Oatmeal with Superberries

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Superberries. The opinions and text are all mine.
 
I touched briefly on my January meal plan how I am trying to get back in the swing of healthy eating in 2016 and I have to admit that for the most part I am staying on track.  I have been working hard to keep my eats healthy and my meal prep on point.  I can’t say that it has been super easy though – my schedule is crazy and I have to carefully plan meals and snacks.  One of my favorite meals is oatmeal due to the fact that it has lots of fiber, keeps me full, and provides me with great energy.  But I have to admit that plain oatmeal gets boring so I have tried to spice it up.  Enter the Superberries Aroniaberry.

 

Superberries Aroniaberry 3

 

The aroniaberry is a berry that is native to North America and is FULL of antioxidants and polyphenols.  Scientists have found that Polyphenols, Flavonoids and Anthocyanins can suppress or neutralize free radicals and may prevent oxidative events in the body, a key factor in healthy aging, and boost our immune system.  A berry to enhance my immune system?  YES PLEASE!  I am currently suffering from the pediatrics plague so any boost in immunity is greatly appreciated 😉

 

Research has also shown that consuming aroniaberries after your workouts can help muscle recovery and oxidative stress that occurs during exercise.  Since many of us are committing to a more active 2016 this is a perfect complement to an increase in activity.  Banish the sore muscles and enhance your capabilities along the way.

 

I made my oatmeal super simple but full of flavor – I used 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, 2 packets of stevia, and a handful of frozen aroionaberries.  Delicious!

Superberries Aroniaberry

 

I have to admit the aroniaberries were a little earthier than other berries I love and not quite as sweet.  But adding in a little stevia to my oatmeal did the trick.  I am sure that these berries would be a great addition to smoothies for an added boost of superberry goodness.

 

Superberries Aroniaberry 2

 

Superberries is offering 25% off all six packs thru January 24, 2016 so if you want to boost your immunity, minimize oxidative stress, and start 2016 off on a healthy foot you should check them out 😉 You can use the codes BERRIES25in, CONCENTRATE25in, or Chews25in!

 

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Superberries. The opinions and text are all mine.

Healthy Slow Cooker Meals

With clinicals looming and the thought of late nights ahead I am starting to think about how we are going to eat healthy through some of the rough weeks.  I am a huge fan of my slow cooker and have turned to it on many occasions to have healthy but satisfying meals that are ready to eat when we make our way home.  The feeling you get when you walk into the house after a long day and know that dinner is ready due to the amazing smells throughout the house is priceless.  To boost my arsenal I reached out to some of my favorite people for their favorite recipes.  Since I know I am not the only one who needs quick and delicious meals today I am sharing the goods with you!

Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes

 

Slow Cooker Lasagna via ME!

Black Bean Soup via Marathon Mom

Tomato Basil Garlic Chicken Pot Roast via Mommy Knows What’s Best

Chicken Sweet Potato Soup via The Clean Eating Couple

Chicken Marinara with Roasted Vegetables via From Dancing to Running

BBQ Lentil Stew via Cotter Crunch

Faux-Pho Udon Noodle Soup via FITaspire

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken via Strength & Sunshine

Squash, Carrot, and Lentil Stew via Delights & Delectables

Two Bean Veggie Chili via Happy Fit Mama

Slow Cooker Minestrone via A Mind “Full” Mom

 

There you go!  Some awesome slow cooker meals to make dinners a little easier (and healthier!) around your house.  Let me know which ones you try!

What are YOUR favorite slow cooker meals?  I NEED MORE!!  Links welcome below in the comments.

 

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Heart Healthy Diet Made Simple!

I am super excited to have my friend Melanie guest posting for me today for American Heart Month!  We met when our husbands were stationed in Missouri and hit it off right away.  We also both have personal connections to heart disease and want to help others live heart health lives!
Hi Food, Fitness & Family readers!
I am Melanie, the RD and mom over at Nutritious Eats.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Madeline a few years ago when we lived in Missouri. She found me on Twitter and we realized we had a lot in common so we immediately scheduled a coffee date. After hitting it off (yes, making adult friends is often like dating, ha) we decided we’d be gym buddies for the short time period before she moved. Madeline inspired me a lot in that time we had together and I love that we are still long-distance friends.
I am so happy to be here today to share some info on a heart healthy diet.
Heart health is one that is near and dear to my heart. My dad had his first heart attack when he was 38! I was just a tiny toddler but I remember a lot of lifestyle changes that my family undertook. My parents implemented family walks every night, healthy home-cooked meals, a careful watch on sodium intake. It was real. There were real life changes that needed to take place in order for my dad to stand a chance at surviving. Well fast forward 30+ years, Dad is still living a healthy lifestyle in Texas, post heart-transplant. And just to keep it real, he has far exceeded the survival percentage of post-transplant patients. There is no doubt in my mind that a big part of that has to do with the dietary changes he made along the way.

