December 6, 2014
December 6, 2014
It can be a challenge to create healthy, easy meals, especially when we are on the go. The smoothie is one of the more popular health foods to emerge in recent years. And these days, you can find them anywhere, from your neighborhood new age restaurant to famous fast food joints. There’s a reason that the smoothie is so ubiquitous; they are a fast, easy and convenient way to get a lot of nutrition into your body in a short amount of time. But although smoothies have many benefits to our health, they can also cause health challenges, depending on how they are made.
What’s In a Smoothie?
Blended fruit is the most basic ingredient in a smoothie. Unlike in a juice, a smoothie can contain the entire fruit including the skin and seeds. Fruit is simply cut up and blended until it’s a liquid, instead of having its liquid extracted, as is the case with juice.
But the smoothie has much more potential than just the addition of fruit. Beyond that basic element, smoothies can include just about anything. A large number of smoothies have some sort of fat component, often a protein-rich food like yogurt or nut butter. They also tend to include a variety of fruit. Some people add supplements like protein powder, digestive supports like fresh ginger and powdered cinnamon to their smoothie. Super foods like spirulina, maca, or raw cacao can also be added.
The green smoothie is a definite favorite. This includes green leafy vegetables such kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, arugula, and lettuce. These leafy veggies can be blended with sweet fruit like bananas, or a raw vegan fat like avocado or soaked almonds can be used.
Beware the Unhealthy Smoothie
The level of a smoothie’s healthfulness depends on what has been put into it. But it’s important to understand that in a smoothie; relatively large amounts of food have been broken into tiny bits. This means that far more calories can be consumed than we realize. Making a smoothie that has over 800 calories is very easy to do. And because smoothies are liquid, we can ingest a high volume without necessarily feeling full, and then feel hungry again shortly after.
Fruit contains a lot of calories as well as naturally occurring sugar. If a smoothie is largely fruit-based, and a sweetener like agave nectar or honey is added, the sugar calories skyrocket which can spike our blood sugar levels.
Weight gain is triggered by eating too much sugar. Many think that increased fat consumption causes weight gain, but in a smoothie, healthy fats like avocados and nuts are usually added. Eating a lot of sugar places a lot of stress on the bloodstream. Whatever the body doesn’t immediately use for energy is converted into fat. And this is what makes smoothies potentially fattening; the potentially large amount of sugar that’s ingested in a relatively short period of time.
Healthy Smoothie Versions
Of course, there are incredibly healthy versions of the smoothie. One example is the vegan smoothie which contains primarily leafy green vegetables with some healthy fats, plant-based proteins, and a small amount of fruit. The vegan smoothie is a great way to boost your health. You can enjoy a large serving of nutritious greens and camouflage their taste in the fruits you add. This is a great idea for those who find salads challenging to enjoy. You can even make a sugar-free smoothie with greens, lemon, avocado, and assorted seeds.
The secret to a smoothie that supports weight loss and overall health is the careful choice of ingredients. Include only those ingredients that you would feel good about eating in a single meal. For example, if you would not eat 4 ounces of nut butter or 3 bananas in one meal, you may wish to reconsider adding them to your smoothie, because you will be consuming a high amount of calories at once.
It’s always a good idea to include a bit of fat in your smoothie to make the vitamins in the vegetables more accessible by your body. Doing this will also increase the level of satiation so that you feel full for longer, but it won’t be so much fat that your smoothie becomes a dessert. Adding just enough fruit to make the greens palatable is preferable to turning your smoothie into a fruit salad. Avoid the addition of sugar and calorie-laden ingredients like fruit juice. Do not add sweeteners unless it is stevia, which provides the sugary flavor without blood sugar spike. Ensure your smoothies are high in fiber, as this will help to slow the absorption rate of any sugar that may be present.
It also makes sense to think of your smoothie as a meal instead of a drink. Use smoothies as a main meal replacement. Enjoy your smoothie as you would any other meal, by sitting at your dining table. Drink slowly, and chew it a bit. This will help to further break down the greens and help your body to absorb it more slowly and thoroughly. If you intend to lose weight or maintain your current weight, the calories in your smoothie can be counted as a part of your daily total.
Smoothies remain one of the most versatile, healthy and convenient meal options available today. With the push of a button, we can create elaborate and delicious concoctions of fruity and green goodness. But just as with anything else, smoothies are only as healthy as their individual ingredients, amounts, and serving sizes. Choose to include mostly green veggies in your creation, along with a little healthy fat, plant-based protein, and minimal fruit, and your body will reap the many benefits.
This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.
Seriously, we practically LIVED outdoors when we were kids, didn’t we?! I don’t think I could have told you ANY television shows that were on during the day… not counting Saturday morning cartoons, of course.
Of course, parents have the extra hurdle of getting their kids away from, not just television, but also computers, iPads, iPhones, etc.
Experts recommend that kids get no more than two hours per day of “screen time” (tv, computer, and/or video games). Most kids, however, average more than 4 hours a day.
Below are tips from the American Heart Association to get your kid(s) up and moving. Couch tots grow up to be couch potatoes, and neither are particularly healthy as a result.
