Why A Tea Detox is Good for Body And Mind

We live in a world surrounded by harmful pollutants, artificial additives, and lots of oxidative elements. At times, it can seem to be almost impossible to escape them and live a healthy life. So, what can you do to eradicate those toxins from your body and live a healthier lifestyle? Well, you could take advantage of a tea detox regime.

I am always wary of advocating a detox that requires you to consume a simple liquid ingredient, but today I am going to let you know about the trusty tea detox. The reason I wanted to write about it today, is that it is one of those rare little things that actually works.

We have all heard about the fantastic health benefits a tea detox can have on the body, and that is something that you can use in your fight against oxidants and free radicals. The best tea detox is absolutely bursting with body-boosting go goodness and performing a tea detox is as simple as it is effective.

Throughout the day, toxins build up in our bodies. These come from a whole host of sources, ranging from the very food and drink we consume, to the air we live and breathe in every day. These toxins slowly start to grow in numbers and can have many negative effects on the body. Studies have shown that living or working near a busy street has the same effect as the pollutants found in a single cigarette every 48 minutes.

If you live on the main street, then this is the same as smoking more than a whole box of cigarettes each day. We are all aware of the dangers cigarettes pose to our health, from debilitating health conditions to many different types of cancers. There are ways to remove these toxins through, and it is via a chemical process with the anti-oxidants found in a tea detox.

Now, not every tea detox is equal in potency, but all types do offer a certain level of protection for the body. Black tea is the most common, and it contains high levels of tannins. Tannins are chemical compounds which give tea its bitter taste when over-brewed. Next, there is green tea. Green tea is possibly the most famous of all teas when it comes to health benefits. White teas are the most potent of all teas and contain the highest concentrations of anti-oxidants.

There is also a tea known as Red Bush, which produces a rich and earthy amber cup of tea. Red leaf is between black and green tea for antioxidant content. A tea detox is slightly different from normal tea, as it has extra added ingredients such as blends of herbs, spices, and fiber.  Most detox tea is designed to help relieve the oxidative stress of the liver, which is the main cleansing organ of the body.

The better the condition of the liver, the better it can work at removing toxins from your blood. A tea detox or ‘Teatox’ will also help speed up your metabolism, thus allowing your body to burn body fat more effectively. The catechins and fiber content found in detox tea is also great for improving your digestive health, and good digestive health leads to better absorption of vitamins and minerals. Another benefit of detox tea is its caffeine content.

In the past, caffeine was thought of as something that was not very good for the body. However, recent studies have discovered it to be beneficial for the body and those who consume it, are less likely to suffer from certain cancers, type II diabetes, strokes, and dementia. Sure, you can get your caffeine from a cup of coffee, but you would be missing out on all of the benefits a tea detox offers up.

There are not many things I would recommend for detoxing, especially if it encourages you to live on a liquid only diet for several weeks at a time. Luckily, a detox tea plan is fitted around your normal eating routines, and as long as you take care about what you are putting into your body, it can be a fantastic way to cleanse your body from toxins. A normal cup of tea is beneficial for your body, but a detox tea is like rocket fuel for the system and powers you back to balanced health in no time at all.

I’M A YOGA INSTRUCTOR: THIS IS MY ROSACEA STORY

We asked the Pai team’s favourite Yogi Lauren Wilkie to tell us all about her skin journey…

IN THE BEGINNING

Growing up, I never had any problems with my skin, but when I hit my twenties, it all went downhill. I developed red patches around my nose and onto my cheeks, with small spots that looked like pimples. This was diagnosed as Rosacea. After using topical antibiotics (the first left bleach spots all over my towels, the second only worked sporadically), I started researching the causes of my condition.

CONTROL-ALT-DELETE

I tried to control it by limiting or eliminating certain foods (dairy, coffee, red wine, anything spicy), and avoiding environments that might cause aggravation; hot weather, cold weather, Hot Yoga. None of these measures seemed to have an impact.

I started to feel guilty if I enjoyed a glass of wine, or anxious if I couldn’t control what I was eating – and really felt like I was missing out on the fun things in life. The worst thing was that my skin wasn’t any better. It seemed that the more I tried to control it, the worse it got – not knowing what would cause a reaction was the worst part.

SILVER LINING

I stumbled on Pai through a friend, and rejoiced when I found that they created skincare products specifically for Rosacea and sensitive skin. I was even more excited when I discovered that the products didn’t contain any nasty ingredients like Parabens and Methyl Alcohols (chemicals which I was trying unsuccessfully to avoid). I wasn’t willing to compromise on luxury and it seemed like there was no other option, until Pai.

