There are so many apps to help your health. Here is a recap of a few of my favorites from a heart rate checker, to food evaluation, and excellent nutrition content:
Instant Heart Rate - Using your camera's flash, this app takes your heart rate. It's a fun tool to check and monitor your heart rate. Cost: Free, Platform: iOS or Android
Fooducate - You can scan the bar code of a food and it will give the product a grade and provide background around the products grade. You maybe surprised, how some foods you are buying weigh in on the fooducate scale. Pictured left is an example of how dry roasted edamame weigh in on the fooducate app. Click here for more information on the Fooducate app. Cost: Free, Platform: iOS
Food & Nutrition Magazine - This app is a magazine type app that provides content from the Food & Nutrition Magazine, which is a magazine developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Topics include: cooking tips, book reviews, kitchen gadgets, product reviews, recipes, and more. Click here for more information on Food & Nutrition Magazine. Cost: Free* Platform: iOS
*The app is free to download, to view the content of the magazine, you must subscribe.
Is My Food Safe? - Wondering what temperature to cook foods to? Or when it is time to throw something out? This app has all of that information to help keep your food safe. For example: Store soup in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 days or in the freezer for 2 - 3 months. Click here for more information on the Is My Food Safe? app. Cost: Free, Platform: iOS, Android
Healthy Out - Enter your location and allow this app to locate healthy dining in or take out options near you. You can also update the app based your eating preferences and/or food allergies. then the app will list the healthier items at that restaurant. For example: salads, sushi, edamame. Click here for more information on the healthy out app. Tip: when dining out, remember you can customize your own healthier meal option too! Cost: Free, Platform: iOS
When it comes to boosting your health, there is a growing category of foods referred to as 'superfoods'. While there is no specific definition of what a superfood is, what we do know is that certain foods seem to stand out among the rest when it comes to their health helping benefits.
Today's superfood spotlight is on Tart Cherry Juice - which are rich in phytochemicals. Tart cherries are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and research is proving the effectiveness. In fact, some studies have found that cherries reduce inflammation comparable to that of NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen and aspirin).
The superfood power seems to be linked to the anthocyanins, a phytochemical that is found in tart cherries. Why tart cherries? Interestingly enough, all cherries are not created equal - tart cherries have more phenolic compounds and antioxidants compared to sweet cherries.
- Women with osteoarthritis (OA) were studied and it was found that women who had two 10.5 oz bottles of tart cherry juice daily (compared to the placebo group) had a reduction in inflammatory markers in their body, specifically CRP (C-Reactive Protein).
- A study of recreational marathon runners were given 16 oz of tart cherry juice for 5 days before and the day of the event, and then for the 48 hours after a marathon. Inflammation in the group that consumed tart cherry juice was reduced and total antioxidant status (TAS) was increased in the tart cherry juice group.
- Tart cherries contain naturally occurring melatonin and have been linked to improving sleep quantity and quality. One study found that taking tart cherry juice for 7 days resulted in increased melatonin levels and benefited sleep quality and quantity in healthy men and women.
- Mix tart cherry juice with seltzer and serve over ice.
- Add tart cherry juice to smoothies and blend with frozen fruit and yogurt.
- At the grocery store opt for 100% tart cherry juice, some are fruit blends.
- Mix tart cherry juice with unsweetened iced tea.
- Just drink the tart cherry juice, as is!
On a personal note:
Recently Cheribundi provided me with 7 days worth of tart cherry juice to take their challenge, I have definitely found taking it routinely to decrease lower back pain, improve sleep, and in recovery from running. The bottom-line, is that it is adding tart cherry juice into your daily routine is definitely worth trying. If you give it a try, share your progress with me!
Howatson, et al. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16.
Howatson, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52.
Kuehl, et al. Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice to Reduce Inflammation Biomarkers among Women with Inflammatory Osteoarthritis (OA), Journal of Food. 2012, Vol. 1, No. 1
Life is busy and unfortunately something that can slip when the schedule gets hectic is healthy eating! Recently I hosted a twitter chat and heard some of the biggest challenges around healthy eating for a busy schedule, here's a recap of the challenges and tips.
Challenge 1: No time for breakfast
Solutions: Make a batch of smoothies the night before and store in a to go mug, so you can drink your breakfast on the go. Rethink breakfast and have leftovers instead. Eggs, toast, and a piece of fruit takes only minutes to pull together. Make a batch of oatmeal on the weekend and then on the weekdays, just heat up a bowl of oatmeal quickly. Keep a box of bars like KIND Snacks Fruit & Nut bars in your car or at the office, for an easy breakfast fix.
Challenge 2: Too busy for lunch
Solutions: Think of lunch as snacks instead of a 'meal' - for example: have a yogurt cup with fruit and granola and then later have pistachios and dried fruit. Schedule time in your day for lunch! Set reminders in your calendar that it is time for lunch. Opt for a liquid lunch and have boosted up smoothie with fruit, vegetables, and a protein source (e.g. yogurt, kefir).
