Woman preparing kimchi in clear jars

10 Side Dishes That Are Amazing for Your Health

Most people plan their meals around a main dish, not giving too much thought to the side dishes they add in.

But what if your side dishes could provide your body with an even bigger nutritional boost than your main dish?

Here are 10 side dishes to cook up that are amazing for your health, and are also a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main dishes.

Kimchi

To put it simply, kimchi is basically the Korean version of sauerkraut.

What’s the difference between the two?

When it comes to making them, a few different things, ranging from the time that they take to ferment to the amount of salt used.

In terms of taste, kimchi is much punchier, but that’s usually because it contains a number of other ingredients in addition to the cabbage. Kimchi often boasts several different seasonings to give it more flavor, including garlic, ginger, fish sauce and spring onions.

Try mixing some kimchi through some rice – it will truly transform the rice into such an exciting side dish!

Sauerkraut

Two fresh jars of fermented vegetables

Often referred to as a superfood, sauerkraut is made from sliced cabbage, making it similar in a way to coleslaw.

However, the two are actually quite different…

While coleslaw is full of mayonnaise, sauerkraut is fermented, making it so much better for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits you will experience from eating more sauerkraut:

  • Better antioxidant protection thanks to the vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut. The fact that these are fermented means that your body is able to absorb them much more easily
  • Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which improves the health of your gut, your brain and your immune system
  • Full of fiber but low in calories, sauerkraut will keep you feeling fuller for longer

Before you run out and buy yourself a jar of sauerkraut, there’s something you should know…

Store-bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, meaning that it has been treated with heat. This destroys the beneficial probiotics in the sauerkraut, while also reducing the potency of its vitamins. Store-bought sauerkraut also usually contains preservatives and sugar, neither of which are good for you.

On the other hand, homemade versions are packed with probiotics and other potent nutrients. The homemade version also usually tastes better too.

Finely chopped vegetables

Wondering if it’s easy to make sauerkraut at home?

Yes, all you need is some cabbage and salt. There are various recipes online, some with the addition of other ingredients, so take a look at what’s out there to see what appeals to you the most.

Teff Bread

Never heard of teff bread before?

You’re probably also wondering how a bread made it onto this list of healthy side dishes…

Finely milled teff grain

Well, teff bread is pretty different from standard bread.

Teff is a gluten-free grain that is packed with nutrition. It is native to Ethiopia, although it is now being grown in countries around the world, including a couple of states in the USA. 

When it comes to nutrition, teff contains high amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • B Vitamins

All of these nutritional components mean that teff is able to help with everything from circulation to digestion to immune function. It even helps to re-balance hormonal levels, making it useful for treating the symptoms of PMS.

In order to make teff bread, the grain needs to first be fermented, which then gives it probiotic benefits too.

Not keen on bread making?

Teff can be used in other ways too. You can use it as a side dish in the same way that you would quinoa, although teff requires slightly more water when cooking.

Although teff grains are smaller than quinoa, they fluff up beautifully, making for a tasty and filling side dish.

Fresh or Fermented Salsa

A bowl of fresh salsa

Looking for something healthy to eat with the teff bread mentioned above?

Salsa will do the job perfectly.

Salsa is usually served raw, meaning that your body is able to obtain maximum nutrition from each of the ingredients.

It is also such an easy side dish to make, and can store in the refrigerator for a few days, during which time the flavors will only intensify even further.

If you want to make your salsa even healthier…

Try fermenting it!

This will provide the salsa with probiotics and live enzymes, making it even better for your body.

Salad with an Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Putting oil on salad

Apple cider vinegar is another fermented food, which is why it is known for having so many health benefits.

How exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?

In a number of ways, including:

  • It keeps the body’s pH level balanced, enabling the body to function in the best way possible
  • It lowers blood sugar levels
  • It increases good cholesterol in the body
  • It detoxifies the liver
  • It keeps the appetite under control, reducing cravings
  • It protects the bones by improving calcium absorption
  • It contains antioxidants that help to slow down the aging process
  • It contains anti-cancer properties, and can even shrink tumors 

After reading all of that, why wouldn’t you want to be eating more apple cider vinegar?!

The one thing that people struggle with is knowing how to actually make use of this star ingredient…

The easiest way is by turning the apple cider vinegar into a salad dressing. There are several recipes for this out there, each one containing various other healthy ingredients, from garlic to mustard to olive oil. No matter which you choose, the apple cider vinegar will add a beautiful tanginess and brightness to your salad, turning it into an incredible side dish.

