Lemony chicken and a kiwi-strawberry dressing give this spinach salad a refreshing kick.
Kiwi Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe
Ready in: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
- 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Juice of 2 lemons (1/2 cup)
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 2 kiwis, peeled, cut into thin half-moons
- Cut chicken crosswise into 1/8″ thick slices. Combine lemon juice, chopped rosemary and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Pour mixture over chicken slices to marinate, coating evenly. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or marinate overnight for best results.
- In a blender, combine 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, remaining oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend to incorporate flavors. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle water onto skillet. When water sizzles, place chicken, along with the marinade, on the skillet, and cook 3 minutes on one side. Flip and cook 2 more minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Divide spinach between 2 big plates. Top each plate with cooked sliced chicken, remaining strawberries and sliced kiwis. Drizzle with dressing. Serve.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 359, Total Fats: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 65 mg, Sodium: 296 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 35 g, Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugars: 20 g, Protein: 30 g, Iron: 5 mg
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Relief from sore muscles could be one meal away. Here, we reveal the best and worst foods for postworkout recovery.
Nailing your postworkout nutrition is of utmost importance, and eating the right things at the right time can promote quicker recovery, reduce muscle soreness, build lean muscle and replenish lost glycogen. There is definitely a pecking order when it comes to healing foods, and these below are among the best — and the worst — you can eat to fuel your recovery.
Research published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that marathon runners who consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for five days before, on the day of and 48 hours after a marathon experienced less muscle damage, soreness, inflammation and protein breakdown than those who did not. Why? Tart cherries contain anthocyanin, which contains the same active enzymes as are found in over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, accelerating healing time.
Try it: Drink 8 to 12 ounces of tart cherry juice preworkout or postworkout.
A study from the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that omega-3s — found in abundance in salmon — markedly reduced perceived pain up to 48 hours post-exercise. This is due in large part to resolvins, metabolic byproducts of omega-3 breakdown that promote normal cellular function and reduce the inflammation that occurs as a result of working out, explains Charles Serhan, Ph.D., DSc, director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Omega-3s also help keep the lining of your arteries smooth and clear, allowing the maximal amount of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to reach your recovering muscles.
Try it: Eat 4 ounces of salmon post-sweat sesh to get 26 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of quick-recovery fats.
A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that oats contain more than 20 polyphenols called avenanthramides. According to The Journal of Nutrition, these compounds, unique to oats, have potent antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation in arterial cells, lower cholesterol and promote vasodilation, leading to better circulation and reduced blood pressure. Avenanthramides also work topically and are commonly found in soothing lotions to reduce itching, rashes and other skin irritations.
Try it: Eat ½ cup of oatmeal postworkout and choose the least-processed form you can find: A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that processing methods, such as steaming and rolling (for rolled oats), greatly reduced the avenanthramide content of the product.
Sodium nitrite is used to cure and preserve deli meats, bacon and jerky, and according to the American Medical Association, a diet high in sodium nitrite may lead to methemoglobinemia, a condition in which your red blood cells cannot properly transport oxygen, thereby slowing healing and recovery time. Nitrites have also been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and fatty liver disease, and when heated, they can convert to nitrosamines, molecules that have been shown to cause cancer. In fact, multiple studies link processed meat intake with an increased risk of colorectal and pancreatic cancer.
Buy it: Opt for organic, low-sodium, nitrite-free meats, or better yet — cook your own. Also, filter your drinking water: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nitrites from fertilizer can leach into the public water supply.
Though you might see drinking as a fun Friday night, your liver sees alcohol as a poison and halts all other metabolic processes to eliminate it — including fat metabolism: A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming 24 grams of alcohol (about two drinks) slowed fat metabolism by 73 percent! Alcohol consumption was also associated with a decrease in both lean body mass and growth hormone production. And as for soreness, a study out of New Zealand found that athletes who ingested 1 gram of alcohol per kilogram of bodyweight after weightlifting experienced more soreness than those who consumed juice postworkout.
Buy it: Opt for a low-cal mocktail that contains no alcohol, or if you do imbibe, do so in moderation.
After a workout, your body needs fuel, and though veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals, they lack the macronutrients and calories necessary for recovery, such as starchy carbohydrates, fats and protein. Raw veggies will also make you too full too fast, and you won’t be able to eat the nutrients and calories needed for optimal recovery after training.
Try it: Save your high-fiber, raw veggies for a midday snack, or pair them with a lean protein, a carb and a fat in a meal.
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Give your body a break from sugar, dairy and meat — for your organs’ sake! Try this delicious and detoxifying dish.
Why detox? We are all exposed to pesky toxins every day. They exist in the air we breathe, the land we walk on and the food we eat. As a mom, wife, yoga instructor, engineer and new author, I do a detox cleanse every quarter with whole, nutrient-dense foods to reset and recharge my body.
There are 365 days in a year. In my opinion, taking a 10-day break from sugar, dairy and meat isn’t too much to ask for our organs’ sake. Given the complexity of foods, it makes sense to give our skin, kidneys and liver a well-deserved hiatus from inflammation.
I wrote my book Detoxelicious: Easy Soul Food Inspired 10-Day Detox Cleanse Recipes and Fitness for Super Busy People (Balboa Press, 2019) to provide inspiration and hope for men and women aspiring to live their best lives with increased vitality. It’s easy to make organic plant-based foods taste delicious while enlivening the senses when you have a soul-food mindset.
Try this recipe, one of my very favorites, inspired by my grandmother.