LAUREN’S REGIME

After using the Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, and Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream for less than a week, I noticed a marked difference on my face. The redness was much calmer, and the unaffected areas had a healthy glow. A few weeks later, I decided to simplify my routine (no more topical antibiotics) and just stick with products from Pai. The red patches cleared up and not even a trip to India which entailed hot weather, spicy curry and lots of milk caused a reaction.

Eighteen months later, and I now feel totally liberated! My skin reflects the healthy lifestyle I lead, and I don’t need to worry about the occasional coffee or piece of cheese. Best of all, I feel much more confident in how I look – yes, even without make-up! Pai has allowed me to love my face again, and given me the confidence to feel like myself.


4 Creative Ways To Stay Hydrated

We all know we need to drink more water, but can we actually make hydration, fun? Yes, yes we can!

You can always resort to drinking plain water, but there’s a lot you can do to stay hydrated that’s enjoyable and integrates into your life! Try these four creative ways to stay hydrated from getting your water from vegetables, smoothies, and a trick I use with clients.

Staying hydrated is incredibly important and plays role in metabolism, cellular membrane function, regulating our body temperature (sweating is a great example), aiding in digestion to breakdown foods, helps deliver oxygen throughout your entire working body, aids in digestion from saliva production (which also houses digestive enzymes), lubricates joints, flushes unwanted toxins from the body (mostly in urine and bowel movements), helps our beautiful brains create hormones and neurotransmitters, keeps our mucosal membranes moist (think of your lung and digestive tissues), transports nutrients from our foods (especially water soluble vitamins), and keeps our cells rejuvenated, reproducing, and surviving. Now that you know why staying hydrated is so important to your health, now let’s look at why and how we actually do this in a way that’s sustainable.

When I start nutrition coaching with a client, we typically go over their entire day including activities, stressors, the food they eat, and what they drink amongst other check-ins. One trick (I suppose not so secret anymore) is to work by dividing a persons day into segments based on their lifestyle and that’s where we make real change happen. You can do this too! As you’re reading these ways to stay hydrated, keep in mind how you can get creative with your schedule and timing to squeeze in more hydration.

1. First thing in the morning

Sleeping can be dehydrating, so hydrating first thing in the morning is key. Try adding lemon, fresh minced ginger, lime, mint or try any of the variations of Simply Infused Waters. I recommend drinking something warm or hot in the morning to stimulate digestion and bowel movements (hello, happy belly) followed by drinking more water or tea.

Try these recipes in the morning: Matcha Latte, Turmeric Milk, Turmeric Latte, Zinger Tea (time hack: use Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox tea), or Simply Infused Waters (made hot)

2. After breakfast/before lunch time

Think of the space in between meals as being your “hydration times”, this is how my clients learn how to stay hydrated throughout the day versus just hydrating well in the morning but not keeping up with it all day long which inevitably doesn’t help us reach the goal! From kombucha, sparkling water, tea, water with lemon, to chia seed water — the key is to make it feel a little special so it gives you extra motivation to stay hydrated after lunchtime when most people typically hit a 3:00 pm energy crash. Sometimes that energy crash can come from eating too many processed sugars or even whole food carbohydrates at lunch with too little protein or healthy fats, it could be stress related, emotionally related, or it could just mean you’re slightly dehydrated.

3. After lunch/before dinner

For most of us, this time period after lunch and before dinner usually means you’re about to leave the office to go home or you’re at least wrapping up your workday — not everyone has a 9-5 but here’s an example of how you can use hydration as a way to start a routine that signals to yourself, work is done for the day. Again, I’m a big fan of routines since they help hardwire our brain to these routines, which affects our behavior and ultimately how we feel. So why not make a special drink — sparkling water with lemon, kombucha, matcha latte, etc. to behaviorally start the process of shutting down work for the day and start unwinding.

4. In the evening

I love drinking tea throughout the day, but especially at night. We know there’s something comforting about rituals and routines that help us maintain our healthy habits, and even the simple act of making tea can help trigger relaxation if we establish this as part of our evening routine. From turning the kettle on, putting a tea bag in the mug, pouring the hot water, adding lemon, and putting it on a tableside, it’s one of my favorite routines and I’ve turned a lot of my clients onto this evening ritual too! Not all tea is the same, look for herbal teas that don’t contain caffeine; my favorites are Traditional Medicinal’s Cup of Calm, Nighty Night Valerian, Hibiscus, and Peppermint. Another tip, if you’re not in the mood for hot tea (hello, Nashville summers) try a tea mocktail made by brewing Hibiscus tea, then adding ice cubes to chill, add sparkling water, fresh sliced strawberries and a little mint and you have a fancy mocktail that tastes delicious and keeps you hydrated.

What are some of your creative tips and ways you stay hydrated? Comment below so you can share what’s worked for you in hopes that it helps someone in our community! If you make any of these ideas come to life, snap a picture and show me on Instagram.

xx McKel

Are You Eating Too Many Starches?

