Woohoo for Watermelon!

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Here in CNY, it may hit close to 100 degrees the next few days. What does that mean? Beat the heat by loading up on the watermelon. Here are five reasons I love watermelon and you should too.

Watermelon is hydrating

The heat increases your risk of becoming dehydrated and if you are like me, I can only drink so much water so I like to eat foods with a high content of water. Watermelon is comprised of 92 percent water, which makes it an ideal food to help prevent dehydration.

Watermelon can decease your risk of heart disease

Watermelon has a lot of lycopene, an amazing antioxidant that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease. Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid, which increases nitric oxide in your blood and nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, lowering blood pressure.

Watermelon is good for your eyes

Lycopene is the star again! Several studies have found that lycopene can help prevent macular degeneration, which is a common eye problem in older adults that at times can cause blindness.

Watermelon is good for your skin and hair

Obviously in the heat, sunscreen is important! You can also help counteract the damage the sun does to your skin and hair by eating watermelon! Watermelon is high in vitamin C and A. Vitamin C increases collagen, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and your hair strong. Vitamin A repairs skin cells, preventing dry, flaky skin.

Watermelon is a win with the kids

I have never met a kid who doesn’t love watermelon. This is one of the healthiest summer treats to bring to your next cookout or picnic and it will be a hit with all of the kiddos!

Woohoo for watermelon! Oh so sweet—oh so delicious—and oh so healthy!

 

 

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Don’t Fry Day

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Don’t Fry Day is a national health observance day—it is to be observed the Friday before Memorial Day to educate the public about skin cancer. As warm weather approaches, the risk of Ultraviolet rays damaging your skin increases. Skin cancer is a serious matter—more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Sadly, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and every hour someone dies of skin cancer. What can we do to prevent these staggering statistics?

Here are some general tips to help prevent skin cancer, including nutrition tips!

  1. Wear long-sleeved clothing when sun is the strongest (between 10 a.m. p.m.). If you think it is too hot for long sleeve, linen clothes are very light-weight. Also consider athletic dry-wicking clothing. There are even clothes that have UV protection built in!
  2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses throughout summer.
  3. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher
  4. Get your vitamin D safely through a healthy diet. Dairy products, egg yolks and fatty fish are all good sources of vitamin D.
  5. Eat sun-protective food. Yes, some foods help, here are just a few:
  • Eat foods rich in lycopene, like watermelon, grapefruit, cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, or chili powder. Studies show that lycopene helps protect against the sun!
  • Load up on broccoli. Broccoli, especially the florets, is a good source of sulforaphane, a compound that reduces the risk of skin cancer.
  • Eat pomegranates. Pomegranates are well known to contain tons of antioxidants and known as sun-protective. Some scientists say they can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Click here to learn how to prepare a pomegranate or drink pomegranate juice!
  • Fill up on flaxseed. Omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds can protect your skin from sunburn, reduce additional inflammation if sunburn occurs, and fight against skin cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, flaxseed oil can protect your skin against UV rays and keep your skin moisturized so it won’t dry out, as well as fight against skin cancer. Make a salad dressing using the oil or add some in your morning smoothie!

Summer is the season of fun and we’re meant to enjoy the sun…just go about having fun in the sun smartly by applying the tips above. Don’t fry today or at all this summer!

 

10 Self-Care Tips for Moms

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Happy Mother’s Day!

For those of you that know my daily schedule, you are aware that it is jam packed…my morning begins helping my girls prepare for their school day and then I work out and then it’s usually a mix of private practice clients, teaching seminars, meetings, conference calls, and more. I always make it to my girls’ sports games when I’m not traveling for work and I prepare healthy meals for each meal of the day.

Some moms I know with comparable schedules feel frazzled or overwhelmed. I think I juggle my priorities well and part of the reason I do is because of radical self-care! If we don’t take care of ourselves how can we possibly be present to the important people in our lives? Here are some self-care tips I especially love.

  • Feed yourself well!

This is easy for me to say, right? After all, nutrition education is my passion?! Seriously though, keep healthy snacks on hand and choose healthy options for your meals. Junk food makes you feel junky.

  • Schedule “you” time.

Some moms do this every day by getting up early before the kids. Others are night owls. Just make sure that you have at least 20 minutes of just you time every day!

  • Indulge from time to time

Some women like to shop for clothes (or shoes—one of my guilty pleasures). Others like fancy cocktails or fine wine. It’s totally okay to indulge from time to time even if it means a brownie sundae. Yes, “unhealthy” food splurges are fine if they don’t become habitual. You deserve indulgences!

  • Girls’ Night Out and Date Night

Bond with your girlfriends regularly. They make you laugh, smile, and let loose. You need that! And don’t forget to bond with your partner regularly—intimacy is important too!

  • Write gratitude lists daily

Think of everything you are grateful for daily. You can do this during your “you” time. Some days are rough—these days it’s more important than ever to think of your blessings. It can be simple like the warm sun or your cat’s purring. There’s always something to be grateful for even when life throws lots of lemons your way!

  • Go for a walk just to walk

I get regular exercise by walking to do my errands, but sometimes I walk to “just walk.” This is a good way to take a break during your work day. It’s amazing how a little walk can spark energy and productivity.

  • Practice deep breathing

Feel yourself breathing as you read this. I bet you there is a bit of tightness in your chest. Now take some long slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. You feel way more relaxed, right?

  • Volunteer

You may be thinking, volunteer?! How can I possibly schedule time to do this?! Find the time—doing something kind for disadvantaged people makes YOU feel good!

  • Go un-plugged for a day

Our electronics make life so much easier, but go unplugged for a day—consider doing it as a family! Ironically, it’s an awesome way to recharge yourself!

  • Schedule a spa day

I love spas! You’re one awesome mama and you deserve a day of pampering! Even if you must plan it months in advance, do it!

