All posts by medenia

6 calcium-rich foods for your bones

Include these calcium-rich foods in your diet to maintain healthy bones and joints.

Milk: Milk is the best source of calcium, not only for children but also for adults. Moreover, the calcium is in a form that can be easily digested and absorbed by your body.

Yogurt: It is High in protein and contains healthy bacteria for your gut.Yogurt is said to offer 400 mg of calcium in a single serving. Choose non-fattening flavoured yogurt for a satisfying and healthy snack. Besides milk and yogurt, dairy products such as cheese is also a good idea for a source of calcium.

Leafy greens: Many vegetables, especially the leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Opt from spinach, turnip, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus and mushrooms or toss all of them into a salad.

Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try kidney beans, white beans or baked ones.

Herbs and spices: Herbs like basil, thyme, cinnamon, mint and spices like garlic not only enhance the flavour of your food but also provide calcium to your body.

Oranges: Citrus fruits like oranges are not only rich in calcium but also contain vitamin D that is essential to absorb the calcium in the body. Have it as a fruit or squeeze out its juice and have it as a drink.

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5 Diet Myths that are Making You Fat

If you are trying to lose fat, you need to make sure you are focusing on the right things. Ignoring these 6 diet myths will help you redirect your focus on what is important so you can start losing weight today.

1. Detox Supplements or Protocols for Fat Loss

Detox supplements and diets are a complete quackery. Legitimate health care practitioners have known this for years.Detox programs simply do not work.

2. Eating 6 Meals a Day to Boost Your Metabolism

Calories in / Calories out is all you need to focus on for weight loss success. It is not known where the whole “6 meals per day” thing got started, but its a complete baloney. Research has demonstrated time and time again that increasing meal frequency does not aid in fat loss. In fact, from a psychological stand point it can hinder it. The more times you’re eating the more times throughout the day you’re getting hungry. Not good. Still don’t believe it? See the research for yourself.

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3. Fat Burning Supplements Make a Big Difference.

Some thermogenics can give slight help in suppressing appetite and increasing energy expenditure (for example- taking caffeine before you go workout gives you the energy to finish your routine). Here’s my practical advice- most of these supplements are a complete bull. Save your money and drink a cup of coffee or a sugar free redbull when you need energy. Caffeine is well researched and does have some benefits. Most fat burning pills are just caffeine mixed with a bunch of other ingredients so they can jack up the price.

4. Eating Healthy or Clean Foods is Better for Fat Loss than Processed Foods

Once again, it’s all about calorie balance. Having “junk food”in a well balanced diet will not hinder your fat loss if you are still achieving a caloric deficit. If you eat the same amount of calories from chicken and broccoli as a cheeseburger, it’s still the same calories. Our bodies must still obey the laws of physics, as does everything else in the universe.

5. Cutting Carbohydrates is Better for Fat Loss

Cutting calories is better for fat loss. How you cut those calories is up to you. Research suggests when subjects cut calories from fat compared to carbohydrates, the weight loss results are not significantly different. Carbohydrates have the least amount of physiological importance compared to protein and fats, so on a low calorie diet we have to meet those fat and protein needs first. By default, carbohydrates are reduced more than the other macronutrients on a low calorie diet.

9 Winter Olympic Sports that Burn the Most Calories

As we all cheer on our native or adopted countries’ top athletes in their pursuit for excellence in competition, for those of us not blessed to be chosen to represent our respective nationalities at this Winter’s games, here are nine sports you can adopt and gain their calorie-burning and physique-defining benefits.

1. Skiing (350-1,000+ calories per hour)

Cross-country skiing is the best when it comes to caloric burn, netting you upwards of 800 to 1,100 calories in an hour. Enjoying a day on the slopes can burn between 400 and 600 calories. Another family-friendly activity, this one tends to run a little more in the pocketbook for lift tickets and equipment rental.

2. Biathlon (500-900 calories per hour)

Cross country skiing plus guns equals biathlon. Probably the most taxing winter Olympic sport in terms of focus and physicality, biathlon training can burn you anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per hour. This mainly comes from the cross-country skiing portion, so the longer you ski, the more you’ll burn.

3. Ice Skating (300-900 calories per hour)

One of the greatest ways to torch your pounds is skating! Whether you want to take a few leisurely laps around the rink, which will burn you anywhere from 300 to 400 calories an hour, to stepping it up to skating for speed and endurance, which can shred upwards of 900+ calories per hour, skating is a great winter time activity that can include the whole family.