Starches are a key component of following a healthy, balanced diet.

Starches, also known as complex carbohydrates, are found in starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes and beets, and beans, but they’re also in whole-grain bread, pasta, cereals, and oatmeal. As I pointed out in my carbohydrates basics post, whole-food starches and fiber are slowly digested and don’t spike blood-sugar levels. The problem is many of us consume too many highly processed starches, which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. Today, I want to get back to the basics of what it means to eat whole and well—the sole mission of this blog and offer ways you can incorporate starches into your diet and reap their benefits.

What Are Good and Bad Starches?

According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. The majority of those carbohydrates should come from vegetables, whole grains and beans and other legumes, but many people tend to eat too many refined grains. Think white flour, cornmeal, white bread and white rice. Refined grains can cause elevated blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Unlike whole grains, refined grains don’t have the bran and germ—the most nutritious parts of a whole grain—to give it a finer texture. Refined-grain products at the grocery will say that they’re enriched, which basically means some nutrients and vitamins are added back in after processing. 

A Mindful Eating Approach to Carbohydrates

So how many refined grains are good, and how much is bad? I don’t like suggesting specific grams and calories you should enjoy every day because I believe there are a time and place for every type of food in your diet, even potato chips, and donuts. But if you want to practice mindful eating, then I recommend that most or all the grains you eat are whole grains. Some great choices are quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat flour, whole farro, whole barley, millet and rolled oats. And since you know that gluten and I don’t get along very well, all the recipes on Nutrition Stripped use nutrient-dense gluten-free flours, like almond and coconut flour, buckwheat flour, gluten-free oats, brown rice flour, amaranth and quinoa flour. I even use these flours to make my own healthy cakes, cookies, and muffins. 

With that said, the NS Philosophy is all about controlling carbohydrate and macronutrient intake to benefit your body and help it use carbohydrates more efficiently. Focusing on all forms of carbohydrates that are closest to nature, including leafy greens and fruits, can help you reach our weight loss goals and meet your nutritional needs. Here are some other whole starches you should include in your diet:

Starchy Vegetables

While starchy vegetables are packed with a host of health-boosting nutrients, you want to exercise some portion control with them because they have a higher glycemic index, meaning they raise your blood sugars faster especially when eaten alone (i.e. without protein, fiber-rich vegetables, and healthy fat). Everyone’s recommendation for carbohydrate will be different depending on your lifestyle, your metabolic needs, etc.; but at first, try sticking to a 1/2-cup serving or about a quarter of your plate per meal. Fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy veggies, some healthy fats and quality protein for a well-balanced meal.

  • Corn
  • Butternut squash and other types of squash
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Plantain
  • Parsnips
  • Green peas

Beans and Other Legumes

Beans are an excellent source of fiber and plant-based protein, but they’re also rich in other nutrients, like iron, calcium, and potassium. Aim to have at least a 1/2-cup of beans and other legumes with your meal daily.

  • Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, etc.
  • Black-eyed and split peas
  • Nuts and nut butter, like almond butter and cashew butter
  • Hummus
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh, tofu and other soy products

Let’s Hear It

Are you eating enough or too many healthy starches daily? What strategies do you use to help you ensure you don’t go overboard on starches and other carbohydrates? Keep the conversation going by commenting below — and connect with us on Instagram @nutritionstripped #nutritionstripped. Want more sound nutrition advice? Sign up for NS Society.

xx McKel

Sunflower Seed Risotto | Nutrition Stripped

Sunflower seeds transform into a rice-free risotto along with 5 simple ingredients to create this earthy and unique dish.

Jesse and I went out for dinner here in Nashville about a month ago, to Catbird seat, which I highly recommend you make a reservation for far in advance if you’re coming to town. Usually, when we go out to eat, I know I’m going to have to get creative with my meal choices being that I can’t eat dairy or gluten and normally it’s fine, I can totally work around that. But, when it’s a fine dining restaurant I really want to experience the chefs take on recipes and enjoy them at their fullest — and during this one, I could! Everything I ate that evening was dairy free and gluten free, hence the inspiration behind this Sunflower Seed Risotto recipe.

The risotto is surprisingly creamy due to blending soaked sunflower seeds while cooking them with a mix of olive oil, onions, garlic, and vegetable broth that really locks in the flavor and creates a delicious alternative for those of you who are looking for a unique way to make risotto or want to add more plant-based protein and fiber into your diet. If you think about it, visually sunflower seeds resemble rice which is typically used to make risotto — both are small and tear-drop shaped except this risotto will have a bit of a crunch to it compared to traditional risotto where it’s very soft and creamy.

