7 Fabulous Ways to Love Yourself This Valentine’s Day (and Everyday)Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, February 13th, 2017

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“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance, ”said Oscar Wilde. Why not then, show yourself how much you care this Valentine’s Day? Whether this holiday finds you solo or with a partner in crime, any healthy relationship starts by realizing you’re the apple of your own eye. Here are 7 ways to treat yourself right this V-day and everyday.

Get Your Glow On
That is, your post-workout glow. If you’ve never been to the gym on Valentine’s day, you’re in for a treat. It’s usually gloriously empty. Don your red, white and pink workout gear, queue up your favorite beats and enjoy the options before you. Not a gym rat? Grab some friends for a V-Day run, snowshoeing adventure or impromptu dance party.  Or, if you’re not crowd adverse, pop into any of the Valentine’s Day-themed yoga, spin, or dance classes in your ‘hood.

Take Yourself On a Date
No date? No problem! Sometimes your own company truly is the best company. Plan some quality time for just you. Maybe that’s sitting in a café with a new book and a steaming mug of something? Or, maybe it’s setting up your own one-night stand in a fancy hotel, enjoying a leisurely bath and room service.  The only requirement is that your date makes you excited. To avoid crowds and a likely sea of couples, steer clear of restaurants and movie theaters — or not. You’re in the driver’s seat!

Enjoy a Day Off
Take a day to love yourself in all the ways that make your heart pitter pat. This is the time to engage all the senses. Break out the candles, essential oils, and your softest, comfiest clothes. Start the morning with breakfast in bed, then maybe an afternoon message and nap. From there, let pleasure be your guide.

Write Yourself a Love Letter
How do you love thee? Let thee count the ways, literally. Set aside some time to wax poetic on all the ways you love yourself. Don’t hold back; the beauty is in the details. Recount times when you displayed compassion and/or were of service to another. Think about your traits. How do you crack yourself up? How do you take care of yourself? What goals have you achieved? What goals are you working towards? Think about the special people in your life and how you nurture those relationships. Keep your letter in a special place and refer to it often – especially those days when you’re feeling not so top notch.

Surround Yourself with Beauty
Beauty is as beauty does. Let yourself soak it in in a special place that makes you come alive and awakens your creativity. Maybe that’s watching waves crash at the beach, or smelling the sweetness of a redwood forest? Perhaps it’s viewing art at a museum or seeing a ballet? After your beautiful experience, set aside some time to reflect and create your own expression of beauty.

Go Tech Free For a Day
What if you were out of communication for a full day? No phone, no email, no Skype or Zoom? What might you do with that deposit in time? Allow yourself to go analog, if not for a full day at least a few hours, and connect with the physical world beyond the screen. Research shows that cutting screen time is not only beneficial for improving our social interactions but also calming the nervous system. Who knows, you might decide to adopt some tech-free time everyday.

Get Mindful
Spend some quality time with yourself in a meditative way. Meditation has several benefits including helping to promote feelings of wellbeing and reducing stress. If you’ve never tried meditation before, here are some general instructions to get you started. Don’t be surprised if during your first time, focusing on the breath is particularly difficult. Learning to tame the mind improves with time.  Follow up your meditation session with a walk outside using your senses to tune into your environment. What do you see, hear, smell and feel?  How might you carry this experience into your day-to-day?

5 Healing Foods We Can’t Get Enough OfWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, February 6th, 2017

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We couldn’t agree more. While every whole-food ingredient delivers its own unique blend of healthful vitamins, nutrients and minerals, the following 5 healing foods may be effective in addressing the health challenges of many of us face today.


Turmeric

turmeric-healing-foodsBenefits: Reduces inflammation
This vibrant root, which is a quintessential ingredient in curries and a cousin of ginger, is also an inflammation fighter. This is because of curcumin, the compound in turmeric that gives it its bright color. In one study turmeric extract supplements were just as effective as ibuprofen in easing the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Try this:  Because the flavor of turmeric is subtle and earthy, Turmeric makes a colorful addition to many dishes. Add it to scrambles, roasted vegetables, rice, greens and soup.

Garlic

Health Benefits: Fights bacterial and viral infections, controls yeast.
There’s a reason this ancient root has been used for thousands of years around the world as both a food and medicine. Considered in some circles to be “poor man’s penicillin,” garlic contains several compounds with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Because it also contains high levels of vitamin C, it is also a natural immune booster.