4. Snowboarding (300-800 calories per hour)

Finally finding Olympic status within the last two decades, snowboarding is another great way to shred calories while you shred powder. Moderate boarding can burn upwards of 400 calories per hour, while really tearing it up can help you spend about 600 to 800 calories in 60 minute’s time.

5. Ice Hockey (400-700 calories per hour)

One of the most physically demanding sports, ice hockey has a storied Olympic past. It also can provide you with a great, competitive workout. On average, a pickup game of hockey will burn you about 400 to 700 calories in an hour, depending on the speed and intensity at which you play. If your game lasts longer than an hour, you can burn upwards of of 1,100-1,200 calories or more, so make sure you get plenty of hydration and fuel for your body post game.

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6. Freestyle Skiing (400-600 calories per hour)

Another one of those are-you-serious-about-this sports, freestyle skiing is physically demanding on the body and requires a degree of athleticism. While most of us would probably burn on the low end (say 300 to 400 calories), pro freestylers can burn anywhere on the 500 to 600 calories per hour range.

7. Sledding (400-600 calories per hour)

While you may not have a bobsled, luge or skeleton in your garage, no need to fear! The concept is roughly the same for those of us with toboggans or sleds at home–sledding will help you burn in the neighborhood of between 400 to 600 calories per hour…more if you have little children to chase down! If you think about it, dragging that sled back up the hill is a workout. Take note of form and physique of the sled handlers in this year’s games, and you’ll see why sledding is a great workout.

8. Ski Jumping (250-500 calories per hour)

If you do, and you carry your skis, you will burn up in the area of 250 to 500 calories in an hour. Good luck on the landing!

9. Curling (250-400 calories per hour)

This is the perfect winter sport for you if you like brooms. And though seemingly silly, you can actually burn between 250 and 400 calories an hour by curling. So get to sweeping!

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8 Facts About Pineapple

Pineapple Discovery

In 1493, explorer Christopher Columbus found pineapples on Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean. The fruit is also native to southern Brazil and Paraguay.

Pineapples in Colonial America

American colonists regarded pineapples as a luxurious treat because of their rarity and cost.

Pineapple Anatomy

A pineapple is the result of many flowers whose fruitlets have joined around the core.

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Pineapple Nutrition

Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that may help arthritis pain by reducing inflammation. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which helps to strengthen your immune system.

Pineapples in Hawaii

Historically, Hawaii was the world’s largest pineapple producer and source for U.S. pineapples. Some of the largest pineapple crops were in Hawaii. Today the largest producers include the Philippines, Brazil, and Costa Rica.

Pineapple Selection

Pass over sour-smelling or bruised pineapples. Fruit from Hawaii or Central America tends to be freshest.

Pineapple Care

To make your pineapple softer and juicier, keep it at room temperature for one or two days before cutting.

Pineapple Calories

One cup of pineapple juice has 70 to 85 calories.

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6 foods for a healthy liver

 One of the most vital organs of your body! The liver is responsible for most metabolic functions. Here are foods to include in your diet to keep your liver functioning normally.

Avocados: Avocados produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials.

Garlic: Loaded with sulfur, a mineral that helps get rid the body of toxins, garlic is known for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is also used in the treatment of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and bacteria-related illnesses.

Turmeric: Using turmeric (haldi) as a spice in your food can also help your liver. It helps your system digestion of fats and acts as a natural detox for your liver.

Grapefruit: Rich in vitamin C and containing antioxidant properties, having this as a fruit or as a juice can help flush out carcinogens and toxins.

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Spinach: Leafy veggies, especially spinach and lettuce help in neutralising chemicals and aid the protective mechanism for the liver.

Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are full of vitamin C that can help your body remove out all the toxic materials and aid the digestion process.

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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, German Schloss Neuschwanstein,  elaborate castle near Füssen, Germany, built atop a rock ledge over the Pöllat Gorge in the Bavarian Alps by order of Bavaria’s King Louis II (“Mad King Ludwig”). Construction began in 1868 and was never completed.

Louis II spent much of his childhood at Hohenschwangau Castle, a neo-Gothic, medieval-inspired castle elaborately decorated with scenes from legend and poetry. After his accession to the throne in 1864, Louis set out to build a “New Hohenschwangau Castle”—as Neuschwanstein was called until after his death—which he intended to be an even better reproduction of a medieval-style castle in line with his fairy-tale vision of monarchy. The Romanesque designs were drawn by scene painter Christian Jank, and these were translated into architectural plans by Eduard Riedel. In 1874 Riedel was succeeded as chief architect by Georg von Dollmann, who in turn was succeeded by Julius Hofmann in 1886.

