How to “Dress” Up Your Daily Fruit & Veggie Quota {Guest Post}

According to research backed by the American Heart Association, people who habitually consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables experience a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. In fact, this study revealed that, of the 2500 test subjects monitored, women who ate about 9 daily servings and men who ate about 7 were 26% less prone to develop clogged arteries in older age.

In addition to supporting cardiovascular wellness, fresh produce contains essential nutrients like protein, antioxidants, fiber, and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. So, incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can yield balanced wellness and physical longevity.

The simplest, most straightforward way to boost your fruit and veggie intake is to replace that typical lunchtime sandwich with a crisp, colorful salad. Then, top it with this healthy homemade dressing which features the antioxidant-loaded nutritional supplement, Nutri Maqui. Your heart, immune system and other vital organs will thank you for giving them the nourishment they crave!


Nutri Maqui Superfruit Salad Dressing

Nutri Maqui salad dressing ingredients

Ingredients

 ¬Ĺ cup Grapeseed Oil

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui Superfruit Juice

1 tsp. Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard

¬Ĺ tsp. Lemon Juice

Nutri Maqui salad dressing preparation

Preparation

  1. Pour all ingredients into a small decanter, then whisk until they are thoroughly combined.
  1. Chop a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and raw nuts (e.g. carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, raspberries, avocadoes, almonds, cashews), then arrange them over a bed of leafy greens (e.g. spinach, kale, arugula).
  1. Drizzle the dressing on top, then toss the salad to evenly distribute all ingredients before serving.

So. Many. Colors. Amiright?!

Nutri Maqui salad dressing before   Nutri Maqui salad dressing after


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

 

#LoveBulu ‘Cause Bulu Loves You Back!

Confession: health and wellness goodies are my weakness.

Yeah, alright…I recognize the irony. In the broader scope of every possible obsession a person might succumb to, I could do much worse!

But, while my body appreciates the benefits of a wholesome diet, sometimes my wallet¬†wishes I wasn’t so selective. There’s no denying that health often comes with dollar signs attached, resulting in everyone’s favorite “Cost vs. Quality” debate.

Why can’t they just get along? Why can’t we nourish ourselves properly¬†without breaking our budgets? Well…turns out, we can!

Say “hello” to Bulu Box¬†— where¬†nutritious¬†eating meets bargain hunting. Each month, Bulu Box subscribers receive 4-5 snack, vitamin and supplement samples from top-rated wellness brands.

BuluBox

A little orange box of happiness…Who can resist those motivational mantras?!

This customized package is conveniently shipped straight to your doorstep, and Bulu Box offers several subscription plans for every price range. Choose from Month-to-Month ($10 per box), 3 Months ($30 fee),     6 Months ($60 fee) and 12 Months ($110 fee). Free shipping comes standard, and Rewards Points make saving money even easier.

Now, for the fun part — what’s inside a Bulu Box? Pure yumminess, that’s what! Guilt-free food finds galore. Take a peek:

BuluBox contents 1

Protein powder, energy bars, performance supplements…OH MY!!!

Quest Protein Powder

Quest Protein Powder

  • The Breakdown:¬†23 grams of protein per serving; less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, 110 calories per serving (high protein-to-calories ratio); soy- and gluten-free; essential nutrients¬†including¬†Potassium, Fiber, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Iron
  • The Taste Test:¬†I’ve never uttered a negative¬†word about peanut butter flavored anything, and this protein powder is no exception.
  • The Verdict:¬†When blended into liquid form,¬†Quest adds a creamy quality¬†that smoothie fans¬†will love. Moreover, the protein content is ideal for¬†both pre-workout energy and recovery fuel.

Mediterra Nutritional Bar

Mediterra Savory Bar

  • The Breakdown:¬†6 grams of protein per serving; 6 grams of fiber per serving; 4 grams of sugar per serving; 160 calories per serving; non-GMO verified; gluten-free, all-natural ingredients; essential nutrients including Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron
  • The Taste Test:¬†With a crisp, crunchy texture and just the right amount of saltiness, this rich and tangy snack condenses an entire Margherita pizza into one¬†bite-sized bar.
  • The Verdict: The¬†tomato and basil combo¬†takes “satisfying¬†pick-me-up” to another¬†level. Mediterranean Diet devotees will appreciate this savory grain and veggie pairing, packaged for on-the-go ease.

