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Archive for October, 2015

7 tips to nourish your body and soul

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, “7 tips to nourish your body and your soul.”

You can also read it here.

With a new season comes changes and often a time for new beginnings. If you are at all like me, transitioning into the fall and winter seasons are more difficult than moving into spring and summer where the days are longer and the meals often lighter.

As the weather gets colder, we often have different food preferences as well as exercise habits. The days also get shorter, which can affect both our moods and our food preferences. However, there is lots of good we can cultivate as we transition into the fall season.

Here are seven tips to nourish your body and your soul.

1. Enjoy the beauty of nature.

As the weather cools off, the leaves begin to change (at least in many locations), and the colors are breathtaking. Many people consider it one of the most incredible times of the year. Spending time outdoors, whether it be taking a hike or just going for a brisk walk, is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is a great way to take advantage of the changing seasons.

2. Start your day with hot cereal.

When the weather cools off, I love starting my day with hot cereal. Oatmeal or mixed whole grains make for a nutritious and satisfying breakfast, high in fiber and rich in nutrients. Top your favorite whole grain hot cereal with berries, flax seeds, and chopped nuts as a great way to boost your nutrient intake.

3. Smile.

Putting on a happy face is a great way to boost your spirits. Smiling may improve our mood, reduce our stress levels, and also make us more attractive, and even younger.Smiling increases our endorphin levels, hormones which make us feel happier. People who smile also appear to be more self confident.

The next time you are not feeling in a great mood, put on a smile, and there is a good chance, you will feel better. As the saying goes, fake it till you make it.

4. Warm up with soup.

This is a great time of year to enjoy soup. I am a huge soup fan. Soup makes for a great hot meal (or snack) with huge benefits. Soups are filling and a nutritious, and a great way to boost your intake of healthy vegetables, especially if you are in the mood for something more satisfying than just a salad. At this time of year, I tend to prefer split pea, lentil, mushroom barley, and minestrone soups. An added bonus: If you start your meal with a healthy low-cal soup, you may actually end up eating less over the course of the meal. Because soup is so high in water, it helps fill you up without too many calories. One caveat: Many store bought soups are high in sodium, so you may want to make your own soups and freeze them.

5. Go apple picking.

This is a great time of year for many of us to go apple picking. I love the different varieties of apples available in New York at this time of year. As I previously discussed, apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in calories, and an apple a day may even keep your prescription medication away. As the weather cools off, I love eating a baked apple for dessert. Add spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, for an added boost of flavor and health.

6. Enjoy winter squash.

Despite its name, winter squash is grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. I am a huge fan of both butternut and acorn squash. Not only are these winter squashes nutritious, they are also versatile and, best of all, filling. One cup cooked butternut squash contains only 80 calories, over 6 grams of fiber, and is also rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. It tastes great roasted, lightly sauteed in olive oil, or pureed into a soup. I often enjoy it as a filling side dish or even as a late afternoon snack.

7. Get a massage.

I love getting a massage to help me relax and de-stress. Massage therapy, however, offers up many additional health benefits. Some research has found that massage therapy can be helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, soft tissue strains, and even mild insomnia. My favorite is an aromatherapy massage which provides an added boost. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils (my favorite is lavender) may stimulate brain function, improve mood, and perhaps even increase cognitive function.

We would love to hear your favorite fall rituals.

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9 Foods This Nutritionist Stocks in Her Kitchen

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, 9 foods this nutritionist stocks in her kitchen.

You can also read it HERE.

The people we surround ourselves with help to contribute to our happiness. In food speak, the foods we surround ourselves with, help keep us healthy.

As a nutritionist, I have seen first hand that our environment plays a huge factor guiding our food choices. If our “default” environment is filled with large portions of junk food, it becomes increasingly difficult to make healthy food choices. If, on the other hand, we keep healthy foods handy, we are more likely to make more nutritious food choices.

While everyone — including me — loves to indulge on occasion, eating well at least 80 percent of the time is the key to staying healthy. And surrounding ourselves with nutritious foods certainly helps us to make healthy food choices.

Here are nine healthy foods I try stock in my kitchen regularly.

1. Greek yogurt

I make sure to keep Greek yogurt in my refrigerator at all times. It tastes great and contains protein which helps keep me full along with the mineral calcium necessary for bone health. Greek yogurt is a great snack and the sky is the limit as far as nutrition goes; adding ground flax or chia seeds, nuts, and your favorite fruit adds a huge nutrition boost. Greek yogurt is also rich in good bacteria called probiotics known to have a multitude of health benefits, among them aiding in digestion.

2. Almonds

Almonds are packed with nutrients and are a filling and flavorful snack. They contain protein, vitamin E, heart-healthy fats, along with the minerals calcium and magnesium. I try to pack a one ounce serving — 23 nuts to be exact — in a small tin or baggie to take along with me if I will be out all day.

Almonds are also very versatile and make for a delicious addition to both fruit salads and green salads. I also love sprinkling slivered almonds into my morning oatmeal or yogurt.

And you have no reason to avoid eating nuts if you are watching your weight. Even though they are high in fat, research found that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control total calories. One caveat: include a handful of nuts instead of chips (the key word being “instead of.”)

3. Oatmeal

Not only does oatmeal taste delicious, it is also filling, chock full of fiber, and lower in calories and sugar than many breakfast cereals. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol level, making it a great choice to prevent heart disease. Oatmeal also contains magnesium and potassium, two minerals also good for your heart.

4. Apples

I love eating apples especially in the Fall season in New York. Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in calories, and an apple a day may even keep your prescription medication away. I enjoy an apple (Fuji is my favorite) as a snack most days and also love making baked apples to enjoy while home. I suggest buying organic apples and eating the entire apple along with the skin.

5. Blueberries

These tiny blue-colored berries are among my favorite fruits. Not only do they taste great, they are relatively low in calories and pack in nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, and fiber ( 4 gram of fiber per 1 cup serving). I often eat them by the handful or throw them into yogurt, smoothies, or salads. Frozen blueberies also taste great after nuking them in the microwave for a minute or so.

6. Peanut butter

I must confess that I love peanut butter and find it hard to stick with just a tablespoon or two even though I have spent a good part of my life studying portion control. If you can get a handle on your portion (2 tablespoons look like a walnut in a shell), peanut butter makes for a great snack or even a quickie mini-meal for kids and grown ups (remember peanut butter on whole wheat bread with sliced bananas). Peanut butter is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and contains protein which helps you to feel full.

7. Broccoli

I am a huge fan of eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit not just because they are healthy and relatively low in calories but because they taste great. Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables and is a true nutrition powerhouse. A cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica family, broccoli is high in the antioxidant vitamins A and C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can help ward off cancer. While I prefer fresh broccoli, I always keep a bag of frozen broccoli on hand for a rainy day. Sautee broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and you are good to go.

8. Olive oil

While olive oil is high in fat and calories, and should be used sparingly (1-2 tablespoons as a serving on a salad), it is rich in monounsaturated fat and contains many health benefits, among them controlling cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels. I always keep a bottle of extra virgin olive oil handy — in a cool dry place — to toss on salads, drizzle on fish, and add zest and flavor to my favorite vegetables.

9. Avocados

Avocados taste great and add zest to a meal. They are also rich in healthy nutrients — including heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E and potassium — while also keeping your hunger at bay. I love to add avocado to a salad or spread it on whole grain crackers as a late-afternoon snack.

We would love to hear which healthy foods you stock in your kitchen.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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