What Are Ancient Grains?

We read cereal boxes, snack labels, and hear about these “Ancient Grains” all over the place these days. But, what exactly are they? And, are they as good for us as these sources are claiming?

Ancient Grain Overview

There is a collection of unrefined whole grains that fit into this “ancient” category. Basically, these are grains whose roots trace back to before we kept track of time. Ancient grains have not been mutated, bred, refined, and have been left greatly unchanged over the centuries.

Many ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Egyptians, and the Aztecs used (and worshipped) these grains. The Incas considered quinoa sacred and actually named it “the mother of all grains.” Some say faro was mentioned in the Old Testament.

Not all ancient grains are gluten-free, but fortunately, most are.

Gluten-free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds, freekeh, millet, and teff. (Oats, spelt, einkorn, faro, and Khorasan wheat “Kamut” contain gluten.)

Are Ancients Better?

It depends on how one defines better. If we’re discussing the environment, then the answer is yes, ancient grains are better. Many of them thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation, as well as lower levels of pesticides in comparison to the modern, hybrid, selectively-bred grains, like wheat.

Various health experts will debate whether ancient grains compose a healthier diet than other whole grains. Many nutritionists, however, assert that ancients provide more vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

The Grains, Legumes, and Nutrition Council, leading experts in this aspect of health, explains that all the whole grains are similar. However, some ancient grains are considered pseudo-cereal grains because they’re actually derived from plant seeds, and not prepared or use like “true” grains.

Are they healthier? At the very least, the benefits range from superior levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a high omega-3 content. They are also an excellent form of complex carbohydrates. For the benefits and list of complex carbs click here.

Quick Guide To Ancient Grains

1) Teff. GF (Gluten-free). It’s so tiny, it can’t be processed, which is great. One cup packs in over 100mg of calcium. It’s starch resistant, high in fiber, and can help if you’re trying to shed pounds.

2) Quinoa. GF. Can be prepared in a rice-cooker. Comes in red, black, or white, and can be eaten cold like a traditional pasta salad, or warm with veggies and a lean protein. Extremely nutritious.

3) Millet. GF. It’s rich in magnesium and used in many “bread” products. It also hydrates the colon. Comes in red, white, gray, and yellow whole. Can be used whole or crushed into flour.

4) Amaranth. GF. It’s high in protein and can be used in desserts like cookies and cakes.

5) Sorghum. GF. It grows and thrives without much water. It can be utilized from a flour or syrup base, and can be used to make bread, desserts, and even beer.

6) Freekeh. GF. It’s harvested young so it tends to provide high amounts of nutrients. It’s also low in sugar carbs.

Other ancient grains include spelt, faro (also called emmer), Khorasan (also known as Kamut), and Einkorn. Sometimes these too are considered ancient grains: black barley, buckwheat, blue corn, black rice, and wild rice. (Remember, these are not all gluten-free!)

Hope this brief article on ancient grains helped answer some of your questions about this mysterious-and-healthy, old-yet-trendy food. Check back with Get Thrive soon for some delicious recipes using ancient grains, along with other healthy food tips.

 

 

Best Fall Harvested Foods to Keep You Healthy

Because of frozen food availability and genetic modification, we’ve become accustomed to having any type of produce, all year long. Freshly harvested, organic foods, however, are distinctly available at certain times of the year. Here are some samples of delicious, healthy produce ready for pickin’ and consumption right about now.

The Usual Suspect

Pumpkins are synonymous with autumn and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Often pumpkin is used in pies or other sweet desserts. But, there are alternate ways to eat this vitamin-rich food without packing on the pounds.

You can add cooked, cooled pumpkin chunks into smoothies. Sautee slices with other coarse veggies like carrots and then spice with turmeric, garlic, and pepper. You can puree pumpkin (add cinnamon) and spread it on toast or as part of a sandwich. Don’t forget the seeds! They can be roasted in the oven and lightly sprinkled with sea salt to make a yummy snack or as a topping for salads.

