Oats

Like avocados, oats are another amazing super food that I just can’t seem to like. OR, maybe it’s just that I’ve been eating them wrong my whole life. I’m part of the minority that loves oatmeal cookies, however I CAN’T STAND the taste or texture of oatmeal. Again, like the avocado, something about the mushiness really puts me off. Which is a shame, because oats are an amazing food that have a lot to offer.

Oats are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which together increase satiety or fullness; reduce blood cholesterol levels; and protect against obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One cup of oats yields a surprising amount of protein: 10g to be exact, which is a little bit more than an egg. Oats are additionally good sources of potassium, iron, and magnesium. The two most popular varieties are steel cut oats and rolled oats, or old fashioned oats. Steel cut oats are less processed, and therefore sit lower on the glycemic index (how high a person’s blood sugar spikes after consumption) than rolled oats, however both foods are otherwise nutritionally similar. I tend to buy the rolled oats, as they stay fresher longer.

And fortunately for me, there are many ways to enjoy the super nutritional benefits of oats that don’t involve mixing them with water to turn out a gooey, mushy product. For instance, they can be mixed with nut butters to make delicious, portable, and convenient energy bites, or they can be combined with a few ingredients to make a quick cookie. My favorite way to enjoy oats, however, is via smoothie. I found this recipe on Instagram (@immaeatthat – sidenote: this girl has multiple recipes that use oats, and they all look phenomenal. Check out her blog here.) and adapted it to my own tastes by adding a dash of maple syrup and using pumpkin spice instead of pure cinnamon. This smoothie is super quick, easy, satisfying, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. 

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

Yields: 1 smoothie, or 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1 dash lite maple syrup
  • 1 dash pumpkin spice, or cinnamon

1. Put all of the ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth.

2. Top with cereal, additional spices, or whatever you like.

3. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per smoothie: Calories: 275; Total fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 35 mg; Sodium: 191 mg; Total Carb: 52g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Protein: 18g

Do you have a non-conventional way to enjoy oats? Share in the comments!

Cleanse with Caution

Welcome to December, where we find ourselves on the other side of Thanksgiving and it’s officially acceptable to get excited about the holiday season. People bring in holiday treats to the office on a daily basis “just because” and it’s easy to lose sight of health and fitness goals. Our healthy habits that we’ve spent all year incorporating into our daily lives tend to unravel away as we allow ourselves to indulge in party after party, and treat after treat. Many people turn into panic mode at this time of year as they see the numbers on the scale slowly begin to creep up. A quick fix that many people turn to is the juice cleanse. Juice cleanses are often marketed as a tool to jumpstart weight loss, promote health, and rid the body of all things evil (cough sugar cookies cough).

But are cleanses even that good for you? Are they even safe? Do they actually work? There’s a lot of information out there, and I looked at two different articles that promoted opposite sides of the juice cleanse. I think after reading both, the information is still just as jumbled.

The Real Reasons Juice Cleanses Can Get Your Health Back on Track

Summary Points:

  • This article was written by a doctor, so it’s probably a respectable resource.
  • Drinking juices allows the gut to rest and not work as hard, so phytonutrients can be absorbed more easily.
  • Cleanses rest the liver, which is often overloaded with toxins, so much so that it can’t keep up with how much junk we put into our body.
  • Cleanses do the thinking for us, we don’t have a choice in what to eat so it breaks the habit of making unhealthy choices.
  • Cleanses jumpstart weight loss by curbing the appetite and providing a naturally hypocaloric diet, so your body will “naturally start losing weight.”
  • Juicing ensures proper hydration, allowing metabolic and bodily functions to carry out more efficiently.

OK, OK, but what about the opposite side of juice cleansing. Why is it so polarizing and why do so many people advise against it?

4 Myths About Juice Cleansing

Summary Points:

  • Cleanses and juicing programs that last 3-5 days (the typical length) are expensive.
  • There’s no scientific evidence backing long-term health benefits claims made by juicing companies.
  • A healthy set of lungs and kidneys, as well as liver and GI tract are in a constant state of cleansing and detoxifying the body, so why do you need juice to do what your body already does naturally?
    • In regards to the “overtoxifying” point made in the previous article above, if your liver was not able to handle the overload of toxins you ingest, well, you would likely be dead by now.
  • The weight loss from juice cleanses is likely from water elimination, as the body burns through its glucose stores for energy, it pulls water out with it.
  • The lack of calories leads to irritability, shakiness, headaches, as well as constipation from a lack of fiber.
  • The “glow” many people experience from a cleanse may just be psychological.
  • The weight loss is unsustainable, rendering juice cleanses a “quick fix.”

