Sweet Dreams

Having a good night's sleep takes more than just a bedtime.

Tag: food

A Blueberry Breakfast for the Busy Bee

Between busy work schedules and summer outings on the weekends, laboring over healthy and tasty meals is the last thing on our minds. That’s why having an arsenal of quick and easy recipes are perfect for the gal or guy on the go! Today, we’ll be sharing our favorite blueberry breakfast recipe. Ready to get cooking? Us, too…

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Cue the Fireworks – We’re Grilling up Shrimp for the 4th

Fire up the grill! That’s right, it’s barbecue time. Independence Day is right around the corner and we’re helping you prep for the perfect July 4th BBQ with three grilled shrimp recipes that are sure to please (and help you fall asleep when the festivities are over!). So grab the red-and-white checkered tablecloth, put on your chef’s hat and let’s get grillin’!

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How High Blood Sugar Steals Sleep Time

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It’s probably far from obvious, but your diabetes could be the reason that you’re having trouble sleeping.

Type 2 diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans—and the numbers are growing. Though most of us are aware that the disease has a serious impact on a person’s diet and blood sugar, fewer are familiar with the many related health woes that diabetes can cause—and how they can negatively impact sleep.

Take a closer look at the surprisingly intricate relationship between diabetes and sleep—plus how people with the condition can get a better night’s rest.

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13 Easy to Prepare Sleep-Inducing Dinners

15 Easy to Prepare Sleep-Inducing Dinners

Advice for better sleep typically focuses on evening habits like limiting electronics and keeping bedrooms comfortable, but there’s one important aspect you might be overlooking.

Dinner. You’ve heard that you are what you eat, but what you eat may also affect how you sleep.

Certain nutrients are required by the body to carry out daily functions, including making hormones and neurotransmitters related to rest. Other foods can impact physical comfort, affecting slumber by boosting your heart rate or causing indigestion.

The more we learn, the more significant nutrition’s role in sleep appears to be. Read on to see how diet and rest connect and what to eat at night to nourish your body for more efficient sleep.

 

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Healthy and Portable High-Protein Snacks

Whether it’s fueling up before hitting the gym or taking a midday snack break to avoid the 2 p.m. lull, high-protein snacks are the tastiest way to keep on going. Protein snacks are the perfect way to fill up just enough, and give us longer-lasting energy than the usual, carb-heavy options. Here are 31 of our favorite protein-packed snacks!

1. Cottage-Style Fruit

Top 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit. Not sure what fruit to pick? Try some superfoods! Bananas, mixedberries, and melon are a few Greatist favorites.

2. Beef or Turkey Jerky

Be careful to avoid sodium- and sugar-filled brands, but low-sodium, natural, or lightly-flavored options are a great source of protein. A one-ounce serving (the size of most single-serve packs) contains about 9 grams of protein! This chewy snack is also super portable and keeps fresh for months when packed properly.

3. Mixed Nuts or Trail Mix

Mixed nuts provide an easy way to get a delicious dose of protein in a convenient, shelf-stable package. Try a mixed bunch for variety and a combo with dried fruit for some added sweetness. The best bang for your protein buck? Almonds and pistachios. They’re higher in protein than their nutty peers.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

Those orange gourds aren’t just for Halloween. Pumpkin insides, scooped out to make room for spooky faces, can actually make a healthy little snack once they’re washed, dried, and nicely roasted. Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds has about 14 grams of protein, making it the perfect pre-workout snack!

5. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Inexpensive and loaded with nutrients, eggs are one of the best ways to get a healthy dose of protein. Try hard boiling and pre-peeling a dozen at the start of the week and throw one in a small Tupperware container each day for an easy on-the-go snack. (Feeling extra famished? Slice the egg and place it on a piece of whole-wheat bread.)

6. Nut Butter Boat

Any vehicle for nut butter is perfection in our book. Try loading a few celery sticks with 1 tablespoon of any nut butter (almond, cashew, walnut) topped with a few whole almonds or raisins. If you’re not a fan of celery, try scooping out the middle of an apple and filling it with your nut butter of choice.

7. Deli Rollup

Top 2 slices of deli meat (turkey, chicken, or roast beef work great) with 1 slice of cheese and a shake of pepper. Add a slice of tomato or some lettuce for extra veggie points!

