A Roast with the Most: Fall Harvest Veggies

Roasting veggies brings out their sweetness.

The change of seasons brings with it a new group of fruits and vegetables. Apples, root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes and all the cabbage family foods, like broccoli and cauliflower, are at their peak now. And many are great for roasting—one of my favorite fall cooking methods.

With the grilling season over, I start giving a lot more foods the roasting treatment. The oven’s dry heat will caramelize the natural sugars in foods and brings a depth of flavor to fruits and vegetables that summer grilling can’t touch.

Root Veggie Roast

If you’ve never roasted root vegetables, you should give it a try. Roasted carrots are particularly delicious. Toss them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread out on a cookie sheet and roast at 425 degrees for about a half hour until they’re tender. The vinegar turns into a sticky, syrupy glaze that coats them irresistibly. You can give the same treatment to sweet potatoes or beets—tossing them with something tart before roasting, like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or even pomegranate juice to contrast with their natural sweetness.

Roasted veggies make a great side dish, but on the off chance there are any leftovers, they’re great added to soups and stews. Or you can slice them up cold and dress with vinaigrette, or add to mixed greens to give some fall flavor to your tossed salad.

Cauliflower Power

I was never much of a cauliflower lover until I started roasting it; now it’s become a fall staple at my house. Roasting softens the strong flavor. The cauliflower gets sweeter, and the texture becomes almost meaty. I coat the florets and a sliced onion with a dash of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and curry powder and then roast. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts—other veggies that are often a hard sell—are also delicious roasted with some oil and garlic.

You can roast fruits, too. Fall apples are fantastic when they’re prepared this way. Pretty much any variety will do, and you don’t need to peel them. Just cut in halves or quarters, remove the core and spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprayed with nonstick spray and roast like you would the veggies. You can toss them with a little lemon juice, apple juice or, if you want, spices first. But if you start with tasty fresh apples, they’re really good on their own.

Here’s another fall favorite recipe:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan

Even those who think they don’t like Brussels sprouts will admit that these are delicious. Roasting quickly with high heat mellows the flavor, and the Brussels sprouts end up tender and sweet. Tossed with a little fresh garlic and parmesan cheese, they make a fantastic side dish. If you have any left over, refrigerate and add to a tossed green salad the next day.

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet (large enough to hold sprouts in a single layer) with foil, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place baking sheet in the oven while you prepare the Brussels sprouts. Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Place in a medium bowl and add 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat with olive oil mixture. When oven is hot, toss sprouts onto prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or so, shaking the pan every 5 minutes until some of the outer leaves are nicely browned and crispy and sprouts are tender. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl, add garlic and parmesan cheese and toss to coat.

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Four Tips for Eating Mindfully

Be mindful of how much you eat.

Mindless eating can lead to overeating and digestive woes. But when you eat mindfully, you tend to slow down and eat less – just enough so that you’re comfortable, not stuffed.

Even if you’ve never heard the term “mindless eating”, chances are good that you’ve experienced it. Can’t remember what you ate for dinner because you were so focused on the television show you were watching? That’s mindless eating. Ever finish an entire bucket of popcorn at the movies and ask yourself, “did I really eat all that?” That’s mindless eating, too.

What Happens When You Eat Mindlessly?

Mindless eating is what happens when you eat – and overeat – without really thinking about it. When you eat mindlessly, you don’t ask yourself if you’re truly hungry, or question whether your portion is too large, or if the food even tastes good to you. You just eat it. And that’s because you’re not paying attention to your body’s internal signals – like the ones that tell you that you’re hungry, or when you’re comfortably full. Instead, you’re responding other cues push you to eat and overeat. Maybe you’re stressed or anxious or bored, or you eat something that’s offered to you – even though you’re not hungry at all.

Mindless eating often leads you to take in a lot more calories than you should – and you may eat much too quickly, too. You may not chew your food thoroughly, which means you’re probably swallowing a lot of air while you’re gulping it down. And, during an episode of rapid-fire overeating, you may not immediately realize how full you are. That’s because it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’re full – and by that time you’ve already overdone it. So it’s no wonder that discomfort – in the form of indigestion or bloating – can set in.

So what would happen if you turned “mindless eating” around, and practiced more “mindful eating” instead?

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is just what it sounds like. When you eat mindfully, you try to become more aware of your internal signals of hunger and fullness – which means really listening to your body. You become more in touch with the eating experience – which means you’re likely to enjoy it more while eating less.

