My Newest Addiction

Pic for Blog- My Newest AddictionRun, run, run, every day is another day to see how many things I can accomplish. I am always on the go, whether heading to work, class, or workout. I always keep a snack in my backpack to make sure that I never am hungry. My latest snack that I can’t keep myself from indulging in more than once a day: homemade energy balls. I am sure you’ve seen this recipe before, although have you tried it? If you haven’t, maybe once I dissect the nutritious ingredients you will be more willing to give it a go!

 

The recipe is the following:

1 cup whole rolled oats, 5 tablespoons natural crunchy peanut butter, 2.5 tablespoons honey, 4 tablespoons ground flax seed, and ¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional).

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the honey and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl and melt/warm the two ingredients together. Pour over the dry mixture and stir. You can either roll them into 1-inch balls (serving size) or put them in a pan and cut them like granola bars.

Just writing about this makes my mouth water for the pan of them that I have in the fridge right now. The perfect treat that will nip that sweet tooth in the butt, keep your energy levels up, and keep you feeling full. The key ingredients in this recipe are:

Whole rolled oats: Where this ingredient lacks flavor, it makes up for it with its nutritious values. Rolled oats have been found to be a great blood sugar stabilizer. When your blood sugar is stable, your body will react less to temptations of sweets. Also, the high content of fiber keeps you feeling full and also helps with digestion.

Flaxseed: It is high in vitamins and minerals that have been found to increase your heart health. The high level of fiber content in flaxseed keeps you feeling more full because it expands once it is digested and helps curve your appetite.

The combination of the sweet honey, the salty peanut butter, mixed with the oats, fiber and some chocolate chips, is the best. Choosing to make your own homemade granola bars (or energy balls in this case) is much more cost effective and is also healthier. There are no preservatives in this recipe, and the cost is comparable to buying a box of Nature Valley Granola Bars every week when you are grocery shopping.

The best part is that you don’t need any certain utensils to make it and you can prepare this snack in bulk. It lasts for a long time if you keep them refrigerated as well. I encourage you to give this recipe a try, because I know you will be just as addicted as I am!

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

~Kenzi Weidman

Peanut Butter Lover

Pic for Blog-National Peanut Butter Lover's DaySunday is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, a day where all peanut butter lovers can get together and laud the magnificent substance, or just eat a peanut butter sandwich.  But since this holiday is quickly approaching, I decided to go over why everyone (who isn’t allergic to peanuts) should love peanut butter too and join in on the celebration. Peanut butter in moderation is a wonder source of many vitamins and health benefits. Let’s go over them.

Peanut Butter is an amazing source of Protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter is approximately seven grams of protein. To stay on the healthy side with all of the others things you get from protein, you usually don’t want to intake over two tablespoons a day.

According to research done at Harvard Medical School there is heart health benefits that you receive from eating peanut butter. When you eat it in moderate amounts (two tablespoons or less a day) the amount of unsaturated fats that you get is amazing for you and is worth the lower amount of saturated fats that you get. You also have to be sure to eat higher quality peanut butter for it to be as healthy as possible (I’ll go over the better kinds of peanut butter later in this article).

The vitamins you receive from eating peanut butter can actually be an Energy Booster for your body. This is why peanut butter makes for a great condiment for breakfast food or for mid day snacks! I would try and stay away from it during the night, as it can be a factor in keeping you up at nights.

The fibers and proteins that peanut butter contains can actually help you feel fuller for a longer period of time and can help aid you in weight loss. Once again, eating massive amounts of peanut butter isn’t going to help you lose any weight, quite the contrary actually, but the two tablespoons a day can possibly be a factor of losing a few pounds!

Peanut butter has healthy fats. A lot of people worry about eating peanut butter because it is high in fats, but in reality the fats that peanut butter contains are actually healthy fats that you need for a complete daily diet. The unsaturated fats, which are the good fats, are much higher than the saturated fats, or bad fats, which makes it a good food to eat.

Buying the right, healthiest, peanut butter can be a task within its self. There are a couple things that you should be looking for when you purchase peanut butter.

All Natural peanut butter is the best for reducing your intake of most saturated (bad) fats and everything else that is bad in other peanut butter options. All natural peanut butter tends to be slightly more pricy so keep that in mind too, but if you’re sticking to your two tablespoons of peanut butter a day you shouldn’t worry too much about what kind you are getting.

The amount of Sugar is another factor that you have to look for.  The sugar is what makes the peanut butter have more of a sweet taste so keep that in mind when trying these kinds of peanut butter.

Let me know what types of peanut butter you like best and why.  If you didn’t eat peanut butter before, I hope you’ll give it a try after reading this article.  We’ll see you at the National Peanut Butter Lover’s day party on Sunday!

Yesterday you said tomorrow

-Eric Hess

Hold that Pose!

