Versatile Blogger Award

A couple of weeks ago (okay many weeks ago) I was nominated for a versatile blogger award by the amazing Healthyfrenchie!

It made my day and I’m extremely honored.  Thank you again, Hélène!  You are such an inspiration and I am in awe of the recent race you participated in.

I think these awards are a great way for us to share the blogs we enjoy reading and give those bloggers recognition.

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The Versatile Blogger Award:

-Nominate 15 fellow bloggers  (or as many as you deem worthy)

-Inform the bloggers of their nomination (I’m kinda bad at this part, so if you don’t get a comment from me, I apologize! But know that I love your work!!)

-Share 7  things about yourself.

-Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.

-Add the “Versatile Blogger Award” pic to your blog post

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7 things about myself (if you’re interested, you can read others here):

  1. The “sock bun” is one of my favorite ways to wear my hair and I love the curls that it makes once it’s taken out.
  2. I love the beach.
  3. I pretty much live in flip-flops during the summer.
  4. I had a failed attempt at a green smoothie this morning…waaah waaaah. :-/
  5. Gone With The Wind is one of my favorite movies.
  6. I am currently reading Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles and The Science of Yoga by William J. Broad.
  7. Today I am volunteering to help fix-up a garden next to the church we sometimes attend.

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Fellow nominated versatile bloggers:

  1. Alternativeeating
  2. {Mrs. Buena Vida}
  3. The Yoga Hub
  4. Self Blossoming
  5. Daily Nibbles
  6. Marie Wetmore
  7. Going With The Flow

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Thanks for reading everyone!  Have a lovely Saturday (stay cool to those in the heat wave in the US) and love to you all!

Magic Word Mantras

Do you meditate in the morning?  It’s actually a really beneficial and easy practice to start.  After you wake up, sit up in a comfortable seated  position either in bed, your couch, floor, comfy chair (wherever), start by taking a few deep breaths and meditate, even just for five minutes.

When I take a few minutes to meditate in the morning, I usually try to hone-in on a goal for mental-health during the day.  Sometimes I desire a peaceful mind, no worries, positivity, winning the lottery…(okay, well, hey, you never know ;))  It’s a great way to start the day and when times get tough later, your morning meditation will be a reminder to calm down and bring yourself back to the present.  I am really loving this “me time.”  And mantras work like magic to make me smile and focus on what it is I need or want to accomplish.

A while back I wrote about mantras in yoga that help to keep focusing on the present, inward and on the breath.  More recently, while practicing yoga in my apartment, out of frustration, my subconscious bubbled up, “get out of your head!”  Today I’m feeling inspired to share a few more magic word mantras that might be helpful in your yoga and/or meditation practice.

  • “I am open to ______ [insert desired word here].”  This could be anything you want: positiveness, calmness, happiness, the universe, love, etc.
  • “I accept ______ [insert desired word here].”  This could be the same word and used in tandem with the magic mantra above.
  • “Breathe……just breathe…..”
  • “Don’t forget to breathe…”
  • “I am an awesome warrior!” (this one makes me smile and reminds me not to take the poses so seriously)
  • “I can do anything I put my mind to.”
  • “Reeeeeeeeelaaaaaaaaax”

Try some out next time you’re meditating or in yoga class.  I hope they work for you as well as they work for me.

With that, it’s Friday!!!  Yaaaay!!   Happy Friday everybody!  Love!!! :) :) :)

Dietary Guidelines

Good morning!  How is everyone?  I hope you all had a nice weekend.  There’s a thunderstorm rolling through Brooklyn right now.  I love storms!  The sky is green…awesome!!

So, I’m behind in studying for my independent nutrition study…eep!  But in my text book I came across the Dietary Guidelines that the USDA published in 2010 in a condensed format.  I thought that they were a good condensed reminder for healthy living.  I condensed them even more and created a fun infographic with the most important points.

Today’s Strala Blog post incorporates that infographic but I am sharing it here as well.  It’s a good quick reminder for daily healthy living and could be something to print-out and stick to your fridge as a reminder.  Feel free to share it with any person who is interested in beginning a healthier lifestyle who may benefit.  (I think I may revamp the infograph just a tad so for those who don’t attend Strala can use this infograph without being like “whaaat is Strala?” So check back later this evening, if it interests you.)

I had some fun creating this.  It’s always nice to spend some time doing something that involves being artistic, even if it’s something just as simple as this.

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you have a great start to the week.

Source: American Dietary Guidelines 2010.

What’s the Deal with Dried Fruit?