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Neuschwanstein stands on the site of two smaller castles, the ruins of which were cleared away in 1868. The foundation stone for Neuschwanstein was laid in September 1869. Although Louis expected the entire project to be completed within three years, only the gateway building was inhabitable by 1873. The topping-out ceremony was held on January 29, 1880, but even then the castle was still under construction. The technical fittings were completed some four and a half years later, and the castle remained incomplete in 1886, when Louis died by drowning himself. He had lived there, off and on, only some six months in total. Several weeks after his passing, the unfinished castle was opened to the public as a museum. Simplified versions of the castle’s bower and square tower were not completed until 1892, and only about a dozen rooms were ever finished.

Neuschwanstein is known as a castle of paradox. It was built in a time when castles were no longer necessary as strongholds, and, despite its romanticized medieval design, Louis also required it to have all the newest technological comforts. The lavish structure is complete with a walled courtyard, an indoor garden, spires, towers, and an artificial cave. In contrast to the medieval castles it was modeled after, Neuschwanstein is equipped with running water throughout, including flush toilets and hot water in the kitchen and baths, and has a forced-air central heating system. The dining room is serviced by an elevator from the kitchen three stories below. Louis even made sure the castle was connected to telephone lines, although at the time of its construction very few people had telephones.

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In keeping with its romantic design, the castle’s two-story throne room—which still did not contain a throne at the time of Louis’s death—is modeled after a Byzantine basilica; stars decorate its blue vaulted ceiling, which is supported by red porphyry columns. Louis was a patron of Richard Wagner, and wall paintings throughout the castle depict the legends that inspired the composer: the life of Parsifal in the fourth-floor Singers’ Hall; the Tannhäuser saga in the study; and Lohengrin in the great parlour. Despite remaining unfinished, Neuschwanstein Castle became one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe. It also served as inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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5 Health tips that will change your life

 Choosing a healthy lifestyle can lead to a longer, more fulfilling life. Improving your physical and mental health has a positive effect on everyone around you.

You can teach your family and friends better habits through example. There’s no need to be intimidated by the idea of living healthier. Make a few small changes and see big results.

Get Moving

There are exercise programs out there that promise amazing body transformations in a short amount of time but they’re grueling. If you love that kind of challenge then go for it! To begin an exercise regimen that’s less extreme, start with walking. Walking is a great way to ease into exercise and is less taxing on your joints than jogging or running. Even a 10 minute walk down the street will increase your stamina and boost your metabolism. When the weather doesn’t permit walking outdoors, try the local gym. Elliptical machines are kinder to your knees and with their adjustable resistance you can increase the challenge as muscles strengthen. A treadmill is a great way to get walking too and with the adjustable incline you can experience the unique challenge of traversing hills.

Hydrate Properly

Drinking enough water is vital to your health. Proper hydration aids in digestion, organ function and protects joint health. Consuming the proper amount of water daily keeps your skin healthy and helps flush out any toxins in your system. You need to drink more water when you’re exercising because you sweat it out. Sports drinks are okay after a strenuous workout because they replace electrolytes but be aware that they contain sugar and added calories that you won’t find in water. Fruit juices are good hydration too because they have vitamins and minerals but even the most natural juices contain sugar and sometimes high amounts of sodium.

Fresh Air and Sunshine

Venturing out into the sunlight has many benefits, a major one being that when your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium which is vital for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Low levels of Vitamin D can lead to certain cancers, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Vitamin D’s ability to aid in calcium absorption prevents bone diseases like osteoporosis and rickets. Sunlight isn’t the only source of Vitamin D, it can also be found in fortified dairy products, cod liver oil, eggs and fish like salmon and tuna.

Rest and Relaxation

Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep! As hectic as your life is, your body needs time to recharge. Insufficient sleep can lead to fatigue, depression and anxiety. Even just a few nights of not enough sleep affect your mood, judgment and memory. Longer bouts of inadequate sleep can lead to health problems like depression, and heart disease. You might be tempted to try and work through a problem by staying up all night but it’s better to sleep on it. Quite often the right solution presents itself in the morning after a good night’s rest.