Mindful eating means slowing yourself down and taking the time to appreciate how the food looks on the plate, how it smells, and how it tastes. If you’re with others, you take pleasure in their company – and if you’re eating alone, you take pleasure in being able to focus on your meal and enjoy it without distraction. The other benefit? By slowing down, you’ll learn to be satisfied with appropriate portions – which will help curb the tendency to overeat – and your digestive system won’t be overburdened. Not only will this help keep your calories in check, but it gives your system time to properly digest your meal, too.

How to Eat More Mindfully

  • Be mindful of why you eat. One of the first steps in eating mindfully is to become more aware of what triggers you to eat in the first place. Are you hungry? Tired? Anxious? Bored? While you’re noting that, also, rate how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 5 – where 1 means “not hungry at all” and 5 means “I’m starving”. After a week or so, examine your patterns. If you often eat because you’re stressed – even though your hunger level is a “1” – you’ll want to find alternatives to eating to relieve your stress – like taking a walk, or calling a friend, or maybe practicing some deep breathing.
  • Be mindful of how much you eat. While you’re making note of why you eat, also make a note of how full you are after you’ve finished. Practicing portion control helps you to learn how much food it takes to satisfy your hunger – which might be a lot less than the amount you want to eat. Since we tend to eat whatever amount we’re served, start by serving yourself smaller portions than you usually do. And, learn to stop eating when you’re comfortably full – even if it means leaving some food on your plate.
  • Be mindful of how quickly you eat. Mindless eaters tend to eat quickly, so also make note of how long it takes you to eat a meal. If it takes you less than 10 minutes, make an effort to stretch it out to 20 minutes. Try putting your utensils down between bites, and practice chewing and swallowing each bite of food before loading up your fork with another bite.
  • Be mindful of how you eat. Are you eating on the go, or at your desk while you work, or while you’re watching television? If you are, it’s unlikely that you’re paying much attention to your meal, and more likely that you’re just gobbling it down. Instead, try to be mindful of how you eat, and take the time to sit down and enjoy your food. Put down a placemat, turn on some music, maybe even dim the lights. Relax and take your time – your digestive system will thank you.

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

Healthy Digestion, Healthy You

Fermented foods are important for digestive health.

To keep your digestive system running smoothly, focus on fiber, fluids and regular exercise.

If more people really thought about how much their digestive systems do for them every day, they might be more inclined to take better care of their digestive health. Your digestive system has a huge job – it breaks down the foods that you eat in order to make nutrients and energy available to the body, and it is responsible for steering unwanted waste out of the body, too. On top of that, your digestive tract is a key player in immunity – the cells lining your digestive tract help protect your body against bacterial and viral invaders that could make you sick.

And, your brain and your digestive tract are in constant communication with one another. An incredible amount of information travels between your gut and your brain – so much so, that the nervous system that resides in your digestive tract is often called the body’s “second brain”. This system alerts the “first brain” if you’ve eaten something you shouldn’t have, and also keeps tabs on your hunger level and your mood.

And yet, many people abuse their digestive system – by filling it with highly processed foods, or eating too much, or eating too fast – and pay little attention to it until something goes wrong.

Key Components to Digestive Health

In the most general sense, what you eat and the way you live your life influences the health of your digestive system. A nutrient-rich, balanced diet helps to nourish all of your body’s cells, including those in your digestive tract. Fiber, fluids and regular exercise all help to keep you regular, and taking care of your “second brain” by keeping your stress levels in check can also help to promote digestive health.

Fiber and Fluids Support Digestive Health

Perhaps one of the most important dietary components for digestive health is adequate dietary fiber.

Most people think of fiber as the substance that helps to keep the digestive process moving. And certain fibers do just that. But not all fibers function exactly the same way, which is why we often talk about two types of fiber – insoluble and soluble fiber – both of which contribute to digestive health, but in different ways.

Insoluble fiber – sometimes called “roughage” – isn’t broken down by the body but it absorbs water, which adds bulk. This type of fiber – found in vegetables, bran and most whole grains – helps to speed the passage of waste through your digestive system, which helps keep you regular.

Soluble fiber– found in foods like apples, oranges, oats, barley and beans – thickens and swells up when it comes in contact with liquid. So, when you eat these foods, they swell up in the watery environment of your stomach and help to fill you up. But another important feature of soluble fiber is that it functions as a prebiotic – which means that it encourages the growth of the good bacteria in your digestive tract.

