Hemp Seed: The New Chia Seed of 2014?

Hemp Seed the new Chia Seed of 2014

Listen up health nuts, there’s a new seed on the horizon called hemp seed!

So what is hemp seed? Hemp seeds are tiny round seeds about the size of a sesame seed and come from the hemp plant. These seeds are packed with essential fats, amino acids and protein. Hemp seed has more than double the amount of protein as chia seeds which makes it a great source for both vegans and vegetarians. One serving size of hemp seeds has 10 grams of protein compared to chia seeds which only hold about 3 grams of protein per serving. Hemp seeds also contain 50% of your daily dose of Magnesium (helps with nerve and muscle function) and Phosphorus (helps build strong bones and teeth).

Hemp Seeds

These protein packed seeds are a great addition to your morning oatmeal, afternoon smoothie  or dinner time soup! I personally like to throw them in my oatmeal, yogurt or granola for an extra protein boost in the morning to help keep me full until lunch.

What is your favorite way to eat hemp seeds?

Almond, Soy, Rice, Coconut? What’s the Difference?

Dairy-Free Milk Options

Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk… the list goes on and on. It seems like recently people are shying away from traditional cow’s milk and exploring different alternative options based on their dietary needs. Not only are alternative options equally beneficial to your health, they also tend to have a longer shelf life (score!).

So, why the switch? According to an article in USA Today, about 60% of the population is lactose intolerant (some more than others of course). People who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting lactose, which is the main sugar found in milk. Those who are lactose intolerant experience some not-so-pleasant symptoms such as bloating, nausea and upset stomach.

One way to avoid these symptoms altogether is to switch to an alternative dairy-free milk option. With so many option out in the market today I will go ahead and breakdown the four most common alternative milk products and their individual benefits.

Almond MilkAlmond milk tends to have a thicker consistency than regular milk, which people usually either love or hate. The benefits? When compared to regular milk, almond milk is lower in both calories and fat content. However, the calorie and fat content will vary across brands and type of almond milk you choose. For example, vanilla sweetened almond milk will be higher in calories than traditional unsweetened almond milk. Best part? Almond milk does not contain any saturated fat or cholesterol like cow’s milk (specifically whole milk)!

Cons: Low in protein; not suitable for those with nut allergies

Soy Milk – Soy milk has a very similar thick consistency like its fellow almond milk alternative. Also like almond milk, soy milk does not contain saturated fat which has been linked to heart disease. Soy milk is also considered high in protein and calcium like cow’s milk.

Cons: Some studies say that soy can increase breast cancer risks in women; not suitable for those with soy allergies.

Rice Milk– Rice milk has the closest consistency to milk and is not as thick as almond and soy milk. Rice milk also happens to be the best option for those with severe allergies. Additionally, rice milk has the lowest fat content of all the dairy-free milk options. One cup contains only 1 gram of fat and zero grams of saturated fat. Like almond and soy milk, rice milk is also cholesterol free!

Cons: Low in protein; not suitable for diabetics due to high amounts of carbohydrates.

Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk is another lactose free option, but probably the least healthy when compared to almond, soy and rice milk. Coconut Milk is high in fiber, vitamins C, E, B3, B5 and B6 as well as minerals such as iron, and calcium. Coconut milk does tend to be higher in fat than most alternative options, but can be healthy when consumed in moderation.

Cons: Low in protein, high in calories, high in fat, high in saturated fat

I am also one of “those people” who has chosen to switch to alternative milk options due to a very sensitive stomach, but I still consume some dairy products on occasion. I personally prefer the taste of almond milk and soy milk… vanilla almond milk and vanilla soy milk are delicious and I happen to like the thicker consistency. Both taste great in my morning coffee or smoothies!

What is your favorite dairy-free milk option?

Protein Bar 101: How to Pick the Perfect Protein Bar

How to pick the perfect protein bar

Ok, first things first: Why do we need protein in our diets? Our bodies need protein to structure and regulate our bodies cells, tissues and organs. Protein is broken down into two sub-categories based on amino acids which make up a protein: complete proteins and incomplete protein.

A complete protein provides all of the essential amino acids your body needs and is found in most animal-based foods:

  1. Meat
  2. Fish
  3. Chicken
  4. Eggs
  5. Dairy

An incomplete protein is low in one or more of the essential amino acids our bodies need to build cells and are often found in plant-based foods:

  1. Grains
  2. Nuts
  3. Beans
  4. Seeds

Getting your protein intake from natural foods is of course the healthiest way to make sure you are meeting your daily protein needs, but with our busy schedules sometimes a protein bar is the next best thing! However, what you think may be considered a healthy protein bar could turn out to be packed with hidden unhealthy ingredients. When I look for a protein bar I look for the following qualities: Ingredients, taste and protein content.

Quest Bars- How to pick the perfect protein bar

Quest Bars - Protein Bar 101

Whey protein isolate is considered a complete protein and is found in many of the protein bars on the market right now. One of my favorite protein bars right now containing whey protein isolate are Quest protein bars, particularly the white chocolate raspberry flavor. If you have not tried these yet, these are an absoulte must! Not only are these the best tasting protein bars I have ever tried, they also contain mostly healthy ingredients. One bar contains 190 calories,  20g of protein (combination of whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate) 17g of fiber and are low in sugar. Although these bars are great on occasion they do contain about 3.5g of saturated fat and substitute sugars (sucralose & stevia) which we want to consume in moderation. Quest bars are a little bit more difficult to find, but can be purchased at some 24 hour fitness locations, GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

Rise Bars- how to pick the perfect protein bar

Rise Bars- protein bar 101

Another protein bar I would recommend containing whey protein and mostly healthy ingredients are Rise protein + bars. These bars contain a very short list of ingredients. For example, the Crunchy Carob Chip bar contains only five ingredients: Agave, carob powder, whey protein isolate, crisp rice. This flavor bar contains 260 calories, 17g of protein, 5g of fiber and 13 grams of sugar. This bar does contain a good amount of fat as well (15g fat, 1 gram of saturated fat), so just be mindful and consume in moderation! You can find these tasty bars at your local Whole Foods.

