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Beat your Budget with a Garden

NCES GardenSpring is here! Well, if you’re here with us in the Midwest, it doesn’t feel like it though. Regardless, April is Garden Month and we’re going to celebrate rain or shine… or snow, or sleet, or hail! Planting a garden is one of the best things you can do for your health, and your budget. I can’t tell you how often I hear the complaint “I can’t afford to eat healthy”. Although I think there are many options for making eating healthy affordable, growing your own vegetable garden is one of the best solutions to eating healthy on a budget.

Did you know that you can go to Amazon and order a pack of tomato seeds for around $2? Depending on where you get your seeds, the quality and how many you get, the price will vary. But, either way, $2 for an entire growing season of tomatoes is pretty affordable. Plus, if you grow them without the use of any pesticides, your tomatoes will be completely organic. You would pay a premium for that at the store!

Other vegetables that are great for growing in your garden at home include lettuce, onions, radishes, peppers and green beans. With some of these, such as lettuce or onions, they will only produce the consumable vegetable once. But, if you plant them early enough in the season, you can often replant after your first batch and have time to grow a second batch before the end of the growing season.

It’s easy to see why April is Garden Month. This is the best time to get your vegetable garden planted in order to see great results throughout the summer! Just remember, vegetable gardens need water. Be sure to cultivate your garden to keep it weed free and fully hydrated throughout the hot summer months.

By the way, if you’re wondering where we come up with all of our nutrition themes for the blog, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food, Nutrition & Health department creates this calendar each month. It’s a great free resource that you can use to create themes for the material you use with your clients. You can find the calendar at http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/april

We’ve also created a printable desktop calendar for May using the UNL calendar. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free. Go check it out today! http://www.ncescatalog.com/May-2013-Foodie-Calendar_p_1230.html

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Fill your Plate with Colorful Foods

 

As spring shows its beautiful face, it seems more appropriate than ever to fill our plates with colorful foods. Right now, fruits and vegetables are starting to show up in the grocery store with a new found sense of purpose! Their more colorful, more flavorful and fuller than they’ve been in quite a few months. So, let’s take advantage of the season and eat healthy!

We all know that, according to MyPlate, we should fill half our plate with fresh fruits and veggies. But, as we all know, it’s just hard to do that in the winter. We find ourselves having to get more creative to get the fruits and veggies that we need. But, this time of year, throw creativity out the window and start slicing up fresh foods to fill your plate. Plus, spring encourages us to go RAW… getting back to the basics. One of our RAW-10 Steps to Reducing America’s Waistline- tips is to avoid processed and prepackaged foods. So, in light of that and in celebration of spring, we’ve decided to share a few of our favorite RAW
recipes with you! Plus, if you haven’t had a chance to view our RAW tear pad, now is a great time. This handout will help you teach patients about the importance of ‘getting back to the basics’ by enjoying fresh foods and physical activity.

Snap Bean–Corn Salad with Yellow Tomato Vinaigrette
Source: Delish.com

Grilled Chicken and Garden Vegetable Penne Pasta with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Source: MidwestLiving.com

Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken with Blackberries
Source: Health.com

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Top 5 Summer Foods to Enjoy Before their Gone

As we all know, summer is here! We’ve all been feeling the relentless heat that the summer of 2012 has thrown our way! If nothing else, you can look through our past few blog posts and hear us rant and rave about the heat this summer! So today, we’re turning it around… we’re taking lemons and making lemonade! Today, we want to share with you our top summer foods to enjoy before their gone! Before we know it, winter will be here and all the amazing fresh fruits & veggies that we enjoy all summer will be nothing but a memory, or a hard, flavorless grocery store imitation! So, enjoy these top picks while you still can!

  1. Peaches – Has anybody ever told you, “You’re a Peach!”? If so, you should be flattered! Peaches are sweet, flavorful and unique to their core. Enjoy one today because they are at the peak of their season right now!
  2. Tomatoes – Umm… BLT! Need we say more! Although great by themselves, adding a freshly picked tomato to your favorite sandwich or salad is sure to make your mouth happy!
  3. Blueberries – Talk about the perfect snack! Once you pop… the fun won’t stop! And, with these little guys, the fun doesn’t have to stop! You can pop as many as you want without counting fat or calories.
  4. Cherries – And we’re not talking maraschino here folks! When was the last time you bit in to a fresh, unprocessed, Bing cherry? They are in season now and give those jarred guys a run for their money on sweetness!
  5. Cucumbers – Although probably not a vegetable that you always think to turn to, cucumbers are a great addition to many recipes. Sliced or diced, a fresh cucumber can be added to any summer salad for a splash of unique flavor!

