National Nutrition Month

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Every March National Nutrition Month (NNM) is celebrated nationwide. This is a campaign that places attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. Along with National Nutrition Month, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day is celebrated to increase awareness of RD’s. If you are seeking help with certain disease states and your diet or need help with menu planning or weight loss, see a professional. Registered Dietitians are the nutrition experts, they have had extensive course work/training and they know their stuff!

I want to keep today’s blog short and sweet, but also want to create awareness and to challenge you! The theme for NNM this year is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” How are you going to take a bite into a healthy lifestyle? Are you going to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Are you going to aim to drink more water? Are you going to park further away from the entrance to the building you need to go to? Whatever the case may be, challenge yourself to make one change this month!

Here is a link to a nutrition game “Rate Your Plate”, http://www.nationalnutritionmonth.org/nnm/games/quiz/index.html. It will ask you a series of questions and help you get or stay on track with a healthy diet. You can find other activities/tips on www.nationalnutritionmonth.org and at www.eatright.org.

Need help taking a bite into a healthy lifestyle? Come see us at the Rec Center!

For more information on basic nutrition education and fitness plans, call us at 304-696-4REC(4732).

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A Place in Huntington that’s not so Huntington

I have lived in Huntington for like 15 years. I came here as a student and never left. I moved here before Pullman Square and Super Walmart and Starbucks ever thought to open up in this part of the world. I have a sort of reserved love for this city, meaning it’s my home and I love all the people here, but I sometimes get a little jealous of other places and some of the cool stuff they have to offer.

I recently visited BitterSweet Coffeehouse on 20th Street at the urging of my friend Cindy one rainy Saturday morning. As soon as I stepped into the eclectic old building I felt like I was stepping into a place in another city. (Asheville, NC came immediately to mind) Needless to say I was blown away.

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Not only is the coffee shop quaint, edgy and cute as all heck, they are experts on one of my favorite subjects…COFFEE!

They have your standard beverages with all the flavors and sweetness you could possibly want, but they also offer “pour over” coffee, which is pretty hard core. Not only is the coffee itself of exceptional quality, you need to still your beating heart while they are making it- it takes about 6 minutes. Patience is a virtue, your reward is a gorgeous, silky cup of some of the best stuff on earth. The caffeine is intense: one day I grabbed one at about 3pm when I was suffering from intense laziness at my desk. I powered through my workday and did an at-home workout in my living room that evening at 8:30. #winning

 

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Here are a couple pictures of the small but mighty menu.

They also have a few little treats in the glass case, and I snapped a couple pictures of a banana nut muffin and a chocolate cupcake we bought. A couple weeks ago I snagged their version of the lemon loaf that you can also get at Starbucks. OMG, I may have licked the paper bag when I finished it.

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BitterSweet Coffee makes my day a little brighter every time I go there. They have wifi and ample space to work on your computer, meet with friends, or just sit back and relax. It’s that perfect little place to dream about being in another place. But then you open your eyes, and you realize you’re in Huntington, and it makes the experience that much sweeter.

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Enjoy your day today, loyal readers, and don’t forget to follow BitterSweet Coffee on Facebook and Instagram (bittersweetcoffeehouse). They are located at 2001 7th Ave.

I love that Huntington is becoming such a FAB place to live! What do you like best about our city?

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Mood-Boosting Foods

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It has been an interesting few weeks here in Huntington, WV. With freezing temperatures and tons of snow, Marshall actually closed for snow for the first time in forever. At first it was great! I got caught up on grading and completing my assignments. But then came another day off and another day and another day and so forth and so on, until I had the entire week off! Talk about having “Cabin fever”, I have reached my limit of staying in!

Here in West Virginia we experience power outages, being snowed in and not getting enough sunlight! The sun is a biggie because this can affect out mood. No one wants to be snowed in with no electric around a bunch of hateful people. Right? Today I want to share with you some key foods and nutrients that I ran across on Appetite for Health, which may help boost your mood as we move through these frigid days.

· Omega- 3 fats can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. They are also found in flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts and fortified eggs or milk. Last week I posted a couple benefits you could reap from eating these, but there is one more! Some studies have shown a connection between omega-3 fatty acids and a lower risk of depression. While we do not know this for certain, it is still worth a shot to try them. Heck even if it doesn’t help your mood you will still benefit from consuming these.

· Vitamin D is found in fat free and low fat dairy, fortified soy milk, fatty fish and egg yolk. This is a big one to focus on making sure you are getting enough of. In the winter months here in West Virginia we do not get vitamin D from the sun like we do in the summer months. Some studies show that vitamin D can boost serotonin, which is responsible for mood. Serotonin can help elevate, “seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” also known as the winter blues.