So what does a heart-healthy diet look like?

1.  Plant-Based

FruitVegRibbet collage
Are you sick of hearing about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables? Well sorry, that advice isn’t going anywhere! The scientific data all support the same claim and that is that people who eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily have a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and no pill or juice will replace them.

2.  Good Fats

Heart.Healthy-1
Research has changed over time regarding our fat intake (no more fat-free diets, yay!) and rather than focus too much on saturated fat, so let’s focus on the heart healthy fats you should be eating. Monounsaturated fats can protect people against heart disease by reducing blood pressure. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, olives, avocado and nuts such as peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts and pistachios. Chose these over high saturated fat foods like high-fat meats, whole-milk dairy and fried foods.

3.  High Fiber

Heart.Healthy-2
Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol by grabbing onto it as it pulls it out of your body, as well as helping to lower blood pressure. Foods high in soluble fiber are oat and rice bran, oatmeal, barely, beans, peas and lentils, vegetables such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes and squash, fruits such as berries, apricots, pears, strawberry, peaches, apples, seeds and nuts-yep those nuts again!

4.  Low in Refined Carbohydrates

Low-quality carbs include sugary foods, soft drinks, baked goods, anything made with white flour. These foods cause a spike in insulin which then leads to a rise in triglycerides. Instead aim for high-quality carbs like oatmeal, wild or brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains and don’t overdo your portions of these types of food.

5.  Limited Salt

Sodium in small doses is necessary for body function, however too much will draw excess fluid into the blood which can cause high blood pressure. Limit added salt to food, replace it with no-salt seasoning, spices and herbs. Read food labels and chose brands with less sodium and limit your intake of high sodium condiments like pickles, canned foods, soy sauce, marinades, etc. In 2010 the American Heart Association changed the recommendations to state that Americans consume less than 1,500 mg/day sodium, which is the level with the greatest effect on blood pressure; this recommendation does not apply to athletes, people who work in conditions where they are exposed to excessive heat or any else advised by their healthcare provider.

6.  B Vitamins (Folate, B6, B12)

B vitamins have been shown to lower homocysteine levels, an amino acids and breakdown of protein metabolism, in the body. High homocysteine relates to a higher level of heart disease. Focus on food sources high in B Vitamins like oatmeal, peas, beans, lentils, spinach, mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, berriesand fortified whole grain cereals and bread.

Sample Heart-Healthy Menu

Breakfast
Banana-Peanut Butter Oatmeal
One serving (1/2 cup dry) oatmeal cooked in water, non-dairy milk or low-fat milk. Topped with 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 banana and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and cinnamon.
Snack
1 cup Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
Lunch
Spinach Salad with Beets, Goat Cheese and Walnuts (Grilled Chicken optional)
A large bowl of baby spinach topped with dried cranberries, walnuts, tomato halves, sliced beets and goat cheese. Toss with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
Snack
Apple
Dinner
Packed with vegetables, beans, tomatoes, serve this high fiber dish with a simple tossed salad.
Snack
So there you have it! Not too difficult, right? These simple nutrition and lifestyle changes you can make can really turn around your risk factors for heart disease.  Thanks for reading!
What is your favorite way to get in heart healthy foods?

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American Heart Month

Disclaimer:  While I am a Physician Assistant student this is not official medical advice.  Always consult your healthcare with your own healthcare provider 😉

 

There aren’t many times on this blog that my love for healthy living and my love for medicine perfectly align for content but today (and this month) is one of them!  The month of February is American Heart Month with the American Heart Association.  So over the next few weeks I want to share some things about how you can be more heart healthy.  Why is that important?  Heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.  Not only is this important to me as a future healthcare provider, it’s important to me because my dad suffered a heart attack and ended up with quadruple bypass surgery.  So this topic hits home on both a professional and personal level for me.  Fun fact – cardiac health is also the philanthropy of my sorority Alpha Phi!