So what’s the verdict? Both articles bring out excellent points, though on opposite sides of one another. I’m leaning clearly towards the second article, which also happens to be backed by a dietitian. I just simply don’t see how cleanses can really detoxify your body and jump start healthy weight loss.

From what I learned throughout graduate school and my dietetic internship, providing an inadequate amount of calories can put your body in starvation mode, encouraging it to hold on to as much fat as possible (your long-term energy storage) while expelling protein, causing you to lose muscle mass. Additionally, your liver and kidneys are natural detoxifying agents; providing them with easy-to digest juice is not going to lighten their workload any more. If anything an abundance of these nutrients is only going to be expelled in the urine (except for the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K). Additionally, the juices eliminate the pulp and skins of the fruits, which contain all the fiber. The fiber slows down the absorption of the good nutrients and allows the GI tract more time to get all of those nutrients into the bloodstream. Fiber also slows down sugar absorption, so taking these juices that are naturally high in sugars while eliminating the fiber can lead to blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. Not good. This may not be the case in juices that are made mainly of vegetables (with one or two fruits to flavor it, like lemon and an apple), but still, these mainly-veggie juices may lack adequate fiber.

My personal advice: If you find that you’re slipping off track during this time of year, don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow yourself the treats and holiday cookies, just don’t go overboard. Instead of eating 5 cookies in the office, try to only eat 2. Make sure the rest of the meals you eat throughout the day are in line with your personal health goals. If you want to keep your weight down, load up on healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like you normally do. Continue to fit in exercise into your daily routine. When at a party, try to be mindful by savoring every flavor and don’t show up hungry, so you’re the one making the choices, not your grumbling stomach. If you still want to try a juice cleanse, that’s fine, just try to eat at least 1 meal per day that consists of healthy, real, non-pulverized fruits and vegetables with protein.

A cleanse is a simple fix. You’ve been doing so well all year, so why change what you’re doing now? Keep working at building up your healthy habits, because that is what’s going to give you the long-term benefits.

What are your thoughts on juice cleanses? Have you ever done one? What was your experience? Sound off in the comments!

And happy eating!!

Thanksgiving Sides That Won’t Leave You Stuffed

The weather is getting colder, the leaves are falling off the trees, the wind is slapping you in the face with mucho gusto. The fall is ushering its way out and winter. is. coming. This bittersweet turn of the season means it’s time for my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. I find that nothing is better than a day devoted to family, food, and football. However, Thanksgiving also kicks off the holiday season, which can mean day after day of holiday cookies, festive cocktails, and other forms of celebrations that can lead to hundreds of excess calories a day. Not that indulging every now and then is a bad thing. You should never feel like you need to deprive yourself of anything. But, if you want to stay healthy throughout the holiday season, there’s no better place to start then at the beginning, Thanksgiving. Here are a few ideas to get you going…

1) This Caramelized Butternut Squash. It combines two of some of my favorite ingredients of all time (butternut squash and brown sugar) to make a vibrant, sweet, and comforting starch that would balance out any Thanksgiving plate without tipping over the scales the next morning. I swapped out the butter in the recipe for 2 tablespoons of olive oil to cut back on cholesterol and calories, and felt that it didn’t make much of a difference in how the brown sugar cooked in the oven, but feel free to stick to the recipe or add any additional spices that you want.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: Calories: 228; Total fat: 5g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium: 297 mg; Total Carb: 49g; Fiber:7g; Protein: 3g.

2) This healthy peanut butter brownie recipe is a good dessert option for Thanksgiving, or for any holiday party. It’s made with boxed Devil’s Food Cake Mix and, get this, a can of pumpkin puree. And that’s it! This recipe comes straight from Hungry Girl, a great website that offers lower-calorie recipes and interesting snack ideas. Now, I have to admit, while making this the batter looks quite questionable, and I had to resist adding more liquid like an extra egg or water (the batter gets THICK). But, the finished product is actually light and quite tasty, and I gave it to my unknowing friends who said that they were delicious, and couldn’t detect a drop of pumpkin flavor.

