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Herbs and Spices: The Secret Spice To Clean Eating

Herbs and Spices: The Secret Spice To Clean Eating

Herbs and Spices: The Secret Spice To Clean Eating

Healthy, whole foods get a bad rap when it comes to flavor.

“Eating clean” often gets associated with eating “bland” — especially among fitness buffs, bodybuilders and athletes who think that a good “training diet” consists of meal-after-repetitive-meal of oatmeal, boiled chicken breast, yams, steamed broccoli and green side salads with some kind of fat-free liquid on top that calls itself “dressing.”

The good news is that there is actually a simple solution to making clean eating not just tolerable, but enjoyable — and it’s as close as your grocer’s baking isle: Herbs and spices.

Herbs and Spices: The Key To Making Clean Eating Enjoyable

Any cook worth their salt knows that a recipe or dish isn’t complete until it’s been seasoned.

“Seasoning” could simply mean adding some salt and ground pepper, but more often than not, it includes the use of all kinds of other herbs or spices to either layer additional flavor on top of a food, enhance or complement an existing flavor, or provide a contrast.

While it’s pretty hard to screw up a dish or recipe by adding the wrong herb or spice, it does pay to know your seasonings ahead of time to avoid some funky combinations that might send that brown rice to your dog’s bowl, versus your plate.

Herbs and Spices: Not Just For Flavor, But Also Healthy

Herbs and spices also have an additional role in healthy, clean eating beyond simply seasoning foods, recipes or dishes.

Nearly all herbs and spices have very high concentrations of healthy phytochemicals and antioxidants. Scientists believe that these naturally-occurring plant compounds work together in the body to protect tissues and cells from damage and may help prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease.

When you combine herbs and spices with other antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, their protective properties may be enhanced even more, similar to The Portfolio Diet approach to cholesterol-reduction observed by researchers like David Jenkins at the University of Toronto.

Just how much antioxidant punch do certain herbs and spice have? Plenty.

In fact, oregano, that ubiquitous herb found in nearly every batch of pizza or spaghetti sauce is one of nature’s most concentrated sources of antioxidants, having four times more antioxidants than blueberries. Just one tablespoon of dried oregano has the antioxidant content of a large apple.

Herbs and spices can also have beneficial medicinal uses, in addition to simply making your food taste better.

For instance, ginger aids digestion and can calm nausea and even alleviate motion sickness. Fennel and juniper berries can help with fat digestion, and cinnamon has been shown to help reduce cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity, helping people better digest sugar. It also may lessen the symptoms of certain inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

So herbs and spices don’t just make your food taste better, they’re good for you as well.

Herbs-And-Spices

What Are Herbs and Spices?

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are derived from plants that have medicinal properties, or flavor or scent qualities.

There are some herbs that are used exclusively for medicinal purposes, but many herbs have both medicinal and culinary uses. Strictly speaking, cooking herbs (also know as “culinary herbs”) are usually either the fresh or dried leaves of certain plants, such as basil, thyme or oregano. Spices are typically made from the seeds, berries, bark or roots of select plants, shrubs or trees, for example cinnamon, nutmeg or fennel.

Herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to season and preserve food.

Some spices, because of their scarcity or because they needed to be shipped thousands of miles from far-flung corners of the earth, were literally worth their weight in gold and became a kind of currency.

Their ability to make bland foods taste better made them highly prized — especially in Europe – and an entire industry (the spice trade) emerged in the 8th Century to ferry spices from India and Asia back to the continent. It’s estimated that by the Late Middle Ages, nearly 2,000 tons of pepper and other spices were being shipped back to Western Europe each year.

Herbs and Spices Basics for Clean Eating: A List

The trick to successfully using herbs and spices in your clean eating diet, cooking and recipes is knowing a little bit about these seasonings, and the foods that they best complement. Over the centuries, certain herbs and spices have come to be associated with different styles of cooking (for example, Italian, Mexican or Asian) groups of foods (poultry, vegetables, rice) and even individual dishes or specific types of meat or vegetables.

The easiest way to start using herbs and spices in your clean eating recipes is to understand the main groupings by style, which will help you choose which seasonings are right for your dishes.

Italian Herbs

Italian Herbs

The traditional Italian seasonings are:

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • ​Sweet marjoram
  • ​Fresh parsley
  • Bay leaves​
  • ​Sage
  • Rosemary
  • ​Fennel Seeds (which give Italian sausage it’s distinct “licorice”-like flavor.)
  • ​Red pepper flakes (you know, the things in the shaker at Pizza Hut)
  • Garlic, fresh or dried/powdered (NOT garlic salt.)

Oregano, basil and fresh parsley all go very well with any type of tomato-based pasta sauce. Adding marjoram or rosemary can also give a unique flavor to tomato sauces. With the exception of fennel, almost all of these herbs can also be used as coatings on meats, pork and chicken. They can also be used to season marinades and homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes.

Use these herbs and spices alone, or together, to bring an Italian flavor to your foods.

French Herbs and Spices

French Herbs and Spices

The French use a wide-range of seasonings in their dishes, and the actual herbs and spices that you’ll find in French cooking vary greatly from region to region. For example, in the north of France you’ll find seasonings that have more in common with German cooking, and in the south, Italian.

The traditional French seasonings include:

  • Tarragon (which has a licorice like flavor)
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • ​Sage
  • Parsley​
  • Chives
  • ​Chervil
  • ​Marjoram

Tarragon goes especially well with chicken and carrots. Thyme, rosemary and sage are also great on poultry and lean cuts of pork. Marjoram is a staple in potato-based soups. Most of these herbs and spices also taste fantastic on steamed veggies and can be used to season oil and vinegar dressings.

Greek/Eastern European Spices and Herbs

Greek/Eastern European Spices and Herbs

Both Oregano and Paprika are very common in Greek and Eastern European dishes. Oregano and garlic are the base for most traditional Greek seasoning mixes, and Paprika finds its way into lots of Eastern European foods, especially the famous “Hungarian Goulash” which is loaded with Paprika. Paprika comes in different “heats” called “sharpness” in the spice industry. Sweet paprika is exactly what the name implies, with “sharp paprika” being hotter and more pungent.

Mexican Herbs and Spices

Mexican Herbs and Spices

The main seasonings in Mexican cooking are:

  • Cumin
  • Oregano (the Mexican variety, if you can find it)
  • Cilantro (typically fresh)
  • Various types of dried chiles and peppers, including cayenne pepper, chile powder (actually a blend of different chiles and spices) and ground ancho peppers.
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon
  • ​Epazote, a unique herb, which is often added to beans to improve their digestibility

All of these seasonings can be used on meats and poultry, in beans and even in rice.

Asian Herbs and Spices

Asian Herbs and Spices

Asian cooking uses a lot of “savory” spices and seasonings that give heat. Again, Asia is a huge continent and there is a lot of variation in seasoning depending on region (for example South East Asia compared to China or Japan.) A typical Asian spice rack would have the following:

  • Garlic
  • Ginger (fresh or dried)
  • Cinnamon
  • Powdered chiles
  • Turmeric
  • Star Anise
  • ​Sichuan Peppercorns
  • Cardamom

Jamaican/Caribbean Herbs and Spices

Jamaican/Caribbean Herbs and Spices

If you’ve ever visited Jamaica or the Carribbean, you’ll be familiar with the region’s signature dish: Jerk.

Jerk is a style of barbequing that uses a distinct spice mixture to season all kinds of foods, including chicken, fish, pork, goat (yes, goat), and vegetables.

Jerk seasoning is a combination of herbs and spices, that are common in Caribbean cooking, including:

  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Scotch Bonnet Peppers
  • Cloves
  • Scallions
  • Nutmeg
  • Thyme​
  • Garlic

Indian Spices and Curries

Indian Spices and Curries

India was one of the earliest sources of exotic spices. Indian cooking is famous for its curries, which are really just different combinations of spices used to flavor vegetables, rice and meats.

Curries are often family recipes handed down from generation-to-generation. While you can purchase already-blended curries, you can also try making your own by combining the following spices and herbs:

  • Turmeric
  • Dried mustard
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • ​Fenugreek
  • Dried chiles
  • Black Pepper
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Mace
  • ​Cloves
  • Cardamom

Curries can be used to season all kinds of meats, as well a vegetables and especially rice dishes.

The main ingredient in curry is Turmeric, a spice that has been shown to have extremely high antioxidant properties and the active ingredient in turmeric — Curcumin — is being studied as a possible treatment for a number of diseases, including inflammatory disease and certain types of cancers.

Matching Herbs and Spices to Foods

Certain herbs and spices complement or enhance different types of food. Knowing which seasonings go with which foods can help you make the most of herbs and spices in your clean eating diet:

  • Chicken & Poultry: Thyme, rosemary, sage; curry spices, jerk spices, most asian spices
  • Rice: Thyme, rosemary, marjoram; cumin, most curries, Saffron (expensive but worth the splurge now and then)
  • Pastas: Most traditional Italian seasonings as well as Asian seasonings, especially red pepper and chile powders
  • Lean Pork: Thyme, rosemary and sage; jerks and curries; Asian seasonings
  • Steak/Red Meat: Most herbs and spices can give interesting flavors to beef, bison and other cuts of red meat. Creole or Cajun mixtures (usually a combination of thyme, red pepper, celery seed, white and black pepper, basil, oregano, paprika and garlic and onion powder) are great general seasonings for steaks. Celery seed, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and thyme are also traditional seasonings for red meat, especially roasted beef.
  • Fish and Seafood: Dill is a common herb used on fish, but most spice mixtures will work well with fish and seafood. For a taste of Nantucket, try something like Old Bay seasoning on fish and especially things like shrimp or crab. Creole and Cajun spices also are outstanding on fish like catfish and tilapia.
  • Potatoes: Try any blend of Italian or French herbs and spices, as well as curries
  • Beans: Most Italian and Mexican spices are great complements to bean dishes; Epazote is always interesting to try in Mexican bean dishes
  • Green Vegetables (Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans, etc.): Italian, French and Asian Seasonings
  • Cabbage: Caraway seeds are traditional in many cabbage dishes, and can help aid with digestion.
  • Carrots: Most Italian, French and Asian spices, as well as tarragon, which is fantastic with carrots.
  • Salad Dressings: Asian, French and Italian seasonings all make great additions to salad dressings and vinegarettes

Tips for Using Herbs and Spices

  • A little goes a long way. Don’t overdue the amount of herbs or spices you use to season a dish. As you get more experienced cooking with them, you can get a better feel for when and where you can “kick it up a notch”
  • Dried herbs are generally more concentrated than fresh, so if a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you substitute dried, you’ll need to adjust down the amount of dried herbs you use. Typically, if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons fresh herbs, you’ll want to substitute 3/4 teaspoon dried, or 1/4 teaspoon powdered.
  • Store dried herbs in a cool, dark location. Spice racks are actually the worst place you can store dried herbs and spices, since they are usually located in the kitchen, where it’s warm and bright. The best location is in the freezer, where herbs and spices can literally stay fresh for years is stored correctly.
  • If you use a spice rack, only keep what you’ll use in a month or two in the rack — store the rest of the herbs and spices in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Before adding herbs and spices to dishes or recipes, rub the seasonings together between your fingers to release the flavor; if you can’t smell the scent over the herb or spice after doing this, it’s probably old.
  • If you use whole bay leaves to season dishes, make sure you remove them prior to serving. Bay leaves can get lodged in the digestive track and cause gastro-intestinal blockage. Powdered bay leaves, however, are fine.
  • When using fresh herbs, treat them gently and whenever possible store them in a glass of water (like you would with flowers) in the refrigerator.
  • ​When chopping fresh herbs like basil, tarragon, parsley or chives, make sure to use a sharp knife to avoid “bruising” the herbs, or get an herb chopper.
  • Most fresh herbs are best added right before serving. For example, if you add fresh basil to sauces early-on, the basil will become limp and flavorless by the time the dish is ready to serve. Instead, add them on top of the pasta at the table.
10 Best Foods To Eat For Healthy Life

10 Best Foods To Eat For Healthy Life

10 Best Foods To Eat For Healthy Life

Cleaning up your diet and eating healthier is often just a matter of knowing where to start.

Unfortunately, many people think that a healthy diet is only about removing foods, not adding them in.

This list of the 10 Best Foods to Eat focuses on what you should be eating, not on what you shouldn’t eat.

All of the foods below are nutritionally-dense and are loaded with either antioxidants, lean protein, fiber or heart-healthy fats. In some cases, they’ll have all four.

Even better, most of the foods on this list are low in calories compared to their volume, which means you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied after eating them.

Remember, this list is intended as a starting point — there are tons of other healthy foods out there that could easily have been included. Share your best healthy food choices with us in the comment section below.

The 10 Best Healthy Foods To Eat

Egg Whites

Egg Whites

Egg whites are one of the most concentrated, easily-absorbed forms of lean protein on the planet.

Low-in-fat, but high in protein, egg whites can be a great addition to a healthy diet. Whip them up into omelets, scrambled eggs or even fold them into your morning oatmeal for a protein booster.

To get some of the health benefits of the egg yolk, without too much additional saturated fat and cholesterol, try using one whole egg with three to four egg whites. Egg whites are not only high in protein, but also riboflavin and micronutrients like selenium which may have anti-cancer properties.

Oatmeal and Oats

Oatmeal and Oats

Speaking of breakfast, oatmeal, oats or oat bran are one of the best food choices to start your day off right.

Oatmeal is high in fiber — including the soluble form of fiber than can help sweep cholesterol from the body. It also has plenty of slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates that keep your energy levels up and your blood sugar stable.

Oatmeal is also one of the four foods included in the Portfolio Diet, an approach to eating that has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels as effectively as statin drugs.

Avoid the pre-flavored, pre-packaged instant varieties (although regular instant oatmeal is fine in a pinch) that contain lots of added sugar.

Opt instead for quick oats, old fashioned oats, steel-cut or boxed oat bran. Each of these varieties will have a slightly different texture, so experiment around to see what works for you.

Also, don’t forget that granola is made from oats and makes a great cold breakfast cereal when paired with skim milk. Again, try to choose low-sugar varieties of packaged granola (like Bear Naked Fit) or make your own low-sugar homemade granola at home.

Beans

Beans

Canned, dried or re-fried, it doesn’t matter, beans are wicked good for you.

Like oatmeal, beans are extremely high in fiber, which keeps you regular and may also reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

Beans are also very versatile and come in a wide range of varieties, all with slightly different textures and flavors.

The best approach is to eat a variety of different beans, including black beans, pintos, kidney beans, cannellini beans and Garbanzos (chickpeas).

Why?

Because along with that protein and fiber, beans are also very high in antioxidants, the chemicals which give beans their distinctive color and may help neutralize free radicals that can cause cellular damage in the body. By eating plenty of different colored beans, you are taking advantage of the full spectrum of phytochemicals unique to each variety.

Beans are very versatile and can be added into all kinds of recipes. Including them alongside grain-based foods (like pasta) or rice results in a complete protein. Beans can be added to pasta dishes, rices, soups and even made into salads.

Quinoa

Quinoa

This ancient staple of the Inca Civilization is one of the healthiest grains you can eat.

Not technically a grain, but rather a seed, Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has started to pop up in cookbooks and on restaurant menus, thanks to it’s broader availability in grocery stores. Look for it in the rice or organic/natural food isle at the grocery store or health food store.

An excellent substitute for brown rice, quinoa has a light, fluffy texture that makes it a great base for cold salads and tabbouleh, or as a warm breakfast cereal or a side pilaf.

It’s relatively high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and is one of the only plant-based foods to have all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s available in red, black, white and yellow varieties and there are even quinoa flakes available that make a tasty and creamy breakfast cereal.

Fish

Omega-3

Fish has always been a great source of lean protein for people who are fortunate enough to live near water.

However, aside from canned and frozen fish, fresh fish wasn’t widely available to landlubbers until a few decades ago, when improvements in shipping made it possible for even people in Kansas to get fresh fish at the grocer.

What’s so great about fish?

Fish is high in polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids — specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)– a class of healthy fats that research has shown may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. These healthy oils in fish can also improve circulation, discourage blood clots, reduce blood pressure, alleviate some symptoms of acute and chronic inflammatory disease, as well as possibly improve mood.