Not Your Mama’s Collard Greens Recipe
Makes 4 to 6 Servings
- 3 bunches collard greens, soaked in warm water, de-stemmed and cut
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 minced garlic clove (or 1 tsp granulated garlic)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp coconut liquid aminos
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- garlic salt and pepper, to taste
Soak collard greens in a large sink or steel bowl. Pick through the greens and discard yellow leaves and any thick stems. Dry and cut out thicker stem of collard greens. Stack 3 to 4 leaves and roll the leaves crosswise into tiny strips or chop into ¼-inch strips.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Saute onions until slightly softened, about 4 to 5 minutes, then add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add vegetable stock, coconut liquid aminos and balsamic vinegar, cover and bring to a simmer. Add filtered water as needed. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes. Add or garnish with tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste).
It takes a lot of willpower and patience to get rid of the grit that loves to cling to collard greens. Rinsing is not always enough. I recommend soaking them ahead of time. You can fill a clean sink with cold water and sprinkle the greens with salt. I recommend you clean the sink again, then let the greens soak one to two more times. After soaking, then remove the coarse stem from the leaves with a knife. Cleaning greens can be fun for the kids since they have little fingers. It helps them to understand the concept of “farm-to-table” foods.
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We pit these 24 popular foods against each other to help you make more informed choices.
It’s probably safe to say that Oxygen women tend to eat healthier than the average Jane. But sometimes health comes at a price, and every time you suffer financial cramps at checkout, you’re reminded that your food dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. After all, grass-fed steak and chia seeds rarely appear in the on-sale circulars.
So which body-friendly foods should you choose and which should you shelve? Since the most nutrition-packed choice isn’t always obvious based on labels alone, we’ve pitted several comparable edibles against each other to duke it out in a no-holds-barred food fight. Let’s get ready to rumble!
Broccoli vs. Cauliflower
President George H. W. Bush may have overtly expressed his disdain for broccoli, but when it comes to vegetables, few reign more nutritionally supreme. As compared to its pale cruciferous brethren cauliflower, broccoli has twice as much vitamin C, six times the amount of vitamin K and significantly more beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A to bolster immunity and eye health. Broccoli is also richer in sulforaphane, a potent phytochemical that helps keep certain cancers at bay.
KO Punch: A study in The Journal of Nutrition discovered that people with a higher vitamin K intake are less likely to die prematurely from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Almond Butter vs. Cashew Butter
Winner: Almond butter
Both these creamy spreads have seemingly unseated peanut butter, but between these two, you should go nuts for almond butter. Almond butter has roughly half the amount of saturated fat than its cashew counterpart, and it boasts higher amounts of monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids — two types of fat considered to be extra heart-healthy. Almonds also pummel cashews with respect to vitamin E, a nutrient that helps fight cancer by blocking the activation of an enzyme necessary for cancer cell survival.
KO Punch: Nearly 90 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin E, which almond butter has in droves.
Chicken Breasts vs. Chicken Thighs
Winner: Chicken Thighs
Ounce for ounce, skinless chicken thighs are cheaper than breast meat, contain only one extra gram of fat and pony up about three times as much zinc, which plays a vital role in immunity. You’ll also score a bit more iron with the thighs, which is good news for your workouts: As part of the mechanism that transports oxygen to various body tissues — including muscle — iron is an essential part of the energy chain during workouts. The darker thigh meat is also more forgiving during cooking and tends to remain juicier than the breasts, which are notorious for drying up.
KO Punch: Join the dark side for your everyday protein to save money and boost flavor.
Quinoa vs. Brown Rice
When it comes to better-body whole grains, quinoa crushes brown rice. Quinoa forks over about 60 percent more fiber to keep your appetite in check and knock your abs into shape, and it is a richer source of nutrients such as potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Quinoa also contains a full complement of essential amino acids, making it a valuable plant-based protein source for muscle building. And in a final bonus round: Quinoa cooks in less than half the time as rice, making it the smart choice for time-crunched women.
KO Punch: Diet surveys show that few people ingest enough magnesium — such as is found in quinoa — placing those who come up short at a greater risk for brittle bones.
Extra-Virgin vs. Light Olive Oil
Winner: Extra-virgin olive oil
As you’ve likely heard in articles such as these, not all olive oils are created equal, with extra-virgin coming out on top time and again. Extra-virgin oil results from the first pressing of the olives, making it lower in acidity and bolder in flavor and richer in antioxidant compounds. And the moniker “light” doesn’t mean that an olive oil is lower in calories but rather that it’s lighter in color and flavor: Light and “pure” olive oils have been further refined and processed to neutralize their flavor and raise their smoke point.
KO Punch: An abundance of anti-inflammatory polyphenol antioxidants, monounsaturated fat and vitamin E makes extra-virgin olive oil an ultra-healthy addition to any pantry.
Almond Milk vs. Oat Milk
Winner: Oat milk
When it comes to no-moo milk, oat milk delivers the knockout punch to its almond counterpart. While both products are fortified with nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, oat milk generally has twice as much fiber and protein as almond milk. It also tastes better: The thick, creamy texture and natural sweetness won’t tempt you to dump your coffee down the drain.
KO Punch: Oat milk makes Mother Nature smile because oats require much less water to grow than almonds.