The original recipe for the peanut butter pumpkin brownies can be found here, I used Peanut Butter and Co’s Smooth Operator peanut butter as opposed to reduced fat peanut butter because, to be perfectly honest, that peanut butter is just soooooooo good.

Seen here with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt and some frozen blueberries (not included in the nutrition info).

Nutrition Facts per Serving (using full fat peanut butter, sorry Hungry Girl!): Calories: 154; Total fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 240 mg; Total Carbs: 26g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 3g.

What are some of your favorite healthy Thanksgiving/Holiday treats?

Also, can you tell that I love the color orange/any and all orange vegetables??

GREEK YOGURT SOS!!!

I really want to go to Greece. The plate smashing, the bright blue waters, the history, and of course, the Greek yogurt. There’s no snack that I find more versatile and delicious. Greek yogurt is more extensively strained than regular yogurt, removing much of the liquid, whey, and lactose, leading to the thicker texture that we all know (and hopefully love). Greek yogurt serves up more protein per ounce than regular yogurt, rendering it a healthful and powerful snack that keeps you fuller for longer.

HOWEVER, when perusing the dairy aisles for a good Greek yogurt, I’ve noticed that there is now A TON of different options. It’s hard to sit in the aisle looking at all the different labels to determine which one is the best, so I went ahead and did it for you!

I researched 3 (of probably the most, at least in my opinion) popular Greek yogurt companies and compared their strawberry non-fat Greek yogurts. I also threw in a new company on the rise, which technically isn’t a Greek yogurt but is considered an Icelandic Skyr (thicker than Greek yogurt, if you can imagine, but very comparable flavor and nutrition-wise).*

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 9.39.56 PM

*Note: I typically buy the 2% or full fat versions of these yogurts just for taste and mouth-feel purposes, and used 0% fat (or fat free) here in order to make sure I’m comparing apples to apples.

The bottom line: Do you notice how when you take away the flavor and go for the plain yogurt, the sugar drops (the only sugar in plain yogurt is the naturally-occurring lactose, or milk sugar) and the protein shoots up? Of the flavored yogurts, Chobani has the most amount of protein, but also the most amount of sugar, 23 g is NO joke. 1 teaspoon of sugar = about 4g, so just imagine dumping 5 spoonful’s of sugar into the little yogurt container, it’s a lot! Siggi’s has the least amount of sugar with a still impressive amount of protein. The Fage and the Yoplait are pretty much comparable in sugar and protein content.

In my opinion, the best option is to go with the plain Fage (only 10 more calories as the Chobani, but with 3 more grams of protein, which I think outweighs the fact that it has a little bit more sugar considering the serving size for the Fage is 6oz, compared to the Chobani which is 5.3 oz), and dress it up on your own accoutrements, such as real fruit, nuts, granola, berries, and sweeteners like honey. For instance, one of my favorite breakfasts to bring to work is plain Greek yogurt, frozen tropical fruit, and salted roasted cashews with a ½ packet of Splenda. If you must go with a flavored yogurt, buy the Fage or a Chobani “fruit at the bottom” variety where you can control how much of the fruit/sugar mixture you actually mix in, and try to only eat half of the entire flavoring.

So hopefully this helps the next time you’re stuck blocking up the dairy aisle with a blank stare on your face (we’ve all been there, right? No? Just me? OK then). Happy eating!

The Fascinating World of Farmers’ Markets

This past week I took the day off and wandered down to the amazing Union Square Greenmarket – a large farmers’ market that offers seasonal and regional fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and baked goods from 140 vendors. This market is humongous and full of produce, and I love that I get to see what familiar foods are SUPPOSED to look like, as opposed to the uniformed, shiny, waxy looking produce that you see in supermarkets. The stuff you find at the farmers’ market is the real deal, truly dirt candy, that you can buy and eat in the way that nature intended. However, I’ll admit, the market is also brimming with foods that I have never seen before, and that I may not know what it is or how to eat it. That being said, it’s still really fun to go in and explore the different stalls and learn about different fruits and vegetables that I don’t get to see every day.

http://instagram.com/p/hyxLc_v3GE/?modal=true

Look at that BUTTernut squash (I bought this at a farmers’ market almost a year ago and still find this hysterical)