While fresh fish is preferable, don’t forget about frozen fish as well as canned varieties like salmon, tuna and mackerel which can make it easier and more convenient to include more fish in your diet. Canned fish is higher in sodium, so if that’s a concern go easy on the canned, and opt instead for frozen or fresh.

Almonds (and other Nuts)

Almonds

Almonds other nuts like walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts consistently make the cut for one of the 10 best foods to eat thanks to their high levels of antioxidants, healthy fats and high mineral levels.

Regular consumption of nuts, especially almonds, has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, certain cancers and possibly Alzheimer’s Disease.

While nuts have a reputation as a “fattening food”, research indicates they may be getting a bum rap. Population studies show that nut eaters tend to weigh less than people who don’t eat nuts, or at least do not cause people to weigh more.

So what gives? Aren’t foods that are high in calories and fat usually a recipe for fat-gain?

Nuts are nutritionally very dense, containing a high-level of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. They are also good sources of fiber, protein and heart and brain-healthy MUFAs.

This makes almonds, walnuts, pecans and other nuts very satisfying, which may cause people to be less prone to overeating later. This effect is even more pronounced if you substitute in almonds and other nuts for nutritionally-empty snacks like potato chips, corn chips or pretzels.

Almonds, walnuts and pecans also consistently rank in lists of high-antioxidant foods. The types of antioxidants very depending on the nut, so including a wide-range of them in your diet can ensure you get the most antioxidant bang for your buck.

Watch out for sodium, however. While a handful of salted almonds every now and then is fine, try to find other ways to include unsalted nuts in your diet, including adding them to salads, granola or oatmeal.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are a class of vegetables that include things like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and radishes.

These vegetables make our list of the 10 Best Foods to Eat because they are high in Vitamin C, soluble fiber and numerous nutrients that may have anti-cancer properties, including compounds like diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.

Research from the University of California – Berkeley has indicated that one of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, 3,3′-Diindolylmethane may have potent anti-cancer properties and suppresses cell proliferation in prostate cancer cells.

These vegetables can be eaten raw with healthy, low-fat dips or in salads. They also are great additions to stir-fry or as stand-alone side-dishes.

Apples

Apples

Yes, an apple a day might really be able to keep the doctor away. And that’s why they earned a place in the 10 Best Foods to Eat Hall-of-Fame.

Apples are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

High in fiber — especially soluble fiber and fruit pectins — and also high in antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals, apples are a great daily addition to a healthy, clean eating diet. And because they are portable, they make a great, easy-to-transport snack.

Research indicates that regular apple consumption may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. They also contain phytochemicals such as quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2.

Even better, they are relatively low in sugar, calories and contain no fat or cholesterol. While apples are great whole, don’t forget that they make an excellent, crispy addition to salads or your morning oatmeal, cold cereal or muesli.

Berries

Berries

Berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries all make the 10 Best Foods To Eat list because like apples and cruciferous vegetables, they are all extremely high in antioxidants, low in fat, and are good sources of fiber.

Berries are also relatively low in sugars compared to other fruits like bananas, which make them ideal for people who prefer to keep their carbohydrate intake lower.

They also freeze very well, making them a great “fresh” frozen fruit to keep on hand in the freezer to throw into smoothies or on your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.

Salad Greens

Salad Greens

Last, but not least, are salad greens.

While green leafy vegetables are a great low-calorie source of antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals, those greens can be ruined by slathering them in heavy mayonnaise or cream-based dressings.

Opt instead to dress them with lighter vinegerettes that use cold-pressed healthy oils like olive oil, nut oils or avocado oil. These oils are high in heart-friendly MUFAs, which may actually discourage fat storage and have additional health benefits.

Also, encourage yourself to eat more healthy greens by getting a salad spinner and preparing and bagging your own lettuce at home. Not only will this ensure you always have lots of fresh, crisp salad on hand, but it’s also more economical than buying the pre-bagged stuff at the grocery.

Don’t forget heartier greens like kale and spinach, which can be eaten mixed in green salads, or are great additions to soups. Dark, leafy vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals and can provide a flavor boost to all kinds of soups and dishes.

The Secret To Healthy Eating: Combining The Best Foods Together

You’ll get the most nutritional punch by combining the foods from the list above. This is known as a portfolio approach to eating.

By including a wide-range of different sources of antioxidants, healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates, you can “super-charge” your meals and diet.

There is mounting evidence that phytochemicals, micro-nutrients, and certain vitamins and minerals work together in the body to fight disease, maintain energy and regulate key metabolic functions. This is one of the reasons that supplementing with isolated vitamins or antioxidant extracts doesn’t seem to produce the same results in the body that whole food sources do.

So try to include all of these healthy foods into your diet on a regular basis for the best results.

Salad Spinners: Spin Your Salad Healthy

Salad Spinners: Spin Your Salad Healthy

Salad Spinners: Spin Your Salad Healthy

Most kitchen gadgets are purchased on impulse, used once for the novelty of them, and then quickly buried

in a cabinet or drawer. You know that drawer: The land of Misfit Kitchen Gadgets filled with everything from fancy garlic peelers, apple corers, electric can openers to the Miracle Chef veggie chopper.

Salad-Spinner

But one addition to your kitchen which won’t be banished to the gadget cabinet is a good salad spinner.

And if you don’t own one, it’s time to change that. Prepping healthy salads economically and quickly is simple and easy with a good spinner on hand.

What Is a Salad Spinner?

Fresh mixed vegetables falling into a bowl of salad

The best way to describe a salad spinner is to think of it as a colander inside a bowl that can spin around.

You place chopped salad greens into the inner bowl, rinse them with cold water a few times, drain out the water and then spin the greens around inside the contraption. The centrifugal force of the spinning action sucks the remaining water out of the salad, leaving it dry and crisp.

Salad spinners use a variety of different mechanisms to actually propel the inner bowl around, from simple circular hand-cranks, to plungers, to pull-strings to ratchets. The only real difference between them is how easily they spin, durability, and most of all, which method extracts the most water out of the salad.

Why Would You Want To Spin Your Salad?

The advantage of a good salad spinner is that it allows you to easily wash, drain and crisp large amounts of salad greens.

We all know the health benefits to eating plenty of fresh greens and lettuce, so a salad spinner helps you more easily prepare salads, and keep plenty of greens on hand to throw together dinner or lunch salads across the week.

Spinning Your Own Salads Costs Less

While pre-packaged salad greens that you buy at the store are convenient, they aren’t particularly economical. So if eating healthier on a budget is a concern for you, it makes sense to spend 10 minutes in the kitchen rinsing and bagging your own salad.

Spinning and crisping your own salad is much more economical than buying the pre-rinsed, pre-bagged salad mixtures you find in the refrigerated produce section. A bag of Dole pre-packaged romaine lettuce can cost up to $4, but you could prepare almost four times that amount of salad yourself at home with a salad spinner, all for the same cost.

The salad will also be fresher, since you won’t be eating soggy greens that sat in a bag for a week. You can also customize your salad blends, adding in baby spinach, leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, whatever.

You’ll also have a tendency to eat more healthy greens and salads, because you’ll always have a bag of pre-rinsed, pre-spun salad on hand in the fridge. And while I can’t quantify the amount of calories you’ll burn spinning salad, I can say that it’s more than if you bought them pre-bagged.

Getting the Salad Dry: The Secret to Salad Spinning

hand of a woman spinning salad in the kitchen

The secret to successfully using a salad spinner is to get the lettuce or greens as dry as possible before bagging it in gallon ziplock bags or a seal-able crisper.

This is where the salad spinner that you choose to buy matters.

The main goal of a good salad spinner is to extract as much water from the lettuce and greens as possible. If the spinner is too flimsy and can’t spin the salad around with enough force to suck the water out, you’re going to end up with a brown, wilted mess within a few days of storage.

Also, the drier the greens, the more easily they will take up the healthy dressings and vinaigrettes you put on them. Water on the leaves repels the oil in the dressing (remember, even healthy oil and water don’t mix), which will interfere with the texture of the dressing and salad.

So drier is always better.

Choosing and Buying The Best Salad Spinner

When you shop for the best salad spinner for your needs, get one that is sturdy and free of too many gimmicks like “pull” or “zip” strings that are supposed to spin the inner bowl around. If you choose the right salad spinner the first time, you’ll probably never have to buy another one again.

If you do a survey of the most talked-about and reviewed salad spinners online, you’ll find a handful that seem to always rise to the top. These range from less than $30 to over $100 dollars for gourmet, heavy-duty spinners.

Let’s take a look at the top brands as well as some of the more interesting “upscale” salad spinners out there:

OXO Salad Spinner

OXO Salad Spinner

The OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner ($29.99 – $33.99) consistently ranks at the top of people’s list when it comes to salad spinners. It operates using a “plunge” style button. To spin the salad, you just push down repeatedly on the pump and the salad inside goes ’round and ’round. Not only is it well-constructed, but it also lets you remove the basket, which helps when doing the initial rinses. It’s dishwasher safe as well.

OXO also offers an OXO Stainless Steel Salad Spinner ($49.99), which is a little more durable and better looking, especially if you want to serve the salad directly out of the spinner. They also have a mini-version of the standard OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner ($24.99-$27.99) product for spinning herbs or single-portions of salad.

Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner

Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner

The Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner uses a “pull-cord” to whip the salad around inside. Overall, it does a very good job of getting the greens nice and dry. However, the pull-cord has been known to break after repeated use, which means eventually you may end up replacing this one. However, at $19.99, this is still a good bargain. It comes in two sizes.

Kitchen-Aid Fruit and Salad Spinner

Kitchen-Aid Fruit and Salad Spinner

Like the others, the Kitchen Aid Fruit and Salad Spinner ($34.99) operates on a plunger. It’s claim to fame is that it has three separate compartments that allow you to wash and spin more than one item. Online reviews of the product are mixed — and it seems like the cons of this salad spinner outweigh the pros. Reports of broken plungers are common and the most frequent gripe is around the difficulty of cleaning the salad spinner due to it’s design.

SoftWorks Salad Spinner

SoftWorks Salad Spinner

The Softworks Salad Spinner ($29.99- $37.50) is another “plunger” type salad spinner that gets great overall reviews from it’s users. It basically has all of the features of the OXO product, at a comparable price point.

Eurodib Professional Salad Spinner

Eurodib Professional Salad Spinner

Okay, if you are really into salads and salad spinning, the Eruodib Professional Salad Spinner ($138.50) or Dynamic 5 Gallon Commercial Salad Spinner ($119) might be the one for you. It’s a crank type salad spinner, but it lets you do up to two gallons of greens or salad. Probably over-kill for most people and it’s not particularly easy to store, but it is industrial-strength.

It does, however, have to be hand-washed and dried. Only for the biggest salad freaks … or aspiring chefs.

RubberMaid Salad Spinner

RubberMaid Salad Spinner

Rubber Maid used to make a popular salad spinner, but has since discontinued the product. If you hunt around enough, you may still be able to find one online at close-out stores or on ebay.

What About Electric Salad Spinners?

If manual labor isn’t your gig and you are simply an electronics freak, there is an electronic salad spinner available.

It’s called the Dynamic EM98 Commercial Electric Salad Spinner With Stabilizer Base.

Yeah, I know — very original, sexy name. The EM98 Electric Salad Spinner seems to be the only one out there, which may explain why it costs over $500.

It will let you do up to five gallons of salad, but unless you are planning on opening up your own salad bar or get off on having really expensive professional-grade kitchen equipment around to impress friends and co-workers, you’ll probably want to pass on this one.

What About The Mysterious Camouflage Salad Spinner?

In one of the more strange twists to writing this salad spinner review, I stumbled upon a little known, potentially untapped market for salad spinners: camouflage colored salad spinners.

Yep, you heard that right. Camouflage.

Everyday online there are at least eight people who type the words “camouflage salad spinner” into Google, Yahoo or MSN. Could there really be such a thing? And for what purpose? I tried to find this elusive camouflage salad spinner, but by the 20th page of Google results came up dry.

If such a thing exists, I’d love to see it. Otherwise, the product development team at OXO might have a new market opportunity on its hands.

Had to throw this one in because it was just too bizarre not to.

Where to Buy a Salad Spinner?

You can buy salad spinners at places like Walmart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or online at Amazon.com, which seems to have the largest selection of salad spinners on the planet – almost a hundred in all by my count.

Again, prices will vary, but you should be able to get a solid salad spinner for under $30 bucks. Expect to pay considerably more if you want to go for the “limousine” versions like the Dynamic EM98 Commercial Electric Salad Spinner With Stabilizer Base.

Tips for Effectively Using a Salad Spinner

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your salad spinner:

  • When spinning large amounts of salad, spin the salad in smaller batches. The looser the greens are during the spinning process, the drier you’ll get them.
  • “Softer” more tender greens like leaf lettuces may require extra spinning to extract all of the water. If you’re doing leaf lettuce, spin it by itself for best results and combine it with other lettuces in the bag.
  • ​Always rinse lettuce and salad greens several times in the coldest water possible. Cold water is essential for keeping them crisp.
  • ​Store your rinsed and spun greens in large 1-2 gallon zip-lock bags. Ziploc also makes a “ventilated” plastic storage bag for salads that are available at many grocery stores. Even better (and more green for the environment), consider getting a seal-able salad crisper/keeper, or try one of these bags specially designed-for longer-term storage of greens and salad.
  • ​Put the bagged salad in the produce crisper drawer of your refrigerator and make sure the temperature isn’t set too cold — if the greens freeze, they’ll be ruined.
How To Build A Healthy Pantry For Busy People

How To Build A Healthy Pantry … For Busy People

We’re all busy, so making healthy choices with the many activities that stake claims to our time can be a challenge.

We’re told to exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy and minimize stress. With all the responsibilities we have, attempting to do all that can be daunting, but it can be done. The trick to conquering these key areas of health is to focus on one area at a time. Right now, we’re going to focus on healthy eating — specifically, building a healthy “starter” pantry specifically for people who are busy because of family, career or both.

healthy kitchen

The Benefits of Building a Healthy Food Pantry: Healthy Eating!

A proper diet plays a vital role in preventing a host of issues, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Healthy eating can also give you more energy and help to keep your body strong, so that you don’t get sick as often or for as long. But, in order to eat healthy, you need to have the right food available when you prepare meals — which is why stocking a healthy pantry is so important.

What Healthy Foods Should Be In Your Kitchen Pantry?

While there are many foods that are essential to a healthy diet, there are a few healthy pantry staples that you should keep on hand as the cornerstones of your meals. Here are the top five items I keep stocked in my “healthy eating pantry” (and refrigerator!)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can use. It is very high in monounsaturated fat and has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels. According to some researchers, it might have even more heart healthy benefits than regular olive oil. So, try to substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter or margarine.

Dried Beans

Beans provide a multitude of nutrients and antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol, fight infections and diseases and may even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Beans are also a great, low fat food that contain no cholesterol, little fat (except soybeans which are high in unsaturated fat) and have a low glycemic index. That makes beans a great choice if you are diabetic or trying to lose weight. So, try incorporating beans into your meals. Not only are they tasty, but they are also very filling. And because dried beans have a long shelf-life, there’s no excuse for not keeping some around in your healthy pantry!

Whole Grains

Whole Grains

Whole grains are a better source of fiber than refined grains, because their bran and germ haven’t been removed. Millet, buckwheat, oatmeal, and quinoa are some wonderful grains that are low in fat, high in protein and fiber and full of vitamins and minerals. So, eat brown rice instead of white rice and go for whole wheat bread instead of white bread.

Tea

Tea

Teas come in many varieties, but the true teas all come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The most popular of these include white, green, oolong and black teas. These teas are full of potent antioxidants that may help prevent certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and impaired immune function. As an ultra low calorie drink, usually between 0-3 calories a cup, they are also a great substitute for sodas, coffee and energy drinks. As long as you don’t load them up with milk and sugar, they are a much healthier alternative.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables

Okay, you’re not literally going to keep most fruits and vegetables in your healthy pantry (except maybe the dried ones), but fruits and vegetables are an important part of every meal. They are a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are also high in fiber, low in calories, full of vitamins and minerals and very filling. So, definitely keep some around and incorporate them into all your meals.