Sunflower seeds are incredibly mineral rich and contain vitamin E and other antioxidants which are great for helping the body fight free radicals that would otherwise damage our cell membranes, brain cells, and fat-containing molecules. Vitamin E also works to decrease inflammation which is the root cause of many diseases. The phytosterols in sunflower seeds also have been studied with lowering cholesterol and decreasing cancer risk. Sunflower seeds contain minerals, especially magnesium, shown to help reduce muscle aches, reducing blood pressure, preventing migraines, and reducing heart disease. Another key mineral in sunflower seeds is selenium, which helps the body support liver detoxification and cancer protection.

Granted, I was experimenting with this recipe for weeks at home before I wrote this to share with you, and I still can’t do it 100% justice that Catbird did, but I’m really excited about how it turned out, it’s delicious and I hope you try it!

Stripped

Plant-based Protein:

Sunflower seeds are a good source of plant-based protein — in just 1 cup of sunflower seeds, there are roughly 25-28 grams of protein, along with fiber and healthy fats to keep hunger at bay.

Magnesium:

Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Over 300 enzymes use magnesium for important processes like ATP and synthesizing DNA, RNA, and proteins. Our body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, over 60% of that amount of magnesium is found in the skeleton, 27% is found in muscle, 6% to 7% is found in other cells, and less than 1% is found outside of cells (1).

Healthy magnesium levels help us sleep better, contributes to healthy thyroid function, promotes healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health, plays an important role in insulin sensitivity, and normal magnesium levels are linked to improved mental health. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms, PMS, and migraine headaches, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

7 Reasons to Add Collagen to Your Healthy Diet

When you hear the word collagen, what comes to mind?

Many people only associate collagen with lip fillers and injectables to plump up your pout, or with the latest anti-aging serums that promise to boost skin elasticity.

But collagen is so much more than these superficial perks—and it’s time we start giving it a little more credit.

Here’s Why Collagen Should Be On Your Radar

According to Medical News Today, “Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the substance that holds the body together.”

So on top of being the “glue” that literally keeps our organs, tissues, muscles, etc. in the right place, it’s also found in our bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It supports all of these moving parts inside of us so things don’t fall apart.

And when collagen is mixed with elastin, another protein found in connective tissue, it acts as a strengthener to give tissues firmness.

That’s why collagen does so much to give our skin its youthful-looking elasticity and strength.

Unfortunately, here’s the problem: we don’t have an endless supply of this collagen support army; as we get older, our collagen levels decline for a few reasons:

1. We stop producing both collagen and elastin

We stop producing both collagen and elastin

Sure, this is just a natural step in the aging process of life, however, factors such as our lifestyle habits, diet, and exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays can affect how much we lose as we get older.

2. We damage collagen

We damage collagen

Between the pollution floating around in our environment and logging too many hours of fun in the sun, we also damage the amount of collagen we currently have.

Unhealthy activities such as smoking and exposure to toxic chemicals have the power to destroy our collagen levels even further.

When you combine these harmful acts with decreasing levels that happen naturally, it’s a recipe for an unhealthy body both inside and out.

To combat this, we must limit our exposure to these harmful actions.

The Benefits of Collagen

Now that you understand collagen’s importance, let’s learn about the seven health benefits you’re likely to see when you start adding more of it to your already healthy diet.

Skin health

skin health

In a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, a group of women between the ages of 35–55 were randomly given an oral supplementation of 2.5 g, 5.0 g of collagen, or a placebo.

Over the course of 8 weeks, researchers measured changes in the women’s skin moisture, skin elasticity, and skin roughness.

By the time the study finished, researchers discovered:

  • “A statistically significant improvement” in skin elasticity for the two groups of women who received the collagen supplementation as compared to the placebo group
  • “A statistically significantly higher skin elasticity level was determined in elderly women”
  • “A positive influence of [collagen] treatment could be observed” with reference to the skin moisture test

Another study had female participants between the ages of 33–45 treat wrinkles twice a day with an antioxidant and collagen building peptide serum in an effort to boost their collagen levels.

In this study, the results showed “statistically significant improvements over Baseline within minutes of initial application; these positive findings continued to improve through Months 1 and 3.”

Don’t get too excited, as the research is still very young, but it’s worth looking into.

Bone/joint health

Bone/joint health

In a 24-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 147 athletes were given either a liquid form of collagen hydrolysate or a placebo.

For those given the collagen, “statistically significant changes” were found in the athlete’s joints at rest, when walking, standing, and when carrying objects or lifting.

The researchers took the study a step further using a subgroup with achy knees, or knee arthralgia. They found that “the difference between the effect of collagen hydrolysate vs. placebo was more pronounced.”

Improved sleep

Improved sleep

The same ingredient (glycine) that gives us energy can also help us sleep better at night.