· Vitamin B 12 can be found in shellfish, wild salmon, fortified whole-grain cereal, beef, cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, milk and eggs. If you are not getting enough vitamin B12, this can potentially cause anemia, nervous system disorders, and depression. Get your vitamin B12!

· Folate can be found dark leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, and spinach, fortified whole grains, beans and lentils, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and oranges. Folate is another B vitamin that may help your mood. Some studies have shown that folate is used by the body to make serotonin. Much like vitamin D, serotonin is a “happy” neurotransmitter and could help keep those winter blues at bay.

While all of these nutrients and food items could potentially help you stay healthy and in a good mood, let us focus on another area that is a vital part of our day, breakfast. It is so important to eat breakfast once you wake up. Eating breakfast will give you energy to start your day and some studies have shown that it can lift your mood. By having more energy starting your day, you may feel less tired and less irritable. Plus breakfast can help improve your concentration at work or in school. A good breakfast consists of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain cereals like oats, wheat or bran, and protein, such as eggs, low fat dairy, and/or nuts.

Want a breakfast that provides all of these nutrients? This is what I eat for breakfast and let me tell you, it is super yummy!

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This is the breakfast cereal of champs! It contains whole grain wheat, date crumbles, sunflower seeds, raisins, whole grain rye, whole grain barley, whole grain oats, flaxseed, almonds and walnuts. This is a heart and bowel healthy cereal that has the potential to boost your mood! You can eat this cereal either hot or cold! In the winter months I like to eat mine warm. I add about ½ cup of cereal in with about 1 cup of low-fat milk in a microwave safe bowl. Then I cover the bowl with a paper towel and microwave on high for about 4 minutes; his makes about 2 servings. The only thing I do not like about this product is that is it a little on the pricy side. If you order on Amazon or another website you can purchase this a little cheaper, you can get one 40 ounce bag (2 pounds and 8 ounces), for about $8.00-9.00.

Do not let the winter months cause you to be vicious, stay in a good mood by being nutritious. I hope you all stay warm and in a good mood! A key component to good health is through exercise. Come see us at the Rec Center. For more information on nutrition education and fitness plans, call us at 304-696-4REC(4732).

How do you combat winter blues?

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PureWow

I have been meaning to write this blog post for a long while now, and I’m just now getting around to it. I am an avid blog reader, and somehow I must have clicked on something one day that brought me to a website called PureWow. I wanted to read or see something on their site and somehow I must have given them my e-mail because now I get updates via e-mail from them based on my interests.

 

Can I just reiterate to you my love for this amazing website that has made my life…well.. better?

 

PureWow is a digital publication that actually finds way to make life more interesting, beautiful, or manageable. (It actually says this on their website). Their motto is “Elevate the Everyday”. They are doing a fantastic job of this because their e-mails have enriched my life in ways that I never thought possible. So simple, it’s stupid. I’m stupid for not signing up for the e-mails sooner!

 

It’s like that one friend you have that always has fantastic advice on what book to read next, how to handle your money, how to curl your hair or how to boil an egg!

My favorite feature is the tips and tricks videos. They are simple as heck and I feel like every time I watch one a light bulb goes off over my head like in a cartoon. My favorites? How to eat a cupcake, How to cut a big cake perfectly, How to pose when you are having your picture taken, the list goes on and on. They are 40 seconds of PureGenius <-(see what I did there?)

 

I actually made the PureWow version of a pumpkin pie this year for Thanksgiving with a cinnamon swirl crust!! I impressed everyone I know with my amazing culinary prowess.

 

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It’s pretty impressive looking, isn’t it?

 

Just today I received an e-mail with a video on how to make your bed while you are still in it, and I saw just now while researching the blog, that yes, in fact, there is a very lady like way to drink directly out of a champagne bottle.

 

Before you start thinking how in the world does this blog have anything to do with health and fitness, yes, there is a section of PureWow dedicated to just this. Check out this article about 11 pairs of leggings that make working out more fun, or 6 tricks to keep your gym bag fresh.

 

This is my happy little place on the internet. Hope you like it!

 

Do you have any favorite websites?

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Last Minute Banana Muffins

 

I woke up a couple days ago to an over abundance of bananas that were on the verge of death. With the kids being out of school all last week, there were no bananas packed in lunches, and boy were they looking sad.

Enter a quick search for banana recipes on Pinterest. (How did life actually function without Pinterest?) and Voila! Perfectly healthy banana muffins with chocolate chips entered my life. With it being lent and all, I have vowed that I will stop snacking on crappy, sugary foods. This is a great solution for breakfast, a snack, or a healthy sweet treat.