Diet plays such an important role in overall health. Unfortunately, our lives are ultra busy with work, family duties or both. Often we just eat whatever we have in the house. That’s why it is so important to keep these healthy items stocked in your healthy pantry. If you don’t have them, you will eat other less healthy items. So, make sure your kitchen is packed with the necessary items to help you to eat healthy. Your body will thank you for it!

omega 3 header

Who Needs An Omega-3 Supplement?

omega 3 header

In the drug store, the pills come in many types: Fish oil, krill oil, and general omega-3 supplements. While there are many names and types of omega-3 supplements, many are often left wondering if these purchases are right for them.

Omega-3 risks?

Several years ago, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied omega-3's in a population of at-risk cardiovascular patients. Any link between taking these

supplements and several common health problems, such as heart health issues and strokes were de-bunked.

Without severe health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, omega-3's are known to improve bad cholesterol in adults, as well as potentially aid in weight loss. Although there are many who say there is no health link between taking omega-3 supplements and more healthy living, the evidence seems to suggest that there might be a slight health benefit to taking these for the mostly healthy.

The key to maximizing the benefits of omega-3 supplements is taking the type that is most absorbable in the body.

Omega-3 Supplement

Fish oil supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, and aren't always the easiest or most efficient for the body to process. This could decrease their efficacy, and indeed lead to a placebo effect, if any. Krill oil came on the market soon after fish oil, and may have the same processing issues.

It's always best to consult with a doctor or nutritionist before adding a supplement into your daily routine. Even if you think you need omega-3 supplements, it's always advantageous to know what certain levels are in your body.

How should Omega-3 be used?

If you're going to take a supplement without medical advice, however, fish oil, krill oil, or other omega-3's will be either harmless or slightly advantageous.

In moderate amounts, of course, these supplements can't hurt you! There is evidence, however, that high doses of fish oil can be disadvantageous to your bodily systems and levels.

Importantly, those with metabolic syndrome are likely to have symptoms of heart disease and diabetes. Triglycerides and bad cholesterol have been significantly decreased in recent fish oil supplement studies for those with this health issue.

What are the differences?

The key difference here? The fish oil supplements had an added element: Olive oil. For overweight men in a different study, eating salmon (which is high in fatty acids such as omega-3's) and supplementing with fish oil pills has been shown to increase insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is key to preventing the symptoms and problems associated with diabetes, especially Type II diabetes.

Although the medical research is neutral or varied at best, and not encouraging at worst, omega-3's remain some of the most purchased and opined upon supplements on the market.

Those who claim it helps in the treatment of cancers will be disappointed: There is absolutely no hard evidence to support that fact.

In fact, for men that suffer from prostate cancer, an increased concentration of omega-3's in the blood has been found in many cases.

Although there are likely few correlations or causations for these facts, you may run across "fish oil causes cancer" articles when researching omega-3 supplements. These aren't supported by scientific fact, but neither are claims that fish oil or other sources of omega-3's decrease one's risk of any cancers.

For all the back and forth, omega-3's themselves are important to have in the body and blood. The most effective way of getting omega-3's into the body is through whole foods.
The fatty acids in foods like salmon are easily absorbed by the body, and are an excellent source of omega-3.

Where can Omega-3 be found Naturally?

You can also find this compound in nuts and seeds. For those who follow a Mediterranean style diet, omega-3 consumption should come fairly naturally.

Especially because these supplements are not regularly evaluated or regulated by the FDA, it's best to be skeptical of health claims about and ingredients in over the counter fish and krill oil supplements.

The age of the supplement and its oxidation level can impact the quality of the lipids within. Oxidated or expired supplements might contain potentially dangerous lipid compounds, and could have adverse health effects.

It's important to work with a nutritionist or doctor when trying to balance the body's levels, eat right, and increase your overall health -- especially as we age. While omega-3 supplements may help some, their efficacy could be overrated. It's best to get these compounds from the foods you eat, and to maintain a balanced diet overall. Here's to your health!

5 Really Yummy Foods

5 Really Yummy Foods That Will Make You Look Younger!

5 Really Yummy Foods That Will Make You Look Younger

Believe it or not, completely flawless skin is nowhere near as difficult to pull off as a lot of people are led to believe it to be.

In fact, you might not even have to use any weirdo (or expensive) skin care products to get the kind of blemish free and crystal clear complexion you’re after – especially if you focus on all of the inside information we’re able to share with you below.

Yes, this might sound a little crazy at first.

We get that.

All of the major cosmetic companies hammer you with advertising and marketing that tricks you into thinking that perfect skin is impossible without their products.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

All you have to do is corral your daily diet, add a couple of tasty (and inexpensive) super foods we outline below, and you’ll soon have the kind of super smooth and blemish free skin you’ve always wanted – all without any real extra effort whatsoever.

Delicious  portion of  fresh salmon fillet  with aromatic herbs,

Fall in love with skin improving salmon

Salmon has always been regarded as a bit of a super food when it comes to protein sources, and folks looking to lose weight (and keep it off forever)

have been turning to salmon for some time now.

But salmon also has the ability to really improve your skin, all be adding essential oils, vitamins, and minerals into your body that are used to fuel the healthy regeneration of your skin.

potatoes and carrots

Sweet potatoes and carrots bring a lot to the table

Both of these vegetables are flooded with Vitamin A, a compound that is a major building block for healthy skin cells.

By adding more of these veggies to your diet you’ll be able to improve the health of your skin, build new healthy skin layers faster, and recover from blemishes with lightning like speed!

Watermelons and mangoes

Watermelons and mangoes are a great jump start in the morning

Not only will you feel a lot more energetic when you eat watermelon and mango in the morning, but you’ll also push more carotenoids into your body in the process.

This is going to protect you from UV light (the sun), help you repair wrinkled and aging skin a lot faster, and generally make your skin glow without any chemical compounds required.

Oysters

Nature’s powerhouse aphrodisiac, oysters also have the ability to improve your skin dramatically – almost overnight!

High in zinc (more zinc per serving than almost any other food, for that matter), you’ll give your skin and hair everything it needs to look amazing. This is going to improve your skin health, make your hair shinier and longer, and even out your skins moisturizing levels as well.

Say goodbye to acne!

Oysters
Snack on some dark chocolate

Snack on some dark chocolate

Dark chocolate has a tremendous amount of health boosting properties, and it is a powerful weight loss aid for folks that are looking to get in better shape in a hurry.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that they’re also able to improve their skin with dark chocolate as well. Flavanols in chocolate improve skin cell regeneration rates, which means your dead skin cells slough off all on their own to give you a beautiful glow (and top layer of healthy skin) every day!

foods that can cure diabetes

12 Foods That Can Help Cure Diabetes

foods that can cure diabetes

many doctors and organizations around the world do believe today that there are Foods that can help cure diabetes and diabetics are advised to consume those kind of foods that can alleviate/reverse their condition for a better healthier life.

Here is our pick for

Foods That Can Help Cure Diabetes

Avocado

Avocados have a lot of health advantages for diabetics. Richly packed with amazing quantities of monosaturated fats, avocados decelerate digestion and thus prevent the usual spiking of blood sugar levels after meals. For an appetizing daily dose, many top nutritionists advise you to put mashed avocados on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or butter.

Avocado
Apples

Apples

Apples, just like the time-honored adage goes, have a magic way of keeping the doctor away. These legendary fruits are singularly great for diabetics as they blunt blood sugar swings and eradicate excess cholesterol.

By the same token, apples contain a host of wholesome antioxidants that slow down several diabetes symptoms. In fact, taking an apple each day is a fantastic way to meet the customary meal-time fruit requirement and kick diabetes out of your body at the same time.

Beans

Individuals battling diabetes are advised to eat beans at least twice a week. The soluble fiber in nearly all types of beans puts a tight lid on high blood sugar levels. Given the fact that beans are also a principal source of protein, they may even take the place of meat in main meals. Credible clinical studies have shown that regular consumption of beans slows down diabetes and its accompanying symptoms.

Beans
Barley

Barley

Replacing white rice with barley reduces after-meal spiking of blood sugar levels by a whopping 70%. As such, eating regular amounts of barley lowers and steadies sugar levels for many hours.

This is majorly because its high fiber content and other useful compounds slow down both digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

Nonetheless, the truth that barley alleviates diabetes is not an endorsement for the consumption of beers or any other alcoholic beverages that have barley as one of their ingredients.

Berries

Berries are colorful, sweet, and satisfying to all, and essentially helpful for individuals who have blood sugar problems. Berries fight diabetes and its manifestations due to the fact they are rich in natural fiber and some vital antioxidants. The essential compounds in berries include anthocyanins which accelerate the production of insulin.

Berries

Despite being an excellent diabetes cure and are in the of the list of foods that can help cure diabetes.

berries also counteract several cardiovascular complications to which people with diabetes are mainly predisposed. According American Diabetes Association, people who frequently eat berries report near-nil blood sugar issues throughout their lives.

Beef

Beef

Unlike the popular myth that beef is not good for people with diabetes, leading medics maintain that it greatly alleviates the condition. However, they prescribe that you pick the leanest cuts and eat beef moderately. Full of protein, beef helps you keep your muscle mass intact and lifts your metabolic rate. Nevertheless, you are not supposed to eat beef more than twice a week. Again, remember to boil instead of frying your delicious beef cut.

Many of the vegetables below can be juiced and you might want to look at these Masticating juicers for some of the best options on the market.

Carrots

While you may have heard the false claims that carrots increase one’s blood sugar level, the truth is that they help suppress it. Although it’s undeniable that carrots indeed contain some sugar, the quantities are too low to trigger any meaningful health concerns.

Carrots

What many people may not know about carrots is that they have ample amounts of beta carotene – a natural compound that is universally linked to reduced risks of diabetes. For the best results, experts advise diabetic patients to eat raw carrots rather than cooked ones.

This is because uncooked carrots have higher percentages of essential natural components that combat diabetes and its health-related signs.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Besides being full of rare antioxidants, broccoli is also filling and fibrous. Chromium is just one of the numerous broccoli components that play a vital role in long-term sugar control. Although some individuals may brave the unsavory taste of uncooked broccoli, others find it quite unpleasant even when cooked. If you don’t like this food, you may “hide” it in pasta dishes and casseroles. Whether raw or cooked, broccoli remains one of the most acclaimed natural panaceas for diabetes out there.

Chicken/ Turkey

While both chicken and turkey meats can be high-fat no-go zones, choosing the leanest cuts and meticulous preparation makes them an absolutely healthy fare. As you do the selection, note that breast chicken/turkey meat is leaner than drumsticks and thighs.

If chosen well, these low-calorie meats are a fantastic source of proteins to maintain your muscle mass and boost your metabolic rate – two great ways to beat diabetes and its major symptoms.

Chicken/ Turkey
Fish

Fish

Diabetes and cardiovascular complications are variously interconnected. In fact, heart disease is the deadliest complication associated with blood sugar imbalances. However, eating fish at least two times in a week reduces heart-related complications by more than 40%. The wonderful fatty acids and antioxidants in fish are a perfect diabetes cure, with absolutely no accompanying risks.

Nuts

You will hardly go wrong with nuts if you have diabetes. First, its copious fiber content is a great plus as it slows down digestion and absorption. This reduces the dangerous shooting of sugar levels immediately after eating. While most nuts contain fat, it’s the healthy monosaturated type that fights diabetes symptoms and poses no harm at all. To make them more palatable, you may roast your routine bite of nuts.

Nuts
Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been likened to liquid gold, with several anti-inflammatory components that renowned researchers compare to those of aspirin. For many decades, olive oil has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease. Particularly, olive oil combats inflammation, slows down diabetes, and reverses insulin resistance. According to the British Diabetic Association (British Diabetic Association (November 2009).

Festive Foods and Easy Entertaining. British Diabetic Association. ISBN 9781899288878.), olive oil is an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet – a profoundly helpful lifestyle associated with near-zero cases of diabetes. As such, a regular touch of olive oil twice every week will counter blood sugar complications and the associated symptoms.

benefits of coconut oil

The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil

benefits of coconut oil

More and more people are waking up to the powerhouse health boosting benefits of coconut oil, and frankly, it’s about time!

Considered to be one of the true “super foods” out there on our planet today, this oil has the potential to completely transform your life.

Sounds too good to be true?

Like marketing hype?

Like everything you’ve ever heard about all the “latest and greatest” health boosting fads before?

Maybe. But unlike those other products, coconut oil actually is the real deal, and you’d have to be a little bit crazy not to take advantage of all the scientifically proven benefits it brings to the table.

Let’s dive into some of the benefits right now!

Actual medicinal properties of coconut oil

Actual medicinal properties of coconut oil

Believe it or not, coconut oil actual has the ability to speed up the healing process of the human body – and sometimes dramatically so.

Because it is a powerful source of saturated fats (good fats) and tons of medium chain triglycerides, you’ll be able to flood your body with plenty of easily absorbable fuel to speed up natural health processes.

Cuts and burns health faster, you’ll fight back against infections sooner, and you’ll generally be able to enjoy much better overall health across the board.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

Kick your weight loss into overdrive

weight loss into overdrive

Millions and millions of people all over the world are waking up to the real health epidemic that is obesity. People are getting heavier and heavier on a daily basis, and now we fully understand just how dangerous this lifestyle can be.

Thankfully though, with the help of coconut oil, you’ll be able to speed up your weight loss journey significantly when you start supplementing with this substance.

Because of the natural compounds found in this oil you’ll kick your metabolism into high gear. You’ll crank up your fat burning furnace, literally turning you into a fat melting machine almost overnight – and best of all, you won’t have to do anything else to see these weight loss results.

Sure, your weight loss results will be even better if you supplement using coconut oil with a proper weight loss plan and workout program. But coconut oil on its own will help you lose weight, too!

Portion control is effortless with coconut oil supplementation

Portion control

When the fatty acids included in coconut oil are digested they actively work to fight back against hunger.

This is going to kill off hunger pains immediately, help you feel full faster, and on top of that, you’ll find that your desire to eat heavier and calorie loaded meals fades almost completely.

This is effortless portion control all day long, a big piece of the weight loss puzzle. And when you’re able to kick overeating to the curb you’re able to control your weight – and that’s when magical things start to happen health wise.

At the end of the day, you’d have to be at least a little bit crazy to even think about skipping out on all the health boosting benefits coconut oil has to offer!

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

What Is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) And Where Does This Mysterious Vegetable Protein Come From?

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

What Is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) And Where Does This Mysterious Vegetable Protein Come From? We Unlock The Secrets of This Common High-Protein Food Ingredient

What Exactly Is Textured Vegetable Protein and Where Does TVP Come From?

Textured vegetable protein is generally used as either a meat substitute or meat extender. It’s actually not made out of vegetables like carrots, broccoli or corn, but from soybeans. So technically, the term “textured soy protein” more accurately describes TVP.

Textured vegetable protein is made out of defatted soybean flour, which is a bi-product of the process of making soybean oil. The defatted soybean flour is mixed with water and formed into a dough, and then pushed through an “extruder” where it is heated and emerges as a spongy, fibrous food.

The TVP is then sliced into different size and shapes depending on what type of meat it’s intended to substitute for.

Textured vegetable protein is very versatile in terms of shaping and texturizing, so it can be cut in a way that produces a texture and characteristics that mimic of a number of cuts of meat, include ground beef, bacon or beef strips, steaks, cubes, chunks and even flakes or granules.

Textured vegetable protein, not surprisingly, is very high in protein, low in fat and relatively low in carboydrates. It is also considered one of the few non-animal based sources of complete proteins.

The actual protein content of TVP depends on the type of soy flour used to produce it. When made from standard soy flour, it contains about 50% soy protein by volume. However, if soy protein concentrate is used to create the TVP, protein content climbs to about 70%.

In terms of it’s characteristics, textured vegetable protein tends to maintain its spongy, meat-like texture even after heating. It cooks quickly, and similar to tofu, has very little flavor of it’s own. This actually makes it ideal for use as a meat substitute, because TVP tends to take on the flavors of other foods and seasonings that you add to it.

Common Uses for TVP

Textured Vegetable Protein

As I mentioned earlier, TVP can be used on it’s own to create vegan or vegetarian meatless dishes at home, but it’s most commonly found as the main ingredient in pre-prepared meatless foods like Boca Burgers, meatless breakfast sausage or chicken patties, or meatless ground “beef” like you find in the frozen food section.

Textured vegetable protein also finds its way into dry mixes for things like veggie burgers, and may appear in small amounts in non-vegetarian prepared foods as a meat extender or as a way to boost the protein content of a food.