Movit Energy Gummies

MoveIt Energy Gummies

  • The Breakdown: 60 calories per serving;¬†scientifically formulated Coenzyme Q10 supplement; Guarana caffeine; essential nutrients including Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin C and Vitamin B12
  • The Taste Test:¬†Although I have trouble¬†stomaching gummies, these little guys defied my initial skepticism. The citrus aftertaste is sweet but not¬†cloying, and the consistency is chewy but not gelatinous.
  • The Verdict: These smiling gummies are¬†hard to resist, and their compact size makes¬†smart¬†snacking effortless. Plus, Movit’s natural energy supports a variety of¬†athletic activities.

Yerba Prima Fiber Plus Powder

Yerba Prima

  • The Breakdown: 9 grams of fiber per serving; 0 grams of sugar per serving; 15 calories per serving; bentonite detoxification; herbal cleansing; milk thistle extract (liver health); Ginko leaf extract (mental function); essential nutrients including Potassium and Calcium
  • The Taste Test: Mix¬†this apple spice infused formula with water, and you’re basically drinking cider. Fall in a glass. Enough said.
  • The Verdict:¬†Yerba Prima offers digestive regularity without¬†skimping on flavor. The¬†purifying herb complex will gently detox your¬†system for fast-acting gastrointestinal relief — a win-win in my book.

So, there you go, folks. That’s why I #LoveBulu. Wanna feel the love as well?¬†Order¬†your own box and use the promo code SWEATPINK¬†at check-out to score 50% off a 3-month subscription!

Special thanks to Fit Approach and Bulu Box for giving me the opportunity to sample these products. 

Beauty Hack of the Moment: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar beauty hack

Apple Cider Vinegar — or ACV, as it shall henceforth be known — is both multi-functional and a proven crowd pleaser among natural health enthusiasts.

I applaud this popularity and versatility for the simple fact that ACV delivers the goods, from alternative remedies to organic beauty treatments. If it’s not already a staple in your pantry…

Well, it should be.

Nutrient Profile:

  • Vitamin B for elevated energy levels and cognitive function
  • Vitamin C — for increased immunity and cardiovascular support
  • Phosphorus — for optimal nerve impulses and kidney excretion
  • Potassium — for regulated blood pressure and metabolic boost
  • Magnesium — for reduced inflammation and steady heart rhythm
  • Calcium — for strong bone density and lean muscle development
  • Iron — for oxygenated red blood cells and decreased fatigue
  • Pectin — for healthy cholesterol levels and digestive regularity
  • Citric Acid — for disease-fighting antioxidants and kidney stone relief
  • Folic Acid — for stable cell production and DNA mutation resistance
  • Acetic Acid — for counteraction of glucose and insulin sensitivity

Impressive ingredient line-up, huh? But, now for the REAL reason I stock up on ACV — it works wonders for my self-image.

This holistic beauty elixir enhances the appearance of hair, skin, teeth and nails sans the price tag of those fancy-schmancy cosmetic brands (Example: 16 oz. Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar = $2.95).

Here’s just a sampling of my personal favorite ACV uses…

1.   For a Frizz-Free Mane:

Dilute 1/3 cup ACV with 4 cups Water then rinse your hair with this solution after shampooing in order to restore natural smoothness and shine, as well as maintain the scalp’s targeted pH balance.

2.   For an Even-Toned Complexion:

Combine 2 tbsp. ACV with equal parts Water then rub this solution on your skin using a cotton ball in order to reduce discoloration, improve elasticity and fight break-outs (remember to refrigerate beforehand).

3.   For Dazzling Pearly Whites:

Dilute 2 tbsp. ACV with 1/4 cup Water then swish this solution around your mouth for 1 minute before brushing your teeth in order to kill bacteria and diminish stains, as well as eliminate bad breath.

4.   For Salon-Worthy Nails:

Dilute 1 cup ACV with 3 cups Water then pour this solution into a large bowl and soak your hands and/or feet for several minutes over a 2-3 month period in order to provide anti-fungal healing benefits.

******

Up the ante on this everyday household item — pamper yourself with an inexpensive yet oh-so-invigorating DIY spa day! And, hey…got any more Apple Cider Vinegar hacks to share? Well, by all means, let’s hear ’em! Sound off in the comments section, por favor.

Wonderful Coconut Oil: Get Exfoliating!

coconut oil(image courtesy of coconut-oil-pulling.net)

Recently, organic beauty seekers have been going “nuts” over coconut oil, as the latest cosmetic and hygienic cure-all. But did you know: our friend, the coconut, is actually a drupe? Uhhh…not sure what a drupe even is?

Me neither.

So, I looked it up. Turns out, drupes are edible plant blooms with a fleshy exterior surrounding a hard pit or seed. There ya have it. But how is this relevant to your hair and skincare needs?

Glad you asked! Drupes are naturally nutrient-dense, high in antioxidants, plus low in harmful fats and sugars. Therefore, it just so happens that the coconut is a powerhouse of health benefits. And – by proxy – coconut oil is too.