Feel free to comment on what your favorite protein bars are right now!

The Pros & Cons of Juicing

Pros and Cons of Juicing

Juicing has recently gained increased popularity amongst the media and health/fitness communities. I personally have come across multiple juicing brands over the past few months such as BluePrintCleanse, Pressed Juicery and Project Juice (one of my favorites) that have been promoting their various types of cleanses. Being health conscious myself, I naturally felt the need to jump on the bandwagon try one of these juice bars out to see what all the buzz was about! It was not until I stepped into one of these juicing locations and saw the price tag of these juices, that I really had to step back and research the pros and cons of a juice cleanse.

Juicing Pros:

  1. Depending on the juice recipe, you can consume your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables in one bottle! Sounds enticing..
  2. Promises such as glowing skin, bright eyes, colon health by giving your body a break from solid foods and even increased energy! What’s not to love?!
  3. Last but not least, weight loss which seems like the #1 pro for most people who decide to tackle a juice cleanse.

Juicing Cons:

  1. Exorbitant pricing. One bottle of juice averages out to about $9-$10, where as juice cleanses will cost you about $75 a day! Eek!
  2. Bye bye to fiber, hello tummy grumbles. While some juice recipes may taste great, juicing extracts the fiber from your fruits and vegetables which is what helps keep us feeling full and satisfied.
  3. By relying on only food that can be juiced you are missing out on other vital food groups such as fish, meat and eggs (aka protein) which are important to your overall health and also help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.

After evaluating the pro’s and con’s I have formed my own personal opinion on the juicing craze. I think juicing does have its benefits as long as it is supplemented with some solid healthy foods. I think a juice cleanse may do the trick if you are trying to drop a couple pounds for an event, but it is not a good idea for weight maintenance. However, I am not totally against juicing. In fact, I am a huge fan, but I do tend to complement my juice with some solid food.  For example, I think a piece of grilled chicken and quinoa along with a healthy green juice would be a great idea for a well balanced lunch that will help keep you full until dinner. You could even grab a juice from a juice bar or make your own and consume it as a snack between lunch and dinner to help hold you over.

Because money does not grow on trees in my world (I wish), to combat the exorbitant juice bar pricing, I went ahead and invested in a juicer so I can make my own juice whenever I want! Juicers tend to range in price anywhere from $30-$500 dollars, depending on how serious you want to get and what kind of things you plan on juicing. I bought my juicer from Costco for about $100 and love it (http://amzn.to/LXzDrQ).  Below I have listed one of my favorite juicer recipes that is totally affordable and might I add delicious! 🙂

 Easy Homemade Juicing Recipe

My Favorite Juice Recipe:

1/2 Cucumber

3-4 Carrots

4 Celery Stalks

1 Apple

1 Pear

1/2 Lemon

Pour and enjoy!

Enriched vs. Fortified: There IS a Difference

Walking through the grocery store, people often see labels that say enriched with this or fortified with that, and they automatically think the product is healthy. But it is important to know the difference between fortified and enriched foods.

So, what does “enriched” really mean? Enriched foods mean the vitamins and minerals that were lost in the refining process are added back after the fact. For example, if you see a product that says enriched with iron, the iron originally found in the food was lost during the refining process and has now been added back. However, this also means that the food has gone through a refining process in the first place (stripping much of its original nutritional value), which should make you think twice about its health benefits now.

Fortified means that vitamins and/or minerals have been added to the food in addition to the level of vitamins or minerals that were naturally in the food before it went through the refining process.

Many of us get a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals through fortification or enrichment of foods. However, be careful of the foods you buy with these labels.  For example,  sugary cereals are now being fortified with different vitamins and minerals, but this does not make the mass amounts of sugar just go away.  Watch this video to find out more about fortified cereals and other natural foods that are beneficial to your health and help boost  immunity:

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal Of The Day

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If you want to start your day off right don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast in the morning boosts our metabolisms and provides us with the most energy to help us get through the day. Adults and children who don’t skip breakfast will not only feel more awake and energized, but will actually perform better in both school and the workplace. You may think that skipping breakfast will allow you ten more minutes of sleep in the morning, but the reality is that you will just end up feeling even more tired later because your body has no fuel to run off of.

Not only is it important to eat breakfast in the morning in general, but it is important to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast and not just a poptart as you run out the door. A meal with both fiber and protein will fill you up and keep you satisfied until lunch. An example of a balanced breakfast may be a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal with low fat milk and a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter (for some protein). You can even add fruit to your cereal to boost flavor and add natural sugars. Kashi has some great cereals full of fiber, protein and whole grains that I highly recommend, one of my favorite’s being Honey Sunshine cereal pillows which contains 6 grams of fiber, 20 grams of whole grains and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives.

Comment and share healthy breakfast suggestions!

Photo Credit:

Photo By <a target=’_blank’ href=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/42764227@N07/5412073662/’>Ashley Coombs</a> via <a href=”http://stockpholio.com/&#8221; target=”_blank”>StockPholio.com</a>