Pumpkins and their seeds offer a significant amount of fiber to your diet. High fiber lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. What’s great is that it keeps digestions flowing, but it also makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. It’s rich in Vitamin A, which is beneficial for vision and eye health. Evidently, the seeds contain tryptophan, which helps the body relax and encourages a good night’s sleep.

Other Fall Produce Worth Incorporating into Your Diet

Rutabaga. This is a root veggie that can be sweet-ish or bland depending on how it’s prepared. It’s a cross between a turnip and cabbage, but its flesh can be potato-like. They can be pureed, made into a soup, roasted, and I’ve even seen recipes adding it to caramelized onion and apple dishes.

The rutabaga is popular in Sweden and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber.

Dates. Here’s a sweet fruit that is highly nutritious; it’s packed with fiber, vitamins (especially potassium), minerals, and low fat. They can be eaten straight up, sliced and topped with cream cheese, or chopped and added to cookies and other treats.

Dates aid in stomach and intestinal processes. In Middle Eastern countries where fasting can be common, dates are often the first food eaten after breaking the fast. They help resist overeating, satisfy hunger, and deliver glucose and beneficial vitamins rapidly.

Brussels Sprouts. These are edible buds from a member of the cabbage family. If prepared properly, they can be incredibly delicious. Many people prepare them with bacon or garlic. They can be a tad bitter, so a groovy sauce that’s either tangy or cheesy can go a long way. Roasting them can be preferred to steaming.

Brussels sprouts are an amazing source of iron and folate (vitamin B9), which is excellent for your blood and DNA reproduction. They also contain vitamin K, which helps build strong bones and aids in heart disease prevention.

Winter squash is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. It’s yummy prepared with butter, ginger, and cinnamon.

Parsnips look a little like carrots and are a tad sweeter. They add great flavor to soups, and some like to puree them and add to mashed potatoes for a nutty-ish flavor. They’re fiber-filled and offer lots of potassium, too.

Everybody’s Favorite

Of course there are sweet potatoes, which is also a headliner at fall and winter holiday tables. Whichever seasonal fall foods you choose, know that organic and fresh will help keep your body at its peak nutritional health.

For more articles on healthy foods, check out www.GetThrive.com

 

Newest Research on Healthy Aging Reveals Carbs Matter

Australian researchers have discovered that dietary fiber from carbs and other sources extends good health while aging.

Growing Old Healthier and Longer

Scientists from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research conducted a decade-long study of successful aging. They defined the term as being able to avoid: chronic disease, cancer, dementia, depression, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory ailments.

The findings from the study were published in The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. The lead author of the paper claims, “…the relationship between carb intake and healthy aging was significant…” Those who ate proper amounts of dietary fiber avoided most chronic pitfalls of aging and remained most healthy overall.

The Study and Surprising Results

The diets of 1,609 participants aged 49 and above were studied. The scientists factored the peoples’ intake of total carbs, fiber from carbs, total fiber, and sugar. After a 10-year follow-up, the results were surprising. Those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber had an almost 80 percent greater chance of living a healthy, long life.

Those who had the highest sugar intake levels were more apt to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and dementia. The researchers reported that cereals and bread are good for our diet, as long as there is sufficient fiber content.

How to Do Carbs Math

We’ve all been taught to count carbs. The problem is that our food labels are misleading. The total number is not as important the “net” number of carbohydrates.

Take the total number on the label under the carbohydrate listing. For example, 20 grams. Subtract the listed amount of fiber, let’s say it’s 5. Your net carbs will be 15. You want that number low, but you want a high fiber count. Fiber carbs are not fattening—you can digest them!

Non-fiber carbs are fattening because they’re not as filling, not easily digestible, and mostly turn into sugar.

Also, beware of sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol, and lacitol. They appear to keep the sugar content down on the label, but they don’t in reality. They can metabolize into sugar. Additionally, those sugars can be listed as fiber content, but they are not. Labelling laws are lax and loopholes are discovered and used widely in our American food industry. The good news is, however, we are learning more about nutrition and healthy living every day. Live long and eat fiber!