Eat Naturally

A good rule of thumb to use when grocery shopping is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients then you shouldn’t be putting it in your body. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grain foods are best for your body. Many breads that claim to be whole grain and nutritious are also full of preservatives and excess sugar. Take eating healthy a step further by baking as much food as you can from scratch. You’ll gain peace of mind knowing exactly what ingredients went into the food you’re eating. Also, keep an eye on eye on the nutritional labels of the foods you ingest and even the meds or treatments you use on your body (toothpaste, bodywash, etc).

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Never skip your breakfast

In spite of health experts going blue in the face trying to get people to understand the importance of having breakfast, there are thousands who skip the first (and most crucial) meal of the day citing a motley of reasons.

Having a hearty breakfast helps control excess hunger throughout the day. We technically fast overnight while sleeping, forgoing breakfast adds to this fasting period and may disrupt blood sugar balance and insulin output.

Skipping breakfast also triggers bad eating habits during the day, as cravings ensue and quick-fix fast foods are often eaten. Having breakfast boosts metabolism and increases your energy levels throughout the day. When you miss it, your energy is reduced and physical activity levels decline.

An ideal, healthy breakfast A healthy breakfast provides 25 per cent of the total energy and nutrients required by the body. “Ideally, your first meal of the day should comprise a perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Make sure you include fruits, whole grains, berries and and good fats. Opt for light and soft idlis with sambhar, plain dosas with green chutney, milk with cornflakes or wheatflakes, vegetable poha or upma with a milkshake and sprouts. Also, include high fibre fruits like apples, papayas, muskmelons, oranges or watermelons.

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What to avoid in the morning l Processed, deep fried or oily food, preserved meat, left over or junk food, cakes, pastries, and only juices are a no-no. l Avoid refined foods like white rice and white bread. Instead opt for whole wheat bread and cereals. Stay away from deep fried pakodas, puris, samosas, doughnuts, cookies, potato chips, candy bars and sodas. l Food items like vada pav, bhajias, wafers, pizzas and French fries are loaded with fat, salt and calories and have very little fibre — keep them at an arm’s length.

Disadvantages of skipping breakfast Experts say that skipping breakfast may put you on the fast track to weight gain, heart disease, osteoporosis, irritability or mood swings, menstrual irregularity, low energy levels, low memory and hormonal stress. A study shows that people who skipped breakfast developed higher bad LDL cholesterol levels, and were less sensitive to insulin than people who ate breakfast every day. And for those who skip breakfast in a bid to lose weight, you ought to read this. “People who miss breakfast tend to feel fatigued early on in the day and have low concentration levels, affecting their efficiency. Skipping breakfast also decreases metabolic rate making weight loss difficult. Research proves that people who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast. So, if you’re looking forward to losing weight, have a nutritious breakfast to get a healthy start to the day.

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Importance of a healthy breakfast in children and teens The amount of food that a child needs varies according to height, built, gender, and activity levels. “Most kids will usually eat the amount of food that’s right for them, however, it is up to the parents to ensure that their children have the right foods available to choose from. Eating a meal should be both a healthy and an enjoyable occasion — a fact that many parents overlook when planning a meal for growing children. Good eating habits start from home so be a good role model.

Make sure that no one in the house skips breakfast. A glass of milk along with a boiled egg, idli, dosa, a grilled vegetable sandwich, porridge, fresh fruit or a paneer sandwich is good for tweens and teens.

Health benefits of eggs

 Don’t be afraid of eggs. They are a super healthy food and can be prepared in many interesting ways

Around the world, eggs have been a breakfast staple from time immemorial and for all good reasons. Afterall, an egg is a storehouse of vital nutrients, making them an integral part of a healthy diet. And for those of you who are afraid of indulging in this power food because you’re worried that it will add to your weight, remember, one egg contains about 80 calories and about five grams of fat. Hence, smart consumption is a far healthier option to cutting them out completely.

 Eggs are a well known rich source of protein — an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. The body uses protein to build and repair tissues as well as making enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Unfortunately, unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. Thus eggs are the perfect sources and a smart food choice for those who reduce their intake of carbohydrates in a bit to lose excess weight.

Another important nutrient you’ll find abundantly in egg white is riboflavin or Vitamin B2. And for all of you wondering what’s the benefit of this nutrient, Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin which is involved in vital metabolic processes in the body and is necessary for normal cell function, growth, and energy production.

The yolk, which many of us avoid out of fear, is actually a very healthy food, if consumed in moderation. Mainly fat, the yolk contains 1.33 gm of cholesterol per 100 gms and is a rich source of vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous, lecithin and iron. Incidentally, the iron found in the yolk is easily digested and assimilated in the body. According to nutrition experts, one can eat one whole egg every day without harming one’s cholesterol and other blood-fat levels. But for those who crave for more eggs, you can reduce fat by using one whole egg and the whites of the rest of the eggs.