In fact, anyone who had the pleasure of eating that monstrosity of a “meat” product called the “hamburger” in the high school cafeteria probably got a taste of the wonders of TVP as a meat extender.

The U.S. government and its vast network of food contractors is one of the biggest buyers of textured soy/vegetable protein, using it to boost the protein content and lower the price of beef in school lunches, meals for the military, as well as to feed prisoners.

Prisons love TVP because it’s a cheap source of protein, although the prisoners themselves probably aren’t so keen on it. The government also loves TVP because it gives them something to do with all of those surplus soy beans that result from federal farm subsidies.

How Does TVP Taste?

Again, textured vegetable protein itself has a fairly neutral flavor. On its own, it doesn’t taste like meat like beef, lamb or chicken — it just has a similar texture to those foods. To get a similar flavor, you have to try some seasoning tricks.

How To Flavor TVP

The palatability of TVP really depends on how you flavor TVP, whether that is by the manufacturer or at home yourself.

In dishes with a lot of additional, flavorful ingredients such as chili, goulash, tacos or spaghetti sauces, textured vegetable protein actually can be pretty good stand-in for more expensive, fattier meats like ground beef. TVP tends to soak up the flavors in these dishes, and really just provides a meaty texture to the food.

If you are buying dehydrated TVP in bulk and trying to make your own meatless dishes at home, you’ll want to flavor the TVP by combining it with herbs or spices, seasoning mixes or packets or even things like onions, garlic, soy sauce or eggs (if you aren’t a vegetarian, of course.)

TVP and Prepared Meat Substitutes

Texture vegetable protein has come a long way over the past four decades as a main ingredient in meatless food like meatless bacon or beef strips or meatless chicken patties from manufacturers like MorningStar Farms or Boca.

Many of the meatless products now available in the frozen section of the grocery taste surprisingly good — especially compared to the first generation of meatless foods that began to hit shelves in the ’70s. From a nutritional standpoint, they are considered healthy, primarily because they are high in protein and very low in cholesterol and fat — especially saturated fat.

Soy protein is also one of the four foods that Dr. David J.A. Jenkins of the University of Toronto recommends as part of his Portfolio Diet approach to naturally lowering serum cholesterol levels without the use of Statin drugs. Meatless foods are often one of the main sources of these soy proteins for people on The Portfolio Diet.

Is Textured Vegetable Protein Healthy?

While clearly there are health benefits to substituting something like TVP for higher-fat sources of protein like beef, there is a fair amount of debate around how much soy protein a person should be including in their diet.

Soy Protein and Heart Disease

HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL CONCEPT: HEART DISEASE

In 1998, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) granted a health claim that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Twenty five grams of soy protein is about four glasses of soy milk, three MorningStar Farms Chik Patties or about 1/2 cup (50 grams) of dried TVP.

However, a 2006 study by the American Heart Association and published in the journal Circulation challenged this health claim.

The review took a look at a decades worth of research around soy protein consumption and heart disease and anti-cancer claims and found that soy isoflavones did not reduce “hot flashes” in post-menopausal women and did not reduce the risk of certain cancers, as previously claimed. Based on this, the study recommended that women not supplement with soy isoflavones.

However, the review did state that including non-supplemental sources of soy protein, such as soy burgers, butters, tofu or soy nuts could be beneficial to cardiovascular health, especially when substituted for higher-fat and higher-cholesterol foods.

Estrogen and Soy

Soy protein, especially soy protein isolates, are also high in two estrogenic compounds: genistein and daidzein.

This has led to some speculation that it could actually raise estrogen levels in humans, perhaps increasing the risk of certain estrogen-related cancers in women or reducing testosterone levels in men.

However, even here, the research around estrogenic effects of soy protein in men and women is conflicting.

Most of the research to-date around estrogenic effects of soy protein in males has focused on supplementationwith soy protein — not necessarily the inclusion of food sources of soy protein like TVP. One study found soy supplementation decreased testosterone levels in men by 4%, while another study from the Nutrition/Endocrinology Division of the Miami Research Associates found no decrease in testosterone.

So the debate continues.

Soy Allergies and TVP

Some people also may have or develop allergies to soy products, including TVP.

Next to peanuts, soy is rated the second-most allergenic food to humans and some people find TVP difficult to digest. In those individuals, it may cause gas or bloating, and in some people, more serious reactions similar to peanut allergies. So if you experience any of these side-effects, you might want to find another source of meatless protein.

Is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) a “Health Food?”

Many vegans and vegetarians rely on TVP as a major source for non-amimal based dietary protein.

Because vegetarianism is closely tied with “health” and “health food” or “healthy eating”, TVP has by association been often classified as a “health food” — making its way into the bulk isle at natural food stores.

Yet, textured vegetable protein strictly speaking doesn’t really qualify as a “whole food” — since it’s created through a fairly elaborate industrial process. For this reason, whether TVP is truly a “clean eating” food is questionable. TVP doesn’t grow in the field, it has to be produced in a factory.

For this reason, many vegetarians or even omnivores who are trying to practice a clean eating-style diet will choose less processed, more whole food sources of soy protein — things like edamame, tofu or tempeh.

That said, a few Boca burgers here and there — especially in place of less lean cuts of meat — can support a healthy, clean diet. As always, moderation is the key. Living off from meatless chicken patties probably isn’t a good idea, but eating a few of them during the week is certainly preferable to downing an Quarter-Pounder with Cheese.

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Nutritional Facts

A 1/4 cup dry serving of textured vegetable protein or TVP has:

  • 80 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • ​0 grams of cholesterol
  • ​2 mg of sodium
  • ​594 mg of potassium
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • ​4 grams of fiber
  • ​3 grams of sugar
  • 12 grams of protein
  • ​8% calcium RDA
  • ​15% Iron RDA
  • 18% magnesium RDA

Where Can I Buy Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP?

Textured Vegetable Protein

You can usually buy textured vegetable protein in bulk at health food stores like Whole Foods, or prepackaged at many grocery stores. You can also buy bulk and organic TVP online at Amazon.com.

Complete Protein

What Is a Complete Protein? Complete vs Incomplete Proteins

Complete Protein

A complete protein is a protein source that contains all eight essential amino acids in the sufficient proportions to support normal biological functions. In adults, the eight essential amino acids are:

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • ​Threonine
  • ​Tryptophan
  • ​Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • ​Leucine
  • Lysine

These amino acids are called “essential” because the body cannot make them, so they have to be supplied through diet. Recently, histadine has been added to this list as well, as scientists discovered that adults cannot synthesize it.

protein-sources

Incomplete proteins are proteins that lack one or more of the eight essential amino acids. Most plant-based proteins will meet the criteria for an incomplete protein, while animal-based foods are considered the primary sources of complete protein.

Examples of Complete Proteins from Animal Sources

The most common examples of complete proteins are foods that come from animals. These sources of protein include things like:

  • Fish
  • Seafood/Shellfish
  • ​Poultry
  • ​Milk
  • ​Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Meat

When you consume these foods, you take in all eight essential amino acids in a single food source. There is generally no need for additional amino acid supplementation.

Examples of Complete Proteins from Plant Sources

There are only a handful of plant-sources of protein that provide all eight amino acids in the necessary proportions to qualify as a ”complete protein.” These sources of complete protein include:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • ​Hempseed
  • Soybeans

Most people who eat a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods typically do not have to worry about whether they are consuming complete proteins — the variety in their diet will typically take care of that naturally.

Complete Protein for Vegetarians

Vegetarians

In terms of complete proteins for vegetarians, conventional wisdom has stressed protein combining of certain foods together in the same meal to ensure that a person is receiving adequate amounts of all eight essential amino acids. Examples of complete protein food combinations include consuming beans and rice in the same meal or eating corn and wheat together.

The idea here is to combine a food that is lacking in one or more amino acids with another food that contains those missing essential amino acids. In doing so, you create a complete protein.

However, recent research has indicated that it may not be necessary to consume complementary proteins in the same meal. A small amount of amino acids are ”pooled” by the body – so for most moderately active people eating a variety of plant-based proteins across the day should suffice. For very active people, athletes or even fitness buffs who are trying to add lean mass, protein combining may be more desireable.

While protein combining may be unnecessary for the average vegetarian, there are some exceptions: If a person is on a vegetarian diet that is heavily dependent on fruit, tubers or is high in junk food, they may not be consuming sufficient amounts of essential amino acids. In these cases, diet modification may be necessary.

Complete Proteins and Vegetarian Athletes

Athletes

While protein deficiency in vegetarians is generally rare — especially for people of average activity levels –vegetarian or vegan athletes may need to pay extra attention to the amount of protein they consume, even if the protein combinations are less important.

Because protein requirements are typically higher in athletes or very active individuals in general (regardless of their type of diet), if you are focusing on building additional lean tissue, you may need to up your protein slightly on a plant-based diet to ensure recovery, muscle growth and support the added demands of your sport or physical activities.

Many plant-based sources of protein such as certain types of beans, pluses and grains (for example wheat) are not as easily digested as animal-sources of protein, so you may require a slightly higher RDA of protein versus a person who includes meat, eggs, milk or seafood in their diet.

Even this is a bit controversial, since scientists continue to debate whether the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) accurately measures true protein digestibility in humans – especially since there are a number of variables that can influence how much protein from a food is absorbed by your body (including cooking methods, other foods consumed alongside it, your age and even flora and fauna in the gut.)

While the USDA and World Health Organization (WHO) does not differentiate between athletes and non-athletes when it comes to recommended daily allowances for protein, a good rule of thumb for endurance and strength athletes in good health is to have a protein intake of around 10 – 20% of your total calories.

Recommended ranges are typically out 1.4 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body-weight per day, or roughly 150 grams of protein for a 180 lb male, or about 110 grams of protein for a 130 lb female.

Should I Worry About Getting Complete Proteins?

Complete Proteins

Depending on the type of vegetarianism that you follow, you may already be consuming plenty of sources of complete proteins.

Lacto-Ovo vegetarians who eat eggs and/or dairy products should have few concerns about complete proteins. Vegetarians who only eat plants probably have little to worry about, but there are many vegetarian athletes and body builders who choose to protein combine just to be safe.

Whether this is necessary is open to debate. The belief among these individuals is that protein combining may give them a performance and recovery edge — especially immediately following weight training when complete proteins may be more vital to recovery and growth. There is very little direct clinical research around this, however.

The research that does exist has looked not specifically at protein combining in vegetarian athletes, but rather at the use of sources of complete protein — typically whey and/or casein protein from diary products — as a post-workout recovery meal. In these cases, individuals consuming this combination of protein and carbohydrates have shown increases in lean body mass over those who consumed only whey or carbohydrates.

The reasons for this are still open to interpretation. It may be simply that whey protein is quickly digested by the body, making it more readily available for recovery. Or it may be that consuming a complete protein itself assists with protein synthesis. More than likely, it is a combination of the two.

If muscle building on a vegetarian diet is one of your goals, go ahead and protein combine — especially immediately following your workouts. It won’t hurt, and may possibly help. While this is a bit easier and more convenient for Lacto-Ovo vegetarians, if you are on a strictly plant-based diet, you can always try soy protein isolates or grains like quinoa.

Crash diet

Crash diet – is it possible to lose lots of weight in a day or two?

Crash diet

Lets start with saying that - Fast Weight Loss Is An Illusion

I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t crash diet techniques (which are very popular among anorexics, by the way) or pills out there that could cause you to drop another five pounds of scale weight in the next day or two.

But remember, that fast weight loss is an illusion. And it’s a very short-lived one at that.

These types of crash diets result in weight loss because they cause you to lose water or cut your food intake back to the point that you lose several pounds simply because you don’t have the weight associated with food running through your digestive system. Eat a meal, or drink some fluids and you’ll watch the scale weight bounce back up again within hours.

Think of it this way: Maybe you lost three or four pounds for the plane ride — but no one sees you in a bikini in coach (or First-Class, for that matter.) Hit the ground, have a couple of cocktails and a bucket of shrimp and you’ll be right back to the scale weight you are today. And that’s not going to do anything for your beach body. Trust me on this one.

Quick Weight Loss Can Be Dangerous

Quick Weight Loss

And before you think about just starving yourself through your vacation, I want you to consider something else: Extreme, rapid weight-loss can be dangerous.

Radically-restricting your food, taking diet pills, using chemical laxatives, or fasting can cause serious electrolyte disruptions, which can lead to a host of acute health problems, including sudden cardiac arrest.

Fasting can also result in abnormal blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia, a condition when your blood sugar levels drop too low from a lack of carbohydrates. This can make you dizzy, disoriented, foggy-headed and ultimately, blow your vacation or put you in a Banana Republic hospital.

Finally, crash dieting is counter-productive because the extreme calorie deficits that these diets place you in cause your body to start feeding on its own lean tissue for energy.

The result is that you lose muscle, and end up flabbier than when you started. Even worse, when you lose muscle, you lose tissue that consumes calories even at rest. So you could be actually setting yourself back by crash dieting.

Enjoy Yourself & Quit Worrying About The Weight

My advice would be to quit focusing on the weight you might lose in the next day or two, and instead focus on what you’ve accomplished over the last 30 days.

I do have some concerns that you focused so much on cardio and calorie-restriction, but I’ll trust that you know better and have read all of the reasons why you need to eat and exercise to build muscle and burn fat, and not just do endless bouts of cardio in an effort to lose scale weight.

diet foods

Instead of fretting over those last couple of pounds, enjoy your vacation and try to find some ways to keep healthy and fit while you’re there. For example:

  • Try a relaxing spa
  • Go running on the beach
  • ​Bike around the island
  • ​Do plenty of walking
  • ​Take a swim (or even better lots of them)/snorkel/scuba dive
  • ​Use the hotel fitness facility to get in a light workout in the morning
  • Eat plenty of fresh fish and fruit (there will be a lot of it in the islands)
  • Drink lots of water

Above all, just relax, enjoy life and come back healthier, happier and charged up.

When get back, if you still want to lose a few more pounds of fat the right way, you can try these healthier, longer-term tactics for breaking a weight loss plateau. Until then, just have fun on your vacation.

If you take this approach, verses stressing yourself out over numbers on a scale, you might actually find yourself coming back from your vacation in much better shape than you left.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Five Myths About Fat That You Should Must Realize

Dietary Fat: Five Myths About Fat That You Should Must Realize

Five Myths About Fat That You Should Must Realize

Navigating the sometimes contradictory research and information around dietary fat can make a person’s head spin. Should I eat more fat? Less fat? A different kind of fat? Here are the five most common myths around dietary fat:

Myth 1: Eating more fat makes you fatter

fat

Not true.

Eating more calories than you burn makes you gain fat.

Whether those excess calories come from protein, carbohydrates or dietary fat, any calories that you eat above your daily energy requirements will get stored away as body fat.

The issue with dietary fat is that it’s extremely calorie dense, meaning that it contains more calories per gram than other macro-nutrients like protein or carbohydrates. This means that gram-for-gram, foods with a higher fat content contain more calories (9 calories per gram of fat versus 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein.)

So if you aren’t careful, you can end up eating more calories in foods with higher fat content, even though you are eating the same amount of food.

Myth 2: Eating Low-Fat or No-Fat Foods Will Make You Slimmer

Slimmer

Not necessarily.

Many pre-packaged foods that are marketed as low-fat and fat-free are extremely high in sugar, as well as preservatives and additives.

Why? Because when food manufacturers remove the dietary fat to make low-fat or fat-free foods, the foods themselves lose much of their flavor and texture. To make up for the bland taste, they load them up with sugar, as well as add fillers or fat-substitutes to improve the “mouth-feel” of the food.

Also, because people are in the mindset that “fat-free” means “low calorie” (it doesn’t), people tend to over-eat on fat free foods.

When people think they are eating healthier, less calorie-dense foods, they allow themselves to eat more of those foods. The problem is that most fat-free foods – because of the higher sugar content – are still high in calories. So while you may be reducing your calories from fat, you are not necessarily reducing your overall calories. In fact, you may be increasing them.

Myth 3: All Fats Are Bad

Wrong again. The fat-free craze that started in the 80s resulted in most people lumping all fats together under the term “bad.” But research over the past decade has indicated that not all fats are created equally.

For example, fish is high in polyunsaturated Omega 3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial for heart and cardiovascular health. Research indicates that this particular type of “healthy” fat can decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, as well as lower blood pressure.