So, the farmers’ market can be really great, and even though I love food and like to think I’m an adventurous eater, I tend to get very overwhelmed when I browse through the seemingly endless maze of stalls. These are my personal tips for navigating a large farmers’ market, and how to experience it in the best possible way:

1) Go in with a plan

If I go to the farmers’ market without a list, there is a 100% chance I will end up with a million things that I will never actually eat or cook, and will just sit in my refrigerator slowly rotting. Go in with a recipe or a shopping list and only buy a reasonable amount of each food (i.e. 1 bulb of garlic, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes, 1 carton of berries, 1 loaf of bread, etc. etc., etc.) so that it doesn’t spoil and you don’t waste your money. I find that the foods at the farmers’ market spoil a lot more quickly than they do when bought from the supermarket.

2) But don’t be afraid to browse

Farmers’ markets are a great way to kill some time. Look at the flowers, the weird looking plants, the freshly baked goods and jams, and wander the rows and rows of fresh produce. It’s visually pleasing and mentally relaxing.

3) Try something new

Don’t be afraid to try a vegetable, fruit, or herb that you’ve never tried before. I went with a coworker once and she bought kohlrabi – a vegetable that I have never heard of before and was too afraid to buy. We make many regrettable choices in life, and not buying that exotic kohlrabi is one of mine (am I a food geek? Yes, this last sentence absolutely proves that I am).

4) And stick to your staples.

I always buy the same produce at the grocery store: onions, carrots, celery, spinach, grape tomatoes, a few apples, bananas, and garlic. All of these are common staples at the farmers’ market, and are offered in different varieties and strains to help me switch up my daily flavors. Think orange and yellow tomatoes, different varieties of lettuce, colorful purple carrots, etc.  They’re also sold at a much cheaper price than at the supermarket. The food at the farmers’ market is likely better than organic foods and are a fraction of the price.

5) Touch everything (ew). 

Make sure what you’re buying is in good condition and ripe (or not yet ripe, depending on the food). Don’t be afraid to really feel what your food is supposed to feel like in its most natural state.

6) Wash everything (ok, good). 

I mean, just reread number 5. This one should be self-explanatory.

7) Talk to the vendors

There’s no better way to learn about about the food you eat than to talk to the source directly. Sometimes I feel that living in the middle of the city where takeout rules what’s for dinner and there’s not a tree in sight makes me feel detached from nature and wholesome foods. Interacting with who is tending to your food and getting to know more about where your food comes from gives you a deeper appreciation for what you’re eating, which in my opinion makes the whole cooking and eating experience all the richer.

So, this past weekend when I went to the market, I went in with a recipe in mind: this Butternut Squash Gruyere soup from one of my favorite food blogs: How Sweet Eats. I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it was to buy all of the ingredients (except for the butter, oil, spices, cheese, and chicken stock) from local farmers. I even think it made the soup taste more velvety, wholesome, and nourishing. So go online or to pinterest and find a recipe that looks good and go. OR, take one of your go-to dinner recipes and switch it up by buying the ingredients locally, see how the flavors change or if it makes you feel any differently!

To find a local farmers’ market near your area in the US, click here.

Check out the recipe for the soup HERE.

Note: I excluded the coconut milk to cut back the calories and used only about 2 oz of cheese as opposed to 6 oz because I honestly did not want to sit there and grate 6 oz of cheese (so time consuming!). The soup still came out absolutely wonderfully and the chickpeas on top added an awesome spicy crunch. This soup also tastes amazing when topped with walnuts and gorgonzola. Enjoy!!

Brace Yourself, the Pumpkins are Coming

Linus from Charlie Brown was on to something when he sat around for hours on Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin. In fact, his obsession with the pumpkin has made me think that he was quite the trendsetter. Seeing that we are well into my favorite season of Fall, I’ve noticed that everyone has officially gone off their rocker, and pumpkin is cropping up in everything. EVERYTHING. So far I’ve seen the likes of pumpkin spiced lattes (of course), lip gloss, yogurt, Pringles, even hummus.

But, I deplore you to stay away from these pumpkin-themed foods (yes, even the latte). For the most part, the flavor in these products comes from chemicals and artificial flavoring, and are not the real deal.