Try this: Garlic is delicious and versatile so it’s easy to consume regularly. Try roasting it, which brings out its naturally sweet and nutty flavors and makes it easy to spread on a baguette or add to soups, salads and dips. 

Dark Chocolate

Health Benefits: Lowers blood pressure, boosts brainpower and lowers BMI
We love chocolate and chocolate loves us! Numerous studies show flavanols, the antioxidants inherent in cacao, deliver a host of benefits including helping you lose weight! In one study, frequent consumption of small quantities of dark chocolate was associated with a lower body mass index.

Try this: To reap chocolate’s healthful benefits choose bars with a high cacao content (70 percent or more), which is indicative of higher amounts of flavanols. Here’s one of our favorite chocolate-featuring recipes.

Figs

black-mission-figs-healing-foodsHealth Benefits: Regulates blood sugar, supports healthy metabolism, eases anxiety, stress and depression.
Figs are a source of magnesium, which is a vital nutrient needed for muscle, nerve and bone health.  Unfortunately, due to diets that are often void of magnesium-rich foods, and the magnesium-depleted soil much of our food is grown in, magnesium deficiency is common.  Make sure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient to support bodily function and mental wellbeing.
Try this: While figs are a good source of magnesium they’re not the only one. Magnesium is also found in: Almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic. For an easy and tasty, magnesium-delivering treat, try our Figgy Pops which contain magnesium-rich figs, pumpkin seeds and dates.

Sesame Seeds

Health Benefits: Support healthy blood pressure and balance hormones.
These tiny seeds pack a considerably nutritious punch. Sesame seeds are rich in many nutrients including copper, manganese and calcium. They also contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin, which are members of a group of special fibers called lignans. Sesamin has been shown to prevent high blood pressure, naturally lower cholesterol and positively impact sex hormone production.
Try this: Sesame oil is one of our favorite ways to flavor roasted vegetables. Tahini, which is ground sesame seeds is a common ingredient in hummus. You might also try adding it to a smoothie. Here’s one of our favorite recipes featuring sesame seeds.

If You’re Vegan You May Be Deficient In One Of These 5 Key NutrientsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, January 30th, 2017

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While a vegan diet is certainly beneficial for your health – numerous studies show plant-based eating prevents a number of diseases including Type II Diabetes and heart disease – vegans are often low in many key nutrients needed to truly thrive. These deficiencies can result in depression, lethargy, headaches and more. Below we take a closer look at 5 key nutrients all vegans should ensure they’re getting enough of. While we’ve provided recommended doses, if you suspect a deficiency, consult with your doctor to assess your levels and determine what amount is right for you.

B-12

What it does: B12 is needed to make red blood cells and prevents anemia. The body cannot make B12 on its own and relies on animal-based foods, fortified foods and/or supplements for this nutrient.
Signs of deficiency: weakness, tiredness, lightheadedness, pale skin, constipation or diarrhea, nerve problems like numbness, depression
Vegan sources: In addition to supplements, there are many vegan foods fortified with B12. These include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health suggests women and men 14 years of age and older receive 2.4 micrograms daily. Go here for complete dosing recommendations by age.

Calcium

What it does: We all know that calcium is integral for strong bones and teeth, but calcium is also needed to support blood clotting and regulate nerve fibers in muscles. Muscles can cramp and even fail without enough calcium.

Signs of deficiency: muscle cramps, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, course hair, chronic itching, numbness or tingling in the extremities. Find a full list of calcium- deficiency indicators here.

Vegan sources: Blackstrap molasses, collard greens, tempeh, turnip greens, calcium fortified plant-based milks. This guide includes the amount of calcium found in each of these foods plus additional sources.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults age 19-50 years and men 51-70 years receive at least 1000 mg of calcium per day. An intake of 1200 mg of calcium is recommended for women over 51 years of age and for men over 70.

Iron

What it does: Iron plays a key role in the production of red blood cells, which are essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Signs of deficiency: exhaustion, pale skin, shortness of breath, restless leg syndrome, headache, anxiety
Vegan sources:
Beans, broccoli, raisins, wheat, tofu and iron-fortified cereals. Getting enough iron can be especially challenging for vegans because plant-based sources of iron aren’t as easily digested as iron from meat. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as mulberries, can help your body absorb iron.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health recommends that women age 19-50 years receive at least 18 mg of iron daily; men 19-50 should receive at least 8 mg.