There is also mounting evidence that Omega 3 fatty acids may help keep the brain healthy as well, acting as a mild anti-depressant, improving mood, memory and concentration and decreasing the risk of certain brain diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

These healthy fats also seem to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to over-the-counter drugs like Ibuprofen and aspirin, without the possible side-effects.

Omega 3

Good sources of Omega 3s include:

  • fish (especially fatty fish like mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon)
  • flaxseed
  • ​walnuts
  • pecans

Myth 4: Low-Fat Diets are the Only Way to Lose Weight

Lose Weight

Lowering dietary fat consumption can help people lose fat when dieting, but this is usually because reducing fat consumption also reduces calories (remember that fat is more calorie-dense than carbohydrates and protein.)

However, if you are substituting pre-packaged fat-free or lower-fat foods into your diet — instead of foods that are naturally low-in-fat like vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources – you may actually find yourself gaining weight because of the high sugar content in store-bought fat-free foods.

Pre-packaged fat-free foods are also frequently high in processed carbohydrates, which combined with the sugar, can spike blood sugar levels. Frequent spikes in blood sugar can cause hunger later in the day (which can spur over-eating), sap energy levels and encourage (gasp) the body to store excess sugars as body fat. There is also evidence that diets high in processed carbohydrates and sugar can speed the onset of Type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.

Ironically, because the fat has been removed from these foods, the impact on blood sugar is even more pronounced than if the fat had been left in. Dietary fat, because it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, lowers the glycemic load of carbohydrates on the body, which in turn can actually stabilize blood sugar levels. So while pre-packaged fat free foods seem like a great alternative, they may actually be hurting, more than they are helping.

Myth 5: The Best Diet Has The Least Amount of Fat Possible

Wrong. Fat is an essential macronutrient that your body needs to function properly. Aside from being a source of energy, dietary fat is a nutrient that is required for proper cellular function in the body, and is used to produce hormones that regulate things like blood pressure, heart rate, blood clotting and the central nervous system. Dietary fat is also necessary to absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.

Fat also is used by the body to maintain hair, nails and skin as well as to provide padding for your internal organs. Finally, fat not only improves the flavor and texture of foods, but moderate fat consumption can increase a sense of “fullness” or satiety (being satisfied after eating.)

Reducing dietary consumption to extremely low levels for prolonged periods of time can cause a wide-range of health issues, including lowered immunity, difficulty recovering from injuries or wounds, and vitamin deficiencies. Also, when you cut out all fats, you are typically cutting out the healthy ones as well, which means you won’t get the health benefits of things like Omega 3 fatty acids.

Still not convinced?

A 2006 study of women conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that low-fat diets did not protect women against heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer or colon cancer.

Just another reason not to jump on the no-fat bandwagon.

Eat The Right Dietary Fats, Not No-Fat

The trick here when it comes to dietary fat is to focus on consuming the majority of your daily fat in the form of healthy fats. These include polyunsaturated fats from things like fish, walnuts and flaxseed, as well as monounsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados and tea seed oil.

In terms of saturated fat, you should still aim to consume no more than 7% of your daily calories from saturated fats. While there is some debate over the role that saturated fat plays in heart disease, there is a statistically significant correlation between high consumption of saturated fats and coronary heart disease and elevated total cholesterol levels (including “bad” LDL cholesterol.)

The best way to get the right mix of dietary fats is to shift your focus from sources of saturated fat, like meat, full-fat dairy and butter, to healthier s

Is Instant Oatmeal Good For You?

Is Instant Oatmeal Good For You?

Is Instant Oatmeal Good For You?

Given the choice between eating no oatmeal, and eating instant oatmeal, I would say the instant oats are still a good breakfast choice (with some caveats.) Maybe not ideal, but eating healthy is a matter of degrees.

The reason oatmeal consistently makes my top 10 list of clean eating foods is two fold:

  • It’s high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber is really the key, because the beta-glucans in oatmeal have been shown to help reduce bad cholesterol by literally binding to them and sweeping them out of the body
  • It’s a great source of slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates. The more “whole” the grain, the slower the digestion. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable, prevents energy crashes as the gym or office and discourages you from feeling hungry later in the morning or day.

I mention these two benefits because when you compare instant oatmeal to things like slower-cooking rolled oats because the way the oat is processed does have some impact on how the body digests them. This can effect the second benefit — slower digestion — but generally doesn’t negatively impact the first, cholesterol-lowering benefit.

But before we get into that, let’s understand exactly what instant oatmeal is and compare its nutritional values versus old fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats.)

What Is Instant Oatmeal?

Instant Oatmeal

Instant oatmeal is simply thinly rolled oats which are then cut into very small pieces and pre-cooked by steaming.

The oatmeal is then typically “enhanced” with natural or unnatural flavorings, salt, sugar, and in some cases, preservatives. It’s then stuck in little 1 oz serving packets for convenience. This is the Maple and Brown sugar stuff you find in the box in the cereal isle.

Most instant oatmeal also comes in a “regular” flavor, which doesn’t have all the sugar and preservatives added, although it will often contain some added salt. For the sake of your question, we’re going to look at the regular, unsweetened variety. If we compared the flavored stuff, the old fashioned oats would win hands down.

The advantage of instant oatmeal over other forms of oatmeal like old fashioned oatmeal or oat groats, is cooking time. Thick cut or old fashioned rolled oats will typically take about ten minutes to cook on the stove top (less in the microwave); quick oats take about two minutes, and instant oats … well, you just add hot water and you’re all set.

Some people obviously also enjoy the added sugar and flavor in things like Raisin and Brown Sugar instant oatmeal, but the flavored varieties are where you start running into the nutritional problems — especially around sugar and sodium — so stay away from them.

What Is The Nutritional Value of Instant Oatmeal?

Surprisingly, if you go with the natural, unsweetened and unflavored variety of instant oatmeal, the basic nutritional values of instant oats are not all that different from slower cooking old fashioned oatmeal.

Here’s what a 1 oz packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (regular flavor with no added sugar) looks like:

Calories: 100
Fat: 2.0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 80 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Sugar: 0 grams
Calcium: 100 mg

Now, let’s look at a 1 oz dry serving of Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal (the stuff that takes 10 minutes to cook):

Calories: 106
Fat: 2.1
Saturated Fat: 0.4
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Protein: 3.5 grams
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 19.1 grams
Fiber: 2.9 grams
Sugar: 0.7 grams
Calcium: 0 mg

Surprise! Aside from the higher sodium content, the regular Quaker Instant Oatmeal actually has a marginally better macro-nutrient profile.

Why is that?

Well, the Quaker Oatmeal has the addition of oat flour added to the packets, which increases the fiber and protein content slightly. The higher calcium content is due to the addition of calcium carbonate to the mixture. Quaker also fortifies the instant oatmeal with a number of vitamins as well.

Now, you can get into philosophical and nutritional debates around whether these added vitamins and ingredients are good or bad, but from a basic nutrition perspective, instant oatmeal has gotten an undeserved, bad rap. It’s actually just as nutritious as old fashioned rolled oats.

But Instant Oatmeal Is Pre-Cooked! Isn’t That Bad?

Instant Oatmeal

Food purists often criticize instant oatmeal because it’s “pre-cooked.” The argument is that this pre-cooking reduces the natural nutritional values of the oat compared to thick cut rolled oats or oat groats.

But here’s a little secret:

Unless you are eating raw oat groats straight from the field, almost all oat products, including steel cut oats, thick rolled oats and Old Fashioned oatmeal are “pre-cooked” to some degree through the standard steaming process that’s done during milling. If they didn’t do this, it could literally take an hour to fully cook the raw oat.

Even raw oat bran is only marginally more nutrition ounce-for-ounce when you look strictly at the macros.

Now, could there be benefits to eating a less processed or uncooked form of oats, especially in terms of heat-sensitive vitamins? Perhaps. But when you compare instant oatmeal to old fashioned oats using the standard macros, they are pretty much equal.

Instant Oatmeal vs. Old Fashioned Oatmeal: Glycemic Load

The main difference between instant oatmeal versus old fashioned oatmeal is in regard to how rapidly the carbohydrates in instant oatmeal are digested and impact blood sugar levels.

In general, more finely chopped a food is, the more quickly it’s digested. Cooking also makes carbohydrates more easily digested.

The conventional wisdom around instant oatmeal versus old fashioned oatmeal is that instant oats spike blood sugar levels more dramatically than slower cooking rolled oatmeal varieties.

One of the ways this is measured is by looking at the glycemic load of a food, which measures how a particular food impacts blood sugar and insulin. The higher the glycemic load (GL) number, the more impact a food has on insulin release.

Unsweetened, instant oatmeal has a glycemic load of 17 versus 13 for regular oats. The scale goes from 1-50 — with pure glucose having a glycemic load of 50. To provide some perspective, brown rice — that staple of clean eating — has a GL of 18 and whole sweet potatoes (another bodybuilding favorite) have a GL of 17: In other words, on par with instant oatmeal.

So even here, while the instant variety of oatmeal does have more impact on blood sugar levels, it’s not nearly as dramatic as people often think — especially compared to other whole food sources of complex carbs that are consumed every day as part of a healthy diet.

It’s also important to remember the GL can be effected by the other foods you eat with the oatmeal, so if you are adding things like almonds, whey protein or whole fruit, the GL will typically decrease.

So Is Instant Oatmeal Good For You? The Verdict

Provided you are just talking about plain, regular instant oatmeal without the added sugar of things like Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal or Cinnamon & Spice Instant Oatmeal, instant oatmeal is still a solid breakfast.

You’ll still get the cholesterol-lower benefits of the soluble oat fiber — and while instant oatmeal does have a slightly higher glycemic load — it’s not nearly as bad as people think. So if the convenience of instant oatmeal helps you eat more of this healthy food, then go ahead and eat it.

In terms of sodium, even here, instant oatmeal isn’t terrible. There are other sources of food you probably eat daily with much more salt. So I wouldn’t over-focus on this unless you are on a sodium-controlled diet.

The Main Difference: Flavor and Texture

Oatmeal

At the end of the day, the biggest difference between instant oatmeal and things like thick rolled oats or Scottish oats is the texture, flavor and how satisfying and filling they are.

Instant oatmeal is very mushy and its flavor can’t really compare to something like thick rolled oats. But many people like instant oatmeal just fine.

Also, oatmeal that takes longer to cook tends to absorb more water, and increases in volume much more than instant oats. Eating old fashioned or thick rolled oatmeal can help you feel fuller, for longer and makes the non-instant variety of oats more satisfying for many people. So that definitely can be an advantage.

If you want to have the convenience of instant oatmeal but with some of the flavor and texture benefits of a slower-cooking oatmeal, you can always prepare a large batch of oatmeal the night before and simply warm it up in a microwave the next morning. You will probably have to add some water or skim milk to it to make it creamier, but this is one way to get the time saving benefits of instant and the flavor benefits of slow-cooked oats.

Oatmeal prepared ahead of time can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to four days.

Fish Oil – Benefits and Side Effects

Fish Oil – Benefits and Side Effects

Fish Oil – Benefits and Side Effects

Fish oil is on a roll.

It’s difficult to open up a health or fitness magazine, browse the Internet or turn on the TV without seeing yet another piece on this “wonder” supplement. The health claims made in the media and online are often as amazing as the idea that we can distill down the oil of hundreds of fish into a single capsule: Reduce heart disease! Prevent cancer! Stave off depression! Stop arthritis! Improve your mood!

Not since Linus Pauling published his work on the benefits of Vitamin C (which has come under increased scrutiny by scientists in the past few decades), has there been so much buzz around a single supplement.

So before we dig into some of the possible benefits (and the potential side effects) of fish oil, let’s take a look at how we got here in the first place.

A Brief History of Fish Oil

The whole fish oil story started with a simple observation: People who had diets high in certain types of fatty, cold-water fish appeared to have lower rates of heart disease than other populations who ate less fish. The traditional Japanese diet, for example, contains large amounts of fish, as do certain Norwegian and arctic populations (like the Inuit.)

Scientists were intrigued enough with this correlation that they started to conduct studies to see if whether including more cold-water fish in the diets of people who don’t normally eat fish, could produce a similar benefit. Their results, while not conclusive, did find a strong correlation between the consumption of certain fats contained in fish, and decreased risk for certain form of heart disease.

So what’s so great about fish?

Aside from being high in protein and low in cholesterol, most species of fish are high in three kinds of essential, non-saturated fatty acids called Omega-3s: α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). “Essential” means that you’re body can not create these fatty acids on it’s own — you have to include them in your diet.

It’s these fatty acids that scientists believe contribute to the health benefits of fish consumption. As research around Omega-3s and their health benefits began to emerge, fish joined the ranks of olive oil as a source of “healthy fats” that may have protective qualities for the body. In fact, results were encouraging enough that in 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a “qualified health claim” to EPA and DHA, saying that “supportive, but not conclusive” research had shown that consumption of EPA DHA may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Fish oil as a medicinal treatment has actually been around for centuries. Cod liver oil has been a folk remedy for all kinds of aches and pains. However, fish liver oils are also relatively low in Omega-3s and high in Vitamin K, which can be toxic in high doses.

In the past 20 years, manufacturers have gotten much better at purifying and distilling down fish oil, to the point where they can actually standardize and control the amount of Omega-3s in the finished product. This has allowed people to get more Omega-3s in their diet, even if their actual fish consumption is relatively low. It’s also replaced cod liver oil as a safer, more concentrated form of the healthy fats in fish.

Understanding Omega-3s

Omega-3

Omega-3s are interesting because there are only a few sources of these fatty acids in nature. Fish by far has the highest concentrations, and then flaxseed and then smaller amounts in things like walnuts and almonds.

Omega-3 is an essential unsaturated fatty acid, meaning that along with Omega-6 fatty acids, your body requires a certain amount of it, in the proper ratio to other fatty acids, for proper cellular function. The problem is that because the typical Western diet is so high in grain and corn (which is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids), the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is often between 10:11 to 30:1, when it ideally should be 5:1. Your body needs Omega-6s, just not in the large quantities that are typically characteristic of modern, Western diets.

There is some research to indicate that this high Omega-6-to-Omega-3 ratio could be contributing to a whole host of health issues, especially inflammatory disease like arthritis and auto-immune disorders like allergies.

Even societies (like the Japanese) that have traditionally included large amounts of fish in their diet seem to be experiencing some of the negative effects of this imbalance of Omega-3s-to-Omega-6s as they have shifted toward a more Western diet, that contains higher amounts of grain and corn-fed beef.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil and Omega-3s

While the initial focus of research around Omega-3s focused on their potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, studies over the past few years have also suggested (though not conclusively proven) a wide-range of possible additional health benefits to fish oil and Omega-3 supplementation, including:

  • Improvements in circulatory health
  • Decreased risk of stroke
  • ​Decreased blood pressure
  • ​Reduction in blood triglyceride levels
  • ​Improvements in mood and cognitive ability
  • ​Mild anti-depressant effects
  • Improved immune function in infants
  • Anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or neck, back and joint pain

Fish Oil and Heart Disease

Heart Disease

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that fish oil supplementation may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The actual mechanisms are complex, since fish oil supplementation seems to reduce certain precursors to heart disease like blood triglycerides, while also improving circulation and reducing blood pressure. This may have a preventative effect, although it is not a treatment for existing heart disease. However, a 1999 study of patients with myocardial infarction, found that treatment of 1 gram per day of Omega-3 fatty acids reduced the occurrence of death, cardiovascular death and sudden cardiac death by 20%, 30% and 45% respectively. Furthermore, a 2007 study found that supplementation with EPAs from fish oil decreased the thickness of the caratid arteries in Japanese men with unhealthy blood sugar levels and improved blood flow, versus those who received a placebo.

But before you get too excited, you should also know that Omega-3s are not for everyone — especially those with certain pre-existing heart conditions. Individuals with congestive heart failure, chronic recurrent angina or evidence that their heart is receiving insufficient blood flow are advised to talk to their doctor before taking fatty acids, since they may actually aggravate, rather than treat, these conditions. In some cases, this can be fatal.

