high-fiber, multi-grain bread

Fiber: How (and Why) To Incorporate More Into Your Diet

Does thinking about fiber conjure up ads for supplements for constipated old men? It might seem like it isn’t something you, a healthy, active young person, needs to worry about. However, fiber is critical to your digestive health, lowers cholesterol, supports weight loss, and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately, chances are: you’re not getting enough of it.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat 22-34 grams of fiber per day, but only 10% of women and 3% of men are actually meeting the standard. The average American adult eats 16 grams of fiber a dayIf you don’t eat as many vegetables as you should, if you eat out a lot, or if you eat a lot of processed foods, you are very likely not getting enough. Here are a few simple swaps you can make to help increase your fiber intake.

Vegetables

  • Focus on getting enough vegetables. Adults should be eating two to four cups per day of vegetables. A cup of broccoli contains about 3 grams of fiber, while a cup of kale contains about 1.5 grams. Total gain: Up to 12 grams.

Beans & Lentils

  • Swap out some animal proteins for legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are great sources of protein and fiber. One cup of beans contains anywhere from 12 to 19 grams of fiber! A cup of lentils contains about 15 grams, and a cup of peas about 9 grams. Try burritos, a side of peas at dinner, or make a delicious vegetarian lentil curry to really boost your nutritional intake. Total gain: Up to 19 grams.

Bread

  • Switch to high-fiber, whole-grain bread. Whole wheat bread tends to have several more grams than white bread, and it’s much more filling because of it. You can use it to boost your sandwich’s nutritional value. Total gain: 2-5 grams per slice.

Oatmeal

  • Try bran cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. That will give you at least 5 grams, depending on how much of it you eat. Total gain: Up to 10 grams.

Fruits

  • Snack on high-fiber fruits. Skip the sugar-laden cereal bars and eat a cup of blackberries (7 grams), raspberries (8 grams), a pear (6 grams), or an apple (4.5 grams). Total gain: Up to 8 grams.

Eating fiber is crucial to maintaining long-term health. And as you can see, it’s not that hard to get enough. Making just a couple of these changes in your diet can significantly increase your fiber intake and boost your nutrition

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Meal planning: An easy way to watch your health and your wallet

If you’re a busy professional, you probably don’t have a lot of time to cook healthy meals for yourself. Maybe you find yourself ordering take out, or going out to eat more often than you’d like. In that case, your bank account may be feeling the crunch. But there is a simple way to fix both of these problems: meal planning.

Planning your meals and grocery shopping on a weekly basis helps you eat healthier by ensuring you have on hand everything you need to cook a nutritious meal. It helps you save money by reducing your excuses to eat out—and limiting the amount of food that goes to waste in your refrigerator. 

Not sure how to begin? Here’s a quick get-started guide to meal planning:

  1. Make a master list. For ease of menu-planning, create a master list of go-to recipes that you can refer to when you’re out of ideas. As you come across meals you’d like to try, add them to the list. Then each week, making your menu is as easy as opening up your master list and choosing a few options. 
  2. Plan your menu. If it feels overwhelming, you can start by just making a dinner meal plan. Add in lunch and breakfast in a week or two. Then, create your grocery list. Group like items together (produce in one column, dairy in another, dry goods in a third) so that it’s easy to find everything once you’re in the store.
  3. Cook extra and use your leftovers. If you cook a double portion on Monday, you won’t have to cook again on Wednesday or Thursday. If you prefer not to eat the same thing too often, you can also freeze the extra for the future. Leftovers also make excellent lunches. 
  4. Make grocery shopping part of your routine. Carve out a day and time to grocery shop each week and make it a habit so you’re not tempted to skip it.
  5. Build in a break. If you enjoy trying new things and eating out, you don’t have to give it up altogether. By cooking more often, you can save your money for truly special meals that you won’t feel guilty splurging on—money-wise and calorie-wise.

Now start making your list and enjoy the health benefits and money savings that come with meal planning!

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5 Keto Hacks to Keep You On Track When Eating Out

If you’re on the keto diet, you already know that eating more healthy fats and fewer empty carbohydrates can help you lose weight and feel great. The fat helps you stay full, which keeps you on track for your weight-loss goals.

That is, until you go out to eat. 

It is really difficult to find a keto meal at a restaurant, which stinks if you enjoy eating out. 

But with a little preparation, you can enjoy eating out without wrecking your diet progress. Here are five easy ways to do it:

Eat a bit ahead of time

This is the most important tip. Arriving hungry is a recipe for regret. Making sure you’re not starving is the best way to avoid bad choices. 