In this randomized single-blinded crossover trial, participants were given a flavored glycine or a placebo 30 minutes before bedtime.

Normally these individuals would log 7.3 hours of sleep. However, the study cut their average time in bed to just 5.5 hours for three consecutive evenings. This was to induce daytime fatigue and sleepiness.

While the results aren’t strong enough to draw a firm conclusion, the researchers found that taking glycine “at bedtime occasionally improves the impairments in subjective alertness and neurobehavioral functions induced by acute and modest sleep restriction.”

Where is Collagen Hiding?

Where is Collagen Hiding?

You can find collagen in some of the foods you may already be eating.

For example, chicken and pork skin, as well as a cup or bowl of bone broth, will naturally give you a collagen boost.

What’s your take on collagen? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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How to Cook Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes aren’t just for pies anymore.

Like regular potatoes, they’re one of the most versatile veggies out there: You can add them to a breakfast scramble, toss them on a salad for lunch, or stuff them for a quick and satisfying dinner. Sweet potatoes can even satisfy your sweet tooth as part of a healthier dessert.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty cooking details, let’s take a closer look at this tasty tuber.

Yam vs. Sweet Potato

First things first: A yam is not a sweet potato, and a sweet potato is not a yam.

Sweet potatoes and yams are from two different plant families. Sweet potato skin and flesh come in a variety of colors, but most people are familiar with the red skin/orange flesh combo.

Yams often have dark brown, bark-like skin (they can also come in purple), with white flesh that’s more firm and starchier than sweet potato flesh, which is more moist and sweeter.

Yams are generally imported to the U.S. from Africa and Asia, and usually found in specialty grocery stores, rather than your market down the street.

So why do people use the terms interchangeably? The most common theory is that in the 1800s, sweet potatoes were called “yams,” short for “nyami,” the African word for “to eat.”

Sweet Potato Nutrition

medium baked sweet potato (114 g) contains 2 grams of protein, 24 g of carbohydrates, less than 1 g of fat, and 4 g of fiber.

In addition, one medium sweet potato delivers 438 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and 37 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.

It contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

(Pro tip: A serving of sweet potato fits in the yellow Portion Fix container.)

How to Buy, Store, and Prep Sweet Potatoes

How long do sweet potatoes stay fresh? How can you spot a “good” one? Here are the sweet potato basics you need to know.

Buying Sweet Potatoes

  • Look for firm sweet potatoes with clean, relatively smooth skin.
  • Avoid potatoes that are soft, or brown/black spots.

Storing Sweet Potatoes

  • At room temperature, sweet potatoes will most likely last one to two weeks. Ideally, store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space; they can be safely stored this way for three to four months.
  • Don’t refrigerate them, because cold temperatures will convert the potatoes’ starch into sugar, which may affect the flavor.

Prepping Sweet Potatoes

  • Wash them right before you cook with them. Don’t wash them sooner — water may get trapped in the eyes of the potato and get musty or moldy.
  • Use a food-safe scrub brush — not the same one you use to clean around the house, obviously — to dislodge any dirt.
  • If your sweet potatoes have “eyes,” or sprouts, don’t toss them — just scoop them out with your peeler or a knife.

Woman putting food in oven

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes

For optimal texture, baking sweet potatoes in the oven — or toaster oven, if you’re only making one or two — is your best bet.

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes in the Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet.
  3. Pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork.
  4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

Pro tip: If you want to get fancy, cut your sweet potatoes into small cubes and toss with oil, herbs, and spices before you roast them. Or slice them and spice them for homemade sweet potato fries.

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in the Microwave

Note: You can cook a sweet potato in the microwave — but it may cook unevenly, and the result can be a “gummy”-like texture if you get the timing wrong.

Depending on how fancy/not fancy your microwave is, you may want to experiment with cooking time until you get your preferred texture. But in general:

  1. Place sweet potatoes on a microwavable plate.
  2. Pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork.
  3. Microwave on HIGH for 5 to 8 minutes, rotating halfway through.

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes in Foil

When you bake a sweet potato in foil, it traps the potato’s moisture — so it’s more like steaming it than baking it.

This can leave you with slightly soft potato skins, but it’s great in a pinch — for example, if you’re cooking a big meal and your oven is already full.

If you wrap each potato in aluminum foil, you can place them right on the rack around or between large pans that hog precious oven real estate.

Cooking a sweet potato in foil is the same as baking it on a sheet:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Pierce each sweet potato three to four times with a fork. Wrap each individually in foil.
  3. Place directly on the oven rack and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

Mashed sweet potatoes in a pot

8 Creative Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

Did we mention the sweet potato is super versatile? Here are a few fun ways to eat this veggie.

1. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

There’s a reason mashed potatoes are considered a comfort food: they’re warm, delicious, and filling.

