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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.

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.

What Is Resistant Starch?

What Is Resistant Starch?

From improving heart health and digestion to promoting fullness, fiber is well known for its health benefits. Dietary fiber is classified as soluble and insoluble, but as researchers continue to take a closer look at why fiber keeps us healthy, we are learning that there may be more to the role than its solubility.

The viscosity of fiber (thickness as it moves through the small and large intestines) and how a fiber ferments also play a role when carbohydrates are digested. Resistant starch is a low-viscous type of dietary fiber found in carbohydrate-rich foods. As the name suggests, it resists digestion in the small intestines and ferments in the large intestines. As it ferments, it promotes beneficial gut bacteria.

What are the benefits of resistant starch?

Some studies have shown that resistant starch may help weight loss because it can increase fullness that leads to reduced food intake. There is also evidence that resistant starch reduces insulin resistance and improves blood glucose control.

What foods contain resistant starch?

Resistant starch comes in several forms. Some cannot be digested, such as parts of grains, seeds, and legumes. Others resist digestion like the starch in legumes and under-ripe bananas. In other foods, the resistant starch forms after the food has been cooked and then cooled, such as in potatoes, rice, and pasta.

How much do I need to eat?

There is no current recommendation for intake of resistant starch, but research shows it may be a beneficial part of a balanced eating plan. Incorporate foods that contain resistant starch as you aim to get the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of total fiber per day. Legumes, like beans and peas, and healthier versions of potato salad and pasta salad provide easy ways to eat more.

What Is a Paleo Diet?

What Is a Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet refers to an eating plan that mimics what was likely eaten during the Paleolithic era, when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers.

The diet is made up of foods that could be hunted or gathered such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The belief behind this style of eating is that foods like grains, legumes, and dairy are associated with the onset of chronic disease. Therefore, these foods are eliminated from the eating plan. Because it does not allow processed or pre-made foods, the Paleo diet limits sugar and sodium intake.

Not all Paleo diets are exactly the same. Many people eat variations of the diet, stick to it only during the week, or incorporate free days where they may eat anything they want. Others follow the guidelines strictly.

Even critics of the diet recognize that there are benefits with the reduction of sugar and sodium and with the increase in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats from fish, nuts, and seeds. But many health professionals are still concerned that excess meat increases saturated fat intake, and that the diet limits nutrient-rich foods. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, research still links the fiber from whole grains with a decreased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and dairy may play a role in weight loss.

According to the Mayo Clinic, limited short-term clinical research conducted with small groups has shown that a Paleo diet may have moderate benefits when compared to eating plans that include whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy. There is evidence of increased weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure control, and better appetite control.

Larger, long-term studies are still needed. It’s possible that similar health benefits can be achieved with exercise and a balanced healthy diet, eliminating the need for such severe food restriction. Critics also argue that the basis of the diet may be oversimplified, leading to more confusion about healthy eating. Some archaeological research suggests that grains may have been present in the diets of our ancestors before the onset of farming. If this is true, it complicates the justification for eliminating them that is associated with the Paleo diet.

As always, when exploring new eating plans, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you find the best eating style that will give you the nutrients you need based on your health history and long-term fitness goals.

What to Look For in Dairy Substitutes

What to Look For in Dairy Substitutes

Milk allergies, lactose intolerance, and nutritional choice prevent many people from eating and drinking dairy products. You can get all the nutrients you need without consuming dairy, but it’s important to pay attention to the nutrients you may lose when cutting dairy from your diet. Identify alternative foods and drinks that will help supply these nutrients without adding unwanted ingredients.

Low in added sugars

Dairy contains the natural sugar lactose, but unless it’s flavored, it does not have added sugars (sugar added during processing). Alternative milks such as almond, soy, rice, and coconut milks are popular substitutes for cow’s milk. It’s important to check food labels closely to ensure that these milks aren’t loaded with sugar. Flavored milks can indicate added sugar, but some varieties such as unsweetened vanilla are available.

Protein-rich

One cup of skim milk contains 8 grams of protein. While soy milk has nearly as much with 6 grams of protein per cup, a cup of almond milk has much less with only 1 gram of protein. If you relied on dairy for protein, it may be important to increase your protein intake from other sources. Nuts, seeds, beans and poultry all serve as sources for lean protein.

Contains calcium

Dairy has long been associated with supplying valuable calcium, but there are other foods that also supply this mineral. Aim to add more foods to your eating plan that are natural sources of calcium. A cup of cow’s milk provides about 300 milligrams and one cup of yogurt contains about 400 milligrams. Alternatively, one cup of cooked collard greens contains about 266 milligrams and a half cup of almonds contains about 122 milligrams.

Promotes digestive health

Most yogurts are known for containing live and active cultures that are used during fermentation. These cultures are associated with gut health and improved digestion. Fortunately, this health benefit is not limited to dairy yogurts. Soy yogurts and other lactose-free yogurts can also contain live and active cultures. The food label should indicate whether or not these cultures are present.

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