Challenge 3: Need quick dinner ideas
Solutions: Three of the quickest dinners I can suggest: tacos, breakfast (or as we call it at our house 'brinner'), and stir-fry. The best part each of the meals are really complete meals and can include grains, vegetables/ fruit, and protein.
- Tacos: Here's a suggestion of what to include... Veggies: chopped onion, tomato, cucumber, and olives, Protein: chicken, beef, or tofu, Grains: whole corn tortillas (soft or crunchy) or brown rice. Toppings: guacamole, plain yogurt, and shredded cheese.
- Breakfast at dinner: Eggs, whole grain toast, and fruit!
- Stir-Fry: Keep bags of frozen stir-fry veggies on hand (snap peas, carrots, broccoli...) and stir-fry with chopped garlic and fresh ginger. Then remove the veggies and cook your protein of choice (e.g. chicken, steak, or tofu) with chopped garlic and fresh ginger. To finish make a sauce of equal parts: light soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
Challenge 4: Need smoothie ideas
Solutions: Think of the formula: fruits, vegetables, and protein! Making smoothies is quick and easy and you can easily mix up the variety and add in an extra boost when needed with: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, fish oil, or flax oil.
Mango Smoothie: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 cup frozen mango, and splash of juice or water (to make it easier to blend). Blend until smooth! If desired, sweeten with honey.
Fresh Strawberry Kefir: 1 cup fresh strawberries (stems removed) and 1 cup plain kefir. Blend until smooth!
Green Monster: 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and splash of juice or water (to make it easier to blend). Blend until smooth.
Share your biggest challenges for eating healthy with a busy schedule and I may include solutions in an upcoming post, email Molly: email@example.com.
Let's face it, fruit and vegetables do not get the same amount of marketing dollars ... $4.6 billion is spent on fast food advertising a year compared to only $6.5 million on marketing nutrition per year. Here are some fun resources to help children get excited about healthy eating!
Super Sprowtz:These fun characters including Brian Broccoli (pictured below), Colby Carrot, Erika Eggplant, and Suzy Sweetpea have super powers and have great books that accompany them to educate children on the benefits of vegetables in a very entertaining way!
Sammie & Sax in the Land of Quinoa:This fun and engaging book, Sami & Sax in the Land of Quinoa educates about the importance of healthy eating. Plus there is an option to get dishware from liviga which helps you and your children with portion control, without measuring cups! The circles on the plates are portion size guides to help you balance your plate. The plates are available in blue or pink.
Fore more information on the Sammie and Sax book or the dishes, visit: www.livliga.com
Grilling vegetables is simple, delicious, and goes well with so many meals! Try these ways to work in grilled vegetables into your meals:
Grilled Asparagus Pizza - Grill asparagus for 8 - 10 minutes, until lightly charred and tender. Remove from the grill, slice into 1-inch pieces. Then on a whole wheat flat bread, lightly drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. Then top with the asparagus and crumbled feta cheese. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees F for 8 - 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve as a main dish or as a appetizer!
Grilled Veggies with Pasta - Prepare your favorite vegetables (like: red peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, onions) and cut them into large slices. Place the vegetables in a grill basket on grill on a pre-heated grill for 15 - 20 minutes, until lightly charred and tender. Toss the grilled veggies with cooked whole wheat or brown rice pasta and lightly toss with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Grilled Sweet Potato Planks - Scrub a sweet potato and then slice lengthwise into half-inch thick slices. Place on a pre-heated grill and grill for 10 minutes per side or until the potatoes are lightly charred and tender. Serve as a side dish!
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich - Clean a portobello mushroom and marinade in 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for at least 30 minutes (or more). Then remove the mushroom from the vinegar and place on a pre-heated grill, then grill for 7 - 10 minutes, until the mushroom is lightly charred and tender. Serve on a whole wheat roll with your favorite burger toppings like -- tomato slices and leaf lettuce!
Grilled Peach Salad - Place peach slices on a pre-heated grill and grill for 7 - 10 minutes, turning throughout, until the peach slices are lightly charred and tender. Then place 3 cups of baby spinach in a bowl, crumbled feta, other chopped veggies (like red onion, cherry tomatoes...), and top the salad with the grilled peach slices. Finish with some sunflower seeds or pistachios (without the shells) for crunch and Honey Vinaigrette Dressing (See recipe below).
Yield: 16 servings (1 tablespoon each)
Ingredients: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup canola oil, 3 tablespoons honey, 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions: In a small mixing bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all of the ingredients, and whisk or shake, mixing thoroughly.
Recipe from Molly's book, Skinny Size-It - 101 Recipes That Will Fill You Up and Slim You Down
In case you need some motivation to eat more meatless meals... did you know? Producing 1 pound of beef uses... as much fuel as driving a car 32 miles, or as much energy as 256, 100-watt light-bulbs per hour, or as much grain as 20 loaves of bread. Meatless meal facts adapted from the Meatless Monday campaign.