Well, that’s it! Our list of top summer foods! What’s on your list? We’re always up for trying new ideas, foods and recipes! Share your favorite summer foods with us right here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! If it’s reasonable, we promise we’ll try it! We hope you enjoy these fresh, flavorful and fun foods! Come back and let us know what you think!

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Summer Fun: How to Stay Hydrated, Healthy & Happy

It’s finally here! The summer vacation, float trip or trip to the lake that you spent all winter planning has finally arrived. Or, maybe your just excited to be spending every day at the pool to make up for all the vitamin D that your body missed all winter! Either way, outdoor activities are a lot of fun. The problem is, they take their toll on our bodies. As with anything, the sun sucks the H2O right out of our bodies, leaving us dehydrated. So, what can you do this summer to keep your body hydrated, healthy and happy? Here are our dietitians Top 3 tips for hydration in the heat!

  1. Monitor how much water you are consuming by time! As we’ve said in previous blogs, be sure to drink at least 8 oz. of water for every 30 minutes that you spend outside!
  2. Monitory how much water you are consuming in relation to alcoholic beverages! Alcohol assists the sun in drying out your body. So, if you are consuming alcohol, you need to be sure to offset the effects with plenty of water. Follow up every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.
  3. Keep an eye on your body’s signals! Many people wait until they feel thirsty to begin consuming water. If you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. So, continuously drink water throughout the day to remain hydrated. If you begin to feel thirsty, find a cool place and relax over a glass of water to get your body back on track.

Everybody wants to get out and enjoy these warm30. summer rays! Just make sure you are doing it responsibly. As with everything in life, the sun is great for us in moderation! So, make sure you plan time in the sun; but also plan time to get a break from the sun. Consume plenty of water! You’ll feel better and your body will function better!

Need some help teaching ‘Sun Safety’? This Thursday, we’ll be releasing our July Free Download, focused on the hydration tips featured in this blog. Sign up for our HealthLinks Newsletter to be the first to know when the download is available!

For more health & nutrition information, be sure to follow us on Facebook & Twitter. Plus, share this blog with your network. Let’s spread the word to build a healthier community!

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Getting Fit Without the Heat

For much of the U.S., the insatiable summer heat has taken a break! Here in KC, we’ve traded in our triple digit temps for much cooler 90° days! Although these temps make walking from the parking lot in to a building much more bearable, it’s still not quite cool enough to get excited about heading outside for any kind of workout. So, this summer, we’re bringing it inside for you! Brought to you from one of our favorite fitness guides, Fit In 5, here are 6 workouts that will keep you up to speed with your fitness goals throughout the summer. (Note: All workouts given below are Medium intensity. The book also includes easy and hard intensity workouts.)

5 Minute Workouts

Core Strength and Stability

  • Lie face down with arms out to the sides and elbows bent at 90°
  • Lift the left arm and right leg simultaneously and hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the start position
  • Life the right arm and left leg simultaneously and hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the start position

Repeat 20 Times

Glutes, abs and thighs

  • Stand with legs together
  • Take a large step to the left
  • Squat down with feet turned out, keeping your back straight and looking forward
  • Step to the right, returning to a standing position
  • Repeat the steps above, moving to the right

Repeat 20 Times

10 Minute Workouts

Lower Body Strength & Power (Squat & Jump Squat)

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms crossed on your chest
  • Keeping the back straight and looking forward, bend the legs to 90°
  • Return to the start position

Repeat 20 Times

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and looking forward
  • Squat down about 90° and then jump vertically upward as high as you can

Repeat 20 Times continuously without resting between

Upper Body Strength & Power (Push-Up_& Abdominal Curl)

  • Start with legs bent and knees together on the floor and arms outstretched with hand shoulder-width apart on the floor
  • Form a straight line from your head to your knees
  • Lower your body to the floor
  • When the arms are at 90°, pause and straighten the arms

Repeat 20 Times

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs bent at 90°
  • Place your hands across your chest, each touching the opposite shoulder
  • Lift your head and shoulders toward your knees
  • Left your shoulders about 20 cm off the floor and return slowly to the start position

Repeat 20 times

30 Minute Workouts

Treadmill

  • 3-minute easy walk
  • 2-minute medium walk
  • 1-minute jog

Repeat 5 times

Swim

  • 10-minute easy to medium
  • 10 laps (2 lengths hard, 30 seconds rest)
  • 10-minute easy to medium

Like what you see? There’s a lot more where that came from. This book also includes pictures with each workout to help with any instructions that you’re unsure about. Once you choose your exercise, you can adjust the intensity to fit your needs. Plus, with weekly training programs, you can use this book to reach your exercise goals, up to 150 minutes per week.

Still need more incentive? How about a super-exclusive 20% off coupon code just for you, our Health Beat fans! Simply enter the code ‘healthbeat’ at checkout to receive your discount. Click here to start your order today! Oh, and hurry! Supplies are limited and the coupon is valid while supplies last.