Your digestive system houses tens of trillions of microorganisms – made up of thousands of species – taken together, this bacterial colony is sometimes called the “gut microbiome”.

These bacteria help your body extract nutrients from your food, they help with the production of certain vitamins, and they protect the health of the digestive tract by keeping out dangerous foreign invaders. But this mini ecosystem residing in your gut appears to do even more – there is evidence that your gut microbiome may also influence your body weight, memory and mood, too. So, it’s important to provide these bacteria with their preferred source of fuel – in the form of soluble fiber.

You can also introduce beneficial bacteria into your system directly – in the form of probiotics found in certain foods. Fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir, pickles and sauerkraut, miso paste and olives are all natural sources of beneficial bacteria.

Since soluble fibers dissolve in water – and insoluble fibers trap it – it should come as no surprise that adequate fluids are important in keeping your digestive system running smoothly. But you also need water to produce saliva and digestive juices, and to transport nutrients to your cells, so taking in adequate fluids every day is vitally important to your digestive health.

Exercise and Stress Reduction Support Digestive Health

Regular exercise also supports digestive health in a couple of ways. As your muscles contract and your breath deepens during activity, the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles are stimulated, too, which helps to move food through your system. Exercise is also a well-known stress reducer, so it can help reduce digestive upsets that can occur in response to negative emotions.

The connection between your brain and your “second brain” in your digestive tract is something you’ve probably experienced in the form of a “gut reaction”. When stress or anxiety strikes, your brain sends a signal to your gut – and the next thing you know you’ve got a churning stomach.

The signals travel in the other direction, too – from gut to brain. When something in your digestive system isn’t quite right, an alert is sent to your brain, often before you even notice anything is wrong. Either way, this brain-gut connection suggests that keeping your digestive system in tip-top shape is vital to your sense of well-being.

The diet and lifestyle steps you take to keep yourself healthy are the same ones that promote digestive health, too. A diet that includes plenty of fiber from colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains, adequate hydration, and regular exercise are all key factors. And take time to
enjoy your meals – you’ll be more relaxed, and less likely to overeat, too.

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

Cooking for One? 7 Tips to Make a Healthy Meal

Prepare healthy meals in advance.

In this fast-paced world of busy schedules, we sometimes get into situations where we’re dining alone. This can be a challenge when it comes to cooking healthy meals. Most recipes are designed to serve 4-6 people. Extra stalks of broccoli or lettuce heads that don’t get used just go to waste. And let’s face it: sometimes it seems like too much trouble just cooking for one. But as the old saying goes, ‘Forewarned is forearmed.’ If you plan ahead and prepare, cooking for one can open up a whole new world beyond frozen pizza and instant noodle soup.

  • Keep your pantry and freezer well stocked.
  • I can’t say enough about having convenient, healthy items on hand. Stock your freezer with loose-pack frozen veggies and fruits as well as shrimp and individual chicken breasts. If you’ve got whole grain noodles, quick-cooking brown rice, canned beans, broth, tomato sauce, tuna and salmon in the pantry, you can put together a tasty dish in no time. It helps to have plenty of condiments and seasonings, too. My favorite stand-by “for one” is a quick soup: I add some buckwheat noodles, a handful of loose-pack frozen spinach and some frozen shrimp to boiling low-sodium chicken broth. When it’s all heated through and cooked, I add a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of ginger and white pepper. Yum.

  • Turn leftovers into makeovers.
  • You might love macaroni and cheese, but if you make a big batch you might not want to eat it every night for a week. Of course, you can put individual portions in the freezer, which is great for nights when you don’t want to cook. You can also plan to make the foods you cook do double duty. If you’re grilling chicken, make extra and add that to tomorrow’s pasta. If you’re cooking fish, make enough to fold into some corn tortillas with salsa for fish tacos on the next night.

  • Have breakfast for dinner.
  • There’s no rule that says you have to eat dinner food for dinner, any more than you have to have breakfast food in the morning. Feel free to have a veggie omelet for dinner, or have some of last night’s chicken curry for breakfast.

  • Find some one-dish meals that you like.
  • You can have a balanced meal of an entrée and two sides without having to prepare three separate items for one plate. Soups, stews, casseroles are a great option that include protein and veggies all in one dish.

