And here we were letting you off easy for a spell.
Here’s your weekly health challenge, Apples:
Find a way to work vegetables into your breakfasts this week. Now we sleep at night because we know none of you are eating layered grease, aka egg sandwiches. But are you getting a serving of vegetables at every meal? It’s a smart goal.
A few ways to outdo Popeye (easy…he didn’t know about arugula, now did he?):
- Toss last night’s leftover dinner veggies into your scrambled eggs (thanks, Crystal!).
- Enjoy tomato slices with olive oil, sea salt, and basil leaves for breakfast.
- If you’re not someone who prefers a sweeter taste first thing, add some olives, asparagus tops, sundried tomatoes, leeks or scallions, and balsamic vinegar to your plain yogurt for a filling and flavorful breakfast.
- Fill dessert ramekins with a small handful of arugula, broccoli florets, or peas. Pour whisked egg over vegetables (about 1.5 eggs per). Season with freshly-ground black pepper and sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (give or take). Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of shredded cheese.
Let us know what you try this week!
Sara here. Alert the press, for I am going to share with you the best ways to eat a lot more fat. That’s right (whew…you can stop stressing now).
Your weekly health challenge: eat more fat.
I want you to get greasy with it.
But this isn’t a license to hit up the candy aisle or to stop in at McDonald’s. I want you to eat more healthy fats this week. Here are some tips and types. Try them out and then give all your fellow apples a hand by talking about your favorite fats in the forum (we narrowly missed a tongue-twister there, didn’t we?).
Fats to eat:
- Cream, eggs, butter
That’s right – I’m recommending saturated fat. Irresponsible of me, I know. Actually, provided you’re eating organic dairy and eggs, and you’re not getting crazy with the portions, saturated fat is not the monster it’s made out to be. I personally am more concerned about triglycerides and inflammation than I am about cholesterol, and refined fat and sugar have the most impact on these two health wreaking balls. I’m not saying cholesterol doesn’t matter; it does. It just doesn’t matter as much as you think. You can enjoy a little saturated fat.
- Nuts, avocados, fish
Omega 3′s, people!
- Coconut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, olive oil
Put down the corn, soybean and canola oil. These may be unsaturated, but that doesn’t make them healthy (they are still refined, and contain some undesirable fatty acid chains). Liven up your meals, give your tastebuds something to live for, and try out new, omega-3-rich oils. Go and drench thyself. Stat.
Fats you’re too good for:
- fried anything, breaded anything, processed anything, packaged anything, not-natural anything. Keep these junk fats away from your precious body! I mean it!
Why eat fat:
Well, for starters, fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat also helps with stress management, cognition, mood, sleep, energy, weight management, healthy tissues, skin and hair – even digestion and nutrient absorption.
Why I know what I’m talking about:
I’m not a scientist and I’m not a doctor, so while I hope you consider my thoughts to be helpful, just remember that if you tell your doctor “But my homegirl Sara told me…” you might not have her immediately convinced of the glories of your newfound decadent fat consumption. I have spent the last several years reading endless studies and articles, so in my own defense I am pretty darn educated on the subject. Please don’t let all those nights your editor spent reading go to waste. But what probably matters most and is ultimately most insightful is my own health story. For several years there, I was quite the little frumpalump, and I wasn’t very healthy, either. Thanks to what I’ve learned from Mark, I dropped 20 pounds of literally depressing and unattractive grad-school pudge (the impossible “last 20″ stubborn clinger kind), and got rid of my horrendous migraines and “adventures” with mood imbalances. That was just the beginning, too. Thanks to BFFing dietary fat, I now enjoy all kinds of other incredible health benefits which I’ll be sure to regale you with in future posts (but only because I really, really think you will benefit).
What you can do right now:
- It’s lunch time for a lot of us right now. Eat some fat.
- Share your personal faves and tips in the forum so we can all eat more fat.
- Recite: “Fat is fun.” Rinse, repeat.
- Check out my article (and give it a Digg if you like it!)
Mark’s views on fat
Are you up for the challenge?
