healthy living

Top 20 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Like most of you, I really can’t function without coffee, but shockingly it’s not the first thing that I down in the morning. After waking up and checking my emails, playing WWF and catching up on Instagram and Facebook, I stumble downstairs, and have my apple cider vinegar “cocktail” while I’m waiting for my coffeemaker to warmup.

I’m sure you’ve heard a ton about how apple cider vinegar is sooo good for you, and that it has a ton of benefits, but really what is it good for and what are those benefits?? Here’s a list of 20 things that ACV is used most commonly for:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Regulates the pH balance in your body
  3. Soothes bug bites
  4. Helps to prevent/reduce acne
  5. Helps to relieve nausea
  6. Helps to relieve heartburn and acid reflux
  7. Helps to relieve sinus pressure and infection
  8. Helps to reduce inflammation
  9. Dissolves kidney stones
  10. Prevents the flu
  11. Helps to reduce cholesterol
  12. Helps to lower blood pressure
  13. Helps breakdown fat
  14. Helps to relieve bloating
  15. Helps to lower glucose levels in diabetics
  16. Helps to relieve migraines
  17. Helps to kill cancer cells and slow their growth
  18. Helps to relieve asthma
  19. Helps to relieve allergies
  20. Gets rid of warts, and nail fungus

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you give it a try??  If you want more info on it’s benefits, uses, recipes and more then definitely check out the Bragg website.  I only take it once a day (as opposed to the suggested three times a day by Bragg) and have found that it’s helped a lot of with my acid reflux, bloating, preventing the flu and honestly, I just like the way it makes me feel overall.

Does it taste amazing? No, not really, but honestly I think a shot of Jager or wheatgrass taste worse.  You do get used to the taste after awhile and it’s actually good for you so just give it a shot (no pun intended).

ACV Cocktail recipe:

  • 8 oz. water
  • 1-2 tsp. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. organic honey, maple syrup or agave (optional)

 

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Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Pasta Recipe

I absolutely LOVE carbs and really can’t imagine life without them, but sometimes I do try to cutback on them a bit.  Pasta is a constant staple in my life, and when I’m trying to cutback on carbs but still have a pasta craving, spaghetti squash “pasta” has become a go-to favorite of mine.  I honestly didn’t think that I’d like it and thought that there was no way I’d be satisfied by it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only is it totally delish and filling, but it’s also a great way to get some more veggies into your diet.  I add more veggies than usual to this turkey bolognese sauce for an added veggie boost, and I’ll use the leftovers with things other than the spaghetti squash – for example, I’ll shove some into a roll, top it with some fresh mozzarella cheese and heat it up for a great sandwich for lunch the next day.

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This is so good that you’ll actually forget that you’re not eating real pasta

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (you can just use 1 if you don’t want so many veggies)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (you can just use 1 if you don’t want so many veggies)
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 3-4 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • italian seasoning to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS: 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  With a small knife or fork, pierce the squash all over.  Place squash on a foil-covered baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, then flip it to the other side and continue roasting until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife or fork (about another 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the squash).  Remove from the oven and let it cool down.  When cool enough to handle, cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, and scrape the flesh with a fork into long thin strands, and voila…there’s your pasta!

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the carrots and celery and sauté until the veggies get tender, about another 5 minutes or so.  Add the turkey meat and sauté for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the meat as you stir.  Add the marinara sauce – I end up using almost an entire jar but if you like a thicker sauce, add about 3 cups, if you like more liquid, add 4 cups or the whole jar, up to you! Lower the heat to medium-low heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and if you want an extra kick of seasoning, add a pinch of italian seasoning as well.

Assemble your spaghetti squash “pasta” on a plate, top with sauce and parmesan cheese and ENJOY!!

serves 6  

 

 

Healthy Ground Turkey Rice Bowl Recipe

I love rice bowls when I go out and have always thought that they were a healthy dining-out option until I saw the fat/calorie count of them at some of my fav restos, so I had to figure out how to make a healthier version at home. Here’s a delicious, healthy and quick at-home version of a Chipotle bowl.  Try to use as many organic ingredients as you can to make this even better for you!