Canned Tuna vs. Canned Salmon
Winner: Canned salmon
Canned fish is a convenient way to load up on muscle-friendly protein, but if you have to send one overboard, make it tuna. Canned salmon is fatty in a good way and has nearly twice as many omega-3 fatty acids as tuna. A 3-ounce serving of canned sockeye will net you more than your day’s requirement for vitamin D, and since vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption, it’s an essential part of forging break-resistant bones. What’s more, according to Purdue University researchers who tested dozens of canned fish, salmon consistently contains much lower levels of mercury than tuna.
KO Punch: People are more likely to age better and healthier when they have higher blood levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, per a recent study from Tufts University.
Skyr vs. Greek Yogurt
Winner: Skyr yogurt
Just when you thought it was safe to go Greek, the land of fire and ice introduced something even more awesome. Icelandic yogurt — or skyr — is made by thoroughly straining milk and then adding special probiotic cultures that impart a luxurious creaminess. The end product is an ultra-thick yogurt with about two more grams of protein per ½-cup serving than standard Greek yogurts.
KO Punch: It takes 4 cups of milk to yield 1 cup of skyr, which is why it’s thick enough to stand a spoon in and is packed with muscle-building, hunger-taming protein.
Raspberries vs. Strawberries
Nutritionally, you can’t go wrong with any sort of berry, but when choosing from the red range, reach for raspberries more often: Food scientists at Cornell University found that raspberries have a higher antioxidant potency than strawberries and do a better job at mopping up those cell-damaging free radicals that can accelerate aging. While strawberries do have about twice as much vitamin C, raspberries deliver three times the dietary fiber, making them a must-eat staple for digestive health.
KO Punch: A diet with ample amounts of fiber helps slash the risk for diseases like diabetes, improves the gut microbiome for better digestive and immune health, and boosts satiety to put the brakes on overeating.
Spinach vs. Romaine Lettuce
Turns out Popeye was right: Spinach easily trumps romaine when these greens wage war. Ounce for ounce, spinach possesses more vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin K and folate than romaine, as well as five times more lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that, when deposited in the retina, work to strengthen eye health.
KO Punch: Consuming more high-folate foods like spinach when you’re younger means a lower of risk high blood pressure later on in life, according to recent research. By assisting in proper cell division, higher intakes of folate also may help you dodge certain cancers.
Goat Cheese vs. Feta Cheese
Winner: Goat cheese
Since they contain more moisture, softer cheeses like goat and feta are a more calorie-conscious choice than harder varieties such as cheddar. But what’s your best bet when adding a creamy flavor to your salad? Both goat and feta have the same number of calories and grams of fat, but the former has a touch more protein, nearly half the amount of cholesterol and a third less sodium.
KO Punch: A study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that cutting back on your sodium intake can help you beat the bloat.
Tilapia vs. Halibut
When it comes to white-fleshed swimmers, reel in halibut more often. It has a much better omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio, making it more effective at stamping out inflammation. These days, most people consume way more omega-6s than they do omega-3s (hello, processed foods and factory-farmed meat), which can drive up inflammation in the body.
KO Punch: Wild-caught halibut is free to feed as nature intended (whereas farmed tilapia are reared on stuff like corn and soy), significantly increasing their omega-6s at the expense of their omega-3s.
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Here’s everything you need to know about the set point weight theory and what it means for your fitness goals.
According to conventional weight-loss wisdom, dropping a few pounds is a matter of basic math: Burn more calories than you consume and watch the numbers on the scale plummet. But anyone who’s dealt with a stubborn plateau or struggled to maintain a loss knows that in practice, the equation isn’t that simple.
“The old ‘calories in, calories out’ idea is really only a very small piece of the puzzle,” says Lauren Antonucci, RD, CSSD, CDE, CDN, a board-certified sports nutritionist and director of Nutrition Energy in New York City. In addition to diet and exercise, a combination of factors works to regulate your body’s weight, keeping it at a number that’s biologically ideal, according to your genetics, your physiology and your environment. This phenomenon is known as the set point weight theory.
Set Point Weight Theory, Defined
Antonucci describes set point weight as the weight you would be if you weren’t concerned with how you looked in a bikini. “Let’s say you just walked around eating when you were hungry, stopping when you were full,” she says. “If you were eating mostly real foods, there’s a place where you would land, and not everyone lands in the same spot.”
While set point is still technically a theory that has yet to be scientifically proven, most experts agree that a person’s standard weight is determined by a combination of genetics, physiology and environment. Your environment includes what most weight-loss plans address: diet, exercise, lifestyle and level of daily activity. Physiology encompasses all bodily functions, including your metabolism, hormones and the genetic tendency of women to carry more body fat than men. And your genetics, as they relate to your set point, can be most easily understood by looking at your ancestors’ day-to-day lives — were their winters long and the food scarce? Then those with a high capacity for fat storage were most likely to survive and pass along their genes to you.
How Set Is Your Set Point?
While your genes are what they are, your body’s physiology can shift — or be shifted. Puberty, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause can all cause a change — typically a gain — in weight. Some medications also can create long-lasting increases in the body’s fat supply. “That’s one that people in the United States tend to be more prone to because sometimes we’re giving medications such as antidepressants and people are on them for decades,” explains Holly Lofton, M.D., director of the Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “[Those medications] can make our fat cells more stable, an environmental change that can lead to a physiological change. That can change one’s set point.”
Bariatric surgery, which removes part of the stomach or creates a bypass, also alters the body’s hormonal environment by removing the receptors that create hunger hormones. As a result, people who undergo this procedure typically see dramatic weight loss in the first two years. It’s fair to say that they experience a change in set point, but without consistent monitoring and maintenance, this new setting may not stick. “The body sees weight loss as an illness, so it will create hunger hormones from other pathways,” Lofton says. Over time, the weight may return.