I hope all you moms out there have a beautiful Mothers’ Day. Celebrate yourself every day by treating yourself as amazingly as you treat your kids!

Real Food First

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We live in a convenience society and because of this, we have turned to eating processed food and we are destroying our health in the process. This blog is all about choosing real food first! It may be a hard step to make at first, but once it becomes routine, it becomes second nature. You have to trust me here!

What do I mean by real food? I mean whole, single-ingredient food. Here are just some of the reasons why you should choose real food first.

Real food is loaded with important nutrients

Unprocessed animal and plant foods contain the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. For instance, one cup (220 grams) of red bell peppers, broccoli or orange slices contains more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C. Eggs and liver are especially high in choline, a nutrient that’s essential for proper brain function. And just a single Brazil nut provides all the selenium you need for an entire day.

Real food is heart-healthy

Real food is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that support heart health, including fiber, magnesium and healthy fats.

Real food is high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your body’s cells. They are found in all real foods, especially plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes

Real food is low in sugar

Some research suggests that eating sugary foods can increase your risk of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease. Even though fruit contains sugar, it’s also high in water and fiber, so it’s much less concentrated than sugar in soda and processed foods.

Real food helps control blood sugar

Eating a diet high in fibrous plants and unprocessed animal foods may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and people who are at risk of developing the disease.

Real food is good for your gut

Eating real food may be beneficial for your gut microbiome, the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.

Real food promotes dental health

Sugar and refined carbs promote dental decay by providing food for the plaque-causing bacteria that live in your mouth.

Real food Is good for your skin

Eating real food nourishes and helps protect your skin from the inside out. Did you know that some foods are natural sunscreens too? Some examples are carrots, citrus fruits and strawberries.

Start thinking about healthy swaps you can make in favor of real food. Instead of candy, keep fruit on hand. Instead of sugary breakfast feel, have yogurt with nuts and fruit. Instead of granola bars with 25 ingredients in them, have a snack-size bad of raw nuts and dried fruit. There are so many ways to start transitioning to more real food. Be sure to keep some with you at all times so that you don’t need to turn to fast food or gas station snacks when you’re ravenous!

Cranberries for Breakfast

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In my last blog, I wrote about how I learned so much from cranberries last month at the Cranberry Institute. You better believe I’ve been trying to incorporate amazing, high-in-antioxidant cranberries in a lot of my meals. I came up with this recipe for breakfast! I have oatmeal most days, especially in the winter. This has the same warming effect as oatmeal and it’s absolutely delicious!

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Millet

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup millet
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Toast dry millet and walnuts in a pot over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add all other ingredients and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes and you have a delicious breakfast! Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for some sweetness.

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Root Vegetable and Bean Soup

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I have sad news for you: winter in Central New York will be here before you know it. Halloween is just over two months away and the snow has been known to start flying that early around here. But hang in there; I am going to help you get through with warming recipes.

Try this delicious soup of Toby Amidor’s when the coldness starts making its presence known. I guarantee you will love it! This is just one of several of her amazing recipes in her new cookbook, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Click here to check out this new favorite cookbook of mine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packed cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained
  • and rinsed
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Stack spinach and cut in ribbons Work in batches if
  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmer Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth, mirin, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the bay Stir in the spinach

ribbons and black pepper.

REFRIGERATE: Store the cold soup in a resealable container for up to 1 week. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

FREEZE: Store the cooled soup in individual freezer-safe containers or in one large container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Seven Tips for Vegetarians

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While my diet is pretty plant-based, I am not a vegetarian. Many of my clients are vegetarians or have children who have recently become vegetarian.  Some complain that vegetarian diets get boring or do not feel filling; parents show concern that their veggie kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Let me dive into some tips that can help you maintain a vegetarian diet that is fun and healthy!

  1. Be sure to get enough protein

My number-one question for all vegetarian diets is: Where do you get your protein from? If you are a vegetarian and feel sluggish at all, it may just be that you are not getting enough protein. Protein feeds your muscles and your blood.  Consider it the fuel that keeps you moving.

Sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, tofu, tempeh, and some whole grains like quinoa. Low-fat dairy (Milk, cheese, Greek yogurt for example) and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

You may have heard that you need to eat a combination of proteins in each meal to get complete proteins, but that is not true as long as you have a decent amount of protein in every meal.

  1. Eat the colors of the rainbow

One way to assure you are getting enough nutrients is to eat as many colors of fruits and veggies as possible. This blog goes into detail of what nutrients are found in each color.vege-1-1

  1. Try a new recipe each week

You don’t need to eat a salad every day to be a vegetarian. There are so many fantastic vegetarian recipes out there. Hop on to Google or Pinterest and you will certainly find hundreds of easy recipes to try!

  1. Be careful with refined flour and sugar

It’s so easy to become a junk food vegetarian. Try not to rely too heavily on boxed food; the refined flour and sugar can spike your blood sugar and cause inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Check out fortified foods

While I just told you to be careful about packaged food; there are some healthy options like whole-grain bread. Look for foods that are fortified with vitamins to give you a boost in nutrients. If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian, milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

  1. Pump some iron

Sadly, your body doesn’t absorb iron from plants as well as it does from menuts2at so it is essential that you get plenty of high-iron vegetarian foods in your diet such as beans and legumes, dried fruits, molasses green vegetables, and whole grains. Many cereals are fortified with iron just make sure that the cereal of choice is low in sugar (5 grams or less) and high in fiber ( 4 grams or more) as well.

  1. Consider a vitamin B-12 supplement

Getting enough B-12 is very difficult in a vegetarian diet. I highly encourage vegetarians to take a B-12 supplement.

If you have any questions about a vegetarian or vegan diet, please feel free to email our team and we’ll help you out!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN