Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Archive for the ‘ Smart Fuel ’ Category

30 Mar

You Don’t Have to Try to Like Celery Anymore

Celery doesn’t have a passionate fan base. There are no “core users” of which I am aware. In fact, I’m convinced that even the celery fans among us (myself included…sorta) probably wouldn’t eat it if it weren’t, well, just there all the time.

Celery is great in soups and somehow also got the reputation of “peanut butter’s soul mate” though I for one will dispute that. A world without celery would probably also upset the makers of Mrs. T’s Bloody Mary Mix, so celery does serve a good purpose.

But, there’s a stringless alternative to celery that I love: allow me to present bok choy. Talk about genius calories.

bokchoy

Bok choy isn’t quite as bland as celery, so I don’t recommend forcing it on your almond butter. This is mainly because bok choy actually tastes like something. But bok choy’s noted fresh flavor is mild in a mushroom kind of way – it’s not overpowering and it complements whatever else it’s paired with.

Bok choy is loaded with calcium, Vitamin A, and vitamin C, and even if it weren’t, I’d still love it for the lack of strings. Although it’s technically a cabbagey thing, bok choy bears stalky resemblance to celery and is virtually interchangeable. And again about the strings.

Use bok choy in stir fries, vegetable medleys, casseroles, soups, stews, and even those Bloody Marys. You’ll love it!

Here’s a recipe.

bok choy

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27 Mar

You’re Only 2 Feet Away from Changing Your Health Forever

We fret. We’re fretters.

We worry and obsess about which diets to try, what kind of exercise to do, and which weapon is most powerful in the all-consuming War on Free Radicals.

Hey, it’s all important. But here’s a big secret about getting and staying healthy: the little things do count. That’s because health is cumulative. Make a few really simple switches, stick with them until they’re habits, and you’re well on your way. Eventually, the habits add up, and you’ll get into Total Health Overhaul Territory. But the belief that THOT happens overnight, with a single “I’m really, no, really gonna do it this time!” vow, is a myth. Stop pressuring yourself! It’s not that tough!

Start small – really small. As in, the two feet of refrigerator real estate we all have reserved for condiments. Also known as those “foods” that last longer than some relationships.

Ten condiments you really don’t want in your fridge – and what to replace them with:

10. Oh sodium, how I love thee.

You don’t want: soy sauce

At least it won’t kill you: light soy sauce

You do want: Bragg’s aminos

Aminos don’t make the world a better place, but they’re really good for you.

soysauce

This is Mapgoblin’s Photo

9. Mrs. Butterworth(less)

You don’t want: artificial maple syrup

At least it won’t kill you: whole-wheat pancakes with fresh fruit and honey

You do want: a sparing amount of real maple syrup + fresh fruit + nuts

Get the flavor of pancakes and syrup without giving your pancreas hives. (Sorry, Mrs. Butterworth.)

apple

This is Flickrich’s Photo

8. Yea, though I walk through the aisle of dressing…

You don’t want: Hidden Valley anything

At least it won’t kill you: raspberry vinaigrette

You do want: balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Try walnut and avocado oils for variety. It’s best to mix up your own vinegar/oil combos, because many vinaigrettes are high in sugar and come drenched in additives.

slick

This is Krobbie’s Photo

7. That thing about sugar and spice being nice? Yeah, they were wrong.

You don’t want: BBQ sauce

At least it won’t kill you: steak sauce (still loaded with weird things, but only a few calories and no sugar)

You do want: to whip up your own marinades using vinegars, oils, and fresh herbs

Spices: paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper. Add those spices to equal parts tomato paste, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Give it a dash of apple cider vinegar. So easy, it doesn’t feel right (but it is).

6. Avoid pale things

You don’t want: mayonnaise

At least it won’t kill you: Omega-3 mayonnaise (still often uses canola and palm oil, but better)

You do want: European yogurt (admittedly pale, but that can’t be helped, can it?)

This plain, high-fat, sugar-free yogurt also goes by “Greek” or “Mediterranean” yogurt. It’s got that mayo tang, it’s dense and smooth, and it’s healthy.

5. No seriously, avoid pale things

You don’t want: cream cheese (contrary to popular belief, this is not protein)

At least it won’t kill you: cottage cheese

You do want: organic cottage cheese

I recommend the full-fat version (yeah, I know, I’m crazy). Full-fat means less processing, less sugar, and more satisfaction – so you’ll eat less of it.

yum

This is Limone’s Photo

4. Toast-tearing conspiracy?

You don’t want: peanut butter (full of oil, sugar and, oh yeah, bugs)

At least it won’t kill you: organic peanut butter

You do want: fresh, unsalted nuts, or a healthier nut butter like almond butter

Peanuts often contain aflatoxins. Clickativity: what Dr. Weil has to say about those. Isn’t it irritating trying to spread cold peanut butter on toast? Is it just me? This is why I don’t eat bread (O.K., not really).

squirrel

This is Mikeworld’s Photo

3. With a name like Smuckers, it doesn’t have to be anything

You don’t want: jelly, jam, and any other high-sugar “fruit” spread

At least it won’t kill you: fruit preserves with no added sugar

You do want: fresh fruit

I like to chop up a few different fruits, toss ‘em in the blender for a few seconds, and promptly devour the entire thing (the fruit, not the blender). This “jam” tastes great on whole wheat products, but I prefer it on chicken breast and fresh fish.

fruitsalad

This is C. Zwerg’s Photo

2. No cause for alarm

You don’t want: chemical-laden, trendy spicy sauces that cost $4 for a tiny bottle

At least it won’t kill you: hoisin sauce

You do want: Tabasco or any other chili sauce

Never underestimate the power of heat for your health. Just make sure you’re ingesting real spices, not factory flavorings.

1. Dyed and gone to…

You don’t want: any of the plethora of colorful condiments aimed at kids (do we need purple anything?)

At least it won’t kill you: ketchup (it’s got a little sugar, and who knows where those tomatoes came from, but you’ll get a generous serving of antioxidants)

You do want: salsa!

A lot of people forget that salsa is a vegetable. Make your own or buy the fresh stuff for a sodium-free version of this veggie topping that goes on just about everything except cereal.

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23 Mar

Smart Fuel

This week’s Smart Fuel:

Plants.

That’s right: plants.

It seems that marketers are on an eternal quest for the ultimate “superfood” with which to ply health-obsessed consumers. First there was margarine. Then bran. Then low-fat milk. Then soy. (None of which, by the way, have anything remotely “super” about them: trans fat, sugar, more sugar, and chemicals. They are also all highly-processed “foods”. I’m not sure they should even be referred to as food.)

What makes plants such a smart fuel?

- Plants are the lowest-calorie food on the planet next to rice cakes..and air.

- Plants have almost no fat. What little fat they do have is excellent for your skin, organs, brain and digestive tract.

- Plants contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

- Plants, being made of plant cells, contain cellulose, an indigestible cell lining that we often call “fiber”. “Fiber” removes waste, toxins, and other harmful substances from your body. “Fiber” is linked to reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even reduces stress. “Fiber” is found in plants.

- The benefits continue: not only are plants the healthiest, tastiest, most nutritious foods on earth, they are also the cheapest. The myth persists that fresh food is expensive, but the truth is that processed snacks, meals and treats are far more costly than plants.

Plants have been around longer than humans and even rodents, and that’s saying something.

Plants come in some 36,000+ edible varieties for your gustatory pleasure. Plants grow everywhere. The theory that plants help one reduce body weight, body fat, major disease risk and even one’s “case of the Mondays” is compelling. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of studies have presented a convincing case in favor of plant consumption.

For those unfamiliar with plants (men of all ages; children aged 3-7; Uncle Ned), allow me to quell your apprehension: plants are completely edible.

Plants are also known as “greens”, “veggies”, “rabbit food”, and “vegetables”, a word derived from the Latin vegetal (or something like that). Plants are not addictive.

Here are a few pictures of plants that many humans now enjoy. You can find them in most stores:

mint

Mint. An herb, which is a type of plant.

arts

Artichoke. A delicious type of plant.

cabbagebetter

Cabbage. A very fibrous plant.

crispycones

Crispy cone. Not a plant.

Technorati tags: vegetables, veggies, healthy food, plants, nutrition

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22 Mar

What’s Shakin’?

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

We’ve got great news for you to check out today – and fried vegetarians, too. Yes.

Now That’s Rare: FDA Gets Tough

Well played, FDA, well played. As everyone and their goldfish knows by now, the FDA is no stranger to bribery and corruption. Various moves (a new chief, a new pyramid) haven’t yielded much improvement.

Alas, in an effort to stop annoying us, a meaningful measure has just been announced.

Something’s Fishy? Good!

A well-conducted little study shows that fish oil pills are the way to go, especially for those concerned about their blood sugar. Fish oil beats fish, but make sure you buy a good one so you don’t get those awful fish burps. (Yeah, we’re biased.)

Other ways to get those beneficial fatty acids into your body? These days, there’s hardly a thing that isn’t Omega-3 enhanced. It’s actually getting pretty difficult to find non-good-fat products.