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/3 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp. taco seasoning
1 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn, thawed if frozen or from a can
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional Toppings:  homemade guacamole, salsa, cheese, Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, green onions
Directions:
Cook brown rice according to package directions.  Set aside.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion, green and red pepper and sauté until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Add turkey meat, and break up the meat.  Add chicken stock and taco seasoning and cook until turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Add corn and beans and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until the corn and beans are heated through, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.
Assemble bowls:  start with rice, add turkey mixture, top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Serves 4-6

Quick Homemade Guacamole:
2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Place avocado in a bowl, add lime juice and mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Workout Options While on Vacation

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All you need to bring is your favorite pair of sneakers

We are all in need of vacations and getaways to relax, re-set and explore new places.  The last thing on your mind is usually how you’re going to keep on track with your workouts or how to eat healthy foods, but when you get back home you usually feel a few pounds heavier and completely behind on your workouts, which makes it much harder to jump back into your normal routine.  You don’t have to give up on your healthy habits on vacation, and with these tips you can still relax and indulge while you’re on vacation, without setting yourself back in terms of your diet and exercise routine:

  • Plan Ahead:  Before you leave, see what kind of exercise facility options you have available to you.  See if there’s a gym at your hotel or if your gym has other locations that you can use in the city that you’re in, or check out local studios that offer your favorite kinds of classes like yoga, pilates, spinning, or bootcamps.  No gyms or exercise studios? No problem!  Look at area maps for great running/walking paths that you can use to explore the city and get some extra sight-seeing in as well.
  • Balance Out Your Meals:  There’s no doubt that one of the best things about going on vacation is eating a bunch of delicious, regional food.  Every time I travel, I always research the restaurants in the area and plan a good portion of my trips focused on food, but always feel like I indulge the entire time and end up coming home with a few extra pounds and feeling like crap that I indulged more that I should have.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat heavy, calorie ridden foods the entire time.  If you know you’re going to a special dinner one night, by all means indulge and enjoy it, but eat a lighter breakfast and/or lunch that day.  Try to keep your treat meals to one a day and eat whatever you want without guilt or remorse, but try to keep it a little lighter and healthier for your other two meals.
  • Choose Your Cocktails Wisely:  I love me some pina coladas, but don’t love me the calories that come with them.  Most mixed drinks are filled with sugary mixers, juices and are loaded with extra calories that we don’t need and can easily avoid.  Treat yourself with your favorite cocktail as your first drink, but move on to more calorie conscious cocktails after like vodka or tequila sodas with fresh lime, light beers, or ask your bartender to make you a low calorie version of your favorite cocktail.
  • Walk, Walk, Walk:  In my opinion, the best way to get around and really get to know a city is by walking.  Skip the cabs and tour busses, throw on some comfy walking shoes and hit the streets.  You never know what gems you’ll find off the beaten path, so take to the streets and explore!
  • Do the Basics:  Can’t find a gym or can’t go outdoors due to weather or location? No problem!  Stick to the basics – do a few sets of sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, lunges, squats and planks for a full body strength training workout.
  • Pack some Healthy Snacks:  It’s always a wise idea to bring some healthy snacks along with you when you travel.  Bring some protein or meal replacement bars, nuts, dried fruit or protein powder for shakes along with you for a healthy and quick snack or meal on the go.         

Natural Health & Nutrition Food Pyramid

Finding a good and natural health guide and pyramid of what you should be consuming has been challenging.  I don’t really find that the FDA food pyramid gives you a guide that’s focused on natural, organic, and fresh products, nor does it promote the intake of supplements or exercise.  So when I came across this guide from Natural Healthy Concepts, I really liked that their focus was on wellness, health and nutrition and had to share!