Fish Oil Health Claims That Still Require Additional Research

Although there is strong clinical evidence that suggests consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood pressure, triglyceride levels, sudden heart attack, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis, there is also a long list of health claims of fish oil that are less conclusive and require additional clinical research. These include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Agina pectoris
  • ​Asthma
  • ​Atherosclerosis
  • ​Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning and Behavioral Disorders
  • ​Bipolar Disorder
  • ​Cancer Prevention
  • ​Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • ​Colon Cancer
  • Acute Coronary Disease​
  • ​Cystic Fibrosis
  • ​Dementia
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Increase Energy Efficiency and Metabolism
  • ​Epilepsy
  • ​Increase Infant Body Mass/Growth Rates
  • Improved Immune Function​
  • ​Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • ​Lupus
  • Prostate Health
  • ​Psoriasis
  • ​Schizophrenia
  • ​Stroke Prevention
  • ​Diabetes
  • High Blood Cholesterol

Recommended Dosage of Fish Oil

In healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends individuals eat two servings of fish a week. Fatty fish, such as anchovies, carp, bluefish, catfish, halibut, salmon, herring, lake trout, whitefish, mackerel, pompano, tuna and striped sea bass, are the best. The World Health Organization recommends consuming 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA plus DHA daily and between 0.8 to 1.1 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) per day. Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a doctor regarding fish consumption, because of concerns around heavy metal and PCB contamination — especially if you are eating Great Lakes fish. Also, if you have fish-related food allergies, you’ll obviously want to skip the fish oil supplements.

How much fish oil is that? It really depends on the concentrations of EPA and DHA in the fish oil capsules you purchase.

For example, a single serving (one fish oil capsule) Nature’s Bounty Omega-3/Omega-6 Fish Oil Capsules(1200 mg) contains 216 mg of EPA and 144 mg of DHA. To reach a half gram of EPA and DHA, you’d need to consume around two capsules a day. Some capsules have higher and lower amounts of EPA and DHA, so it’s really necessary to read the label. Remember, there is 1000 mg in a gram. So 0.5 grams is about 500 mg each of DHA and EPA.

Non-Animal or Non-Fish Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you are a vegan or vegetarian and do not consume fish, there are some alternative sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular ALA.

Non-animal sources of ALA include rapeseed oil (canola), soybeans, walnuts, perilla, hemp, chia (yes, it’s more than just a pet) and the big, ALA powerhouse, flaxseed.

However, unlike the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, ALA is a precursor to DHA and EPA. This means the body has to convert the ALA into DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, the body isn’t particularly effective at doing this, so the amounts of DHA and EPA that become available to the body from the ALA in flaxseed is substantially less than with fish oil. Therefore, you may need to consume higher amounts of ALA from flaxseed or other vegetarian sources than with fish to achieve the recommended EPA and DHA intake levels.

There is some preliminary research that has associated ALA intake with increased risk of macular degenerationand prostate cancer. However, in the case of the prostate cancer research, this was a meta-study, which examined other studies to arrive at its conclusions. Meta-studies continue to be somewhat controversial from a methodology standpoint, so you should be careful about drawing too many conclusions from them.

Potential Side-Effects of Fish Oil Supplementation

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers intake of up to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from fish as generally safe. There are a few warning however. There is a slight risk of increases in blood sugar levels among diabetics. Omega-3 fatty acids may also increase the risk of bleeding (since they thin the blood), although there is little evidence of significant risk at lower doses (under 3 grams.) Extremely high levels may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, and high level fish oil intake has also been associated with nosebleeds and blood in the urine.

Also, make sure your doctor knows you are supplementing with fish oil, especially if you are undergoing a surgical procedure, since fish oil can reduce blood clotting.

There may be some stomach or intestinal upset with fish oil, including diarrhea, increased burping, acid reflux and indigestion, and abdominal bloating. Taking fish oil supplements with food, versus on an empty stomach, can help prevent some of these minor — but annoying — side effects.

As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your physician before starting any supplementation program.

My Own Experience With Fish Oil

I personal supplement with 3-4 grams of fish oil a day, taken in two doses — two grams in the morning with breakfast and another two with dinner or before bed.

I started taking it primarily for the cardio-vascular benefits, but discovered that it appears to have a positive (though completely anecdotal) additional benefit. I’ve had a moderate-to-severe problem with neck pain for about eight years and tried everything from muscle relaxants to a chiropractor with mixed results. After about two months of fish oil supplementation, I found that my neck pain had nearly disappeared.

As an experiment (completely non-scientific), I stopped fish oil supplementation for about six weeks, and began experiencing a return of neck pain symptoms. When I resumed supplementation, the symptoms subsided. This could, of course, have been the result of a placebo effect, so it’s not conclusive.

However, in my case, I would prefer to take the fish oil capsules (even if they are acting as a placebo) than over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, which have never been particularly effective at reducing the neck pain in the past.

There also appears to be some clinical research to support my own experiences with reduced neck pain as a result of fish oil supplementation. A 2006 study published in the journal Surgical Neurology by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that fish oil supplementation was as effective in reducing acute and chronic non-specific neck and back pain as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuproben, with less serious potential for side effects.

Five Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Five Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Five Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Why make time to eat breakfast?

Because it makes good fitness sense.

Research indicates that people who regularly eat breakfast may have less body fat and are less likely to overeat during the rest of the day. More importantly, when they lose weight, they tend to keep it off longer.

Two studies in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association support this.

While they were funded by cereal companies, the science has been peer reviewed and seems solid: People who it breakfast have more success with weight loss over the long haul.

If the thought of trying to wrangle up a healthy meal in the morning causes you to shudder, relax. Regardless of your schedule or prowess in the kitchen, try one or more of these five breakfast ideas to get your morning off to a healthy start:

Healthy Breakfast Idea #1: Oatmeal

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a power food that belongs in every healthy pantry.

Inexpensive (a large container of oats will cost you less than $3), loaded with heart-healthy soluble fiber and plenty of complex carbs, oats are one of your best breakfast bets. On their own, they can be bland, but dressed up with cinnamon, a touch of honey, dried or fresh fruit, or even a scoop of whey protein powder, they become something that transcends their humble reputation.

If you don’t care for the consistency, try Scottish Oats (which are grainier and have more texture) or provide a little crunch by adding chopped walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds.

Healthy Breakfast Idea #2: Protein Shakes

Protein Shakes

Being short on time is no reason to skip breakfast.

Instead of reaching for the Slim Fast (which is expensive and filled with perservatives) or a pre-packaged protein drink, keep a container of 100% whey protein handy (the choice of flavors is yours) and some skim milk in the refigerator. For a quick and nutritious breakfast, mix one scoop of protein powder with a cup of skim milk.

At 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, 16 grams of carbs and 32 grams of protein a homemade protein shake is a tasty, and healthy start to the day.

Since this is your first meal, don’t be afraid of the carbs. Adding a banana or some berries to the shake can kickstart your day, at a time when the carbs are critical to boosting energy levels.

Healthy Breakfast Idea 3: Cold Cereal

Cold Cereal

Cold cereal has gotten a bad reputation because the stuff were were raised on as kids was generally made from highly-processed grains with lot of added sugars that can spike your blood-sugar levels and leave you short on energy mid-morning.

But if you avoid the Cap ‘n Crunch and Fruit Loops, there are plenty of healthy options for cold cereal out there.

Consider trying a whole grain cereal like bran flakes, Kashi, or my personal favorite, Ezekiel 4:9 cereal, which is made from organic sprouted grains like wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt.

Once you get past the Biblical references, this is actually a fantastic cereal that has a complete protein profile (meaning you get all of your essential amino acids in one food, which is unusual with most grains except for soy.)

Ezekiel 4:9 is very crunchy and tastes like Grape-Nuts. It’s a bit plain (although the “malty” flavor is interesting and pleasant), so adding some fresh fruit like bananas or blueberries can make it a delicious choice in the morning.

Healthy Breakfast Idea 4: Eggs

Eggs

Yes, eggs still reign supreme as a breakfast food.

Loaded with protein and B-vitamins, even whole eggs have a place on a fit person’s breakfast plate. If you are concerned about the fat and cholesterol of whole eggs, consider substituting egg whites for some of the whole eggs.

The whites contain a fair amount of protein, zero fat and no cholesterol. Recent research has indicated that moderate consumption of whole eggs may not have the detrimental impact on serum blood cholesterol levels that we once thought, so most people can safely eat up to two whole eggs a day.

Some research even indicates that people who eat whole eggs for breakfast eat less overall calories during the rest of the day.

The mechanism for this is still unknown, but the theory is that the fats in eggs help satisfy people and stabilize blood-sugar levels.

Poached, hard- or soft-boiled, lightly fried in a non-stick pan or made into a healthy omelette (or egg-white omelette), eggs are a great breakfast choice if you have a few extra minutes.

Healthy Breakfast Idea #5: Waffles

Waffles

We’re not talking the Belgian kind here with strawberries, loads of syrup and mounds of whipped cream.

Instead, consider one of the Kashi Go Lean waffles, which are higher in fiber and lower in fat. I particularly like this brand of waffles because it doesn’t contain any high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.

Instead of the usual high-fructose corn syrup “syrup” like Mrs. Butter-Worth’s or Log Cabin, try a bit of honey or real maple syrup. And substitute natural peanut butter or almond butter for dairy butter. Add a glass of milk or an egg, and you have a very balanced, high-fiber meal.

The Takeaway

So whether it’s healthy waffles, a couple of eggs, a protein shake, oatmeal or cold cereal, by keeping these ingredients and food handy, you can make sure you start off your day the right, and nutritious way.

Special K Diet – Does It Work_

The Special K Diet – Does It Work?

Special K Diet – Does It Work_

First, it’s important to understand that to be successful at hitting your fat loss and overall fitness goals, you have to stop thinking about “a diet” as something you do before your vacation to the Caribbean. Your “diet” is a combination of your choices in food and your lifestyle, not something you do for a few weeks. In other words, it’s a long term commitment to eating more healthy.

That said, can eating Special K cereal help you lose body fat or weight?

What Is The Special K Diet?

According to Kellogg’s website, the Special K Diet has you eating a serving of Special K cereal for breakfast with 2/3 cup skim milk and some form of fresh fruit, or a Special K waffle with light syrup.

You then replace another meal with a serving of Special K Cereal, or one of their “meal replacement” products, which is typically a Special K Protein Bar. You then eat your third meal (dinner?) as you normally would.

The Special K diet then allows you two snacks during the day, but they need to be Special K products — either Special K cereal or their pre-packaged snacks like Special K Protein Snack Bars, Protein Water and Mixes, Special K Cereal Bars, or Special K Snack Bites. You are also encouraged to eat fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the day.

With this diet plan, they tell you that you can lose up to “1 inch from your waist in two weeks.”

Does the Diet Work?

The Special K Diet may help you lose weight and body fat, but realize that there is nothing “special” or “magical” about the Special K Diet.

The Special K Diet (like many crash or fad-diets) simply works based on the principle of “calorie reduction. ”

By substituting Special K cereal with skim milk for your morning bagel with cream cheese and your Jimmy Johns sandwich for lunch, you’ll naturally decrease you calories for the day and lose fat and weight. But you could accomplish the exact same thing by eating a bowl of oatmeal with fruit or egg whites for breakfast, and a salad with grilled chicken breast for lunch.

For example, let’s say you followed the Special K diet advice to a “T” and had:

  • 1 bowl of Special K cereal with skim milk for breakfast (180 calories)
  • 1 bowl with skim milk for lunch (180 calories)
  • ​1 Special K snack bar in the afternoon (100 calories)
  • ​A 500 calorie dinner
  • ​1 Special K snack bar for an evening snack (100 calories)
  • Vegetables and fresh fruit in between meals (200-500 calories)

That would put you at around 1500 calories for the day — which is about where an average person would need to end their day to lose 1 lbs of fat a week.

The problem is that this isn’t very much food volume wise, because there is almost no fiber in any of the Special K products, which make up more than 50 percent of your food for the day. And because the Special K products are so highly processed, you’ll likely end up feeling hungry most of the day. Not to mention that the lack of variety will make this diet get very boring, very quickly. This makes it less likely that you’ll stick to the eating plan.

You could easily hit this 1500 calorie goal with more nutritionally-dense, better tasting and healthier foods and never have to touch a Special K product.

So it’s not really about the Special K cereal at all. Instead, it’s about substituting less calorie-dense foods for your meals.

Is the Special K Diet Healthy?

The biggest issue with the Special K Diet is that Special K cereal just isn’t as healthy as the marketers at Kellogg would have you think.

Special K is a highly-processed cereal, which means they have stripped out the fiber from the grain and replaced most of the natural nutrients that you’d get with a whole-grain breakfast cereal like oatmeal with synthetic vitamins.

And because it’s so refined and contains very little fiber, it has a high glycemic load. This means the carbohydrates in Special K are rapidly digested by the body and spike insulin levels, which can leave you hungry and low-on-energy later in the day. Basically, Special K is corn flakes with added vitamins. Nothing more, nothing less.

The diet also recommends consuming Special K brand snack bars, cereal bars and snack bites. Again, all of these products are made from highly-processed grains, have little or no fiber, are relatively high in simple sugars and are loaded with preservatives and ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

Family eating healthy breakfast in kitchen

The reason they “work” as part of the Special K Diet is that the portions for these snacks are so small, that they can keep the snack under 100 calories in general.

To illustrate the point, let’s compare Special K Original Cereal to Kellogg Corn Flakes and Oatmeal:

Special K Original Cereal

Special K Original Cereal

(Serving: 1 cup, 1.1 oz)

Calories: 110
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Carbohydrates: 22 grams
Protein: 7.0 grams
Sodium: 220 mg
Fiber: 0.5 grams
Sugar: 4.0 grams


Kellogg Corn Flakes

Kellogg Corn Flakes

(Serving: 1 cup, 1 oz)

Calories: 100
Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0
Carbohydrates: 24 grams
Protein: 2.0 grams
Sodium: 200 mg
Fiber: 1 grams
Sugar: 2 grams


Quaker Quick Oats

Quaker Quick Oats

(Serving 1/2 cup dry, 1.4 oz)

Calories: 150
Fat: 3 grams
Cholesterol: 05 grams
Carbohydrates: 27 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 0 mg
Fiber: 4 grams
Sugar: 1 grams


So aside from the slightly higher protein content, the Special K cereal has more calories, sodium and sugar and less fiber than the Corn Flakes. Special K is fortified with more vitamins than the corn flakes, but these are generally added vitamins and minerals, and not naturally occurring. If you look at some of the other Special K flavors, you’ll find the sugar and carb content starts to climb even higher.

But the real problem here is the fiber content. Because they are not whole-grain cereals, neither of the cereal products has much fiber to begin with.

A Better Choice: Oatmeal

Now compare these two boxed cereals against that healthy standby, oatmeal.

Yes, the oatmeal has about 40 more calories, and slightly higher fat and carbohydrates, but it has substantially less sugar, comparable protein and much more fiber – especially heart-healthy soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

The oatmeal also naturally contains iron, calcium, B-vitamins and trace minerals. The oats are also high in GLA(gamma linolenic acid) an essential fatty acid critical to the body’s production of favorable eicosanoids (PGE1 – prostaglandins). GLA, unlike other Omega 6 fatty acids like linolenic acid, appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well.

The oatmeal is also more economical.

A 42 oz (1.19 kg) container of quick oats costs less than $3 dollars, and provides thirty one, 1/2 cup (39kg) servings. A box of Special K cereal will cost you between $3-$5 dollars, and you’ll get around nine, 1 cup servings.

Some quick math will help you see that you get less nutrition and food for your money with the Special K. Assuming a cost of $4 dollars per box of Special K, you would have to buy 3.5 boxes of Special K at a total cost of $13-$15 dollars, to get the same amount of servings as you get from a $3 dollar container of oatmeal. And on top of this, the oatmeal is far more nutritionally dense and complete than the Special K.

Should I Try the Special K Diet?

If calorie and portion control was the only consideration in your diet, the Special K Diet, if followed correctly, would help you lose weight. And if your current diet is filled with junk food and snacks, substituting a bowl of Special K cereal and skim milk for your usual meals is probably better than what you are currently doing.

The diet also makes it “easy” for you to control portions because it takes most of the guess-work out of counting calories and serving size.

However, the diet’s reliance on prepackaged Special K snack products and the highly-refined Special K cereal makes it a less-healthy alternative to eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, some healthy fats and lean sources of protein. You could put together a much healthier 1500 calorie diet with the right mix of protein, carbs and fats that had more variety and flavor, provides much better nutrition and would keep you feeling more satisfied and less hungry over the day.