A friend recently tweeted me asking if dried strawberries counted as a fruit.  It’s a great question and I quickly responded with a short “no” because dried fruit is missing many of the nutritive properties that fresh fruit provides and it doesn’t really count as a serving of fruit.  But dried fruit is good and it’s certainly not an empty-calorie food.  I wanted to elaborate more on this subject but being on Twitter, it was difficult.  So here’s the deal with dried fruit versus fresh fruit:

Dehydration: when fruits go through the drying process, which usually involves air, heat or both, they lose water, vitamins and minerals.  Vitamin C is largely lost in the dehydration process.  A few diminished minerals such as potassium, stay behind.  So, this is a better reason to eat dried fruit than picking up some artificial fruit snacks or a candy bar when looking for something sweet.

Equality: something to remember is that 1 cup of fresh fruit does not equal one cup of dried fruit.  One cup of dried fruit is an amount greater than fresh.  When snacking on dried fruit one can wind up eating more leading to a greater calorie intake, a possible higher sugar intake (see below) etc.

Sugar: speaking of higher sugar intake, many times, dried cranberries have extra sugar added during the drying process.  That unnecessary sugar is something to keep an eye out for.

Calories: dried fruit is higher in calories.  For example, three fresh apricots are about 50 calories.  Six dried apricots (obviously smaller in physical size) can be about 90 calories.  Taking into account the equality factor above, one has to eat more of the dried fruit to obtain the level of satisfaction that fresh fruit provides, therefore you ingest more calories.  The water in fresh fruit decreases the calories and also helps to make us feel more full and satisfied.

Fiber: the fiber in dried fruit is pretty high considering the loss of almost everything else.  If you need to add more fiber to your diet, dried fruits may be a way to go about it.  A half cup of dried apricots is about 5 grams of fiber.  Of course, fresh fruit is also a good source of fiber.

I hope this clears up any questions regarding dried fruit and fresh fruit.  After all this, dried fruit is a decent, healthier snack, in moderation (stick to the serving size or less) but doesn’t compare nutritively (I think I just made that word up?) to a whole, fresh fruit and it doesn’t count as a serving of fruit.  If the whole fruit is available, go for it.  Dried fruit is yummy and will provide some nutrition and regardless, it’s better than sitting and eating a bag of artificial fruit snacks or potato chips.  It also travels easier than fresh fruit.

What are your favorite recipes that call for dried fruit?  (I love dried fruit with almonds and some dark chocolate.)

References:
www.livestrong.com
www.lifescript.com
The World’s Healthiest Foods
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

Tips for Decreasing Your Daily Sugar Intake

A few months back, around Easter, I wrote a post about sugar and what the daily recommended intake of sugar is for the average person (it’s about 25 grams, based on a 2000 calorie diet).

In my last post entitled Sugar Sugar (sing along! Honey! Honey! Sugar! Sugar!)  I gave some homework to pay attention to your body and see how your body reacted to sugar.  I’ve actually come to notice that if I eat too much sugar, I get a slight headache, right above or between my eyes.

Last week, during lunch, Phil and I shared a lemonade.  It was good, but I glanced at the nutrition facts after I had my half and in one serving there was 25g of sugar!  That’s my recommended intake blown to smithereens right there.  Ugh!  And it was only lunch time.  Lo and behold a little bit later, I was sitting at my desk and that sugar rush headache came right on.

I started to think of ways to keep an eye on sugar intake, since it’s so easy to go over without even noticing.  Here are some ideas:

  • If you use a smart phone or iPad, use a calorie tracker app, like MyFitnessPal or Lose It.  You can also sign up online to track your foods, but the smart phone apps allow you to scan the bar code of the food you’re eating and it saves all the nutritional information and compiles it with the other foods you’ve eaten in the day.  When you set up a profile, it will then be able to calculate your daily intake and show if you’ve gone over, reached, or stayed under your daily intake of sugar (along with all other macro and micronutrients).
  • If you have a craving for something sweet, replace with a piece of fruit or some berries.  After a while, the taste of sweets, like candy, might become rather gross.
  • Instead of drinking lemonade that comes from a powder, add some actual lemon to your water.  Fresh mint leaves would be awesome too.
  • Brew some of your favorite, natural tea; one that has some natural sweetness, like lemon mint, vanilla rooibos, apricot, peach, or even chai.  Let it cool and put it in the fridge.  Instead of going for a can of soda, pour a nice, cool glass of your favorite tea.  Again, fresh mint leaves would be awesome.
  • If you take sugar in your coffee, add it yourself so you are aware of how much you are actually ingesting and can add it to your app or take a mental note for future reference.  Maybe try to slowly scale back the amount you ingest.
  • Take a look at the nutrition facts on the back of the package of whatever you are eating and add up the amount of sugar you eat in a day.

Try these out and let me know what you find.  Awareness is the first step to better health.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy day.  Love to you all! :)