  • Plan your meals ahead of time.
  • Make the best use of perishable items, like veggies. You can’t buy a half head of lettuce, but you can break the leaves, wash them and then wrap in a towel to store in the fridge, where they’ll stay fresh for 4 or 5 days. If you can’t find a single-serving bundle of asparagus, you can grill the whole bunch, then have half as one night’s side dish and toss the rest into the following night’s main dish salad.

  • Organize a dinner club or potluck.
  • If you know others who are in the same “cooking for one” jam, invite them over to cook together or organize a potluck event. If everyone brings a dish and swaps leftovers, you’ll get more variety and it’ll be a lot more fun than eating by yourself.

  • Adjust recipes when needed.
  • Even though most recipes are for 4-6 people, you can usually cut most in half with very few adjustments. There are also plenty of cookbooks around that are aimed at cooking for one. But some people figure that if they’re going to go through the motions of cooking something, they’d rather just make more and freeze the leftovers. That can be dangerous, though: If you’re craving a cookie, your recipe is probably going to leave you with enough dough to bake for a family reunion!

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

    Go Meatless for Your Protein

    Try plant-based proteins.

    Maybe you’ve decided you want to go meatless once in a while. It could be for health reasons, environmental reasons, or maybe you want to save a little cash. Even if you’re going meatless only occasionally, your meals will be more satisfying if you get in a good dose of protein. Milk products and eggs will work, of course, but if you want to go strictly with plant proteins, you might be hard-pressed to think of anything beyond rice, beans or veggie burgers. So, here’s a rundown of a few less well-known plant proteins that you might want to try.

    Types of Plant Proteins

    Many people are familiar with tofu, which is basically cheese that’s made from soy milk. It’s available in textures ranging from very soft to very firm. Soft tofu works great in smoothies and shakes, while firmer tofu can be marinated and grilled for a tasty meat substitute. You can also freeze it. When you thaw it out, it releases its liquid and crumbles, so it makes a good substitute for ground meat. Calories and protein content vary: generally speaking, the firmer the tofu, the higher the protein content. Six ounces of extra-firm tofu have about 90 calories and 12 grams of protein.

    There’s another tofu product you may not be familiar with—tofu skin, or yuba. Yuba forms on top of the soy milk when it’s heated in the tofu-making process, not unlike the skin that forms on top of regular milk when it’s heated in a saucepan to make cocoa. It’s usually sold dried, so it needs to be soaked in water before use. But if you can find fresh yuba, you’re in for a treat. These thin, pliable tofu sheets can be cut into thin strips and added like noodles to soups or stir-fries. Or you can use yuba in place of a tortilla to make a wrap. Three ounces of ready-to-eat yuba have about 150 calories and 21 grams of protein.

    Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it is made from soy. It’s made from the whole bean, not just the soy milk, which gives it a firmer, chewier texture. The soybeans are fermented, too, which gives tempeh an earthier flavor that’s usually described as nutty, meaty and mushroomy. Another plus: the fermentation reduces a lot of the gassiness that often comes with eating soybeans. Tempeh freezes well, and you can also grate it to use in dishes that call for ground meat. Tempeh is sold refrigerated, and three ounces have about 16 grams of protein and 170 calories.

    If you’ve ever eaten at an Asian restaurant and seen ‘mock duck’ on the menu, it’s usually referring to seitan, or ‘wheat meat’—so called because seitan is made of wheat gluten. Seitan is usually found in the grocery store as a refrigerated block that you can slice or dice before cooking. Seitan can be baked, steamed, fried or simmered in a soup or stew. Since it has very little flavor of its own, it picks up the taste of whatever it’s cooked with. Three ounces of seitan have 90 calories and about 18 grams of protein. It should go without saying that if you’re gluten sensitive, this would not be the protein for you.

    You may be less familiar with mycoprotein, derived from a microfungus that’s cultured and grown in large vats. It’s not unlike the way yeast (also a fungus) is cultured to produce the familiar product we use for baking. The mycoprotein is then incorporated into all sorts of meat alternatives that have a texture very similar to chicken and a mild mushroom-like taste. Most offer at least 10 grams of protein per serving, but calories can range from 90 per serving to more than 200, depending on the item. If you’re vegan, read labels carefully—some mycoprotein products contain egg white as a binder.

