Plan a Family Activity Calendar

Plan a Family Activity Calendar

Health experts recommend that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Adults should aim for at least 35 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily for weight loss. This need for regular exercise provides an opportunity for families to be active together. Instead of simply exercising alone, make exercise a priority and create a family activity calendar.

Make it big and bold.

Create your calendar on a dry erase board or poster board, and place it in a prominent place in the house. For each day, list the activity you will do as a family. Making the calendar visible to everyone will help the family make exercise a top priority.

Allow everyone to choose activities.

Give everyone in the family a chance to add his or her favorite activities to the calendar. When everyone is invested in the process, the willingness to participate increases. Every month, encourage each family member to come up with at least one new activity they want to try together. The more variety there is, the more excitement there will be about being active as a family.

Think outside the box.

Your active time does not have to be reserved for structured exercise like walks or bike rides. Dance competitions, scavenger hunts, and backyard circuit workouts will get your heart rate up, and you’ll be surprised how quickly an hour will fly by. Take advantage of local trails with a nature hike, sign up to walk or run a 5K as a family, or create games for the pool. Grab the soccer ball or basketball and head to the park for a family game. The goal is to make exercise fun for everyone.

Include rewards.

Sticking to an activity schedule is an accomplishment that should be celebrated and rewarded. An afternoon movie, a healthy cooking class for kids, new books, puzzles, educational games, and new sports gear are all rewards that support a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Making Green Smoothies

Tips for Making Green Smoothies

Green smoothies have gained popularity because they help you easily add fruits and vegetables to your diet and they can taste great. They are easy to make, but you need to know a few tips to make the most delicious and nutritious shake possible.

The type of blender can make a difference.

There are many blenders on the market and most smoothie recipes are tailored for high-powered, professional-style blenders that have multiple blades. These blenders finely chop greens and pulverise fruits like berries and bananas for a super smooth shake. If you plan to make smoothies often, these blenders can be worth the investment. Some also come with single-serve cups that make it easy to take your drink on the go. These blenders aren’t a requirement for smoothie-making, but without one, you may need to blend longer and stir the ingredients often to get the right consistency.

Beware of bitterness.

Greens add a slight bitterness to smoothies that is pleasant when paired with naturally sweet ingredients. But too many vegetables might make your smoothie unappetizing. If you try a green smoothie and dislike it, don’t swear them off for good. Experiment with the recipe and try adding fewer greens or more fruit until you get a flavor you enjoy.

Use what you like, then experiment with ingredients.

If you don’t enjoy eating a specific vegetable, you may not magically like it once it’s added to a smoothie. The sweetness from other ingredients can help, but it’s best to start with a small amount of greens you enjoy. Try a mild flavored green like spinach. Once you find a combination you like, then start experimenting. Kale, chard, or a small amount of mustard greens or parsley can all be delicious when you strike the right balance and don’t overdo it.

Get the right consistency.

Everyone has preferences when it comes to smoothies. Some want it completely pureed, and others don’t mind tiny pieces of greens or seeds from berries. Start with about 1 cup of greens and 1 cup of liquid. Leafy greens work best in smoothies because they are tender enough to puree. The liquid can be all milk (such as dairy, nut milk, or coconut milk), 100 percent juice, water, or a combination of the three. Begin by blending the liquid and greens together until the greens are pureed. You can then blend in bananas, pineapple, additional greens, herbs, or protein powders.

Try frozen ingredients instead of ice.

Ice can thicken and chill your smoothie, but it can also reduce the creaminess and leave it watery. Freeze fruits ahead of time. Frozen bananas, pineapple, or mango create a thick and creamy smoothie and eliminate the need for ice.

Add some protein.

Leafy greens and unsweetened fruits will provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but if you want your smoothie to be nutritionally balanced and keep you feeling full, add some protein. Milk, yogurt, nut flours, bean flours, seeds, and nut butters are all ways you can increase the protein of your green smoothie.

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Peas

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Peas Recipe

Soba is a Japanese buckwheat pasta that is lower in calories and contains fewer carbohydrates than most white pastas. In this recipe, it’s paired with nutritious stir-fried broccoli and peas.

Yield: 2 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

¼ cup raw cashews

½ tbsp olive oil

½ cup diced onion

1 ½ cups small broccoli florets

¼ cup water

¼ cup fresh peas

½ tbsp low sodium soy sauce

½ tbsp toasted black sesame seeds

2 cups cooked soba noodles

Directions

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high and add the raw cashews. Toss the cashews around the pan for about 3 minutes, until they begin to brown. Transfer the cashews to a bowl and remove the skillet from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the olive oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and continue to cook for 6 minutes, until it turns bright green and starts to become tender.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the water. The water and steam will cook the broccoli further. Continue to stir and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. Sprinkle the vegetables with black sesame seeds and the reserved cashews.