8. Mini Bean-and-Cheese Quesadilla

It might take an extra minute to prep, but combining these two high-protein treats is totally worth it. Fold 1/2 cup black beans, 1 tablespoon salsa, and 1 slice cheddar cheese in a small flour tortilla. Cook in a dry nonstick pan until the cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned. Then wrap it in foil and stick in a plastic baggie for easy transport.

9. Shake It Up

When it comes to protein shakes, the combinations are endless, and one scoop can go a long way! Our favorites? The “Protein Creamsicle:” 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice blended until smooth. (Thanks @JCDFitness!). And also the “Star-buffs Shake:” 1 cup iced coffee (with ice) and 1 scoop chocolate whey protein, blended.

10. KIND Bar

We’re not huge supporters of prepackaged bars, but we make an exception for KIND bars. Their classic varieties are a great source of protein thanks to their all-nut base (with around 5 grams per bar), but for an even higher dose of the good stuff, try KIND Plus varieties.

11. Chunky Monkey Shake

It’s time to get funky, monkey! Blend 1 medium banana, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1 cup of chocolate milk with 1 cup of ice for a protein-packed pick-me-up.

12. Easy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Flash back to elementary school snack time with this sweet (but still healthy!) treat. In a microwave-safe bowl (or mug), mix 1/4 cup oats, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour (of your choice), 1 egg white, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon raisins. Flatten mixture into bottom of bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Cool, pop it out of the bowl, and enjoy!

13. Tofu Sticks

This soybean-based protein bomb isn’t just for stir-fry. When sliced into sticks and baked, firm (and smoked) tofu can make a great snack food—especially if it’s served with a side of homemade tomato or teriyaki dipping sauce.

14. Edamame Poppers

The only thing more fun than how much protein you can get from a serving of edamame (one cup offers about 17 grams of protein!) is getting to eat these little beans out of their bright green pods. Buy them fresh and steam for about 6 minutes, or use the pre-cooked frozen variety and briefly microwave to defrost (about 2 minutes) before chowing down.

15. Hummus Dippers

How’s this for an unconventional use of a travel coffee mug? Put 2 tablespoons of your favorite hummus in the bottom of the container, stick a handful of vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, and snow peas are a great mix) vertically in the hummus, screw on the top, and throw in a purse or gym bag for an easy, on-the-go, super-healthy snack.

16. Soy Milk Smoothie

Time to take a break from the moo-juice. While cow’s milk does have it’s nutritional benefits (calcium and vitamin A, to name a few),soy milk wins in other categories (vitamin D and iron), and they’re nearly comparable in terms of protein. Try blending 1 cup of your favorite flavor of soy milk with 1 cup of frozen blueberries or raspberries (for added fiber and antioxidants).

17. Portable Cheese Platter

Who doesn’t love a classy cheese plate? Make yourself a mini plate with a cheese stick (or 2 slices of cheese), 2 whole-grain crackers, and a few roasted almonds.

18. Banana Nutter

Few pairings are more comforting than a classic peanut butter with banana. Simply top a rice cake (brown rice for extra fiber points!) or whole-grain toast with 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter and half a sliced banana. Sprinkle with cinnamon for some extra healthy benefits!

19. Silver Dollar Protein Pancakes

Mix 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle (medium-low heat) until the mixture bubbles, flip, and cook for another 60 seconds. Top with fresh berries or sliced banana.

20. Chocolate Milk

No, we’re not going back to preschool. But chocolate milk is actually a great source of high-quality protein (especially post-workout). Try keeping a single-serving, shelf-stable box in your gym bag or backpack for snack attack emergencies—just try to find one that’s also low in sugar!

21. “Get Greek” Berry Parfait

Imagine sitting on a Greek isle with this snack in hand. Top 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh berries and 1 tablespoon sliced roasted almonds. Now soak in that (imaginary) view and enjoy.

22. Almond Butter Toast Sticks

Here’s another one to fit in that travel mug or mason jar. Toast (or bake) 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and cut into ½-inch strips. Place 2 tablespoons of almond butter (or another nut butter) in the bottom of a container with a top, stick the toast sticks in vertically, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Screw on the top and head out the door!