 

American heart Month

 

Heart disease in the medical word is called coronary heart disease (CHD).  CHD is the result from coronary artery disease, or the build-up of plaque in the vessels of the heart.  There are many risk factors that can lead to heart disease and that’s what we are going to talk about today.  I’m a big believer in “knowledge is power” and knowing what risk factors you might have is important.  While there are certain things you can’t change, there are many risk factors that you can eliminate through lifestyle changes.

 

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • Gender.  Sorry guys (what few of you might be reading)  …. just being male automatically increases your risk of heart disease.  However, it’s important to note that after menopause the risk of dying from a heart attack is higher in women, so we gals aren’t off the hook.
  • Increasing Age.  Since no one has found out how to stop aging this is something we will all have to deal with at some point.
  • Genetics.  Your family history is important when it comes to your own risk factors for CHD.  Having an immediate family member with a cardiac event before the age of 55 increases your risk.
  • Ethnicity.  African Americans have a higher risk of heart disease than Caucasians.

 

Modifiable Risk Factors

Now that we have talked about the things you can’t change, how about some things you can?

  • Stop smoking.  Smoking increases your risk for so many different disease but it greatly effects your risk of CHD.  Being around secondhand smoke is also an issue so watch out for that as well.
  • High blood pressure.  If you have hypertension you are at greater risk for heart disease.  Getting your blood pressure under control whether through lifestyle modifications or medication is important.  Prolonged high blood pressure can put a lot of strain on your heart over time.
  • Poor glycemic control.  If you are diabetic you are at higher risk for heart disease as well.  Keeping your blood sugar tightly controlled can help decrease your risk of this and other complications.
  • Inactivity.  Increasing your activity level is a great way to decrease your risk of heart disease as well as help control your blood pressure and reduce your chance of obesity.  Aim to exercise 30 minutes most days of the week.  The more vigorous the activity, the better!   But even walking for 30 minutes is beneficial.  However, before taking up any big change in your exercise routine (like marathon training) it is always a good idea to get an EKG first to check for any abnormal heart activity.
  • Obesity.  People who are overweight as at greater risk for heart disease.  When you are carrying more weight you are putting a greater work demand on your heart which can be problematic over time.  You are also at increased risk for diabetes.  Using proper nutrition and exercise to get to a healthy weight is essential.
  • High cholesterol.  Having abnormal cholesterol levels can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries which is often a precursor to heart disease.  I am going to go over how to interpret your cholesterol results on a different occasion.

 

There are many other factors that go into the development of heart disease and this just scratches the surface.  However, there are so many things each of us can do to help decrease the chance of us having cardiovascular problems in the future.  It’s never too early to start thinking about your heart health because many of these things can accumulate over time!  For more information you can check out the American Heart Association and I will be back next week with some more heart tidbits!

 

 

Why is heart health important to YOU?

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Game Changing Snacks with Blue Diamond

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Is anyone else sad that football season is about to come to a close?  While I am hugely disappointed that my Packers didn’t make it to the big game I am still excited to watch it since it’s being played at my home!  While I enjoy watching games throughout the season I have to admit … I do it mainly for the food –  #NoShame.   However I have to admit that most of the time my choices are less than stellar.  So when Blue Diamond offered me the chance to team up for healthier game day snacks you KNOW I was all over it.

Blue Diamond Healthy Game Day Snacking

 

Blue Diamond sent me two new-to-me flavors to try.  I am OBSESSED with the smokehouse.  In fact, I am thinking it would be the perfect addition to my beloved BBQ chicken salads.  The wasabi & soy sauce would be an excellent combination for an almond-crusted fish.  When it comes to healthy snacking though, these nuts are a great option to have on hand!

 

Blue Diamond Healthy Game Day Snacking 2

 

Almonds are full of amazing nutrients, are an excellent source of protein, and are a fantastic healthy fat to include in your diet.  Not to mention they are heart healthy!  Almonds are my “go to” throughout the day when I need a pick-me-up and they make a regular appearance as my driving home from school snack.  Therefore, having them for the big game sounds like a great idea!

 

In the meantime I am planning our recipes for our game day.  Here are a few other ones I am thinking about making to go with our Blue Diamond almonds.

 

Healthy Game Day Snacking

Zucchini Pizza Bites / Buffalo Cauliflower / Skinny Buffalo Dip /

Skinny Queso Dip / Sweet Potato & Avocado Bites 

 

 

What are your favorite healthy snacks for game day?

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