6 Foods to Speed Recovery Post WorkoutWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, March 27th, 2017

Popcorn + Snacks

After a good sweat, there’s nothing better than kicking back with a delicious post-workout snack to relax and recharge. Whether you’re a smoothie gal or prefer something heartier, consider adding one of the following ingredients for a nutritional boost to speed recovery and support muscle repair.

Turmeric. After an intense workout, the body can be inflamed and filled with lactic acid. To come back into balance, consider eating turmeric. This bright orange root contains curcumin an antioxidant with demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. Found in the spice aisle, turmeric can be sprinkled on vegetables or meat or added to a smoothie.

Dates. Potassium stores can also be depleted after working out. Without enough potassium you may experience weakness, tiredness and leg or muscle cramps. No thanks! While bananas are the food most associated with high levels of potassium, dates also deliver on this front. In fact, one date offers 167 mg. of this key nutrient. Not only that, dates are also high in fiber which supports satiation and healthy digestion.

Popcorn. Who doesn’t love a bowl of popcorn? If you need another reason to indulge, here are two. As a whole grain, popcorn is rich in fiber and antioxidants. And because it’s a carbohydrate, it’s also a good source of glycogen, the body’s favorite energy source. After a workout, glycogen stores can be low leading to feelings of fatigue. Enjoy popcorn to get your bounce back.

Peanut Butter. After working your muscles, it’s key to feed them to help them rebuild. Protein is the best way to do that. While peanut butter is one of our favorite protein sources with 4 grams per tablespoon, really any nut butter will deliver. Smear it on fruit or toast or add a spoonful to a smoothie. Here’s one of our favorite recipes.

Sweet Potatoes. You really can’t go wrong with a sweet potato. They’re delicious and nutritionally dense. These vibrant tubers are packed with vitamins and nutrients including vitamins B6, C, D, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and a medium sweet potato contains approximately 2 grams protein.

Almonds. Almonds are another great source of protein. A handful of almonds (roughly 22 nuts) packs 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Almonds are also especially convenient since they don’t require temperature-controlled storage. Keep some in a gym bag for an easy and nutritious snack right after your workout. Eating a handful before a meal can also help curb hunger cravings and prevent overeating.

How to Snack Like a Nutritionist (and Other Between-Meal Tips)Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Friday, March 24th, 2017

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We love to snack, and while we think we’re pretty good at, it never hurts to get a second opinion. To get the scoop on just how to get the most between meals (and what to look out for), we spoke with our resident nutrition guru and product developer Mitch Thisius, RD. As the mastermind behind several of the healthy snacks and meals on our website, Mitch spends many days in the test kitchen tasting and perfecting healthy recipes that also deliver on nutrition. Hey, it’s a tough job…wink.

Q: What is a snack?
MT:
First, it’s helpful to define a meal. Most Americans eat three meals, or larger servings of food a day. A meal should contain a balance of macronutrients, which are the nutrients we get calories from in food. These macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. For example, for the typical American, a meal will consist of meat, a starch and a vegetable. Ideally, a snack is just a smaller version of this. You don’t want to get your calories all from one source such as all from carbohydrates, or just a huge chunk of protein. You want to have a balance because your body needs a blend of these nutrients throughout the day. This is going to help you stay satisfied longer. A snack is usually something that’s going to tide you over for 1-3 hours. Once you’re consuming more than 500 calories, that’s more meal territory because that could sustain you for several hours.

Q: Is it o.k. to snack?
MT:
The rules are definitely loosening between meals and snacks. Some people only snack – that is they eat small meals throughout the day and no big meals. Some people eat two big meals and snacks. It’s really individual. Snacking is a great way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to run optimally. In this sense, snacking is essential for health. Unfortunately, some people think of snacks as a “break” or time for indulgence and choose less-than-ideal snacks that are often excessively high in salt and sugar.

Healthy snacking can actually help you not overeat during meals. If you’re starving by the time lunch hits, your chances of overeating are greater. A good weight loss technique that I suggest is to eat something light like a piece of fruit an hour before a meal. This will help curb hunger hormones, and when you do sit down to eat, you’re more likely to stop when you’re actually full.

Q: Are there negatives associated with snacking?

MT: There are. This is usually based on two things: what we’re snacking on and why we’re snacking. Studies show that when you snack on junk food this can actually make you more hungry and intensify cravings for unhealthy foods. I advise people to avoid foods with “empty calories,” which are calories that don’t deliver nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats or fiber. When you’re eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables, that’s a good way to avoid “empty calories.” If you’re buying packaged foods, take a look at the nutrition panel. If a food doesn’t offer any essential nutrients, you know it’s not what your body needs. Having a craving once in awhile is totally natural, and it’s fine to satisfy that craving. The key is being able to satisfy your hunger as well.