Swap in this mashed sweet potato recipe and you’ve got the same warm comfort, minus the added calories and fat from butter, sour cream, and milk.

Everything you do with regular mashed potatoes you can do with mashed sweet potatoes: Spread it on top of a shepherd’s pie, add it to baked goods, or use it as a thickening agent in gravies and sauces.

2. Sweet Potato Smoothie

Similar to the way bananas thicken smoothies, baked sweet potatoes make them super creamy and thick.

Try this sweet potato pie smoothie, which includes Vanilla Shakeology, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg for a healthy take on the classic fall dessert.

3. Sweet Potato Egg Cups

Who knew that the humble muffin tin would turn out to be such a clutch kitchen player?

In addition to cooking more traditional sweet breakfast muffins, you can use muffin tins to bake savory “muffins,” like these sweet potato egg cups.

Cook one batch (12 egg cups, two per serving) and you have a delicious grab-and-go breakfast (or snack!) for six days.

Bonus: Here are 12 egg cup recipes with five ingredients or less!

4. Sweet Potato Latkes

When you hear “potato pancake,” you might immediately think of the beloved Hanukkah mainstay — and you can use sweet potatoes for a healthier latke recipe.

With just sweet potatoes, onion, egg, flour, breadcrumbs, and garlic, you’ll want to eat these crisp, savory latkes any time of year.

5. Sweet Potato Hash With Eggs

This sheet-pan breakfast recipe couldn’t be easier: Simply combine all the ingredients, spread it on a sheet pan, crack some eggs on it, and bake.

6. Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet potatoes are a delicious way to add heft to your salads. Bake an extra with dinner, then cube it and toss it on top of your favorite greens the next day.

Try this apple, arugula, sweet potato, and pumpkin seed salad — or for something heartier, try this more substantial winter superfood bowl, which features beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, avocado, bulgur, and more.

7. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes can quickly transform last night’s leftovers into a full-on entree. Try these filling barbecue chicken baked sweet potatoes: With just five ingredients — sweet potatoes, shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, red onions, and fresh parsley — prep is a cinch.

8. Sweet Potato Pie

It would be a sin to overlook desserts when we’re talking about a veggie with “sweet” in its name. Sweet potato pie is a classic — but traditional recipes tend to include lots of sugar and butter.

This healthier spin on sweet potato pie incorporates Medjool dates and pure maple syrup (or raw honey) for sweetness, and pecans for a little crunch.

The Bottom Line

Sweet potatoes are an easy-to-cook, healthy base for just about any meal. Bake a few at the start of the week to save time and then chop, mash, or puree them when you’re ready.

How to Eat When You Work Odd Hours

Whoever invented the concept of “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” deserves a hearty handshake from anyone who has ever tried to get their diet under control.

After all, a little structure — be it three squares daily (and maybe a couple snacks), intermittent fasting, or more involved plans such as Beachbody’s 80 Day Obsession Timed Nutrition — goes a long way toward giving us the right foods at the right time to help us reach our goals, whether it’s weight loss, performance, or plain ol’ good health.

Unfortunately, one caveat of this structure is that you keep a fairly normal 9–5 schedule.

When and how much to eat gets confusing quickly if you don’t sleep 7 or 8 hours at night and stay awake during the day.

This can happen for a few reasons: Typically it’s because you work the night shift, the swing shift, the 24-hour shift, or some other terrible shift your employer has devised to torture you.

(Another reason for irregular hours is that you’re a vampire. If this is the case, you typically have your diet sorted out, so this article isn’t much use to you.)

But if you’re among the living, we’ve come up with a few guidelines to help you figure out how and when to eat when you work weird hours.

But First, Sleep

Before we dig in, though, let’s go slightly off-topic and discuss sleep. It’s important to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night for so many reasons.

Among other benefits, sleep is prime time for muscle recovery and building. It also helps regulate the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, both which are important to appetite control.

If 7 to 8 hours a night can’t happen, at least try to take naps. While nothing truly makes up for a good night’s sleep, a 2008 British study shows naps to be more effective in dealing with afternoon drowsiness than caffeine.

Naps can also ward off fatigue for those forced to stay awake for long hours.

Got it? Cool. Now here are those guidelines:

Woman eating at her computer

If you wake up at odd hours but still keep a consistent schedule

Start your eating day when you wake up. If you crawl out of bed at 6PM, that’s your morning. Eat accordingly.

This is ideal for people who consistently work the night shift. Just like the rest of your life, day becomes night and night becomes day with your diet.

If your schedule shuffles around but you still get 8 (or so) hours of sleep daily…

Reset your plan at midnight. In other words, just make sure you get all your meals for each day in within a 24-hour period, starting at 12:01AM.