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What you’ll need:

3 ripe bananas

1 cup touch of honey almond milk

2 eggs

1 tbsp baking pwder

3 cups old fashioned or rolled Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill.. gotta love Bob!)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate, and minis would work well, but I only had regular)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips (see the first picture), and prepare the muffin pan. I used paper liners and I sprayed them with cooking spray. I just didn’t want to struggle getting them out of the pan. Stir in the chocolate chips and divide the batter between all the cups. They should be about full.

Bake 25 minutes, you’ll see the edges turning brown, and they are firm when you touch them.

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Stay safe and warm out there!

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You Are the Apple of My Eye

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Last week I posted a list of red fruits and veggies that you could try. Did you try any of them? If not, that is okay! Later in this blog, I will provide you with a recipe so you can try a few out! When thinking about your health, it is important to consume red fruits and veggies. By now you might be asking, why is this lady still talking about these? Here is the scoop, they contain phytochemicals, such as lycopene and anthocyanin’s. These help to promote heart, memory, and urinary health and may lower your risk for certain cancers. Not too shabby if you ask me!

Along with the red foods, I wanted to talk about almonds and fish. Almonds are tasty little delights that are good for your heart! They are high in monounsaturated fat, “good fat”, they have no cholesterol or sodium, and they are a great source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. All of these factors will help keep your heart beating just right for your sweetie pie. Next on the list… fish! If you want your love to o“fish”ally swim through the deepest oceans for you, you must provide him or her with a food that keeps the heart in tip top shape. Fish and shellfish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and shrimp contain omega 3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These help to decrease inflammation, blood pressure and triglycerides. They also help to prevent hardening of the arteries. Pretty cool, huh? Now do not get me wrong, fish is not the only source of omega 3 fatty acids. You can also find these in seaweed, fortified milk, bread and yogurt.

Last week my fiancé and I were discussing what we wanted to do on this day of love. After a long deliberation, a whole 2 minutes, we decided to stay home and cook for each other. This decision was easy for us because we can still create an intimate setting, bond over cooking together and save money! So, if you are cooking dinner for your loved one, with your friends or heck, even for yourself, I wanted to share with you one of our, heart healthy, menu items.

Fruit Nachos

1 red apple

3-4 strawberries

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate

¼ cup caramel

¼ cup shaved or shredded coconut flakes

¼ cup crushed almonds or walnuts

Here how to make them:

Slice your apples into thin slices and line them on a plate. Slice your strawberries into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples. Melt your caramel and chocolate in two different bowls, microwave in increments of 30 seconds until melted; stir after each 30 seconds. When melted drizzle over your plated fruit. Then top off by sprinkling coconut and almonds/walnuts.

With this recipe you can add virtually any fruit you like and you can leave out the nuts, chocolate and/or caramel. It truly depends on what you like!

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Do not forget that part of keeping your heart healthy is through exercise. Come see us at the Rec Center. For more information on nutrition education and fitness plans, call us at 304-696-4REC(4732).

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Some Darn Good Tea

I’m a coffee drinker. I freakin’ LOVE coffee. It’s the first thing I think of in the morning, and some nights the last thing I think of before I go to bed. So when my Birchbox came for January, and there were 2 bags of tea included, I didn’t think much of it. I like tea just fine, but eh….I can do without it.

It just so happens that these bags of tea came at the perfect time. When I got back from Florida after running the Disney Marathon, my body hated me so much that I was thrown into this violent cold that went on for days and days.

Enter these random tea bags that came in the mail. I thought I’d give it a whirl.

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I guess you can tell by my photo that I purchased full size boxes after trying these two flavors. The first one I tried was the liquorice and peppermint. Good thing I read the teabag before I made it, because WOW. No sugar needed, this tea is sweet, with a slight minty taste. Not overwhelming, and to be honest, perfect in every way. Later that sick-filled day, as I laid on the couch and watched copious amounts of Californication on NetFlix, my throat started acting up again, and I drank the cup of chamomile, and fell fast asleep. I had had chamomile tea on occasion, (my Mom is a huge tea drinker) and I always thought it tasted like old flowers, but this was perfection in a cup yet again. 

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Teapigs did not disappoint. Their website is adorable, and although the tea was a little pricey (a box of 15 bags goes for $9.99) they send you coupons with your shipment for next time and now I’m getting some good deals in my inbox. So my advice to you- try some tea next time your aren’t feeling well or the weather outside has got you down. You won’t regret it!

What kind of tea is your favorite?

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