Omega-3 fatty acids

What it does: Omega-3 fats support heart health. These fats, which the body does not produce, have been shown to be helpful for lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lowering triglycerides and easing inflammation.
Signs of deficiency:
dry skin and hair, soft brittle nails, difficulty paying attention, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and inflammation. Read more here.  

Vegan sources: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, mustard oil, seaweed and leafy vegetables. You may also consider a vegan omega-3 supplement.
Recommended dose:
The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat at least two servings of oily fish per week, which equates to roughly 500 mg.

Vitamin D

What it does: Nearly every cell in the body interacts with Vitamin D. It’s shown to reduced inflammation and play an important role in bone health by helping the body absorb calcium.

Signs of Deficiency: exhaustion, difficulty thinking clearly, frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness.
Vegan Sources: The body produces its own vitamin D in response to sunlight. Getting outside for just 10 minutes of sunshine 3 to 4 times a week is a good place to start, though it’s challenging to satisfy your vitamin D needs from the sun alone. Foods that contain vitamin D include shitake mushrooms and fortified oatmeal, breakfast cereals, almond milk and tofu. In many cases supplementation is also helpful but be sure to select a supplement that’s vegan. Many are made with fish oil or lanolin, a waxy substance secreted by glands found in a sheep’s skin.

Recommended dose: The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults over age18 receive 1,500 to 2,000 IUs Daily. Go here for complete dosing recommendations.

Say Yes To These Healthier Snacks For KidsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, January 5th, 2017

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Milk and chocolate-chip cookies may be a classic, but for all its appeal this pair often comes up short on nutrition. Instead, consider one of these tasty snacks for kids, which put a healthier spin on snack time and also offer key vitamins, minerals and healthy fats for growing bodies. We’ve divided our go-to snacks by those that take a little preparation time and those that can be enjoyed straight from the bag. Don’t worry, all are long an enjoyment, short on prep time and super healthy– which we think is exactly what any snack should be.

No assembly required:

Choco Crunch Figgy Pops. Got a chocolate lover in the house? Instead of reaching for a bar, consider this healthful treat. Organic cocoa and cacao nibs, dates, figs, seeds and coconut combine for a decidedly indulgent snack that you can pass out with impunity. These Figgy Pops are sweetened with just a touch of organic apple juice concentrate and are an excellent source of fiber. Try all 5 delicious flavors.

Cinnamon Citrus Nut Fusion. Who doesn’t love cinnamon? This kid-approved spice pairs with citrusy orange, walnuts, cashews, almonds and dried apples and cranberries in this taste-bud tempting mix. Even better, all our Fruit and Nut Fusions are free from refined sugar and packed with protein-rich nuts, which can help anyone feel full longer. Translation, fewer, “mom, when’s dinner” interruptions.

Maple Vanilla Coconut Chips. Meet the humble and astonishingly delicious coconut chip. Kids will love this crunchy delight, which is kissed by vanilla bean and just a touch of real maple syrup. Go ahead and let them indulge. Coconut is packed with the good kind of fat. And don’t forget there’s more where these came from. Our coconut chips come in 5 other delicious flavors including kid friendly Spiced Cacao and Toasted Cinnamon.

Smyrna Figs. Fig-filled cookies? Who needs ‘em? These kid favorites are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup. Yuck! If your tots like getting figgy with it, consider giving them the real deal instead. Our Smyrna Figs are truly nature’s candy offering flavors of honey, butterscotch and a slight nuttiness from the seeds. What’s more, they’re entirely free from added sugars and naturally high in fiber.

Some (painless) assembly needed:

Banana Date Pineapple Granola Bars. Make your own granola bars and avoid the unknown and unhealthy ingredients that often wind their way into this lunchbox staple. This recipe delivers, soft, chewy bars stuffed with tasty (and perhaps undetected) healthy ingredients.

Goji Berry Truffles. These dark cacao truffles are totally delicious, super easy to prepare, and packed with healthy fats, antioxidant-rich cacao and vitamin A-rich Goji. Yum! The only trouble will be keeping them around.

Sweet and Salty Popcorn. Making popcorn on the stove is fun for kids (under adult supervision, of course), plus popcorn is a good source of fiber and who doesn’t love it? Add some sweet coconut chips for a nice flavor balance and to boost this snack’s hunger-curbing power by delivering satiating healthy fats.

3 Tips to Painlessly Adopt Any Healthy HabitWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year!
We’re just one day into 2017, which may mean you’ve got one day under your belt of adopting whatever positive habit you’d like to cultivate in the New Year. Maybe you rose a little earlier this morning? Packed a colorful salad for lunch? Took a few minutes of your day to simply be? Whatever healthy habits you’re bringing into your life, we support you and want to help you stick to your goals. Here are some tricks to keep you going strong.

