Tag: healthy

Health Benefits of Coffee

Is coffee good for you?

This question is routinely asked because coffee has been a staple in the American diet for so long. However, the thinking surrounding coffee has changed over the years. What we now call a coffee bean is actually a stone fruit seed.  This natural food is full of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. Recent studies show that coffee can increase your brain functioning and boost your mood. So it’s no surprise that coffee is considered one of the world’s most popular beverages. 

One of the most controversial yet important components of coffee is its caffeine content. Caffeine is a stimulant that when consumed in moderation can increase your metabolic rate.  This helps you burn fat more effectively and helps increase adrenaline levels. Moderate coffee drinking is considered about 3 cups of black coffee per day. It’s important to remember that coffee offers most of its health benefits when consumed in moderation with a balanced diet and exercise. A regular morning cup of joe can decrease your risk of type two diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and colorectal cancer. Coffee can be good for the heart, mind, and soul.

Consider adding organic coffee to your routine to help fight climate change and add a deeper array of antioxidants to your body. 

5 Health Benefits of Spicy Foods

Whether you like a bold spicy flavor or you love the fiery heat of chili peppers you will be delighted to know that many spicy foods have surprising health benefits. Even if you are not a fan of the three-alarm hot feeling in your mouth many other spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and garlic offer metabolic and heart health benefits.

Here are 5 reasons to add a little more spice to your life: 

Weight Loss
Many studies show that the magic behind a metabolic increase from food is a compound called capsaicin, which has a thermogenic effect by increasing your core temperature. The thermic effect of food causes your body to burn more calories for about 20 minutes after eating spicy food. 

Lower Bad Cholesterol
Chili peppers can reduce some of the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol. Capsaicin helps fight inflammation, which is a risk factor for heart disease, allowing blood to flow more freely throughout your body. 

Improves Digestion
Ginger, chili, and other spices can reduce inflammation, which is often an immune reaction that causes swelling.  Therefore, many health professionals believe inflammation is a big part of digestive discomfort. Turmeric in particular has a component called curcumin, which has shown promise in relieving irritable bowel syndrome.  

Kills Bacteria
Spices like cumin, curry, and turmeric have powerful antioxidants that help combat bad bacteria in the body.  
Spices not only provide added flavor to the food they also add nutrients and disease-fighting properties. Next time you’re roasting vegetables, cooking up a pork chop or making hamburgers considering adding a few extra sprinkles of your favorite spice.

Colorful Plate

We all know we should eat a balanced diet. However, it’s difficult to know what that looks like on your plate every day. One possible guide to good nutrition is focusing on having a colorful plate at each meal. This mantra has been a guide in many diet programs over the years. Health professionals believe that to reap the most benefits from fruits and vegetables we should consume at least one daily serving from each of the five main color groups: blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange and red.

Blue and purple foods include nutritious items such as blueberries, grapes, eggplant, blackberries, and prunes. Green foods could be leafy greens, spinach, kiwi and honeydew melon. The white color group includes cauliflower, onions, garlic, banana, pears, and potatoes. Yellow and orange options are carrots, oranges, pineapple, peaches, sweet potato, pumpkin, and cantaloupe. Red foods include tomatoes, raspberries, red apples, and watermelon. Now just imagine a daily meal plan with foods from each of these color groups paired with lean meats and fish. Focusing on having a colorful plate is a great guide for consuming a balanced diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Smoothie Combinations

Making the perfect smoothie requires the right ratio of produce, protein and healthy fats. When you’re making a smoothie that will serve one here is a good guide.

  • 1 cup of your favorite fruit. Fresh or frozen. If you use frozen you likely won’t need to add ice.
  • 3/4 cup of liquid. Milk, almond milk, coconut water, and yogurt are great options. I think it’s wise to skip or limit fruit juices because it adds a lot of extra sugar and calories.
  • 1 Tablespoon of healthy fats. Such as avocado, chia seeds, milled flax seeds, and nuts add nice texture and nutrition to a smoothie.
  • Extra boost of vitamins and minerals – add a handful of greens such spinach or chopped kale. Other boosters can be a small scoop of protein powder or a few tablespoons oats can add extra fiber.

Five Ways to Enjoy Peaches

Enjoying fresh seasonal fruit can offer your body a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Now is the time to purchase peaches, nectarines, and plums. These delightful and juicy fruits provide your body anti-inflammatory properties and help lower cholesterol levels. Peaches are a particularly versatile fruit. Not only are they a great addition to a salad, but they can also be used in sandwiches, soups, and salsas. Here are 5 unique ways to enjoy peaches.

  1. Add peaches to avocado toast. Toast up your favorite whole grain bread then add avocado slices and ripe peach slices. This makes for a sweet and savory meal.
  2. Peach and goat cheese snack. Ripe peach slices with a little Clearly Organic honey, goat cheese can make a delicious healthy snack or a great appetizer for your next outdoor cookout.
  3. Summer chilled soup. Add peach chunks to your favorite gazpacho recipe or replace the traditional tomato base with peaches.
  4. Grilled cheese sandwich with brie and peach slices. You can add a sweet summer twist to a grilled cheese if you add peach slices, brie, and a little sweet basil.
  5. Peach sweet bread. Peach chunks are a delightful addition to a loaf of sweet bread, pancakes, and waffles.