Herring Platter

Small sliced herring and pink pickle on bread

This is a popular dish in Sweden, which also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world.

What does a herring platter actually consist of?

Well, as you can tell from its name, herring is the star of the dish. Being an oily fish, herring is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with both of these being essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

A herring platter usually consists of herring in a few different forms, such as raw, pickled and smoked. This already gives you a variety in terms of flavor and texture.

What else should the platter include?

Here are a few other foods to add in:

  • Wholegrain crackers – a healthy source of fiber
  • Raw vegetables – full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Pickled vegetables – these need to be fermented pickles in order to contain probiotic benefits
  • A sauce – the sauce is often made from mayonnaise and fresh herbs. For added benefits, swap the mayonnaise for a creamy sauce made from kefir or yogurt instead. Don’t hold back on the herbs, as these are a fantastic source of antioxidants

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Large stuffed poblano pepper

Have you ever tried poblano peppers before?

They are basically the green version of red Ancho peppers. While some of them can be quite hot and spicy, they are generally quite mild. In fact, a jalapeno is said to be about five times hotter than a poblano.

The fact that they aren’t too spicy means that you can eat more of them when compared to other types of hot peppers, which is something that would be hugely beneficial to your health.

Wondering how poblano peppers are good for you?

They have a number of different health benefits, such as:

  • They contain powerful anti-cancer properties, largely due to their capsaicin and riboflavin content
  • They are packed with antioxidants, with just a single poblano pepper containing almost 100% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A
  • They improve the strength and function of the immune system
  • They provide a natural form of pain relief, thanks to their quercetin and capsaicin content
  • They are a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient 

That’s probably enough to convince you to give them a try, but what do you actually stuff them with?

Well, since you’re trying to be healthy, stay away from fillings with bad fats, such as cream cheese and chorizo.

Instead, give barley a try.

Although barley is a grain, it contains over 80 different nutrients, as well as plenty of fiber.

You could also try stuffing poblano peppers with:

  • Brown rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Salsa
  • Cooked vegetables

Try combining a few of those filling ideas for a delicious flavor explosion!

Miso Soup

Wooden bowl of miso soup, with wooden spoon

Looking for a healthy soup to serve alongside a meal?

It doesn’t get much healthier than miso soup!

Miso is a fermented food, and is a traditional ingredient in Japan.

What’s it actually made from?

It basically consists of fermented soybeans, along with fermented grains. As you can imagine, there are so many different types and varieties of miso out there, each one varying depending on region, culture and more.

Here are a few of the more common varieties:

  • White Miso – quite a mild-flavored miso since it is only fermented for less than two months
  • Red Miso – fermented for up to three years, red miso has a deeper flavor and should be used in heartier dishes
  • Barley Miso – this is also quite mild and sweet, although it is fermented for longer than white miso 

Foodies would say that miso provides an exquisite umami flavor to food, and can be added to everything from soups to salads to vegetables to marinades.

In terms of health benefits, miso is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with gut-friendly probiotics.

When making miso soup…

You can add in so many other healthy ingredients too. From chilli, garlic and ginger to onions, chard and tofu, miso soup is an easy dish to personalize and make your own.

Black Beans

Bowl of black beans

You probably already know that beans are good for you. The fact that they contain high amounts of protein and fiber is no secret.

However, black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, have a few other nutritional components that make them even better than the rest…

The minerals within black beans, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, play an important role in maintaining the health of your bones and joints.

Black beans are also able to decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against cancer and heart disease, and aid with digestion

If all of that wasn’t enough…

Black beans are packed with a wide range of phytonutrients, all of which provide antioxidant properties.

How do you actually cook black beans?

It takes a while to cook dried black beans – you need to begin soaking them the day before.

However, the canned versions are much quicker and easier to cook up.

Try cooking them Mexican-style with onions, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Alternatively, turn them into a chilli or a curry for a heartier side dish.

Roasted Beets

Roasted beetroot and shallots

Roasted beets are simply exquisite. Roasting brings out such a sweet and intense flavor that even those who don’t usually like beets cannot say no to them.

If you have never tried roasted beets, now is the time to do so.

All you need to do is place some whole beets into a baking tray with some olive oil and seasonings. Garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper work especially well.

Then, roast them for an hour or so, until they are tender. Their skin will pretty much fall off at this point, making them easy to peel.

Then, either slice them or mash them, and then serve them up!