The bottom line is that the Special K Diet and Special K Challenge is an invention of food marketers who understand that people want simple, quick fixes for weight loss.

While there are certainly worse foods you could eat, the Special K Diet is carefully crafted to push Kellogg’s prepackaged cereal and snack products. In other words, it’s a slick marketing campaign wrapped around a message that eating Special K products will help you become more healthy and slim. It tries to create the idea that Special K products are “health foods”, which they clearly are not once you compare them against unprocessed, whole-grain alternatives. I could easily create an “Oatmeal Diet” that substituted two meals a day with oats and fresh fruit, and probably give you the same results as the Special K diet, with better overall nutrition and at less cost.

Like other diets that rely on a limited selection of foods — for example The Grapefruit Diet or the Cabbage Soup Diet — these diets rarely produce lasting results. They work because they limit calories, but often at the expense of overall nutrition. And because they don’t encourage people to develop better overall eating and nutrition habits, the weight you lose is usually temporary.

Five Ways to Make That Glass of Water Taste Better

Five Ways to Make That Glass of Water Taste Better

Water is essential to good health, but let’s face it, compared to soda, juice, wine or beer, water is pretty … um … boring. But it has zero calories, no sugar, is filling and may help with fat-loss, so drinking plenty of water makes sense.

The problem is, water just doesn’t have much zip to it.

Until now.

Try one or more of these tricks and products to meet your daily fluid requirements while making water a beverage that you actually enjoy:

All of the things below can be mixed and Blended, so see this post:http://juicerinfozone.com/juicers/best-juicers/ if you dont have a juicer to aid with the other ingredients

1. Make It Fruity:

Adding wedges of lemons, limes, oranges and other fruits like strawberries, kiwis and even blueberries can add a subtle fruit flavor to water. Even better, when you get to the bottom of the glass, you have a few pieces of fresh fruit to reward you for your effort. Can’t keep fresh fruit with you everywhere you go? No problem. Check out True Lemon®, an all-natural crystallized lemon powder (it comes in lime and orange, as well) that’s perfect for adding to your water bottle. They’ll even send you a couple free samples!

lemons

2. Make It Juicy:

Adding a splash of fruit juice to your water is a nice way to add some additional flavor and nutrients (as well as a little sweetness.) Good choices include grapefruit, orange, cherry, cranberry, and grape juices. Or try adding a blueberry-pomegranate juice like POM for some additional flavor and a dose of powerful antioxidants.

fruit juice

3. Make It Fizzy:

Love the fizziness of soda, but could do without all of the sugar? Try making your own “light” sodas by adding fruit juice to sparkling mineral waters like Perrier or San Pellegrino. If the price tag that comes with mineral water is a little steep, you can also substitute bottled carbonated water, which you can find in the soda or water isle. They’ll often come pre-flavored which makes them a tasty, convenient option to soda.

fizziness of soda

4. Make It Frozen:

Ice is water. Consider whipping up a frozen smoothy with a couple scoops of your favorite flavor of protein powder, a handful of ice cubes and a little water to get things going. Throw in a banana for some sweetness and whip it up in a blender to a nice frothy consistency. Instant milk-free, milkshake! And you get some protein along with the water.

Frozen

5. Make It Into Tea:

Yes, that’s right, tea counts toward your daily water requirements. While tea is a mild diuretic, the amount of water it causes you to lose is far outweighed by the total volume of water you drink. And, a 2006 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking tea is actually healthier than just drinking plain water. The high flavanoid content of tea may protect against heart disease and cancer. So whether you like it green, black, white or herbal, tea is a great way to meet your daily hydration needs. Just skip the sugar or cream.

Tea

Remember, The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3.0 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. If you are more active, your requirements may be higher.

The Banana Diet: Another Japanese Fad Diet

The Banana Diet: Another Japanese Fad Diet

Brunette with bananas

If looking for a simple diet that can be used to shed the last pesky 20 pounds or so then perhaps you may be looking into the banana diet. The banana diet is a recent phenomenon in Japan and has been making the rounds of their social networking sites, diet sights and has even generated a few books and magazine articles.

The diet is still in its infancy in the fact that it has yet to be studied on a clinical basis, and has flown under the radar and some of the harsh criticisms that some diets endure. Advocates of the diet say simply that you have nothing to lose. The diet does limit some of the foods you can eat or drink, but not to the point of deprivation. And the mainstay of the diet is the banana, if the diet doesn’t work for you you’re not out anything but time.

The banana diet as the name implies requires that bananas are eaten at breakfast. More than one may be eaten. The rules are simple. Eat slowly and be mindful of its taste. Two, eat until you are satisfied, but not stuffed (think 7 on a scale of 1 to 10). Three, eat raw, fresh bananas. Four, drink purified or filtered water at room temperature.

Here are some great options to juice your banana's with the best juicer under $100

What are the Key points of this Diet?

Do not use water to wash down food. Simply sip it throughout the day to alleviate thirst. Lunch and dinner may for the most part be eaten normally, though the diet recommends decreasing the intake of rice and finding alternatives to grilled food. You are also required to keep a food journal.

One to two snacks per day are permitted. If you are hungry two hours after eating breakfast, a rice ball may be eaten. Desserts are not permitted at any meal but they are encouraged as the afternoon snack. Virtually anything that satisfies the sweet tooth will do but it is recommended to avoid donuts or ice cream.

For someone craving a salty snack, popcorn would be preferred over potato chips. Many fruits can be substituted for the sweets during the snack but do not deprive yourself of that cookie if that’s what you want. The idea is that deprivation leads to stress, stress leads to overeating.

What are the Drs saying about this Fad weight loss approach?

Exercise only if you feel comfortable doing so. The diet recommends taking a good half-hour walk per day at the minimum but accepts that everyone’s tolerances are different, and people who don’t want to exercise will only be stressed out by doing so.

This diet is about limited structure and is more about guidelines than actual rules. Many of the recommendations are helpful to incorporate into any diet, such as eating food slowly, allowing one to two snacks between meals, not eating within four hours of bedtime and keeping a journal of what you eat are all recognized tools in helping develop healthy eating habits.

In terms of sustainability the banana diet is somewhat akin to the grapefruit diet. The majority of its success is likely in the fact that breakfast has been replaced by a high-fiber fruit eaten until one is not hungry.

Sensible options are provided for snacking, and unhealthy choices at lunch and dinner are given alternatives. Put these little pieces all together and the banana diet might make weight loss easier by making you more aware of what you are eating and more aware of when you are satisfied without being stuffed, and might explain why this Japanese fad diet has been so successful in gaining followers.

The Soup Diet

The Soup Diet

The Soup Diet

The soup diet is one of the many diets in circulation accredited to either anonymous sources or sources that do not claim responsibility. While the soup diet is similar to the cabbage diet, the only difference appears to be that the soup of the soup diet contains no cabbage. In reality, the seven day meal plan appears quite similar, quite restrictive, and quite unbalanced. The reason the meal plan is unbalanced is because entire food groups cut out of one day’s menu is emphasized on the next. There is nothing in this diet that substantiates sustainable weight loss. Likewise, each hospital attributed to the versions of the soup diet in circulation deny any association. An example of this is the Mayo Clinic, sometimes linked with the Cabbage Soup Diet.

The soup diet is nothing magical. This relies on the basic principle of calorie restriction to endorse weight loss. The soup is dense with fiber so it can alleviate symptoms of hunger if the dieter can stick to it. Beyond the soup, low-calorie or zero-calorie beverages are allowed. These include black coffee, skim milk, tea, cranberry or other unsweetened juices, and water. Day one of the diet is any of the beverages, as much of the soup as the dieter wishes, and as much fruit as desired except for bananas. Many variations encourage watermelon or cantaloupe since they are lower calorie fruits.

Day two of the diet begins with more soup. Omit all fruits today and stick only to vegetables, preferably the leafy greens. As a reward for good dietary behavior, one large baked potato with butter is permitted at dinner time. Again as much soup and the permitted beverages are allowed in any quantity.

Day three of the soup diet is typically a combination of days one and two; eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want with as many permitted beverages as you like and as much soup as you want. No bananas and no baked potato.

Day four is the changeup day and the only day bananas are allowed. On this day, in addition to the soup and drinks, eat up to eight bananas and as much skim milk as you want (some variations limit the amount of milk between one and eight glasses while some versions limit the banana intake to between three and eight).

Day five is dedicated to meat and vegetables. Up to 20 ounces of meat is permitted. Some variations claim that red meat is essential for the iron. Other variations insist that lean meats such as skinless chicken or fish are better option. Besides, iron can be incorporated with other source foods such as spinach if it is included in the soup (some variations include this). Regardless, 20 ounces of meat, lots of vegetables, and supplement the rest of the appetite with soup.

Day six is almost identical to day five. Meat, vegetables, and soup.

The last day of the soup diet is up to two cups worth of brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice, limitless vegetables and of course, the soup.

The weight loss claims of the soup diet ranges from 10-17 pounds depending on which variation is followed. Bearing in mind that the body weight can fluctuate by an average of four pounds per week in water weight then actual weight loss might be 6-13 pounds depending.

The Soup Diet

Aside from the unsubstantiated claims of weight loss there are some kernels of truth to be gleaned from the soup diet. First, soup is a good way to incorporate more veggies and fiber into an everyday balanced diet. Second, it is a sensible choice for meal replacements or snacks. A bowl of soup with half a sandwich, for instance might be a healthier choice than grabbing a slice of pizza to go. And part of living a life free of dieting is learning to make more sensible choices about the foods we eat. The time honored method of losing weight is through calorie restriction. The soup diet is simply another spin on this concept, allowing the dieter to eat limitless quantities of low calorie soup and restricted foods in place of regular meals to lose weight in the short term, and many other diets have copied it, like a cabbage soup diet.

Kale Shake Recipes that will get you going

Kale is one of the greens, a healthy leafy vegetable, which holds numerous benefits. By using Kale in our dishes, we can incorporate beneficial effects into our daily lives. Some of the benefits of this green is being listed down here:

  • It is such an amazing anti-cholesterol agent that it is able to lower cholesterol levels when taken after being steamed. This happens when the fiber present within the kale binds to the bile acids present in the digestive tract which helps in their excretion. This directly lowers the cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Kale has the ability to lower the risk of five different cancers which includes: cancer of bladder, breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and the cancer of prostate. The isothiocyanates present within the kale helps in this cancer risk lowering process.
  • ​This green leafy vegetable is a very good agent for detoxifying the body of the toxins present within.
  • ​Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attribute is associated with kale due to the flavonoids present in the greens.
  • ​By lowering the cholesterol levels, Kale acts as the cardiovascular support system for the body.
  • Being loaded with micronutrients which are essential for better body function, kale is to be included in daily routine for daily intake.
Green smoothie with banana, chia and kale

How to get maximum benefits from Kale:

Food recommendation is to rinse the kale leaves under cold water, chop the leaves into half and chop quarterly for even and quick cooking. Almost for 5 minutes the kale is to be left to sit and adding a little lemon juice can help gain the best nutritious value from this green leafy vegetable.

We are going to share few of healthy and nutritious kale shake recipes which are quick to make and are loaded with a large number of micronutrients. These are good way to include in your detox routine for a healthy lifestyle.

Best way is to try a different variety of flavors and use the ones which are most tasty. For making these kale shakes, one needs to have an electric blender at hand for easy preparation. Within minutes one is able to make shakes for either one self or to impress one’s guests with amazing and healthy Kale shakes.

These shakes are so healthy and can be used for the breakfast or after exercise or as a snack in day time. The procedure to make them is hassle free and can be made with the products available at hand.

Milk or cream can be used to thicken the shake and turn into a smoothie. Flavored ice creams can be added to make the shakes a fancy look. These are best for use by the kids especially in summers in order to prevent the dehydration.

Kale and Chocolate Ice cream Shake:


Kale and Chocolate Ice cream Shake

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

¼ cup of water

(Milk can be substituted in order to get more creaminess)

1 cup chopped kale leaves (chopped)

½ cup chocolate ice cream

½ cup almonds or cashew nuts (for flavor)

1 tbsp vanilla essence

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp sugar

2 cups ice

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in the above mentioned way into a blender and blend till the mixture is smooth in texture.

Sweetness is according to one’s own choice and can be added to the shake according to the taste.

The shake is then transferred to a beautiful glass and garnished with the almonds and the cashew nuts at hand.

Kale and Banana Shake:


Kale and Banana Shake

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

¼ cup of unsweetened condensed milk

2 cups of chopped kale leaves

1 cup of chopped banana

1 tbsp of vanilla

1 pinch of salt

2 cups of ice

Sugar to taste

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend them till the texture of the shake is smooth. Sugar can be adjusted to taste. The Shake is then transferred to glass and garnished with a piece of chopped banana at top.

Serve the drink when chill. This is very good for summers and is healthy, fulfilling Kale shake.

Kale and Coconut Shake:


Green smoothie with banana, chia and kale

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped kale leaves

1 cup chopped coconut

½ cup coconut milk

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 pinch of salt

Sugar to taste

2 cups of ice

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the blender and blend it high till smooth shake is seen. Transfer the ready shake to glass, garnish it with some of the chopped coconut. Serve the shake when it is chill.

Kale and Pineapple Shake:


Our Gummiberry Juice

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped kale leaves

¼ cup of unsweetened condensed milk

½ cup of coconut milk

1 cup of chopped pineapple

1 pinch of salt

2 cups of ice

Directions:

Add all the ingredients into the blender and blend it till all the ingredients are properly mixed. Serve while chill with garnish of the chopped pineapple piece at the side.

Kale and Blueberry shake:


Green smoothies in small bottles to go

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped kale leaves (stems removed)

½ cup of unsweetened almond milk

½ cup of berries (mixed or blueberries)

1 tbsp hemp seeds

Honey to taste

2 cups of ice

Directions:

All the ingredients are combined in the blender and taste with sweetness is adjusted to likeness. The final drink is shifted to a beautiful glass where it is garnished with ground ice on top. This drink is very refreshing to take.

Kale and strawberry shake:


Healthy Green Juice Smoothie Drink

Serving: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped kale leaves

½ cup of coconut milk

1 tbsp hemp seeds

1 cup chopped strawberries

2 cups of ice

Sugar to taste

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in the blender and mix them all together till they are of similar consistency. Taste and sweetness can be adjusted as per preference. Serve the drink when chill with a garnish from chopped strawberries at the side of the glass.

These are some of the Kale shake recipes which are very tasty, healthy and fulfilling at the same time. Do try these easy to make recipes and get the most benefits from this green leafy vegetable. Stay healthy and remain fit with these kale shakes.

Fruit fibre

Nutribullet vs Vitamix: Which One Wins?

So we have compared Nutribullet vs Vitamix. But when it comes to juicers, how does one really choose?

Picking the right kind of juicer is essential so you can maximize the nutrients you get from your fruits and vegetables.​

These two names stand out from the rest, and you can start by taking a look at how they fare against each other:

Review of: NutriBullet

Use: The Choice of sport people around the world for all their simple juicing needs

Effectiveness

Great for simple juicing tasks, use very durable and reliable even after years of use.

Price

Ver well priced and one aspect why its so popular amongst users.

Ease of use

Easy to use, basically a plug and go system with very little complication in its working

Warranty

1 year warranty standard on all models

We Like:

  • Trusted by Thousands of people accross the world
  • Safe and reliable after extensive use
  • BPA free and Dishwasher safe
  • Easy to clean all the parts
  • 4 Cups that can be drinked out of striaght after juicing

We dislike:

  • For peole looking for a heavy duty juicer this might not be the option
  • HadCompared to other juicers it has limitations when looking at fountain models available.

Summary: If you are looking for a well know, trusted and well priced juicer the NutriBullet is the juicer you want. Its a good-looking appliance that can be left out to start conversations around when people come to visit.


What Sets It Apart

NutriBullet is all about Nutrient Extraction, which focuses on the amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you are able to get with every food processing session. Unlike other blenders and even juicers, NutriBullet maximizes the entire fruit, vegetable, nut, or seed and breaks down their cell walls, including the seeds, fiber, skin and even pulp. NutriBullet knows that these are all beneficial, but these are broken down for you in a form that’s easy to digest and absorb.

