14 Reasons to Eat the Superfood Snack Blueberries

Berry-picking season has begun. I love berries! I’m more of a raspberry and blackberry kind of girl but my son especially loves blueberries. Blueberries are an amazing and tasty Superfood!  They are the perfect low-calorie snack for hot, Summer days.

  1. They help detox the body.
  2. Blueberries contain vitamins, nutrients and minerals that help improve brain function.
  3. They promote digestion and helps prevent constipation.
  4. Blueberries contain compounds that help prevent and fight cancer.
  5. They’re good for the heart and help keep blood pressure under control.
  6. Blueberries are a snack that uplift your spirits. They can act as a natural anti-depressant.
  7. They boost your immune system.
  8. Blueberries are high in fiber and help you stay full and aid in weight loss.
  9. The minerals and vitamins in blueberries help improve and maintain bone health.
  10. Blueberries assist in the promotion of good eye health.
  11. They have been shown to help prevent wrinkles, age spots and acne.
  12. Blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  13. They are great to snack on after a workout because they help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.
  14. Blueberries also help promote healthy hair and hair growth.
* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research.

Why It’s So Important to Get Your Vitamin D

About a month and a half ago I was feeling like I hit a brick wall. I felt so drained, physically, mentally and emotionally. It was so bad that one Sunday morning I got up and started my chores…I got the toilet scrubbed and had to go back to bed. Just cleaning the bathroom completely exhausted me, took all the energy I had. The few weeks prior to that I had been feeling so tired, and each day it got worse. I heard from a friend at work that she might have Mono…could I have picked it up from her? Did we sip each other’s drinks the night we were all out? Why was I so so tired?  So tired that I struggled to think and process things happening in my day. So tired that I was having weird moments of sadness. So tired that it was a daunting task just to walk from my bedroom to the kitchen. So finally I gave in and headed to the doctor’s. Initially the thought was that maybe I was having some kind of weird flare-up of my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. But what was unusual is that I wasn’t in pain which is usually the first sign of a flare-up for me. I had no pain, no cough, no stuffy nose, no stomach ache, I was just completely exhausted. So we did blood tests…for everything she could think of, let’s just knock out the possibilities. Check thyroid, check white blood count…check vitamin levels…

We all know that we are supposed to have our daily vitamins but I have to admit I spent most of my life not putting as much thought into it as maybe I should have. I eat pretty healthy, lots of vegetables and fruit. I know I have to push myself to eat red meat and leafy vegetables from time to time to make sure I’m getting enough iron but other than that I wasn’t as responsible as I could have been about taking daily vitamins…I had them in my cabinet, which apparently doesn’t really count unless you take them. (Yeah I know, here I am a Wellness and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger admitting she wasn’t taking her vitamins…I never said I was perfect). 

I spent a few days working from home and taking naps in between meetings and office work to help keep my energy up while I waited for the test results. I found that the mini naps helped give me bursts of energy so that I could get more done throughout the day – it just turned into a weird work schedule, in a way I guess my days were sort of longer those three days because I scattered work out. My doctor’s office called with my results that Wednesday: Good news, no Mono and no other virus. Bad News: it wasn’t going to go away on its own…turns out deficiency in just one vitamin can shake your whole world up. The typical range for a healthy level of Vitamin D is 50-100…my level was 10. Whew, what?!  Vitamin D deficiency is pretty common in the NorthEast Region because of our winters but I hadn’t realized I could feel this awful and it could get that low. I started taking 5000 units of Vitamin D a day, instructed to do so for a month to get my level boosted back up. These things take some time to build up though so this was going to be a little bit of a journey to feeling better again. Three weeks later I started feeling like my spunky self again. I added in a daily vitamin…let’s stop and note just for a moment that I really hate taking pills (thank goodness that 5000 Units Vitamin D supplement was a little guy) and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to taste (hey, we all have stubborn quirks!). I totally saw these vitamins for kids called ‘Smarty Pants’  that I was teasing saying I should get them for my son because he can be a smart butt. Well they have them for Women too – ‘Smarty Pants Women’s Complete Gummy Vitamin’ – so I picked them up. They are actually super tasty and the levels are good in them for me. (*Always check with your physician to see what’s best for you) . I feel like such a better version of me, well I feel like me again. My moral of the story: Vitamins do matter, like really, really matter! 