Find a buddy. It’s much easier to show up for your workout when you know a friend will be sweating alongside you, right? Research shows that sticking to any habit is easier with support. One reason is that roping in a friend makes you accountable. Another is that finding a partner usually makes activities more fun (ahem, burpees) and can bolster your relationship.

new-years-resolutions-habitMake it attainable. Ah, the sweet taste of success. Achieving whatever you desire is much easier when it doesn’t feel like work. Rather than biting off one big goal, (say,
achieving Inbox Zero) start with a smaller more achievable step (perhaps, only checking email during a predetermined time window). Research shows that approaching our goals from this perspective can build momentum toward painlessly achieving bigger projects down the road. “Harvard researcher Teresa Amabile found that the single most powerful workplace motivator was small, daily progress,” according to Entrepreneur magazine. “Her research also uncovered that the most damaging thing to results was experiencing setbacks. If you can facilitate progress you facilitate better results.”

Stick to it. Though many believe that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit, the scientist who shared this theory (back in the 1950s) in fact, said it takes a minimum of 21 days. Many self-help gurus picked up the idea but changed it to a total of 21 days – whoops! According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, on average it takes more than two months – 66 days to be exact – before a behavior becomes automatic. Rather than being discouraged by the time it takes to sink into a routine, let it be a motivator. If you find you drop the ball one day, or are having difficulty sticking to it after a month, you may just need more time. Remember, 66 days is an average. For some it can take as long as 254 days. Be kind to yourself, take a deep breath and stay the course.

Happy New You with Conscious Cleanse & Made In NatureWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Saturday, December 31st, 2016

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We’re excited to announce that a few of us at Made In Nature are taking part in the next Conscious Cleanse, which starts on January 4th. The New Year, New You January Cleanse is a 2-week program that helps you hit the refresh button and establish healthy habits that will keep you feeling great all year long.

We’ve partnered with Jo of the Conscious Cleanse because like us, they’re all about real, whole foods that make you feel good. Plus, our Supersnacks are cleanse-approved! We sat down with them to get the lowdown on the cleanse, along with their favorite healthy habits.

 

What inspired you to create the Conscious Cleanse?

When I was younger, I can remember wanting to help people heal and for a very long time, I thought I would be a doctor. In 2004, I was hit by a truck going 70 mph on my bike and was told that I would be disabled for the rest of my life. That was a huge turning point because I thought I would never be able to live a normal life, let alone fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor. After much trial and error, I realized that I could use nutrition to help heal my body and with life changing results. I reduced my chronic pain, lost 40 pounds, and had hope for the first time since my accident. For me, the Conscious Cleanse was born from the idea that everyone can heal and everyone can feel good. I feel inspired everyday to get out of bed and team up with people who are ready to make a change in their life.

What’s your advice to people who haven’t ever done a cleanse before, and are a little unsure if it’s for them?

For the sake of clarity, when we’re referring to the Conscious Cleanse, we’re not referring to a juice cleanse or the master cleanse. On the Conscious Cleanse, you’ll eat real food and lots of it! Our program is designed to help clean out your digestive systems, remove allergens and ultimately help guide people towards healthier nutritional choices.

Our goal through the program is to make long-lasting change that stick! While you will lose weight, it’s not the focus of our program. Over the course of 2 weeks you’ll make healthy changes that will become part of your daily routine, so that when the cleanse is over, you won’t go back to your old ways.

What’s your favorite healthy snack to enjoy when you’re in cleanse mode?

We love kale chips! They’re salty and crispy and satisfy unhealthier cravings. We believe that cleansing isn’t about depriving yourself of your favorite treats, rather it’s about learning to find a healthy alternative to what you crave.

Since this isn’t the first cleanse you’ve led, can you let us know what you’re most excited about this New Year, New You January Cleanse?

Everytime we run a cleanse, we feel inspired by the people who come to our program. Typically people come to lose weight and feel healthier and we love that! But, what’s even more incredible is when cleansers start to see changes happening in their body, they get inspired about other areas in their life. Participants get empowered to do things they’ve never done before- to put themselves outside of their comfort zone and open to new possibilities. We tear up at the end of every cleanse seeing their incredible transformations.

Join us! Click here to register for the cleanse by January 3rd.