And now for all the ways you can eat them. There are four basic ways in which eggs can be prepared. They are us under:

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 Boiled
For many of us, this is a comfort food that brings back yummy childhood memories. Boiling an egg is one of the healthiest way you can consume it and is the perfect option for those watching their weight. To make the perfect boiled egg, drop the eggs in their shells (preferably at room temperature) into simmering water, and cook for three to 10 minutes on a medium flame. Here’s the interesting part. A short cooking time produces a soft boiled egg, with a runny yolk while boiling the eggs for a longer time will give you a nice hard boiled eggs, which can be eaten plain, sliced, mashed and even added to variety of dishes.

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 Poached
You may have heard the term often and wondered what exactly the hype is all about. Well, to put it simply, a poached egg is one that has been cooked by poaching it in water. Like a boiled egg, this too is an oil free preparation method. To poach an egg, let water simmer in a pan. Crack the egg into a small bowl and then gently slid it into the pan. Cook the egg until the white has solidified but make sure the yolk remains soft. The ‘perfect’ poached egg has a runny yolk, with a hardening crust.

Niagara Falls The Frozen Beauty

“After temperatures plunged to a sub-arctic -52C in parts of the US, the tourist attraction on the US-Canada border gave those brave enough to venture out a sight they will never forget.”

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Twenty million people a year visit the three falls – the American Falls and Bridal Veil on the US side and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side – which on a normal day boast a volume of more than 500,000 litres of water a second. The combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.

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The winter storms have whipped America into an ice cold frenzy with even Hell freezing over. 190million people have been affected.

The polar vortex is relatively commonplace in the Arctic, but it is extremely rare for it to move southwards towards North America.

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6 Food Guidelines that Work

1. Keep a Food Journal

If you bite it, you write it. Keeping a food journal is one of the best ways to manage your nutrition. It keeps you accountable and is cited in the scientific literature as being an effective tool for weight management.

A food journal will help you memorize your food’s calories and macronutrients. It’s just like using flash cards to learn multiplication tables. The repetition of entering these foods will create a database in your brain.

2. Have a Plan

I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule and not a fan of micromanaging. If you have a game plan for about 80% of your calories, it shouldn’t be any trouble getting the rest. So in other words, have a game plan, but not too detailed. Here are some ways to accomplish this.

A. Plan ahead on your food journal for a majority of your meals. Leave some room for change in plans or uncertainties.

B. Stick to a basic routine for most of your meals. If you have a few meals that hit close to the same amount of calories and macronutrients that you can cycle in, it will still give you some structure to work with for the rest of your choices.

C. Get your trouble areas out of the way early. So if you are always low on protein and high on fat, then consider starting off your day with a lean and high protein breakfast.

That’s just some examples. You can find something that will work best for you and your situation. Some days you can’t plan at all and some days you’ll have to bring all your food with you. Just roll with the punches and remember that one bad meal never made anyone fat just like one awesome meal never made anyone lean.

3. Learn to Cook

People who are successful in the long term learn how to adopt their nutrition choices into a lifestyle change. Eating a variety of tasty foods is a hell of a lot more appealing than eating the same 6 bland foods every day. Cooking will also save you money. Star with a less expensive protein like chicken breast, ground beef, eggs, etc. and go from there.

4. Avoid Extremes

Anything that eliminates whole food groups, foods, nutrients, etc. should be looked at with scrutiny. All foods can fit into a balanced diet. The human body is a resilient and adaptive machine. It’s not going to break down because you feed it a bowl of ice cream.

There are lots of gurus who would tell you otherwise. They say there’s only one way of doing it. Avoiding extremes also brings me to my next point…

5. Beware of Disordered Eating Behaviors

Keep an eye on disordered eating behaviors. Sometimes you can’t help but be a little high strung about food and reaching your goals and there is a time and a place to be very diligent (end of bodybuilding competition preparation, before a weigh-in for a sporting event) I recommend that you don’t get too stressed about your diet. Some examples I would look out for are:

A. Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” based on their name and not their nutrient composition or taste. Foods don’t have virtues. They’re just delivery vesicles of nutrients and flavors to your body. Treat them accordingly.

B. Stress and anxiety when you don’t have control. Do you sweat bullets when you have to dine out at a place you didn’t plan beforehand?