If it seems like your set point is more likely to go up than down, that’s because it is. Of course, it is possible to lose weight through diet and exercise, but environmental changes are just one consideration. “It’s much easier to increase a set point than it is to decrease it,” Lofton says. “The body just doesn’t like to lose weight, it likes to gain weight.”
Metabolism Versus Set Point
But what if you “boost” your metabolism? Can that lower your set point?
It’s not uncommon to hear set point and metabolism used interchangeably, but they are two distinct concepts. While set point refers to your body’s standardized weight, your metabolism is the amount of energy you must expend to maintain that weight, and it can be broken down into a few categories:
Basal metabolic rate (BMR), or resting metabolic rate (RMR), is the amount of energy the body requires to support its basic functions — things like thought, heartbeat and breathing.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) goes beyond the basic functions to include all non-planned exertional activities, such as walking to your car, going to the bathroom and cleaning your house.
Activity expenditure encompasses planned exercise, like a high-intensity interval training class or a run in the park.
Lofton explains that when we lose physical weight, our BMR also decreases. “In order to maintain that lower weight, we have to make up that change in metabolism by doing something, usually increasing our physical activity expenditure,” she says. In other words, you can increase your metabolism to maintain a new weight, but you’re not necessarily changing your body’s set point. “If we bring the activity back down, then the body will likely go back to the way it was,” she says.
Setting Goals and Managing Expectations
If it seems like your set point weight is at odds with your goal weight, don’t throw in the towel just yet. “It is not impossible to lose weight and keep it off,” says Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., a dual board-certified pediatrician and obesity medicine physician and registered dietitian based in Carlsbad, California. “But it’s probably not due to a change in set point but rather a continued and conscientious effort to increase energy expenditure through significant amounts of moderate to vigorous exercise and consumption of healthful, portion-controlled foods.”
To make a lasting change, start by upping your level of physical activity. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, Lofton says that able, active people should aim for around 240 minutes of exercise performed at an exertional rate — in other words, a leisurely gallop on the elliptical won’t cut it: You should be huffing and puffing. And don’t ignore strength training, which can improve your overall physique and change your body composition for the better, even if it doesn’t necessarily change the number on the scale.
“If you increase your muscle mass and simultaneously decrease your fat mass, your body is more metabolically active,” Lofton explains. “So you’re burning calories more efficiently even though your weight has not changed. But you’re still at the same weight because you have gained muscle and lost the same amount of fat.”
Theoretically, then, if you gain muscle and lose fat, you might not lose physical weight, but your body might be satisfied since you’re still at your set point and keep you there.
If meal planning is a source of confusion, it may be worth your time to schedule an appointment with a dietitian who can test your RMR and provide you with a recommendation for daily caloric intake. Interestingly, Antonucci sees many weight-loss patients who are chronically under-eating. “They keep getting better and better at the diet game and somehow end up eating less than they need for weight loss,” she says. “Their body gets confused and their metabolic rate goes down and they’re no longer losing. The only answer is to eat up to their metabolic rate. Then their metabolism will go up, and then they will stay there because their metabolism has changed.”
And remember that weight is just one of many available corporeal metrics. Considering body-fat percentage, waist circumference, how your clothes fit or simply how you look and feel is likely to give you a more accurate reading of your level of fitness. “You would be hard-pressed to find a person coming out of my office who can tell you we set a weight-loss goal for any time frame,” Antonucci says. “We set very specific, food-oriented, habit-changing behavior and exercise goals that, over time, are probably going to lead to weight loss if it’s desirable and healthy for people.”
Up the Ante
Holly Lofton, M.D., suggests performing 240 minutes of intense exercise per week. Increase your time under tension with this 20-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible), which can be used as a finisher or as a quick, stand-alone workout.
In 20 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible of the following:
- 5 walkouts to plank push-ups
- 20 jumping floor-tap squats
- 15 knee-ins
- 20 mountain climbers
- 5 long jumps
- 10 burpees
- 20 alternating jumping lunges
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Get to the root of solid nutrition with this high-performing produce.
The colder months mean a hankering for hoodies and hot food. It’s also the time of year that root vegetables come out of their dark, dank hiding places to take center stage in some of your favorite cold-weather recipes.
Though unassuming, these veggies and tubers are actually chockfull of nutrients and are wrapped up in a low-cal package, making them a great addition to any warm winter dish.
All potatoes contain a host of nutrients, but sweet potatoes in particular are nutritional superstars. One serving contains more than four times the Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin A, more magnesium than a comparable serving of nuts and a ton of potassium. In fact, ounce for ounce, they beat out bananas for their potassium punch. Sweet potatoes also contain a ton of antioxidants, which fight free radicals, protecting DNA from damage and mitigating inflammation.
Save the Skin
Just 1 cup (200 grams) of skin-on baked sweet potatoes provides more than seven times the amount of beta carotene needed by the average adult in one day! Beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in your body, helping decrease inflammation in your gut, support eye health and boost immunity.
Cook your potatoes in bulk and cool them in the refrigerator. This cook/cool process creates something called resistant starch within the potatoes, which acts like a soluble fiber in the body, resisting digestion (hence the name) and feeding the good gut bacteria in your colon. It also creates a good amount of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid used as fuel.
Bonus: Reheating cooked potatoes further increases the amount of resistant starch, improving your gut biome even more!