Five Health Benefits of Berries

The best part of enjoying berries on a daily basis is that they can be eaten right out of the carton, no preparation required. Just give your berries a good rinse and they can stand alone as a delicious snack or side dish. Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries can also be added to a variety of recipes to provide a sweet and nutritious addition. Most types of berries are considered superfoods. They offer a host of health benefits ranging from disease-fighting antioxidants to anti-aging properties. Here are five health benefits of berries.

  1. Berries have a rich color provided by anthocyanins. These compounds help fight cancer, some metabolic diseases, and diabetes. Anthocyanins also help improve visual ability.
  2. For their size, berries contain a high concentration of fiber. Fiber provides countless digestive health benefits while also aiding in weight loss.
  3. Berries can help reduce inflammation caused by stress and a sedentary lifestyle. The antioxidants in berries may help reduce inflammatory markers decreasing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Strawberries have been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol can be decreased by consuming berries on a daily basis with exercise. This also helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
  5. Berries are low in calories but high in flavor. Therefore, they are a great food to incorporate on any weight management plan.

Making Healthy Choices During The Holidays

Striking the right balance with food, family time, fun and relaxation around the holidays is not easy. Even if we have good intentions to eat healthier and exercise during the Christmas season we usually lose sight of that goal the minute the first cookie platter shows up. Here are a few simple tips to help you stay motivated during the busy holiday season.
1. Plan ahead. As you put more holiday events in your schedule be sure to also put your workout time in your calendar. Picking a day and time for exercise makes it far more likely to happen. Planning ahead also means keeping your kitchen well stocked with fresh vegetables and lean protein. Pre-chopping veggies or cooking meals in advance helps most people consume a more portion controlled balanced diet.
2. Try something new. Allow the change in your daily routine to bring change to your exercise regimen. Try a new class at the gym, sample some new YouTube workout videos or hire a personal trainer for the month.
3. Stay moving. Even if you can’t get in a structured workout you can always do a few sit ups, push ups or squats. Start your days with a quick heart rate jump by doing 30 squats, jumping jacks and some leg lifts.

Improving Your Lunch

Whether you’re packing a lunch for your child to take to school or you’re packing food for yourself at the office it’s easy to fall into the routine of bringing the same thing. Here are a few creative lunch ideas that the whole family will love.

1. Balance is best. The most nutritious and filling lunches are ones with protein, vegetables and natural carbohydrate from foods like fruit and oats. Some of the classic convince lunch items are still great options. Apple sauce and mixed fruit cups are great ways to add a serving of natural carbohydrate to any lunch. Combine them with a string cheese or a deli meat roll-up and you have a perfect carbohydrate and protein blend.

2. Deli meat roll-up. Take a slice of your favorite cheese and wrap a piece of deli meat around it. You can also place spinach leaves and spicy mustard in the roll-up for an extra kick. I love munster cheese and spinach wrapped with a slice of turkey. Bring two or three of these roll-ups with a piece of fruit and you’ll have a protein packed lunch.

3. Vegetable based pasta salad. In July we had a recipe for Picnic Pasta Salad. The mix included broccoli, peppers, cheese, chicken, Italian sausage, artichoke hearts and more! This delicious blend of wholesome foods combined with Italian dressing is a great lunch selection. You can make it ahead of time, mix & match different vegetables to fit your taste and add variety.

4. Breakfast for lunch. A hard boiled egg with oatmeal is not only a power breakfast but it can be a power lunch as well. Enjoy a hard boiled egg with overnight oats & chia seeds (recipe on blog) and you’ll have energy to make it through a long afternoon.

Tips For Healthy Meal Planning

5 Tips For Healthy Meal Planning During The Holidays

  1. Stock your pantry. Having your go-to items already at home makes meal planning one step easier. Beans for chili, noodles for chicken noodle soup, rice for casseroles and whole grain crackers for dips are great stock up items for the busy holiday season.
  2. Prep challenging recipes in advance. If a meal calls for lots of chopped ingredients, consider cleaning and chopping ingredients the night before. Vegetables in particular can take a lot of time to skin and chop, so it’s great if you can tackle time consuming steps a day early.
  3. Have healthy snacks ready to go. You’re much more likely to eat veggies and fruit as a snack if it’s prepped and ready to eat. We often grab high carbohydrate (and high calorie) snacks because they are convenient when we’re starving. If fresh vegetables and fruit are made just as easy to consume then chances are we’ll make the right choice.
  4. Dust off your slow cooker. One dish hearty meals that can fed multiple people are easily made in your slow cooker.
  5. Make breakfast the night before. If you despise mornings then make them easier by prepping breakfast the night before. Overnight oats with chia seeds, an egg bake and muffins can all be made the night before so you can sleep a bit longer.

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