What makes beets so healthy?

They are full of nutrients but low in calories. They help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Detoxification
  • Blood pressure
  • Immune function
  • Brain and bone health

Plus so much more!

It is always fun to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen, especially when you know that they are good for you. Whether you opt for a spoonful of sauerkraut, a bowl of miso soup or a beautiful herring platter, these side dishes will really help to give your health a huge boost.

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

8 Foods for a Stronger Immune System

You have probably heard the term “immune system” so many times throughout your life, but do you know what your immune system actually is? 

Your immune system consists of a network made up of organs, tissues and cells, and these protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious compounds. 

Do you suffer from recurrent infections, digestive problems, inflammation or an autoimmune disease? 

If your answer is yes…

Then this means that your immune system is weak, and would really benefit from a boost.

Around 70% to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, which is why the food you eat will have a direct impact on how your immune system functions. To really strengthen and support your immune system, here are eight foods that you should try to incorporate into your diet. 

Garlic

Just about every type of cuisine in the world makes use of garlic, and it has long since been used as a method of fighting off infections.

How exactly is it able to do this?

Well, garlic contains a compound known as alliin. When a garlic clove is crushed, or even chewed, the alliin within it turns to allicin.

The allicin within garlic contains sulfur, and this is what gives garlic its distinctive smell. It is also the reason as to why garlic smells its strongest after it has been crushed, compared to when it is a whole clove.

However, allicin is quite an unstable compound, meaning that it doesn’t stick around for too long.

What happens to it?

It turns into other compounds that contain sulphur, and these are what give garlic its medicinal properties.

There is plenty of research out there that shows how garlic is not only able to prevent you from falling sick in the first place, but also affects how quickly you recover when you do fall sick.

Those who consume more garlic will not only have a lower risk of catching a cold or developing an infection, but they will also feel better so much faster.

Of course, in order for the allicin in the garlic to work properly, you need to make sure that you always crush garlic and leave it to stand for ten minutes before you use it. This will enable the allicin to convert into medicinal compounds.

Wondering how much garlic you need to eat in order to experience its immune benefits?

As much as possible! But at least one clove per meal would be ideal.

Blueberries

Blueberries may be small, but they are actually packed with a number of important nutrients, all of which really support the immune system. 

There is one compound in particular that blueberries contain that set them apart from the other superfoods out there…

This compound is known as pterostilbene. When consumed, it boosts the way in which the CAMP gene functions. The CAMP gene, which stands for cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, is responsible for creating specific proteins that protect the body from bacterial infections.

In addition to pterostilbene, blueberries also contain high levels of: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants 

Infographic on the benefits of blueberries

Can’t stand the taste of blueberries? 

Other dark berries, such as red grapes, cranberries and mulberries, also contain pterostilbene, although in smaller quantities. 

Cinnamon

Now that the festive season is approaching, cinnamon is a spice that you will likely encounter more frequently, and, in addition to adding a distinct flavor and scent to foods, this spice is also a powerful immune booster.

When consumed, cinnamon is able to increase the amount of T regulatory immune cells, also called Tregs, within the body.

What do Tregs do?

They basically control the way in which the immune system responds to foreign invaders, as well as those that are coming from the body itself. This not only helps to prevent autoimmune diseases, but also strengthens the immune system, enabling it to better protect itself against infections.

Of course, there is one downside to cinnamon…

The majority of popular recipes and dishes featuring this spice tend to be laden with calories and other unhealthy ingredients, all of which will only put a damper on your immune system.

Looking for a healthy way to cook with cinnamon?

Give some of these ideas a try:

  • Cinnamon French toast
  • Cinnamon chicken curry
  • Honey-cinnamon roasted chickpeas
  • Baked cinnamon apple chips
  • Cinnamon muffins
  • Cinnamon almond butter

You may need to get creative when it comes to using more of this spice, but the benefits that cinnamon brings really makes this worthwhile.

Turmeric

You have probably already heard of turmeric being called a superfood lately, with this ingredient becoming increasingly popular in recent years.

Why?

Because a number of studies have now been carried out that prove its many benefits, one of which is the way in which it boosts the immune system. 

How does it do this?

It all comes down to a compound called curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color.

While curcumin is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research shows that curcumin is also able to enhance antibody responses within the body, strengthening the immune system.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to consuming turmeric…

Turmeric in its raw form is not easily absorbed by the body. In order to maximize its impact, turmeric should be gently cooked, and mixed with an oil, as well as black pepper.