Enter one of my favorite supermarket buys in the fall and winter months: a can of pumpkin puree. A brand that I trust is Libby’s and the ingredients list reads: PUMPKIN. And that’s it. To compare, the ingredients in Pumpkin Spice flavoring syrup used in Starbucks reads as: “SUGAR, CONDENSED NONFAT MILK, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ANNATO (FOR COLOR), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE),” and can be found here.

Real pumpkin offers so many health benefits, and all of these pumpkin-flavored imitators offer none of them. That’s why I choose to skip the imposters and buy the pumpkin puree, which is versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes. Like applesauce and other fruit purees, pumpkin can substitute butter and oil in baking recipes to provide that wonderful fall flavor while upping the nutrient value. Click here to learn how to substitute butter and oil with pumpkin in your favorite baking recipes.

More importantly, the bright orange color, as seen in the sweet potato, is enough to tell you that the pumpkin is bursting with nutrients. Pumpkins are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which help to lower blood pressure; vitamin C, to boost immunity and to fight those winter colds; and fiber, which not only keeps you super full but also improves GI health, lowers blood cholesterol, and prevents blood sugar spikes. Not to mention there is only 1g of sugar and 0g of fat in a 1/2 cup serving of pumpkin puree, so it’s truly good for your waistline (unlike the Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup mentioned above, which is seriously just pure sugar and empty calories).

My favorite, and probably also the easiest, way to eat pumpkin is in a smoothie. This recipe is great for breakfast, after a workout, or even dessert, and, it’s made even better when topped with this yogurt dip that I’m now obsessed with made by Something Swanky (find her original recipe and post here). 

Pumpkin Spiced Cinnamon Shake

Servings: 1, Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 0 minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 banana, frozen

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1 T honey

1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and mix until silky smooth. Best when eaten with a spoon and/or slurped with a straw (depending on the thickness and your mood on that given day).

Demolished.

Nutrition Information (for shake only, excluding the yogurt dip): Calories: 309, Total Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 45g, Total Carb: 55g, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Protein: 22g. *

*This recipe meets 158% of your Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin A, 19% DV of potassium, 20% DV of Vitamin C, 38% DV of Calcium, and 14% of Iron, woo!

How do you like to cook with pumpkin? Have you seen any other bizarre foods that have been pumpkin spice-ified? Sound off in the comments!

Vegetties

Who out there isn’t a sucker for a good impulse buy? On my most recent trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, or as I like to call it, the Abyss (meaning I can get lost for hours in there thinking that I need things that I definitely do not need), I was feeling accomplished with myself as I was waiting in the checkout line. Everything in my basket was on my original list, and I didn’t stray from that list at all. That is, until I laid eyes on this funny-looking and oddly-named contraption called The Vegetti. At an attractive price of only $14.99, the Veggetti promised to “turn veggies into healthy spaghetti instantly!” I was intrigued.

The cashier saw me eyeing it and said, “I bought that and I LOVE IT! I’m on a no-carb diet and am obsessed with pasta and that thing has literally saved my life.” Well, first, I had to do a little internal eye-roll because any vegetable that you put through the Vegetti is going to be made of carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates that would be healthier than the carbohydrates in pasta (think – more fiber!), but carbohydrates nonetheless. However, the cashier seemed really excited, which made me really excited, so I overlooked her error and bought it.

Well, tonight was my first experience with the Veggetti, and I must say I was impressed. It has two openings that lets you pick between thin strands or thick strands, is very lightweight, and easy to handle. I Veggettied a zucchini through the thin side and a yellow squash through the thick side and ended up with really cool-looking noodles that were full of fiber, not to mention they were also completely gluten free. Don’t get me wrong though, because I seriously LOVE gluten. However, for anyone who suffers from Celiac’s disease, a gluten intolerance, or who loves pasta but doesn’t want to overdo it with the calories (cough cough me), then these Veggetti noodles make for a wonderful alternative.

Zucchini

The package comes with a little booklet that has cleaning instructions and a few recipes. It seems as though you can cook the vegetable noodles in the same way that you would cook freshly-made pasta. Pretty cool! My only criticism is that it can be hard to clean, as food particles can get stuck in the blades and those babies are SHARP. However, the pieces of food eventually broke free using a cleaning brush and the Veggetti is dishwasher safe, so that may solve the problem.