Sweet Potato Hash
Makes: 1 serving
3 oz (90% lean or leaner) ground beef
1 tbsp ghee or butter
⅛ cup onions, chopped
¼ cup bell peppers, diced
1 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and diced
1 oz shredded cheese of choice
Add ground beef and butter or ghee to a skillet and cook over medium-high until browned. Add onions and peppers and saute until lightly browned, then add potatoes and heat through. Mix well, then spoon onto a plate and sprinkle with cheese. Add eggs to skillet and cook as desired over medium heat. Slide eggs on top of potato mixture and enjoy.
Nutrition Facts: calories 579, protein 31 g, carbs 34 g, fat 16 g
When mom promised that eating your carrots would help you see at night, she was likely playing on your desire to have superhuman powers, but she was also not completely inaccurate. While carrots won’t give you night vision, their healthy dose of vitamin A supports eye health, and according to the National Institutes of Health, lack of vitamin A is one of the main preventable causes of blindness in children. Though the bright orange variety is most well-known, carrots also come in other colors, including purple, yellow, red and even white, and each hue contains a unique antioxidant profile. For example, purple carrots contain anthocyanin and red carrots are rich in lycopene.
Beta carotene is the main antioxidant in carrots and is responsible for their orange color — but research indicates it also may be a cancer killer: Studies have shown that carrot juice can stop the progression of certain cancer cells, and it can even specifically seek out and kill leukemia and lung cancer cells.
Turkey and Carrot Chili
Makes: 6 servings
1 lb extra-lean ground turkey
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
½ cup onions, diced
8 whole carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1¼ cups chicken broth
2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
Add turkey to a skillet with 1 tablespoon oil and cook over medium heat until lightly browned and just cooked through. Set aside. To a large soup pot, add remaining oil, onions, carrots and garlic and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, beans, tomatoes and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add turkey. Simmer on low 30 to 45 minutes, stirring regularly.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 381, protein 28 g, carbs 31 g, fat 8 g
Parsnips aren’t the most popular root around, but it’s not their fault — they’ve just been lost in in the shuffle of the overstuffed produce aisle. However, they’re worth unearthing: A serving of parsnips contains almost half your daily dose of vitamin C to support immune function — super important during cold and flu season — as well as antioxidants such as quercetin, which is also reputed to enhance immunity and protect against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. What’s more, 1 cup of parsnips provides more than 6 grams of fiber — about 26 percent of your daily needs — helping control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation.
Parsnip and Cauliflower Mash
Makes: 4 servings
1 head cauliflower, riced
1 lb parsnips, peeled, trimmed and grated or riced
1 tsp salt
2 oz coconut milk
2 tbsp grass-fed butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Add cauliflower and parsnips to a large soup pot and add enough water to just cover the veggies. Cover and bring to a boil until fork-tender. Drain and add salt, milk, butter and thyme. Mash with a fork or blend with an immersion blender. Use as a side to accompany any dish.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 156, protein 3 g, carbs 24 g, fat 6 g
Beets are super popular with athletes these days, due in no small part to their nitrate content: Nitrates convert to nitric oxide in your system, which works as a vasodilator, improving performance and boosting energy by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the energy-producing powerhouses in your cells. Nitrates also work to reduce blood pressure and improve mental and cognitive function, and in a recent study from New York University, nitric oxide was shown to extend life expectancy when taken on a regular basis. Beets also contain betalains, which help reduce inflammation and which have been used in clinical trials to assist with the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
In clinical studies, consuming 17 ounces of beet juice daily for six days improved endurance by up to 25 percent and led to an overall increase in performance, endurance and speed.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Makes: 1 serving
2 cups mixed greens
1 cup beets, cubed
10 whole pecans
2 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Add greens, beets and pecans to a large bowl and toss well. Add goat cheese and toss lightly to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pour onto salad. Toss and enjoy.
Nutrition Facts: calories 390, protein 8 g, carbs 23 g, fat 20 g
While not at all flashy in appearance, turnips are a stealth source of a ton of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including potassium, which acts as a vasodilator, helping reduce strain on vessels and arteries to prevent strokes, heart attacks and atherosclerosis. They also contain plenty of iron and calcium as well as a healthy dose of B vitamins, which help balance hormones and regulate enzymes. And don’t toss out the turnip greens, which are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K, helping reduce inflammation, control cholesterol and promote healthy cellular function.
Roasted Pork with Turnips, Cabbage and Apples
Makes: 4 servings
1 lb boneless pork loin roast
½ cup onions, chopped
3 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cider vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup green cabbage, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt
½ cup tart apples, chopped
2 cups turnips, peeled, trimmed and chopped
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add pork and cook 15 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions and bacon and saute 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. Return pork to pan. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Then remove from stovetop and place pan in oven. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes — turning pork halfway through — or until a thermometer registers 155 F.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 279, protein 32 g, carbs 19 g, fat 6 g
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Lean protein on your plate means more muscle on your body. Here’s why eggs are the perfect food. Plus, easy recipes to build muscle and burn fat.
In the fitness nutrition world, it’s rare to come across an inexpensive whole food like the egg, which does it all on the performance-boosting front: amps up energy levels? Check. Eggs are both nutrient-dense (lots of vitamins, protein and fats), and energy-dense at just about 70 calories each. Helps build muscle and burn fat? Double check. Eggs have over six grams of protein each and, best of all, they are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids required for protein synthesis. Plus, protein revs up your fat-torching metabolism.