According to www.medicalnewstoday.com, Vitamin D is also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Typically, we absorb Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, however this time of year our time outside is greatly reduced.

  1. For energy – from my experience if you are deficient in Vitamin D you can end up feeling super drained and exhausted.
  2. It is important for healthy bones. Vitamin D helps with the regulation of calcium and in maintaining healthy levels of phosphorus in the blood.
  3. It helps reduce the risk of catching the flu – which is super helpful during flu season!
  4. Good levels of Vitamin D help reduce muscle and bone pain.
  5. A deficiency can put you in a funk. You may be feeling kind of depressed or sad if you are low in Vitamin D.
  6. It promotes stronger, healthier teeth.
  7.  It increases your mental clarity and sharpness.
  8. Some studies show reduced amount of abdominal fat in people that were sufficient in Vitamin D. That sounds like a good perk to me!

So where do we get Vitamin D when we can’t get in the sunshine? I found this one a bit challenging to solve with changing my diet. Vitamin D is a tricky one to find in a lot of foods. My best advice is to talk to your doctor and pick up a supplement that is suited for you. Here are some foods that will also help (sorry, the list is a bit short).

  • Look for fortified dairy foods such as Vitamin D fortified yogurt, cheese, milk, cereal, etc.

  • Cod Liver Oil, if you dare…this one isn’t for me.

  • Egg Yolks

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna

  • Beef liver…another one that I don’t think is going to make it to my plate.

This week, I’ll down my dose some. Down to one 5000 Unit Vitamin D supplement a week and two (chewable, yay!) 400 units of Vitamin D a day. This little ‘adventure’ was eye-opening for me. We all know what we should be doing but putting it into action sometimes takes a little push, I got mine! 

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payments for leads/sales. For more information please reference my disclosure page.  
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7 Super Reasons Parsnips Help You Get Healthier

I have always had a love for root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, fennel, and more – but over the past few years I have truly come to love parsnips. Not quite as common as their closely related cousin the carrot, parsnips are an easy vegetable to add to many recipes and are a perfect dish to enjoy during colder months.

7 Health Benefits of Parsnips

1.) High in dietary fiber. Parsnips are packed with soluble fiber which helps reduce cholesterol levels and helps maintain healthy digestive function.

2.) Is a great resource of folate which is needed for the formation of red and white blood cells in bone marrow, is important for the development stages, and aids in energy metabolism.

3.) Contains high level of potassium which is needed for skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle function. This nutrient is important for healthy heart function.

4.) Are high in Vitamin C which helps improve eye health, helps repair and regenerate connective tissues, protect against heart disease, and aids in the absorption of iron.

5.) Good resource of manganese and Vitamin K which helps with digestive health and wound healing.

6.) Due to high dietary fiber content, parsnips are great at helping you stay fuller longer.

7.) They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and organic compounds which helps fight against disease.

Some Delicious Recipes to Try

Oven Roasted Parsnips with Thyme from FoodnessGracious

Paleo Risotto with ‘Parsnip “Rice” from Empowered Sustenance

Baked Parsnip Fries from Sweet as Honey

Roasted Parsnip Salad from Girl Gone Gourmet

Roasted Parsnip & Garlic Soup from Sharing Our Food Adventures

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research.
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13 Healthy Reasons To Eat Peaches

Why not celebrate this fuzzy, sweet fruit this month?

August is National Peach Month and for good reason with all the farmers markets bringing them to the table. This sweet fruit is more than just yummy to eat, it is packed with vitamins and nutrients to help you get going each day!

1.) High in fiber which aids in digestion and helps you stay full longer.

2.) Filled with antioxidants.

3.) High in phenolic and carotenoid compounds which help prevent cancer.

4.) High in vitamin C which helps maintain healthy skin.

5.) Also high in beta-carotene which helps improve eye health.

6.) Useful in pregnancy because they are packed with many essential vitamins and minerals.

7.) Contain magnesium which can help in managing stress and anxiety.

8.) Studies have shown that peaches have some anti-inflammatory properties.

9.) Peaches boost your immune system.

10.) Are a great source of zinc, which has anti-aging properties.

11.) Contain phosphorous which aids in strengthening bones and teeth.

12.) Peaches are great at detoxifying the body.

13. Are a good source of iron.

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. 