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

    5 Great Food Pairings for Good Nutrition

    Leafy greens are rich in calcium.

    There’s more to food pairing than pursuing what goes great together––like the taste sensation of chocolate and strawberries. To get the most out of your diet, there are certain foods you can combine that complement each other nutritionally.

    People often ask me if there are certain foods that they should, or shouldn’t, eat at the same time. Some people have heard that “If you don’t eat proteins and carbs at the same meal, you’ll lose weight.” But a study published about ten years ago debunked that idea. On the other hand, there is another concept around food combining––sometimes called food synergy or food pairing––which recognizes that certain foods offer a bit more nutritional benefit when eaten together than if you eat them separately. Think of it as a nutritional ‘one and one makes three.’

    How to Get Better Nutrition With Food Pairing

    • Colorful veggies with a little fat.

      Many fruits and vegetables contain compounds called carotenoids. These are natural pigments that give foods like tomatoes, carrots and spinach their beautiful hues––from the pigments lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein, respectively. Carotenoids function as antioxidants in the body, which is one reason why fruits and vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet. These important compounds are fat-soluble, which means that when you eat your veggies with a little bit of fat, your body is able to take up more carotenoids. So, adding some healthy fat from avocado or olive oil to your salad, for example, will help you absorb the carotenoids found in the romaine lettuce, carrots and tomatoes.

    • Vitamin C with iron-containing veggies and grains.

      Iron comes in two different forms in foods. One form called ‘heme’ iron is found in fish, meat and poultry, and it’s more easily absorbed by the body than the so-called ‘non-heme’ iron found in certain veggies and grains. When you take in some vitamin C along with a source of non-heme iron, your body will absorb the iron better. And it doesn’t take much: the amount of vitamin C in one orange or one tomato can nearly triple iron absorption. So, tomatoes in your chili will help you absorb the iron in the beans. Strawberries will help you take up the iron in your cereal. And the iron in spinach will be better absorbed if you toss some orange or grapefruit wedges into your spinach salad.

    • Lemon and green tea.

      Green tea phytonutrients, which are naturally occurring and contain some unique and beneficial antioxidants called catechins, act to help protect the body’s cells and tissues from oxidative damage. When you add lemon to your green tea, the vitamin C can help your body absorb these beneficial compounds. If you don’t like lemon in your tea, have a fruit that’s rich in vitamin C along with your brew, like a bowl of berries or a sliced orange.

    • Fish and leafy greens.

      When you drink milk that’s fortified with vitamin D (as is nearly all the milk sold in the US), the vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium in the milk. But there’s another great way to pair these two nutrients––fish and veggies. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel provide vitamin D, and leafy greens like turnip greens, mustard greens and kale provide calcium. Pairing the two will help your body take up the calcium in the veggies.

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

    Make Your Oatmeal the Healthy Way

    Nutritious oatmeal – not so plain and simple.

    Oatmeal is a delicious and healthy breakfast staple and you can easily get it at nearly every coffee place and fast food joint. And why not? It’s quick to make, tasty, comforting and inexpensive. And since it’s viewed as a health food, it’s a pretty easy sell. But looking at the nutritional value of some available oatmeal products, oatmeal’s health halo is getting a tad tarnished.

    Oatmeal’s reputation as a healthy food got a big boost about 20 years ago, when studies began demonstrating that oats (specifically the bran) could help lower blood cholesterol levels. In response, food manufacturers began trotting out oat bran-laden garlic bread and brownies, and oat bran-dusted potato chips and donuts.

    A dash of oat bran tossed into a muffin certainly doesn’t transform it into a health food, but that’s how the health halo works. “If it’s made with oats, it must be healthy.” Plain oatmeal is one thing, but load it up with sweeteners, jam, sugar-coated nuts and banana chips and you’re veering off the path of healthy eating.

    So, here’s the rub. Cook up some steel-cut oats or some rolled oats at home, and you’ve got yourself a healthy whole-grain breakfast for only about 150 calories per serving. Even with a dash of honey and some chopped fresh fruit, you’re still looking at around 250 calories for an average bowl.

    A packet of flavored instant oatmeal racks up about the same calories, but it has 12 times the sugar of the plain rolled oats. And the portions are tiny––most people I talk to usually eat two packets at a time. So, now you’ve got twice the calories and 24 times the sugar of the plain grain.
    And now that the fast food places and coffee houses have jumped into the fray, it’s buyer beware.