Choose the restaurant

Weigh in and choose a keto-friendly place. A sushi restaurant can be a good choice if you stick with sashimi and vegetables. You can also put together a keto meal relatively easily at a steakhouse. 

Plan ahead

Most restaurants post their menus online, so plan your meal in advance! In this way, you can eliminate bad choices associated with ordering on an empty stomach.

In some cases, you might luck out with ready-made, keto-friendly options. If not, though, you may find that you can cobble together a meal that meets your needs by ordering an appetizer and a side dish. For example, at a barbecue restaurant, order braised pork belly—hold the sauce—and a side of broccoli.

Come prepared

If you know your destination is not keto-friendly, pack key ingredients that will help you change that. Take along a low-carb wrap if going to a sandwich shop. Then you just order the fillings and assemble your own sandwich. Or, just eat sandwich fillings without bread. 

Bringing your own salad dressing or sauce is another great way to stick to your goals. Make sure you are carrying it in a container with a secure lid.

Give yourself a break

If all else fails, remember that one splurge won’t derail you completely. Denying yourself is much more likely to result in your spiraling out of control. So if you really want some pizza, eat a small slice. If dessert is your thing, split one with someone, or ask if you can sneak a bite.

Your diet shouldn’t keep you from enjoying an evening out with friends and loved ones. So follow our tips to make good choices while staying connected.

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4 Easy Ways to Boost Your Nutrition

The pandemic has kept us mostly at home for a year now, and your body probably hasn’t received it’s much-needed nutrition. According to a new study published in March 2021, you’re not alone. The study found that, on average, people gained 1.5 pounds per month from February to June 2020. It concluded that the weight gain was a result of a more sedentary stay-at-home life with an increase in snacking and overeating. If your diet has been more Uber Eats than uber-healthy lately, we’ve got some easy-to-implement tips to boost your nutrition. 

Note: These are general, common-sense tips. For a more detailed weight-loss or nutrition plan, it’s always best to consult a physician and/or registered dietitian.

4 Easy Ways to Eat Better 

Eat a salad 

One salad. Every day. Make it a side, or make it your meal. There are so many different types of salads, from leafy greens dressed simply with lemon juice, to Asian-inspired bowls with crunchy seeds and salty, umami-rich dressings. You’re bound to find one that you like. And the proliferation of mix-and-eat bagged salads in the grocery store means that making a salad need only take a minute or two.

Drink more water

You already knew you should be doing this, but are you? The absolute minimum should be eight cups a day, more if you drink caffeine or alcohol, or if it’s hot out. Don’t like the flavor of water? Steep an herbal tea bag in your bottle or squeeze in some citrus for a refreshing twist.

Try new produce

Stuck in a rut? Make a point of trying a new fruit or vegetable a couple times a month. International grocery stores are a good place to find something new to you. You might find a new winner.

Eat fewer animal products

Commit to eating a plant-based meal once a week. Use it as an opportunity to try new recipes and ingredients. Swapping out chicken for chickpeas reduces your carbon footprint, saves money and calories and ups your intake of fiber. You can eat that burger tomorrow.

These are small changes but they can add up in a big way. Following them will help increase your energy level, improve your digestive health, & overall boost your nutrition! Make 2022 your healthiest year yet.

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3 Vegetables That Are Easy To Grow — We Promise

Dreaming of harvesting your own vegetables this summer, but have a poor track record when it comes to keeping plants alive? Don’t despair. Gardening is easier than you think. Building a garden is also a great joint project to do with your partner. And with spring just around the corner, the time to get started is now! To help encourage a budding green thumb (pun very much intended), we’ve made a quick list of three vegetables that are easy to grow. Check them out and then get yourselves out to the garden center!

3 Herbs and Vegetables You Won’t Kill This Spring

Mint

Mint is so easy to grow that it can overrun your garden if you’re not careful. You can weed it—or not. Put it in the sun, or don’t. It also won’t hold a grudge if you forget to water it for a few days. Easy-going mint will just keep growing. 

Plant it in a container so it doesn’t take over your whole yard. Then enjoy mojitos and fresh tabbouleh all season, and beyond. Mint is a perennial, so it will return year after year.

Lettuce

If you love salad, you’re in luck. From nutritious spinach to trendy kale, spicy arugula or fresh young lettuce, greens are some of the easiest things to grow. They are also ready to harvest more quickly than the other things on this list, making them a great crop for quick gratification.

