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Corrie Pikul (131 posts)
Prunes are loaded with potassium, high in fiber, and, of course, help keep you regular. But for those who still see prunes as a treat only a senior citizen could get excited about, Sunsweet takes chewy prune bites and covers them in dark chocolate. These good-for-your-gut Raisinets are perfect for munching at the movies.
South Beach Diet Sweet Delights
Tiny sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, iron, selenium and other important yet underrated minerals. They also have B vitamins and magnesium that have been shown to boost your mood, so when they're enrobed in dark chocolate like they are in these snack packs, they become the ultimate feel-good poppers.
Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame
Vegetarians with a sweet tooth will love this delightfully unexpected pairing of soybeans and candy. Each serving of about a handful has 7 grams of vegetable protein.
Rawfully Tempting Gourmet Chocolate-Covered Kale Chips
Kale is having its own moment of fame right now, but of all the ways we've heard of eating the nutritional powerhouse, this version is the most appealingly offbeat. Raw food aficionado Barbara Shevkun coats the crispy leaves in raw chocolate and adds a dash of Himalayan salt. The result is like a chocolate-covered potato chip.
Dr. Oz's favorite healthy junk food
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It goes without saying that polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s--even if it’s low- fat--is not a good idea, but we’ve also learned (from repeated experience) that swearing off ice cream forever doesn’t work, either. But the tricky thing about “eating in moderation” is that what we think that means--and what the scale thinks that means--are two different things. So how do you draw the line between what you deserve and what you could do without? Best Life nutritionists, Stephanie Clarke, M.S., R.D. and Willow Jarosh, M.S., R.D., gave us three questions to ask ourselves before giving in to the foods we love.
1. Does it fit into your daily calorie budget?
Clarke and Jarosh tell clients on a typical 1600-calorie-a-day eating plan that they have about 100 or 150 calories a day that they can swap out with whatever their heart desires. The catch is that most of us have no idea how many calories we eat in a day, and it’s very common to experience temporary snack black-outs in the face of temptation ("I’ve hardly eaten anything today, so I surely have enough leftover calories for a few potato chips," we’ll think, forgetting about the handfuls of nuts we ate at our desk or the whole milk we put in our coffee). They’re big fans of food journals to keep us on track. And they get it: tracking what you eat, either with an old-fashioned pen and paper or a new multi-function app, can feel obsessive. But as they tell clients (and as studies keep proving), this technique really helps keep the weight off.
A beautiful beach, in the eyes of the Natural Resources Defense Council, doesn't need white sands and azure waves--although those aren't bad.
Every year, the NRDC issues a report that evaluates the country's beaches, awarding star ratings based on cleanliness, water quality and testing and safety procedures. To the NRDC judges, the real knock-outs have low contamination results, test their waters more than once a week, notify the public right away when bacteria levels violate health standards, and post closings and advisories on-premise and online.
Unfortunately, the panel was not impressed with this year's contestants. The report shows that 2011 had the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades. However, there were still a few stand-outs, and a dozen beaches received the coveted 5-star rating. So for the country's very best beach....
It was one of the most cringe-inducing moments of the Beijing Olympics: Fierce, fleet Lolo Jones, leading the pack in the 100-meter hurdles, suddenly knocking over the second-to-last hurdle, losing her rhythm and falling back to seventh place. Just like that, the favored champion was out of the race. Four years later, Jones was dreaming of redemption in London, but her spot on this year's Olympic team wasn't a sure thing: she was coming off a rocky season that involved sub-par performances, nagging injuries and sagging confidence. And yet, last week Jones finished third in the 100-meter hurdles at the track and field trials and qualified for London. We are in awe of this killer photo of Jones at the trials. This is a woman who will not let anything--repeat, anything!--get in her way.
But don't let this news douse your BBQ enthusiasm: there are some easy steps you can take to keep yourself and your guests healthy at your July 4th get-together. The USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services have teamed up with the Ad Council to produce this Independence Day-themed infographic with the most important steps to handling and serving summertime party food: clean, separate, cook (the food thermometer is key) and chill. (In addition to the helpful advice, we also appreciate that the George Washington character appears to be holding either a teensy tri-corner hat, or a very well-done steak stolen from the grill...).