What words come to mind when you think of muscle building or strength training? Weights, a medicine ball, fancy weight machines, and dumbbells? But, why all of the materialist items? Do we really need all of that to build strength?

Pic 1 for Hold that Pose  Now, what words come to mind when you think of flexibility? Stretching obviously, and perhaps Yoga? So why is it that we associate only stretching with yoga immediately? Because the truth is, with Yoga and other resistance training exercises comes strength training that you can’t get from weight lifting. So if you’re short of weights or don’t have access to a weight lifting machine, good news: one of the best pieces of equipment you can have for strength training is your own body and here’s why:

  • While weights are a great way to build a specific group of muscles, we isolate that group of muscles while neglecting others. As bodybuilding.com states, “We forget about the smaller but very important intrinsic muscles that hold the body together in optimal alignment. When we neglect these muscles, the body’s way of letting you know about it is through bouts of dull pain or aches in your shoulders, knees or lower back that were not there before” (Clark et al., 2008).
  • Holding yoga poses and other resistance training exercises opposed to weight lifting, breaks down to a matter of eccentric contraction in the muscles vs. concentric contraction.

Pic 2 for Hold that Pose

Yoga relies on eccentric contraction, where the muscle stretches as it contracts. This gives the muscle a sleek and lengthy look.

Weight training relies on the opposing principle of concentric contraction. The muscle gets smaller as it contracts. This gives the muscle a compact, bulging appearance.

-Why does it matter to know the difference? Muscle strengthening may be most effective by doing eccentric contractions.

  • Yoga increases muscle endurance, since it is a matter of holding a given pose oppose to short compulsions of a repeated pose.

So next time you shut down a yoga class because you think you won’t benefit from it, revaluate all of the positive outcomes that comes with Yoga and Resistance training. Not only does it work as a double whammy, stretching and building muscle, but it focuses on muscles we usually neglect when weight lifting. As Nicholas DiNubile, says “Yoga can be just as effective as weights when it comes to building a stronger, more impressive physique.” Whether you’re trying out a yoga class for the first time or holding planks or wall sits in your room, broaden your horizon of muscles to focus on instead of isolating one group and neglecting others.

“It’s a good day to have a good one!”

-Alena Purpero

A Vegetarian’s Guide to Protein

Pic for Blog- Protein for VegetariansAs a vegetarian for only a year now you’d think that being asked about my diet choice has yet to get repetitive. However, I am now used to being asked about why and how I’m a vegetarian, (sometimes more than once by the same people). When I’m asked why I’m a vegetarian I simply explain how it’s a step in the right direction to make my diet full of natural, plant-based food from the earth (and perhaps avoiding meat hanging at market stands while on a trip to Cambodia was a contributing factor as well). Whatever your reason is for being a vegetarian, you’ve probably been pitched the question, that is: “but…how do you get protein?” I’ve gotten this numerous times (even got put on the spot by my biology professor during a lecture…not an ideal situation). So if you are a vegetarian, thinking about being a vegetarian, or simply want to understand the diet of a vegetarian, here is how we do it:

Quinoa: This is the first answer I spit out when given the ol’ protein question, (except of course when I was called on in the middle of lecture and was too put on the spot to give an sufficient answer.) For those of you who do not know, quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a pseudo grain. The title “pseudo grain” is pretty misleading because technically it is a seed, so it’s also gluten free! This is an important staple to my diet because it’s one of the few plant proteins that have the 9 essential amino acids all by itself, without combining with complementary proteins. One cup of quinoa has 24 grams of protein!

  • Cook yourself a big batch in the beginning of the week and store the rest in a container to reheat throughout the week! Eat it with either veggies stirred in, avocado, eggs, or chick peas! You can also eat it like you would oatmeal, drizzle some honey on top, throw banana slices on top and sprinkle on some cinnamon!

Nuts and seeds: Almonds in particular offer the most protein compared to other tree nuts. As far as seeds go, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds offer a lot of protein as well! You can eat them alone as a snack or add them to your food! Aside from the fact that they are an easy source of protein, they are also good for our heart, support cognitive function and keeps our blood sugar in check.

Eggs: Eggs are still a part of most vegetarians’ diet. The exclusion of eggs falls under the category of Vegan rather than vegetarian. One egg has 6 grams of protein, so if you make yourself a 2 egg omelet with perhaps a side of veggies and quinoa, you’re off to a protein packed start of your day!

Soy beans: Another huge source of protein! One cup of soy beans contains 68 grams of protein, which is over the average person’s daily intake of protein. Soy beans also contain the 9 essential amino acids, so they are sufficient substitute to meat, which is why tofu is used instead of meat!

If you are a vegetarian yourself, I hope you learned something new about plant protein! If you are just curious about how vegetarians get by, I hope you learned that we don’t just live off of grilled cheese sandwiches. Even If you are a carnivore, add some of these proteins to your diet!  They are healthy and accessible!

“It’s a good day to have a good one!”

-Alena Purpero