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Winning With Rheumatoid Arthritis – Overcoming My Fear Of Failure

Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I started my Fitbit too soon, I had to stop it. I was nervous. I was anxious. I was excited. One by one, clouds of emotions rolled over me. Here I was standing under an over cast sky on an early Saturday morning in June waiting for the announcer to yell, “Go!”. I stood still, holding my balance strong while being bumped around by runners rearing to take off just as much as I was. I was at the starting line of The Baltimore 10 Miler. Thoughts of doubt, thoughts of disbelief, and thoughts of pride circulated through my mind.

Twelve years ago I couldn’t have foreseen this race on my calendar. I wouldn’t have even entertained the idea of running a ten mile race. I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age twenty. I cried when I learned of my diagnosis. All I could imagine in that moment was myself crippled and helpless by thirties. I found myself taking nine pills a day and a bi-weekly injection just to relieve the pain from the disease, spending my twenties in a mostly zombie state from the medications. I passed on activities with my friends and spent many of my days on the couch or in bed, too tired to even play with my son. I felt lifeless.

Four years ago, my life was shaken when I was let go from a very stressful and long job. I lost my healthcare benefits and was left unable to afford my medications. Though I didn’t realize it then, this was one of the best things that happened to me. This was an opportunity for a transformation. It was in those moments after that I woke up and realized it was now or never for a lifestyle change or I would wither away, drowned by the pain and the frustration of the disease.  I started practicing yoga twice a day. I gave up fast food and junk food and I started studying my disease. I started reading how to manage it organically. I taught myself how to eat better. I started using essential oil therapies. I meditated, and I learned my limits and how to schedule resting and recoup time into my weeks.

At the end of April of this year I committed to The Baltimore 10 Mile Race. I only had a few weeks to train. My mind was reminding me how tough this was going to be but in my heart I knew this was something I needed to do. I started running about two years ago but not consistently. I hadn’t run more than three miles prior to this. My training was slack and race day came upon me fast. I set a goal for myself to finish the race in two hours.

Standing at the start line I shook, this was really happening. The first mile was awesome. I knocked it out in ten minutes. I felt absolutely liberated. By mile five, I was hurting. This was a challenge, but I refused to give up. I was determined to finish. I told myself to let the fear and doubts go. I told myself that pain was temporary but conquering this was going to change me forever. I continued to push on, through mile six, seven and eight. I made it to mile nine and tears rolled down my cheeks. It all hit me at once. I was beating my disease, and I was beating my fear. Almost every muscle and joint ached. My knees and hips were stiff. Yet I pushed on still. This was it, one more mile…uphill.

The moment I crossed the finish line was so much more than I thought it would be. In all of my life, I had never pushed myself that hard physically. The thoughts racing through my mind were chaotic. I was so proud, so happy, so relieved. I finished in two hours, 10 minutes, and thirty-six seconds. This event was truly a life changer. In that last moment crossing the finish line was the moment I knew from the bottom of my soul that I had made the decision to not let anything stand in my way of the life I wanted.

 

9 Reasons I Am In Love With Avocados

With warmer weather in the forecast, Spring finally here, I have been starting to crave those tropical feeling foods. When I was younger, I wouldn’t touch an avocado, fast forward to today and they are one of my favorite foods. Packed with super benefits, tasty, and a great combo to most dishes, avocados have become a staple in my diet.

Avocados are considered a SuperFood because of how high they are in nutrients and studies continue to find new health benefits of it.

Avocados are:

  1. High in healthy fats
  2. Contain no Cholesterol or Sodium
  3. Low in Saturated Fats
  4. High in Fiber
  5. High in Nutrients – Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Potassium (contains more than in a Banana)
  6. Also contain Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), and B3 (Niacin)
  7. Shown to help lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels
  8. High in antioxidants
  9. Some studies show it has anti-swelling properties that can help reduce symptoms of arthritis
  • Avocados are a great addition to salads
  • Make for a great toast
  • Can be an uplifting snack
  • And…well um guac…yum! 

Recipes to Try:

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Avocado Mozza Puffs

Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. 

Fit Body, Mind, & Spirit: My 12 Rules For A Healthy, Happy Life

I’ve been spending some time reading over old posts and it’s been enlightening seeing how far I’ve come. Nothing brings me more comfort than knowing that I am continuously growing and moving towards become more like me and working towards creating a life that I love and am destined to live. 

