Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Double Chocolate Blueberry Brownies

These healthy brownies are a great source of protein and antioxidants. Fresh blueberries mingle with chocolate and rich cacao nibs dance among the sweetness!

1 package sugar free chocolate pudding 
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 container reduced sugar applesauce
1 t baking powder
1/2 c almond milk
1/2 c liquid egg white
6 oz fresh blueberries 
2 T cacao nibs 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat baking dish with coconut oil. Stir all ingredients in mixing bowl. Pour into baking dish. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Healthy Diet, Healthy Hair

Years ago my hair was down to my hips and extremely healthy. During college, I chopped 10+ inches and donated it to Locks of Love, anticipating that I would "grow it out, donate it...grow it out, donate it..." Yet, it never grew that long ever again.

In the years that followed, my hair was every color from bleach blonde to auburn, to "box color black." Yes, it was called "black" and came from a box. Scary stuff. It occurred to me that when it was its longest, I had never colored it. So last year, when I reassessed my budget ($100+ for a salon visit?!) and the time it took to blow dry, flat iron, and style my hair (only to put it up and get it all sweaty during my workouts), I decided to take on "Project Grow My Hair Out." While I am not a stylist, have never been to beauty school, and have learned only by experience and my own research, I have provided insight at to what has worked for me and has helped to grow my hair.

Avoid Coloring Your Hair
Hair color penetrates the hair shaft through the cuticle, which is the outermost layer of hair. Hydrogen peroxide, that is present in most hair dyes, opens the cuticle to let color pigments enter the shaft, bringing about a chemical reaction. However, an opened cuticle means that there will be a liberal loss of moisture, causing the hair to become dry and thin.

Avoid Flat Irons, Blow Dryers, and Heat
Continuous use of hot irons and blow dryers will cause the ends of your hair to dry out and become brittle. This will cause the ends of your hair to split, with no way of repair other than being cut off. To reduce the damage to your hair, towel dry until it is just damp, not dripping wet, then blow try after treating it with a heat-protectant product. Better yet, let it air dry. Use a mousse or conditioning oil to help tame frizz and let your natural waves or curls do their thing! I use a texturizing product called Beach Babe by Not Your Mothers (found at Ulta).

Sleep With Your Hair Down

It is best to sleep with your hair down because having it in a ponytail can result in damage and breakage to your hair, caused by the pulling and tautness of the elastic band.

Brush Hair When Dry, Comb Hair When Wet

Wet hair is much more fragile and susceptible to damage than dry hair. Fine toothed combs and brushes forces the hair and stretches it, usually causing it to break off when placed under too much stress. The best way to detangle is with a wide-toothed comb.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Here is a list of healthy foods that will provide the nutrients you need to grow healthy hair (www.webmd.com).
1. Salmon

Besides being rich in protein and vitamin D (both are key to strong hair) the omega-3 fatty acids found in this tasty cold-water fish are the true superstar. Your body can't make those fatty acids, which your body needs to grow hair. About 3% of the hair shaft is make up of these fatty acids. Omega-3s are also found in cell membranes in the skin of your scalp, and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.

2. Walnuts

These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They're also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Since your hair rarely gets much shielding from the sun, this is especially great. Too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous.

3. Oysters

Oysters are rich in zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss (even in your eyelashes), as well as a dry, flaky scalp. Three ounces has a whopping 493% of your daily value. You can get some zinc through fortified cereals and whole grain breads, but oysters can boast a good level of protein too. Without enough protein, your body can't replace the hairs that you naturally shed every day and what you do make can be dry, brittle, or weak.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, and being low on vitamin A can even leave you with itchy, irksome dandruff. Click here previous blog for my Sweet Potato Fries recipe!

5. Eggs

A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron (anemia) is a major cause of hair loss, particularly in women.

6. Spinach

The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.

7. Lentils

Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.

8. Greek yogurt

Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid -- an ingredient you'll often see on hair care product labels), and vitamin D. Emerging research links vitamin D and hair follicle health, but exactly how that works isn't clear.