23. A Little Lentil

We know what you’re thinking: “Lentils? As a snack?!” Yes! Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a bowl of the bland ol’ things. Lentils are great protein-packed legumes that are easy to turn into super, shelf-stable salads. One cup has a whopping 22 grams of protein in just 300 calories! Not sure where to start? Try this lentil tabboulehor this simple veggie and lentil mix.

24. Grape-and-Cheese Sticks

Dice a half-inch thick slice of cheddar cheese into squares (you should end up with about 6 small pieces) and rinse 6 grapes. On 6 toothpicks, stack the grape and cheese, and enjoy! Just 1 ounce of sharp cheddar offers 8 grams of protein, and the contrast with sweet grapes is super sophisticated (and delicious).

25. Perfect Little Parfait

Top 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with a handful of fruit (fresh or frozen) and a drizzle of honey. Add 2 tablespoons of toasted oats for a protein-packed crunch!

26. Mini Black-Bean Mash Taco

When it’s time to get spicy, try this easy snack fix. Heat 1/2 cup of black beans in the microwave with 1 tablespoon of salsa. Mash with a fork and fold it inside a small (4 to 6-inch) flour tortilla. Store in a small Tupperware container for easy transport.

27. Gobble, Gobble

Re-visit Thanksgiving with this festive favorite. Slice one piece of whole-grain bread in half, lengthwise, and top with 2 slices of roasted turkey, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice of tomato, 1 teaspoon of mustard, and 1 teaspoon of dried cranberries. This comforting combination is protein-packed!

28. Protein Bar

This one might sound obvious, but hear us out: It’s all about finding the right bar. That means one that isn’t weighed down with not-so-good extras like sugar and unpronounceable ingredients (some options can even be as bad as candy bars!). Do some research to figure which type is right for you: There are high-protein and low-carb bars; meal replacement and energy bars; etc.

29. Overnight Choco-Oats

This is the ultimate pre-packaged snack. In a container with a secure lid, mix 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup non-dairy milk, 3 tablespoons chocolate protein powder, and a handful of walnuts until well combined. Let sit in fridge overnight (or up to a few days). Need some extra sweetness? Add 1/2 a banana, mashed!

30. Recovery Rice Crispies

News Flash: Protein powder ain’t just for shakes! Try these super-sweet protein-packed treats—Recovery Rice Crispies—from trainer Rog Law.

31. Blueberry Flax Microwave Muffins

Making muffins from scratch each morning is easier than you might think. Mix 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats, 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 2 tablespoons ground flax, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 2 egg whites, and a sprinkle of sugar (or other natural sweetener) in a microwave-safe Tupperware container. Cook on high for 50 to 60 seconds. Let it cool, throw a top on it, and enjoy whenever the hunger pangs hit.

 

This article was originally published on Greatist. You can view the entire post, here.

34 Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

When it comes to breakfast, the options are endless. Pancakes or waffles? Bacon and eggs? Muffin, followed by a pastry? So why limit chowing down on delicious breakfast foods to the morning hours? Here are 34 healthier snack options to keep filling those breakfast food cravings all month long.

Better Breakfast Snacks

1. Avocado Toast With Egg

Sometimes, simple is just better. In this recipe, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, lightly toasted, topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper makes for a flavorful and rich base. Top that with two sunny-side-up eggs for a healthy dose of protein, and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast. Stack ’em in a tupperware container for easy transport or cook the yolks a bit more and make the whole thing into a sandwich.

2. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go snack any time of day. Blend 1 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk, and a few ice cubes. If this is a morning snack, keep it in a tight-sealing container and throw it in a gym or work bag. For an afternoon boost, prep it the night before and freeze, remove in the morning, and it will be thawed and ready to enjoy after lunch. Tip: Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein for an extra protein boost.

3. Zapped Scrambled Eggs With Veggies

Yes, it’s possible to make really good scrambled eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy! Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe container, add 1 handful of your favorite veggies (cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves work well), and a sprinkle of cheese. Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid. Throw a top on the container to eat later, or store the raw mixture in a fridge until ready to heat and eat.

4. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

One of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest breakfasts out there is a classic fruit and yogurt parfait. The best part? It can be made with any toppings you like. Try choosing fruits that are in season for the most flavorful options. (Try our stone fruit salad for summer, and opt for apples come fall).

5. Breakfast Burrito

Who doesn’t love a burrito? Breakfast burritos are a great, easy snack to keep on hand. Scramble 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and wrap in 1 small whole-wheat tortilla. Make a bunch, wrap in foil, and keep in the freezer for whenever the craving hits. Protein from the eggs and black beans keep you fuller longer, and the spicy salsa keeps things interesting.

6. Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

An oat-based muffin packed with healthy carrots and zucchini, lightly sweetened with raisins and just a pinch of sugar makes a perfect breakfast or snack. Use a mini-muffin tin for smaller portions, and eliminate or cut back on the brown sugar or choose a healthier substitute to cut back on sugar.

7. Breakfast Quinoa Bites

Here’s a new way to enjoy quinoa: make mini quinoa breakfast quiches! In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup your favorite veggies (spinach or zucchini work well), 1 cup shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Portion into a lightly-greased mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. These are easy to bring along and delicious to enjoy warm or cold.

8. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie

Here’s a simple and delicious smoothie recipe for the morning rush. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen fruit (banana and berries work very well) with 1/2 cup liquid (milk, juice, coconut water—whatever you like). Freeze overnight and thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon, or blend up in the morning.

9. Leftovers n’ Egg

Stuck with last night’s leftovers? Place a scoop of leftover roasted veggies, potatoes, or meat in a container, top with a cracked egg, and heat in the microwave until the egg white is cooked through, 30 to 45 seconds. (Or prep in the oven.) Feeling fancy? Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

10. Fruity Breakfast Quinoa

Cooking quinoa in milk (cow, soy, or almond) and adding some sweet spices and fruit makes for a great substitute for classic hot breakfast cereals. Plus, it’s high in protein and essential amino acids like lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Simply cook quinoa according to package instructions, but substitute milk for water, and add some cinnamon or nutmeg instead of salt and pepper. Top with fresh berries and chopped roasted nuts.

11. Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Take a classic baked loaf and make it into oatmeal with this recipe! Adding shredded zucchini to oatmeal is a great way to fit in an extra serving of veggies. Throw on a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans for some added crunch.

12. Quinoa Fruit Salad

Spice up a plain old fruit cup with a scoop of quinoa. Toss the whole shebang around until the quinoa is evenly distributed through the fruit. Add a scoop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey for a little extra body.

13. Oatmeal Squares

Oatmeal is a great option for a hearty snack or breakfast, but what’s the best way to make it into a more convenient and portable snack?Bake it into squares!

This article was originally published by Greatist. You can view the rest of the post here

Protein Powder Post-Workout — Are You Doing It Right?

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After pressing, curling, sprinting, and crunching, the next logical step for many is shaking (and no, we don’t mean with a Shake Weight). Protein shakes, bars, and gels are marketed to be essential for an effective workout. But are these packaged and powdered foods really necessary for recovery, or do the whole-foods alternatives have them beat?

The Power Of Protein
Downing protein after a workout is often just part of our routine, and for good reason. Consuming protein has been shown to speed up recovery time and increase strength before the next gym session. The magic results from amino acids (tiny parts of proteins), which act as building blocks for muscle. After pumping iron, eating (or drinking) foods high in proteinsupplies the body with amino acids to start repairing the damaged tissue (mainly muscles). Protein shakes offer one method of getting in some muscle-building nutrients after a workout. But are they really more effective than high-protein foods such as chicken or eggs?

Pitting powder against whole foods, research indicates that the supplements may have a slight advantage. The quick source of amino acids increased the fractional synthesis rate of muscle (a fancy term for rate of muscle building) more than just a regular meal. In addition to adding size, protein supplements prove to be effective at increasing workout performance. One study using whey protein found that supplementation did increase hypertrophy (read: muscle size) and strength in participants. A similar study showed that individuals chugging protein could jump higher following a training program than their shake-less counterparts could.

Just remember: All powders are not created equal. Certain varieties are hydrolyzed (a fancy term meaning “partially broken down”), which means they can be absorbed faster into the muscle — hence quicker recovery.