In 2014, I wrote a list post “If I knew what I know now (in reference to if I knew what I knew then when I had been nineteen) some particular things stuck out to me:

“I would have spent less time trying to “fix” other people and more time focused on myself.” 

“I would have appreciated the things I already had more and less time worrying about the things I didn’t have.”

“I would have accepted failure as steps to success.”

About a year ago, I wrote a post of things I had learned about myself – What I’ve Learned About Myself in which I discovered more some simple things like how managing my blood sugar levels also helps me manage my moods but also things such as alone time and organization are key factors to staying balanced. 

Once again I’ve come to reflect on how much I have grown, how much stronger I have become, and how much progress I have made with my internal goals…and how much further I have yet to go. 

1. Do not judge. 

2. Let go of anger.

3. Be patient, with life, with yourself, with ones around you.

4. Focus on the present.

5. Do all things in love.

6. Live simply.

7. Only allow things that bring value and joy into your life.

8. Take care of yourself first.

9. Live your life like you are an example.

10. Live with intention not regret. 

11. Take a break once in awhile.

12. Keep learning, keep trying, and keep growing. 

I have many plans in mind for myself and this year that focus will not change. I am very happy of how far I’ve come and that motivates me to continue to strive for more. What do I have in store for myself this year? I plan to work towards a more minimalist lifestyle, continue working towards becoming a pro at self care, continuing to focus on steps to make my dreams come true, refocus on my spiritual studies, and yoga & meditation practices, and become all-around more fit – in mind, body, and spirit. 

7 Wonderful Reasons to Add Almonds to Your Snack Routine

I am a healthy snack fanatic. With the exception of Cheetos, I would choose something fresh over chips any day. I think they taste better and I feel better eating them. This series is all about making that healthier choice. I’ve combined some benefits of some of my favorite power foods with some snacky ideas and recipes in this series to help you fight the temptation of running to the vending machine. This week’s choice – almonds! I will never forget my first time eating a raw almond from the organic stand at the Farmer’s Market – ripping off the green shell to find this beautiful nut inside packed with super powers!

Why eat Almonds?

  1. They help maintain blood sugar levels – which means more consistent energy in the day.
  2. They are considered a good source of fiber and are packed with protein and healthy fats.
  3. They’re considered a power food for the brain. Who doesn’t want a super-charged brain?! Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which are nutrients that help with neurological activity and help prevent cognitive decline.
  4. They can help reduce hunger which aids in weight loss (or helps prevent weight gain).
  5. They have healthy antioxidants and healthy fats that support overall heart health helping to prevent heart disease and heart attacks.
  6. They are a wonderful resource of Vitamin E and antioxidants (again with those awesome antioxidants!) which promotes healthy skin.
  7. They are high in magnesium. Check this read out for 11 Miraculous Ways Magnesium Heals Your Mind & Body.

Here’s some yummy snack ideas to get you started:

Mix some almonds into a non-fat Greek Yogurt.

Add almonds & bananas to a bowl of (low sugar) cereal.

Have a handful of almonds with some berries.

Spread almond butter on whole wheat toast.

And my favorite – a bunch of raw almonds from market!

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. 

How to Make a Quick, Tasty Salmon Dish that’s Only 300 Calories

I love to cook but I also love to eat healthy…sometimes coming up with the right combination can be tricky… this is a recipe I put together for my Mom and I one night….keeping it around 300 calories per serving (came to 311.5 calories for total meal – I came pretty close!) Recipe is broken down for one serving – multiply to create additional servings.

Ingredients –

  • 3 oz salmon fillet
  • 1/2 c broccoli florets
  • 1/2 medium tomatillo
  • 1 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/3 medium potato
  • Blackening Seasoning

Directions –

  1. Heat  pan to medium-high heat and spray pan with Pam. Slice potato into thin slices. Place potato slices into pan and sprinkle with Blackening Seasoning. Cook until tender and then remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, dice tomatillo. Toss tomatillo, chopped onion in small bowl with oil and 1/2 tsp of soy sauce.
  3. Steam broccoli.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, heat second pan to medium heat and spray with Pam. Place salmon fillet in pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes and then drizzle remaining 1/2 tsp soy sauce on top of salmon. Continue cooking salmon until just about done, then top with tomatillo and onion. Cook until at desired doneness.
  5. Serve salmon with potatoes and broccoli.

Check out my post on why salmon is so awesome for you – Power Food – Salmon