Www.GetThrive.com has a wide selection of food and health related articles that may address some topics that have piqued your interest. Click here to read on…

 

 

Try This Efficient Formula to Lose Weight Safely

Everyone knows that being overweight or obese can be detrimental to your overall health. What you don’t hear enough of, however, is that losing weight too rapidly or engaging in certain types of diets can be dangerous, too. If you want to lose weight safely, read on as we share an efficient formula that is definitely worth trying.

 

Safety, Safely First

The decision to lose weight is generally accompanied by determination and enthusiasm. Usually, we get so annoyed that we can’t fit into our jeans, and then realize it’s time to take action. We make a choice to “diet” and off we go, idealistically, into a program with full gusto.

The problem with hastily moving forward on a weight-loss quest is that we can encounter several pitfalls if we’re unprepared. Our blood sugar, heart rates, and metabolism can become imbalanced if we lose too much, too soon. If we overdo it with exercise, there’s a likelihood injury could occur, actually creating a setback on our mission.

The key, henceforth, is to keep in mind three important elements when embarking on a safety-prioritized diet. They are:

 

  • Preparation
  • Consistency
  • Mindfulness

 

A Fantastic Formula

With preparation, consistency, and mindfulness, you can be successful at dropping pounds in a healthy fashion. Along with following and adhering to several dietary and lifestyle adjustments, you now have a formula, which can be both safe and efficient. The adjustments recommended to maximize your weight-loss goal are:

 

  • Improving sleep quality and quantity
  • Increase protein intake
  • Increase fiber intake and hydration
  • Increase good fats intake/ Reduce or avoid bad fats intake
  • Increase physical movement

 

SLEEP

Lack of sleep makes most people grouchy, brain-fogged, and prone to physical injury. Additionally, researchers report that those who sleep less than seven hours each night, not only have a more difficult time losing weight, but often wind up gaining weight over time.

Poor sleep quality also leads to poorer decision-making. You may “give up” on your diet if you get cranky enough. You need proper rest to maintain willpower and clear thinking. Behavior control can be compromised, and that’s not safe.

Stress is a killer (literally), and especially of weight-loss plans. Our bodies suffer and hold onto fat when they get in the “fight or flight mode.” Cortisol, the hormone produced and released during stressful moments, keeps us from losing unwanted extra pounds.

Get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night and your body will start processing nutrients in a beneficial way, helping you to efficiently drop weight. 1) Prepare your day so you can get to sleep on time. 2) Be consistent with your sleep times. 3) Be mindful and make your space conducive to restful sleep.

 

PROTEIN

High protein foods may be higher in calories, but we actually burn more calories from the process of digesting them. Protein helps boost our energy level and builds muscle. We also feel fuller faster and longer. These are extremely beneficial factors for efficient and safe weight-loss.

Some excellent examples of nutritious, protein-rich foods are:

 

  • organic lean poultry (chicken and turkey)
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • low-fat cheese (feta and goat)
  • fish (tuna and salmon)

 

1) Shop ahead to prepare for your meals. 2) Eat high-protein foods consistently, daily. 3) Be mindful that your proteins are organic, locally farmed, and/or void of any preservatives.

 

FIBER AND WATER

Fresh fruits and vegetables are incredible sources of natural fiber. Eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily will help with your weight-loss program as well as help lower your blood pressure. (High blood pressure is not safe.)

Proper fiber intake also helps balance blood sugar. This makes for more efficient fat-loss as well as reducing risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily is one recommendation. Other experts suggest keeping a full bottle of water by your side all day and consistently sipping from it. Staying hydrated, all the time, should be your priority. And when increasing fiber to your diet, increasing your water consumption is a must.

1) Prepare by shopping at farmers’ markets or in the organic produce section of your grocery store. 2) Be consistent by making half your plate, each meal, full of vegetables—and drinking lots of water. 3) Be mindful of where your fiber and water is coming from. Avoid hidden, added sugar.

 

GOOD FATS/BAD FATS

Good fats are generally unsaturated (mono or poly) and can contain Omega 3- and/or 6- fatty acids. Some examples are: avocados, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, almond butter, and seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, etc.)