This might mean that some days are breakfast, sleep, lunch, and dinner, while others are breakfast, lunch, sleep, and dinner. Just make it work for the day and reboot at midnight.

If you need to stay awake for a prolonged period (18–24 hours)…

You need to be a little more strategic. Here’s a six-step plan.

  1. Eat normally for the first 12 or so hours.
  2. Don’t eat for the next 4 to 6 hours. Normally, this is part of the time you would be sleeping, so if you can work a short nap in here, great.
  3. After that, start eating the next day’s meals. It should be one or two meals.
  4. Unless you’re going for a Guinness World Record, you should be done working, so go to sleep!
  5. When you wake up, finish the rest of the meals for the day you started before you slept.
  6. Make a point of going to bed early this day.

The Bottom Line

There’s no one-size-fits-all hack for dealing with unusual working hours. Just like other aspects of your life, you’ll need to improvise and learn as you go, but hopefully, with this set of tips, you should be able to find the right solution for you.

Avocados 101: Avocado Nutrition Facts

It’s undeniable: Avocados are the A-listers of the produce section.

Not only are avocados Instagram stars — there are 7 million+ posts with #avocado —adding avocado to anything instantly amps up the flavor of your meal.

But are avocados healthy?

The answer, as is the case with most foods, depends on the details: how much you’re eating, how often, and what you’re pairing it with.

Read on to get the 411 on avocado nutrition and how they can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

(Fun fact: About 90 percent of U.S. avocados are grown in California!)

Avocado Nutrition Facts

Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit: You get a lot of bang (vitamins, minerals, healthy fat, protein, etc.) for your buck.

One avocado (136 g) contains:

– 227 calories

– 21 g fat, total (13 g of monounsaturated fat; more on this healthy fat below…)

– 12 g carbohydrates

-3 g protein

– 9 g fiber

– vitamins and minerals such as vitamins K, C, folate, potassium, and magnesium

– contains less than half a gram of sugar

Here’s a breakdown of all the good things in avocados:

1. They contain healthy fats

You’ve probably heard that avocados are a good source of healthy fats, specifically monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs.

Unlike trans fat, which is found in many processed foods and has the potential to raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, monounsaturated fat promotes heart health and may help lower your LDL cholesterol.

2. They contain vitamins and minerals

Avocados deliver vitamin C (helps support a healthy immune system), says Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. They also contain folate (helps regulate cell function), and vitamin K (bone health).

Plus, avocados are an incredible source of potassium (supplying even more than a similarly sized banana!), which, Gorin explains, can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

That’s not all, though. Avocados also contain carotenoids (the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant color), specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a key role in eye health, says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist, and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook.

Mashed avocado on toast

3. Avocados contain fiber

“What I love about avocados is that they’re this amazing source of monounsaturated fat — but you also get a bunch of fiber,” explains Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition. “They’re right up there with seeds and nuts in terms of benefits, in my opinion,” he adds.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women ages 19–50 get from 25–28 grams of fiber daily; men ages 19–50 should aim for 30–34 grams each day. But more than half of Americans get less than half the recommended amount.

Not only does fiber facilitate good digestion, Gorin says, it also helps promote satiety. “It basically bulks up the diet to help make you feel full,” explains Newgent.

4. Avocados can help you absorb nutrients

Eating foods with a high nutrient content is just one half of the equation — to reap full health benefits, your body also has to properly absorb the nutrients you take in.

And that’s where avocados can assist in that process.

“They can act as a ‘nutrient booster’ by helping to increase absorption of vitamin E and other important fat-soluble nutrients,” Newgent explains.

Fat-soluble nutrients — like vitamins A, D, E, and K — absorb into your bloodstream more effectively when paired with a source of fat.

5. You can add avocado to almost any meal

Avocados are delicious, sure, but their greatest appeal may lie in their versatility.

They’re easy to slice and scoop, require zero prep work, and have a creamy, mild taste that pairs well with a seemingly infinite amount of foods.

Think whole-grain breadtacos, eggs, veggies, smoothies, sushi, and more.

They’re also perfectly tasty eaten on their own with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Split open avocado on marble

Is it Okay to Eat an Avocado a Day?

If you love the convenience and buttery taste of nature’s fattiest fruit, it’s tempting — easy, even — to eat one every day.

But is it OK to eat an avocado a day?

“This really depends on what else you’re eating during the day,” says Gorin. Other factors, like your activity level and health goals, can also come into play.

If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, eating one large avocado a day can rack up calories quickly.

As a general rule, Gorin recommends eating no more than a quarter to half an avocado daily.

Faye agrees and says it’s important to exercise caution when you’re eating avocado in the form of, say, guacamole, which can be tricky to quantify in terms of calories.