There are 3 different packages available, with an option to add on one-on-one wellness sessions with Jo or Jules! The Made In Nature team will be blogging about our cleanse journey, and we’d love to hear about your experience too.

7 Healthy Ways to Ring In The New Year in 2017Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, December 29th, 2016

healthy-new-year-2017Donning your finest threads and popping a bottle (or two) of champagne, is not the only way to bring in 2017. While we enjoy a festive party just as much as anyone, we also love stepping into a new year feeling refreshed, renewed and ready for anything. Overindulging and/or staying out well past bedtime (no matter how fancy your dance-floor footwork) is just no way to start the subsequent morning on solid ground. Still, hitting the lights well before the first firework isn’t the way to go either. You’ve got to live a little, right? Here are 7 healthy ways to have your cake, ahem, coconut, and eat it too this year.

 

  1. Host a vegan potluck. During the New Year people are often thinking about stepping up their health regimen. This can translate to more openness around considering dietary changes. Introduce friends to a healthier way of eating, and show them how satisfying and delicious going vegan can be. When the clock strikes midnight, celebrate with a kombucha toast to really get into the spirit.
  2. Dance the night away – sans booze. Did you know dancing can burn upwards of 350 calories an hour? Don’t let your slick moves go to waste by ingesting just as much as you’re burning. A glass of champagne has roughly 95 calories per 4 oz., which can quickly add up.
  3. Give yourself drink tickets. Only you know how much alcohol you can reasonably consume without feeling “off” the next day. Make a plan before the big day by giving yourself a drinking budget and sticking to it even at the height of festive revelry.
  4. Do a new class. How long has that intro capoeira class been on your to-do list? Hot Yoga? Blues Dancing? What’s more empowering than starting the New Year literally in the act of crossing off one of your resolutions?
  5. Celebrate like an 8 year-old. Rather than scouring for a sitter or dropping the kids off with grandparents, make them the center of your celebration. Create your own New Year’s ritual by lighting candles and sharing aspirations. They’ll likely be delighted, and you’ll enjoy a low-pressure evening. Board games? Check! Mac & Cheese? Check! Lights out by 10? Check!
  6. Volunteer. The holiday season can be a tough time for many. Help brighten another’s day, (and, perhaps find a warm internal do-gooder glow) by offering your time at a local shelter, food bank, senior home or anywhere else your heart is called. Being in service to others is the ultimate reward.
  7. Meditate. Breath in, breath out and find your Zen during an evening of meditation. Many meditation centers offer open sits to the general public on New Year’s Eve and Day. If the holiday season left you feeling scattered, anxious and exhausted, or you simply want to experience a real break during the holiday break, sitting for a full day in a quiet space may be just the medicine you need.

Detox After The Holidays: 3 Easy Steps To Get Back on TrackWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, December 26th, 2016

If excess sugar, fat and alcohol have got you feeling more naughty than nice post holiday season, you may be gearing up for a diet detox – No more candy! No cocktails! No more fatty foods! Right? Not so fast according to research, which shows that taking drastic measures to get back on track can actually wreak more havoc on the body causing symptoms similar to those experienced during drug withdrawal – think, anxiety, depression and general malaise. The good news is that there are ways to shape up – gently. Here are three tips to reclaim your healthy glow.

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Find your balance.

Make sure you’re getting a rainbow of nutrients in each meal. This often means leaning more heavily towards lean protein and vegetables and limiting starches, which are often overly consumed and often spike blood sugar, says health expert and doctor Mark Hyman. Opt for alkaline-forming foods, such as dark leafy greens, pears and lemons, which help to balance the body’s pH levels, reduce inflammation and balance blood sugar levels. If you’re not sure where to start, consider making a meal plan using some of the protein-rich, alkaline recipes found on our website.

Start each morning with a glass of water.

Dry winter weather, and our tendency to indulge in more alcoholic drinks this time of year means the body can be dehydrated. Fuel your system with the H20 it needs to detox the toxins and waste materials it may be storing from weeks of overindulgence. That’s 64 to 80 ounces a day for men and women and 40 to 64 ounces for children 5 to 12. Front-load consumption by putting a glass of naturally alkalizing lemon water on your nightstand table and drinking upon waking.

Get your magnesium.

Adding this miracle mineral to your diet can go a long way towards supporting your overall wellbeing. Magnesium is shown to boost energy, calm nerves, support digestion, ease constipation, relieve muscle aches and spasms, prevent migraines and more. Snack on magnesium rich foods throughout the day such as pumpkin seeds and almonds. You may also consider a magnesium supplement before bed, which can support a restful sleep.