So, what did I make for dinner tonight? I honestly just threw together all the frozen vegetables I had in my freezer (corn, broccoli, and mushrooms) into a pan with some olive oil, and let them defrost and cook. Then I added garlic, a cooked chicken thigh, and both the zucchini and yellow squash noodles. I then cooked for about 5-6 minutes until the noodles were tender and topped with parmesan cheese. One zucchini and one yellow squash yielded  A TON of noodles so I even have leftovers for tomorrow. This dinner was nothing super fancy but it was easy, filled with veggies, satisfying, and tasted delicious. I must say I’m excited to keep trying new dishes using vegetable pasta instead of regular pasta; my absolute FAVORITE dish in the world is fettucine alfredo with broccoli, garlic, and spinach, so I think I’ll make that next time with zucchini noodles rather than real fettuccine.

Pro tip: cut the noodles after you’re done Veggetti-ing (this word doesn’t get old) in order to “create shorter, easy to manage strands,” according to the booklet that comes in the packaging.

dinner

You can read other people’s reviews and buy the Veggetti (at a cheaper price than I did – that’s the beauty of doing your research rather than succumbing to the impulse buy) at Amazon here: Buy the Veggetti! 

What’s your favorite impulse buy? Do you have a good dish that incorporates spiralized veggies? Share in the comments!

Avocados. I like them?

As a dietitian I am probably going to humiliate myself by admitting to this, but I’m just going to come right out and say it: I do not like avocados. The only time I will excitedly eat an avocado is if it comes in the form of guacamole or on a tuna avocado sushi roll, but that’s about it. You won’t catch me eating trendy avocado toast or putting sliced avocados on top of my salads. I really couldn’t tell you why, but I can tell you that this is a travesty. Avocados have done nothing wrong to garner such harsh opinions from me. If anything, the avocado is a wondrous fruit (yes, a fruit) with many gifts to give, and so I set out on a quest to determine a way to like them. Whether you’re iffy on avocados like me or if you are already an avid lover, keep reading.

What’s so great about the avocado?

Avocados are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits available. More specifically, they provide ample amounts of monounsaturated fats and fiber. Monounsaturated fats, which can also be found in foods like salmon, olive oil, and almonds are cardio-protective, help fight against inflammation in the arteries, and reduce cholesterol. Avocados are also super high in fiber, which also helps lower cholesterol, produces feelings of long-term fullness, and evens out blood sugar spikes. A half of an avocado dishes up about 5g of fiber, so not too shabby (the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the daily goal of dietary fiber for women is 25g/day for adult women and 38g/day for adult men). Other nutrients packed into the avocado include potassium, vitamin K, folate, antioxidants vitamin C and E, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and magnesium.

What else should I know?

A ripe avocado will have a little give when you squeeze it; it shouldn’t be hard and should feel a little mushy. The best time of year to buy avocados is in the summer during warm weather. Additionally, once cut open, avocados will oxidize and turn brown quickly. A good way to slow this process down and to save half your avocado for later is to squeeze some ascorbic acid onto the flesh (think: lemon juice or lime juice – not just used for flavoring in guacamole!!). Then, place in tinfoil or a plastic bag in the refrigerator and eat within 1-2 days.

Stop talking about them, let’s eat them.

Again, I’m forever dabbling into different ways I can enjoy the avocado a little more. One way I’ve found is to mash half of an avocado into plain 2% Greek yogurt and mix in ranch seasoning. This can be used as a spread for sandwiches or a dip for veggies. Another favorite I’ve uncovered is this tuna salad. Check out the recipe below!

Avocado Tuna Salad on the Half Shell

Serves: 1

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: less than 1 minute

Ingredients:

1/2 ripe avocado

1 pouch or can of albacore tuna in water (i prefer the pouch)

1 Tbs honey dijon mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

Additional optional ingredients: chopped onion (red or white), chopped celery, chopped carrots, chopped apples, olive oil, sliced almonds, apple cider vinegar, you can really customize this to your preference, but I chose to keep mine simple.

Instructions:

1) Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit.

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2) Score the avocado in a lattice/criss-cross pattern. Remove the flesh with a spoon into a bowl.

photo 6

3) Mix in the tuna, honey dijon mustard, and any other ingredients with the avocado. Taste as you go and add the salt and pepper as you mix.

