White Foods

Greek yogurt is by far, my all-time favorite white food.  In just one cup of Greek yogurt, you get around 20 grams of protein—how awesome is that?! Toss in a handful of walnuts and some chopped fruit and having this for breakfast keeps me energized throughout the entire morning and is a great foundation for making healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.

Another white food I absolutely love is quinoa. It cooks faster than rice and it has all essential amino acids, making it a wonderful vegan protein choice. It is also high in minerals, B vitamins, and fiber.

Last but not least, I love cannellini beans. They are high in fiber, a pretty good protein choice and they are so delicious in salads and soups.

My Favorite Blue Foods

There aren’t many blue foods that you can think of are there, but oh what we would be missing if we didn’t have blueberries. It’s blueberry season, so please indulge. The phytonutrients in blueberries are phenomenal.

First, let me tell you about ellagic acid.  Ellagic acid encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis—how the body seeks out and destroys harmful or damaged cells, like cancer cells.

Blueberries also contain salicylic acid—the natural version of aspirin.  Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain.

Lutein is another powerful phytonutrient that blueberries are loaded with. This phytonutrient is particularly helpful when it comes to your vision. The Eyecare Trust, a national charity devoted to raising awareness of eye health, says, ‘There is increasing evidence to show that eating vegetables containing lutein is crucial to maintaining pigment density levels in the macula.’ In other words, lutein can help prevent macular degeneration.