The other problem is snacking for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to overeat when you’re bored, anxious or stressed. Eating can have a calming effect. But even if you’re snacking on the right things, eating too much of these foods is not good.

Overeating spikes blood sugar, which over time leads to weight gain, insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes and heart disease. You want to fuel your body but you don’t want to over fuel it. If you’re snacking only when you’re hungry and eating foods to help you curb that hunger, that’s totally healthy and there aren’t many negatives.

Q: When should you snack?
MT:
That’s really customized for each person depending on their lifestyle and activity level. In general, a good time to snack is when you’re hungry.

Personally, I don’t typically eat a big breakfast because it makes me a little nauseous to eat too much early in the morning. I eat just a small amount with my coffee, to get my metabolism going. Then, when I get hungry, I’ll have a mid-morning snack to tide me over until lunch.

Q: What do you look for in a snack?
MT: 
You want your snacks to include at least two of the macronutrients. Protein is often the one that gets overlooked because it’s harder to get in snack form. I suggest nuts and seeds, which can provide a lot of healthy protein and healthy fats. Just as important as getting a balance of nutrients is trying to eat real foods. If you’re eating real food that’s minimally processed, you’re getting more fiber, which helps you stay satiated, as well as the vitamins and minerals.

Q: What do you snack on?
MT: 
I’m a habitual snacker. I have lots of favorite snacks. Obviously, I love all the products we make at Made In Nature. We use only organic, whole-food ingredients, and everything we make is really convenient. It really doesn’t get better than that.

Some other favorites are yogurt and cottage cheese mixed with fresh or dried fruits, nuts or granola. I like mixing nut butters with vegetables and fruit. Since I was a kid, one of my all-time favorites has been ants on a log. You just smear peanut butter on celery and sprinkle with raisins. It’s got the crunch, (which is an important element for many snackers), fiber, protein and healthy fats from the peanut butter. Apple with nut butter is also great. Smoothies are another big one for me. I like to take frozen fruit and mix it with yogurt or milk and blend it up. This is such an easy way to get a good serving of fruits and vegetables.

Does working out on an empty stomach help you burn more fat?Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, March 9th, 2017

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If figuring out what to eat (or not) before a big workout causes you to break into a premature sweat, we understand. With so much nutrition advice out there, it may be difficult to know what’s best for you and your body. Will hitting the go button on an empty stomach cause you to burn more fat? If you do eat something, would a bowl of oatmeal or a protein bar better help you go the distance? When is the optimal time to nosh on something so you feel fueled but not weighed down during your workout?

Let’s take a closer look.

 

Should you workout on an empty stomach?
Proponents believe that before even your morning Cup of Joe, lacing up and hitting the road for light, sustained cardio can boost weight loss. The idea comes from bodybuilders who employ this technique. Why? Glycogen, a stored carbohydrate, is depleted in the morning. Because this is the body’s preferred energy source, if it’s not readily available there’s greater potential for the body to burn stored fat as you workout instead. However, if glycogen is completely depleted, the body will turn to your muscles for energy, which is BAD NEWS.  Burning muscle means you’re creating more room to store fat. You’ll also feel weaker and look flabbier. No Thanks!

Writes Men’s Health Magazine:

“DO NOT train on an empty stomach. Yes, many bodybuilders do it, and they’re huge. But they’re also bodybuilders, and thanks to good genetics, a high level of muscle mass, and–sometimes–steroids, muscle burning isn’t as big a problem for them. If in fact you do burn more fat on an empty stomach, and let’s say you avoid burning up any muscle for fuel, it’s still not going to get you the best results in the least time. Scores of studies and a ton of evidence as presented by the world’s best trainers shows that brief, intense workouts are best for making drastic and lasting changes to your body–building muscle and burning fat. You’ll be able to burn more calories in a session if you train after a solid meal, and you’ll support muscle mass, which burns calories all day long just by sitting on your body.”

 

Okay, I got it. But what should I eat?
When it comes to working out, carbs at your BFF. Yeah! But before you reach for that bagel, remember all carbs are not created equal. The key is to opt for a mix of both simple and complex carbs. Reminder, simple carbs like fruit and milk give you a quick burst of energy. Complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice and potatoes keep you humming along at a steady pace. Adding protein will further help to stabilize blood sugar.

 

When should I eat?

It really depends on your body. Some people can eat a big meal before a workout and feel great. Others need a few hours to digest. In general, nutritionists recommend you consume a light snack an hour before you work out. If you eat a bigger meal, wait 2-3 hours before working out.