This week, save your waistline and your palate: avoid the take-out and restaurant fare.
If you typically go out to lunch, consider brown-bagging it. (Exception: if going out to lunch serves a healthy and important social function for you, just be sure to stick with sensible salads.)
If you order pizza for dinner or rely on too many ready-made meals – yes, Amy’s Kitchen still counts – this is the week to stop that habit. Treat yourself to meals you make yourself that are healthy and light. Making your own meals saves you cash, calories, and cr…well, you get the idea.
And as far as the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to cook? Switch your perspective. The time is not a drag – it’s a simple, forgotten way to decompress and relax after a stressful day at work.
The thing about many restaurant selections and ready-made foods is that they are relentlessly uniform in flavor. I know that the More Cowbell aspect of menu options these days (spice! sour! Asian! fusion!) makes it seem that there’s flavor, but in reality, many of these foods are just a tired combination of the same old salt, sugar and artificial flavors. Test this out for yourself. When you eat fresh, whole, simple foods for a week or two, you’ll quickly pick up on the manufactured, chemical tastes – and disturbing mouth sensations – of prepared foods.
In a nutshell, the reasons to make your own chow are many:
2. No-brainer stress reliever after 9 hours with that co-worker.
3. Stops tastebud death.
4. Fewer calories.
5. Healthier: less sugar, trans fat and sodium.
Need recipe ideas? Check out Aaron’s “Healthy Tastes Great!” selections. ‘Cause it does.
Bring it on, Sisson: More Weekly Health Challenges
This week, take a look at your protein intake. Are you eating the highest quality protein you can afford? If you’re thinking about a burger for lunch, this challenge is definitely for you.
Protein is vital to building and supporting tissues, from your cells to your nerves to your bones and muscles. But not all protein is created alike. I recently wrote about the issues with meat consumption (no, I’m not a vegetarian). I recommend grass-fed organic animal protein whenever possible. Grass-fed animal protein is higher in beneficial fatty acids and vitamins and is simply cleaner and leaner and more humane. I also favor wild fish as an essential protein source at least twice a week.
Good vegetarian protein sources include:
- Tempeh: a fermented soy product. Fermented foods are nutritious and tempeh is not as processed as tofu. Unlike tofu, tempeh has a really satisfying, chewy texture. You can read about my views on soy protein here.
- Beans: for those who can handle starchy foods, legumes and peanuts (a bean, not a nut) are a good protein source. Bonus: lots of fiber.
- Eggs: for vegetarians who eat some animal protein, you can’t beat the stress-reducing egg. Don’t worry about the cholesterol. The fat and vitamins in eggs nourish your cells and provide excellent energy for minimal calories.
- Plain, organic yogurt: add your own berries and nuts for extra antioxidants, fat and protein.
This week, stick to clean, lean, powerful protein. Sausages, bacon, deli meats and burgers are surprisingly waistline-friendly (Atkins lovers will be happy to tell you this). But they’re often loaded with carcinogens, sodium and free radicals. Fuel that body wisely, friends! Tomorrow’s Tuesday 10 will offer my top 10 healthy protein suggestions, so I hope you’ll come back and check it out.
This week’s challenge:
Increase your flexibility. You know you should. I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to be at least, say, a dollar that you’re not as flexible as you could be. This week, spend five or ten minutes a day stretching and releasing any muscle tension that’s been building up. Stretching is vital for your circulation, your nerves and supporting tissues, your brain, and even your emotions. It should really be required. Spend five minutes doing some basic stretching and you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed and energized. And it’s free!
Stretching your torso and hips reduces water retention and is even proven to flush toxins and emotional tension from your body. Stretching is beneficial to your skin, as well. (It can even help clear up acne – so tell your teenager. Note from the battlefield: gently.)
You can try sitting cross-legged with your back straight while pressing down firmly on your knees to release major tension in your hips. Or hang from the staircase (no, not really). Do it however you like, but do it! Stretch and prosper. And guys, that means you, too. We like to skip the stretching, but it’s really important.
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