Fruit: What’s the point?

picFruit is in season! There is nothing that tastes better than sweet, juicy, cold fruit when it is super hot outside. The question is though, is fruit healthy for you? So I decided to research into a few of my favorite fruits to see what I am gaining in nutrients when consumed. Here are my top 4 favorite fruits:

Apples: We all know that phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The antioxidants in apples promote health and prevent disease in the human body. They are low in calories and contain zero grams of saturated fat and cholesterol. Apples also carry a small amount of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Apples are a good fruit, so stick to that phrase and try and eat one everyday!

Bananas: They are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Bananas are an intriguing fruit in terms of their carbohydrate and sugar content. Even though bananas are a fruit that tastes quite sweet when ripe, they only contain about 14-15 grams of sugar per banana. They are also a great quick carb after working out to help your muscles from cramping. Moral of the story, bananas are a good fruit!

Watermelon: It is the perfect fruit for a hot summer day. Although it does lack a lot of nutritional value, but the amount of water it contains helps keep your body hydrated. Watermelon is the top fruit source of the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which is important for your cardiovascular health. The hardest part when it comes to watermelon is finding a ripe one that is ready to eat. Some tips: choose a dull color, make sure the surface is firm/hard, and make sure it has a uniform shape. Typically when I make sure those three tips are followed, I always find the best one!

Raspberries: They are a rich source of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. When included in your daily diet, they can help lower your risk of cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Raspberries have also been known to enhance fertility. The sweet taste and the soft texture make them the most craved fruit, especially for me. They are also low in fat and calories but very high in fiber. This makes them a great treat for someone that is trying to lose weight. One of the greatest facts about raspberries is that the antioxidants in the berries help aid in treating depression. So a raspberry is a fruit that makes you happy? Eat away!

Although there are many health benefits of consuming different fruits, there is also one big thing to consider. Many fruits are high in sugar. Yes, that sugar is natural, but either way it packs additional calories into your diet. What I like to do is save my fruit for after a meal. I treat it sort of like a dessert, because not only is it sweet and delicious, but it should also be consumed in moderation!

Are my favorite fruits not the same as yours? The article 31 Favorite Fruits and the Nutrients they Contain gives you the nutritional value of every fruit you have probably consumed. Take a look and see what you are gaining from eating your favorite fruits!

 

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman

Protein in a Bite

Pic 1Recently I’ve started to look for different ways to take in protein. My everyday diet normally doesn’t include a lot of meat, and eating Greek yogurt all the time was starting to get old. Knowing that protein is key for muscle recovery after a workout, I was trying to find a quick way to take it in, but chugging protein shakes didn’t really appeal to me either.  A friend of mine suggested that I try to make protein balls, so after some extensive research (Pinterest) I found the perfect recipe to give me that little protein boost throughout the day I was looking for. I really enjoyed this recipe and thought it would be the perfect addition to our blog site.

Before I dive into this delicious recipe, I think it’s important to know exactly what proteins are and what they do for us. Proteins aid in supporting your entire body from cells to organs. Bones, hormones, antibodies, keratin are all made up of proteins. To get a further in-depth break down of each specific role each protein plays, check out this website. Proteins play a bigger role in our nutrition and health than I originally had realized, so I was thrilled to find out about protein balls.

On average it is said that woman should take in about 46 grams of protein a day, and men roughly 56 grams. Now for some this isn’t a hard feat, but as I mentioned before I tend to struggle with that. Protein balls are simple, easy, and you can alter them to your own liking. I went with a cranberry almond banana protein ball. I altered the recipe only slightly to cater to my own taste buds.

Active Time: 15 minutes     Serving Size: 1 ball

Total Time: 15 minutes       Makes: 14 balls

Calories per serving: 98   Fat per serving: 5 grams

Fiber: 2 grams. Protein: 5 grams. Sodium: 39 mg. Saturated fat: 1 gram. Sugars: 6 grams. Carbs: 9 g.

*The nutritional facts may be varied differently than the original recipe (http://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/sunflower-seed-protein-balls/) because I used almonds instead of sunflower seeds. *

Ingredients

  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup seven seed butter (found at Sentry)                                                           
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 4 scoops vanilla soy protein powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit juice sweetened

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The execution itself is fairly simple. Mix together the banana, seven seed butter, and honey in a food processor (I did it by hand because I didn’t own one). It should form a paste like consistency.

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Next, add the protein powder, coconut flour, cinnamon, almonds, and cranberries. Mix together. The consistency will be slightly drier than before, but don’t worry this is supposed to happen.

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Then take the mixture and form into balls. Put in the refrigerator.

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The end product was delicious and now I have a quick snack to eat before or after a workout! You can even snack on them throughout the day for a quick protein boost!

Stay healthy. Stay strong.

Mary Marren

Spice, Spice Baby

picYou know that feeling of dissatisfaction when you’re either at home or out to eat and you’re ready to indulge in that first bite of food of which looked full of flavor but instead after that first bite you mutter “pass the salt”? And oh hey! While we’re at it, let’s talk about the even worse feeling when the food still tastes so plain that you gotta pull a “pass the pepper”. Before you know it your food is covered in more salt and pepper than George Clooney’s head! You try to boost the flavor as much as you can but you realize it’s a lost cause. Your food was most likely plain from the start due to the lack of variety in ingredients and spices, so next time this happens to you at a restaurant pass some oregano, cayenne and basil the chef’s way because he needs it! Actually, so do you! Not only do spices add flavor but they add nutritional value and can boost your metabolism! Here’s some of the top few spices that are used to enhance your meal’s nutritional value along with how to consume it/what it goes good with.