C. Meaningless rituals. Do you eat every 2 hours on the hour even though there’s no scientific literature to support this habit? Just an example.

D. Social isolation. Find yourself avoiding interactions with others in order to maintain control of your diet?

6. Find the Balance

More isn’t better. More is never better. More:

Fiber

Protein

Vitamins and minerals

Strictness

Flexibility…

… is not better.

A symphony works because all the instruments play at a tone, intensity, and tempo that compliment with the others. Figure out the balance for you because every person plays a different song.

Veggies For Breakfast? Yep! Here are 5 Ways to Incorporate Them

 Think about what you ate for breakfast this morning. Was your plate filled with colorful veggies? Most likely your answer would be no. You’re not alone.

The percentage of Americans who eat the recommended daily servings of vegetables is shockingly low and continues to decline. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 26.3% of adults in the United States eat vegetables three or more times per day. Oh, and that serving of vegetables can include a tiny piece of lettuce served on a hamburger. It’s an embarrassment that a wilted sliver of iceberg lettuce counts in that statistic.

However, hope is not lost. One way to ensure that you’re meeting the recommended 2 1/2 cups a day is by adding a variety of veggies to your breakfast. Start each day off right by adding a fun twist to your most important meal.

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1. Veggies & Eggs

Vegetables and eggs go together like peas in a pod (Hey, throw some peas into that omelet!). Because eggs are a typical inclusion of the all-American breakfast meal, bulk up your plate but not your waistline by adding in some colorful vegetables. Make an omelet with some chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, onions, tomatoes or zucchini. If you’re too busy to chop up vegetables, simply top your eggs with some chunky salsa and sliced avocado. The possibilities are endless. You can make the baked egg dish, frittata, and include cauliflower, broccoli or other hearty veggies. Make a big batch and slice it into individual portions to dole out later when you need a quick breakfast option. The addition of veggies will provide fiber, which slows digestion and help keep you full for longer.

2. Top That Tasty Tortilla

Take your basic whole-wheat or corn tortillas and bombard them with flavor and nutrients by filling them with lean protein and flavorful vegetables. Assemble a Southwestern-inspired veggie quesadilla by spreading on some fat-free refried beans, adding chopped tomatoes, onions and bell peppers and topping with reduced-fat cheddar cheese (shredded). Make it melty by microwaving it for about 30 seconds or grilling it in the skillet until it’s gooey. Another idea is to top a whole-grain tortilla with eggs that you scrambled up with your favorite vegetables. Or, try this protein- and veggie-packed wrap: spread on some low-fat cottage cheese or hummus and add cabbage, chopped bell peppers, shredded carrots, or any other colorful veggie.

3. Substitute in Supper Staples

Who says breakfast has to consist of typical breakfast foods? Ignore the notion that breakfast should be comprised of cereal and milk or limited to eggs, toast and bacon. Throw together a quick, veggie-packed sandwich or wrap by adding slices of cucumber, tomato, bell peppers, jicama or cabbage. Vegetable soup with reduced-fat cheese or a salad topped with roasted turkey, chicken, tuna or cooked beans makes for a healthy, well-balanced breakfast that will keep you full all morning.

4. Great Greens

Quickly saute up some greens (collards, kale, spinach, etc.) and you’ve got a veggie-packed start to your busy day. Top your sauteed greens with a poached egg, a little vinegar and oil dressing, and some finely shredded Parmesan cheese for a tasty, nutrient-rich breakfast. Add cooked quinoa and scrambled tofu to your greens for a fast, filling meal. Add some baked sweet potato chunks, asparagus or beets and chicken or turkey sausage to your greens for a hunger-killing hash.

5. Sensational Veggie-Packed Smoothies

People love smoothies for breakfast, but veggies aren’t typically a go-to smoothie staple. However, adding some spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, cooked carrots or butternut squash will help you reach your daily vegetable goal. I promise, if you blend it with some fruit, it’ll taste delicious.

8 Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet

Have you ever been told that you have a sweet tooth? Do you ever daydream about candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, donuts or all things chocolate? If this sounds like you, you may be consuming more added sugar than you need. But even if you are not a sweets fanatic, your diet may still have more added sugar than you think.

