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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Enhance Everyday Recipes by Adding FigsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, March 4th, 2016

Breakfast through Dinner: Healthy Figs Sweeten Any Meal

You may have heard that you can use figs in place of refined sugar in some sweeter recipes, but figs can be used for so much more! Have you thought about incorporating figs into your everyday meals?
Figs Add Sweetness to Most Recipes
Whether you love fresh figs or can’t get enough of dried figs, try adding figs to these well-loved recipes and meals and get ready for a tasty twist on everyday staples.

Adding figs to salads

If you love adding fruits like strawberries and pears to your salads you’re bound to enjoy the addition of figs to your next bowl of greens. The next time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market pick up your usual salad ingredients, plus some fresh or dried figs.

This fig salad recipe from Whole Foods is a great starting point. As the recipe suggests, you can also broil or grill the figs beforehand, and the result will be a delicious caramelization of the fruit’s natural sugars. Feta is the cheese of choice for this recipe, but a rich, creamy goat cheese would also pair wonderfully with the sweet figs.

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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.

Get your zz’s: Tips for a more restful nightWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

If you find yourself repeatedly reaching for the snooze button before beginning your morning routine, you’re not alone. A CDC study conducted last year found that more than 40 million workers get fewer than six hours of sleep per night–that’s roughly 30 percent of working Americans.

Not getting enough shut eye can contribute to a host of health problems among them: heart disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and stroke. Sleep deprivation can also lead to accidents and injuries on the job and negatively impact critical thinking and learning. We know you likely don’t need motivation for getting enough sleep, but rather, a few tips to help you do it. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions for help recharging and rebooting.

Stick to a schedule
It’s important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day—yes, even on weekends and holidays. A schedule helps set your body’s sleep and wake cycle. Eventually, powering down and waking up can happen naturally without the dreaded alarm. Stay consistent for 30 days and see how your body responds. Of course, as the season’s change and days become longer, you may need to adjust your schedule to better sync with your environment.

Eat the right foods
Try the Goldilocks approach. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, nor do you want to be stuffed. If you’ve eaten a big meal, allow at least an hour before hitting the hay. Digesting while you’re sleeping can impact the quality of your sleep and cause you to wake you up in the middle of the night. Before bedtime also be mindful of the foods you’re consuming. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol should all be avoided.

Turn screens off
Researchers are discovering that exposure to backlit devices such as smartphones and tablets can suppress melatonin making it difficult to fall asleep.  Studies show teenagers in particular are affected. Consider a break from the screen before going to sleep. Make it a rule to never bring your smartphone or tablet to bed. If that feels too extreme start by dimming the screens on devices before bedtime.

10 places GMOs may be lurking in your kitchenWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Research shows that more than 90 percent of Americans want to know if their foods contain genetically modified ingredients. We bet you’re one of those conscious consumers. While the “right to know” movement continues to battle it out state by state, you can vote with your dollars. Do you know which foods contain GMOs? While it’s easy to identify potential GMO crops in the produce aisle, things get a little trickier in the middle of the store. GMO-corn derived ingredients, for example, can appear with more than one hundred different names. To help you out, keep this list of unexpected probable offenders on hand. When in doubt, buy USDA Certified Organic and/or look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal which tests for GMO contamination.

Veggie burgers: This healthful alternative is often made with corn and soy.

Fresh produce: Not sure if it’s a GMO food? If it has a sticker code that begins with the number 8, it’s genetically modified.

 Supplements: It’s not just in the food aisles that you need to watch out for GMO ingredients; many supplements are also made with corn and soy ingredients.

Infant formula: If it’s not certified organic, it’s likely that your infant formula is made with milk from cows that have been injected with genetically engineered hormones.

Bread: Read the label. Even if it says whole grain, many breads include high-fructose corn syrup which makes the loaves evenly brown.

Cereal: Since the Kashi scandal,  we hope you’re checking the ingredients on your cereal. Even if it looks “healthy” and says “natural” that doesn’t mean it’s free from genetically modified soy and corn.

Honey peanuts: It’s not honey that lends those legumes their sweet flavor. Corn syrup often appears higher on the ingredient list.

 Honey: We were surprised by this one. Bees can collect pollen from GM plants, and it’s virtually impossible to tell from an ingredient label. Buy local and ask questions.

Applesauce: If it’s sweetened, look for high fructose corn syrup.

Ketchup: See, above.

October is Non-GMO Project month. Celebrate by getting educated about GMO foods and double checking labels on items you regularly buy. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, do some research. If you find a GMO food has crept into your cupboards, try swapping it with something healthier. One step, one day at a time is the best way to take control of your family’s health and send manufacturers a message that you expect more.

9 Fall Outdoor ActivitiesWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

As much as we love the first week of September (late summer barbecues, cooler evenings, the first golden leaves) we also worry about what it signals—the end of summer. It won’t be long before the days grow colder, the sun shortens its path across the sky, and we’re trapped indoors daydreaming of those afternoons spent soaking up the sun by the pool. Don’t get us wrong, we see beauty in every season, we just wish, perhaps, that some last longer than others.