Why?

The oil helps to carry the curcumin while the black pepper significantly increases its bioavailability.

Turmeric golden paste is a great way to consume the herb, as the recipe takes into account all of the above, and can be cooked up in less than ten minutes. This can then be taken on its own a few times a day, or mixed into your meals.

Turmeric paste in small clay bowls surrounded by turmeric powder

Wondering if you can just take a curcumin supplement instead?

Yes, but you likely won’t experience the same impacts when it comes to the benefits of this. Eating whole foods always tends to be more beneficial for the body, as not only will you be consuming the curcumin, but also the many other medicinal properties that the turmeric contains.

Kefir

Just like some of the other immune-boosting foods on this list, kefir has become quite popular lately. 

What is it? 

It’s a fermented drink made from milk, almost like a thinner and lighter version of yogurt. However, while yogurt contains just a couple of strains of beneficial bacteria, kefir can contain ten times this amount. 

Kefir brings with it a number of different health benefits, and, when it comes to the immune system, these include:

So, where can you get kefir from? 

One option is to purchase it, and you will usually find it at health food stores, with more grocery stores now stocking it too. 

However, there is a downside to this…

In order to be sold commercially, kefir needs to be processed. Even if this is minimal, the heat used ends up destroying a significant amount of the beneficial bacteria within the drink. 

For the very best results, you would be best off making kefir at home. There are several how-to guides out there that will walk you through this easy process.

Green Tea

Just about every type of tea is extremely beneficial for the body, but green tea is especially powerful when it comes to strengthening the immune system. 

Why? 

Because it contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. This is an extremely powerful antioxidant that has been proven to significantly enhance immune function. 

Wondering why black tea doesn’t contain this antioxidant, since both teas come from the same plant? 

Well, tea leaves for black tea are fermented, whereas tea leaves for green tea are steamed. The fermentation process for black tea destroys a large amount of the EGCG within the leaves, whereas the steaming process preserves this antioxidant. 

Not only that, but green tea also contains L-theanine. This is an amino acid that boosts the way in which your body’s T-cells are able to fight germs. 

Don’t like the taste of green tea? 

Many people find green tea to be too bitter. 

Here are a few tips to counter that: 

  • Use hot, rather than boiling, water, since boiling water brings out the bitter flavors of the tea
  • Add in a small amount of honey to sweeten the tea
  • Add in a few drops of fresh lemon juice to enhance the perfume and reduce the bitterness of the tea 
  • Mix a couple of sprigs of mint in with your leaves before topping with water, which is a common practice in Morocco 
  • Drink it iced, rather than hot, as this reduces its bitterness
  • Purchase a high quality green tea  

Dark Chocolate

Love chocolate? 

Then you will be happy to know that dark chocolate is fantastic for strengthening the immune system. 

Of course, this means that the chocolate needs to contain at least 70% cacao, as this ensures that there are high levels of flavonoids within the chocolate.

Dark chocolate on baking paper, with a metal spoon holding chocolate powder

What are flavonoids? 

They’re antioxidants that do a number of different things within the body, including increasing the amount of antibodies that the body produces. This then gives the immune system a huge boost. 

Thinking you can eat copious amounts of dark chocolate now that it’s been proven that this is a beneficial food? 

Unfortunately not. You still need to moderate how much dark chocolate you eat, since this food is still high in saturated fat and calories. 

If you know that you shouldn’t be consuming any extra calories on any given day, you could always give some dark chocolate a sniff instead, so long as you can resist the temptation to eat it! 

This may seem cruel, but it’s actually beneficial. 

Wondering how?  

Research shows that even the smell of dark chocolate can trigger the body to produce double the amount of antibodies in just 20 minutes. In the study carried out, this boost in immunity lasted for over three hours, although it did decrease as time went on.

Citrus Fruits

Whenever you’ve had a cold, people have likely advised you to eat oranges, or drink warm lemon water. 

Ever wondered why? 

It’s all down to the vitamin C content in citrus fruits, which amp up the body’s production of white blood cells. 

What do white blood cells do? 

They are cells within the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious diseases. These cells flow through the blood all over your body, fighting against bacteria, viruses and other unwanted compounds. 

Vitamin C is extremely important when it comes to creating these. 

Since the body doesn’t produce vitamin C itself, it can be easy to become deficient in the vitamin, meaning that your white blood cell count declines. This weakens your immune system, meaning that you will fall sick faster, and take longer to recover. 