1.) Cinnamon: This is one that I personally utilize the most and consume pretty much every day, in fact I had a little cinnamon shaker in my dorm room. It’s very easy to pair with, I add it to my oatmeal instead of brown sugar, and also to tea, coffee, and if I want to fight a sweet tooth I’ll cut up a banana and top it with honey and cinnamon. I am a big fan of the honey and cinnamon combo because it’s so tasty but turns out it also fight arthritis pain! Cinnamon is a natural remedy to headaches and migraines! It also stabilizes blood sugar, which is great for weight loss!

2.) Oregano: Another easy one to pair, I use this for eggs, pasta sauce, salad, tofu, quinoa, grilled tomatoes and much more. You can pretty much trust that oregano with pair nicely with any savory or salty-like dish. Nutrition expert Dr. Bazilian says that “one teaspoon has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli (but don’t ditch the broccoli- have both!)” It’s among the highest in antioxidants of dried herbs!

3.) Cayenne: This one is a hit or miss for some people, because spicy food is not everyone’s cup of tea. But did you know that this spicy food can be a cup of tea?  Combined with lemon juice and honey, it is an excellent morning beverage for a total detox. But besides that if this spice is too spicy for you try adding a pinch of it to similar foods that you would combine oregano with, such as eggs. Also, it goes great with avocado! I personally love Cayenne, I try to sneak it into foods as much as possible to get all of the many benefits that it obtains. Studies show that those who had cayenne pepper in their breakfast had less of an appetite and therefore less caloric intake throughout the day. Cayenne is also a great metabolic booster, and aids in burning excess amounts of fats.

4.) Sea salt: While salt should not be over used, it has many health benefits! Sea salt even more so than table salt, since it is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed so it still has minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients! It is effective in reducing inflammation in the respiratory system. Most surprising of all, sea salt can also help you lose weight by creating digestive juices so the foods you eat are digested faster.

So next time you are cooking and you come across a step in your directions that says to “add salt to taste” don’t stop there! Think of all of the benefits you can get from just a pinch of one of your favorite spices! Also get creative with it and think of all the ways you can incorporate these spices and what you can replace with spices such as salad dressing, sugar, and table salt! Make a habit of using these super ingredients and spice it up!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

Sweet or Salty?

picWe have all heard of the expressions, “ I have a sweet tooth,” or “I crave salty foods” from time to time, but have you ever stopped to think about what exactly that means? I have plenty of friends who crave burgers and French fries, but those things never really appealed to me. On the other hand, put a cookie in front of my face and I’m hopeless. After thinking about this for a little bit it got me to think that maybe it’s a little bit more that just different taste buds.

Salty Cravings.

Craving salt can come from a few different sources. One reason why you may crave salt is because you have a mineral deficiency. Our bodies do need salt (About a Tsp. a day) so if it is not getting the normal dosage of natural salt you will begin to turn towards salty foods such as chips or French fries. I also found a study in my research that suggests that salt cravings could be due to lack of calcium in your diet. According to Michael Tordoff, Ph. D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, “Sodium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood, which tricks the body into thinking the problem is solved.” The study also goes on to saying that lack of potassium, calcium, and iron may also be the cause for all those salty cravings! Another reason you may be craving all those French fries is because you are dehydrated. If you are someone who needs salty foods after an intense workout, you may have lost too many electrolytes from sweating. Try replenishing your body with a Gatorade or another electrolyte booster drink.

Careful! Although our bodies need salt, too much salt could lead to trouble. An excessive amount of salt could cause you to feel dizzy, or dehydrated. Even worse, over a long period of time eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and a higher risk of a heart attack.

Sweet Tooth

Now on to the “sweet tooths” of the world, such as myself. When I looked up the cause of having a sweet tooth, the word serotonin came up a few times. For those who aren’t quite sure what that is (me) here is the textbook definition:

“Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.”

So for short, serotonin is a chemical that makes you feel good. One food that is known for releasing serotonin in the brain is chocolate. So every time you need a quick pick me and want to feel good, reaching for that chocolate bar wouldn’t be surprising. Even though dark chocolate is actually good for you, chocolate donuts, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate cookies are not. Unfortunately. Another reason for sugar cravings is sleep deprivation. Since sweets usually have a lot of sugar in them, eating a cupcake will give you a quick sugar spike that will make you temporarily forget you’re sleep deprived.

Whether it is salty or sweet food cravings can come from all over the place, and the best thing to do when they strike is know how to handle it! Make sure your body is always properly hydrated and well rested. Stop rewarding yourself with a cookie when you do something good! Thinking that sweets are a reward just tricks our body into the cycle that good=sweets, which ultimately equals bad. Cravings can also come from your sensory to foods. Don’t give into eating ice ream because it’s cold and feels good on a hot day.

Just incase you need a little bit more on good foods to turn to when those cravings hit, check out this chart provided by MindBodyGreen:

What are you Craving?          Examples                                       Try instead…

Chewy                                      Cookies, brownies                          Oatmeal bars, dried fruit

Crunchy                                    Chips, crackers                              Crisp veggies like carrot

Cold                                          Ice cream; Milk shakes                  Frozen bananas

Creamy                                     Pudding; Creamed soups              Greek yogurt, avocados

Tangy                                       Salad dressing; Ketchup                Lemon, salsa

 

Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.

Mary Marren