Cooking safely with turkey
Lucky for me, The National Institute of Standards and Technology has put together a neat list of Olympic Fast Facts that help make the games feel a little closer to home. For example, you know the balance beam on which gymnasts flip, run, tumble and leap? It's about the width of a novel--a paperback, no less--like those strewn all over my bedroom. And the 10 meter high dive platform? Somersault-piking off that is similar to diving off the roof my three-story apartment building.
Okay, so these pieces of Olympic trivia may not be the same as finding as a golden ticket to the games buried in the bottom of a Wheaties box, but they'll remind me of the athletes and events every time I open a book, or climb the stairs of my walk-up, or pass a pickup truck (it's the same width as the diving board).
The musical sounds of the London Summer Olympics
An Olympic coach helps a non-athlete get in game shape
These tips include taking two days to keep track of exactly how you spend your time, and then looking for hidden chunks of misused minutes. For example, you probably never realized how much time you spend cruising Facebook, listening to covers of "Call Me Maybe" or deciding what to eat for lunch, but once you do, you can put those patches of time together to use for a training run...or at least a midday power walk. Find three more ways to squeeze in a workout over at Women'sHealth.com.
How Bob Greene helped a busy lawyer find time to shed 20 pounds
A full-body routine that takes just 20 minutes
Shorten your regular workout
Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk-turned-circus clown-turned-start-up entrepreneur (we're not making this up), founded the British organization Headspace to demystify meditation for the masses. In his book, Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day (which launched in the US this month), he explains the difference between the "aspirin approach" to meditation, which is using it as an occasional cure for stress--totally fine, but limited, he says--and the more integrated approach of weaving mindfulness into our daily activities. And then he goes on to show us exactly how to do that, with exercises that range from a minute of simply "not doing" to ten minutes of more traditional relaxation (these are also available as guided audio meditations on Headspace.com).
What we like about Puddicombe, besides his self-deprecating British sense of humor, is that he's equally enthusiastic about the scientific benefits of meditation as he is about the more metaphysical perks. We also like his practical approach to mindfulness--he can find a way to work it into just about every part of our daily routine. To see what we mean, check out this "airplane meditation" he shared with us that is designed to discreetly help us relax find peace while in the air.
More mini meditations you can incorporate into your day
I fly into this frenzy at least once a week. But thanks to this helpful post on PBS's new wellness web site, Next Avenue, I now know a better way to get myself out of it. In the post, a life coach and a Harvard psychiatry professor share some advice for bringing sanity to our daily lives from their new book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life. When we find we can't find our indispensable item, they tell us to apply the brakes:
"In other words, exercise "inhibitory control." By inhibiting, we mean the ability to restrain or control your attention. Your ability to apply the cognitive brakes — to thoughtfully "inhibit" an action, or, more to the point, a distraction, that may lead you away from the task at hand — is a hallmark of an organized mind. It's akin to the importance of a good set of brakes on a car. Inhibition allows us to stay organized and on top of our game in the face of an ever-changing environment."
Instead of letting our emotional selves hurtle down a hill without the power to stop, the authors suggest slowing down by doing a quick set of stretches, some deep breathing, or repeating a favorite meditation (for example, "This isn't a big deal. Everything will be fine."). That should help us think more clearly so that we can remember where we last had the item, and what we may have done with it.
They also have strategies for helping us avoid losing things in the first place. (If you're as busy as frazzled as I am, I suggest bookmarking this page so you won't forget where you saw it.)
Sometimes it seems like flexibility is the key to happiness, doesn't it? If you could touch your toes (and hold on to them), you wouldn't have strained your hamstring. If you would move some things around on your calendar, you'd be able to see your friends more often. If you hadn't been so specific about what you wanted to eat, you would have found something to order already. And if you hadn't been so focused on your monthly objectives, you might have come up with that brilliant, counter-intuitive solution before your coworker did.
That's why we're so taken with this advice from Marlo Fisken, a flexibility coach who is also the 2010 American Pole Fitness Champion and 2011 Aerial Pole International Champion (and who appears in the new movie Rock of Ages). When asked how the average person can become more flexible, here's what Fisken told the health and fitness newsletter Vital Juice:
"Start by exploring. The first part of improving flexibility is finding all your limitations."
She's talking about physical flexibility here, as in splits and back bends, but we could also apply this to rigid thinking, taking a little bit of time to explore why we think or act the way we instinctively do...
Read more of Fisken's astute advice for physical and metaphysical flexibility here.