4) Scoop the tuna back into the skin, which will serve not only as a bowl but an effortless way to look fancy and impressive.

photo 7

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 234, Total fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 45g, Total Carbohydrate: 9g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Protein: 20g.

The verdict: I LOVE THIS and this may have turned me into an avocado believer. The fat from the avocado is reminiscent of those really high-mayo tuna salads from the deli that I love (but without the artery-clogging type of fat), and the protein from the tuna combined with the fat and fiber of the avocado are seriously satisfying.

Tell me – what’s YOUR favorite way to eat an avocado? Also do your avocados look as messy as mine??

Want to learn more about them? click here and here (sources).

My Top 5 Apps

I have definitely come to notice that everyone seems to be addicted to his or her phones. I’ll admit that I, along with likely everyone else in my age bracket, am no exception to this rule. Maybe there’s a good reason it’s impossible to peel our eyes away from our tiny little screens. I rely heavily on my phone to help me navigate the overwhelming task of staying healthy and fit. If it weren’t for my top five favorite apps listed below, I don’t think I ever could have achieved my fitness goals. If you’re looking for some inspiration towards losing weight, starting to run, or just living an overall healthier lifestyle, then you might want to give these 5 free apps for iPhone and Android a look. I know these reliable apps have served me very well for several years, and I would recommend them to anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle.

1. MyFitnessPal  

There arMyFitness Pale a million wonderful things that I can say about this food, weight, and exercise tracker. If you want to lose weight, then look no further than MyFitnessPal. You enter in your goal weight and the timeframe that you want to lose it in, and it will calculate a daily calorie and exercise goal to help you get there. Then, you track your food using a super easy bar code scanner or the practically endless included database. MyFitnessPal not only tracks your calories, but you can look at daily breakdowns of macronutrient and micronutrient intake. Don’t think you’re hitting your DRIs (that’s daily recommended intake) for calcium, iron, fiber, etc.? Take a look at your daily reports to see where you’re lacking. But, most importantly, this app WORKS. I have personally been successful losing weight with MyFitnessPal, unlike with other weight loss apps. I don’t know what sets this one apart from the others, but I’ll take it and gladly pass it along.

2. Couch25k

I was NEVEC25kR a runner. I hated running. I was strictly against running because I thought I was horrible at it, and couldn’t run for more than 20 seconds without passing out, and then this app actually changed my life. About 6 months ago, my friends and I signed up for a 5K fun run, and we honestly really wanted to run it, so I downloaded Couch25K (that’s Couch to 5K, not Couch 25k), The program provides 3 run/walks per week for 8 weeks that slowly build you up to running for 30 minutes straight. TIP: if you do this program, don’t be afraid of that first day of straight running/no walking at week 5 day 3. If I can complete this program then anyone can.

3. Fooducate

I think thiFooducates app is amazing. Like MyFitnessPal, it has the food tracking features, but the primary reason I use it is to figure out what to buy when I’m at the supermarket. This app also incorporates a barcode scanner to display information about any particular food item of your choosing, and assigns the product a grade (from F to A+) with a thorough explanation, plus better alternatives. Amazing.

4. Sleep Cycle

Sleep CycleResearch suggests that people who sleep more/have more restful sleep will lose weight more easily and are generally happier people (well OK, maybe not the second part but at least I feel that way about myself). Sleep cycle works by placing your phone under your pillow or somewhere in your bed, and then tracks your movements while you sleep. The idea is more restful sleep = a deeper REM cycle = improved health and mood. You can track daily behaviors like exercise, stress, and caffeine consumption, and Sleep Cycle will analyze which behaviors lead to better sleep. I just think this app is super cool and interesting.

5. MapMyFitness

There MapMyFitnessare many fitness-tracking apps out there, and while I use other popular apps like Nike+ with equal enthusiasm, I think MapMyFitness is the complete package. It tracks not just running, but other activities like cycling, hiking, board diving, hang gliding (what??), house work, snowshoeing, skydiving; really anything you could possibly want to do, it tracks. MapMyFitness will then generate a nice little calorie, speed, and elevation breakdown and syncs with MyFitnessPal (score!).

There are seriously millions of nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle apps out there at your fingertips, but I find that these solid 5 have been the most helpful for me. What are your favorite healthy lifestyle apps?