Of course, some healthy foods naturally contain sugars–including fruits, dairy, whole-grains and vegetables. However, when I mention “added sugars,” I’m referring to sugars that manufacturers add during processing. Additionally, sugar has become such a prevalent ingredient in our food supply that it’s often added to foods that we don’t realize. For example, sugar is added to non-sugary foods such as hummus, breads and soups. Why is too much added sugar bad for our health? It can contribute to weight gain, high triglycerides (fat in your blood and tissues that can increase your risk for heart disease) and dental cavities.

Even condiments are actually quite high in sugar. Shockingly, a single tablespoon of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar and we often use much more than a tablespoon of the stuff. Other common condiments and sauces, such as barbeque sauce, teriyaki sauce, chili sauce, marinades, jams and jellies, pasta and pizza sauces and salad dressings, have a great deal of added sugar.

Although a diet completely void of added sugar is nearly impossible, there are definitely ways to reduce your added sugar intake. With a few simple steps, you can reduce the sugar in your diet.

1. Check the Ingredient List

Because some foods will contain natural sugars, you can’t always tell from the grams of sugar if the product contains natural sugar or added sugar. If you see the words “sugar,” “dextrose,” “fructose,” “maltose,” “sucrose,” “glucose,” “cane syrup,” “cane juice,” “corn syrup,” “fruit juice concentrate,” “honey,” “molasses,” “brown sugar” or “malt syrup,” you’ll know sugar has been added.

2. Be Conscious of Condiments

Check the nutrition facts panel to see how much sugar it contains. Generally, your best bets for low-sugar condiments include mustard (yellow and Dijon are low in sugar, but watch out for honey mustards), light mayonnaise, hot sauce, fat-free plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, fresh salsa (not jarred), horseradish and dill pickle relish. You can also add a ton of sugar-free, low-calorie flavor with vinegars.

3. Be Wary of Flavored Yogurts

We know yogurt is chock-full of calcium, protein and tummy-taming probiotics, but it can also sneak in a substantial amount of sugar. In fact, some single-serving containers of yogurt contain more sugar than a 12-ounce can of soda. All yogurts have some naturally-occurring sugar from lactose, but if your yogurt contains more than 12 grams of sugar, you can bet added sugars are to blame. Seek out varieties with about 12 to 15 grams of sugar or less.

4. Choose Sugar-Free Beverages

We often don’t think about the amount of calories and sugar in beverages because they’re not solid “foods.” However, according to recent research, beverages contribute about one-third of our daily calories from added sugars.

5. Choose Lower-Sugar Desserts

If you’re going to eat dessert, opt for fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned in its own juices) or a sugar-free option, such as sugar-free jello or pudding.

6. If You’re Craving Candy or Something Sweet to Munch On

Reach for a piece of sugarless chewing gum. A piece of sugarless gum usually has about five calories and doesn’t promote tooth decay. In fact, it’s been shown to improve oral health because it stimulates saliva production, reducing the risk of dental cavities.

7. Choose Low-Sugar Cereals

Cereals, regardless of their other beneficial nutrients, often contain a lot of added sugar. One particularly naughty offender: granola. Sure, it contains oats (loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber) but it also houses a load of sugar. You’re better off making oatmeal from regular oats to get all the fiber without the added sugar.

8. And Lastly: Choose the Right Bread

Choose breads that contain little added sugar. Breads often add more sugar than necessary.

How to Get a Full-Body Workout with a 2-Minute Circuit

A circuit routine is excellent if you’re trying to get your entire body in shape, but you just don’t have much time to work out. A good circuit workout will hit all of the muscles in your body, pushing them to their limits with just a few exercises. You should aim to do a circuit workout three times a week, every other day.

We’ve put together a simple circuit routine that you can do quickly and easily. Each circuit should take you only two minutes.

Military Presses

This exercise hits your chest and it definitely makes the triceps burn. The focus, however, is on your anterior deltoids and trapezius muscles, helping to define them and increase them in size. It’s a great upper body workout that even hits some of the muscles in your back.

Lunges

This is a tough one to do, and getting it right will take some practice. Make sure to use the correct form, as it’s the best way to prevent injuries to your knees. Add weight if you can handle it, or just use your body weight if you’re new to this exercise.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers focus on your core and, as it’s a high-intensity exercise, you’ll some cardio in too. This is an isometric (static) exercise for your upper body, but it’s the legs and core that feel it the most.

How to Get a Cardio Workout without Leaving Home

Snow has blanketed much of the country for the last few weeks, making it very difficult to get out of the house and get to the gym. Those that depend entirely on the gym for their exercise are going to suffer, but thankfully you can get a great workout without ever having to leave your home.

How is this possible?