Here are some of our favorite pre-workout snacks that deliver, simple and complex carbs and protein.

 

Do you have a favorite snack that supports your workout regimen and tastes delicious? We’d love to hear about it. Please share your go-to in the comments.

Gear up for National Nutrition Month with 5 Surprising Super FoodsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, March 6th, 2017

Mocha Espresso Smoothie  Tart cherry, apple and cabbage slaw made with Made In Nature organic dried tart cherries, red cabbage, green cabbage, apple, and carrot, with an apple cider vinegar, honey, and lime juice vinaigrette.  vegan-sweet-potato-toasted-coconut

Does anyone else have Spring Fever? As the sunlight lingers a little longer each day and a certain chill leaves the air, we can’t help but look forward to summer. Luckily, we know it won’t be long before shorts and flip-flop season is upon is. To gear up for making the most of the warmer weather to come, we’re putting special attention on health by teaming up with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for National Nutrition Month. For the month of March, look here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for specific ideas on how you can  “put your best fork forward” to nourish mind, body and soul.

To get things started on the right foot, below are 5 favorite recipes we hope may inspire your menus this month. You may be surprised by the super food ingredient that makes them stand out. Who says healthy and delicious are not synonymous?

 

Mocha Espresso Smoothie
Super ingredient, Cacao:
Contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries and is the highest plant-based source of iron. Cacao is also rich in magnesium and calcium.

 

Stuffed Breakfast Tomatoes
Super ingredient, Roasted Tomato: Cooking tomatoes dramatically boosts beneficial lycopene.  Lycopene is an antioxidant that is a shown cancer fighter and also supports eye health.

 

Tart Cherry Apple and Cabbage Slaw
Super ingredient, Cabbage: This rainbow salad is rich in many healthful ingredients including carrot, apple and tart cherries. We love that it uses both red and green cabbage, which contain glutamine, an anti-inflammatory agent shown to reduce joint pain, fever and even help manage allergies.

 

Cranberry and Plum Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Super ingredient, Turkey: Aside from being a low-fat source of protein, regular turkey consumption is connected with a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer. Be sure to select, free-range, organic meat if possible.

 

Double Baked Sweet Potato and Toasted Coconut
Super ingredient, Sweet Potato: Did you know that sweet potatoes contain more Vitamin A than any other food? Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining vision and supporting brain function. It’s also a known immune booster.

Clean Eating 101 with the Conscious CleanseWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

 

conscious-cleanse

Clean eating may be all the rage these days, but it can be hard to decipher exactly what it means and even harder to make it part of your daily routine. As part of National Nutrition Month, we sat down with Jo and Jules of the Conscious Cleanse to talk about what it means to eat clean, and get their top tips for stocking your pantry with healthy eats. They’ve also shared a recipe to get you started (which uses our Unsulfured Organic Dried Apricots).

If you’re looking for more, sign up for the next Conscious Cleanse, which starts on March 8th. Click here to register for their two week, whole foods based Spring Forward Cleanse, which will help you spring clean your body, mind, and pantry.

 

Clean eating has been a popular buzzword lately, and it has taken on many different meanings. What does clean eating mean to you?

Clean eating means taking it back to the basics. It’s about eating REAL food. It’s becoming confusing to navigate the world of healthy eating and nutrition because there are so many conflicting messages out there. We believe that if you start putting whole foods into your body, like an apple, a salad or a chicken breast you can revolutionize your health. Keep it simple and you’re on your way!

 

Do you have any advice for someone who is a beginner to clean eating or just starting out?

Instead of thinking about all of the food you’re going to be taking out of your diet, reframe your thinking to focus on what you’re going to add in. We like to make veggies the center of our food universe. Our Conscious Cleanse food plate has ⅔ of the plate filled with veggies and the other ⅓ is a non gluten grain, animal or veggie protein.

 

When stocking up your pantry, what guidelines do you generally follow to ensure you’re eating clean?

We ask our participants to think about where a food came from. Did it come from the earth? Can you imagine an animal eating this food out in the wild? Although we may all love it, there is no pizza bush 🙂

If you think about shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store, that will point you in the right direction. Make sure to stop in the produce department for a head of lettuce and then grab carrots, fennel or parsnips for roasting. In the bulk food section get your nuts, dried beans and non-gluten grains. Then check out the fish or meat counter for salmon, bison, lamb, cod or your favorite organic or wild protein. Another staple is a healthy oil like coconut or olive oil. There are also some fantastic hidden food gems in the center of the store, so we’ll often times make direct suggestions of brands that make healthy packaged food. Made in Nature is one of those awesome clean brands.