A quick tip: Look for eggs, butter, mayonnaise and nut butters with added EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexanoic acid). These are the two best types of Omega-3 fat. The other kind, ALA (alpha linoleic acid), is often used in vegetable spreads and vegetarian products, but your body has to work pretty hard to utilize this type. It’s still good, just not great.

The cool thing? Chickens fed flaxseed (an ALA source) do all the converting for you, so scope out the enhanced, free-range eggs in your dairy case.

egg

News to Go Nuts Over

Megnut is a nutty blogger you should definitely check out. While we don’t condone cookies, we’re so glad we stumbled onto this savvy, smart blog. Case in point: Finally, someone’s doing something about those torturous mama pig gestation crates. Whether you eat pork or not, this is a really humane step in the right direction, and it’s worth reading about. Be sure to scroll down to read Meg’s other enjoyable snippets on Starbucks’ milk, Wal-Mart and nutritional slow-pokes. (Why does everything “take years” with these big companies and organizations? Come on! Years?)

The Real Reason We’re All Too Chubby

doublebypass

This picture is from the Heart Attack Grill, an actual place that serves this actual burger behemoth.

As promised…

Fried Vegetarians

20 Mar

10 Easy Steps to Good Health

The Tuesday 10

It’s easy to get lost in the details – organic or local? wild or farmed? fresh or frozen? – and to me it seems like the majority of health news out there is just obsessing over the minutiae. No wonder we give up and go back to our old habits.

The little things can matter, but on balance, it’s the consistent application of a few simple lifestyle changes that count. Make a few very basic – but significant – healthy changes, and the little things tend to take care of themselves. Or no longer matter so much.

Here are ten simple steps to better health that you can implement, starting right now:

10. No More Rules

First things first: no more worrying about the so-called Holy Grails of Health. Here’s what I’m talking about: Water. Coffee. Breakfast. Sleep. Following the pyramid. Fat. Sunlight. These supposed hard-and-fast rules of health cause more stress than the actual things. How about trusting your body enough to know what’s right for you? You’re up for the challenge, I guarantee it.

9. 90/10 or 10/90?

A lot of us focus on rules, numbers or specific amounts in an attempt to lose weight and feel healthier. We vow to eat a certain number of calories, for example. Even Uncle Sam falls for the magic of numbers (the failed 5-a-day vegetable campaign that is now being retired). But getting healthy is about being healthy. 90% of your regular habits and 10% of healthy habits added to that is just not a recipe for health. It’s got to be the other way around.

8. Eat something green at every meal.

Pretty easy! It should be at least half of the portion size, plate, cup…

7. Absolutely cut out the sodas and sugary drinks.

Yup, they have to go.

6. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, bag or package.

I’m not talking about a bag of frozen broccoli or a jar of almonds. I’m talking about processed, packaged, preserved foods. This is a big commitment. It is tough. But there is just no way you can be as healthy and fit as you want if you don’t stick to this most of the time. You can cheat (we all do). But keep that 90% in mind. Keep it fresh.

5. Eat meat that isn’t so processed.

Vegetarians don’t have to worry about this too much (unless you’re eating lots of processed mock meats). Fresh, clean, lean chicken and fish is going to do wonders for your health in the long run – you’ll help prevent cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Sausage, bacon, deli meat, processed meats, on the other hand? Carcinogen special.

4. Eat a salad – every day.

So, I’m a little obsessed with my daily salad. But it’s such a no-brainer! You can even enjoy some goodies on it (nuts, a little cheese, dressing). Who said humans were meant for burritos and sandwiches?

3. Fight stress.

Whether it’s with a run, meditation, yoga, prayer, or a hot bath, find something that makes you feel completely relaxed, and do it a lot. Think of it as your 20-minute love insurance – as in loving your own life! Do this consistently for two weeks – most of us don’t commit to making ourselves feel great on a long-term basis. Try this out, and you will feel flat amazing. It may be the most important thing for your health.

2. Rethink the workouts.

Don’t do it if you even remotely dislike it – you won’t stick with it (who would?). My secret? Just put those sneakers on – that’s literally 90% of the battle. So, don’t think “I have to work out!” Instead, think, “I have to put my shoes on!”

1. Don’t worry.

Most of the stuff circulating in the media is old news with shiny new sprinkles on it. Or it’s based on a press release or a biased study. I’m not saying you should ignore information – by all means, educate yourself. But the general idea with a lot of “news” is to frighten the living daylights out of you so you’ll buy something. You’re doing pretty well, actually. So don’t worry – just keep learning and doing new things. It will all add up.

Sponsor note:

This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

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