    It’s the add-ins that do you in—the granola crumble, the sugary nuts, the jam, the banana chips. A tablespoon of brown sugar will set you back 50 calories (and believe me, most people add a lot more than a tablespoon). A sprinkle of dried fruit or nuts can cost another 100 or so—and suddenly there are more calories on top of the cereal than in the cereal itself. The oatmeal offered at one chain is topped with dried fruit, honey-roasted almonds and strawberry compote (ahem, jam) to the tune of 470 calories and 10 grams of fat. You may as well have a burger and a medium-sized soda for breakfast.

    To be fair, not all the oatmeal offerings are off the charts. And most are certainly better than some of the other fast food breakfast fare out there (sausages dipped in fried pancake batter, anyone?).
    If you’re going to pick up some oatmeal rather than make it yourself, pay attention to the nutritional facts— especially if you’re going to couple that oatmeal with a calorie-laden coffee drink. And don’t add insult to injury by adding more sugar and cream from the condiment bar.

    Also, take a lesson from those who’ve learned that “just a coffee and a muffin” can set them back as much as 800 calories. Unless you’re careful, “just a coffee and some oatmeal” could do just as much damage.

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

    10 Heart-Healthy Foods Your Body Will Love

    Eat to your heart’s content.

    Most people don’t need an excuse to party, but in case you need an official reason to celebrate, February doesn’t disappoint. Sure, there’s the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, but we also have Groundhog Day and Presidents’ Day. And in case you didn’t mark your calendars, February is also National Heart Health Month. You probably don’t want to celebrate this holiday with pizza and buffalo wings. So, instead, why not show everyone that you’ve got a heart of gold by preparing a delicious heart-healthy meal?

    First, if you intend to drink alcohol, make a toast to your good health with a glass of champagne. Not only is champagne festive, but a glass of bubbly contains polyphenols—naturally occurring compounds found in grapes that affect the body’s regulation of blood flow and blood pressure. We don’t recommend you drink alcohol to get polyphenols for this purpose, but maybe thinking about them this way will remind you that you should find healthful sources of polyphenols in your diet.

    Next, start your meal with a colorful salad. Bright orange carrots, red tomatoes and deep green spinach owe their colors to carotenoids. These are a group of antioxidant pigments that help the heart by inhibiting the oxidation of the ‘bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, a key step in the development of atherosclerosis.

    Don’t stop there, though. Toss some avocado into your salad for a bonus. Carotenoids are also fat-soluble, so avocado’s healthy fat helps your body absorb these beneficial compounds. Even better, add some beans to your salad. Their water-soluble fiber helps to keep cholesterol levels in check.

    For your entrée, grill up some fresh fish. Fish is one of the best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help to keep certain fats in the blood within normal range (like triglycerides and cholesterol). And that can reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Let yourself go “a little nuts.” Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios are rich in substances called phytosterols, which help to lower cholesterol. Toast nuts lightly to bring out their natural flavor and then sprinkle them over salads or veggies.

    There’s no better finish to a great meal than a bit of chocolate. Naturally occurring compounds in cocoa called flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that fight free radical damage and help protect the heart. The darker and more bittersweet the chocolate, the better it is for you. So, enjoy a bit of dark chocolate, or drizzle some melted bittersweet chocolate over fresh berries for a doubly healthy dessert. Berries get their beautiful red-purple colors from anthocyanins, natural pigments that act as antioxidants, too. We don’t recommend sweets as a regular part of your diet because of the sugar they contain, but as with polyphenols, thinking about antioxidants in your desserts might help you remember to pay attention to them as part of your diet.

    I’ll admit that National Heart Health Month isn’t exactly a “cards and flowers” occasion, but why not celebrate anyway? It’s a perfect time to feature heart-healthy foods in a delicious, healthy meal that you and your loved ones can literally “eat to your heart’s content.”

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

    Gluten-free: Going Against the Grain

    Gluten-free diet alternatives

    In recent years, gluten has become the new dietary no-no. As during the fat-free and low-carb crazes of the past, consumers are now clamoring for gluten-free products like never before.

    Before jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, though, a bit of background is in order.

    Gluten is a protein found primarily in whole-grain wheat, rye and barley.