Immune System Boosting Holiday Hacks For Busy MomsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, December 12th, 2016

 
No time is a good time for catching a cold, but if ever there were a season to diligently strive to keep your immune system strong and the sniffles at bay, it’s now, right? With the holidays just around the corner, life is likely everything but simple. There are cards to send, shopping lists to cross off, parties to attend and flights to catch. Unfortunately, all that time out-and-about means you’re exposed to more germs.
Immunity Booster Hydrating Lemon Water

In fact, it’s not the cold weather that makes winter prime time for getting sick, but our preference for staying indoors when temperatures dip. More time inside means more potential for interacting with others, and it’s not just the germ-y handshake you’ll need to craftily dodge. You’re also more likely to be breathing in recycled air (think, air that someone else has exhaled), which may contain viruses. Gross! We know adding something else to your mounting to-do list may be the last thing you want to consider, but luckily keeping you and your family healthy is simple with these easy tips.

Catch your Zzz’s

Make hitting the hay priority numero uno. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Children need more depending on their age. You’ll know you’re getting enough if you feel fully rested upon waking – before that mug of coffee. Not getting enough sleep impacts the immune system by lowering the number of killer cells that fight germs. Also, without a full recharge your body doesn’t have the fuel to properly run all systems, often at the expense of the immune system. Be diligent about lights off, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Doing so will reinforce your body’s sleep cycle and promote better sleep.

Drink up

Dry winter weather, and our tendency to indulge in one or two, ok, a few, more alcoholic drinks this time of year increases the risk of dehydration. Without enough H2O, your body can’t eliminate toxins and waste materials. Additionally, not getting enough water can cause energy dips and negatively impact sleep. The recommended intake is 64 to 80 ounces of water a day for men and women and 40 to 64 ounces for children 5 to 12. Front-load consumption by putting a glass of lemon water on your nightstand table and drinking upon waking. You’ll get the additional power of cold-fighting Vitamin C and potassium from the lemon. Plus, this much-touted elixir has a host of other health benefits including helping your skin glow.

Junk the junk food

We know it’s tempting, especially during the holidays, to give in to cravings. It’s just once a year, right? But indulging can be a slippery slope, especially when you’re surrounded by temptation, stressed and exhausted. Before you know it you’ve polished off the box when you only meant to eat one or two. There’s a reason you might not feel so amazing after being bested by sugary, salty, fatty urges, and it has nothing to do with guilt. Research shows that the health of our immune system is directly related to the nutrients we receive in our diet. While one or two indulgences won’t have dire effects, a week or month of unhealthy eating may keep you under the covers. Prepare for sticky situations by carrying healthy snacks that deliver immunity-boosting protein, Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc. Here’s our favorite party treat.

Carry a pen

Invest in your own supply of ballpoints and you may just save yourself from getting a cold. Just think of the number of places you may use a communal pen throughout the day – at the bank, doctor’s office, yoga check in, restaurants, retail stores – and the number of other hands that were likely there before you. It’s a wonder we’re not sick more often. Germs are most easily spread from hand-to-hand (or, object-to-hand) contact. Avoid touching items that are not sanitized often. Think, menus, grocery carts, condiment dispensers and bathroom handles. Also, wash your hands at least 7 times a day. It’s not as difficult as you may think.

Have a good laugh

Go ahead, click that Funny or Die link that your best friend just sent you. Fire up Tina Fey on the DVR. When we laugh, research shows we decrease stress hormones and increase the number of killer cells that fight germs. As you may imagine that means added stress has the opposite effect. Getting serious about lightening up may be the best thing you can do to light up your immune system.

7 Healthy and High Protein FoodsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Healthy Foods That Pack a Protein Punch

Whether you’re training for a big event like a marathon, or simply want to up your strength and muscle, a high protein diet can be a huge help. Protein helps repair and rebuild muscles, but remember — if you don’t also eat enough carbs or fats to satisfy your energy needs protein will be converted into energy, meaning fewer calories go to muscle repair. That’s why a balanced diet is so important!

Are you ready to up your protein intake? Give these 7 healthy and high protein foods a try!

1. Hard boiled eggs

Eggs - A high protein food and snack
Hard boiled eggs are one of my favorite high protein snacks to prep ahead of time. I generally boil a dozen, then they’re ready and waiting for me whenever hunger strikes. One large egg contains about 6 grams of protein.

2. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds pack a surprising amount of protein… there’s nearly 10 grams in just a quarter cup. You can add them to trail mix, sprinkle over salads, or eat ‘em plain. Just be sure to watch your portion sizes, because a quarter cup also contains 180 calories.

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3 Everyday Steps Toward Healthy LivingWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

A Healthier Lifestyle is as Easy as 1-2-3!

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be too terribly difficult — the smallest changes can actually make a huge difference in your healthy living quest.

If you’re trying to lead a healthier life give these three simple, everyday steps a try. Your body will thank you and you might even be inspired to keep making changes. Don’t worry, the suggestions I’m going to share aren’t monumental… but you’ll feel monumentally better!

Limit the amount of unhealthy snacks that you eat

Healthy Living is just a few steps away!Most of the unhealthy foods I eat come in the form of snacks… oops. One of the easiest ways to clean up your diet is to watch your snacking and replace unhealthy snacks with healthier foods.

Let’s start with chips. You can easily replace them with kale chips. I’m also a big fan of easy veggie snacks like carrots and hummus. If you have a sweet tooth like me try snacking on Made in Nature’s Tart Cherry Fig FiggyPops or a few Made In Nature Dates with nut butter.

Of course, everything is best in moderation. You don’t have to completely cut out all of your favorite treats (that’s a surefire way to bring on a junk food binge.) Indulge in those snacks mindfully, pay attention to your portion sizes, and then get back to the healthy snacks.

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Brain Friendly Foods to Help You ConcentrateWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Thursday, March 31st, 2016

These Foods Can Help You Stay Focused

There are tons of supplements on the market that promise to help improve memory, and you may have heard that certain foods can help you concentrate. While there isn’t a magic pill or snack that can automatically help you focus with laser-like intensity, there are certain “brain foods” that can help your mind function at peak capacity, and I’m going to share some of my favorites. As you read, try to think about how you can incorporate these brain-friendly foods and drinks into your regular diet — they’re tasty, so it shouldn’t be too difficult!

Eat fish to keep your brain healthy

Eating fish is good for the mind.

Improve your brain health with these foods Why? Fish is full of omega-3s, and it turns out these fatty acids have a huge positive impact on our brain health. Dr. Cyrus Raji, a resident radiologist at UCLA, explains, “If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in people who don’t eat fish that frequently.”

It doesn’t matter what kind of fish you eat, but the preparation is important: baked or broiled, and never fried. For a unique and refreshing way to enjoy fish, try Made in Nature’s seafood ceviche banana chip recipe.

Snack on walnuts for a better memory

In 2015 researchers at UCLA found that people who ate more walnuts performed better on a series of cognitive tests. Even more surprisingly, the cognitive functions of the group increased markedly across different demographics, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.

Why are walnuts so good for the brain? Well, they’re high in antioxidants and a number of important vitamins and minerals that all keep your mind healthy.

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7 Healthy Snacks That Pack Nutrition and FlavorWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Level-Up Your Snacking with These Balanced, Healthy Snacks

Keeping my snacking on the healthy side is one of the bigger challenges I face while trying to eat my way toward a more balanced diet. It would be so easy to grab a few cookies or a handful of chips (and sometimes I do just that!), but there’s also a better way to snack.

If you want to eat healthier and balance your diet, give these healthy (but still super tasty and satisfying) snacks a try. They’re all quick and easy, too!

1. Seaweed snacks

Wait, what? Seaweed? Heck yeah! Seaweed snacks are a personal favorite of mine, and they’re extremely healthy. High in vitamins A and C, they’re also one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12. They’re packaged much like crackers, and come in a ton of different flavors.

Healthy snack ideas from Made in Nature

2. Dried fruit

One of my favorite nutrient-packed snacks is dried fruit, and Made in Nature has plenty of fruits to choose from. Choose your favorite or create your own delicious mix of fruits. My favorites are dried mango or Smyrna figs – they are both so good I really can’t choose.

3. Homemade trail mix

Trail mix isn’t just about GORP (good old fashioned raisins and peanuts.) Get creative! Mix your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits together for a snack that’s perfectly tailored to your taste buds. You’ll know exactly what you put in, so this is a great way to avoid unnecessary sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

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Clean Eating – Finding Clean Food in the Grocery StoreWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Making Clean, Healthy Food Choices When Shopping

You want to make healthy choices when shopping for you and your family at your local grocery store, but it can be so hard to sort through the marketing messages and hype to find what’s truly wholesome, minimally processed, and actually good for you. Clean Eating - Finding Clean Food at the Grocery Store

That’s why so many people have turned their focus toward “clean” eating. Clean eating is essentially the same thing as healthy eating, because there’s a big focus on eating a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. On the flip side, clean eating just takes it a step further by eliminating things like processed foods, refined sugar, preservatives, and other unnecessary additives.