Let’s break it down, shall we…?


Here’s what you’ll find in coconut oil:

  • Vitamin E – protects the body from free-radicals & aids in neurological function
  • Vitamin K – builds bone density/tissue elasticity & aids in blood coagulation
  • Iron – forms hemoglobin, oxygenates the blood, & aids in muscle function
  • Fiber – regulates gastrointestinal issues & aids in maintaining a healthy weight
  • Lauric Acid – treats viral infections & aids in preventing the transmission of HIV
  • Capric Acid – increases good cholesterol levels & aids in energy production
  • Caprylic Acid – treats bacterial infections & aids in lowering bad cholesterol

Yeah, but…how does this impact my beauty regimen?

  • Coconut oil keeps your hair free from lice, scalp conditions, dullness, frizz,¬†and¬†protein loss.
  • Coconut oil keeps your skin free from¬†flaking, infections, pre-mature aging,¬†and blemishes.
  • Coconut oil keeps your teeth free from¬†calcium decay, plaque build-up, yellowing,¬†and receding gums.
  • Coconut oil keeps your nails free from¬†breakage, flimsiness, uneven cuticles,¬†and¬†fungus.

Cool beans. So, use coconut oil to…

  • shave your legs
  • remove make-up
  • moisturize dry skin
  • condition your hair
  • treat acne & scarring
  • soothe chapped lips
  • alleviate nasal allergies
  • get rid of cellulite
  • grow your hair long
  • protect skin with SPF
  • fight dandruff¬†& split-ends
  • deep clean your pores
  • exfoliate foot callouses
  • deodorize body sweat
  • relieve bug bite itches
  • smooth frizzy fly-aways
  • heal psoriasis & eczema
  • thicken your eyebrows
  • maximize a post-tan glow
  • hide wrinkles & sagging
  • whiten up that smile
  • soften¬†your hangnails

Now, just 1 question remains: will YOU go nutty for coconut oil?!

extra virgin coconut oil   (image courtesy of iherb.com)

Love Thy Lentil (It’ll Love You Back!)

Lentils are, in short, amazing.

Often hailed among the world’s healthiest foods, these lovely legumes are rich in fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and B vitamins. They have been proven to lower cholesterol, regulate blood-sugar levels, reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and treat gastrointestinal disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome. Just 1 cup of lentils provides 7 of the body’s essential minerals and maxes out at 230 calories. (Now, I don’t necessarily advocate counting calories, but the point is lentils are ideal for those looking to manage their weight).

If you’re not yet familiar with the lentil’s nutritional benefits, tender meaty texture, woodsy flavor, and appetite-satisfying heartiness, then here’s a recipe you need to try. This is my mom’s creation, and she recently taught me how to make it when I moved into my own apartment. Easy to whip up, absolutely delicious, and convenient to store in the fridge for anytime you don’t feel like cooking, this dish gets my seal of approval.


Ingredients:

1 cup lentils (I prefer red, but you can also use either the green or yellow variety)

1 cup carrots (finely chopped)

3 stalks green onion (finely chopped)

1 1/2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese (I add this for creaminess, but if your dietary needs exclude dairy, shredded vegan “cheese” will work too)

6 cups water (3 cups for prepping lentils, and 3 cups for cooking lentils)

Preparation:

1. Pour 1 cup of lentils into a strainer (make sure to use a strainer with small holes) and rinse them off in the sink.

2. Transfer the lentils into a large stainless steel or teflon pot, then pour 3 cups of water into the pot.

3. Set the pot aside on your counter top and let the lentils soak for 1 hour.

4. When the hour is up, run the lentils back through the strainer (they should have expanded in size).

5. Transfer the lentils back into the pot, then pour in another 3 cups of water.

6. Heat the lentils and water on a large burner and bring to a rolling boil.

7. While the water is boiling, chop the carrots and green onion into fine slices.

8. When the lentils have softened, lower the heat to a simmer and add the chopped veggies.

9. Stir the mixture, then cover and let simmer on the lowest setting for 1 hour.

10. When the hour is up, taste the lentils and veggies to ensure softness (if they are still tough, bring back to a boil).

11. Once the water has absorbed, add the bleu cheese crumbles (optional) and stir thoroughly.

Serving Suggestion:

This savory recipe can be enjoyed as a filling and nutritious meal in itself for lunch. Or, serve it as a side dish for dinner along with sauteed chicken, fish, or tofu (for all you vegetarians out there) and a fresh spinach salad.

Image   

And here’s how my first attempt turned out.

Bon appetit!