I love the one about playing with your kids. I’ve had some of my best times in trees, on swings, and inside blanket tents with my girls. You haven’t lived until you’ve played Barbies or paper dolls beneath a tent that spans the entire space of your living room or den. My daughter Brittany was a MASTER tent builder!
One thing I would suggest is this: If your child already has a certain number of shows that he/she watches faithfully – it may not be what the experts suggest, but I’d suggest not rocking the boat. Instead, how about buying a stationary bike or treadmill and tell them that (in an effort to make the family healthier) you want everyone to exercise at least 30 minutes everyday. Place it right in front of the television! Then you can suggest that they do it during a favorite show. Before you know it, they’ll be hopping on and working out throughout the day – and getting more and more all important exercise.
If you try to take a show away from someone who watches it and enjoys it, I think you’d just be asking for a battle. Tensions will arise and what you’re trying to suggest (exercise/activity) will suddenly become the enemy.
You want the activity to be fun and positive, you don’t want it (or yourself!) to be the enemy. Just think how you’d feel if someone told you, even if it were for your own good, that you couldn’t watch your favorite television shows or sports again.
I believe if anyone told me I had to give up watching Animal Planet, the History Channel, or baseball I’d throw a pillow at them.
Probably two pillows.
If a treadmill or stationary bike is out of reach (I understand the whole out of reach thing as much as anyone.) – an exercise mat, a few dumbbells, and/or an exercise ball can also do wonders.
Zoos are another fun way to get your kids, and yourself, out and about. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, you should become a familiar face to the monkeys, tigers, lions, bears, and even the reptiles.
The best way to get your kids to become more active is to lead by example. If they see your life revolving around “screen time,” they’ll assume that’s the cool thing to do. Get moving and get grooving – your entire family will be better off.
Get those bodies moving!
When it comes to health and wellness, the choices we make today are extremely important. From starting an exercise regimen to eating healthier foods, making the effort to improve health and quality of life is both noble and critical. However, our past behaviors and lifestyle choices are significant, as well. Keep reading to discover how your past is affecting your present and future health.
With risks that include the development of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a host of other illnesses, smoking is a bad habit with life-threatening effects. What’s more, the longer you smoke, the greater risk. And while these complications can be devastating, quitting now will significantly reduce risks to physical health. If you have trouble quitting, talk to a doctor about medications and other therapies that may help.
The effects of heavy drug use can be both immediate and delayed. The use of illicit substances can result in complications like overdose and reckless behaviors, as well as long-term effects like organ damage and the transmission of infectious disease. For example, individuals who used addictive substances for long periods of time are more likely to experience complications like cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. If you have a history with drug or alcohol abuse, talk to your doctor about the ways it may be affecting your health.
You work history can play a very important role in your health, both now and in the future. In fact, due to unsafe working conditions, exposure to harmful substances and other factors, some occupations can be extremely hazardous and, in some cases, life-threatening. For example, jobs that involve exposure to asbestos are often linked with the development of mesothelioma and other serious illnesses. Common questions surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos include the following:
Sedentary lifestyles can lead to lifelong complications to health and wellness. Illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity often occur as a result of long-term inactivity. The good news is, that while some complications may need to be addressed with medications and other therapies, getting active now can significantly enhance health and quality of life. To treat and prevent the effects of an inactive lifestyle, speak to a doctor today to find out how regular exercise can help.
If your past behaviors and lifestyle choices are affecting your health, remember that hope is not lost. By taking the proper steps toward a healthier lifestyle, you can repair some of the damage, and prevent future complications to health and wellness.
I thought the infographic below was pretty interesting -hopefully you’ll think so, too. I have to admit, since I had to start eating gluten free, I never go to McDonald’s anymore. Since Wendy’s has chili and baked potatoes, it’s now my “personal fast food giant!” ~ Joi
I thought this would be an appropriate time to remind you of this very fact as I introduce you to one such expert and his fascinating studies with grain’s effects on the brain.
Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, has a very popular book that you may have heard of: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers.
If you’ve read much on the subject of wheat and other forms of gluten, you probably realize that the wheat we have today is not the wheat our great grandparents enjoyed. As William Davis, MD points out in Wheat Belly, “… today’s wheat has been genetically altered to provide processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest cost.”
Grain Brain and Wheat Belly are filled with information about the negative effects this “genetically altered” wheat has on our bodies and minds.
Here’s a scary statistic: More than 5 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s. That doesn’t even count the numbers who are living with other forms of dementia – If we knew the numbers for those, combined with the Alzheimer’s numbers, I’m certain we’d lose sleep.
David Perlmutter, MD, FACN, Board Certified neurologist, and author of the book Grain Brain believes we can do a GREAT deal to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by our diet alone.
Perlmutter says we should focus on eating lots of nuts, veggies, olive oil, eggs, wild fish, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, avocados and some dairy, but to always choose whole milk.
As for what we should avoid, he says to stay away from trans fats, sugars, processed foods and carbs.
He gives the green light for eating fruits sparingly but says we should completely eliminate gluten.
David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthyones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 4-week plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better.
GRAIN BRAIN is a #1 New York Times bestseller and a finalist for a 2013 Books for a Better Life award.