Despite years of research debunking the myth that dietary cholesterol raises cholesterol levels in the body, you might still worry over egg’s heart-wrecker reputation. But USDA scientists have “eggs-onerated” eggs from this rap by declaring that today’s eggs have 14 percent less cholesterol than previously reported.
Make this recipe: Simple Eggs and Salsa
More Sunshine Vitamin
Eggs now contain 64 percent more vitamin D. The latest RDA for vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU) for adults of all ages, and today’s eggs provide 41 IU per large egg. Higher vitamin D levels are a boon to your health and fitness. Higher vitamin D levels have been linked to higher testosterone levels and increased strength in older adults. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency in young, healthy women was recently linked to increased fat buildup in muscles, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Make this recipe: Clean Egg Muffins
Egg White Safety
Blame Rocky for the dangerous trend of eating raw egg whites while training hard. Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella, which contaminates one out of every 30,000 eggs. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and can lead to severe illness and even death in some cases. To ensure egg safety, follow these solutions:
- Refrigerate eggs as soon as possible and use within three to four weeks.
- Cook eggs to 160 F – that means hard-boiled or over-hard. Flip eggs and cook until the yolk hardens.
- Refrigerate all foods prepared with eggs.
- Do not use raw eggs in recipes that will not be cooked to the appropriate temperature.
Make this recipe: Veggie Quiche
Fat Loss Booster
In a new study, individuals who ate two eggs for breakfast over an eight-week-period lost an average of six pounds – almost twice as much weight as those who ate a bagel. The egg-eaters also reduced their waist circumference by 83 percent, improved their energy and did not have significantly higher cholesterol levels.
Make this recipe: Mushroom and Potato Frittata
Keep The Yolk
Active and healthy women should be eating one whole egg per day, yolk and all. It can help build muscle, ease sore muscles and boost brain power!
Plus, most of the egg’s protein is in the yolk – 44% of the total protein in an egg comes the yolk. So when you discard the yolk, you’re wasting nearly half the protein.
Make this recipe: Poached Eggs Florentine
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It’s a fact that you need water to survive. But do you need fancy bottled water? Here, we turn to science to help distill the truth from the hype about water.
Your body is made up of about 60 to 70 percent water, and although you could live several weeks without food, you’ll only survive a matter of days without water. This is because water is involved in just about every metabolic and cellular function you have — transporting nutrients and oxygen, lubricating joints and regulating body temperature.
So you can see where dehydration is problematic, and in fact, just a two percent drop in water can result in impaired cognitive performance, headaches and fatigue. Dehydration also can affect mood, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, causing irritability, lethargy and even anger. For athletes who often lose 6 to 10 percent of their water weight via sweat, dehydration can alter body temperature control, reduce motivation, and make exercise feel more difficult both mentally and physically.
Beyond its necessity for existence, water is also associated with weight loss and an increase in metabolism. One study found that drinking a half-liter (17 ounces) of water increased metabolism up to 30 percent for 90 minutes following ingestion. Proper hydration also can help maximize performance and reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise.
Water, Water Everywhere
Now comes the hard part: Which water should you drink? There are so many kinds available and so many conflicting opinions on what to drink and when that choosing a water has become as complicated as string theory. Here are the deets on some of the trendiest waters available today — what they are, what they aren’t and what they may or may not do — along with some hard research that either backs or benches them.
We are lucky in the Western world to have access to clean drinking water — many other countries can’t say the same — yet people are still quick to dismiss tap water as an acceptable way to hydrate these days. Tap water is typically treated with fluoride and chlorine, which can alter the taste quite a bit, and is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, which identifies contaminants in drinking water and sets limits on the amounts of certain contaminants that it deems as safe for consumption. However, some Americans live in places where contaminants may exceed the legal limit, according to the Environmental Working Group, and most notably in more rural and low-income areas. But tap water is still usable, and if you balk at the idea of any “contaminants” floating around in your water, invest in a good water filtration system to remove many of the particulates and chemicals from your water. Shop around, though — products can run anywhere from $20 for a faucet attachment to $200-plus for a complex reverse osmosis system.
Tap Out? Wonder how your tap water measures up? Go to ewg.org and enter your ZIP code to get a report on the possible contaminants in your water.
Alkaline water is still having a moment, with proponents on both sides arguing its veracity. However, there are some studies of late that support the use of alkaline water by athletes: When you exercise, your muscles produce more hydrogen ions than you can effectively remove, increasing internal acidity and inciting fatigue. Drinking alkaline water — which has a pH greater than 7 — can enhance your body’s buffering capacity, assuaging acidity and improving performance, according to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Other studies suggest that alkaline water could improve overall hydration by helping you retain electrolytes. Research aside, drinking alkaline water won’t do you any serious harm; it may cause some stomach upset if you’re not used to it and it’s pricy, but other than that, bottoms up.
$$ Saver: Go alkaline on the cheap by mixing 8 ounces of distilled water with 1/8 tablespoon of baking soda. There are more complex — and tastier — recipes available,
so search online for more options.
Electrolytes are electrically charged particles such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate. The electrical charges of these particles stimulate your muscles and nerves to contract and help regulate the fluid balance in your body by helping your body absorb water more quickly. When you sweat you lose electrolytes, and if you don’t replenish them, you could experience muscle spasms or cramping, fatigue, nausea and mental confusion. You’ll also feel weaker and unmotivated in subsequent workouts. Traditional sports drinks contain lots of electrolytes, but they also contain large amounts of sugar — which is great if you’re running a marathon but not so much if you’re doing a Tabata. Instead, try a calorie-free water infused with electrolytes, such as Propel, or add an electrolyte tablet to your water, such as Nuun, which has only 10 calories per tab ($7, 1 tube — 10 tabs, nuunlife.com).
$$ Saver Make your own electrolyte water by mixing ½ teaspoon of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of agave nectar (or sugar) and ½ tablespoon of sea salt in 1 quart of water.