So, in addition to oranges and lemons, what other citrus fruits are there? 

Here are some of the most popular: 

  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarins
  • Pomelo
  • Yuzu

Need another reason to eat more citrus fruits? 

Well, in addition to boosting the immune system, citrus fruits also: 

  • Improve heart health 
  • Protect against, and fight against, cancer 
  • Protect the brain 
  • Reduce the risk of kidney stones 

Wondering if you can just drink the juice instead of eating the whole fruits? 

While citrus fruit juices do contain plenty of nutrients, they are also extremely high in sugar. This can end up causing more harm than good when it comes to your overall health. 

When it comes to keeping your body healthy, your focus should always be on your immune system. In order to keep it strong and working optimally, your diet is so important, so make sure that you are incorporating immune-boosting foods into each meal. 

Nuclear family enjoying dinner together

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

The original frozen dinners were literal recipes for disaster. Take the fact that they were first introduced  in the 1950’s when a nutritious dinner was defined by meatloaf and mashed potatoes with pie for desert. Add to that the fact that they catered to bachelors, whose main goals of eating were to fill their stomachs. Then, consider that the food had to be preserved, which adds a boatload of sodium to the equation. Put it all together, and you get a 1,040 calorie chicken pot pie, with 62 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, 1,480 mgs of sodium, and 14 grams of sugar.

As you may have guessed, there has been an appropriate amount of backlash. With the increased knowledge of nutrition, it comes as no surprise that sooner or later someone was likely to come up with a slightly more balanced way of preparing dinner instantly. Here are some of the kindler, more gentler versions of the original enemy of the artery.

Chicken and Harissa Chickpeas

The ingredient list in this meal is so healthy, you might start feeling stronger just thinking about it.  This North African option blends chicken, broccoli, butternut squash, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice and kale, topped with harissa, a spicy paste consisting of garlic, hot chili peppers, coriander, and caraway seeds, known to blast away fat. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives the sauce its kick, is a proven appetite suppressant and metabolism booster, and the regular consumption of the caraway seed is associated with weight loss as well.

Quinoa Bowls

You may not know how to pronounce it, but you have probably seen quinoa popping up on restaurant menus and in health food stores quite a lot recently. Why are the bowls popular? They provide an easy way to combine flavors and spices with protein, healthy grains, and produce. The South American inspired quinoa bowl mixes meat free proteins, such as black beans, and red quinoa, for a meat free answer to high protein.

The Profile Of A Healthy TV Dinner

Thai Stir Fry

With all the new super foods on the market, tofu almost seems to get taken for granted. However, its still a very healthy option and can be the basis of a smart frozen dinner choice. Try an organic heat and eat, mixing tofu with a rainbow of veggies, including carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jalapeños, zucchini, and hot pepper for a low fat, high protein boost.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Ravioli in the microwave! How revolutionary! These protein and vitamin A filled ravs are stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, and topped with kale, roasted tomatoes, and a sage garlic and lemon sauce. Wait til you tell your coworkers what was on the menu at your house last night!

Black Bean and Mango Bowl

This is an exotic combo for a frozen dinner. The entree is served on a bed of whole grain and sesame pilaf, comprised of brown rice oats rye, red wheat, barley, and sesame seeds. Top that with black beans, peppers, carrots and roasted onions, and you’ve got a bowl loaded with fiber and protein. Add some mango, ginger, and other seasonings, and you have preservatives that keeps the sodium content down for better heart health.

What is your best frozen dinner recipe? Let us know how you do health in front of the TV!

Young woman drinking orange juice

Try Vitamins To Stave Off Surgery

Plastic surgery. It seems more and more as if “Wow, how does she/he do it?” has given way to, “Where do you get your work done? However, even with the most unlikely suspects are taking the,” If you can’t beat ’em join ’em” attitude to going under the knife,” there are still a few downsides to plastic surgery: the expense, the permanent looks of surprise, the difficulty emoting, the batches- it seems safe to say there may still be a few reasons to hesitate. However, fortunately, there are some less drastic alternatives. If you’re one of the few determined to keep it real, here are some vitamins that may help you stave off aging naturally.