Reviews for Grain Brain:
“Dr. Perlmutter takes us on a detailed tour of the destructive effects that ‘healthy whole grains’ have on our brains. Modern wheat, in particular, is responsible for destroying more brains in this country than all the strokes, car accidents, and head trauma combined. Dr. Perlmutter makes a persuasive case for this wheat-free approach to preserve brain health and functioning, or to begin the process of reversal.” –William Davis, MD, author of Wheat Belly
“If you want to boost your brain power, keep your memory, and lift your mood and energy, as well as heal from a host of other common complaints, Dr. Perlmutter is your guide. This is the definitive instruction book for the care and feeding of your brain!” –Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution
“Dementia and many other brain diseases are not inevitable, nor are they genetic. They are directly and powerfully linked to a diet high in sugar and grains. Grain Brain not only proves this, it also gives you everything you need to know to protect your brain–or a loved one’s–now.”–Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
If you’re interested in learning more about Grain Brain, click through one of the links or the picture at the top.
Coming Next Week: My review of Wheat Belly!
If you’re as interested in mental fitness and brain health as I am, you’ll answer this question with a question of your own: How soon can we begin?!
Fortunately, you can begin the second you get your hands on this outstanding book. Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is actually more than a book, if we’re being honest here. It’s more of a workout program for the part of our body that is probably taken more for granted than any other part. Which is perfectly ridiculous when you consider that it runs the whole shebang.
Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they’ve sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they’ve learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they’ve designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):
· Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
· Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
· Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
· Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
· Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.
Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin! – Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind
Well, you get the idea. We’re talking about experts in their chosen field.
MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They’ve been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living. Like I said… experts.
While the book is flexible, the cover is made of a very sturdy material – it isn’t the type of “romance novel” paper covers that dog-ear or tear. It’s ideal for curling up in a comfy chair with a pencil and a hot Chai Tea Latte as you treat your mind to a FUN and STIMULATING workout. I’m, perhaps, more familiar with brain games and brain puzzles than the average person. Another one of my blogs (“Out of Bounds“) involves mental fitness and brain health. While doing research for the articles on “Out of Bounds,” I’ve bought and used countless books with “brain stimulating” puzzles.
Frankly, there are quite a few on the market that are outstanding. However, the puzzles throughout Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind are different from other puzzles I’ve seen in other books. Bend Your Brain does a much better job of letting you know WHY you need each type of puzzle. I also love the fact that the puzzles address the five key brain categories (visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory).
What good would it be to focus on just one or two?!?!
If I were to recommend one book for the individual who is interested in protecting and strengthening their mind, this would be the book. The puzzles are a PERFECT blend of challenging, very challenging, and OMG challenging. What’s more, they’re a lot of fun!
If you’re looking to strengthen your mind and memory, increase self-confidence, and even improve your problem-solving skills, Bend Your Brain shouldn’t just be the next book you buy… it has to be the next book you buy.
Click through and learn more about Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind. Trust me, this is one you and your brain are going to love.
Never stop learning!
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
If you’re looking for fun, simple ways to eat healthier, here’s a book that’ll prove to be a dream come true for you. The VB6 Cookbook: More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night doesn’t just provide you with delicious, easy to make recipes that won’t break the bank, it makes eating healthier fun and.. yes… tastier.
Okay. Before you accuse me of getting my Self Help Blog mixed up with my Food Blog (Get Cooking) let me assure you I’m posting a cookbook review on Self Help Daily for an excellent reason. You see, this isn’t just a cookbook. This book is actually part of a life improving program, The VB6 plan by Mark Bittman. Anything that can improve someone’s health and life is a perfect fit for a self help and self improvement blog.
Have you ever heard the term “flexitarian?” Flexitarian refers to a relationship with food that isn’t 100 percent strictly vegan. It’s a way of eating that is flexible, meaning more people will actually STICK with it. Mark Bittman’s VB6 program is simplistically beautiful: You simply eat vegan before 6:00 pm. The program has helped a great number of people improve their health, lose weight, and feel better than they’d felt in years.
See? I told you this book was a perfect fit for a Self Improvement blog!
Below are the Top 10 Reasons you shouldn’t wait another day before you buy The VB6 Cookbook:
Some of the recipes you’ll love:
From the Back Cover:
Mark Bittman’s breakthrough diet plan, first introduced in the #1 New York Times bestselling VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good (click through for the hard back version of this bestseller – a Kindle edition is also available), has been hailed as “compelling” (Publisher’s Weekly), “commonsense” (Washington Post), “sustainable” (TheKitchn.com), and a “small painless change” that can have a “huge impact” (Salon.com). Now he expands on his appealing, simple, reasonable approach to flexitarian cooking with a companion cookbook, featuring hundreds of delicious new ways to make VB6 your permanent style of eating. It’s never been easier to eat vegan before 6:00 – and deliciously all of the time.
I hope you’ll click through and take a closer look at The VB6 Cookbook: More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night – I’m really excited about this particular approach to eating and I’m having a ball with the wonderful recipes.
I know you’ll love The VB6 Cookbook just as much as I do.
Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.