Divide the soba noodles between two serving bowls. Top each with half of the vegetables and serve.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 320; Total Fat 11.4 g; Saturated Fat 2.1 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 318 mg; Carbohydrate 45 g; Fiber 6.6 g; Sugar 6.4 g; Protein 14.4 g

Reduce the Temptation to Eat Unhealthy Foods

Reduce the Temptation to Eat Unhealthy Foods

We all have days when we feel our willpower is not enough to resist food cravings. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, make a plan for how you will handle these days. Small, but conscious changes in your daily habits will renew your strength and help you reduce the temptation to eat unhealthy foods.

Eat when you are hungry.

When you let yourself get too hungry, the need for food puts you at risk for making unhealthy choices. If you let hunger go too far, it’s easy to be tempted by the donuts in the office lounge or a bag of chips from the vending machine. If you feel hunger coming on, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to eat. Grab something healthy right away.

Be prepared.

Don’t let hunger take you by surprise. Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks. Create a space at work for seeds, nuts, fresh fruits, yogurt, or fresh vegetables with hummus or bean dip. Pack individual servings of snacks at the start of every week and carry some with you at all times. When these foods are available, you’ll be less likely to grab an unhealthy option when hunger hits.

Allow for distractions.

A distraction can work wonders for reducing temptations. When you can’t seem to get your mind off an unhealthy food, change your focus. Make a phone call, deliver a message personally, or take a quick walk around the block. This allows you to revisit your goals and think twice about giving in to a temptation that will get you off track.

Move away from the serving table.

One of the best ways to resist temptation is to remove yourself from easy access to unhealthy foods. The worst place to be at a gathering is close to the food table. Mingling near the appetizers, snacks, and desserts can lead to mindless munching. Pick a seat or a place to stand that is across the room. You will enjoy the gathering just as much and will leave having eaten far fewer calories.

Purchase treats in single servings.

The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t always work. If you know there are cookies in the pantry or ice cream in the freezer, it’s often difficult to resist when you crave something sweet. Rid yourself of the temptation and keep these foods out of the house. When you want to enjoy a treat, buy just one, not a whole box. Get one cookie from the bakery, a snack bag of chips, or a single-serve ice cream. Once you’ve enjoyed your treat, there won’t be any leftovers to tempt you later.

How to Reduce Work Stress

reduce work stress

Everyone experiences some stress at work whether it comes from a deadline, meeting a quota, or as a result of difficult coworkers. Problems arise when this stress becomes too much to manage and begins to influence long-term health. According the the Stress in America Survey from the American Psychological Association, 65 percent of Americans say work is a top source of stress.

Work stress can’t be completely eliminated. In fact, a manageable amount of stress helps to keep us motivated. But in order to keep stress from building to unhealthy levels, it’s important to create a plan to identify what causes you stress and how you will manage your reaction to it.

Get organized

A messy, unorganized office can lead to feelings of stress and lack of control. When you organize files and purge unnecessary items, not only will you feel more in control of your work, but less time will be spent searching for things, which can improve productivity. Make your office an orderly space where you feel relaxed and not frazzled.

Prioritize and delegate

You likely feel pulled in many different directions at work with an endless to-do list. Prioritize your tasks each day. Create timelines for longer-term projects so that the tasks you need to complete are clearly outlined. A clearer picture of exactly what needs to be done will allow you to let go of frivolous tasks that keep you from accomplishing more important duties. You can then delegate those tasks to ease your workload and reduce the unnecessary stress that comes with them.

Talk it out

If you have too much to do, admit it. Talk out your work duties with your supervisor or team. Determine a plan to improve productivity and prioritize the most important tasks. Discussing your workload and your stress levels is often all it takes to get the help you need.

Practice relaxation

Deadlines and difficult coworkers can take you from relaxed to stressed in minutes. Take time to practice relaxation, which can help improve your stress response during challenging situations. Five to ten minutes of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or visualization are easy ways to remain calm. The more you practice these techniques, the better you will get at managing stressful situations.

Find stress relievers

There may be little you can do with the stress that piles up at work, but you do have control of how you let this stress impact your daily life. It’s important to find stress-relieving activities that help clear your mind and give you a mental break from work. Exercise is an essential stress reliever. Whether you push yourself through a 20-minute high intensity interval workout or set out for a leisurely stroll, moving more helps to reduce stress. Turning to unhealthy foods in response to stress only results in sluggishness and weight gain that leads to even more stress. Choosing nutritious foods will keep you energized to face your work challenges. Adequate sleep and taking time for relaxing activities (like yoga, reading, and time with friends) are also important to reduce stress and improve health.

Use your time off

Many people fail to use time off because they are unable to take an extended vacation. But while a week at the beach is nice, short breaks can be equally beneficial. Simply using a vacation day on a Friday or Monday for a long weekend, or taking off an afternoon mid-week will give you a break from your work environment and allow you to enjoy a stress-relieving activity. Take advantage of this time, no matter how short, to create a healthy balance between work and time for yourself.

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