To boost your mood and help you hopefully relax into the inevitable, this post is dedicated to all the things we can’t wait to do outside when the weather gets cooler. That’s right, we’re going outside in the cold … willingly!  Join us in creating your own cold weather to-do list. We’re going to cross off an activity each month. Before we know it, we’ll be looking forward to the next snowy season!

Join us in staying active. Not only is getting the heart pumping a great way to beat the winter blues, it also helps melt all those extra calories we’ll be enjoying at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and in the New Year. Cheers!

Capture the Fall: Before the snow hits the ground, really savor the ephemeral colors of fall. Take walk to notice each unique hue. This is their grand finale before gently falling away until spring. Collect the brightest reds, oranges, yellows and golds. You can lacquer your favorites in a scrapbook or make a wreath to remind yourself the leaves will return.

Go pumpkin picking: No we’re not talking about a trip to the local grocery store. Get out in the patch and walk every row until you find just the right one. It may take awhile but the payoff is a beautiful gourd. Don’t forget to roast the seeds inside. They’re an excellent source of zinc.

Get wet: Yeah, it’s snowing or raining, but that’s what jackets are for. Don’t let a little weather keep you trapped indoors. Seize the next storm (so long it’s not particularly windy or violent) and experience it fully. Take a walk somewhere new, go on a rain-soaked run. You’ll be surprised at just how peaceful and still the world seems as it’s being blanketed in new snow or cleansed in a fresh fall rain storm.

Get some sun: Sure you may not be lounging by the pool, but it’s still possible to soak up the rays even when the weather is not so hot. Snowshoe your favorite summertime hike—don’t worry about making it the whole way, it’s much harder to hike in snowshoes which is why it burns twice as many calories (on average). As you’re working up a sweat, shed layers to capture the rays.

Try a new activity: Maybe it’s cross country skiing or yoga in the park or winter hiking? Whatever that thing is that you’ve been dying to try, make this fall and winter your chance. Just don’t fret if you struggle at first.  Learning something new can be humbling, but it’s worth it.

Hit the trail: The fall is a great time to dust off the old hiking boots. Trails tend to be less crowded and the weather is decidedly cooler. Heck, you may be inspired to turn that hike into a gentle jog or even a race with friends.

Go apple picking:  Lucky enough to live close to an orchard? Enjoy the harvest by picking your own basket of the season’s best for pies, peanut butter or eating right there on the spot.

Play a pick-up game: It’s football season and that means more than tailgating and plopping in front of the TV for hours. Before you zone out in front of the tube, grab some friends, head to a local park and start your own game of two-hand touch football. That beer will taste better after a good sweat and even some gloating (if you win).

 

Tip and tricks from our recipe guruWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Mango and Pineapple Stuffed Chicken Burgers, Dried Cranberry and Apricot Braised Lamb Chops, Raw Truffle Balls—just reading Stephanie Stock’s recipes have us licking our lips. Luckily, she’s part of the Made In Nature Team putting delicious, done-in-a-snap meals, snacks and treats at anyone’s fingertips. What inspires her creativity in the kitchen? She shares how she became comfortable behind the stove and tips, tricks and tidbits for igniting your inner chef.

How did you become a foodie?
I come from a family of foodies. My Mom has always been an amazing naturalist cook and lets ripe, simply prepared fruits and vegetables speak for themselves. I grew up tasting the flavors of her Puerto Rican upbringing. My Father has a master’s degree in animal science and has been working in the meat/poultry industry for over 40 years. I was raised with an understanding of various cuts of meat thanks to him. I realized at a young age how food bonded my family together and made us feel good.

How can we get creative in the kitchen?
Take baby steps. Embrace what you love be it an ingredient or cooking method and use that as your starting point. Involving your family is another way to light the creative spark. When you’re eating something you particularly enjoy, be present to totally enjoy it. How does it smell? How does it feel in your mouth? Does it incite a particular emotion?

In my kitchen, creativity stems from cultural exploration. I bring friends, family and even co-workers into the kitchen to hear about the foods that remind them of home. That inspires me.  The best reward is the look on people’s faces after the first bite.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
Our Made In Nature dried bananas and almond butter. Either together or on their own, I’m in heaven.

Best number of guests at a dinner party?
Infinity! I love to entertain and share my passion with others. You can’t go wrong bringing any number of people together over good food. Think Thanksgiving parties but all the time. Am I right?

Do you have a must-have kitchen utensil?
A sharpened chef’s knife. It’s essential when preparing really any dish–especially when I need to dice dried fruit and obviously to showcase my ninja skills.

Go to ingredient?
Hands down, olive oil. If you were to walk into my kitchen, you would quickly notice a bottle sitting pretty next to my stove. It’s the base of many of my cooking dishes. I also use it topically for its health benefits. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts from Mama Nature.

Apron, or no?
I wear a chefs jacket when cooking, apron when baking and cocktail vest when drink mixing. What can I say, I’m a girl who likes options. Dressing up is fun and can be motivating when working in the kitchen. Do it!