 

What are some of your favorite clean eats when it comes to snack food?

We’re obsessed with little bite sized snacks that take less than 10 minutes to make.  Our latest creation is Sunshine Bites. One of the things that makes these bites so great are the cashews. They provide a bit of protein and healthy fat which keeps you full and satisfied for longer. We also love the sweet and tangy flavor that the apricots add to the bites. It’s hard to find organic unsulfured apricots, so we were thrilled to find Made In Nature’s Apricots. When in a pinch, we put a little raw almond butter on them for a easy sweet treat. 

Sunshine Bites Recipe

Yield: 20 servings

conscious-cleanse-apricots-sunshine-bites

Ingredients:

2/3 cup raw cashews

1 cup dried apricots (purchase organic, unsweetened, unsulfured)

½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, plus more for garnish

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lime

pinch sea salt

pinch ground turmeric

Instructions:

Soak cashews for four hours. Drain and rinse. In a food processor combine all ingredients. Pulse to combine until a sticky dough is formed. Spoon out about a ½ tablespoon amount of mixture at a time and roll into a ball with your hands. Roll in coconut to coat. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Could Cutting Calories Slow the Aging Process? Here’s the Latest ScienceWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

vegetables-fruit-calories-aging

From tales of The Fountain of Youth to modern day serums and creams that promise to smooth and plump, humans have long been interested in arresting the aging process. Naturally, a healthy diet and active lifestyle can go a long way towards promoting life and fostering a youthful glow, but this may not be the only key. A recent study published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics suggests that how much one eats may actually slow the aging process.

In the study, one group of mice were given unlimited access to food, while the other consumed 35 percent fewer calories. Results showed that the mice eating a calorie-restricted diet lived longer, experienced more energy and fewer diseases. According to scientists of the study, “the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging.”

 

What is the calorie, aging connection?

The study authors found that when ribosomes – the cell’s protein makers – slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives the ribosomes extra time to repair themselves.

“The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest,” said Brigham Young University biochemistry professor and senior author John Price. “When tires wear out, you don’t throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It’s cheaper to replace the tires.”

Reduced calorie consumption was the key to slowing ribosomes, at least in mice.

 

Hmmm … but what about in humans?  

These findings aren’t entirely shocking. Another study conducted in 1972 found that residents of the Japanese island Okinawa naturally consumed 17 percent fewer calories than the average Japanese person. The Okinawans lived an average of a year and a half longer than those on the mainland and were 60 to 70 percent less likely to die of heart disease, cancer and cerebral vascular diseases.

Still, before you start diligently counting calories, the study authors warn that calorie-restriction has not been properly tested on humans and suggest instead that their findings impart the importance of a healthy diet. “The essential message is understanding the importance of taking care of our bodies,” study authors told Science Daily.

 

What is a “healthy” diet?

We like Michael Pollan’s Three Simple Rules for Eating:

  1. Eat Food: That means food that is unprocessed and doesn’t come from a factory. Shop primarily from the perimeter of your grocery store.
  2. Not too much: One key to not overeating is making sure your meals are satiating. Protein and fat send signals to your brain that you’re full faster than bread, pasta and fruit. Make sure your meals include both.
  3. Mostly Plants: Make plants the superstars of your diet. Rather than thinking of protein as the main, consider meat and fat as the side dish.

Beyond Meatless Monday: 5 Tips to Be a Weekend VeganWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, February 16th, 2017

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Trying to health up your diet? Cutting animal products may be one way to do it. Research consistently shows that people who eat a vegan diet, that is refrain from all foods that contain animal products and byproducts including eggs, dairy and sometimes even honey, have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and many other health ailments. If the thought of permanently cutting meat from your diet makes your stomach growl, there’s more good news. A recent Harvard study found that just swapping out one daily serving of beef for nuts could reduce the risk of dying early by as much as 19 percent. Cutting out meat periodically is also shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 20 percent according to Consumer Reports. Not only that, eating more veg is better for the environment. Did you know you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than from refraining from taking a shower for 6 months?

While Meatless Monday is a great way to dip your toe into plant-based eating, going animal-product free for a full weekend is a more powerful way to reap the benefits of this better-for-you lifestyle. We know the thought of adopting a new diet – even for just a few days – can be a lot to swallow. Here are some easy and gentle tips to get started. Who knows, you may just find that the bevy of delicious and healthy options ahead of you lead your weekend veganism to stretch into Monday and beyond.

