Recipe: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is a good source of vitamin A.

During the cold months, few things are better than a good cup of soup. This creamy and healthy butternut squash-based soup is filling, delicious and easy to make.

Butternut squash is a versatile vegetable and a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin A. When bought in season, it’s budget friendly. Plus, butternut squash soup is easy to store. So what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 lb. peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 package soft tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add the butternut squash and sauté a few more minutes, and then add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the tofu and ginger, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot, and simmer a few more minutes until the tofu is heated through.

Purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and reheat until the soup is very hot, but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh thyme or thin strips of lemon peel, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

The Best Nutrients for Bone Health

Leafy greens promote bone strength.

Do you know the best foods to eat to create a strong structure for your body? Here are some key nutrients that help support strong bones.

Ask most people what nutrients are needed to support bone health and they’ll likely say calcium and vitamin D. And they would be right, of course. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (most of it is socked away in our bones and teeth), and vitamin D is critically important in helping the body absorb calcium. But many other nutrients play an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy.

Nutrients for Great Bone Health

Bone is a living, growing tissue. It’ made up of a collagen, a protein that forms a soft framework for bone, and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite, made primarily of calcium and phosphorus which are deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness. In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health. Here are some key bone-building nutrients and where to find them.

Calcium

Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.
Where to find it: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, and it combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.
Where to find it: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.
Where to find it: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough vitamin D, however, and may benefit from taking supplements.

Magnesium

Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. It’s also needed to convert vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, supports calcium absorption.
Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Potassium

Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body, and it helps to reduce the loss of calcium in urine.
Where to find it: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.

Boron

Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Where to find it: Dried fruits like prunes, raisins and apricots, also peanut butter and avocados.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Water weight gain: what is it & how to avoid it

From Herbalife's Discover Good Fitness & Nutrition Blog

What causes water weight gain? DiscoverGoodNutrition.com | Herbalife advice A few simple dietary changes may help with temporary water weight gain.

Temporary water weight gain happens to everyone once in a while. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying.  You wake up in the morning with puffy eyes, and your fingers are so swollen that you can’t push your rings past the first knuckle.  You hop on the scale and bam!  - you’re suddenly three pounds heavier than you were yesterday.   

What causes water weight gain – & what you can do about it

Is it water or is it fat?

The good news is that temporary water weight gain is just that – it’s temporary, and it’s water… not fat.  (Just for the record, it would be nearly impossible to gain three pounds of fat overnight.  To store a pound of fat, you’d need to eat 3500 calories more than you need – which means you’d need to eat more than 10,000 extra calories to gain 3 pounds of fat in one day.)

But how do you wake up with a few pounds of temporary water weight?  If you’re in good health, temporary fluid shifts are normal and often can be traced back to something you did – or didn’t – eat.  Your body uses a complex system that involves hormones and minerals – like sodium and potassium – to maintain the proper balance.  But sometimes that balance gets temporarily tipped, and you wake up feeling a little ‘spongy’.

Sodium and temporary water weight gain

Eating too much sodium – from salty and highly processed foods -  is often to blame.  Sodium serves very important functions in the body, but the amount in your bloodstream needs to be kept in a fairly narrow range.  So if you eat a very salty meal, (which then dumps a load of sodium into your bloodstream) your body will do what’s necessary to ‘dilute’ it – mostly by holding onto fluid that you see the next morning in the form of a puffy face and hands.

Starches and sweets and temporary water weight gain

A meal high in refined carbohydrates can sometimes be at fault, too.  If you have an evening meal comprised mainly of sweet and starchy foods like pasta, white rice and sugary drinks,  it will lead to a quick rise in your blood sugar, which signals your body to release insulin – a hormone which helps your body shuttle sugar from the bloodstream into your cells.  But high insulin levels can also lead your body to retain sodium and fluid.  Since a carb-heavy meal can lead to an insulin spike, fluid retention might just tag along.

Hormonal shifts and temporary water weight gain

Other hormones can come into play as well.  For women, hormonal shifts that occur with monthly cycles can also lead to water weight gain – often in the range of a kilogram or two that can stick around for a week or more.  While you can’t avoid the fluctuations in hormone levels, dietary changes may help.

Tips for reducing temporary water weight gain

Temporary water weight gain can often be tackled with a few simple dietary changes.  That said, there are medical conditions and certain medications that can also cause fluid retention, so if are experiencing frequent or prolonged water weight gain, be sure to speak with your health care provider.

  –  Reduce your salt intake

Focus on foods that are as close as possible to their natural state, since the more processed a food is, the more sodium it’s likely to have.  Keep salty snacks, soups, condiments and sauces to a minimum and use the salt shaker lightly in cooking and at the table.

  –  Cut back on refined starches and sweets

Rather than highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, regular pasta and white rice, turn to whole grain varieties.  Since they take longer to digest, they’re less likely to cause a big spike in blood sugar – and insulin – when you eat them.  And, switch from sugary drinks to water or tea instead.

  –  Drink plenty of water

It seems like that last thing you’d want to do – put more fluid into your body when it already feels overloaded.  But drinking fluids will help your body to eliminate excess salt and water. Aim for 6-8 glasses a day.

  –  Push potassium

Potassium plays a critical role in maintaining fluid balance in the body, and needs to be in the proper balance with sodium.  Potassium is  found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, but most people don’t get nearly enough potassium in the diet.  Try to have a fruit or veggie at every meal or snack.

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

Fresh raspberries and blueberries

From www.DiscoverGoodNutrition.com

My first crop of berries this season

Our first berry crop of the year - California offers up a great climate for year-round gardening.

My husband and I have small farm outside of Los Angeles that we’ve been nurturing for the last few years.  Just this week we harvested our very first crop of fresh blueberries and raspberries.

These delicious fruits are nutrition powerhouses – full of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber – and we’re enjoying them just as they are for dessert, on top of our yogurt, and in our protein shakes.

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