Why I’m Bananas over Dates

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Yes, dating your loved one is healthy for your health, but I am talking about the wrinkly little dried fruit that is oh so sweet! We’re right smack in the middle of the holiday season and this is the time of year that people are hooked on sugar and it’s so hard to get off it once you’re on it! I use dates to satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

Dates come from the date palm plant. In our country, they are primarily grown in California and Florida. There is also a destination in Arizona where they are grown, appropriately named Dateland!

Here are some of the amazing health benefits of dates:

Phenomenal Fiber

Do you know that you are supposed to get at least 30 grams of fiber today?! It’s likely that you do not consume enough because the latest research shows that only 10 percent of American get enough fiber! Dates are one way that you can up your fiber intake! One serving of dates has a whopping 7 grams of fiber!

Fiber can help your digestion and helps prevent your blood sugar from spiking!

Packed with Phenolic Acid

Phenolic acid is an antioxidant that has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect you against almost any disease, including heart disease and cancer!

High in Minerals

Dates are high in potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and even have a decent amount of iron. These minerals help promote bone health. Potassium is excellent for heart health as well. And iron is important for carrying oxygen to your muscles and your brain!

Are you going to join me in eating dates this month?! Here’s a recipe to start you off! And because I want to help you defeat the sugar temptation this month, I promise to post a new date recipe each week in December!

Bananas over Dates Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas chopped
  • ½ cup dates
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground gloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boost your Energy with Crickets

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

PMS Prevention Tips

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How do you feel five to 11 days before your period? Bloated? Irritable? Tense? Anxious? Emotional? Exhausted? Mood swings? Do you get migraine headaches? Do you have insatiable cravings for sweets? If you experience any of these symptoms, then premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no stranger to you.  Guess what though? I have good news for you! You can ease these symptoms through nutritional changes. PMS is the result of hormone imbalances; here are some ways that you can balance those pesky hormones.

Kick Refined Flours and Sugars out of your Diet

Refined flour and sugar, found in almost all processed foods, are highly inflammatory to the body, which sparks hormone imbalances and exacerbates PMS symptoms.

Reduce your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Like refined flours and sugars, caffeine and alcohol can also spark hormone imbalances due to their inflammatory properties.

Reduce your Dairy and if you do Consume it, Choose Organic

Dairy products have a lot of hormones, causing you to have excess estrogen. Organic dairy has far less hormones, so if you do enjoy your dairy, go organic!

Let’s look at fresh ways to boost your health and lessen your likelihood of experiencing PMS

Eat a lot of Cruciferous Veggies

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all belong to a group of veggies known as cruciferous vegetables; these powerful, detoxifying veggies remove excess estrogens from your body.

Eat a lot of Omega-3s

Sardines, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed all boast omega-s, which are anti-inflammatory and can help balance your hormones.

Eat Foods High in Fiber

You want to get as much fiber as you can as your approach your period; fiber will help balance your blood-sugar and will prevent those intense cravings. Fruit and veggies, oats, beans and legumes are awesome choices. Also consider adding ground flaxseed to your salads and smoothies for a boost of fiber.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium helps to balance hormones and is especially helpful at preventing or easing migraine headaches. Leafy greens, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and fish are all great choices that are high in magnesium.

Lastly, be sure to MOVE! Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week. Exercise also helps to balance your hormones and can help prevent irksome PMS symptoms.

I hope these tips help all of you ladies who are literally TIRED of PMS!

Eat Seaweed for your Health & Sustainability

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April 22nd is Earth Day. We should really celebrate Earth Day every day; within our blogosphere, we have decided to celebrate the earth all April long. We will feature several foods that are great choices to make if you care about the earth’s sustainability. Today’s entry is about seaweed.

Seaweed is becoming more sought-after than kale! It’s not just for sushi anymore. Foodies and restaurateurs have discovered phenomenal ways that seaweed can add flavor to anything from soups to meat and even dessert! The fact that seaweed is jam-packed with nutrients (iodine, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron to name a few) makes choosing seaweed as a food to learn to love, a no-brainer!

According to The Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Forecast, seaweed is “set to explode thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal.”

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable foods you can consume; A World Bank study illustrated that seaweed farms could actually produce a negative carbon footprint because it is possible for these farms to absorb more carbon dioxide than they omit.

Umami, in Japanese, means “deliciousness.” Most people can easily point to four “tastes” they have been taught: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty; umami is the fifth taste; it is savory. Perhaps, one of the most popular ingredients that food manufacturers have used to give a umami flavor is Monosodium Glutamate (aka MSG); however, MSG has been shown to lead to a slew of health concerns. The Mayo Clinic claims that MSG can cause headaches, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. Who wants that, especially when you can obtain the same taste from a super-food, filled to the brim with health-boosting nutrients like seaweed?!

Reluctant to try adding seaweed to your own diet?! Are you imagining the slimy stuff you sometimes see when you swim in the ocean? Trust me, food manufacturers make it look much more appealing and its truly delicious. I love gimMe Health Food’s seaweed snacks. Their seaweed snack sheets are available in sea salt, sesame, teriyaki, and wasabi flavors. You can also add their seaweed crumbles to soups, salad, and even popcorn. Your condiments have never been so healthy; neither have your snacks!

Eat Right to Sleep Tight

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It’s almost midnight and you are wired; like most nights, you just can’t seem to settle down. What can you do nutritionally to help get some much-needed shut-eye?

First things first, avoid caffeine after noon. Your good friend Joe can impede sleep for several hours after consuming it. Don’t forget that chocolate, soda, and several varieties of tea also contain caffeine.

There are plenty of foods to choose from that help induce sleep. Look for foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan, vitamin B6, and the minerals calcium and magnesium, as well as foods that naturally contain melatonin.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body does not produce; therefore you must turn to food to obtain it. Tryptophan starts a domino effect. First, it creates the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which settles you down and helps you to happily relax. Serotonin then stimulates the production of the “sleep hormone” known as melatonin, and voila, you begin to feel sleepy.

Terrific Tryptophan selections include:

  • Poultry
  • Yogurt
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Walnuts

Vitamin B6 helps sleep by creating both serotonin and melatonin.

Excellent vitamin B6 choices include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chickpeas (or hummus)
  • Bananas
  • Fortified cereals
  • Sunflower seeds

Magnesium and calcium are natural sedatives.

Foods high in both magnesium and calcium include:

  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens or chard)
  • Fish
  • Sunflower seeds

And then there are some food choices that naturally contain melatonin. Some of these superstars include:

  • Tart cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Almonds
  • Goji berries
  • Fenugreek and mustard seeds

Use this blog as a checklist and make it your goal to consume as many of the food selections as possible in the week ahead. You will likely achieve the slumber you desperately need.