How can you learn what’s really “clean” in the grocery store? What are some dead giveaways on the nutrition labels of unhealthy foods? Keep reading to learn more about how to figure out what’s healthy, and what isn’t, in the grocery store.

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Stay Hydrated !Written by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, March 25th, 2016

Why Hydration is so Important for a Healthy Lifestyle

If you want to live a healthy lifestyle you’ll need to make sure you’re properly hydrated. Up to 60% of an adult human’s body is made up of water, so it’s pretty darn important!

H2O also regulates your body temperature, helps cushion your spinal cord, and lubricates your joints… and that short list is just the beginning. There are tons of health benefits of drinking water — and learning more about them might be the motivation you need to up your daily intake!

Water helps flush out your organs

Water plays a vital role in helping our organs, particularly the kidneys, clear out toxins and other waste. If you’re regularly drinking enough water then your kidneys should be able to easily  cleanse your body of those toxins.

Stay Hydrated

How can you tell if your kidneys and other organs aren’t getting the fluids they need? Well, let’s chat about urine. Ideally, it should flow freely, be light in color, and be free of odor. Your skin is another thing to check — sometimes, dull and dry skin can be helped by drinking more water.

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Quick Workout Routines You Can Do From HomeWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

HIIT, Strength Training, and More At-Home Exercising

Sometimes, I really don’t feel like leaving my house to get in a workout. Thankfully, there’s no need for a fancy gym or tons of equipment because an awesome workout can be found right in your own home. I like to switch things up with these three exercises and routines — they’re great because they’re super customizable, so it’s easy to tweak them to create a routine that’s best for your lifestyle and fitness goals.

1. HIIT at home

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the best ways to pack a huge punch in a short amount of time. By alternating high intensity bursts of work with periods of rest you’ll give your metabolism an extra boost, too. HIIT helps you continue to burn calories hours after you’ve finished your workout. But, here’s the best part — HIIT can be anything.

Quick Workouts from Home

Try doing some jumping jacks in your living room. For 45 seconds work as hard as you can. Follow up with 15 seconds of rest or walking in place. Congrats, you’ve done high intensity interval training! For a full-body HIIT experience give this intense, 7-minute workout a try. It’s killer!

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5 Foods for Balancing Blood SugarWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

If you find yourself frequently reaching for the candy bowl mid day, it may be a sign your blood sugar is out of whack. Your blood sugar level is the amount of glucose that’s circulating in your bloodstream. Glucose comes from the foods you eat and is used throughout the body as a source of energy for your cells. In fact, the brain depends on glucose to function.

Grains Nuts and Beans to Balance Blood Sugar levels

 

Well-balanced blood sugar levels are crucial for regulating hormones, burning fat, and increasing metabolism to lose weight.  If you get too much glucose, perhaps in the form of baked goods or sugary cereals, your body stores it as fat. Not getting enough can also cause you to put on pounds since low levels can force the body into starvation mode. If you find yourself craving sugar or reaching for that second cup of coffee just to make it through the day, it may be a sign your blood sugar is out of balance. Luckily there’s a lot you can do, starting with your diet.

Munch on these 5 foods throughout the day to maintain healthy glucose levels.

Greens. Spinach, kale, chard, broccoli–these foods are loaded with fiber which is integral for balancing blood sugar. Incorporate something green into every meal. When sugar cravings hit, try noshing on something green before giving in.  As blood sugar begins to level, you’re more likely to make healthful decisions.

Protein.

Wild caught fish, free-range beef, and eggs are excellent sources of blood stabilizing protein. Try to eat at least 4 to 6 ounces twice a day for blood sugar balance.

Whole Grains.

Ditch the processed carbohydrates which are known to spike blood sugar. Essentially, this is any food that uses flour. Instead opt for protein-rich whole grains like quinoa and amaranth which sustain energy without the subsequent sugar crash.

Nuts

. Keep a jar of nuts on your desk which are a great source of fiber, healthy fat and protein.

Beans.

Beans are high in fiber, low in fat and a good source of protein. If you’re not a fan, try mashing and eating with veggies in a dip. Soaking beans overnight will shorten cooking time and make them easier for your body to digest.