Coconut water naturally contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium (40/600 milligrams per cup, respectively), and it acts much in the same way as an electrolyte water or tablet. Because it is lower in calories, it’s a better hydration choice than a sports drink for shorter workouts and, according to research, was shown to cause less nausea and stomach upset than a regular electrolyte drink when ingested postworkout. However, research has also concluded that coconut water is no more hydrating than a sports drink and replenishes electrolytes no better than a potato — and is way pricier than either. It is tasty, however, and if it will make you drink more liquids, then have at it.
This is the newest of the trends, and all the Hollywood stars have been seen around Beverly Hills toting it. Proponents claim that adding hydrogen gas to plain water leads to increased energy, improved recovery and reduced inflammation after a workout. But so far, the evidence that supports these claims is scant: A small study published in the journal Medical Gas Research done on just 10 soccer players who drank hydrogen water found that their muscles were less fatigued postworkout. There are several other small studies such as this one done on lab animals, but as of yet, there are no solid conclusions or guidelines as to how much hydrogen water you should drink in order to reap the benefits. Drinking it won’t harm you, so if you want to feel Hollywood, fab. Just be sure to purchase a brand that comes in an aluminum pouch. This is the only container that will hold the hydrogen inside. It escapes quickly from all other vessels, and by the time it gets from the factory to the store to your fridge to your mouth, you’re drinking plain ol’ water.
To stay properly hydrated, you should be drinking between 25 and 50 percent of your bodyweight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 32 to 60 ounces daily.
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It’s not hard — meet your daily fiber needs with our sample dietary fiber meal plan.
Yep, that dreaded F word (read more about that here) still continues to surface, even for those who practice a “clean, whole foods” diet.
Back when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 was released, dietary fiber was noted as a nutrient of concern. This means we, Americans, still aren’t getting enough in our diets. For reference, American men and women eat only about 15 to 18 grams per day!
The Food and Drug Administration updated the percent Daily Value (DV) on the new food label (more about that here) from 25 to 28 grams given the findings on fiber. It’s a stellar nutrient that aids in laxation, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and assists in maintaining normal blood glucose levels.
The DV represents a percentage based on a 2,000-calorie diet that helps individuals identify whether a food item is low (less than 5 percent) or high (greater than 20 percent) of a particular nutrient. Nutrients like saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugar are recommended to be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, nutrients like fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin D are favorable to be above that 20 percent DV.
Where things get confusing is when you think about the other acronyms surrounding dietary fiber, such as the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and Adequate Intake (AI). DRIs refer to the daily recommended intakes of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals for the general healthy population according to specific age and gender. For instance, the DRI for dietary fiber for adult males (19 to 50 years of age) is 38 grams/day, whereas for adult females (19 to 50 years of age) it’s 25 grams/day.
AI is a representative figure that is believed to cover the needs of all individuals in the group, which for dietary fiber is listed as 14 grams/total fiber per 1,000 calories, or the equivalent of the DRIs listed above.
The FDA couldn’t keep it easy for us, huh? Don’t fret, we break down just how to meet your daily fiber needs below, and trust us, with a little prep, you’ll be on your way to meeting if not exceeding your dietary fiber needs in no time!
Sample Dietary Fiber Meal Plan
Daily Total Dietary Fiber: 64.5 grams
*As you can see, this is a vegetarian meal plan. If you prefer animal proteins, feel free to substitute the garbanzo beans and black beans at lunch and dinner for a lean protein option, noting fiber content will decrease to a daily total of 48.9 grams, still well above average!
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Elevate your nutritional game with these super-simple culinary and ingredient tweaks.
Cooking healthy does not have to be complicated or expensive. Unfortunately, with busy schedules and full days, making a nutritious meal can still prove to be an epic challenge. Aside from overhauling your entire pantry, the solution to your dining woes could be as simple as trading one ingredient for another or preparing your food in a different way. Check out these ideas to instantly upgrade your meals — and your results.
Just because you’ve always cooked chicken a certain way does not mean you can’t improve on your skills. Here are some methods to consider that can replace a less-healthy go-to technique such as boiling, panfrying or deep-frying.
Stewing slow-cooks food in a liquid, allowing flavors to blend together while tenderizing the meat or other protein and preserving the nutrients. True, stewing takes a little longer and the texture might be softer than you’re used to, but the ingredients of your favorite go-to meal can remain the same. “You can also stew using minimal kitchen equipment,” says Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, which can expedite cleanup time.
- Because stew makes a meat/protein so tender, you can use a less-expensive cut such as chuck beef, which might otherwise be considered tough.
- Veggies take less time to cook than meat, so add them later in the stewing process to prevent them from becoming mushy.
- A stew takes about two hours to cook, so take that into consideration when planning your prep time.
Broiling is a great cooking option because you can season meat, fish, poultry and veggies with a simple dry rub instead of with oil or other fats. And because it’s dry, the seasoning will stick to the food and won’t run or drip off into the bottom of the baking dish, according to Harbstreet.
- The recommended temperature for broiling is about 500 degrees, so give your oven plenty of time to preheat before putting in your food.