Simple: you don’t just have to run, cycle, or use the elliptical machine to get a great cardio workout! Weightlifting can be an excellent cardio workout when done right, and you’ll find that a lot of body-weight workouts are great for building muscle as well as getting your heart beating. Running isn’t the only awesome workout, but you can do all kinds of exercises to push your heart.

With the workouts below, you’ll have a great cardio session without having to brave the cold.

Day 1

Do each of the following exercises for 20 seconds at full intensity, and rest for 10 seconds.

  • Kettlebell swings
  • Squat jumps
  • High knees
  • Jump Lunge

Beginners should do three rounds of this workout, intermediates should do five, and more advanced exercisers should go for 8 rounds.

Day 2

Do the following:

  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 bicycle crunches
  • 10 burpees
  • 60 seconds of plank
  • 10 lunges (each leg)

Do all of these without stopping, and give yourself a one minute rest before moving on to your second round. Do three rounds if you’re a beginner, or go for five if you can handle it.

Day 3

Do the following:

  • 30 seconds of right side plank
  • 30 seconds of left side plank
  • 30 seconds of plank elbow hold
  • 10 lunges (each leg)
  • 10 burpees

Give yourself a 60 second rest, and do no less than three rounds of this exercise.

Day 4

Do the following:

  • 20 burpees
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 lunges (each leg)
  • 60 seconds in plank position

Give yourself 60 seconds to rest, and do no fewer than three rounds.

Day 5

Do the following:

  • 10 lunges (each leg)
  • 60 seconds in plank position
  • 30 crunches
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 bicycle crunches

Give yourself one minute to rest, and do at least three rounds–go for five if you’re in better shape.

This workout just spans five days, but you can use the exercises from the various workouts if you want to work out a sixth day. You’ll find that this workout will be surprisingly good for your heart as well as your muscles.

The reason that it’s so great is that you never stop moving, so all of the muscles in your body will be worked before you take a break. Your heart will be forced to pump hard in order to provide all of the different muscles with enough energy, so it will work until you take your 60 second break.

Doing rounds ensures that your muscles are stressed properly, and you can even build muscle using these body-weight/weighted exercises. You can use a few simple free weights, or you can find body-weight exercises to replace the kettlebell exercise in Day 1. The most important thing is that you push hard!

5 Ways to Easily Add Greens Into Your Diet

I must confess that as much as I love eating greens, I find crunching through a salad to get them in my diet both tedious and boring. In the face of such finickiness, I’ve had to resort to some very creative methods for getting wholesome, nourishing greens into my menu plan.

First I came up with a list of the greens I really love–kale, Swiss chard, spinach, chicory, etc. I make sure to have some on hand every week. If I don’t have them in front of me, I just don’t think to use them.

Next I figured out the best and easiest ways to prep them for cooking. I rarely use a knife now, just dig in with my hands tearing out woody stems and ripping the leaves into whatever size I need. It’s quick, easy, and clean-up is a breeze.

Finally I experimented with all sorts of ideas and recipes until I nailed the methods that work well for me. Here are five of my tried and true ideas.

1. Puree

This is my favorite method for easily adding greens to dishes. Simply lightly steam whichever green you’re using, then puree it with a bit of stock or water until it is smooth. At this point you can add it immediately to a recipe (whip it into scrambled eggs, use it as the liquid in bread dough, or drizzle it over a pasta dish) or freeze it in ice cube trays for handy use down the road. The next time you’re making stew or soup or chili, just grab a few green cubes and toss them in a few minutes before serving.

2. Juice

It is so easy to add the goodness of greens to your daily glass of fresh juice. Just toss a few fresh leaves of silverbeet or arugula into your juicer and take pride in knowing that sheen of green in your carrot juice is flooding your system with nutrients.

3. Blend

Use the same method for smoothies. I freeze trays of chopped fresh fruit that I later use as the base for my smoothies. Next time add one or two of your green cubes in with it.

4. Steam

Steaming is a great way to get greens from counter to table in very little time. Don’t overcook them or most of the goodness disappears into the water below. When they’re done, dress them simply with a bit of garlicky olive oil and sea salt or spoil yourself with some good butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

5. Saute

If the greens are tough (like mature kale) you’ll need to steam them a bit before sauteing, otherwise, just toss them in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil adding whatever ingredients you like. With kale I like to add sun-dried tomatoes and crispy slices of garlic, but with spinach I like to take a sweeter tack with a handful of raisins and some toasted pine nuts.