Don’t forget to come back to the blog, or visit on Facebook or Twitter to share your thoughts on these great exercises! Plus, what are you doing to stay fit this summer? Share your ideas with everyone!

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Top 3 Summer Super Foods

Were you able to stay out of the hospital this 4th of July? For many, this hot summer holiday is an excuse to act crazy and forget all the rules! Unfortunately, our bodies are still paying attention to all the rules! Not only are the fireworks themselves dangerous, but the heat that always accompanies the 4th of July can pose its own health hazards if we don’t pay attention to our bodies signals and take necessary precautions to keep our bodies healthy. This year, it’s no different! In fact, many portions of the country are facing record-breaking heat this summer.

We have spent some time this morning discussing our 4th of July party menus and chosen the top 3 foods that we were glad we included on the menu! As we all know, there is a major heat wave sweeping the entire U.S. So, it’s extremely important this year to pay attention to the food and drinks that we’re consuming! Here’s a list of our Top 3 super foods to include on your summer party menu.

  1. Water is the #1 super food on our list because your body needs it! Did you know that our bodies are made up of about 60% water?  This means that when you start to get dehydrated, over half of your body begins to go in to shock… It can’t function correctly without this water. So, while you’re out enjoying your summer activities, remember to drink plenty of water! The daily recommendation is 64 oz. But, if you’re going to be out in this heat, our dietitian recommends you drink 8 oz. of water for every 30 minutes you spend outside. Drink up!

Tip: Are you struggling to drink all the water that is recommended? Try adding some light flavor, in the form of fresh fruit, to your water. The light, sweet flavor should help you enjoy your water!

  1. Summer is here and the produce is fresh! So, take advantage of it and be sure to set out plenty of green, leafy vegetables! These vegetables help provide the vitamins and nutrients that help our bodies stay strong. Plus, they are heavily composed of water. So, they won’t dehydrate our bodies by eating them.

Tip: Looking for a fun way to serve leafy greens? Serve a spinach salad with a fresh sliced apple and dried cranberries. Top it with a sweet, fruity dressing like strawberry vinaigrette… your guests will be singing your praises for weeks!

 

  1. As we’ve alluded to in the previous two tips, fresh berries are an extremely popular superfood this time of year. Fresh fruits, like blueberries and blackberries, make great snacks and are a much better choice than chips or candy. They are great for adding flavor to recipes as well. Plus, making desserts using fresh fruits usually eliminates any need for added sugar. Just remember, the possibilities are endless when it comes to adding fruit to any part of your menu.

Tip: Most berries are currently in season, so there is no better time to start building them in to your menu. Try visiting your local farmers market for the freshest, most flavorful berries.

What are your summer super foods? As always, we love to hear from you, our readers! So, leave your comments here on the blog or visit us on Facebook or Twitter! We look forward to hearing from you!

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Bye, Bye Summer… Hello Fall!

Okay, it’s with mixed emotions that we would like to point out that summer is almost over. We just celebrated Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Hopefully you were able to celebrate poolside with friends and family close by! Our grill was full of summer favorites like hamburgers, grilled chicken and asparagus accompanied by fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.  Now, though, it is time to start looking ahead to fall and the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are soon to be fresh and in-season!

The scents of fall are often centered around pumpkins and flavorful spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s no wonder because fall is notorious for its various types of squash. These vegetables thrive during this time of year. So, take advantage of it. Winter squash, as this variety is commonly known, are a great source of antioxidants, , as well as Vitamins A & C and dietary fiber which is great for our digestive systems.

Another great use for many winter squashes  are their seeds. Baking the seeds with your choice of flavoring makes a great, low-fat snack. Simply baking pumpkin seeds with a light amount of salt provides an inexpensive snack that you can enjoy on-the-go, or send to school with the kids!

Peaches are a great fruit that thrive in the fall. These fruits are freshest, juiciest and just plain yummiest during this time of year. There are many ways to enjoy a peach. However, we still contend that slicing up a fresh peach and savoring the flavor as you bite in to each slice is the best way to enjoy this fruit! You can also whip up some of the traditional peach recipes including peach cobblers and pies, as well as fresh peach preserves. However, it’s always fun to think outside the box. Sweeten up your salad a bit too! Try making your own poppy seed dressing and tossing it with fresh lettuce and diced peaches. This recipe is sure to be a decadent treat for your palette.

So, as disappointed as we are that summer is coming to an end, this bittersweet moment opens up the door for a new season; fall! This fall, take some time to enjoy all the fruits and vegetables the season has to offer! You may be surprised at how much you’ll love what you find! Plus, always remember, according to the new USDA guidelines and MyPlate, half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. So, why not fill it with fresh, fun seasonal fruits and veggies!