Lettuce needs partial sunlight, which means that you can grow it even if you don’t have a garden plot that’s in full sunlight. It also does very well in containers, so you can grow it on a balcony or even in a sunny apartment window.

Carrots

Carrots take a little longer than lettuce, but they are really fun to pull out of the ground. And homegrown carrots are much more delicious than their grocery store counterparts. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never want to resort to bags of uniform baby carrots again.

They come in a rainbow of colors and varieties. Try purple carrots or white carrots for a fun twist on the classic.

Growing your own vegetables is an addictive hobby that will give your weekends purpose and impress your friends. So get out there and start planting these vegetables that are easy to grow!

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Need a Break? Getting Away as the Pandemic Drags On

Do you need a break? 

That’s probably a silly question. We all need a break. Whether you’ve spent much of the last 12 months holding your breath, or you think you’re fine, the reality is that you could probably do with a getaway.

So we’ve got a few suggestions for spring and summer getaways. No matter your current comfort level with being out and about, you’re sure to find an idea that suits you.

1. Go camping

This is probably the most pandemic-friendly getaway option—and the most budget-friendly. As spring spreads through the country, what better way to recharge than to pitch a tent in the great outdoors and cook your dinner over a fire? Leave the electronic devices at home (or in your glove box) and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

And as a bonus, this type of getaway is scientifically proven to lower your stress levels. Here’s a list of the best campgrounds in the country, organized by state.

2. Rent an RV

If you’re concerned about staying in hotels, renting an RV might be the way to go. Recent CDC guidance suggests that you’re not likely to get COVID from touching the same surface that an infected person touched, so there’s really no risk of traveling via RV. 

So grab your favorite people and hit the road. This country is beautiful and there are so many places worth exploring. From the western national parks to the eastern shores and all the landscape in between, the destination possibilities are almost endless. Here’s a list to get you started.

3. Rent an Airbnb

Given that aforementioned CDC guidance, staying at a private vacation home is low-risk as well. And there are so many amazing private homes for rent. 

Check out this list of the most incredible Airbnb’s in the United States for ideas. From a Hobbit-themed Oregon abode to South Carolina houseboat, there are so many whimsical options.  

It’s time you had a break. So what are you waiting for? Get planning!

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Resilience: The Secret Upside to 2020

Resilience: The Secret Upside to 2020

The good news about the dumpster fire that was 2020 is that we’ve got nowhere to go but up in 2021. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves. But as the new year begins, we think it’s time for some introspection and some virtual pats on the back. The catastrophic year is finally over, and you’ve lived to tell the tale. And in the process, you’ve developed more resilience.

That’s amazing.

And it’s something that you shouldn’t take for granted. Because it turns out, resilience is a trait that is developed, not inherited. 

According to this 2012 article from the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is born of a combination of thoughts and actions that anyone can learn. And you can strengthen your ability to weather difficulty by:

  • building and maintaining strong connections,
  • taking care of yourself,
  • finding a motivating purpose, 
  • staying positive, and
  • seeking professional help if and when you need it.

We were pretty gratified to read this list, because most of these bullet points are things we’ve already talked about on our blog throughout 2020. We have tried to bring you tiny rays of hope and sunshine through our posts by talking about socializing remotely, the importance of self-care, staying sane by helping others, and challenging yourself to practice gratitude

It turns out, these ideas aren’t just for getting you through a hard day or week.  They actually prime you to build resilience for the long-term.

Building resilience is like building a muscle. It requires pain, sweat and time, and the process of getting there can be a drag. But in the end, it makes you stronger and more powerful. And that’s something that will serve us all well, in 2021 and beyond.

Here’s to a positive and productive new year wherein each of us becomes stronger and more resilient. Happy New Year!

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5 Reasons to Count Your Blessings

The Gratitude Challenge, Part 2: 5 Reasons to Count Your Blessings

5 Reasons to Count Your Blessings

Thanksgiving is on the way, but you might be feeling less than thankful. It’s been a rough year, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, so we get it. But there are benefits to digging deep into your thankfulness reservoir – enough benefits, that this is an exercise we think everyone should get behind. Here are five reasons you should count your blessings.

1. Thankfulness is a cycle.

When you learn to recognize the blessings in your life, you’ll start seeing them in more places. The more thankful you are, the more thankful you’ll be. This is a snowball effect that you want to get rolling!