    When you eat whole grain bread or barley soup, gluten provides the body with protein to build and repair muscle tissue or to manufacture other body proteins like hormones and enzymes. Gluten protein provides structure to baked goods, and can be isolated from grains and formed into a vegetarian meat substitute known as seitan.

    Many people feel that they can’t handle gluten because they feel bloated or gassy when they eat grains, and because they feel less bloated when they stop eating gluten-rich foods. And they note that they often lose weight when they cut out the gluten, which could be reason for the sudden enthusiasm for gluten-free foods.

    Because gluten lurks not only in grain foods, but is also used as a stabilizer and thickener in lots of processed foods like salad dressings, frozen yogurt, and processed cold cuts, it could be that people feel better after they go gluten-free, whether they’re intolerant or not. After all, they’re cutting out fast foods and processed foods and possibly replacing starchy foods with healthy fruits and veggies, which would promote weight loss.

    Some people truly have gluten intolerance and do have to follow a strict gluten-free diet, but the numbers are relatively small. It’s been estimated that only about one percent of the population has the most severe form, known as celiac disease.

    Those who are truly intolerant to gluten have to spend lots of time reading labels.

    They must avoid wheat, rye, and barley, as well as wheat “cousins” kamut and spelt. And products made from these grains, such as bulgur, couscous, wheat germ, semolina, durum, and bran, are forbidden, too. Gluten might also be disguised on a label as vegetable protein, modified food starch or malt flavoring, and it’s sometimes found in soy sauce and grain-based alcohol.

    True gluten intolerance is relatively rare, but one argument for going gluten-free is that it’s a way to improve the diet, especially if refined grains have been the source of most of the gluten. Replacing starch-heavy pastas, cakes, cookies, white bread, and pretzels with gluten-free whole grains like quinoa or millet is good advice for everyone.

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

    Top 10 Resolutions for a Healthier New Year

    10 best resolutions for a healthier New Year.

    When it comes to resolutions, you want to focus on changes you can practice daily, since they’re more likely to stick with you. Here are the top resolutions for a healthier New Year.

    There’s something about a new year that drives us to wipe the slate clean, put our bad habits behind us, and start fresh. We look back at the resolutions we managed to keep and those that eluded us, and we make promises to take better care of ourselves in the upcoming year. I’m a big fan of resolutions—as long as they’re reasonable. Resolutions don’t do you much good if they’re abandoned before Valentine’s Day. You want to focus on the changes you can practice every day, since they’re more likely to stick with you—and also on the ones that give you the most bang for your buck. So, here’s my list of the top 10 best resolutions for a healthier New Year.

      1. Eat breakfast.

      Breakfast eaters are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. And breakfast will also help keep you clear-headed all morning. Your brain needs fuel after an overnight fast.

      2. Move more.

      Aside from your regular exercise, try to work more activity into your day. Take the stairs, walk or bike to run errands, pace the floor while you’re on the phone, and walk to a co-worker’s office instead of e-mailing.

      3. Don’t eat in front of a screen.

      Whether it’s a computer, TV or movie screen, when you’re eating in front of it, you’re not focusing on your food—you’re likely to end up eating more and enjoying it less.

      4. Stop eating on the run.

      This means eating in the car, when you’re walking down the street running errands, or while you’re getting dressed in the morning. Take time to sit down, focus on your meal and enjoy.

      5. Watch the liquid calories.

      Unless your liquid is a meal in itself, fluids should be as low calorie as possible. Get most of your calories from foods, not beverages—it’s one of the easiest ways to cut out excess calories.

      6. Stay hydrated.

      Many of the body’s processes rely on water, but plenty of people don’t drink enough. Keep water or tea near you and sip throughout the day.

      7. Include protein every time you eat.

      Protein satisfies hunger better than fats or carbs. Have some at every meal and grab foods like yogurt, nuts, high protein cereals, shakes, string cheese or single-serve cans of tuna for snacks.

      8. Have a fruit or vegetable at every meal.

      Fruits and veggies give you the most nutrition for the fewest calories. And, they’re full of water and fiber, which means they fill you up—not out.

      9. Don’t skip meals.

      Skipping meals rarely works as a calorie-control measure—you’ll just end up making up for it at the next meal. Eating small meals and snacks every few hours is a better strategy.

      10. Pump some iron.

      Strength training exercise burns calories, can perk up your mood, and it helps to keep your bones strong. It also helps you build muscle mass which makes you stronger and can ultimately increase your resting metabolic rate.

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