“But half an avocado — which you can control — is only about 114 calories, which isn’t all that far off from fruit, so it’s a worthy caloric investment,” he explains.

Pro tip: If you’re following the Portion Fix nutrition plan, a 1/4 of a medium avocado (or mashed) fits in the blue container.

Sandwich with avocado and egg.

How to Add Avocado to Your Diet

1. Rethink your toppings

“Since the majority of fat in avocados is monounsaturated,” Newgent says, “it makes them a healthful swap for foods and ingredients with a high-fat ratio.”

She recommends topping your salad with avocado instead of cheese or layering avocado slices on your bagel or baked potato instead of cream cheese and sour cream.

Other tasty (and classic) ideas: Add sliced or mashed avocado to soup, omelets, and veggie bowls.

2. Use avocado as a healthy swap in recipes

Give your desserts and baked goods a healthy makeover by using avocado as a substitute for certain ingredients.

For example, “Avocado can replace some or all of the oil or butter in a brownie recipe,” says Gorin; same goes for chocolate mousse and muffins.

This method adds extra nutrients to your food, while significantly reducing the calorie count.

For example, two tablespoons of pureed avocado are just 46 calories, compared to two tablespoons of butter, which is over 200 calories.

You can take the same approach with savory recipes, too. Gorin suggests using avocado instead of mayonnaise for healthy deviled eggs; you could also use it as the base for a vegan cream sauce, hummus, or salad dressing.

3. Mix avocados in smoothies

“To help blunt a blood sugar spike, toss some avocado cubes in the blender with fruit smoothie ingredients,” suggests Newgent.

Your smoothie will get a thick, creamy texture thanks to the avocado, and the combo of healthy fat and fiber will help keep you satiated for hours.

Here are some Shakeology recipes to get you started:

Avocado Ginger Shakeology Shake

Mint and Avocado Shakeology

(Pro tip: Don’t have Shakeology yet? Get all of the Shakeology flavors here!)

Avocado Recipes

These avocado recipes are healthy, easy to make, and full of flavor.

Quick Avocado Tips

6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

You may feel like you have the metabolism of a tortoise, but, fortunately, you can get yourself out of the slow lane—and burn calories like crazy—just by doing these six simple things:


1. Never Skip Meals
You may think that you’ll accelerate your weight loss by eating less than you should. The truth is, the opposite happens. Cutting too many calories tricks your body into thinking it’s starving so instead of burning calories, it starts storing them as fat for the prolonged famine it’s sure is coming. Eating actually stimulates your metabolism, which is why eating three meals and several snacks a day can help you boost the calorie burn.

2. Build Muscle
Your muscles are fat-burning machines. One pound of muscle uses six calories a day just to keep on going, while fat only uses two calories. That means the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Don’t go gangbusters on a strength-training regime if you’ve never done it before. Start with smaller weights and find exercises that work all your body parts, but particularly the large muscle groups—your legs, back, abdominals, and chest—which give you more burn for your buck.

How to Survive Your First Gym Visit

Read More

3. Do it at “Intervals”
It turns out that when you exercise going flat out for a long period of time may not boost your metabolism as well or as quickly as going at full speed for a minute then ratcheting it down for a minute. So called “high intensity interval training” requires that you exercise at 80-90 percent of your maximum heart rate which varies based on your age. Calculate yours by subtracting your age from 220. Check with your doctor to see if interval training is right for you before you start a program.

4. Sip Green Tea
While caffeine can boost your metabolic rate and green tea has it, there’s something else in that delicate beverage at work. Green tea contains antioxidant catechins which have been shown in studies to boost metabolism by about four percent, which can amount to as much as 80 calories a day.

5. Stick to Veggies, Fruit, Whole Grains and Lean Meat
These foods are simply more work to eat, and we’re not just talking the extra chewing which can boost your calorie burn by almost a third. Your body takes longer to digest high fiber and hig-protein foods. One Japanese study found that people who ate a diet replete with foods that took longer to digest tended to be slimmer than those who didn’t.

How to Beat a Binge

Read More

6. Stand Up
When you’re on your feet, research at the University of Missouri suggests, your body is more likely to burn calories. (Conversely, it’s more likely to store them as fat when you’re sitting.) How does it work? Studies also show that your muscles will be use calories in the effort to just keep you upright. Also, the enzymes your body uses to burn fat are more active when you’re on your feet. If you have a sedentary job, get up as frequently as you can or use a standing desk occasionally. In one study, people who used a standing desk burned 7.2 more calories an hour than when they were sitting. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add movement, it goes up even higher. Unless you’re a guard at Buckingham Palace, when you stand you’re likely to move around or “fidget.” That adds an additional 30 calories to the 7. If you do that for half your work day, you’ve killed an extra 120 calories just standing there.