Bad fats are ones with saturated fats, especially polysaturated and hydrogenated oils. These are processed products that contain no nutritional value and actually are dangerous (ie. carcinogenic and toxic). Some examples include: vegetable oil, margarine, many chips, frozen dinners, deep-fried and fast foods, etc.

1) Prepare your diet by checking labels and having “good” foods around the house. 2) Be consistent about what foods you allow yourself; cheating never feels good afterwards. 3) Be mindful of how great you feel when you eat healthy foods.

 

EXERCISE

Physical activity is a necessary component to healthy, safe, and effective weight loss. Weight loss and weight management are about balance. Your body won’t be able to handle drastic physical change without rebelling. Your exercise induction must bear the three elements: preparation, consistency, and mindfulness.

There’s no need to start running marathons. Simply increasing physical movement on a daily, consistent basis will increase your metabolism and help your body adjust accordingly. Overdoing workouts can be very unsafe. You could be putting your heart at risk as well as your bones and muscles. Injury is bad and will only set you back physically and mentally.

1) Prepare by knowing your physical limits, but also pushing them slightly. 2) Be consistent; slow and steady wins the race! 3) When exercising, be mindful of all parts of your body—your breathing, heart rate, muscle strength, and flexibility.

 

There are thousands of “diets” and a plethora of materials about how to lose weight. The unfortunate thing is that many of those don’t take into account your safety. With this efficient formula, you can relax while allowing your body to free itself from its overload. Stay the course, and keep in mind that if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

We are on your team and cheering for your success. See other articles on GetThrive for more tips and information on how to keep you and your family the healthiest they can be!

 

Sources:

https://healthyeater.com/carb-protein-fat-rich-foods

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/sleep-weight-loss

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-one-change-getting-fiber-can-help-weight-loss-201502177721

https://getthrive.com/weight-loss-quiz-know-whats-working-whats-not/

https://getthrive.com/effective-healthy-eating-tactics-2018/

 

 

 

Weight Loss Quiz: Do You Know What’s Working and What’s Not?

It seems like a never-ending process. You try to lose weight, and no matter what you do, the pounds just don’t shed the way you’d like. It’s possible that what you think you’re doing right, may not be right for you—or your waistline.

Check out the Weight Loss Quiz below. Peruse the Answer Key afterwards to see how you might be able to up your game and lower your weight by making a couple of informed adjustments.

 

1.) The best way to start your day is to…

  1. a) Skip breakfast
  2. b) Eat a large meal to tide you over until lunch
  3. c) Drink coffee to wake you up and thwart your appetite
  4. d) Eat a balance of protein, good fat, fruit, and/or whole grains

 

2.) Carbohydrates are…

  1. a) Poison
  2. b) OK if they are complex
  3. c) Best derived from bread and pasta

 

3.) The perfect amount of sleep for me is…

  1. a) Six hours. I’m not too cranky, but I can still function
  2. b) Somewhere between four and seven hours
  3. c) Between eight and nine hours

 

4.) A good source of fat is…

  1. a) Tortilla chips and potato chips
  2. b) Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts
  3. c) Olives and dark chocolate

 

5.) On the subject of fiber…

  1. a) Fiber is found in oatmeal and wheat products
  2. b) Vegetables and fruit contain tons of fiber
  3. c) Fiber is only for people who are prone to constipation

 

Answers:

1.) It seems like a no-brainer, but many of us, even knowing what’s best, opt for a different choice. Answer “d”—Eat a balance of protein, good fat, fruit, and/or whole grains makes sense and aids in a weight-loss program. Ideally, to shed pounds, you cut out “bad” foods. Believe it or not, you can slim down simply by mixing and matching the “good” foods—along with exercising.

Starting your day with a hard-boiled egg, a small serving of plain Greek yogurt with berries, and a spoonful of almond butter or a slice of organic whole grain wheat bread will keep your brain and body functioning at peak performance. You won’t feel like snacking (and if you do, have some carrots or celery), and you won’t feel deprived.