- Speaking of 500 degrees, unwatched meals can easily be burnt, so keep a close eye on your food as it cooks.
- Generally speaking, steaks take between five to 10 minutes to cook, and chicken, fish and veggies take about 15 minutes.
“Grilling is a nutritious way to cook lean protein like chicken or beef because you avoid batters and excess oils,” says Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, LDN, ACSMCPT. Grilling also allows the fat from your protein to drip off your food and into the grill, meaning you eat less fat as a result. “Some people worry that grilling can create carcinogenic compounds, but you can minimize your risk by marinating meat beforehand,” Carroll says. Also, make sure your grill is not so hot that you see tall, visible flames licking up between the grates.
- Preheat your grill, then when you’re ready to cook your food, turn the flame down to prevent charring.
- Close the lid when cooking to preserve the heat and better control the temperature.
- Reduce the sticky (and icky) factor of a grill by cleaning it with a wire brush after each use. This also will reduce the chance of fire.
There is nothing more pathetic than a limp, boiled vegetable or a rubbery boiled protein. Roasting is a healthy, dry cooking method that allows a veggie to keep its crunch and meats and poultry to retain their nutritional value. In other words, the vitamins and minerals of your food don’t get sucked out into the boiling water and tossed down the drain.
- Toss your food in a little high-quality oil to create a delicious crunchy crust, Carroll says. Use just enough to lightly coat a food, not drench it.
- The ideal temperature for roasting is 400 degrees, a little less than broiling, so allow plenty of time for preheating.
- Cook veggies until they deepen in color and their sugars begin to caramelize, Carroll recommends.
Eating food as close to its pure form as possible is ideal, and here is where steaming is a suppertime superstar. “Steaming cooks food quickly and preserves much of its nutritional value without adding other ingredients,” Carroll explains. And because it only requires water as a vehicle for heat, there are also no added calories.
- Though you want food to be completely enveloped in steam, it should not be submerged in water. Otherwise, you’re just boiling it.
- Don’t over-steam a food or it will be just as soggy and limp as something boiled. Between 10 and 15 minutes should suffice for most items.
- Covering a pot, steamer or basket will trap the steam and expedite cooking.
- You can use a countertop steamer, a bamboo steamer basket or a metal folding vegetable steamer to cook food quickly and efficiently.
What has more calories, oil or air? (Hello, Captain Obvious.) “Instead of submerging the food in oil, air circulates around it to achieve the same crispy, crunchy texture,” Harbstreet says. And air-frying is versatile, meaning you can use it for vegetables, potatoes, protein and more.
- Don’t overcrowd your air fryer. There needs to be space between items so the hot air can circulate through.
- Make sure you preheat your fryer to bring the air to the ideal temperature and expedite cooking.
- Don’t use any marinade, batter or liquid. It will just drip off the food into the bottom.
- An air fryer not only slashes calories but also saves you a lot of kitchen cleanup — no greasy pans or stove-top oil splatters!
Swapping one ingredient for another can instantly make a meal healthier. Change just an ingredient at a time in a recipe so it’s not a complete shock if something tastes a little different.
Sub for: Sour cream, mayo or heavy cream.
Yogurt is a healthy source of protein, calcium and probiotics. “Try subbing plain Greek yogurt into recipes where you’d traditionally use something like mayo or sour cream,” Carroll says. “Not only will you save some calories, but you’ll add extra protein, too.” While it’s not a perfect fit for every dish, yogurt works well in creamy sauces and dips or in dishes like potato salad.
Sub for: Rice, potatoes and pizza crust.
Known for its fiber, B vitamins and cancer-protective nutrients, cauliflower adds a hearty component to any meal. You can rice it and use in place of traditional rice to save on carbs, or you can steam/boil and mash it to use instead of potatoes in a side or for flour in pizza crust.
Pink Sea Salt
Sub for: Standard table salt.
If you’re going to add salt to a dish, it might as well work for you rather than against you. “Using pink Himalayan sea salt adds trace minerals while enhancing the other flavors in a recipe,” says Kathy Smart, HTC, PTS, CEO of Live the Smart Way. This specific type of salt contains minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, which can stabilize electrolytes and reduce the chance of dehydration. It also helps improve metabolic function, strengthens bones and lowers blood pressure.
Sub for: Fruit-flavored yogurt or protein powders.
Fruit-flavored yogurt often contains added sugar — anywhere from 13 to 17 grams per 100-gram serving. Reduce your sugar without losing out on protein and nutrients by trading up to cottage cheese. A great source of protein, B vitamins and calcium, cottage cheese contains only about 160 calories per cup and has a whopping 25 grams of protein, including casein, which metabolizes slowly, increasing satiety. “Use cottage cheese to boost the protein content of a smoothie instead of using heavily processed powders,” Harbstreet says.
Sub for: Other vegetable oils.
Avocado oil is low in saturated fat and high in potassium and vitamin E — key nutrients for optimal heart health. Try it in place of vegetable oil for dressings and sauces, and because it has the highest smoke point of all oils, you can use it in high-heat dishes such as stir-fries, Smart says.
Sub for: Processed flavor packets.
Using a little lemon, orange or lime zest in a recipe instead of a commercial flavor packet — which may contain added preservatives and chemicals — is a healthier choice for seasoning a favorite dish. And while most people are only focused on the inside of a citrus fruit, the zest contains many health-preserving nutrients such as vitamins B and C. “It also adds a little zip to baked goods, soups and stews,” Smart says.
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