Vitamin C
That morning glass of OJ may be doing more than helping your immune system. Vitamin C is also great for collagen production and protection against sun damage. You can find it primarily in bell peppers, strawberries, guava, broccoli and citrus fruits. Try to get 100mgs of vitamin C daily, and if you’re looking for the fastest way to do that, Bell peppers are your best bets. The veggies contain 280 mg of the stuff, while oranges only contain 90.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is well known for its skin friendliness. A faithful guardian of the skin’s barrier, vitamin E protects the cell membrane, keeping harmful elements out while preventing helpful ones from leaving. It also works well with vitamin C. The two together make an excellent team for preventing UV damage. Vitamin E can be found in oatmeal, wheatgerm, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

woman with healthy food in the kitchen

Omega -3
Omega -3 is the vitamin that redefined the word “fat” This healthy fat keeps the skin hydrated and helps strengthen the cell membrane, keeping toxins out and protecting against sun damage. Omega-3 can be found in ground flax seeds, fatty fish, and walnuts. The best way to get your Omega -3 is by eating 3 to 5 ounces of fish 3 to 5 times weekly, or if fish isn’t your thing, you can get it in a fish oil supplement, but check with your doctor first, as these supplements have been known to cause the blood to thin.

Selenium
Selenium is a vitamin that maintains skin’s integrity and elasticity while protecting it from the sun. You can get selenium is seafood, wheat germ, and eggs. While you don’t really need a set amount each day, it’s a good idea to try and get some of this food into your diet.

Polyphenols
Drink a cup of green tea a day to get your polyphenols in. They have anti-aging benefits and have been shown in studies to exhibit properties which reduce the risk of sun-related cancers.

Beta Carotene
You might know beta carotene as that stuff that makes fruit orange. It does, and it’s also found in a lot of dark green produce. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A, which is crucial for cell repair and growth. In case you’re colorblind, or otherwise incapable of recognizing orange and green fruits and veggies, here are a few for you; carrots, cantaloupe, swiss chard, pumpkins, kale, and spinach are all teeming with beta carotene. Try and get two servings a day of one of these.

What vitamins are you taking to keep your skin healthy the natural way? Let us know!

Woman holding a basket of fresh fruits

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Trail mix in a bowl

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Couple enjoying the green outdoors

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Roast chicken and toast on table

Your Chicken Should Be Antibiotic Free

The dating world can be scary these days. Everyone is looking to have Fun Ways To Move Morefun, but when it comes to starting long term relationships, you need to know some vital information about your partner’s past. After all, if your going to be putting parts of a person’s body into your body, you need to know where those body parts have been. The same can be said of your chicken. If that chicken is going to be in your mouth and stomach, you should know a little about this chicken, especially whether of not this chicken is antibiotic free. Why? Read on to find out.

Harmful to Human Health
The use of antibiotic on farm animals have been amped up in recent years. Fifteen to seventeen million pounds go the drug are freely administered on a yearly basis. The goal of this is not only to keep animal healthy in general, but also to prevent sickness in animals raised in unsanitary conditions. The results have been anything but healthful. The overuse of antibiotics has resulted in the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains, superbugs, if you will, and, since poultry products usually carry more than one bacterial strain, it is becoming more likely the meat you buy is contaminated.

In fact, a recent study from the Environmental working group found that 81% of ground turkey, 69% of pork chops, 55 % of ground beef, and 39% of chicken wings and thighs are tainted with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.

Add to that the fact that the antibiotics used to treat chicken are similar to those that are used on humans and the threat to public health increases. Dr. Glenn Morris says that humans who ingest the resistant bacteria may not respond to antibiotic treatment. The risk for children is higher due to less mature immune systems.

Happy hens

Government Response
It would not be an exaggeration to say our government’s response to this danger was underwhelming. In 2013, the FDA declared a “voluntary strategy” asking that drug companies limit the amount of antibiotics in animal feed. While the association released a statement acknowledging the use of antimicrobial drugs as “an important health concern,” and recommended “judicious use of the drugs, the call carries no penalty for failure to comply and is open to ambiguous interpretation.

Antibiotic Chicken
Despite the weak response from the FDA, consumers can be proactive in avoiding the consumption of contaminated chicken. A 2012 Consumer Reports studies found antibiotic free products at 119 stores, including, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. The “no antibiotics” chickens were reasonably priced and, in some cases, actually cost less than the average price of chicken breasts nation-wide. Panera Bread is a leading restaurant in the increasing availability of antibiotic-free products, including chicken, pork. and turkeys, a trend that we will hopefully be seeing more of in the near future. Until then, you can keep yourself informed at RealTimeFarms.com.

What are you doing to avoid eating unhealthy foods? Let us know! We want to hear your recommendations and suggestions!