If you answered “a”, skip breakfast, you are setting yourself up for weight gain (because you get so hungry you binge eat or eat the first thing you see, which is often on the naughty list of foods.) If you answered “b”, eat a large meal, you’d be acting counter-productively. Your body would expend all its energy on digestion rather than the tasks you have at hand.

2.) Carbohydrates are not the devil or poison. (If they are full of saturated, trans fats, or GMOs, then they are unhealthy and can actually make you sick and/or gain weight.) But, healthy carbs are absolutely necessary to balance your blood sugar levels. (You can find these in fresh fruits and other natural sources.)

So, the answer “b” is correct in that complex carbohydrates help extend the energy you need to access, especially when balanced with protein. (Some excellent choices are: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.) Option “c” (bread and pasta) are fine if they are 100% whole grain organic. Otherwise, toss them to the curb, along with corn and white potatoes.

3.) It’s been proven (and it’s obvious), that lack of sleep makes us irritable. We do not make the most rational choices with limited rest time. If you answered “b”, 4-7 hours of sleep per night, there is no way your body or mind will allow you to lose weight. Researchers have found that people who sleep less than 7 hours per night have a harder time losing weight, and, unfortunately, actually gain more weight over time.

Less sleep has also been linked to lessened behavior control. If you’re tired, you’re more apt to say, “ What the heck!” and treat yourself to a fattening or an unhealthy meal or treat.

Less sleep also means more stress—which means your body holds onto fat because it’s in fight-or-flight mode. Between 8 and 9 hours of sleep are ideal if you want your body to process the nutrients you’ve ingested in the most beneficial, relaxed way.

4.) If you chose chips, you’re in big-time denial. Corn and potatoes are huge sources of sugar, which will never lead to weight loss (or optimum health, for that matter.)

Answers “b” and “c” are both correct. Nuts are an amazing source of good fat. We need it! In moderation, and in conjunction with other food sources, good fats such as olives (and olive oil), avocados, and even dark chocolate (because of its prebiotic benefits) can actually boost metabolism, helping us to lose the weight we want gone.

5.) Some studies report that eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily assist with weight loss as well as helping to lower blood pressure. Fiber is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You can reap a bountiful fiber intake from eating a balanced diet from fresh and unprocessed foods.

Higher fiber diets have been shown to prevent type-2 diabetes. That proof suggests that balanced blood sugar (because of proper fiber intake) can help with weight loss and maintenance of a healthy body weight. If you answered “a” and “b”, you’re on the right track. If you’re constipated, it may be quite possible that fiber is lacking in your diet (which would make it understandable why you’d choose “c”.)

 

There is a deluge of information (and also speculation) on how to lose weight. Our bodies, however, will respond, each time, to proper nutrition and exercise. This is the inevitable fool-proof way to see lower numbers on the scale and shorter measurements on the tape or on our clothing size. Above and beyond the desire to shed pounds, the mission should be towards attaining optimum physical and mental health. Losing weight is one thing, but adding years to our lifespan is a greater, positive step.

GetThrive.com! offers many more articles and blogs centered towards living a healthy, clean lifestyle. For more information on weight loss, health practices, and tips for long living, check out our site. And while you’re there, feel free to sign up for our weekly Newsletter. You have nothing to lose, and only a healthier, happier life to gain.

Sources:

https://healthyeater.com/carb-protein-fat-rich-foods

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/sleep-weight-loss

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-one-change-getting-fiber-can-help-weight-loss-201502177721

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Good Fats, Bye-Bye Bread

No one wants to give up bread. And no one says you have to. But, the most recent research points to processed carbohydrates as “deadly”. Contrary to decades of inaccurate reporting, it’s actually the good fats that will prolong your healthy life.

People Think Fat is Bad—But Is it?

We have been programmed to believe that all fats are bad for our health. In truth, all fats are not created equal, nor are they all life-shortening. Yes, trans fats (trans unsaturated fatty acids) are unhealthy. Those are the ones where chemically caused, molecular mutation takes place. That would include vegetable oil, partial- and fully-hydrogenated oil, and shortenings used for deep-frying, among others. These are found in most fast foods, store-bought and even bakery-made cakes, cookies, crackers, bread, and other popular American consumables.