2. Thankfulness introduces positivity.

We know you know what we’re talking about. When you’re grumpy, lots of things irritate you that you wouldn’t normally bat an eye at. Grumpiness begets grumpiness, right? Well, the reverse is also true. When you look at things with gratitude, your positivity is like a beam of light that illuminates the things around it as well. Thankfulness can actually make you happier.

3. It’s good for your health.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but gratitude may also have health benefits. Certain studies have linked gratitude with reduction in headaches, sore throats and congestion. Not all studies have found a correlation, but it’s certainly worth a try.

4. Gratitude is great for your relationship.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, a study found that gratitude between relationship partners created a positive cycle. The study found that the partner receiving the thanks was motivated to continue the behavior that prompted the thanks, and the thanking partner was motivated to reciprocate the behavior. Just another reason to appreciate your partner, and let him or her know that you do.

5. It just feels good.

Thankfulness is like a warm and fuzzy blanket that you wrap yourself in to watch your favorite movie. Why wouldn’t you want to participate in something that is as comforting and satisfying as a steaming cup of soup on a blustery evening?

We hope you can set aside some time to count those blessings and head into a mindset of positivity and gratitude this Thanksgiving season and beyond.

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The Gratitude Challenge

The Gratitude Challenge: Staying Thankful When Things Are Hard

The Gratitude Challenge

It’s no secret that 2020 has been hard on everyone. It doesn’t make you a negative person to acknowledge the toll it has taken on you.

But it’s neither useful nor productive to dwell on the difficult. Instead, research has shown that taking the time to count your blessings can actually make you happier. A 2011 study found that gratitude between relationship partners created a positive cycle in which the partner being thanked was motivated to continue the behavior that prompted the thanks, and the thanking partner was motivated to reciprocate the behavior.

The Challenge

Whether you welcome the approaching holiday season with open arms, or whether it leaves you feeling bereft, now is a particularly good time to focus on the positive and take the 21-day gratitude challenge.

If you search online for “gratitude challenge,” you’ll find a number of different options. What we’re suggesting is very simple, but still effective in lifting those spirits.

Get a small notebook and number the pages 1-21. Then, each day, write three things that you are grateful for. No repeats! And they can be as big or as small as you’d like. The point is to start looking for the positive in even the most seemingly insignificant interactions or events. Here’s an example:

On Day 1, I’m thankful for:

  1. Waking up in my comfortable bed.
  2. The supermarket clerk who was so friendly during check out.
  3. The wide sidewalks in my neighborhood that are great for strolling or jogging.

The great thing about this exercise is that it can help you learn to be a blessing to other people. If you find that you are often grateful for positive interactions with others, you can strive to provide those sorts of interactions with your circle or strangers that you encounter.

And by the end of the 21 days, we think you’ll find that you’re an expert at pulling your own happiness wagon.

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Working Out Staying Fit Together

Working Out: Staying Fit Together

Working Out: Staying Fit Together

Let’s face it: life isn’t going back to normal anytime soon. The days of hanging out with friends and getting our party on are still but a lovely memory. So, what can we do to keep our connection with friends intact while also making the Covid-19 days bearable, productive, and dare we say fun? We get fit of course.

You’ve heard it said before…friends that sweat together, stay together. And there is actually scientific proof of that. In a study published by Santa Clarita University, it was determined that we humans love to gravitate toward the exercise behaviors of those around us. The study showed that we are 95% more likely to finish a workout program if we do it with a buddy.

Of course, this isn’t only amazing news for our waistline but also to our relationship and friendships. If we are most likely to finish a program by doing it with our friends, this also means we get more bonding time with them.

We are very fortunate to live in a day in age where staying connected with friends is easier than ever. With apps like Nike Run Club, Strava, and Fitocracy to name a few, we can keep up with our friend’s achievements and challenge (or just join them) in everything from runs, to bike rides and hikes.

Doing these challenges as a couple adds an extra spark of motivation because, by nature, we tend to compete with other couples to gain their approval and validate our own relationship. As long as the competitiveness is being done in good fun and not hiding ulterior motives to put down our friends or our partner, this can be an excellent and healthy way to make the best out of our time.

Benefits:

The list of benefits to working out with friends this way is amazing.

  • You make up your own rules.
  • Most places you choose to attend are free.
  • You get to bond with your friends and special other.
  • You get to do all sorts of sight-seeing.
  • …and the list goes on.

Go ahead and put the word out… The challenge is on!

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