 

Start with an open mind

Going vegan does not mean salad is your only option – though fresh greens topped with organic ingredients are pretty tasty. Almost any dish can be made vegan with a few clever substitutions. Still, when you first start eating vegan, we caution against trying to replace your favorite recipes with their vegan counterparts. You’re much more likely to enjoy your new diet when you’re not reminiscing about the meals you used to eat. Take your palate around the globe and consider new ingredients, preparation methods and spices. We’re particularly fond of this vegan tagine. For inspiration, collect recipes from vegan bloggers. Here’s one of our favorites.

Stock up

Tofu? Tempeh? Nutritional Yeast? Greens?  Rice? Quinoa? After selecting the vegan recipes you’d like to prepare, hit the grocery store the day before your vegan-eating start date to purchase everything you’ll need. This way, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running come Saturday morning. What’s worse than realizing you’re short an ingredient when you’re in the middle of cooking?

 

Consider exotic produce

Let curiosity be your guide. Never had a particular fruit or vegetable? Bravely, give it a try. At worst, you can spit it out and never buy it again. At best, you discover a new favorite and impress your friends with your produce prowess. Here’s a guide for how to use less common vegetables.

Budget extra time

Starting any new endeavor requires an initial investment of time before feeling confident and comfortable. A new diet is no exception. Begin gently by allowing yourself extra time for tasks like grocery shopping and cooking. Get in the kitchen before you’re starving to allow for leisurely food preparation. This will also minimize the likelihood of grabbing something unhealthy when hunger strikes.

 

Cut convenience foods

Sure, Oreos, bagels and brownies are vegan, but that doesn’t mean they’re good options for your vegan weekend. It may be tempting to opt for convenience foods when eating vegan – especially if cooking your own meals seems daunting. But the health benefits of a vegan diet are quickly diminished by indulging in foods that contain excess sodium, hydrogenated fats and sugar. If cooking your own meals makes you nervous, remember to start simply. A roasted sweet potato topped with sautéed veggies or roasted chickpeas is delicious, simple and packed with nutrients. Here are 30 easy and filling vegan recipes to get you started.

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

figgy-pops-valentines-heart

“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

plant-nutrients_supplements

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

made-in-nature-coconut-chips-maple-vanilla

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

conscious-cleanse-real-food

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?

Every time 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.

super-berry-fruit-fusion-blend

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.

3 Reasons To Eat More Cranberries (You’ll Be Surprised)Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, December 19th, 2016

Sure, cranberries are good, especially when they’re not gelatinized into a formidable side dish, but do you know exactly how good? Recent research suggests that the humble cranberry could pack more of a punch than you know. This holiday favorite may offer a host of unexpected benefits beyond its already impressive nutritional profile. Here are a few reasons why we love delicious, organic cranberries.
cranberries-dried-organic-yogurt-toppings

Cranberries fight bacterial infections.

This may not come as news since cranberry pills and juice are commonly used to treat the bacterial infection that leads to uncomfortable urinary tract infections. Now scientists are discovering that the berry’s bacterial-fighting powers could be beneficial for treating other types of bacterial infections (think, strep throat, food poisoning caused by e. coli and meningitis). The phytochemicals in cranberries disrupt pathogens’ ability to move about the body and adhere to other cells.

Cranberries can protect your pearly whites.

Proanthocyanidine, a compound found naturally in cranberries, is shown to prevent plaque. This is the sticky substance that naturally collects on teeth, traps acid and leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. Proanthocyanidine is so beneficial for dental health that doctors are currently working on a mouthwash featuring the compound. Consider adding 100 percent cranberry juice to your diet to reduce plaque by up to 50 percent.

Cranberries contribute to gut health.

If you’re not familiar with the gut microbiome, it may be time to get better acquainted. This mini-ecosystem in the body is made up of thousands of microbes, which play a big role in regulating the health of the immune system and brain. These microbes also help the body balance energy and use carbohydrates and fat. Research shows that cranberries may support microbiome health by strengthening gut defense systems and protecting against infection – meaning they can help keep many important systems running smoothly. That’s big!

To get the most out of your fruit, avoid cranberry products that contain high-fructose corn syrup or unhealthy sweeteners.  Made In Nature Organic Cranberries are moist, sweet and free of refined sugars. We add just a touch of apple juice concentrate so you can snack in confidence.

If you need suggestions for cranberry snacking beyond grabbing handfuls from the bag, here are our favorite recipes.

Cranberry Mole
Granola with Cranberries and Raisins
Dried Apple Cranberry Conserve
Dried Cranberry & Apricot Braised Lamb Chops
Cranberry, Oatmeal & White Chocolate Cookies

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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