Saturated fats, on the other hand, are good fats. Research published in the August 2017 issue of The Lancet, claimed that people with an approximate saturated fat composition of 35% of their daily diet had a 23% percent lower risk of stroke or early death than those who ate less good fats. That is huge—and not in weight, but in health news.

That’s tough to wrap our brains around after all the “fat-is-bad-for-you” propaganda that’s been drummed into us for years and years.

Participants with a super low intake of saturated fats (somewhere between 3 and 10% of their daily diet) were associated with a higher risk of death. That means that low consumption of good fats is actually detrimental to your health. Time to bring on the sushi, guacamole, hummus, and pistachio nuts! (But maybe not in the same sitting.)

What’s Your Bread and Butter?

Butter has little-to-no protein or fiber benefit, but it offers vitamin K2, omega-3 fatty acid, and saturated fat. Grass-fed butter, as opposed to regular butter, is even healthier because it’s antibiotic- and hormone-free. Butter is better than margarine or any other processed, artificial, or imitation form of its delicious, natural counterpart.

If you’re using grass-fed butter to season or sauté, you are not risking your health; you may even be enhancing it.

Bread, on the other hand, is full of carbohydrates, but the not-so-good kind. That’s because it’s refined and/or processed. Bread can contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which messes with your blood sugar and glucose levels. Simple carbs, like bread and corn, digest easily, but they also make you crash quickly. They screw with your insulin levels, which is eventual cause for type-2 diabetes, weight gain, and also your inability to lose weight.

Carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables are different because they provide nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also un-processed.

The Bread Winner? Think Again…

Anyway you slice it, bread is a sugar provider and producer. If this 18-country study showed that an excess of white flour consumption may increase your risk of early death, do you still want to order your burger between buns?

If you said “yup”, you’re not alone. Of the 135,000 involved in the 7-year study, about half of those folks derived 70% of their daily calories from carbohydrates (and not necessarily from the good sources.)

Clearly, education regarding updated, factual, nutrition-based guidelines are lacking—or no one’s listening—or no one cares.

Fat, Sugar; Carbs, Sugar; Sugar, Sugar

Ingestion of pure or added sugar is not an essential for human health. (BTW, added sugar is an actual detriment.) Our bodies produce or derive the sugar we need for energy from the proper and natural foods we eat. And, that is plenty. Anymore, especially chemically derived, and it becomes a serious health danger.

All of the foods we eat, whether plant-or animal-based contain the trio of nutrients we need for existence—protein, carbohydrates, and fat. How much of each we should put on our plates has been up for debate for decades. Unfortunately, our good health may not be always the priority in the information delivered.

Special interest groups such as: the dairy association, the sugar producers, the red meat council, etc. may have an agenda of their own. The public can often be misguided by propaganda as opposed to positively swayed by scientific research.

In this particular case, the research, once again, is overwhelmingly in favor of losing the processed carbohydrates. If you’re jonesing for some bread, try substituting the craving with some delicious quinoa, wild rice, or baked sweet potatoes. Your arteries, brain, waistline, and family will thank you.

And remember, you are always in charge of your own health. Educate yourself and seek the guidance of those you trust and who are well informed. Also, check out other articles on www,GetThrive.com to learn more about best health practices for yourself and your family.

Sources:

Where to Find Grass-fed Butter

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-is-bread-bad-for-you#section7

https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/08/29/Diet-study-suggests-its-carbs-not-fats-that-are-bad-for-you/1151504055850/?utm_source

 

Grocery List Essentials for Your Plant-Based Diet

It’s really exciting to make a conscious choice to eat more plant-based foods. It can also be daunting if you’re not sure what to fill your pantry with in order to prepare or cook yummy new dishes.

Additionally, you can find yourself spending a bit more in your budget to catch up on the basics, like nuts, seeds, and herbs. Plant-based chef Miranda Hammer (who also happens to be a registered dietician) has some great ideas for stocking up, especially if this is a new venture for you at home.

The idea is to flavor-up what could be bland. Using fresh produce is the start. Dress it up with dried, nonperishable, nutritious items. Your goal is to keep all your foods whole and unprocessed.