Main Features

NutriBullet has several models to choose from, but each of them exhibit the main features and benefits that you get from the brand. When you buy a NutriBullet, this is what you’re getting:

  • Bullet cyclonic action

NutriBullet works with a powerful motor and specialized blades, processing the food with a cyclonic action that helps you get the most out of it. What the cyclonic action basically does is that it breaks down, pulverizes, and emulsifies whatever plant food you put in there, transforming it into liquid fuel that you can now access all day long.

  • Powerful motor and blades

To give you healthy and nutritious drinks that will allow you to fight disease and take your first steps to a healthier lifestyle, weight loss, younger-looking skin, and a rejuvenated self, NutriBullet comes with a high-torque power base as well as sharp and powerful blades. These work together to break down ingredients no matter how tough, unlocking the nutrition that is usually hidden inside. Skins are shredded, seeds are busted open, stems are cracked, and even your toughest vegetables don’t stand a chance. With its capacity to shred, blend, grind, and chop, you get food in the most absorbable state.

  • Efficient design

NutriBullet doesn’t take that much space from your countertop, and you can plug it on any standard outlet. It has a unique Extractor Blade that can twist directly onto all your NutriBullet cups. Once you’re done extracting, you can drink from the same cup (it comes in 18, 24, 30, 32, and 45 oz cups depending on the model you get) and save yourself from additional cleaning.

  • Easy to use

There’s hardly any figuring out that you need to do when you use your NutriBullet, because it’s really so easy to use. All you need to do is fill the cup with all of your favorite foods, twist it in the NutriBullet, and let the powerful motor take care the rest. You have no pulp to clean up and no waste to throw down the drain because NutriBullet makes use of everything. When you’re done, you can just place all the cups at the top rack of the dishwasher and you’re done.

  • Recipe Book

Even if NutriBullet is quite easy to use by itself, the makers want you to get the most out of it and really start a lifestyle change. This is why when you purchase the NutriBullet models available, you get a free recipe book that gives you ideas on how to mix up ingredients and really get the most nutritional benefit out of it. With these power-boosting recipes, you can really maximize your use of NutriBullet and make a different kind of juice every single day to power you through.

Most Popular Models

NutriBullet nutrient extractors are highly accessible and quite affordable. You don’t have to spend so much money just to get the most out of your fresh fruits and vegetables, because NutriBullet has you covered. For below $100, you can already begin your healthy lifestyle with these 3 popular models:

  • Nutribullet 600 – At $79.99, the original NutriBullet has 600 watts of power, and is the most ideal if you’re just making juices for yourself. It comes in gray, blue and red, and has 18 oz and 24 oz cups. This allows you to put in around 5 servings of fruits and vegetables for every NutriBlast, and you also get a 50+ page book along with it.

  • NutriBullet Pro 900 Series – If you want to take it a step further you can go for the 900-watt version, which costs $99.99 and includes a 130+ page book. This has a high-torque power base that allows you to process about 7 servings of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains per NutriBlast. This is more ideal if you want to make more servings all at once, because it comes with 18 oz, 24 oz and 32 oz cups, as well as a flip top to-go lid so you can bring the juice with you wherever you go.

  • NutriBullet Rx – Chefs and homemakers will prefer the best in class out of all Nutrient Extractors: this 1700-watt motor gives you the ability to not only extract nutrients from 12 servings of fruits and vegetables, but also make hot soups and sauces with its heating cycle. When you activate the soup-making mode, all you have to do is wait for the 7-minute heating cycle to create nutrient-extracted soups, beverages, and sauces that are piping hot. When you go for soup mode, you need to use the complementary SouperBlast Pitcher with 2-piece lid, which keeps heat and pressure while also allowing you to pour it out easily when it’s done. The best part of is that this comes with 30 oz and 45 oz cups, so everyone can share the nutrients with you. You get all this for $179.99, and you even get a 150+ page book as a bonus.

If you are interested in seeing more of the nutribullet range, then see Nutri Ninja Vs Nutribullet

Vitamix

What Sets It Apart

Vitamix is about improving the vitality of people’s lives and basically removing all boundaries and limits when it comes to conventional food and beverage preparation. Its professional-grade juicers give professionals results just as chefs would have it, and you access the same power from the comfort of your own kitchen. Because it’s commercial-grade you can process practically everything you want with it, and you can use it every single day.

Main Features

Vitamix is committed to give you a smart investment that’s truly worth your money, so it makes sure that all of its products have the following features that you can enjoy:

  • Simple and no-nonsense

Viamix believes in 1 container that allows you to do everything, instead of so many components that you need to keep track of. This allows you to make hundreds of recipes with just one simple container, and the best part of it is that just because it’s simple doesn’t mean you’re not flexible. You can make use of the automated programs, allowing you to choose from Smoothies, Forzen Desserts, Hot Soups, Purees, or a Cleaning Mode. However you can also manually adjust the blade speed and even make use of the pulse feature for a sudden power burst.

  • Built to last

When you put your food into Vitamix, it comes to contact with powerful blades that are made from aircraft-grade stainless steel. They always say sharper is better but in this case, not necessarily. With Vitamix blades you get blunt edges but prongs that have been hardened and carefully laser cut at a specific angle. Together, they can slice and pulverize like no other. Even the Vitamix container creates a uniquely controlled vortex, which folds the ingredients back to the blades for an even smoother blend. To ensure that what you have is durable and will last you a long time, the motor is made to maintain an even torque as well as a cool temperature, preventing cases of overheating. Even the full warranty gives you 5 to 7 years of protection.

  • Processes even the most stubborn blends

Other juicers give you the problem of having to deal with thick and stubborn ingredients, forcing you to pause in the middle of it to scrape off what is not processed. With Vitamix you also get a tamper, and this tamper allows you to process even the most stubborn of blends without having to stop every so often. This means you get what you want in no time at all, because all you have to do is use the tamper to ensure continuous processing.

  • Versatile and flexible

Vitamix allows you precision of texture when processing your favorite foods. This means that yes, you can do whole-food juicing for the smoothest texture with maximum nutrients. But you can also do pureeing, grinding, and even chopping, allowing you to make this whole range with only one device: juices, purees, smoothies, milks, nut butters, soups, dips & spreads, dressings, frozen desserts, batters, dough, and flours. You can also use it for food preparation.

  • Self-cleaning

Perhaps one of the best features of any Vitamix is the fact that it can clean itself. Other juicers and extractors would need you to disassemble the parts in order to clean it and make it ready for another use, but not with Vitamix. With Vitamix you just need to pour warm water and liquid soap inside, then press the button for cleaning mode. This gives you utmost convenience and frees up your time to do other things.

Most Popular Models

There are so many models under the Vitamix line, and while each of them have the same Vitamix benefits and high quality stamp, you can still take a look at their differences and decide what works better for your lifestyle. These are the different types of Vitamix series:

Vitamix_S_series

For an affordable price, you already get restaurant-quality juices and smoothies from the comfort of your home. The personal blenders of Vitamix are less than 15 centimeters in width, so you can place it in your kitchen countertop with no extra hassle. It comes with 0.6 liter and 1.2 liter containers, giving you small batches of blends.

The most popular of the S-Series is the Vitamix S30, which you can get for a really affordable price. This is ideal for those who want to start living healthier and getting the most out of the natural goodness found in food. The small container and capacity is perfect if you’re living alone (0.6 L) or making juices made for two (1.2 L).

vitamix_C-Series

The C-series allows for more versatility because of increased capacity and functionality. With a C-series blender you get a bigger batch size (as much as 2.0 liters), so it’s ideal if you want to make more at a time. While the S-Series is most useful if you’re just blending for yourself, the C-Series is a lifesaver if you want to involve your entire family in this lifestyle change.

The Total Nutrition Center is the most popular model in the C-series. At $995 you can process 2.0 liters worth of whole foods with 10 variable speeds. This gives you maximum control and more flexibility in blending eve more ingredients.

The G-series on the other hand gives you a collection of next-generation blenders that have even more powerful motors. The 2.2 HP motor that you get is unthinkable for most household devices, because you only usually see this power in commercial kitchens. You get the same 2.0-liter capacity but in a low-profile container, which means you can easily fit your blender under your kitchen cabinet.

Are looking for something different in the Vitamix range? See our Vitamix 5300 review

The Professional Series 750 for instance has 5 pre-programmed settings including the cleaning mode, but the 2.2 HP motor also comes with the latest sound technology, making it the quietest motor you can have for that amount of power. At $1,495, you can whip up restaurant-style dishes in your own kitchen. This is ideal for those who love cooking and experimenting, and even for chefs who want to cook for their families at home. If you’re fond of entertaining in large batches, this could also be the series for you.

juicing from Omega

Omega NC800 HDS 5th Generation Nutrition Center Juicer Review

Okay so lets start by asking you: What have you heard about the Omega NC800 HDS 5th Generation Nutrition Center Juicer? Do you believe all the hype or are you looking for a review that will hit you with the facts straight out.

Below I have put it short and sweet so you know what to expect and if you need anything else, I have gone into some more detail below.

Use: Juicing larger Fruit and Veggies

Effectiveness

Extra large Chute to feed larger pieces of fruit

Price

It's reasonable for what you get

Ease of use

Easy to use, may have a slight learning curve(see below)

Warranty

15 years warranty offered on this model

We Like:

  • Dual stage masticating juicer
  • Automatic pulp ejection
  • Comes in Silver(very sleek!!)

We dislike:

  • Might be expensive for a beginner
  • Plunger size to push down fruit

Summary: This is an improved version of previous best selling models from Omega, so it has it advantages, dual masticating staging, can be set to actually replace some of the pulp back if that is what you like, after you extract the most amount of juice from the contents

You are still here, so let me get to the meaty part of the review and I hope that I show you why you should or shouldn't invest in this kitchen tool.

My personal issue is to always find something that works like I need it to and then also fit with my style and taste, so Yeah it needs to look as good as it is!!

What you may have heard about this monster of a machine

This is a masticating juicer.

That it has a dual stage masticating feature.

​It has automatic pulp ejection for more juice from the fruit.

It has low speed to really get down to the tough pulp and extracting more fluids

That you can get in a sleek silver design so it looks beautiful in your designer kitchen.​

Well if you have known about this then you are well informed because all of it is true and are the main features of the product. Omega as a brand is well know in the juicing circles and have put a lot of effort not only into the design but also the sheer experience when using the NC800 HDS 5th Generation Nutrition Center model.

juicing from Omega

Why is this model classified as a masticating juicer?

The word “masticating” is defined as the process to knead, grind or chew a substance into a pulp. When you chew you are masticating and what you are doing is just removing the fluid from the solids. A masticating juicer does the above by a slow rotating action and there is no type of spinning or high speed involved, although most of the machines have a very high "watt" measured on the sales page, this is for power purposes and not speed.This is how in a nutshell a masticating juicer works and gets the best amount of fluid from fruits and vegetables.

Why would I spend my money on this make and model?

I posted this exact same question to sales person at Omega. The NC800 and NC900 are basically the same, the only difference is the color that it comes in.


The differences between the NC800 and the j8006(click to see review) is the larger chute so you can feed the machine bigger sliced fruits or even small whole fruits. This model also has an adjustible end-cap  that allows you fine tune the amount of pulp in your juice, as some of us like that in the juice as its more filling 🙂 


The sales lady also stated that there may be a learning curve with the end-cap and to optimize it for the best juice-pulp ratio that suites your liking.


I have included both the NC800 model(above) and the NC900(below) that you can get a good impression of what you could expect even if you go for the NC900 model.

Is this model for advanced users only?

That is one amazing aspect of the Omega range, they create kitchen appliances that is easy to use but then have factors that more experienced users will enjoy and that adds that "WOW Factor" to their range and models that they produce.

With the NC800 model it has the awesome end-cap that may be a challenge to get just right for rookie juicers, as it allows you to put some of the pulp back after extracting the maximum amount of fluid from your ingredients.

What is the Warranty policy like for this Center Juicer?

Omega delivers some of the best warranties on the market, this speaks for the quality of their equipment and you can really buy with confidence. The NC800 & NC900 have 15 year warranties but you should note the following exclusion:

Omega_juicer_warranty

I have searched on a couple of forums related to juicing and I have found only a handful of people complaining of the consumables being an issue, or then breaking.

Conclusion

If you have used previous models that was sold by Omega and you are looking for the latest and greatest, then this is the one to get.

If you have never owned an Omega juicer, you can't go wrong with the NC800. I might suggest that you look into some cheaper juicers under $100 if you are not sure if this juicing craze is for you or if you just want to wet your toes and see what all the fuss is about.

I truly hope that this Omega NC800 HDS 5th Generation Nutrition Center Juicer Review has given you everything you require to make an informed decision on the juicer you require.

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kid using a juicer

Green Star GS-1000 Juicer Review


Tribest Green Star GS-1000 is so much more than you think!

Every fruit has its own distinct benefit. We cannot keep on munching different fruits throughout the day. However, it is much easier to extract juices from many fruits and vegetables, combining them into a healthier drink every day.

Nowadays, most of us prefer drinking that cool slurpy instant canned juice rather than eating the whole fruit itself or fruit juice. Researchers found that whole fruit is always better than fruit juices, as fibers are extracted after the process.

However how many of us know the hidden fact that adding the pulp back to the juice again becomes equivalent to the same whole fruit.

kid using a juicer

Extracting fruit juice is always fun. Nowadays, kids do not prefer eating the whole fruit, but if you can give them freshly extracted juices of their favourite fruit, they will finish it in no time. Creating cocktails and mocktails becomes much easier if you are hosting a party or just preparing the juice for your evening snack.

But we often get puzzled with which juicer to bring home, as different brands of juicers are available in the market. Some are big, few are small, few of them are light weighted and few of them need great strength to even operate them.

But let us introduce one of the best selling juicer available in the market -"The Tribest GS-1000 Green Star Basic HD Twin Gear Juicer". There are 3 models of Green Star juicers, of which the GS1000 is their most basic model.

The Tribest GS-1000 Green Star Basic HD Twin Gear Juicer comes with all of the basic juicing and food processing attachments. Attachments include - the fine screen, the homogenizing blank for food processing, a glass juice pitcher, wooden plunger, plastic plunger, and cleaning brush.

Few amongst best features of this juicer are:-

  • The application of exclusive heavy duty twin gear technology is one of the latest techniques used to manufacture the product. This juicer is world widely used both as a commercial and domestic product. Many certified raw food chefs have been preparing a wider range of juicer recipes like plates and ice cream from frozen bananas etc using this amazing product.
  • The automated pulp ejection technique helps you to make continuous juicing. So you need not worry, if you are hosting a party, this juicer will take care all the cocktails you want to serve to your guests.
  • Easily juices most of the fruits and vegetables. This juicer can also be used to grinds nuts & grains. This juicer gives you excellent results if the juicing lot of greens such as kale and parsley. If this juicer is at home, then you do not require a separate wheatgrass juicer.
  • Works as a food processor for preparing baby food and many delicious sorbets. Can also be used to process sauces from a vast array of ingredients.
  • This juicer is portable enough to carry to any picnic, where you can enjoy fresh juice with your open air mouth-watering barbeque meats.
    (dimensions-6. 5 x 19 x 12. 5 inches ; 24 pounds)

Is there a catch you should know about it?

  • Yes, it sometimes becomes tedious to assemble the parts of the juicer, as it has several attachments for many minute functions. Few customers raised concerns about cleaning the attachments is a tedious work. However, it is not that difficult to soak the different parts in a soapy water tub, and set aside for some time and wash them through running tap, clean dry using a wipe and attach back.

  • Want add-on accessories? Buyers have the option to add on accessories such as pasta maker, mochi maker is available for purchase with the GS1000.

There is endless variety of juicers available in the market. In a recent survey, many of the juicers parts fall apart, mostly the juicing screen. The new screen which is sent, sometimes crack after a single use. And as soon you start claiming warranty, it seems that, it is entirely the fault of the user, the user was not able to handle the product properly, either using it too much or misusing somehow.

You would find hairline cracks along the pressure point, that would get wider with few more usage. It becomes a battle to contact the customer care service to get the problem fixed. And eventually when the warranty expires many of us has to keep on investing money buying spare parts of the juicer. But if you are a proud owner of this juicer, then you would get rid of all these complaints and get hassle free uninterrupted customer care service.

Undoubtedly, fresh juices are a better choice over a canned preservative juice. This juicer is a one-time investment and will give returns for long years. So bring home, "The Tribest GS-1000 Green Star Basic HD Twin Gear Juicer" today and stay healthy.