Size also matters. Don’t look to shake up an entire jug. It appears that 20 grams of protein taken within two hours after exercise is the most effective amount to maximally promote muscle growth. A heavier dose likely won’t produce any major added benefit and may present potential complications in those with kidney problems.

Feel The Pow(d)er: Your Action Plan
Getting in protein after a workout looks to be a definite way to develop an Arnold-worthy physique, but the form and variety may come down to personal preference. Whole-food sources can provide all of the building blocks necessary for a full recovery, but lugging a turkey sandwich in a lunchbox isn’t nearly as fun as it was in grade school. Also, some gym-goers might find it hard to force down food after exercise. The reason: During exercise, blood makes its way from the stomach to the working muscles, making it hard to digest whole foods right away.

Protein powder isn’t for everyone, and it certainly doesn’t replace whole food. While supplements can provide a convenient post-workout fix, whole foods should comprise the bulk of any diet. Plus, the most widely used supplement variety, whey protein, may not be appropriate for lactose-intolerant folks or those living a vegan lifestyle — although vegan-friendly varieties like hemp, soy, and brown rice are now available. The key is finding the most convenient (and enjoyable) method for you — and leaving the hard work for the weight room floor.

This article was originally published by Refinery29. See the original article here.

17 Foods That Can Help You Live Longer

The world’s oldest person, 116-year old Susannah Mushatt Jones, enjoys a hearty meal of bacon, eggs and grits most mornings. The breakfast sounds delicious, but unless Jones has upended decades of nutritional science, it is unlikely the secret to her long and healthy life.

Eggs and grits aside, there are foods that, if eaten routinely enough, may help extend a person’s life. Science has found that antioxidants, for one, can combat age-related illnesses like heart disease and some cancers. Nature has supplied us with a galaxy’s worth of these molecules in the form of delicious, whole foods foods like berries, garlic and many others. Check out the list below to discover what foods researchers have associated with living long and prospering. Then get a huge bowl, whip up a few, dig in and #LiveYourBestLife.

See the entire list of foods on Huffington Post

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A Diet for Better Sleep

Want to clock more ZZZ’s? Change up your plate. Certain nutrients in your diet—like vitamin C, lycopene, and selenium—are associated with healthier sleep patterns, according to a new study on 4,500 people published in Appetite.

Researchers crunched sleep and nutrition data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They broke people up into four sleep categories: “very short” (less than 5 hours per night), “short” (5 to 6 hours), “normal” (7 to 8 hours) and “long” (more than 9 hours) and examined the participants’ diet patterns from 24-hour food recall interviews.

One key finding from the study: People who ate a more varied diet were more likely to be “normal” sleepers (about 18 foods versus 14 in the shortest sleepers). Eating a variety of foods may indicate you’re consuming more nutrients. In turn, “that may provide the nutritional coverage to help your body work optimally, which, among other things, would translate into better sleep,” says study coauthor Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

So why’s the sleep-diet connection so important? People who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night are generally healthier. Research shows those who log less hours have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, while sleeping more than 9 hours has been linked to depression.

“This study should remind us that not only is sleep an important part of overall health, but sleep and diet are related to each other,” Grandner says. The reasons why vary—people who sleep better may make more nutritious food choices, or they may make healthy eating a priority. Other studies have shown that sleep loss affects certain hormones that control hunger and appetite.

Although Gardner says his research didn’t uncover why certain foods are related to better sleep, it can’t hurt to eat more of the nutrients identified in the study that help make your night better. Here are five:

Lycopene: A cancer-fighting antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.

Vitamin C: One cup of strawberries or one medium kiwi packs more than 100 percent of your daily value of this heart- and cancer-protective antioxidant.

Selenium: An ounce of Brazil nuts or a can of tuna are both excellent sources of this anti-inflammatory that’s key for immune function.

Theobromine: Find this heart healthy phytochemical in tea and chocolate.

Lauric acid: Most commonly found in coconut oil. Though it’s a saturated fatty acid, studies show that it may improve “healthy” HDL cholesterol without affecting “bad” LDL levels.

This article was originally published by Men’s Health. See the original article here.

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