9. Blueberries

Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C, C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.

10. Poultry

This everyday entree is extraordinary when it comes to protein, as well as hair-healthy zinc, iron, and B vitamins to keep strands strong and plentiful. Because hair is nearly all protein, foods rich in protein are literally giving you the building blocks for hair.

Schedule a Trim Every 6-8 Weeks
While I have not followed through with this one as much as I would like, it is very important to keep the split ends to a minimum. If you cannot afford to go to a full service salon this frequently, do what I do and visit Great Clips or Super Cuts for "maintenance" trims and visit the salon every few months for a more stylized cut.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Benefits of Protein

Whether you are an athlete, a fitness newbie, and/or trying to become healthier, there are several reasons why you can benefit from whey protein. Whey protein is a quick digesting source of muscle fuel, not only after workouts, but throughout the day.  Visit Vitamin Shoppe for a variety of protein options. Shipping is free with your purchase of $25 or more.

Lose Fat
Protein is a thermogenic food. Thermogenic foods may help increase metabolism and calorie burning by enhancing thermogenesis, a process in which the body burns calories to utilize the foods you have just eaten, converting those calories to heat. Your body mainly burns calories consumed through maintaining its regular metabolic functions and through physical activity; however, a small percentage, about 10 percent, of calories are burned through diet-induced thermogenesis (livestrong.com). Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbs or fats. Protein helps to maintain muscle mass, which aids in fat burning.

Increase Muscle
Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids. Whey is quick digesting because it bypasses the liver and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why it is recommend to consume whey protein immediately after training. The more muscle you have, the more energy your body needs, and the more calories you will burn--even at rest.

Reduce Hunger
Two recent studies from Purdue demonstrate the satisfying nature of lean protein. In one study, female participants who took in about 30% of their calories from lean protein felt more satisfied and maintained muscle mass better than another group that ate less protein (webmd.com). This may be due to a hormone known as peptide YY (PYY).

Improve Your Hair, Skin and Nails
Protein intake is important for many reasons, notably when it comes to hair, skin and nails. They are made of structural proteins so adequate is important for providing the building blocks for growing strong hair and nails.

Improve Your Immune System

Protein is responsible for jump starting chemical reactions in the body, serves as a structural component of all cells and regulates the immune system. It is composed of the 20 amino acids your body needs for growth and repair, and some of these amino acids appear to be particularly important for immune functioning. The amino acids called glutamine and arginine are being considered as nutrition therapy in pre-surgery patients because of their ability to stimulate the immune system (whfoods.com).

How Much Protein Do I Need?
According to webmd, adults are encouraged to get 10 to 35% of their daily calories from protein. That's about 46g for women, 56g for men. However, this is not the same for athletes. Most sports involve breaking down muscle and repairing it afterward. So the protein needs of active people are influenced by the length, frequency, and intensity of their workouts.

Click here for more information about personal training and online training.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Quest Nutrition Bars

Purchase your Quest bars at Vitamin Shoppe; spend $25 and shipping is FREE!

These are BY FAR my favorite protein bar...I've been known to sneak them into ball parks, holiday parties, and there's always one in my glove compartment. My favorite has always been Cookie Dough, but that recently changed when I tried Cookies & Cream...it's like an OREO COOKIE.

Quest bars are a great source of whey isolate protein which has been shown to increase muscle mass, aid in the loss of body fat, enhance immune function and much more. They're gluten free and contain 17g of fiber too so they'll keep you full! Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in the bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Four Ingredient Protein Pizza - Gluten Free!

Yes, it's true. And easy! And healthy! I've made something similar before, in the microwave. But to be blog-worthy, I decided to use the oven. Chances are you may already have the ingredients to make this. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine equal parts liquid egg white and brown rice flour. 

Coat a pan with olive oil to prevent sticking (ok, there's a 5th ingredient) and pour/spread "dough" onto it.  Don't fret, he dough will likely be a little runny before it is baked.

Top with sauce, cheese, and whatever yumminess you like. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!