Hammer suggests shopping in the bulk bins at your local health food store or market. Since they need to turnover the products in a timely fashion, if they’re not all sold, they will often offer a decent discount.

Texture, Fiber, and Good Fats

Nuts and seeds are amazing sources of protein, fiber, and other healthy supplements. They are both terrific snacks alone, but the chef recommends using them as toppers on salads, oatmeal, ice cream, or cooked veggie dishes.

Get them raw and unsalted. Some preferred nuts are: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, and, of course, the go-to nut—peanuts. Tasty seeds include: chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, and flax.

Herbivore Alert

Dried herbs and spices are must-haves if you want exotic tastes. As we are hearing more often, many spices and herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties, which adds further benefit to their use.

You can also avoid using too much salt by incorporating another interesting spice instead. Hammer suggests investing in: cumin, oregano, turmeric, ginger, coriander, and thyme.

Beans, Grains, Oils, and Stand-bys

Another staple for plant-based pantries are beans and legumes. Some of these include: lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and split peas. Of course any grains you buy should be “whole”—like in cereal, quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and bulgur.

Coconut, extra-virgin olive, avocado, and sesame are Hammer’s favorites. And delicious for dressings, sauces, or to dip in, balsamic vinegar, tamari, raw apple cider, and Dijon mustard are the recommendations.

Stock up on these items little-by-little. They should last in your pantry for a short while (some longer than others.) Buy your produce fresh and organic. With the combination of these items, you can make yourself some fabulous, healthy meals right in your own home.

Say “Yes” to Beet Juice!

Every week there’s a new trendy Superfood advertised in markets or on social media. Beets, however, specifically red beetroots, have been a prominent health veggie for generations. It’s more recent that the many powerful benefits of drinking the juice have come to light.

Beet-ween You and I

Beets are an incredibly nutrient-dense vegetable. My Polish grandmother boiled them in with many of her cultural dishes. Our Russian neighbor made the most delicious Borsht soup. It was a tad sour, but she added a bit of bacon into the bowl, and that made it more appealing and flavorful. Beets can also be roasted, which tends to bring out more of their sweetness.

But if you want the vitamins and nutritional benefits from the red beetroot without the cooking hassle, perhaps the best form is juicing. In fact, beet juice has shown to lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, decrease inflammation, and even improve athletic performance when ingested as a liquid supplement.

Skipping a Beat

Nitrates are chemicals that naturally occur in certain foods—beets being one of them. In truth, the highest nitrate levels are found in spinach, celery, lettuce, and beets! Nitrates convert into nitric oxide when they’re consumed.

Nitric oxide increases oxygen levels in our blood. It also helps open our blood vessels, which allows for improved blood flow. When our blood is oxygen-rich and flowing freely, our circulatory and respiratory systems can function at their peak. Think about what this could mean to an athlete. Or, imagine how this could positively affect your workouts?

If more oxygen is being fed to your muscles, your endurance can be increased. Skipping rope for two minutes won’t be as taxing if you drink some beet juice a couple of hours before.

Research from studies showing the effects of beet juice as a nutritional athletic supplement offer these suggestions:

  • 2 cups of red beetroot juice is a healthy dose
  • Drink your supplement approximately 120 minutes before engaging in your workout

Beet the Odds

Today’s environment requires that people take special note to eat nutritionally, exercise, but also to detoxify. Pollutions in all forms enter our bodies, regardless of how “clean” we live. Beets are natural detoxifiers.

Beets are high in vitamin C and K, folate, potassium, manganese, and fiber. They also contain betaine (a nutrient that helps protect cells), pectin, and assist the liver with its cleansing process. They are a rich source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and risk of disease. As mentioned, the nitrate level in beet juice helps decrease hypertension—that makes it a heart-healthy beverage.

No matter how you slice it, beets are the bomb! Before your next stroll or workout, think about toasting with a glass of beet juice.

Sources:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-roast-beets-in-the-oven-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-172827

https://www.verywell.com/how-does-beet-juice-improve-athletic-performance-4123855